Profiles in Awesome: Theophilus Carter

May 3, 2010

Alice in Wonderland has been pretty frickin popular the last couple of months, which I think is more of a testament to the 3D experience and less about the movie itself. Tim Burton made a movie with over saturated colors, a Danny Elfman score, moody undertones, starring Jonny Depp– that shit was crazy original! I’m happy Burton could stray so far from his directing norm! Sarcastic exclamation points!!!

Aside from my annoyance with the recent film adaptation, I really love Alice in Wonderland. I read the book in sophomore year, and me and Wayne had a brief obsession with how cool Lewis Carol was. The book is loaded with satire and most of the characters are based on exaggerations of real people, the most awesome of these being the Mad Hatter. The tea swigging lunatic is based on Theophilus Carter, an inventor and top hat enthusiast who lived in Oxford around the same time Carol did.

Theophilus Carter was a furniture salesman/crazy person, so he decided to combine the two into one totally awesome invention. He invented an alarm clock bed that tossed you out of bed in the morning and into a bath full of cold water. Yup, awesome. That is clearly the worst idea anyone has ever had. I can’t fathom why anyone would ever want to wake up like that, but Theophilus thought it would be a big hit. He was so confident that he brought his invention to the Great Exhibition of 1851. Needless to say, people weren’t stoked about waking up to a bath full of ice water every morning.

Theophilus became pretty famous around town, mostly because he stood outside his furniture shop screaming at people. He was pretty easy to spot, since he always wore a giant top hat on the back of his head. Carol brought his illustrator, Sir John Tenniel, to Oxford to get a good look at Carter so he could draw him for Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. The term “mad as a hatter” was pretty popular back then because most hat makers got mercury poison and went insane, but Theophilus was just good old fashion crazy. Crazy awesome. I’m not sure how we would feel knowing that one day Jonny Depp would be running around in makeup and a wig pretending to be like him. All I can say is hats off to Theophilus for being great, and Lewis Carol for immortalizing his madness.
Clean cup, clean cup. Move down.

-Ryan


Case Study: Mall Thugs

April 27, 2010

After many years of painstaking research, it is finally time to reveal my findings on one of nature’s most territorial species- The Mall Thug.

I have studied the different phylum of the mall for quite some time, but few of its inhabitants are as interesting as the mall thug. Mall thugs are distant cousins to actual thugs, a common mistake made by novice shoppers. If you are having trouble identifying a mall thug from someone who might actually stab you, just look for a few tell tale signs. First, actual thugs don’t have a lot of free time for leisure and shopping, so if you spot a thug in a mall you know said thug isn’t very dangerous. Second, notice how the mall thug lacks the self confidence and intimidating presence that a real thug would possess. The third and final test for determining the validity of the thug in question is a simple but effective observation: If the subject is under the age of 16 and can’t control the bagginess of their pants or the volume of their voice, you have in your sights a mall thug.
Now that we have identified the mall thug, let us discuss some of its behavior and social habits. The mall thug can often be seen congregating in packs around Champs or Finish Line. Footwear is an essential part of mall thug culture. Because most mall thugs lack the size or confidence to be intimidating, they have resorted to matching their shoe laces to their hats in order to show authority. Matching colors is how young mall thugs attract desperate females, similar to a peacock. The mall thug will make strange hand gestures and noises to get the female’s attention, and then hope she notices the outline on his jacket matches his Jordans.

Anthropologists have often noted the extremely aggressive and territorial nature of the mall thug. They travel in groups, ranging from four to eight members, giving intimidating stares to all they pass. They will often attempt to approach the girlfriends of other mall thugs. This usually results in a brief exchange of angry words, with both males in question often backing down awkwardly. During my research, I noticed that most mall thugs are actually very gentle, but are misunderstood because of their strange behavior and interesting fashion choices. Because mall thugs are often rather annoying and occasionally too physical, I have developed a system for visiting the mall without incident: Avoidance, Escape, and Confrontation.

Avoidance– The key to navigating the mall without detection is to know where the packs are most likely to strike. Avoid places like phone kiosks, as they are often run by friends of thugs. Any place that sells cubic zirconia (such as Piercing Pagoda), should be avoided, as this imitation diamond is often all that a mall thug can afford. And by all means, stay away from Lids. Lids is where all beginner mall thugs go to purchase their first flat brimmed hat, a ceremonial rite of passage.
Escape– Outrunning a mall thug can be difficult, as many are on j.v. football or basketball teams. Fortunately, a key flaw to the mall thug’s attire is limited maneuverability. Because they wear their pants so low, they may find it difficult to keep up in a long winded pursuit. If they start gaining on you, use an escalator. Mall thugs will be rendered immobile on an escalator, as they cant resist the opportunity to pose while moving.
Confrontation– Nearly all mall thugs lack any fighting ability or weaponry. Also, each member of the pack is a separate entity, and they will rarely help each other in an actual fight. If you have to fight a mall thug, try to avoid the slew of rapid fire “punches” they will throw in every direction. A useful technique is to always carry a copy of Brian De Palma’s Scarface. Mall thugs will be mesmerized and distracted at the sight of it, giving you the opportunity for the first strike.

I hope these techniques and information will help you in navigating the mall. The mall thug is an important part of the delicate mall ecosystem, without whom there would be chaos. Without the noble mall thug, there would be no one to keep the goth and scene kids from overrunning the average shopper. As a scientist, I greatly appreciate the mall thug for his impact on the vapid, pathetic world he lives in.
-Ryan


Lemmings: Not Really a Fan of the Whole Killing Themselves Thing

April 27, 2010

I’m not sure how I feel about Disney. They’ve got this weird thing for ducks, but man do they hate lemmings. I mean, they friggin’ murdered the poor bastards.

Omg, it's fat and cute.

I’ve never been one to care much about lemmings. Who would? They don’t really do anything interesting. They’re just fat little rodents. They’re kind of adorable, but they’re still just fat little rodents that don’t do anything. That being, it really is unfortunate that I spent my entire childhood thinking that lemmings were mentally handicapped mice whose only interests included foraging and mass suicide. Truth be told, however, that while it’s no doubt that these chubby little guys aren’t exactly the brightest, they still don’t blindly kill themselves en masse like I once thought. Admittedly, I’ve known that lemmings aren’t really a huge fan of  the whole suicide thing for quite a while, but I never knew that Disney was the blame for my childhood ignorance.

Apparently, back in 1958 people really sucked at filming nature documentaries. From what I’ve gathered it seems that the Disney documentary White Wilderness was shot over the course of three years. Along the way some guy was all like, “Yo, you know what’s nuts? These silly little rodents called lemmings run over cliffs and kill themselves. That shit is mad entertaining. Let’s film that.” Unfortunately, they never found any lemmings jumping to their deaths, so some asshole decided to take the matter into his own hands by first faking footage of lemmings migrating and then faking footage of lemmings killing themselves. This popularized the myth that every three or four years lemmings get extremely bored and decide to go throw themselves off a cliff for shits and giggles.

Now, I want you to watch this three minute long clip from White Wilderness. I want you to watch this clip with the full knowledge that these lemmings aren’t killing themselves unassisted.

Yeah, that’s right. This shit happened. Hell, this shit won an Academy Award.  Man, all I can think of when I watch this video is that there’s some fat guy pushing these things off that cliff with a stick. This is the most terrible thing I’ve ever seen. The worst part of the video has to be the fact that it seems like the narrator is trying to talk you through it, “It’s okay guys, sometimes nature is just severally retarded. It’s not like we’re shoving them off the edge of this cliff or anything.”

Man, now I’m wicked sad. Thanks Disney. Thanks.

Turns out, Lemmings don’t murder themselves.

– Wayne!


Let’s Get Dangerous

April 23, 2010

Something really weird happened in the late eighties and then all throughout the nineties. It happened subtly on nearly every children’s broadcasting station. Disney, Warner Bros, Cartoon Network, and a slew of movies and commercials were all dominated by one animal: the duck.

Take a minute to think about how many cartoon ducks you have seen in your life. On Disney alone there were over 50 characters who had a beak. It is pretty bold to flood your network with ducks, and even more impressive that someone at Disney had to think of over 50 duck themed puns to name all the characters. Just take a look at these names and tell me some guy at Disney didn’t want to hang himself: Webby Vanderquack, Quackmore Duck, Gosalyn Mallard, Canard Thunderbeak?

A lot of this started with the travesty of a film that is Howard the Duck. The film version of the absurd Marvel comic came out in 1986, and since then, has graced bad movie nights across the country for years. I have a theory that some guy over at Disney was really into this movie. This dude saw it like 6 times in theaters, has some serious theories about the spectroscope, and probably still gets a hard on when he thinks about duck tits. This is the only theory I have as to why ducks ruled the nineties with an iron beak. Get it? Beak? Cause like, ducks have beaks? Puns are cool right?

DuckTales played a big part in the mallard domination over at Disney. Scrooge McDuck and his badass great-nephews Huey, Dewey,and Louie set the standard for what a great cartoon should be. It was Disney’s first syndicated cartoon, and it paved the way for a lot of the great shows that came out when I was growing up. If it wasn’t for DuckTales there would be no Rescue Rangers or Tailspin! Another important aspect of DuckTales was that it set up a separate universe within Disney. The writers and animators had more room for creativity because they had the DuckTales universe to work in. Because of the success of DuckTales, Disney made two spin-offs. Quack Pack was Disney’s failed attempt to reach teenagers. But the second spin-off may have been one of the greatest genre parodies of the decade, Darkwing Duck.


Fact: When there’s trouble you call D.W.

Darkwing Duck was the Green Hornet, Inspector Gadget, and Batman all rolled into one. This was the show you would wake up super early on a Saturday for. It had action, great characters, and tons of references that cartoon hungry kids would catch. I think Darkwing Duck may be responsible for my elitism when it comes to pop culture references. The seven year old version of me loved it when I picked up a Batman joke that only I caught. Darkwing Duck is the reason I enjoy Robot Chicken so much. The show borrowed a few favorites from DuckTales, most notably Launchpad. Launchpad was Disney’s Chewbacca- you never really knew what he was saying, but he was big and made funny noises so you loved him. Darkwing Duck was about as cool as Disney ever got. In a time before Lizzie McGuire and Hannah Montana were spewing preteen garbage all over the network, cartoon ducks used to run that shit.

When you also factor in movies like The Mighty Ducks and Babe (Ferdinand was clearly the star of that movie), and how awesome Golduck is, it is pretty clear how important ducks were for the last few decades. I don’t know why it happened, but its undeniable that the young culture of America really responded to duck humor without even realizing it. The last vestige of our love affair with aquatic birds is in the form of that annoying duck from the Aflac commercials. If you ask me, I would gladly trade the Jonas Brothers for another show about millionaire mallards or crime fighting water fowl.

-Ryan


Character Bios: J.D. or Why No Show Should Run for Nine Seasons

April 22, 2010

Scrubs was a funny show. It may not have been the funniest show on television, but it was still funny enough to make me chuckle at least once per episode and that is something which is very difficult to do. However, the comedy aspect of Scrubs wasn’t the only thing that kept me coming back watching the show faithfully episode after episode. From the get go Scrubs managed to walk a very thin line, constantly shifting between comedy and drama and it did this quite well for several seasons.

For eight seasons the main character of Scrubs was John Dorian or J.D. for short. J.D. started the show as a doctor in his mid twenties interning at Sacred Heart a fictional hospital located somewhere in California. Within the first couple episodes of the show J.D. quickly established himself as an eccentric goofball who spent half his time in his own head concocting hilarious and often completely random fantasies which those of us as fans enjoyed throughout the duration of the series. These fantasies became a staple of the show, but it wasn’t so much the laughs that came from these fantasies that kept us watching but the way in which J.D.’s fantasies offset the often serious issues with which the show was dealing with.

One of the most unique aspects of Scrubs was that it dealt with death, a lot. It dealt other serious issues as well, but often death was the shows one constant nemesis and throughout each episode J.D. or one of the supporting characters would face death, disease, depression or countless other issues that hospital staff deal with head on. Every episode would end with a monologue from J.D. where he would address these issues. Sometimes J.D. would have some sort of resolution for the problems which ailed the character whether it be relationship, hospital related, or otherwise; but more often then naught there would be no true solution to a problem J.D. was facing, instead we’d find him coping with these issues in the best way he could.

As I watched Scrubs, my devotion to the series grew with a vigor. I watched boxset after boxset (yes, we do live in the era of DVD boxsets and Netflix), and by the time that I had finished watching the first five seasons of Scrubs I felt that I had a television character to relate to in John Dorian. Here we had a character who struggled from insecurities. He had a dead beat dad and a dead beat brother. His constant need for recognition from Dr. Cox stemmed from needing a more prominent father figure in his life. He had trouble holding down a relationship. He was finicky and a tad effeminate. He had a passion for what he did and struggled with the grave realities of it everyday. His friendship with Turk was a bromance that we should all be so lucky as to experience one day. Within the timespan of those five seasons J.D. had managed to bang Sarah Chalke, Mandy Moore, Amy Smart, Roller Girl (well not really, but he made out with her so kinda), and other hotties who I straight up don’t recognize. It was incredible how much I had grown to like this character in that time.

Man, I really did love that show. I just kept coming back for more. Scrubs had a great cast of characters, great guest stars, funny fantasies but above all those things that show had a great main character. However, by the time that the sixth season rolled around the quality of the show began to dip. Few shows can run for more then four seasons without seeing a drop in quality and Scrubs was no exception. By the sixth season of the show almost everything had become a running gag. Dr. Cox’s rants, The Todd’s questionable sexuality, everything the Janitor did, it was all the same rehashed joke again and again. By that point the show had really run its course and no where was it more evident then in the character of J.D. whose character had been reduced to an idiot who really wanted a hug. That was basically it. He ‘eagled‘ and hugged. What a shame.

You see, I’m bringing this all up because Scrubs was cancelled recently. I’m not sure if anyone really watched any episodes of the ninth season/spin off, but it was a somewhat of a painful experience. I’m not blaming my pain on any of the new characters introduced in this season (even though one of them was really, really bad) but instead I’m blaming J.D. for my pain. Zach Braff guest starred as J.D. on the first six episodes of the the spin-off. It was difficult to watch if anything. All of those quirky things about J.D. that we had learned over the course of the original series had been reduced to annoying running gags. By the end of the sixth episode I was so very, very glad to see him go. This is something I could never have imagined myself saying when watching some of the earlier seasons.  At that point I just wanted to see if the new kids could hold up on their own. Apparently, they couldn’t.

At this point I may just sound like I’m whining. It sounds like I’m complaining because such a likeable character isn’t what I remembered him being. Maybe you liked the new the J.D. from latter seasons of the show. I know that personally I couldn’t stand him. It’s just funny how TV will just do that to you after. You’ll get drawn into a show, love it for a while, and then be disappointed by changes as the show evolves (or devolves in this case). It was such a shame to see J.D. go from a character to a shell of a character, but these things happen. I know that the J.D. I loved and related to may be gone, but he stills exists somewhere. I just gotta look for him.

– Wayne!


Tree + Wool = Something to Post About

April 17, 2010

Apparently, a group of ninjas who crochet instead of kill have taken it upon themselves to making  trees (and stuff) look less like trees and more like the furniture in your grandmother’s living room.

In what is quickly becoming the greatest mystery of our time, it seems that someone has decided that nature wasn’t colorful enough and decided to knit wool onto trees. They do this at night when people are sleeping earning them the nickname The Midnight Knitters.

While they may have started with trees, we all know that people who knit are never satisfied. This means that someday soon someone in this small, sleepy town will wake up to find a goat mummified in wool in their yard.

What makes this whole situation so much better is that some asshole cop is actually trying to catch these guys on charges that they are defacing public property. I’m sort of cheering for the cop. They need to catch these guys since they’re stealing the the limelight from some us other knitters. Honestly, fuck you internet. I’ve knitted like thirty really pretty scarves and then these assholes come along and steal all my glory. UGH.

Police hunt ‘The Midnight Knitter’ wool graffiti bandit

– Wayne!


Cup Nude! Noodles You Can Sink… Something Into

April 15, 2010

In a discovery which serves only to further enforce my belief that Japanese men will sex with anything comes Cup Nude – ‘much more than a cup of soup’.

In some sort of strange, American Pie homage a Japanese adult book store has concocted a method of combining Japan’s two greatest past-times – Ramen and sex with inanimate objects. The fact that such a cup of soup exists may make little sense to those of us who aren’t completely deprived, but remember that this is Japan the same country that gave us “The Used Pantie Dispenser” and Ditto (which theoretically has had sex with everything).

Where I would normally peal back the lid of a cup of Ramen noodles hoping to find plastic vegetables and eighteen times my daily recommended sodium intake; I find instead this pink goo with a hole in the middle. I can only guess why such a hole exists.

Man, something about the way this looks tells me this stuff isn’t edible, or, at the very least, was never intended to be edible. Bummer, I’m hungry.

Crazy Japanese cup noodle, Cup Nude is actually a sex toy!!

– Wayne!