Game of Thrones: HBO’s Morbid Curiosity

By on 6.2.14 | 6:09PM

“If it bleeds it leads.” The entertainment industry’s love affair with violence is nothing new, though HBO has taken the brutal baton and run away with it. Game of Thrones is macabre, perverse, and yet dangerously entertaining.

Aristotle noted that we “enjoy contemplating the most precise images of things whose sight is painful to us.” Watching or imagining death is more than a survival instinct—it’s a way to feel alive. You drive past an overturned car on the highway and think, “Thank goodness that’s not me.” You stand close to the edge of a cliff and wonder what it would be like to fall off. The resulting adrenaline rush makes your beating heart apparent. In contemplating death, we are contemplating life—two sides to the same coin.

The way Americans consume and perceive death evolved as humans became better at staving off sickness and lengthening life. Death—infant mortality, plagues, starvation—used to be a part of life. Now it is a novelty.

Send to Kindle

The Return of Reading Rainbow

By on 5.30.14 | 4:40PM

The Internet nostalgia machine has donated over $2.5 million dollars to Reading Rainbow’s LeVar Burton to restart the PBS series that originally ran from 1983 until 2006. Burton’s Kickstarter campaign was looking for a $1 million dollar goal and promises such incentives as private dinner with LeVar and a chance to wear his character’s sci-fi visor from Star Trek: The Next Generation (these perks require pledges of $3,500 and $10,000, respectively).

Back in a 2012 interview with Mediabistro, Burton announced an earlier attempt to re-launch the show as an app aimed at modern tablet-addled kids. In the same interview, LeVar reveals his theory that the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 caused Rainbow’s demise five years later. He also levels a vague critique at the military-industrial complex.

Send to Kindle

The Beer Spectator: Prohibition Will Solve All Our Problems

By on 5.30.14 | 3:25PM

And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom

And said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” 

-John 1:9-10

What’s the Beer Spectator doing quoting the Gospels? Doesn’t he know this is an alcohol column?

Indeed I do. The example of Christ turning water into wine at a wedding for his first miracle actually applies.

The tradition of Western civilization is built upon wine, beer, and the spirits that arise from these creations.

Yet for the past few centuries, some Western governments have sought to block that luxury through prohibition. Even the United States, that bastion of liberty, gave banning the purchase and distribution of alcohol the old college try.

That turned out horrendously. Bathtub gin, Al Capone, the Kennedys, and NASCAR are a few of the byproducts. And let’s not forget about the thousands of deaths resulting from high-proof moonshine and gang killings.

Send to Kindle

How Many Ways Can You Kill a Monkey in Space?

By on 5.29.14 | 4:01PM

NASA released its first “Global Selfie,” or as Noelle Swan, staff writer for the Christian Science Monitor, called it, “the shot taken round the world.” The 3.2 gigapixel interactive image is made up of tens of 36,422 individual selfies taken by NASA fans around the world on April 22 in a joint NOAA-NASA project.

The Monitor’s Mark Trumbull quipped: “It’s one small click for a whole lot of men and women, one giant piece of computerized collage for NASA.”

The “Global Selfie” campaign is part of NASA’s attempt to draw attention to its budgetary needs and reignite interest in space exploration. In that vein, NASA has launched a full-throttle social media campaign.

I offer a simple solution to NASA’s PR problem: Send cats into space. Cats are an endless supply of inter-generational, attention-grabbing fuzziness. Imagine zero-G meow machines.

Send to Kindle

Flick Story

‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ Could Have Been Worse

By 5.28.14

I have seen the future, brother, and it is a real bummer. Ahhh, look, X-Men: Days of Future Past could be much worse than it is. The last two adventures of Marvel's Merry Mutants were execrable; this one is merely doughily pointless. X-Men: The Last Stand was like watching your big brother break your favorite toys. X-Men: First Class was more like watching somebody else's awful, sticky children have a slap fight in a sandbox, except with the Cuban Missile Crisis going on as well.

Send to Kindle

Mad Men Wraps First Half of Final Season

By on 5.27.14 | 6:03PM

Spoilers ahead.

Mad Men continues to produce engaging storylines despite a complete lack of explosions, violence, and over-the-top sexuality. The first half of the final season wrapped up this past Sunday and it is no different in this regard. Show creator Matthew Weiner has made the relatively mundane fascinating. Much like Don's pitch in this episode "Waterloo," every great TV show has a great story. 

Send to Kindle

Newly Engaged? Be Prudent

By on 5.27.14 | 5:01PM

A couple of years ago, I visited Istanbul with my extended family. I remember the blue roughs of the Bosphorus Strait and the oppressive humidity of a summer in Turkey. 

The hotel where I stayed had many conference rooms, along with an outdoor dance floor. For the first two days, they collected dust.

That all changed on the third night, when eight to fifteen limousines pulled up at around 4 p.m. My father asked the bellhop what was going on. “A wedding,” he responded.

We later discovered that Turkish weddings range from 200 to 400 guests. That’s normal.

I’ve never been to a wedding of that size. However, I do understand the desire for such an expensive affair: the initiation of permanence.

Stephen Marche, blogging for Esquire, criticizes the American “wedding industrial complex” in one of his latest posts. According to Marche, we spend an average of $15,000 to $30,000 on our ceremonies.

“That shit,” as Marche exclaims, “is completely out of control.”

Send to Kindle

Thought Crime Leaps From Colleges to the National Scene

By on 5.27.14 | 4:40PM

Over at the Daily Caller, Scott Greer has written an interesting piece on the spontaneous comments of First Lady Michelle Obama while giving a speech at a high school senior recognition day. According to the transcript provided by the Blaze, the First Lady asked students to “...monitor their older relatives, friends and co-workers for any racially insensitive comments they might make, and to challenge those comments whenever they’re made.”

Send to Kindle

Sad End For Young Porn Actress

By on 5.23.14 | 2:22PM

Gawker, the internet's premiere moral vacuum, brings us the tragic story of Alyssa Funke. Ms. Funke, a 19 year old college freshman, took her own life last month after appearing in a pornographic video. Prior to her suicide, Funke had been subjected to rude messages on social media from old high school classmates branding her a prostitute. Her grieving parents blame the unwanted notoriety for her untimely death. From the Gawker piece:

Funke's parents said she had long suffered from depression, but they believe the harassment she faced online played a major role in her decision to kill herself. On a fundraiser page they started to fight cyberbullying, they wrote, "Alyssa like so many other teens was a victim of bully and sadly the bullying lead to her death. Social media has revolutionized the way people bully eachother now days. Now you can say whatever you want and not have to look the person in the face while doing it."

Send to Kindle

The Beer Spectator: IPAs vs. Lagers

By on 5.23.14 | 2:18PM

Most American craft breweries make an India Pale Ale. They’re difficult to master, but they allow brewers to distinguish themselves through personalization.  

With the explosive growth of IPAs since the 1990s, it’s easy to forget that craft beer only comprises approximately 8 percent of total beer volume in the U.S. Thus, many who do not follow the craft beer market closely do not realize its accelerating growth.

Those who don’t drink beer, or don’t care to explore any brews outside of the lager category, dismiss or ignore these releases as disgusting or elitist. Indeed, even feminist blog Jezebel, which prides itself on rejecting stereotypes, bills IPA drinkers as bros “rich enough to afford fancy beer.”

These views are errant, as even now the IPA category is expanding back to its birthplace.

Send to Kindle