Welcome! (I guess...)

For those of you who by some extremely unlikely set of circumstances happened to stumble upon this page, I apologize to you. For those of you who intentionally came to this page - yikes! As the title of the weblog indicates, these are my Ramblings About Whatever. There is a chance that I will ramble about just about anything (as I am in this introduction), but only a select few topics will actually make this site. Enjoy! (I guess...)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

My Evening at the Sweet Sixteen

So, one of my really good friends had an extra ticket to the Men's South Regional semifinals last night (and of course he had an extra ticket for the finals occurring tomorrow) and I ended up being the lucky guy to come into possession of the ticket. Needless to say, it was quite an interesting experience.

Now I have been to Final Fours before, but this was the first time that I have ever gone to any other round of the tournament. First of all, the seats that I had for the two games last night were much better than the seats that I have ever had for other games. But the dynamics of this game were far different (with one possible exception) from any of the other games I had seen. The matchups last night were between Stanford/University of Texas and then Michigan State/Memphis. With the games taking place in Houston and with the overwhelming amount of Texas fans who were clearly in the building, things definitely took on the feel of being in a UT home environment. This made the experience absolutely sickening.

Anyone who knows me well knows how much I hate the University of Texas. Being immersed in that environment was essentially torture for me. Stanford did play well for much of the game last night, but in the last ten minutes or so, when the Cardinal was in complete collapse mode, the UT fans were at their most annoying. The stupid cheering for the team was incessant. The stupid hand salute that UT fans do was being done by virtually everyone in the stadium who was wearing burnt orange. And it seemed that virtually everyone in the stadium was wearing burnt orange. Yuck. What made matters worse was that I had perhaps the most annoying UT fan on the planet sitting directly in front of me. Okay, you may be wondering how I could possibly come to the conclusion that he was the most annoying UT fan on the planet when there are countless nominees for that particular award. And also, to be fair, this particular UT fan did not do a whole lot of sitting in front of me since he was standing up, doing that stupid UT salute, high-fiving people for what seems like the entire game. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I probably saw more of the game by the big screen over the court than the actual game on the court. Even when Texas got a defensive rebound, for example, this guy was standing up saluting, high-fiving. I felt like at many times saying, "Really guy? The entire game?"

Luckily the annoying UT guy did not seem to be there to cheer for Memphis as well. Let me assure everyone who was watching that game on television, Memphis is every bit better than Michigan State that seemed to be indicated on television. They were quite impressive. And there are not enough good things that I can possibly say about Derrick Rose. He is stunningly good. When he was on the court, Memphis looked unbeatable. He was so steady with the ball; Michigan State could get virtually no pressure on him while he dribbled. Any sort of pressure that they would try to apply, and Rose would just blow by the defender with ease. The only time that Michigan State seemed to have any success is when Rose was off the court for a prolonged period in the second half getting a cut over his eye stiched. However, once he was back in the game, any hopes that Michigan State might have had were completely killed. I'm crossing my fingers that Sunday could be a very good day for me and a very bad day for the annoying UT guy. I'm thinking that I may get to see much more of the regional final on the court.

But the coolest thing about last night, and something that is cool about the Final Four as well, was seeing the big name alumni players of the school in the arena. They did show Magic Johnson on the big screen at one point, but he was just sitting there being Magic Johnson. What was really cool, however, was while I was standing up at one point, I think during halftime of the second game, just kind of looking out down in the crowd, all of a sudden I see Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway. It was much cooler seeing Hardaway since I do remember seeing him when he played for the then Memphis State team. I do remember seeing him make his own run deep in the tournament about sixteen years ago. But what made the Penny sighting even better than the Magic Johnson sighting was that Penny was actually walking up the stairway in the section that I was sitting in.

As he walked up the stairs, he seemed to take the time to shake the hands of anyone who wanted to shake hands with him, he took several photos, and seemed to stop for a bit to talk with a number of people. There was no sort of big name star attitude, and he never seemed to be in the least bit frustrated that it was taking him so long to get out of their to get to the concession stand. There was a definite coolness about him. So the bottom line is this; if you ever have the chance to die and come back in a next life as anything, choose to come back as a big time college basketball player at a big time state school. You will live on as a legend forever in the fans' minds.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Chase for the PopoZao - March 27, 2008

Here are the finishing results from the most recent Chase for the PopoZao race. As always, first place votes appear in parentheses. The Chase is on!

Previous PopoZao Finish

PopoZao Finish - March 27, 2008

1. Britney Spears (2) - 2000 PopoZao Points - Britney is back! Britney Spears makes her first ever appearance at the top of the PopoZao rankings after an amazing comeback. Let's recap briefly the life that was Britney Spears until recently. She was an overrated popstar who decided that it was in her best interest to marry a former boy band backup dancer, she sort of came to her senses and dumped said former backup dancer, she then went completely insane according to anyone objectively looking at her life, and then she was completely worked in the child custody hearings with said former backup dancer. All of this brings us back to the present day. How has Spears rebounded? Well, the Committee has noticed that she has finally become a serviceable individual in Hollywood again. Case in point, there were two recent programs that featured Britney Spears. There was an episode of How I Met Your Mother and there was an episode of South Park. Now, as you might have guessed, the Committee is quite busy these days. The members had not the time to watch Spears in both of these programs and so the members flipped a coin and ended up settling on watching South Park. And the Committee jointly came to the conclusion that Britney was fabulous in the episode. (If you want to see it, watch it here.) The Committee can only assume that she was equally fabulous in the other program, which no one on the Committee has ever watched. For this huge comeback, and for the fact that Spears was recently placed under the custodianship of her father (translation: she once again got to receive an allowance!) - and who wouldn't want to go back to the simple days when our parents got to make all of the decisions for us?! - Britney Spears wins this race in the Chase for the PopoZao!

2. Ashley Alexandra Dupre (1) - 1900 PZ Points - Do you know this name? Well it is not necessarily surprising if you don't. She is the girl at the center of the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal. She makes her debut on this list, and almost ascends to the top spot because it is almost impossible for the Committee to imagine that any person could ever make such an enormous impact in such a short time. The Committee wants to be clear about one thing, there are many losers in this scandal. However, there is only one winner according to the Committee: Ashley Alexandra Dupre. If she manages things wisely, she is absolutely set for life as a result of her part in this scandal. And she will likely be able to make choices that will gain her wealth that will not degrade her if she so chooses, such are the opportunities that will be presented to her. So why didn't Dupre ascend all the way to the top spot? Well, the Committee considered this little matter of her appearance at the age of seventeen in a Girls Gone Wild video. Now, the Committee does not penalize her for appearing in the video itself, the Committee penalizes her because she appeared in the video as a seventeen year old and it appears that this will in no way lead to the imprisonment of shady Girls Gone Wild CEO, Joe Francis. This may seem like it is harsh, but the Committee realizes that there is a lot of competition out there for the top spot in the Chase for the PopoZao.

19. Kevin Federline - 200 PZ Points - Kevin Federline takes a huge plunge in the rankings from his last position, less than a week after his thirtieth birthday. What would possess the Committee to drop Federline so far after a landmark birthday? Does the Committee feel that once you hit thirty, it is all over? The Commitee answers an emphatic NO to that last question. Then why did the Committee drop Federline so low in the rankings? Simply put, if you are booed off the stage at your own birthday party, you deserve to take a hit in these rankings. Getting booed off of the stage at your own birthday party will not get you the PopoZao. The Committee is still a little confused as to why there were any people present at Federline's birthday party to boo him off of the stage, however.

23. Joe Francis - -200 PZ Points - What will it take to send this guy to jail for good?

40. People who attended Kevin Federline's birthday party - -1900 PZ Points - The Committee is wondering what you people were thinking in the first place. You had nothing better to do than go to Kevin Federline's birthday party? Nothing? This was the scene to be seen? Ridiculous. And when Kevin Federline came on to the stage, how did you expect things to go? Were you expecting a tour de force performance? The only way that the Committee could possibly consider forgiving you for your obvious lack of judgment would be if you claim that you went there knowing that the guy is a hack and that you just wanted to boo him. However, that explanation does not fly since you likely had to pay to get into the party. (How else are they going to come up with the appearance fee that Federline required to attend his own birthday party?) People, you should never, ever, ever be paying money to see Kevin Federline.

41. Dr. Phil - -2000 PZ Points - Though there is no confirmation whatsoever, the Committee just assumes that Dr. Phil attended Kevin Federline's birthday party. As a result, Dr. Phil bottoms out the Chase for the PopoZao rankings once again.

Current Chase for the PopoZao Standings as of March 27, 2008:
1. Kevin Federline - 4100 PopoZao Points
2. Amy Winehouse - 3300 PZ Points
4. Britney Spears - 2700 PZ Points
6. Jamie Lynn Spears - 2000 PZ Points
7(tie). Ryan Seacrest and Ashley Alexandra Dupre - 1900 PZ Points
10. Tom Brady - 1500 PZ Points
32. Blake Fielder-Civil - 100 PZ Points
35. Joe Francis - -200 PZ Points
43. Jessica Simpson - -900 PZ Points
44. Tony Romo - -1100 PZ Points
51. The Early Show - -2000 PZ Points
78. Dr. Phil - -5900 PZ Points

Friday, March 14, 2008

Just let Grundy Lead the Legion

Okay, so once again I made what was probably a huge mistake and I watched one of the old Superfriends episodes. (Yes, I am extremely addicted to the Boomerang network.) Now, this particular episode was titled "The World's Deadliest Game," and the plot was about as stupid as one might guess.

The episode begins with a scene from within the Legion of Doom, and what were all of these supervillains doing? If you guessed plotting the destruction of the Superfriends, then give yourself a standing ovation. Yes, I said give yourself a standing ovation and not a mere pat on the back. That was a tough question to answer.

Now Solomon Grundy was the first person to speak, blabbering something completely nonsensical. Truly if you are the Legion of Doom, at what point do you realize that it makes absolutely no sense to have an idiot zombie at your evil planning meetings? After Grundy said whatever it is that he said, and thankfully it seemed that most if not all of the Legion of Doom acted as if Grundy did not even say anything, Brainiac came up with a simply brilliant plan. He (or it, since Brainiac is a computer after all) noticed that Wonder Woman, Hawkman, and Black Vulcan were in space helping to repair a space station. Brainiac decided that he would use his cloaking device to make the Earth seem to disappear from those three Superfriends. At this point, the Toy Man chimed in and said they would then send some sort of distress signal that would lead the three to think that the Earth was light-years away, causing the Superfriends to journey to a planet covered with Toy Man's toys. And then after this, it was the Riddler's turn to tell everyone that he would use a series of riddles to lead the other Superfriends "out of the universe" where their three comrades were located. It was a brilliant plan, and it almost worked because I've noticed that the Superfriends somehow collectively start out every episode even stupider than the Legion of Doom, but seem to have a very steep learning curve that takes roughly fifteen minutes to traverse.

So Wonder Woman, Hawkman, and Black Vulcan do get very confused when the Earth disappears and they get tricked into pursuing the false distress signal light-years away. And when they get out to the place from where the signal is emanating, wouldn't you guess it, they get sucked into a black hole. I'm going to try to keep the physics talk to a minimum here, and I'll allow for the Superfriends to actually survive this fall into the black hole. However, once again, as I have pointed out before about some of these Superfriends type shows, there are some inconsistencies that I think are horrendous.

First of all, I guess that I'll allow for the possibility that Black Vulcan can fly faster than the speed of light because otherwise the Legion of Doom would have had to wait longer than the length of time that the Superfriends aired to even see if this stupid plan was going to work considering that this fake distress signal was coming from light-years away. Once inside the black hole and on the planet of toys, Black Vulcan noted that even he wasn't able to escape the black hole's pull flying at full speed. Okay, I'll go along with this, I guess. Black Vulcan can fly faster than the speed of light, but just not fast enough to escape the black hole. I guess this is possible in theory. (Actually it isn't possible in theory to fly faster than the speed of light, but I suppose it is possible in Superfriends theory.) However, what is truly troubling is that while these Superfriends are being pestered by Toy Man's toys, Toy Man is able to monitor what is transpiring on the planet and control the toys remotely from Earth. Let me say that again. He is able see things precisely as they are happening light-years away, hear exactly what the Superfriends are saying, and provide near instantaneous remote controls to the toys. I'm sorry, but this is absolutely ludicrous. To me you cannot force Black Vulcan to be kind of, sort of bound by the laws of physics, but then allow Toy Man's planning to more egregiously violate those laws. (By the way, how did Toy Man even set up his planet of toys in the first place? And when did he set up this planet?)

Okay, so I'll skip most of Riddler nonsense, but in short, the rest of the Superfriends find themselves light-years away in outer space very near to the black hole. Superman and Green Lantern realize that they are the only ones powerful enough to venture into the black hole to save the others. This should have been bad news for the rest of the Superfriends not venturing into the black hole since Green Lantern was using his power ring to transport them through space and protect them from the vacuum, but whatever I guess... So Superman and Green Lantern fly into the black hole, they do some sort of trick where they combine powers (meaning that there is some sort of creepy fusing of the two), and then the Superman/Green Lantern super super being flies out of the black hole, telling the other three to wait three seconds before following him/them out. I'm not sure why they were told to wait three seconds to follow Green Superman Lantern out of the black hole. It makes little sense, and besides, they could have just as easily given this new Superman/Green Lantern fused being the power to just teleport Wonder Woman, Hawkman, and Black Vulcan into the Legion of Doom headquarters, but I guess that would have seemed implausible. Once everyone is outside the black hole, somehow the black hole seems to just explode or dematerialize.

Then the Superfriends all fly back to Earth where they stop the Legion of Doom as they were in the process of collecting all of the world's money from the terrified populace. My question is this, if you are an overtly evil organization like the Legion of Doom, why do you even need money for anything? Are you going to acquire this money and then use it to pay for the supplies you might need to carry out your evil schemes? Or will you just go and steal the supplies you need for your evil schemes?

Wow, cartoon writers had tremendous talent back in those days!

Ranking the James Bond Actors

I've decided that in preparation for the upcoming James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace (scheduled to be released November 7), it is the perfect time for me to provide the definitive ranking of the actors who have played the James Bond character in the several movies. And unlike the crazy lunatic hacks on the committee that compiles the rankings for the Chase for the PopoZao, I shall do these rankings the way they should be properly done: last to first. And so, without further hesitation, here are the rankings of the actors who have played James Bond on film.

6. Roger Moore - Of all the actors who have played the James Bond character, I have come to the conclusion that Roger Moore played the role far and away worse than any of the others. Truly, were any of the other actors less believable as a tough guy or secret agent or combination of the two? Though I found some of Moore's movies entertaining, I never got the sense that the guy could in any way be considered suave. And I certainly found it unrealistic any time he won any fight. He just seemed to be too much of a stiff weakling to me to beat anyone up. And yes, I actually believe that if I had no prior knowledge before watching The Man with the Golden Gun about anything related to James Bond, I would have put a huge sum of money on Tattoo to beat Moore in a fight.

5. George Lazenby - Admittedly, I have seen the entirety of not one of Lazenby's Bond movies, which is somewhat unfortunate since he only made one Bond movie, On Her Majesty's Secret Service. But one has to believe that he could not have been too spectacular if he only had a run of a single film. One can make the claim that maybe he wasn't so bad; maybe people just really thought that Sean Connery was so great that they were dying to have come back and resume the secret agent role. But since Lazenby is Australian, I tend to doubt that this is true. And so Lazenby comes in at number five. Though my exposure to Lazenby as the Bond character is very limited, I have seen enough to know that he could not possibly be as bad as Roger Moore.

4. Timothy Dalton - There was a time when I believed some of the reports about how bad Dalton was as Bond. I believed it when some claimed that Dalton was the worst Bond. However, after watching the Dalton movies, I realized that he wasn't all that bad. He certainly seemed to be a much tougher guy than Moore. In watching his movies, I honestly believed that he was the sort that might have been able to save the day, not the sort that should be serving as a waiter at a wine and cheese party (Moore).

3. Pierce Brosnan - I don't really have much bad to say about Brosnan. His very first scene in his very first Bond movie, Goldeneye, was actually pretty outstanding. He was very believable there and elsewhere. Also, Brosnan has great hair. This is something that I think that we should all ask for in James Bond, great hair. Brosnan doesn't go to a higher level than number three mostly because his James Bond would have lost badly in a fight to the two ranked above him. He certainly could have beaten Roger Moore's Bond in a fight, but that fact does not earn a person any points in these rankings. He also loses a few points because his last two Bond films were absolutely atrocious.

2. Sean Connery - You may be shocked that I have Connery ranked in a position other than first, but trust me, this is no accident. Connery was extremely good at the character. He was cool - nothing says cool better than the way Connery replied when asked his name at the gambling table in Dr. No. And very importantly, he was highly capable of beating people up. Yes, in case you have not noticed, I highly value the "beating people up" capability in judging the adequacy of an actor portraying James Bond. But also in truth, Connery did not seem to have any real weaknesses as the Bond character. Even when he came back for Diamonds are Forever, he seemed to be infinitely tougher than Moore ever appeared to be in the role.

1. Daniel Craig - Quite frankly, Daniel Craig proved in Casino Royale that he is a tough guy. The amount of people that he beat up in that movie alone was incredible. What places him ahead of Connery is that he actually ran through a wall in Casino Royale. Now I don't know if I necessarily agree with the decision he made to quit the secret service for the girl in the movie (and I don't agree with it) because this action would have likely severely reduced the amount of beatings he would be given the opportunity to dish out. However, luckily enough, his retirement from duty was rather short lived. Whereas Moore's Bond constantly tried to avoid Jaws in the movies in which Jaws appeared, Craig's Bond probably would have punched through Jaws's metal teeth. And as endings of Bond movies go, nothing surpasses the way Casino Royale finished up. For all of these reasons, Craig gets the top spot. Bring on Quantum of Solace!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Darth Vader: The Chosen One

At the conclusion of the duel between Obi-Wan Kenobi and the newly christened Darth Vader in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, after Kenobi had proven to be victorious, Kenobi had this to say to a a writhing Vader:

You were the Chosen One! You were supposed to destroy the Sith, not join them! Bring balance to the Force, not leave it in darkness!

According to the words spoken by Kenobi, one might be led to believe that the prophesy had not been fulfilled, but upon closer inspection, one should conclude otherwise. At the time of Episode I: The Phantom Menace, only the most ardent of Sith devotees could claim that the Force was in any way balanced, at least from the perspective of Dark side strength versus Light side strength in the galaxy.

There was a reason that Episode I was titled as it was. The Sith menace to the galaxy was something that was largely hidden. It was the phantom menace after all. On the other hand, the Jedi were thriving. The Jedi had a veritable who's who on their Jedi Council. There was Master Yoda, Master Mace Windu, Master Adi Gallia, and, dare I say it, Master Saesee Tiin! In addition to this murderers' row of Jedi Masters (oh, and you better believe there were more than just these few that I've named!), there were a host of Jedi Knights, Jedi Padawans, and even some Jedi Younglings (a younger class of Padawans). And then of course, the Jedi had their swanky Jedi Temple and Jedi Council chambers on Coruscant. The Sith were essentially thought to be extinct by the Jedi at this point in time.

As powerful as Darth Sidious would prove to be by the end of Episode III, and as skilled as Darth Maul was in showing his ability to simultaneously take on Qui-Gon Jinn and Kenobi in Episode I, there is no way that this Sith duo could have prevailed in an open conflict versus all of the Jedi. Even in Episodes II and III when the more powerful Darth Tyranus joins Sidious, the two would not have been a legitimate match for the Jedi. It is only in weeding out the Jedi numbers that one can make the claim that the force is in balance: the Dark side is as strong as the Light side.

Anakin Skywalker, in becoming Darth Vader, helped this to come about. By intervening as Master Windu was on the verge of killing Lord Sidious, by leading an army of clones into the Jedi Temple to defeat Jedi that might be within, and with the assistance of Order 66, Skywalker/Vader did bring balance to the Force. Was there ever a greater balance between the Light side of the Force and the Dark side than there was during the juxtaposed climactic duel between Kenobi and Vader and the climactic duel between Yoda and Sidious? In watching the duels, if you did not know for a fact how the story had to end, you could envision either duel resulting in either combatant winning.

As for the other part of the prophesy, Skywalker did eventually aid in the destruction of the Sith. It is true that his part in the destruction of the Sith only occurred after he had joined their numbers, but in turning from his master and going to the aid of his son in Episode VI, Anakin Skywalker did finally complete the fulfillment of the prophesy that he would destroy the Sith and that he would bring balance to the Force, if not in that proper order.