Monday, July 30, 2012

My Job Sucks: The Saga of Gatehouse Guy and Cell Phone Girl

Background: I'm a security guard with a well-known computer company. I typically relieve other people for breaks, perform their duties while they're away, and make sure nothing catches fire.

Gatehouse Guy

Gatehouse Guy and I have never really gotten along. Why?

-He goes on and on about how all the other workers here are 'inferior' and he's 'better than this job'.
-Apparently eats all the wrong things for his stomach, since he constantly takes long bathroom breaks and decides to be completely TMI about it. (Dude, you don't have to tell me you're having chronic diarrhea and you need a bathroom break, just say you have to use the bathroom and I'll let you go!!)
-Always decides to take his breaks when it's busy so he doesn't have to do his work

Well, tonight, he did the latter two things. I interact with this guy only on weekends, where I work 3rd shift patrol 11 PM - 7 AM. He typically takes his break around 2 AM, but he made damn sure to drill into my brain that I should wait until he pages me to give him his break. If I come when he usually needs it or come by to check on him, he'll say "Wait until I page you!!" This is important.

Tonight he pages at 1:38 AM and says "I want my break now." I go down there and he goes into a long spiel about how he ate something that disagreed with his stomach and he'll probably be a while. >.< Thanks, dude. Really.

Not one minute after he leaves, a truck pulls in. I have to explain to the driver countless times that the receiving crew does not arrive until 6 AM and there is nobody to unload his truck. Gatehouse Guy must've seen the truck coming and knew he didn't wanna deal with this. He's done this countless times before. Finally he listened and went to go park somewhere.

Breaks are usually 30 minutes max. I'm pretty lax on the time late at night, since we usually don't get anybody coming through except for new truckers who don't know their way around. He was gone for an hour. Even for 3rd shift, that's really pushing it.

When he gets back, I say "Hey, you were gone for an hour." He gets all defensive, "How do you know it was an hour?" I go, "I wrote down when you left and came back, like usual. I relieved you at 1:42 AM, it's 2:40 AM now. You can only take 30 minutes max." And he starts saying "Well, you KNOW you're supposed to come out here and check on me twice per night. How come you don't do that?"

I just walked away at that point, since if he's gonna try to tell me I'm not supposed to do the thing he explicitly commanded me NOT to do since we started working together, I'm just gonna tell the supervisor about it. And that's all about him for now.

Cell Phone Girl

Cell Phone Girl was an easy nickname because (duh) she's always on her cell phone. I've never seen her without it. The supervisors joke that if she takes her cell phone out of her hand or away from her head, she'll explode. She is pretty much one of the laziest employees we have here. Why?

-She's one of those people who signs on for 3rd shift yet will be caught napping
-She works patrol, whose job is to give breaks, but will constantly just sit around instead of relieving the employees
-Will leave the location she's at for up to an hour to take her own break (big no-no, you can't leave if you're patrol)
-ALWAYS comes in late and leaves before her relief gets here
-Will show up in street clothes and change into her uniform on-site (another big no-no, this is something they stressed in training we absolutely could not do)
-Again, ALWAYS on her cell phone even when management's around (we all use our cell phones on clock, but most of us have the decency to hide it)

Everybody HATES working with this girl. She pretty much comes in, wastes time and does nothing. And one of the bigger straws was her losing the patrol keys. She misplaced them or dropped them somewhere, and after going through the entire building with one of the managers (her typing away at her phone the whole time) were unable to locate them. That was at least a month ago, and the keys have STILL not been found or replaced. (But that's more of a management suck. Why would you only have one set of keys??)

In spite of all of us complaining about her and them having words with her several times, nothing has changed in her behavior. And now we have to beg to borrow other people's keys just to do our job.

--

Cell Phone Girl is one of those employees who by all means should've gotten fired by now, but due to my particular company becoming increasingly unpopular (no longer paying for holidays, dropping EVERYBODY'S pay by a dollar and screwing employees out of overtime) we've had a ton of people just up and quit, so people can pull whatever shit they want and keep their job since we're so short on people. I would quit too if I could find anyplace else to be. I liked this job at first, but between lazy coworkers and sneaky management who doesn't give a shit, this really isn't worth what it is I'm making.

(cross posted to customers suck.com)

My Job Sucks: How they tricked Taylor into working

Background: I'm a security guard for a well-known computer company.

My particular company apparently went through pretty big changes right after I got hired.

-Nobody's getting paid for holidays anymore
-Management is screwing employees out of overtime
-Everybody's pay got dropped by a dollar or more (so even people who have been here 10+ years are getting paid the same thing as new hires)
-TONS of people are quitting and they choose not to do any planning when they make the schedules
-The person who used to do the schedules got fired for reasons they can't disclose (but I'll tell you right now, she should've been)

I used to get an email with my schedule every week. I'm a rover Wednesdays and Thursdays and I have permanent posts Friday-Sunday so I don't know where I am those two particular days. Now they're deciding to put me on the schedule, not tell me, and then call and say I'm late and they're writing me up because I'm not there when they didn't tell me I had a post.

This one kinda took the cake.

Me: (sleeping)
Phone: RING RING RING WAKE UP DUMBASS RING RING RING
Me: Hello?
Boss #1: Hey, (mispronunciation of name) how you doin?
Me: Tired. How are you? (He called at like, 6 AM)
Boss #1: I hear ya. Listen, we need you to come in earlier than planned.
Me: ....I didn't know I was on the schedule for today.
Boss #1: Yes, you are. We told you.
Me: No, you didn't.
(phone changes hands)
Boss #2: Taylor, don't you remember we spoke the other day?
Me: No, we did not. I recieved no calls from you and you did not tell me I was working today.
Boss #2: Well, you're on the schedule from 11-3 today. If you don't show up, it's treated as a call-in.
Me: Okay, fine, I'll come in.

I was pissed off. I came in at 11 AM, and apparently - lo and behold - I WASN'T on the schedule after all! They just had someone call in sick and were calling everybody they could to fill in and nobody wanted it! (I wonder why.) The supervisor said "Hey, I thought they were calling (other employee) to come in today? Oh, well. Thanks for coming in."

So in other words I got tricked into working without being on the schedule for that day. I hate this job.

(Cross-posted to customers suck.com)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

D52 Review - The Rescuers Down Under


I had often heard that this is one of the genuinely good Disney sequels. Perhaps this is what inspired them to make so many whether the film called for it or not. While I admit it’s a quality film and it’s also much better than its predecessor, there are still things I find kind of odd about it.

But first, some things the film gets right. We open in Australia (because the title would make no sense if we opened anywhere else) and meet a boy named Cody. He goes out to explore and happens upon a rare golden eagle. The animation in this film is great, especially the scene where the boy flies the eagle. Definitely showcasing the first film with Pixar’s influence.

We also have a very threatening villain, Percival C. McLeach, voiced by Patton and Scrooge himself, George C. Scott. (I love George C. Scott, so this was a bonus.) Something the film does a lot better here than in the first one is the fact that we actually know why the Rescuers need to, er rescue this boy.

Instead of it being ambiguous and the reasoning making no sense and the villain being a caricature of one from a previous film (*cough*Cruella*cough*) this one actually has something at stake here. The boy’s been kidnapped by a poacher, who makes it clear that he would totally feed him to the crocs and love doing it if the boy gets in his way. Animal poachers are ruthless and obviously they’re villains in real life. You even see his mother calling to him, and the scene of the Rangers taking the backpack to her. That really drives it home that something bad is happening. (Also, kudos to the first kid in a Disney film being smart enough to realize “Hey, my mom is gonna realize I’m missing and will totally call the cops.”)

I love the scenes where the mice pass along the messages in their secret mice society. I dunno, it just looks so cool! Then we happen upon Bernard and Bianca, having a black tie dinner. Bernard tries to propose marriage to Bianca, but gets interrupted with the assignment and also comically misplaces the ring.

First problem I find with this: the ring sails under a table and he has to go get it. Instead of crawling under the table and disturbing the other diners, why doesn’t he just tell them “My engagement ring flew under your table since I’m awkward, can I have it back?”

Second problem: …when did they allude to Bernard and Bianca having a romantic relationship in the first place? This seems like it’s coming way out of nowhere, and it is! It’s like they tacked it on because they apparently can’t have a sequel with a male and female lead and not pair them up! And…we’re supposed to care for some reason! I’m not sure why, but we are! Because they’re mice, and mice marriage is cuter than human marriage 9 times out of 10.

Orville’s brother Wilbur (yes, Jesse, you totally called that) is the one who flies them out to Australia, and there they meet a mouse named Jake, who starts putting the moves on Bianca. Jake is obviously just there to be the new rival love interest to the sudden new but totally always present relationship between Bernard and Bianca.

I HATE when movies do this. I hate the old “romantic misunderstanding” trope, and EVERY movie does it! I’m so sick of it! Someone misunderstands something or gets mad for a reason that can be easily explained, or there’s the new love interest that exists only to create a rift.

Here’s something that movies SHOULD be doing to create tension between romantic couples: if you’re going to create a problem, make it a problem they can take on together as a couple. Don’t make it “oh, I saw you talking to another man and he put his hand on your shoulder we’re through” make it “Okay, we’ve got to save this kid, it’s obviously creating a strain on us, can we get through this?” Or even have them maybe have to make the choice to rescue the kid or rescue one another! That would be less used and more entertaining than some one-off character who serves no purpose other than an overused plot device.

Other than that, I enjoyed this film more than I thought I would! The animation is great, the villain threatening, the characters actually sounding like who they’re supposedly voiced by, and it’s head and shoulders over the previous installment. I can see why people call this one of the least bad Disney sequels.

And of course, we all know what comes after this. Brace yourselves, folks. It’s gonna be a long one.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Award Nominees - Taylor's Picks

Confession time! I actually really do care about the Emmy Awards. Maybe it's because I watch too much TV, maybe I'm just naive enough to think they're entertaining. And looking over this year's nominees, I'm actually very disappointed in the selection we've been given. But we'll make do with what we have.


Taylor Reads Twilight - Chapter Three


So here we are again! Time for another rousing rendition of Taylor Reads Twilight – AKA Let’s Give Taylor an Aneurysm. We last left our “hero” as she was too distracted by the brooding eyebrowed freak to pay attention to where she was going, and there was much laughter to be had.

But of course, since Stephenie Meyer can’t be bothered to think up plot twists that don’t involve cars, she throws in another near-miss car crash for good measure. But first, we have boring details to waste time on!

I threw down a quick bowl of cereal and some orange juice from the carton.

It’s official. Bella either has worse motor skills than I do or is trying to feed the floor via osmosis. After all, she can relate to expressionless objects that get walked on. And speaking of getting walked on, she starts thinking about Edward and how she totally can’t stop thinking about him even though he’s sooooo out of her league bawwwwww.

Perhaps my crippling clumsiness was seen as endearing rather than pathetic, casting me as a damsel in distress.”

……….

REALLY?!

Wow, they are NOT fucking hiding it anymore. Bella is outright saying that she doesn’t WANT to stand up for herself, she doesn’t WANT to be strong, she doesn’t WANT to be independent, because she wants to be seen as a damsel in distress because that’s the most attractive thing a girl could do! Seriously, this is just HORRID. Meyer is not even attempting to hide the fact that women need to be docile, clingy, helpless creatures or else no man could possibly want them. I loathe you.

Anyway, Bella makes her way out to the truck to go to school, nearly slipping and breaking her neck because the roads are extremely icy. After parking her car, she notices her father put snow chains on the tire trucks and as she inspects them she hears another car squealing and spinning out of control, headed straight for her.

Before she can react, she is knocked backwards and hits her head on the pavement, while Edward zooms in to block the path of the van.

“Bella? Are you alright?”

“I’m fine.” My voice sounded strange. I tried to sit up, and realized he was holding me against the side of his body in an iron grasp.

“Be careful,” he warned as I struggled. “I think you hit your head pretty hard.”

I became aware of a throbbing ache centered above my left ear.

“Ow,” I said, surprised.

“That’s what I thought.” His voice, amazingly, sounded like he was suppressing laughter.


AAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!

Seriously, Edward, WHAT THE HELL?! You have got to be the most sadistic, misogynist, pompous little douchebag I’ve ever had the displeasure of reading. (And I’ve read Joffrey in A Song of Ice and Fire! Oh yeah, I fucking went there!)

Not only am I supremely pissed off with the whole ‘suppressing laughter’ bit again, but why would he scold her for moving after hitting her head when he’s fucking holding her up?! When someone hits their head, it’s best to keep them still, not wrap your arm around her waist (without her consent, I might add) and just yanking her over to you. I mean godDAMN.

Bella has a brief moment of intelligence and realizes “Hey, you were totally several feet away, standing next to your own car.” Edward’s all “No, I wasn’t!” And they proceed to argue about it while EMTs arrive and move the van. Bella actually stands up for herself for once and says that later on when it’s less hectic, she expects answers. Edward begrudgingly agrees but we’ll see how well he holds up to that promise.

It took six EMTs and two teachers – Mr. Varner and Coach Clapp – to shift the van far enough away from us to bring the stretchers in. Edward vehemently refused his, and I tried to do the same, but the traitor told them I’d hit my head and probably had a concussion. I almost died of humiliation when they put on the neck brace.”

"I do not like the cone of shame."
Bella, you are a whiny, spoiled little BITCH. I’ve had a concussion before. They’re not something you fuck around with. If you hit your head – ESPECIALLY after getting into an accident – you should seek medical attention, whether you feel like you need it or not. And since most patients are stubborn and think they’re fine just because they’re up and walking around, that does not mean they’re okay, and EMTs are smart enough to not listen to them and encourage them to seek medical aid.

“It looked like the entire school was there, watching soberly as they loaded me into the back of the ambulance. Edward got to ride in the front. It was maddening.”

Okay, Bella, they are not just doing these things to embarrass you. The neck brace is for your own safety. The other students – for some bizarre reason – are concerned for your safety as well. Yes, it’s not polite to stare, but could you stop the teenage emo bullshit for two seconds?!

As she’s being lifted into the ambulance, Bella’s father races up to see if she’s alright.

To make matters worse, Chief Swan arrived before they could get me safely away.

“Bella!” he yelled in panic when he recognized me on the stretcher.

“I’m completely fine, Char – Dad,” I sighed. “There’s nothing wrong with me.”



I…buh…you…wha…he…you…she….YOU MISERABLE CUNTASAURUS!!!!

WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?! YOU HAVE JUST GOTTEN INTO A FUCKING CAR ACCIDENT! YOU COULD HAVE A CONCUSSION AND ARE ON A GODDAMN STRETCHER! YOUR FATHER HAS JUST ARRIVED AT THE SCENE AND IS NATURALLY EXTREMELY SCARED THAT SOMEONE HE LOVES HAS BEEN HURT! AND YOU DECIDE TO DO THE ANGSTY TEENAGER ROUTINE BECAUSE YOUR DAD IS “EMBARASSING” YOU BY ACTUALLY BEING CONCERNED FOR YOUR FUCKING SAFETY?! GO TO HELL!!! GO DIRECTLY TO HELL!!! DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT $200, AND DO NOT FUCKING COME BACK!!!

*pant* *pant* *pant*….okay.

“They put me in the emergency room, a long room with a line of beds separated by pastel-patterned curtains. A nurse put a pressure cuff on my arm and a thermometer under my tongue. Since no one bothered pulling the curtain and giving me some privacy, I decided I wasn’t obligated to wear the stupid-looking neck brace anymore. When the nurse walked away, I quickly unfastened the Velcro and threw it under the bed.”

…..*TWITCH*

FUCK THIS, I’M WRAPPING IT UP. Let’s TL;DR this mother:

Turns out the guy in the other car is Tyler from her Government class and he made it out with cuts and bruises. Dr. Cullen treats them both and says that she’s fine and that she can go home. Bella insists on talking to Edward alone, and OF COURSE, Edward refuses to give her any answers since she hurt her head and doesn’t know what she’s talking about. And completely rips off and bastardizes a line from my favorite movie ever, The Princess Bride:

“You’re not going to let it go, are you?”

“No.”

“In that case…I hope you enjoy disappointment.”

YOU ARE NOWHERE NEAR THE SAME LEVEL AS THAT MOVIE, MEYER. STOP DRAGGING GOOD THINGS DOWN INTO YOUR BOTTOMLESS CIRCLE OF CRAP.

Charlie takes Bella home and they have this little exchange after arriving at the house:

Um…you’ll need to call Renee.” He hung his head, guilty.

I was appalled. “You told Mom!”

“Sorry.”

I slammed the cruiser’s door a little harder than necessary on my way out.

………here we go again!



WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK, BELLA??? OF COURSE YOUR FATHER IS GOING TO TELL YOUR MOTHER WHEN YOU GET INTO AN ACCIDENT! I KNOW SHE’S OVERPROTECTIVE, MOST MOTHERS ARE! BUT JUST BECAUSE SHE MIGHT GET FREAKED OUT BECAUSE YOU GOT IN AN ACCIDENT – WHICH IS TOTALLY JUSTIFIED – THAT DOESN’T MEAN SHE DOESN’T DESERVE TO KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENED TO HER OWN DAUGHTER! I HATE YOU!!! I HATE YOU!!! HAAAAAAAAAAATE!!!!

…….*headdesks*

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Top 10 (And Bottom 5) YDKJ Games


Ah, You Don’t Know Jack, the game that re-defined trivia and stands today as my favorite gaming franchise. From 1995 to 2012 (with a hiatus from 2000 to 2003, then another hiatus from 2003 to 2006, then another hiatus from 2008 to 2011) the game revolutionized PC gaming and then brought its flavor to a webshow, console gaming and then Facebook…which could also probably count as a webshow.

The game holds a lot of nostalgia for me (as do many things I review here, if you haven’t noticed). Mom and Dad got YDKJ Movies and loved it, but wouldn’t let me play it until I was at least in my early teens. Once I was allowed, Dad and I played it all the time. We had all the games in the series and I still have them today. Not all of them work (as I’ll explain when I go in deeper) but I like having a collection.

The games have the coolest artificial intelligence of any PC game I’ve played, and I’ll tell you what I mean – in some games, they can actually control your keyboard, making you type in an odd name just for fun. They can tell what time it is, so they can yell at you for dragging them out of bed so you can play at 3 AM, and they know what day it is so they can call you a loser for playing games on Friday night. I also remember playing with Dad Christmas morning and being greeted with “Merry Christmas!” from Raul before he took our names. So, a very cool feature.

Also, in case you couldn’t tell, the nickname “Schmitty” came from these games, even though Cookie is my favorite host. (I think I picked it due to the alliterative properties with my last name. But anyway.)

With that, let’s start with the Bottom Five. (Jesse pointed out to me how I could’ve just done a top ten and left the bad five out of the fifteen games, but I want to rant about those, dammit! Love you, sweetie!)

THE BOTTOM FIVE:

5. Sports

I’ve never played this one. Yes, I think it’s bad just because I hate sports. No, I don’t care. Moving on.

4. YDKJ/YDKJ Mach 2 for PS2

Okay, these aren’t necessarily BAD, but they’re sort of redundant to me. The segues and a lot of the questions are recycled from YDKJ Vol. 3, and of course the graphics leave a lot to be desired. There’s also a bit of confusion as to the controls, which I don’t think they explain. So if you bought the game without a manual, you’re screwed. (Pun completely intended.)

3. YDKJ Volume 1

Again, not a bad game, this is the one that paved the way for the rest! The problem is that compared to the others, this game just seems really bland and boring. You get the same styled segues every time, you get the same animation when you get a question right, the host’s voice is kinda grating, and it just didn’t really have its distinctive style yet.

2. YDKJ Headrush

This was Jellyvision’s attempt to make a game centered on the teenage market. It’s pretty much exclusive to 90s teen trivia, which isn’t what makes it bad (I don’t mind the questions being dated, that’s why I like these games) it’s the fact that it’s very…strange.

You get to choose from six avatars that look like they could appear in bizarre horror films or Claymation cartoons, plus the segues and some of the special questions (“Trash Talking with Milan”) are extremely vulgar. There’s only so much gross-out humor I can take in a game. Even for teenagers, this was really pushing it. If I had to give it points for something, it’s that it made an interesting innovation that when you chose to continue a game rather than start a new one; you got to keep your winnings from the previous one, which comes in handy if you wanna do a tournament or just see how high you can go.

Other than that, the game is playable, but be prepared to spend most of it wondering what the fuck you’re looking at.

1. YDKJ The Lost Gold

This game was pretty much made just to keep the fans quiet. It had been years since a new game had been released and naturally people were getting restless. It even says before the cut to the YDKJ logo “Here’s your stupid game. Now quit your complaining.”

The game is extremely rushed. The graphics are awful, the questions heavily repeat themselves even before you get to the ultimate goal (yes, you have a goal in this game, more on that later) and they decided to go for this bizarre pirate motif. Apparently a pirate’s soul is trapped in this game and you have to raise enough money to free him. (I forget how much you have to obtain.) Once you do get enough….well, I won’t spoil it, but I’ve completed this game and it isn’t really worth it. I found myself staring at my computer screen slack-jawed going “That’s it???”

After this game came out, I was really worried that it would be the last impression we got of the YDKJ franchise, but thankfully we know that isn’t the case. And with that, let’s go into our top ten!

THE TOP TEN:

10. YDKJ 5th Dementia

This game was just bizarre. After the customary typing in your name and telling how many players, you had to pick your personality, with a head and a quote to show you just how odd the personality you picked was. Schmitty hosts this one, and it has some new question styles, like Bug Out and the dreaded Anagram Question, since I suck at anagrams.

But that aside, I really liked the new and weird style to this game. There was even a way to play online against other players! Unfortunately, while I still own the game, it can no longer be played since the company who ran the online capabilities no longer exists. It’s…kind of confusing to me since you didn’t HAVE to have internet in order to play the game, and I’d be happy to just play it without the online function, but apparently it won’t even install on my computer anymore. It’s a sad loss; I wish I could play it again.

9. YDKJ Facebook

I had mixed feelings when YDKJ appeared as a Facebook game. I was happy that they were going to a bigger audience and would have easier ways to put out new episodes, but I was disappointed that were weren’t getting another console game, since I thought it did great in console form. But I signed up to be a beta tester just the same.

Aside from the usual bugs, the game was wonderful. I love getting to play against so many people, including friends, but I’m still disappointed you don’t get to play against them in real time. I wish they’d incorporate that. The Gibberish Question came back (I let out a huge gasp when I heard Cookie  introduce it, no lie) it has the console questions (Cookie’s Fortune Cookie Fortunes with Cookie “Fortune Cookie” Masterson, The Put the Choices Into Order Then Buzz in and See if You Are Right – BATMAN! I mean, LEADER! I mean QUESTION! and of course, Funky Trash. I wish they had included Nocturnal Admissions too, though.)

I think the game is fun, and it’s the only game that’s successfully made me buy Facebook credits, so…good job, Jellyvision? Hopefully this will get a lot more people into YDKJ and encourage them to look to the past.

8. YDKJ Volume 2

This is when the game first started to take its own unique shape. Different segues without the same choir, better questions, a new host (though still one of the more grating to listen to) and even new questions. One of my favorite questions was the Celebrity Collect Call – where you actually heard them call up celebrities so they can make a question for you to answer. (Among the ones I’ve gotten are Kevin Bacon and Charles Nelson Reilly, and there’s plenty more.)

It hadn’t entirely taken shape yet, but it was a huge improvement on the first. Definitely still one worth playing.

7. YDKJ XBOX 360/Wii/PS3/DS

I was SO happy when I heard that YDKJ was getting a new game. Seriously, just overjoyed. I remember hearing the news and squeeing about it to anyone who would listen. I went out and pre-ordered it as soon as I could; I was dying to play it. I even requested off work so I could play it all night if I wanted. Then I found out they pushed the release date back. *headdesk* I was so pissed.

Finally, I bought the game, and what a game it was. After The Lost Gold and the very meh webshow, I had high hopes for this. And they were all delivered. Great commercials, Cookie was hosting again, Schmitty as announcer, Wrong Answer of the Game, hilarious achievements/trophies, questions about recent happenings, it even had that same cool AI going on! (It would mention the date, talk about Cookie’s recent Facebook post even it was an old game, etc.)

Also, for anyone who grew up with the old Question Four segues….that Question Four saga was just gold. One of my favourite parts of that game.

6. YDKJ Television

As someone who watches wayyyy too much TV, this game was a perfect theme for me. However, a lot of the questions are dated since it’s a 90s game and they talk about 90s shows and below, so some of the questions about older shows I don’t really get. But it’s still a ton of fun to play, as well as the first game for Schmitty as host.

5. YDKJ Movies

This might sound odd to some of you. “Why did you rate this above the television game? You’re someone who prefers TV over movies in general, so wouldn’t that make more sense?” You’re right, but there are a few reasons why I think this is the better theme game.

The game has nostalgia factor (of course) since it’s the first YDKJ game I played. The movies range from well-known to obscure, and a lot of it is guesswork for me, but the questions are more interesting than the ones about obscure TV shows. Maybe it’s just me, I dunno. Also, the segues are HILARIOUS. So many movie clichés to spork. Love it.

4. YDKJ Louder! Faster! Funnier!

Back in the day, there used to be another YDKJ Webshow, which unfortunately I wasn’t old enough to play at the time. But they collected their questions and made them into CD-ROMs, and this is technically known as volume two of the Webshow. Another Schmitty hosted game, and the reason I like it is because it’s done up in a cool style.

Here, it’s not just general trivia; you get to pick ‘episodes’. They range from “Toys”, to “All Nude”, to “Food”, to “Holidays”, etc. And sometimes it’s fun to have a theme handy. The only downside? The episodes, while numerous, run out kinda quick. So if you marathon this game, expect to find repeats of episodes. But still well worth it when it’s new and fresh to you.

3. YDKJ Volume 3

This is where the series became perfectly well-rounded. Questions, segues, everything. It’s also the first game where Cookie stops taking the names and becomes what he’s been destined to be: the host. It has great style questions like the 3-Way (which I think was in the PS2 version as well) and the “Impossible Question” a really difficult question that’s worth $20,000 if you get it right. It gets better from then on, but this is where the series became a staple in trivia games for years to come.

2. YDKJ Offline

This is volume one of the Webshow, and it’s all general knowledge, hosted by Cookie. If you wanted to give somebody who’d never played YDKJ before a game without any theme or gimmick or just something they can enjoy without having to have things explained or without having to say “Well, it gets better later” or “It’s not one of their best”, this is the game to go for.

This is probably the perfect stand-alone YDKJ game. Good questions, funny segues, awesome host, good selection of bonus questions, and I’d recommend it to first timers and longtime fans alike.

1. YDKJ Volume 4: The Ride

There was no question about this one. No “oh, which one is my favorite” debating. It is this one, hands down. No contest. The winner of all the games thus far.

While shopping at Half-Price Books several years ago, Dad and I stumbled upon You Don’t Know Jack: The Irreverent Selection. It contained Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3 and The Ride. We instantly snapped it up and played through the first three with increasing enjoyment. Then we began The Ride and instantly fell in love with it.

Every day after work, Dad would come home and we’d play the game together, never being able to stop at just one round, until the game was finished. Thankfully, it lasts a while, even when you space it out to just a few rounds a night.

The game begins with a dilemma. I’ll show you the first one as an example (paraphrasing here):

You’re watching a movie with a twelve year-old and suddenly a raunchy scene comes on. Do you…”

1 – Cover up their eyes and ears
2 – Play the scene in slow motion

Usually you get a different floor with a different theme depending on which choice you choose, but in the first episode, both will take you to the Censorship floor. The Ride is actually an elevator, and a woman with a Stepford Smiler voice will ask for your name, how many questions, do you want rules, etc.

Occasionally when you type in your name (or try to) it’ll make you stick to just one letter, or it’ll type in something completely different for you. It’s fun to see what they give you sometimes. Or instead of having you type in your name, they’ll have you answer a question and give you a name based on that. It’s really fun.

The game actually has a storyline! All the previous hosts are in this game – Cookie, Buzz, Guy, Schmitty, and Nate – and they’re all fighting over which spots they get to host in. They all host several episodes before passing off (read: getting sabotaged by) the next guy. It’s very amusing to see. All the different floors have themes, the screw system gets revamped a bit, and we get new questions like Roadkill and Bingo. Plus a cool new way to pick the question amounts, and it can come in DAMN handy if you get a Dis or Dat.

I LOVED this game, and I was so upset when the questions ran out. I won’t spoil the ending for you here, but it’s worth it. Such an awesome game and in my opinion, the absolute best.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

D52 Review - The Little Mermaid

While it's a good beginning to the Disney Renaissance, being very visually pleasing, giving us our first redhead main lead, and having some of the most memorable songs, this film...gets harder for me to watch as I get older.

There are parts I really enjoy! "Part of Your World" still makes me cry whenever I see it (and the reprise is an inspiring moment for me), "Poor Unfortunate Souls" is a candidate for my favorite Villain song, but other than the music, there's not much more keeping me attached to this film. (I remember Dad cried hard whenever he watched this with me, and who can blame him?)

Ariel is fun yet flighty (I was almost named Ariel two years previous to the movie coming out) and I know I share some aspects of her in my personality. But there are things she does that are just plain STUPID. Which is why a lot of people have problems with this film. To quote the Nostalgia Chick:

"I sold my voice for a vagina! For a man I don't even know!"

Plus, Ursula outright TELLS Ariel, "Hey, this is a deal that I've specifically designed to almost guarantee you failure and will backfire hard on you. You probably shouldn't have come to me for this." But being the reckless teenager that she is, goes ahead and signs the contract so she can be a mute human and try to gain the kiss of true love.

Price Eric sorta looks Bob Saget-ish. Is it just me?

This movie, naturally, has a lot happier ending than the original Hans Christian Andersen tale. In the original, the mermaid just wants a human soul, and upon becoming human, falls in love with a prince. The prince marries another woman and the mermaid goes insane with grief and kills herself. However, she will gain a human soul if she performs a large number of good deeds (I've seen the number range from 1 million to 300 million) but for every time a child cries tears of sorrow, she has to start over. Pretty much a "guilt kids into not crying" story. If you're gonna do that, don't make an ending that's so goddamn sad!

Also, as Jesse pointed out, couldn't Triton just give himself legs to visit her once in a while? Why did he have to say goodbye? Also, if they're going to be sailing and Triton is king of the sea.....how hard could it be to just go anywhere in the sea and visit her?! Seriously??

So, is it a bad film? No. It can still be enjoyed by a number of audiences, and despite my problems with it, I think it's a good movie. But it's not one of my favorites, and I think the morals are very broken and backwards. Though the visuals and the music will make it a classic in the years to come no matter what.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Night at the Movies - Brave

I just got home after seeing Brave with my little sister, and I wasn't really sure what to expect. I was kinda thinking "Okay, this'll be fun, I dunno if it'll be anything special." I was pleasantly surprised!

There were a few interesting previews beforehand! The Despicable Me 2 trailer was clever (and sent my little sister into hysterics) and Monster University sounds like something I'll probably be dragged along to see, Spandau Ballet and all. (But seriously, I like that song.) Wreck-It Ralph I'm still really excited for, and Annie was astonished to see that they got actual villains for the trailer. And thankfully I was not the only person who squee'd in delight when The Hobbit trailer came on. SO EXCITED! :D

First, we'll talk about the opening Pixar short, "La Luna", which I thought was very cute and clever, as they usually are. :) My favorite remains "Day & Night", but this one actually had my heart melting when I saw what they were sweeping up the stars to do. And the little boy was too cute for words! Even a childfree nut like myself can appreciate cute kids in movies, y'know.

As for the movie itself, the animation is gorgeous. I found myself exhaling in sheer amazement just at the first scene alone. Plus, as I've said before, any movie with a rebellious redhead is up there in my book. (Speaking of which, D52 tonight should prove an interesting callback too.)

The rebellious young princess Merida receives a bow for her birthday and shoots an arrow into the woods. Upon retrieving it, several Chandelures light her path and they say that it'll lead the way to your fate. I'll try to keep this review spoiler-free, so I'll give you my thoughts on the film.

The mother/daughter dynamic was done really well. Naturally, I was heartily on Merida's side since I'm a rebellious redhead too, but it did a good job of not really vilifying either of them. There were things the Queen needed to learn and things the Princess needed to learn. The Queen has her life to plan out and she's training her daughter for what tradition dictates must happen, and Merida is naturally a free spirit who just wants her freedom and to not have her destiny chosen by someone else.

The three little brothers proved quite exasperating for me. Can you imagine what it's like being the oldest sibling, expected to be a role model, not being able to get away with anything while your younger brothers completely raise hell and always get away with it? Can you imagine how that must feel? Not that I'm bitter or anything. Nope. Not bitter at all. *huff*

Now the story aspect that really impressed me the most. This is actually the first Disney film that has a truly feminist message that's subtle enough to not be shoved in our face. It's probably the first Disney film of it's kind where the girl DOESN'T get paired up with the guy, and decides that she's actually going to wait until she's out of her mid-teens before getting married and popping out kids, if she does get married and pop out kids.

Even in Beauty and the Beast, which is probably the most feminist of all Disney films, Belle still ends up settling down with a guy at the end. It's a good thing that Belle actually took the time to get to know this guy and is settling down because she loves him, but I know a few people who were actually really disappointed by this ending, since they saw Belle as a true independent spirit.

In Mulan II, a completely horrible Disney sequel (a Disney sequel being horrible?? Heaven forbid!) The three princesses are angered, shocked and saddened at the fact that they're arranged to be married to people they've never even met. Naturally something anybody would be upset about. But then they go and meet these fiancees and find out "Hey! We actually love them after all! Okay, it's cool!" Yeah, way to completely blow your Aesop, Disney.

In this film, it doesn't say that Merida will never marry, or that she will, or that she has to eventually. It just says something that a lot of girls need to hear: marry for love, and when you're ready. Even if you don't want to get married, that's nothing you should have to change. It's much better than just rushing into a marriage in the heat of things and going through a bitter divorce later. You need to find out when it's right, when you know that person is the one you want to be with for life. And if you feel you just want to set out on your own path and stand independently, that's still an option.

It's a very radical thing for a Disney film to produce! EVERY girl, even the independent ones, all get paired up at the end of the movie! And in this one, they actually gave a really good pro-woman message that didn't vilify the mother or the daughter, but rather let each other see what one another has to deal with and bonding over that.

So, all in all, the film went above my expectations. And so I award it 4/5 overall. I hope you all go see it and let the studios know that stories that break from the usual formula are refreshing and won't result in a box office drop. These are the kind of things I hope I keep seeing when I go to the movies.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Taylor Reads Twilight - Chapter Two


Looks like it’s that time again. I brought this on myself, so let’s get to it. We left our “hero” as she was sniveling due to the fact that one kid with brooding eyebrows looked at her weird. Will she be less bitchy? No. No, she won’t.

Bella is simultaneously nervous and relieved (interesting mix there) since Edward did not show up for school. She finally remembers the names and faces of people she met the other day, and realizes that even though she wanted to confront Edward and ask him what the hell his problem was, she’s too weak and scared to actually do it. “I made the Cowardly Lion look like the Terminator.” That’s right, Bella. If there’s anything you’re going to be known as for the next three books, it’s a doormat.

Bella is still enjoying her usual pastime of identifying her classmates’ body flaws – “He smiled at me wistfully and went to go sit next to a girl with braces and a bad perm.” – and after school, decides to assist her apparently helpless father with the cooking. ‘Cause that’s wimmin’s work. 

Now THIS is an adaptation I can get behind.
Last night I’d discovered that Charlie can’t cook much more besides fried eggs and bacon. So I requested that I be assigned kitchen detail for the duration of my stay. He was willing enough to hand over the keys to the banquet hall.”

Okay, I know you’re trying to make yourself look smart, but all it did was make me roll my eyes. Nice job. She goes out grocery shopping and then proceeds to perform another thing she does best – narrate every stupid little detail in the blandest manner possible.

When I got home, I unloaded all the groceries, stuffing them in wherever I could find an open space. I hoped Charlie wouldn’t mind. I wrapped potatoes in foil and put them in the oven to bake, covered a steak in marinade and balanced it on top of a carton of eggs in the fridge.”

Quick tip, kids. If you’re gonna describe food in a book, make it worth our while. Food porn is something I love to read about in books, but you have to do it right! For example:

“This evening they had supped on oxtail soup, summer greens tossed with pecans, grapes, red fennel, and crumbled cheese, hot crab pie, spiced squash, and quails drowned in butter. Each dish had come with its own wine. Lord Janos allowed that he had never eaten half so well.”  - A Clash of Kings

“Ysilla was turning the biscuits. She laid an iron pan atop the brazier and put the bacon in. Some days she cooked biscuits and bacon; some days bacon and biscuits. Once every fortnight there might be a fish, but not today…they were best when eaten hot, dripping with honey and butter.” – A Dance with Dragons

”Harry’s mouth dropped open. The dishes in front of him were now piled with food. He had never seen so many things he liked to eat on one table: roast beef, roast chicken, pork chops and lamb chops, sausages, bacon and steak, boiled potatoes, roast potatoes, fries, Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, gravy, ketchup, and, for some strange reason, peppermint humbugs.” Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

“How careless they had been of food then, what prodigal waste! Rolls, corn muffins, biscuits and waffles, dripping butter, all at one meal. Ham at one end of the table and fried chicken at the other, collards swimming richly in pot liquor iridescent with grease, snap beans in mountains on brightly flowered porcelain, fried squash, stewed okra, carrots in cream sauce thick enough to cut. And three desserts, so everyone might have his choice, chocolate layer cake, vanilla blanc mange and pound cake topped with sweet whipped cream.” – Gone with the Wind

Admit it. You reacted like this too.

And after making a steak dinner sound entirely boring (which is bad, because I adore steak) she goes up and fills us in on every single thing. Is she going to quiz us on this later or something?

When I was finished with that, I took my bag upstairs. Before starting my homework, I changed into a pair of dry sweats, pulled my damp hair up into a ponytail, and checked my email for the first time. I had three messages.”

All three messages are from her mother, who can’t remember where her pink blouse is (Bella says that she took it to the dry cleaners and was supposed to pick it up days ago) and that since she hasn’t replied in several hours, she’s getting increasingly nervous and will call Charlie to make sure Bella hasn’t died. Normally, I’d say that’s overprotective, but considering how helpless Bella is, that might not be a bad guess.

Bella decides to read Wuthering Heights, the book they’re reading in class, “just for the fun of it.” Here is the first of the bastardized literary analogies in these books. I don’t know if it starts in the first book or not, but over the course of the series Bella compares her and Edward’s relationship to Wuthering Heights as a COMPLIMENT. If your romance is in ANY way described by this book, you have problems. Also, Heathcliff marries a woman named Isabella in this book too! He beats her! Maybe it IS a correct analogy…

She realizes that she’s letting her boring potatoes burn by not being in the kitchen to check on them, and hurries downstairs to describe it all to us in detail. Once she puts her boring steak in, Charlie comes home.

Bella?” my father called out when he heard me on the stairs.

“Who else?” I thought to myself.

I hope your steak poisons you, Bella. While they eat, Bella and Charlie talk about the Cullen family, and Charlie says they’re the nicest, most mature so-and-sos you ever could meet. The next several paragraphs are her giving just the most boring descriptions of everything, giving us every minute detail, showing us her entire school week with exposition, and mentioning that Edward Cullen never came back to school. Christ, Meyer, have you ever heard of “Show, not tell?”



When people actually start talking again and quit moving in super-fast-motion, they look up outside and realize it’s snowing. Bella starts bitching about how gross it is and how she’s never seen snow in real life and it’s ruining her entire day. She goes to lunch and Edward is suddenly back, and continues to stare at her, but not like he’s going to beat the shit out of her, which scares her even worse. (Can’t fault you there, Bella. When angry people get really happy, it’s not a pleasant thing.)

They go to Biology, and he sits next to her again. And for the first time, we get to hear him talk. I’ll snip things out here and there for the purposes of not getting sued, but these are things you just have to read to believe.

“Hello,” said a quiet, musical voice.

I looked up, stunned that he was speaking to me. He was sitting as far away as the desk allowed, but his chair was angled towards me. His hair was dripping wet, disheveled – even so, he looked like he’d just finished shooting a commercial for hair gel. His dazzling face was friendly, open, a slight smile on his flawless lips. But his eyes were careful.

….*retch*

“My name is Edward Cullen.” He continued. “I didn’t have a chance to introduce myself last week. You must be Bella Swan.”

Yes, because it’s hard to remember to introduce yourself when you acted like you were going to commit MURDER. Seriously, dude, did you think she would forget?? Bella starts stammering at him at how he knows her name (a valid concern, considering what we see him do in other chapters.)

He laughed a soft, enchanting laugh.



Okay, Bella, just do him and get it over with. Edward explains that everyone in town knows her name and has been waiting for her to arrive. Edward saying that just sounds really creepy.

“Ladies first, partner?” Edward asked. I looked up to see him smiling a crooked smile so beautiful that I could only stare at him like an idiot.

“Or I could start, if you wish.” The smile faded; he was obviously wondering if I was mentally competent.



And THAT’S where I go all Katie Kaboom on this shit. Seriously, what the fuck was up with that?! I don’t know who to get pissed off at first! Let’s start with Edward. His first impression on Bella was to fucking sniff her and act like he was going to rip her to shreds right there in class. Then he tries to get transferred out and stays away from school for a week. Now all of a sudden he comes back and puts on this completely patronizing, borderline-misogynist spiel, not explaining where he was, not apologizing, but saying “Hey, I’m not gonna explain shit, but you’re such a silly little woman and I’m pretty enough to get away with whatever I want.” And then he starts wondering if she’s mentally competent.

That’s where I start to get pissed off at Bella. In the very slight chance that she’s just having low self-esteem and thinks that’s what Edward is thinking about her (though I think she has it right here) she obviously doesn’t think that the problem lies with Edward, but with HER. Instead of being insulted, instead of defending herself, she thinks that since he’s so pretty and obviously omniscient, he can say whatever he wants to her and she’ll just say she deserves it. FUCK. THIS. SHIT.

And the last person I’m gonna chew out is the writer herself. Meyer, what the hell?! What the fuck is up with your writing and your fucking sense of morals?! This is so unbelievably sexist, and we’ve barely gotten started! And then writing down that line about being “mentally competent” just…my god. MY GOD. You need sensitivity counseling.

Bella quickly stammers that she’ll go first (I fucking hate you) and starts to examine her slides under the microscope. As they keep going with the lab, she notices that his eyes are different. Upon asking if he wears contacts, he answers no. Stephenie Meyer is REALLY bad at writing plot twists, so I’m just gonna explain what you guys can probably already figure out.



When vampires are thirsty, their eyes are black. So, when Edward was so fucking pissed off last week, that’s because she smelled like a fresh meal and he wanted to devour her. (Oh, the romance!) When they’ve fed on non-human blood, their eyes are gold/hazel/butterscotch/thesaurus etc. Apparently Edward’s look like that now. When they feast on human blood, their eyes are red. I guess we’re supposed to feel admiration for him for not eating tasty humans, but he’s still a jackass.

Mr. Banner, the teacher, comes to check on their progress. After seeing that they got them all right, he says to Edward that he should’ve let Bella have a turn with the microscope. When Edward said she identified three out of the five, the teacher is skeptical and asked if she’d done the lab before.



This just SCREAMS “I don’t think a girl can do the work.” There was a teacher in my high school like that. All of my female friends hated him because whenever they turned in decent projects he’d always go “Yeah, right. Your boyfriend probably did this for you.” FUCK THIS GUY. 

Edward proceeds to prod out of her the story of why she came to Forks in the first place, even though Bella is uncomfortable telling the story and weirded out that he can somehow guess everything she’s going to say. Bella says she’s kind of an ‘open book’, but Edward says she’s a difficult person to read. Another already given away plot twist, people: Edward can read minds. But he’s drawn to Bella because he can’t pick up on her thoughts. The joke’s on you, Edward. She doesn’t have any thoughts. 



After gym, she gets to go home and almost smashes into a Toyota Corolla on the way out of the parking lot, but manages to stomp on the brake in time. She pulls out again while actually looking this time, and as she drives away, she can see Edward leaning against his Volvo and laughing. Isn’t that a sure sign that a boy likes you? Laughing his ass off as he can see you almost got into a car wreck?

FUCK THIS BOOK. It’s only the second chapter and I’m REALLY having a hard time getting through it. There’s just so much that pisses me off about it! The bad writing, Bella’s a bitch, Edward’s smug, the blatant misogyny and sexism, the awful pacing…*sigh* I hope you all appreciate what I do for you.

Top 10 Depressing Childhood Moments in Media


Everybody has moments that depress them. But none were more depressing than the ones that we were fed in the media as a child. Growing up with films like An American Tail and The Brave Little Toaster, we have some pretty scarring memories for such a young age. But in a way, I don’t mind that, since I believe that kids can handle heavier stuff than adults give them credit for. I actually never found these all that sad until I got older and understood them better. And so, I wanted to share some of the ones that really shaped my emotions growing up.

10. Mickey’s A Christmas Carol – Tiny Tim’s Death

We all know that everybody’s done an adaptation of “A Christmas Carol”. And Disney is no exception. But this one is actually one I really like! And it’s also one of those movies that can just move you to tears without even using any words.

The scene starts at 20:16. Just…look at Mickey’s face. Look at his eyes. You can tell this is just killing him inside. He’s just lost his son who’s been sick and weak his whole life, and all he has left is his crutch, which he sadly puts on top of the grave. He says nothing, but all of it is just too sad for words. Words would’ve just cheapened that scene. Of course, he gets better, but still…it’s haunting just by the look on his face.



9. Dinosaurs – The Finale

I don’t think I got what this ending meant as a kid, but when I saw it again grown up, it just hit me like a ton of bricks. Jim Henson decided to do a heart-wrenching but very powerful pro-environmental message. To quote Cracked.com:

“In the finale, the family is disappointed when the beautiful and colorful bunch-beetle migration display fails to appear. Turns out the beetles never showed because a plastic fruit factory has destroyed their breeding grounds and effectively wiped out their entire population. The beetles were keeping a breed of creeper vine in check, which quickly spreads out of control. Earl is put in charge of the problem, and in trying to wipe out the vines, sprays massive amounts of defoliant that ends up wiping out all plant life on the planet. Now desperate to make rain to revive the plants, they cause all the major volcanoes to erupt, confusing rain clouds with smoke clouds. In the end, the clouds end up causing global cooling which the TV says will last tens of thousands of years.”

The show ends with Earl apologizing to his family for unintentionally causing the death of his family and all the other dinosaurs. They rally together as they prepare to die and tell Baby Sinclair that they’ll be together until the end. The part that made me break was when the newscaster pauses for a minute after his sign-off and says “Goodbye.” It just sounds so final, and it sounds so frightening, and…I just couldn’t help but cry. It definitely is a message that still needs to be shown today.



8. Pokémon – Pikachu’s Goodbye
Damn this episode…I have a very vivid and embarrassing memory of watching this when it came on as a kid and just bawling my damn eyes out clutching my stuffed Pikachu while my two (younger) brothers looked at me like “Jeez, Taylor, get a grip.” It really was sad, though! 

Ash comes across a colony of Pikachu and decides that Pikachu would be better off if he left him with his own kind. It gets better, but when he runs away crying from his confused Pokémon and that damn song starts playing…oh my god. It’s just UNFAIR.
 
Why do you have to be so goddamn cute, Pikachu?! Huh? Huh??



7. The Simpsons – Mother Simpson

In this episode, Homer fakes his own death to get out of a trash detail at work. However, after the power gets shut off since the account was in his name, he goes to the public records and tells them he’s alive. He’s shocked to find that they have record of his mom still being alive when he was told that she’d died when he was a child – and upon going to the cemetery and falling into an open grave, after 27 years, finds his mother.

At first, he’s so overjoyed to have found her that he doesn’t even bother to ask why she went missing or why she didn’t contact him. Bart and Lisa instantly take a liking to her, but after she goes out of her way to avoid a police car, they find out that she was part of a revolution in the 60s to take down Montgomery Burns’ germ warfare plant. Now a fugitive, she said a quiet goodbye to Homer as he slept and left.

Burns never forgot about his vendetta, and comes seriously close to capturing her if she didn’t get an anonymous tip. Getting ready to run from the law again, Mona says goodbye to Homer, saying that she’ll always be his mother and she’s always proud of him.

The ending is what makes this episode so heartbreaking. And whenever I think of this episode, I think of that picture of Homer sitting on the hood of his car late into the night just looking up at the stars while the credits roll. The music also really makes that scene. It reminds me a lot of how my Dad felt when his mother died, and so it has an oddly personal note with me. Definitely one of their best.



6. Garfield: His 9 Lives – Life No. 6

In Garfield’s sixth life, he was a pianist’s female pet cat, Diana, accompanying her from childhood to her marriage. I don’t want to spoil the ending here, it’s really something you should watch for yourself. It’s far too deep and beautiful to be spoiled by words.



5. A Boy Named Charlie Brown

No list about depressing childhood media would be complete without a Peanuts movie in there. The reason I pick this one is because it really kinda captures how depressed I was as a kid, and how sometimes you can try your very best and it still might not be good enough. Or doing well for a while and then making a complete fool of yourself. Not to mention that the opening song makes me bawl like a baby every time.

Charlie Brown is constantly depressed because he does horrible at baseball, he can’t keep a kite in the air to save his life, his bath boat sinks, the other kids taunt him, he can’t even win a simple game of Tic-Tac-Toe against Linus. Until finally he realizes that he has a gift for spelling, something that bewilders his friends and makes him think he’s not such a failure after all…until he makes it all the way to the finals and misspells B-E-A-G-L-E as B-U-G-L-E.

It’s heartbreaking to see it happen, and I found myself really just feeling broken along with Charlie Brown. But then Linus comes to see his friend when he’s too depressed to even get out of bed, and gives a piece of sound advice like only he can:

Well, I can understand how you feel. You worked hard, studying for the spelling bee, and I suppose you feel you let everyone down, and you made a fool of yourself and everything. But did you notice something, Charlie Brown?”

“What’s that?”

“The world didn’t come to an end.” 



4. A Garfield Christmas – Grandma

This is one of my all-time favourite Christmas specials, for a lot of reasons. It’s funny, it’s affectionate, Garfield’s his cynical-but-lovable self, and we see Grandma, who’s probably the coolest Grandma ever. But it’s not until Christmas Eve that we really get to know her.

Garfield happily rests in her lap while she tells him about Grandpa, and how he was the love of her life and always loved Christmas – even though he was firm every time else. I absolutely cannot watch this without breaking down in tears – and I’ve tried. I’m tearing up as I type this; it’s just that powerful of a scene. It also reminds me of my maternal grandparents, so again, personal note.

The part starts at 13:40, and it’s most likely going to make you cry too. No shame, people. 



3. Toy Story 2 – When She Loved Me

Oh, Sarah McLachlan, you and your utter ability to make people feel horribly depressed with a fair amount of guilt thrown in. (I’m looking at YOU, ASPCA.) In this scene, Jessie reminisces about her owner Emily, from when she was a little girl at the peak of their friendship, until she grew up and forgot all about her. It ends with her discovering her under the bed and being donated, when Jessie thought that everything was going to go back to normal.

It’s another scene I absolutely cannot get through without crying. I can’t even listen to the song without crying. Watching an early release of the movie, Tom Hanks and Tim Allen looked at each other across the empty theater after the song, and both of them had tears in their eyes. Joan Cusack was crying while recording the lines in the booth. John Lassetter sums it up best:

At that moment you know that no one’s thinking ‘Well, this is just a cartoon’, ‘this is just a bunch of pencil drawings on paper’ or ‘this is just a bunch of computer data’. No. These characters are alive and they’re real.





2. Charlotte’s Web

This is one of the earliest movies I can remember that didn’t make me cry very much as a kid (though I knew it was sad) but just made me go insane with tears when I got older.

Me as a Kid: Oh, that’s sad.
Me as an Adult: WAAAAAAAHHHH!!!! CHARLOTTE!!!!

You all know the scene I’m talking about. When Charlotte has her babies and is too weak from childbirth to live. Wilbur begs her to stay alive, but she sings her Swan Song and gently fades away…

Two things about this really make this scene worse for me. The first is Charlotte’s demeanor. She’s acting like she’s just going to the store. She’s so calm. She’s not scared, she’s not wistful, she’s just saying “I’m dying, that’s what happens to us, deal with it.” And then there’s Wilbur’s reaction when she doesn’t reply. “Charlotte?...Charlotte?...CHARLOTTE?!” THAT is when I completely and utterly start to sob, and it’s hard to get me to stop. Definitely a wonderful VHS to include in your Happy Meal, McDonald’s. 



1. Calvin & Hobbes – The Raccoon Story

I know some of you might be thinking this is an odd choice, but Calvin & Hobbes were a big part of my childhood growing up. I discovered the comic strip in 2nd grade when a classmate let me borrow his It’s a Magical World collection, and I was hooked from then on. But the comic saga I’m talking about happened closer to the beginning of the strip, and it really cemented when the comic started to become known for its philosophy on life, death and everything in between.











The way Calvin reacts after the raccoon dies is probably the saddest part to me, and it really explains how death must feel to a child who’s never experienced it before. And then at the end when it just brings Calvin and Hobbes closer together will warm the heart of anyone, no matter how jaded.

Thank you, Mr. Watterson.

Friday, July 6, 2012

D52 Review - Oliver & Company


I remember seeing this movie in theaters as a kid. Which is odd since it came out the year I was born, but I guess it got re-released. Notice how I’m talking about that before anything about the actual movie? That’s because this is one of those unmemorable films.

This movie is SO FUCKING 80s, OH MY GOD. The animation of the city, the fact that it’s New York, the opening song, Billy Joel, all of it is 80s. And this isn’t necessarily a good thing. The opening is weird; the song doesn’t really match up with what it’s showing us. And why the hell would they just leave the one remaining kitten out in the rain?? (And notice it’s the ginger kitten, too. Assholes.)

So, the kitten meets Billy Joel dog, who sounds entirely different than what I expected him to. He sounds good when he’s actually singing, but when talking…don’t quit your day job, Billy. (Also, why is “Why Should I Worry?” so fucking catchy while being a very annoying, underwhelming song?)

The movie goes into some interesting morals, such as stealing is okay as long as you’re a nice homeless guy in trouble, don’t tell your butler that you’re going out in a strange part of town late at night to meet some man you’ve never met before, if you have a ton of money and a homeless guy does you a favor, don’t reward him and get him off the street, just let him and his outcast dogs continue to struggle while you and the cat live in luxury on 5th avenue. (Also, way to go for the product placement, guys. Cocoa Krispies must’ve loved that.)

Also, quick tip, kids: don’t make the dog look sexy. Just….don’t.

This movie really just made me go “what the hell?” It has bad morals, sexy and borderline-racist dogs, proves people are assholes, a very underwhelming fight scene compared to last week, and it’s a trip on the stepping stones up to the Disney Renaissance. If Great Mouse Detective and this had switched, we might’ve been alright. But thankfully, we know it picked itself up.