Penn and Teller’s B.S.

I hope people appreciate that I don’t swear on this blog. It’s the consequence of living in largely Puritanical society that places unfair standards on the use of language. I personally have no problem with swearing, but I understand that there is a time and place for it.

Similarly, if you find Penn and Teller’s B.S. on the shelves wherever DVDs are sold, you’ll likely see the censored title of the show that you can find, on demand, through Showtime. The show itself is not so censored, so please be warned.

I would say that if I had seen this before Adam Ruins Everything, that the latter show was a sanitized version of the former. Since Adam Conover escaped the confines of College Humor, he had to trade the freedom of language that the Internet provides for the aforementioned Puritanical standards that TruTV is forced to operate under. Penn and Teller have no such restraints on Showtime and therefore, I say this with all due respect to all parties mentioned, that Penn and Teller’s BULLSHIT! is the adult version of two shows that work hard to expose the failures of humanity.

What the two shows have in common is that no one is trying to insult the victims of those failures but rather, the perpetrators. The scam artists, the snake oil salespeople, the ones who take all of your money in exchange for a placebo effect that can, in some cases, have potentially hazardous consequences.

If you’re a fan of Penn and Teller, this show is for you. Even if you aren’t a fan of the two most recognized names in stage magic, you might just be someone who likes two guys that call it as they see it. Okay, Penn does more of the “calling” and Teller provides much of the “seeing”, but still, you can take their word to the bank and probably get a lot of funny looks from the bank tellers (pun not intended).

Like Adam’s show, Penn and Teller’s B.S. leaves me with so many questions about things I have long suspected to be BS but the world in general is okay with. There’s eight seasons worth of half hour episodes and I’m only starting to binge watch them all.

The Brokenwood Mysteries

If you’re like me and you suddenly feel the need to live in another country, but you can’t afford the plane ticket, the passport, or have the unique skills required to emigrate, Brokenwood Mysteries may be the perfect escape for you.

Set in New Zealand, Brokenwood hits all the necessary check marks to qualify it as a cozy murder mystery. Billed as the New Zealand Midsomer Murders, it actually does something that Midsomer  hasn’t done of late: It is to allows the viewer to solve the crime.

As you’re watching, a lot of the clues are things the viewer will see before the detective. If you get a special kick out of seeing whether your theory was the correct one, Brokenwood will provide that fix.

The dialect and accent may be a bit strong for some viewers. There’s no learning curve, really, you just have to be able to listen and maybe hit the rewind button once or twice to make sure you’re not missing anything.

A strong female detective helps to solve the crimes without falling in love with the male characters. A country music soundtrack provides much of the background noise. And the investigations are believable, without any evidence of the ever present “Sherlock Scan” that pervades a lot of contemporary mystery series.

If you’re looking for something new to fill in the gaps between Midsomer Murders and George Gently, consider checking out The Brokenwood Mysteries.

Only Lovers Left Alive: Vampires Are Going Extinct

Spoiler warnings ahead. Watch the Jim Jarmusch movie if you haven’t already and you have a general dislike of spoiler.

As with all things, these comments herein are my opinions and theories. They may be wrong. I don’t claim to know for certain what the writer, actors, or producers had in mind for the story. These are the lovingly crafted theories of a fan of the film who has way too much time on his hands.

Adam and Eve are vampires who have seen a huge chunk of human history go by. Whereas Eve is a survivor who would rather nourish friendships and appreciate nature, Adam is in some kind of perpetual mourning phase that only ever finds relief in the comfort of other people. It gets so bad that at one point, he actually buys a wooden bullet made from a type of hardwood that is also used to make guitars (This becomes an important point at the end of the movie, which I have pointed out to other fans of the film who missed the connection).

On visiting her husband, Eve finds the gun and the bullet and on discovering that it was newly made and on confronting him says, “Just tell me you’re having trouble with one of the others.”

“I don’t see any others,” he replies. “Ever.”

A combination of the writing and Tom Hiddleston’s delivery leads me to the conclusion that in the universe of the film, vampires are slowly dying out. This theory is supported by other ideas within the movie.

First is the notion that humans have basically destroyed their own blood. All of the drugs and toxins of the 21st century have made their blood practically lethal to vampires, to the point where they have to go out of their way to buy purified blood. The survival oriented vampire only takes blood directly from people as an absolute last resort, the way you or I might drink water we know to be contaminated just to avoid dehydration.

Not every vampire is going to have the money or the wherewithal to set up a back ally deal with a doctor who has access to blood. And some vampires, like Ava, have no problem drinking human blood and only regret it when it backfires on them in the form of sickness and/or upsetting the people in their lives.

This supports my theory that Adam, Eve, Ava, Kit, and the lovely couple at the end of the movie, are members of yet another endangered species that humanity is slowly taking down with it.

Writing Something that Six Billion People will get? Good luck.

The Voynich manuscript is a paradox of the writing world. A book written in a language that no one alive on Earth can translate, as far as we know. It is most known for having no cipher, no recognizable characters, and no one can even say for certain what culture it may have originated from.

The Voynich manuscript is a book that six billion people do not get. It has achieved what many writers wish they could achieve… in reverse.

Now and again, I’ll write a post that only reaches out to one or two readers. It’s not because I’m trying to alienate a larger group of readers. Rather, I’m trying to draw a larger crowd by throwing out the one or two things I might have in common with them.

Not everyone will get it. That’s fine. Of course, you could also google most of what I’ll write about in those instances.

The category will be hence called: All Two Of You

The Odd Martian

None of the characters here are mine. This is a loving mash-up of Odd Squad and The Martian, both properties of other people more talented than I.


Mark Whatney found himself in a tight spot. The Aries 3 crew was forced to evacuate the base and in the confusion, Mark got left behind. It was embarrassing really. While the directors at NASA were busy holding press conferences, Mark went with the only option available: He called the Odd Squad.

“What seems to be the problem?” Oren asked. Oren and Olaf.jpg

His partner, Olaf, let out an eerie howl. Mark shrugged and said, “I was hoping you guys could help me out. You see, the next Aries mission won’t be here for another three years. I’m running low on rations and I don’t even know how to communicate with Earth.”

Oren nodded.

“I know exactly how to help. It just so happens that I have a-,”

“Potatonator!”

“No, Olaf.” Oren sighed. He reached into his jacket and pulled out a gadget, courtesy of the Odd Squad labs. “This gadget will create a temporary tube that will take us right back to-”

“Potatonator!” Olaf pulled out his own gadget and aimed it at a large empty space within the Hab. A beam of energy transformed the space into a fully functioning potato farm. “Now you’ll have plenty of potatoes to last you until the next Aries mission!”

With that, Olaf grabbed the tube gadget from Oren and sent them both back to Odd Squad headquarters. Confused and bewildered, Mark Whatney took one look at the potato garden and shrugged.Potato farm.jpg

“Well, I guess I’ll have to go find the Pathfinder now.”

“In the original story…”

One of the most common criticisms/logical fallacies in response to a re-telling, or the latest story in a well known mythology, is the concept of the original story.

For example, Twilight. The vampires sparkle, which set off an endless string of tweets, memes, forum and blog posts about how vampires don’t sparkle. Some also made the claim that “In the original Bram Stoker’s Dracula, vampires couldn’t even walk in the sun.”

Fans of vampire lore like to throw Bram Stoker around to show their literary maturity. But then they truck out a line like that and it’s obvious they’ve never actually read the book. This was the case in a recent discussion about Emerald City; the latest in a long line of re-tellings of The Wizard Of Oz.

There were a number of characters and concepts in Emerald City that one commenter said they didn’t remember from the original story. I asked if they were referring to the book or the movie, to which another commenter said something to the effect of, “Doesn’t matter.”

It does matter though. Because the movie took great liberties with the story in an effort to give Judy Garland a vehicle and sell tickets. It wasn’t concerned with the symbolism and hidden allegories prevalent in the original Frank Baum novel. I have to admit that I’ve never read the books (yet) but that I know of the symbolism because my 11th grade history teacher told us about it. He handed us a glossary of all of the story elements of The Wizard of Oz, which included things like the Silver Slippers, the Gold Brick Road, how the Witch of the West represented the dust bowl and the flying monkeys were slaves, etc.

And to be clear, the writers for Emerald City probably added a few of their own twists and turns, which is acceptable. Making a story your own as much as possible is what keeps it from being badly written fan fiction. But if you’re going to cite the original story as a reason for not liking or not understanding an element in the new version, you have to be clear on what the original story actually was.

A Song Inspired By Rice (Not the writer, sadly)

While making a rice based dish, I was reading the instructions. My muse must have been on my back at the time, because this little ditty came to mind. I think it would be perfect for elementary school teachers to teach their students, or for kids playing double dutch. (Do kids still play double dutch? Do you have to download an app for that?)


 

One cup of rice

and two cups of water

boil it in a pot

serve it to your son or daughter

No more than twenty minutes

Boiling in the pot

Remember that a little

Always makes a lot