The NBC Thursday Night Conspiracy

I don’t watch a whole lot of current television shows, but I make sure never to miss a single episode of “Community” or “The Office”. Both shows continue to make me laugh, but they are very different styles and clearly take place in different universes. This season, however, I’ve been noticing more and more similarities between the shows…

HEADS UP: This post contains spoilers for the current seasons of both shows. If you’re waiting for the DVDs, just move along. Continue reading

My Proposed Facebook Movie

“The Social Network”, the story of Mark Zuckerberg as told through the eyes of David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin, was released this weekend. I didn’t go see it, because frankly, a standard biopic is not what I wanted to see in a Facebook movie. I don’t want to know about the psychology of Facebook’s creator, I want to know about the psychology of Facebook itself.

My ideal movie on the subject would tell the story of Facebook as an insecure girl just starting her Freshman year in college. Even though she’s friends with many of the students and even some of the teachers, she still doesn’t feel quite happy. She sees her older sister, a goth singer named MySpace, is one of the most popular girls at school, and decides to try to be like her to become more popular. The problem is, MySpace is only popular because she’s a massive slut. So Facebook starts down a dark path, opening herself up to everybody–first just college students, but soon even high schoolers, and eventually anybody who asks regardless of age or affiliation. MySpace’s popularity bottoms out, and soon Facebook is the hot girl on campus. The power goes to her head, and she starts gossiping about her friends, broadcasting everything they tell her on a News Feed Bulletin Board on the door to her room. Her friends are upset about this invasion of privacy, but they tolerate this behavior because they still find themselves addicted to her.

To make her not completely unlikeable, the film would show her actually attempt to have real conversations with people, intimate one-on-one chats, but every one of them gets interrupted for some reason that the other person chatting can’t figure out.

Soon her younger sister Twitter comes to college, and despite being an even bigger gossip with a much shorter attention span, she becomes more popular than Facebook or MySpace ever did. This brings all of Facebook’s insecurities back to the forefront, and she gets increasingly stupid makeovers despite her friends telling her they liked her the way she was. She starts giving out comment cards, asking everybody to check if they “like” every innocuous action she does, even if the action is merely expressing her enjoyment of stepping on crunchy leaves.

As the film goes on, poor Facebook sinks deeper and deeper into despair, getting more and more desperate, until she eventually dies at the hands of those she’s spurned (unless the test audiences demand we change it to a heartwarming tale where she discovers she was beautiful all along).

The film would be slated to open on 6,000 screens, but then be banned from half of them for being a timewaster and a distraction to the employees.

(Thanks to Elizabeth Coon for helping inspire this idea!)

Making Sense of Miley: An analysis of the lyrics to “Party in the USA”

For those who haven’t heard, I’m back in New Haven for the summer, beginning to raise money for my return to Orlando. My time in Orlando was fantastic, and I’m looking forward to returning, but right now, I’m happy to be in New Haven with the family (well, the parents, anyway, as Nick is in New Jersey for the summer and Lizzy only recently returned from doing relief work in Haiti).

For my last month or so in Orlando, I was spending a lot of time with good friends who have questionable different tastes in music, and as a result, I’ve been subjected to the song “Party in the USA” a lot. And I mean a LOT.

Now, I can enjoy a lot of different types of music. I love Bob Dylan, despite the fact that his voice often sounds like gravel caught in a lawnmower. But something about Miley Cyrus’ voice rubs me the wrong way. Sure, she’s not the MOST grating voice in pop music–that dubious honor probably goes to Ke-dollar-ha, although Lady Gaga (when in character and desperately trying to hide the fact that she has actual talent somewhere) gets honorable mention, as does Katy Perry. (And by the way, if I hear “Hot or Cold” one more time I’m going to strangle a walrus.) Still, Miley’s voice isn’t exactly what you could call “pleasant” with a straight face, and I suspect that the Disney Genetic Engeneering Lab programmed her this way as part of a failed viral marketing campaign for a Chip ‘N Dale reboot.

So after hearing it played so many times, I’ve started doing anything to distract myself from the music itself. In a final act of desperation, I tried actually listening to the lyrics, and trying to make sense of them. Continue reading

A Long-Delayed Rumination On “High School Musical”

The other week, my sister Lizzy and I felt like watching a movie. We had no idea what movie we wanted to watch, so I looked over our family’s DVD library to see what we had. And that’s when I came across something in on the shelf that Lizzy–and the rest of the universe–had been trying to get me to watch for years, but that I’ve always managed to avoid. However, I was in a riffing mood, and had recently read a recap on it while going through random AgonyBooth articles, so I decided it was now or never.

“Lizzy, I’ve resisted for a long time, but I’m gonna give you one chance before I change my mind…”

Immediately, Lizzy jumped up excitedly, and injured herself. She ran to her computer to brag to Twitter that she was making me watch “High School Musical”.

I love a good musical as much as the next former high school thespian, but I had no real interest in ever seeing any part of the “High School Musical” franchise. But Lizzy had been pushing me to see it for a long time, because she felt it would bring back memories of the fun “rivalry” between our drama department and our basketball team. And it might have done just that, had it been a remotely realistic portrayal of any high school I’ve ever seen. Continue reading

So…now what?

As you may know, I recently graduated from college, after which I was in an internship program in LA for a couple of months. Because the internship was for class credit, I didn’t technically “graduate” at my graduation. I walked across the stage and got a handshake as my name was slightly mispronounced, with the promise that my diploma would be mailed to me at the completion of said internship program.

In the two months or so that followed the internship program, I received no diploma. Every time I got a package from the college, opening it only revealed a little pipsqueak with a mushroom for a head, who said, “Thank you, David, but your diploma is in another envelope!”

However, all that changed yesterday, when I found a package from the school labeled “do not bend” haphazardly crammed into our mailbox. I pulled it out, opened it, and sure enough, there was a piece of paper that stated the following in the most pretentious font imaginable:

“Be it known that the Faculty of Messiah College
authorized by the Board of Trustees confers upon
David G. Ganssle
the degree of
Bachelor of Arts
with all the rights, privileges, and honors appertaining to that degree.
Given in Grantham, Pennsylvania,
the 31st day of August in the year of our Lord two thousand and nine.”

First of all, I like the “be it known that the Faculty” part. “It’s the Faculty’s fault this kid got through! Blame them!”

Second of all, the diploma isn’t clear on exactly which “rights, privileges, and honors” appertain to said degree, but I have my own ideas of what I deserve now that I’m graduated:

1. Shorter lines at Burger King

2. A visit from Ron Gilbert, who will reveal to me the secret of Monkey Island (on a side note, Gilbert has often stated that the two main inspirations for the Monkey Island games were the POTC ride and the book “On Stranger Tides”. Now, Disney just announced that the next POTC movie will be based on said book. COINCIDENCE? Well, maybe. BUT MAYBE NOT!)

3. My own private Kentucky, because somebody else already claimed Idaho

4. A lifetime supply of fried shrimp

5. A secure career with flexible hours and job benefits

As you can see, I don’t have many demands, but the ones that I have are very specific, some may say impossible. But I have a piece of paper with my name and the school president’s signature now, and if these simple rights, privileges, and honors are not among the ones appertaining to said degree…then I may have just wasted four years and thousands of dollars. Crap.

Kentucky DIE Chicken! WIth a side helping of MURDER!

It’s common knowledge that the necessary evil of the television world is commercials. Sure, their existence pays for our precious TV programs, but then we use all our scientific knowledge on devices that allow us to avoid the advertising experience, such as TiVo, the VCR, the mute button, the bathroom, etc.

Even the people who make commercials know that they are doing dirty, soulless work. As a result, nobody really expects commercials to have effort, heart, or coherence. I realize this. But I expect commercials to make a *tad* bit more sense than the KFC ads I’ve seen recently.

The commercial, for those of you who haven’t seen it, features a friendly-looking woman pulling up to a KFC, parking next to a Tyson truck, talking about how the chicken is fresh or something. She then says “How do I know? I’m the cook here”, as she dons an apron and hat. Okay, a bit pretentious, I suppose, but fine…except at the bottom of the screen, it clearly says “ACTOR PORTRAYAL”.

And suddenly, with those two little words, NOTHING in the commercial makes any sense anymore.

WHY did they need to hire an actress to read some facts and say she’s a cook? Were there no actual cooks at any KFCs who looked friendly enough? (Actually, I suppose that is a possibility.)

Okay. Fine. So, they figure we’d rather look at a friendly-but-nondescript actress than an actual cook. So why bother having her claim to be a cook? Do they really think we’ll trust her more on this issue if she claims to be a cook? Because that trust is kinda undermined by those words at the bottom of the screen. If she’s willing to lie about being a cook, how do we know she’s telling the truth about the damn chicken? Frankly, I’d be more inclined to believe her claims about the chicken’s freshness if she just admitted “How do I know? Because I’m reading it off a damn cue card!” At least then we can believe she’s honest.

Go to hell, KFC, for causing me untold sleepless nights of anguish with your stupid, nonsensical commercial. To hell, I say!

“The world will look up and shout ‘Hey, can I borrow this comic book?'”

I find that one of the fundamental paradoxes of being a geek is the disconnect between the desire to share our interests with the world, and the pride we take in our own obscurity. For example, you take a TV show that a geek might enjoy, your Fireflies or your Arrested Developments or your Futuramas or your…well, basically anything FOX ever cancelled…and you will find that a geek will want to make sure the message of this show’s awesomeness is spread far and wide. At the same time, however, the geek does NOT want the show to become too mainstream—after all, where would the fun in quoting it be if everybody else in the world was also quoting it? Because of this, even though it may make a geek happy to see one of his or her interests get the recognition it deserves, he or she may feel a little disappointed if it becomes popular, and feel the urge to insist that he or she was interested in it before it was cool. You may all have jumped on the bandwagon for the popularity, but the geek was there with it from the beginning. (Or they jumped onto the bandwagon back when it was only populated by fellow geeks, not you boring normal people.)

This brings us to this past summer, the release of “The Dark Knight”, and with it, the teaser trailer for “Watchmen”. Continue reading