The Soak of the Year

When you look annoyed all the time people think you're busy.

Sign me the eff up

“BPG Motors is accepting refundable deposits of $250 for Uno orders. The company says that pricing will be similar to other high-end scooters, so expect $5,000-$7,500.”

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Legalize it

No, not weed.  Heroin!  And prostitution!

YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!11!!11

Here’s a snippet from the first GOP debate for the 2012 election:

Man, I love Ron Raul.  I am changing my party affiliation from Libertarian to Republican just so I can vote for him in the primary.

WUB WUB WUB

I can’t stop listening to dubstep.   For the uninitiated, here’s an introduction:

Something Cute…

Look.  If Steve can post something cute, so can I.

“See Jake-y, I told you he was gay.” (please read in P. Czerwin voice.)

(If you are unfamiliar with the aforementioned individual, please read in Rip Torn’s voice.)

If you are unfamiliar with Rip Torn, get familiar.

He’s a great actor!

Once you are familiar with Mr. Torn, please re-evaluate the respect you give great actors.

They are basically just crazy people with good memories.

Anyway, like I was saying, here is something cute:

Entire X-Files Story Arch (Let’s get it started in here…)

So….

First of all, this is not going to be 500 words or less.  That’s impossible.  (This thing is convoluted as hell.)

It’s going to be split into at least four parts, to make it more digestible.  And to give my lazy ass time to finish it.

The titles of each post will have a Black Eyed Peas lyric in parenthesis.  I assume no explanation for this is needed.

Finally…

The notes I’ve taken (Yea, that’s right.  Notes.  I took NOTES, motherfuckers, what?) on the episodes foretell a great chronicle of what goes through my head when I watch TV rather than a great retelling of the X-Files’ story arch. 

Oh well.  At least it will make it different from all the other synopsis on the web. 

And it might explain to a few of my family and friends why I prefer to watch sports and news on television.  I don’t really know anything about sports or news, so I find it relaxing.  I know a little something about acting and film (or, at least, I like to think I do) and, consequently, I have a hard time turning off my inner-critic.  It feels like work.  (Unless the show is REALLY well-made, i.e. “The Wire” or “Mad Men” or “The Bill Engvall Show”.)

Anyway, without further ado…

THE X-FILES STORY ARCH.

SEASON 1

We are gonna do this one fast, because the whole first season basically functions as an introduction and prologue to the story arch.

It’s clear the producers had no idea if they were going to get picked up for a second season, so they kept the episodes largely self-contained (meaning, there’s very little “mythology”.)

Through Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) we meet Fox “Spooky” Mulder (David Duchovny).  He’s obsessed with aliens and the paranormal.  He believes his sister was abducted.  She’s been assigned to him by some dude smoking a cigarette, ostensibly to debunk his work.

In the first episode, Mulder wears glasses.  WHAT A DORK!  He was mostly likely conceived by series creator Chris “Touchdown” Carter as a bit nerdy but 20th Century Fox, or Duchovny’s agent, or Duchovny himself convinced Carter to scrap that idea and let the actor’s inner-stud shine through.

Gillian Anderson’s hair and make-up team clearly changed after the pilot as well.

And changed even more so later in the series!

We also briefly meet F.B.I director Walter Skinner (Mitch Pleggi).  He spends most of the first season as the stock cop-show-boss, stern and very yelly.

You get the feeling he was going to be just a minor character like the rest of the F.B.I. superiors in The X-Files but Pleggi’s great performance (he’s easily the best actor in the first two seasons) elevated his character’s stature.

Then there’s Deep Throat.  He is the first in long line of government informants.  Sometimes he tells Mulder the truth.  Sometimes he doesn’t.  Eventually he gets killed.  Par for the course.

Not so “par for the course”, Mulder wearing cut-off sweat pants.

The last episode of the season, “The Erlenmeyer Flask”, is the only one with real significance to the story arch.  It drops a number of tantalizing hints about the grand conspiracy.

There is a doctor that spouts green blood when he is wounded.

A guy with a crew cut that stalks people.

An alien fetus discovered by Scully, which marks the beginning of Scully’s frustrating and inexplicable reluctance to accept the stupid truth about the stupid aliens.  (SHE SAW ONE in the first damn season, yet it takes almost the entire series to convince her they really exist.)

And a giant storage facility somewhere inside the Pentagon.

That’s really all we get.

What is most remarkable about Season 1 of The X-Files is the subtle shift of narrative mode that takes place over the course of the 20-some episodes.

We begin in the very common first person singular subjective.  In other words, we identify with Scully.  This is an often exploited narrative device in television and film.  (The best example I can think of at the moment, besides Dorthy in The Wizard of Oz, which is the quintessential example, is Will Smith’s character in the first Men in Black movie.)

Side note, Men in Black also contains one of the Top 5 rap/pop songs about government agents and inexplicable or outright paranormal events.    (“It’s the M.I.B.’s. Unh. Here come the M.I.B.’s”)

Number 1? Ghostbusters. Can you name the artist? It probably says his name right under this but I can’t see the video until I publish it.

(Yep.  It did.)

In The X-Files, Scully serves as our window into an unfamiliar world.  Her character’s sense of discovery is shared by the audience.  That’s how the device works.

The problems come later, when studios (and let’s be honest, artists) try to bank on the success of a fledgling show or movie.  The sense of audience discovery is gone and so the writers are forced to either vastly redefine the world of the piece or change the narrative mode.

They usually fuck this up.

A good example of this dropping-of-the-proverbial-ball is Men In Black II.  The writers decided not to change anything, perspective wise, and made an hour long movie that bored everyone to tears.

Another example is Jurassic Park II: The Lost World.  Here they tried to switch the narrative mode from Sam Neil to Jeff Goldblum.  It didn’t work.  Movies simply aren’t as fun when the main character and, by extension, the audience, know essentially what is coming.  Steven Speilberg tried to account for this by making the film much darker, but to little avail.

An example of a sequel done well is James Cameron’s Aliens.  He basically built an entire world around Ridley Scott’s very claustrophobic first film and, consequently, the writer’s were able to keep the main character Ripley’s point of view without a loss of discovery.

My favorite example of an awesome shift in point-of-view is the series finale of The Sopranos.  Through the course of that show, the audience was presented with Tony as an object to be studied.  We are always looking at him.  Mostly, we see him through the eyes of his psychiatrist, Dr. Melfi.

Though we may understand the way Tony views an event (although often we are left guessing), but we never see an event through his eyes.

Until the last episode.

Right before the screen goes black, we finally get a glimpse of how it feels to be Tony.  He’s supposed to be enjoying dinner with his family, and on the surface seems to be doing just that.  But when finally given his perspective, we realize just how exhausting and paranoid his life is.  Every sound makes him look up.  Every stranger is a possible assassin.  He’s constantly tense, looking around the room.

(By the way, if you want to read a super-exhaustive explanation of the Soprano’s ending, this guy’s is very popular.  At the beginning, he says he is going to debunk the “Tony’s always looking over his shoulder” interpretation, but, in my opinion, he ends up making that interpretation seem valid.)

(I hope this isn’t boring.  This is all I got.)

What makes the X-Files unique is how they subtly shift the narrative mode to Mulder’s perspective without losing Scully’s inner-life.  Juggling two equal first person perspectives is a pretty deft trick and the X-Files manages it with ease.  (Granted, tons of cop and/or buddy shows have done this in the past, but generally there is one straight-laced guy or gal the audience identifies with and a kooky one the audience observes and laughs or cringes at.)

It’s pretty impressive, this split narrative focus.

Unfortunately, a lot of the early episodes feature clunky directing and acting, which can be a little distracting.

That’s the end of the beginning.

I promise the next one will be a little bit more, “here’s what happens in the show” and a little less “film theory 101”.  I just had to get all of that out of my system.

Til then…

They say he only caught touchdowns, but it turns out Chris Carter also wrote and produced one of television’s most beloved dramas….

Nonsense

So I have That Cute Site in my RSS feed. I don’t know why as the site actually annoys me more than anything. I added it to my reader b/c some list of great blogs had it on there. This is a horrible reason. Anyhoo, finally I came across something on the site worth posting. Kinda. Well, not really.

So we were browsing around our cute picture archive, when we spotted this little fella, and much to our surprise he REALLY reminded us of a certain type of bird…

…so with the help of a little Photoshop magic…

angry bird!

Jim Gaffigan is Funny

Jim Gaffigan is the only comedian I like that is completely appropriate for the whole family.

I think.

Or maybe he just seems family-appropriate compared to the rest of the stuff I like?

To be honest with you, I’ve completely lost track of what is appropriate for who and when and where.

Oh well.

Here:

U-S-A? (“The Soak” gets Soaked in Sanctimony)

Let’s start with this.

The presumptive goal of the “War on Terror” is to end terrorism.

So, allow me to pose a query (please read in mock-British accent or with a bitterly ironic tone).

Which scenario is more likely to accomplish said goal, to diminish the amount of terrorists and the impact of terrorism around the world:

1.) The United States kills Osama Bin Laden.  People in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, etc…turn on Al-Jeezera or CNN International or whatever state-run media apparatus they watch, and see the following:

Thousands upon thousands of crazy yahoos flooding into the streets, yelling and screaming, waving flags, and chanting U-S-A like we’d just won the world series.

A Senator from New York, Chuck Schumer, holding up a copy of the Daily News with a picture of Osama Bin Laden and the headline “Rot in Hell”.

The President of the U.S. giving a speech where he sounds like a third grader telling his family how good he was in the school play.

Other newspaper headlines that read “Vengeance at Last”, “The Butcher of 9/11 is Dead”, and “We Got the Bastard” and a picture on CNN (!!!!!) of the Statue of Liberty holding Bin Laden’s severed head.

OR

2.)The United States kills Osama Bin Laden.  People in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, etc…turn on Al-Jeezera or CNN International or whatever state-run media apparatus they watch, and see the following:

Images of Americans greeting the event with dignified solemnity.

A Senator from New York explaining coolly the reason this man had to die and the tragedy he had inflicted on members of his state.

The President giving a speech that recounts the operation and explains to the world why the U.S. had to thwart convention and carry out a clandestine operation in the country of an official alley without their knowledge.

Newspaper headlines that read simply “Osama Bin Laden Dead” which was what most papers saw fit to print after Hitler committed suicide.

The requisite sensationalism and reactionary fanaticism that the U.S. inevitably brings to occasions such as this are it’s own worst enemy.

Osama Bin Laden wasn’t Skeletor and the U.S. isn’t He-Man.

He wasn’t some evil villain plotting to take over the world for his own selfish reasons.  The guy was born into an uber-wealthy family but CHOSE to sleep in caves and crudely constructed bunkers almost his entire life for a cause he believed in.  That doesn’t make the cause right or just.  It wasn’t.  But the bigger point here is this:

As long as people in America carry an elitist and willfully ignorant attitude toward the world, the poor and disenfranchised of the world will continue to hate Americans and irrationally blame them for their situation.  It really is as simple as that.

The “War on Terror” isn’t The Civil War.  It isn’t World War II.  There are no clear cut sides and there are no General Pattons or Ulysses S. Grants.  It won’t be won by burning a city to the ground or deposing some evil dictator.

This war is almost entirely ideological.  And on May 1st, 2011, nothing changed.  Osama Bin Laden remains for violent jihadist what he has always been, a valuable symbol.  He represents the first man who, in their eyes, was able to successfully stand up to U.S. tyranny.

If anything, the U.S.’s over-the-top revelry upon the news of his death serves only to increase his value as symbol.  (By the way, how are we still not getting the whole jihadist/martyr thing.  Killing these guys isn’t a deterrent.  That’s LITERALLY what they want.)

Without getting into a long diatribe about Osama Bin Laden’s break with Saudi Arabia and the extraordinary abuses of its rulers, the U.S. backed House of Saud, I will just say simply that the world is complex.  The more we choose to see the “War on Terror” in simple black and white, good v. evil terms, the longer it will last.

I’m not saying it is not a good thing Osama Bin Laden was killed.  It is.  It would have been better if he was taken alive but there are lots of reasons that wasn’t going to happen.

Still.  His death is a very good thing.  He was a dangerous man.  His views had become so one-sided, so reactionary and cemented, that he blinded himself to the suffering he’d caused to thousands and thousands of innocent people.  His version of Islam left no room for compromise.

Earlier I accused citizens of the United States of willful ignorance.  I accuse Bin Laden of the same.

Without hesitation, I indict any Islamic jihadist who thinks they can somehow improve the world with violence and terror.

The thing is, the U.S. should not be attempting to fight fire with fire.  Not in this case.  It won’t work.  Just ask Metallica.

If we’re supposed to be “on the side of good” (as President Bush was fond of saying) then we’d better start acting like it.

Only a sincere portrayal of the “good” we so ardently claim will change the “hearts and minds” of millions of people that currently see the U.S. as pure evil.

We can’t just say we’re “good”.  We need to be “good”.

And “good” doesn’t celebrate death with a parade.

Cheap beer!

The Soak of the Year loves cheap beers and we’re always on the lookout for our next inexpensive high. Thankfully our friends at Deadspin, in particular Drew Magary, help us find these beers. Each week during the (American) football season Magary’s NFL Dick Joke Jambaroo goes to the readers for a Cheap Beer of the Week and the section is a true bumper crop of, well, cheap beers.

So The Soak of the Year is going to mine this treasure trove and bring to you, loyal readers, outtakes from the Cheap Beer of the Week. No guarantees on the regularity of this feature. We only guarantee cheap booze. Thank us in the comments.


Cheap Beer Of The Week

BLANCO BASURA! Reader Jon submits this delightful import:

This stuff is sold in 5-pack form, in a lunchbox-styled box with a handle and everything. The name is mangled Spanish for “White Trash”, yet the product is proudly made in Mexico and the packaging is colored like the Mexican flag. Like i said, it comes in a 5-pack, with the missing 6th beer actually being a bottle of tequilla. The box boasts “5 beers and 5 shots,” and even comes with a cheap little shot glass for quicker consumption. This shit is classic, costs like 9 bucks for 5 beers and a bottle….. the best part though, is the mascot of the company, which is basically the silhouette of a 3-legged dog.

If it’s good enough for a three-legged dog, then by gar it’s good enough for me. I MUST HAVE IT. The tequila, by the way, is fifty times more terrifying than the beer itself. There’s no way that tequila wasn’t made from embalming fluid. My head is spinning just looking at it.


Weeeee!

Please stick around until the :45 mark. You can fast forward to the 2:35 mark to see the revival.