Great Female Characters? Here’s My List!

My last blog post (please read it) was kind of half rant, half personal exposition.  A fellow pop-culture blogger, Angry Mongo, commented asking me a fantastic question that I thought I’d love to answer in blog form.  For the record, Angry Mongo’s blog is about 100x better than this one, so if you’re reading me, you should be reading him!  He writes more frequently and his content is witty, relevant and an overall really good read.

He writes:

So, I have to ask, in a pop culture world with too many Black Widows and not enough Ripley’s, who are your favorite heroines in media? Did you cheer or roll your eyes at the thought of President Glitch rather than Princess Vanellope? Does the fact that they try to make Felicity Smoak (Arrow) and Velma from Mystery Inc. out to be the “sexy nerds” anger women? Can COD ever have a female character play a prominent combat role in future titles?

This guy speaks my language!  To be clear, I don’t think that any “feminine” female character is inherently bad.  My opinion is that any female character need to be “herself”, meaning that she’s not a certain way because that is what society expects of her.  If she’s feminine, weak and stupid, that’s okay.  As long as that is her character, and not just her standard position as a female.

I guess I feel like, although Black Window gets shafted as a character, so does Hawkeye so I try to tell myself that it’s because of runtime constrictions and not bad writing… even though Black Widow has been in more movies than Hawkeye… let’s just try to give the writers benefit of the doubt.  Then again, if every female character was written like Ripley from the Alien movies, it would be not only unbelievable but also tiresome and static.  In general, I don’t mind “sexy nerds”; I think there are sexy nerd male characters as well so I guess at least it’s equal.  And no, COD will never have a female character in a prominent combat role, because that’s simply not their target audience.  More males play video games than females; I believe that’s a firm statistic, and the writers of video game plots simply know who pads their pockets.  I don’t know if that’s misogynistic or just marketing.  Is it ageism that the makers of Legos advertise to children and not to the 35+ group?  No; it’s just marketing.

In general, to meet my qualifications of a great female character, they must have the majority of their conversations about things other than men, and they must not be defined by their gender (i.e. could this character be male and still be in the same or a similar situation?).  That being said, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite female characters of all time, and I don’t mind telling you exactly why they’re well-written, modern females who any girl should be proud to look up to.  These are in no particular order…

Juno MacGuff, “Juno”:  Ok, so the character of Juno, the unwed teen mom, obviously wouldn’t be in her situation without a guy around, but I still say she’s a hero.  Why?  She thinks for herself.  She tries to do what’s right, no matter what those around her are saying.  She respects the opinions of others, ultimately sees things clearly and with a level head, and makes decisions that are mature, clever, and not self-serving.  Juno is a hero in her own right; what can easily be seen as a mistake (her pregnancy) has been turned around into many eventually positive things simply because of Juno’s perspective and way of dealing with things.

Marion Ravenwood, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”:  We all remember the scene in the bar in Nepal, right?  Marion Ravenwood literally drinks the bar patrons under the table to win bets.  But besides that, let’s think about Marion’s life for a minute.  Her father was the mentor to Indiana Jones.  That tells me that she’s basically just as educated, just as experienced and just as cultured as Indy himself.  They grew up together; Indy, Abner and Marion going on digs and studying artifacts… they were family for a period of time, and although Marion was in love with Indiana, after he left she guarded herself accordingly.  She ran her father’s bar in Nepal, so she’s got business skills.  She was witty enough to gain wagers against her alcohol tolerance to make some extra cash.  She knew how to use the power of being female to her advantage, as we see in the scene with Belloq in the tent.  The way I see it, there could have been movies made about Marion Ravenwood, her life as a child learning archeology along side her father and a devilishly handsome older teen, her life in Nepal, running the tavern and dreaming of coming back to the states, then her eventual return and her running her bar in 1940’s New York, and raising Mutt as a single mom with help only from the eccentric but well-meaning Oxley.  Marion Ravenwood is actually THE SHIT and deserves her rank as #1 on my list.  For the record, I’m not as crazy about her character development in the more recent Indy flick (feel free to ask me for details on how I feel the real Marion Ravenwood would have raised Mutt)… but my summary of her character overall remains.

Hermione Granger, The “Harry Potter” books and movies:  Hermione is in the top half of a lot of the “Female Character” lists floating around the internet, but I feel like many people think that she’s a role model only for the nerd crowd and that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  To be honest, I think her situation reflects and represents the struggle that many people go through when they feel that they don’t belong somewhere because of race, ethnicity, religion, heritage or culture.  Due to the fact that Hermione is “muggle-born” which means her parents have no magic abilities at all, she’s looked down on by a lot of the wizarding community.  As anyone who’s been a victim of prejudice knows, the key to getting past it is resilience, persistence, staying true to yourself, and proving yourself valuable when given the opportunity.  These things, in addition to NOT having a chip on her shoulder, make Hermione a great female character.  Also… if you’ll notice… she rarely needs help from Ron and Harry and in fact ends up saving their asses more often than not.

Sarah Connor, “Terminator” & “T2: Judgement Day”:  She was just a totally normal 80’s chick when she got thrown into a war that she herself would never get to fight.  Time travel plot holes aside, Sarah Connor went from girl-next-door to total war machine in a matter of years, because once she became a mother she wanted her son to be as prepared as possible for his militaristic future.  Locked in the mental hospital for years, she refused to go soft.  Working out relentlessly every day, shaping her bod into unbelievable kick-assery, and shaping her mullet into one hell of a ponytail while she was at it.  Go, mom!

Cher Horowitz, “Clueless”:  This blonde, ditzy beauty doesn’t top many lists of best female characters… she may be a rich beverly hills teen hottie, but when you remove the fluff and look at her character, it’s hard not to give the girl some credit.  Sure, many of her deeds are self-serving at first, but as we get to know Cher better we realize that her value system and desire for harmony in general is really on point, and although she’s sheltered and seemingly shallow at times, she’s an accurate representation of a popular high school girl who comes from money.  And you know, being a popular girl who comes from money isn’t always sunshine and butterflies; those girls need role models too!  We can see in this movie that Cher is not all selfish; she REALLY wants her driver’s license, and we can see that she completely screws up her driving test simply because she feels “icky” about a social situation.  My takeaway from the movie is that anyone, no matter how young and dumb, can make a difference in people’s lives and if you can put aside your selfishness, even temporarily, you’ll see that there’s a lot more to others than just what brand their shoes are.

Clarice Starling, “Silence of the Lambs”:  One of my favorite things about Clarice (other than the way Hannibal says her name… admit it, you hear his voice every time you see the word… Clarice… Clarice… Hello, Clarice…) is that she’s SO real.  She’s not a badass incarnate (see Sarah Connor in T2), she’s just a young girl who has something to prove.  She’s afraid, but perseveres anyway because she’s brave and wants to prove to everyone, most of all herself, that she’s got what it takes for the FBI.  She works her ass off to be sure that she won’t be outdone by anyone else, regardless of their sex.  She pushes herself mentally, physically, and psychologically to stay ahead of her peers, her supervisor, Buffalo Bill, and Dr. Hannibal Lecter.  The odd thing is that none of these people really see her as equals… except Lecter.  In a way, he pushes her in the same ways that she pushes herself.  Think harder, be better, run faster…  and she wins the day due to facing and eventually conquering her fears.

Ellen Ripley, “Alien” & “Aliens”:  OMG she tops every single list ever.  She’s amazing, no doubt.  I don’t feel the need to explain this one since every other blog on the planet which has published a list similar to this one has already done it for me.  She’s just awesome, okay?  You can go and read a full character analysis of her on thousands of other blogs, so I don’t feel the need to re-write history.

Irene Adler, many “Sherlock Holmes” books, movies and television shows:  The most recent incarnation of Ms. Adler (BBC’s ‘Sherlock’) slated her as a dashing and bold dominatrix, and many thought that was quite a stretch for the character.  Directly previous to that, she was little more than a love interest to RDJ’s Holmes in Guy Ritchie’s version.  However, the truth is, these newer interpretations of Adler are more “old fashioned” than how the author, Arthur Conan Doyle, ever wrote her.  The way that Doyle wrote her character is far more progressive.  In Doyle’s story, Adler is able to outwit Holmes twice, and she doesn’t do it by using her body, sex, or anything of the sort.  She simply matches Holmes step for step in brain power.  To top it all off, she is seen in the end as an honorable character who will honor her word; a rare way to view a woman even in some of today’s stories, much less back in those days when the world was ruled only by men and a “man’s handshake” was his promise.  Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy the new takes on Adler’s character, and it’s all in good fun to see Holmes be the sort of character who is viewed as asexual, then see him get his brainpower met by, well, pussy power for lack of a better term.  But for me, I quite prefer Doyle’s version of “The Woman”.

Those are just a few of my favorite fictional women; I didn’t even get to Mary Richards in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, nor Daria Morgendorffer in “Daria”.  I guess I’ll save those for another time!

– T. Ham

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Marvel Studios… you’ve come a long way, baby!

I think Disney executives are MARVEL-ing at the box offices numbers of their newest SMASH hit, The Avengers.  Puns aside, what follows is my full review – well, no.  More like an analysis really.  There are spoilers here.  Spoilers, spoilers, spoilers.  I will discuss the film in detail, including the plot, the ending, etc.  I don’t know how else I can say that I’d really rather you NOT read this if you haven’t seen the film.

Let me start by saying I’m biased.  Although you know I’m a pop culture nerd, I’ve wasn’t a comic book nerd until 2010, when Iron Man 2 came out.  I have seen the X-Men movies, I’ve seen SpiderMan, I like all these movies.  They’re great!  A lot of fun and I love a good action movie.  The Batman movies are great, too!  I’ve loved every Batman iteration to date, even the crappy ones.  That being said, I was still not really particularly overwhelmed by any comic book movie.  Even though Christopher Nolan’s Batman series is great, they don’t feel like comic book movies… they just feel like good action movies.  They never feel like superhero flicks to me.  So anyway, in 2010, my younger brother wanted to go see Iron Man 2, and that’s when it occurred to me that I had never seen the first Iron Man.  This is an issue for me because I’m not the type to walk blindly into any sequel.  Therefore, I watched Iron Man on DVD at home, just so that I could go with my brother to see its sequel.  I wasn’t expecting much; great action, a good time, and I’m always up for Robert Downey Jr. flick.

BAM!  By the time I was done watching that movie, I was not only a full-fledged fan, but I had gained a new respect for Marvel as a whole.  To me, this movie had taken so many things to a whole new level and I was surprised and amazed by how captivated I was by it.  To me, that’s when it was clear that this new era of Marvel movies has done something right.

Movies based on comic books have come a long way since the early days.  It seems like moviemakers are never sure which way to take it: do they stick to the comics and offer up a completely sci-fi adventure of mad-scientist villains and protagonists with x-ray vision?  Or do they “modernize” it and bring it down to earth, creating more believable plots and story lines so that it appeals to a broader audience?  Christopher Nolan’s Batman films took a gritty, crime-drama style approach and made a believable plot with a flawed and human hero and villains who are eccentric, but don’t possess any supernatural talents.  And it did appeal to a broader audience – The Dark Knight raked in tons of cash and made new Batman fans in droves.  I was happy for the pop culture atmosphere as a whole that comic book fans had a series that was worth their money.

For me, Marvel’s previous movie attempts have been somewhat lackluster.  You look at all the movies they’ve made, and there are some that stand out: Spiderman was fun, the X Men movies are always a good time… but there are all these others that were just so dull!  It seems like many of their films suffered from horrible writing, bad pacing or editing, too small of a budget, or all of the above.  I’m talking about movies like The Punisher.  Come on, John Travolta was in it and it still sank like a stone.  I love The Punisher’s story line and character arc, but this movie flops like a fish on the dock.  How is this not a fantastic movie??

Those days are gone for Marvel now, though.  Ramping up to a fever pitch since 2008, Marvel has been putting together an intricate puzzle, leaving even moderate fans salivating in anticipation.  For over 4 years, they’ve been building up to The Avengers.  I was so excited to see it, I could barely sleep on Wednesday night.

Thursday night’s midnight showing was PACKED at my local theater of choice, and there were all kinds of people there.  College and high school aged kids, adults, and much to my surprise, many people from the 45+ crowd.  I was losing my cool standing in line to be seated in the theater.  I wasn’t the only one in anticipation.  Many of us chatted as we stood anxiously in line.  I spoke to an older gentleman who said that he’d been waiting for this movie since he was a kid.  A KID!  It was only then that I realized… some of us have been waiting since 2008, but other comic book fans have been waiting for this day since the 1960’s.  And that just blows my mind.

To top it off, I started thinking about what an enormously huge task Marvel was undertaking by producing a movie of this magnitude.  Think of all the people that they must please with this: hardcore fans from every single generation, moderate fans who just like a good action flick, fanboys of one specific hero, and people who were dragged along with the crowd of their friends or who will wander into the theater just to see what all the fuss is about.  There were people from every walk of life standing in line with me at a midnight showing, which is usually reserved for super nerds and bloggers who want to get their movie review out first.  This was a crowd of people who had expectations and hopes for this movie, and they…. WE have been waiting a long time.

THE ANALYSIS:

Not too far into the movie, there’s an exchange between Captain America and SHIELD Agent Phil Coulson that tells you, up front with no strings attached, what you can expect from this film.  Steve Rogers is worried about his place in this fight against Loki, and is hoping that he’s the right man for the job.  He laments briefly about his “stars and stripes” uniform being “a little old fashioned”.  Agent Coulson shakes his head calmly in reply: “With everything that’s happened… all that’s about to come to light… I think everybody could use a little old fashioned.”  This is nice, because it’s almost as if the movie is stepping outside of itself to tell you: this is going to be an old fashioned comic book movie with superheroes.  Just sit back and relax and just have an old fashioned good time, like people used to do at the movies before there was such overbearing critics, and a demand to stick to some word-for-word plotline with a believable story and award-winning cinematography… just have a good time.  This is just an old fashioned good time.  And for me, it was.  And… it FELT like a comic book movie.  It’s a superhero movie, finally, and I was thrilled about it!

I keep hearing people say that the movie starts a little slow, I think that’s a necessary evil.  If the beginning wasn’t so slow, people would be complaining that there was little to no story development.  The first act isn’t dull; it’s just that the people in the theater know in the back of their mind what is coming and they’re anxious to get to it.

Joss Whedon does a good job of weaving the character’s stories together in a way that feels as if they each have their own things going on, which is stupid to say because, to fans of the franchise, we know that they DO each have their own things going on, but there are the fringe people who may have only seen one or two of the previous movies, or maybe none, so it’s important for them to see the “assembling” of the team, and how each of them have their own characterizations, inner battles and story arcs going on (it’s also a suave marketing move; I know people who left the theater saying they wanted to see one of the other Marvel movies because they enjoyed the corresponding character in The Avengers).

The acting, as expected, was absolutely spot on.  For me, the big surprise here was Mark Ruffalo.  How many times can they recast the big green guy?  I guess I just wasn’t expecting much in terms of character development… but Mark Ruffalo has a way of telling Bruce Banner’s story without saying a word.  Everything about him in this movie was perfect and dead-on.  I always expect greatness from Downey, Jr. and Samuel L. Jackson, and I knew what an awesome performance Evans and Hemsworth would bring.  But it was Ruffalo that blew my mind.  How many times CAN they recast the big green guy?  I hope they don’t recast him again for a very very long time.

We all left the theater knowing two things:  1) this is the start of some amazing movies from Marvel and 2) we’d all just witnessed history.  I think this Marvel lineup of movies will hold up as a pop-culture classic, right next to Star Wars and Harry Potter.

Here’s to Marvel ushering in a new age of superhero movies that just FEEL right.

Netflix… It’s a Love/Hate Relationship

I have been a Netflex customer for several years. I don’t know that there’s any better service to be had for only $8.99 per month. When Netflix’s infamous rate hike tossed their customers far and wide, I left with the masses. Their streaming selection had been dwindling and I was rarely using the mail service anymore. So the increased rate seemed like too much to pay for a service that I was feeling sort of ‘meh’ about.

My life without Netflix was, as you might expect, better in some ways and worse in some ways. But no matter what, the thing that stuck out in my mind is that when I wanted to watch something specific, I yearned for Netflix.

I rejoined Netflix and agreed to pay only for streaming, and have been trying my best to convince myself that I should just get rid of the dish and put all my eggs in the Netflix basket. If I want to be entertained by my television, I would either be watching Netflix, playing Xbox or making a purchase on the Apple TV. But I just can’t get myself to cancel the regular TV programming. There’s a weird reason for this that I will get back to…

But what I’ve come to realize about the available selection on Netflix Instant is this: there are tons of TV shows. Great ones even! But some of them don’t have all the seasons. Why? I think that their service would be FAR more valuable, and make FAR more money, if they would just completely convert to an instant service for TV shows. I know people will say “but that’s the same as DVR/TiVo” but it’s not. It’s not the same because Netflix offers these TV shows without commercials. No crap to fast-forward past. Also, it’s not the same because the selection is larger than what my DVR would ever hold, meaning that I can watch an episode or two of a show, decide if I like it, and move on with my life. It’ll be there waiting for me if I decide I want to watch more, not taking up any storage capacity space. Also, I can watch Netflix on SO MANY devices. I would gladly pay $20 per month or MORE for Netflix if they would get all the seasons of the TV shows they offer (Dexter, anyone?) and implement just one more feature that I can’t live without…

Netflix needs some kind of playlist feature, continuous play feature, or ability to automatically play the next episode or thing on your queue or something. Some people look at me like I have an arm coming out of my ass when I say that, but here’s my thing: Sometimes when I turn on the TV, I’m not looking for anything specific. I don’t want to actively “watch” anything. I kind of just want to…. chill out with something going on in the background. TV is perfect filler for that. I fall asleep with the TV on every night (keeps the bad dreams away, true story), I just put it on Adult Swim and turn the TV sleep timer on 90 minutes. About an episode and a half later, I’m snoozing. But I need to be ALL THE WAY asleep before the TV cuts off. If it goes dark and silent and I’m not asleep, I am not happy. Bad dream city. My inner thoughts lead me to dark places when there’s no outside influences… but I digress.

So, Netflix, the ball’s in your court. Why not just compete with television providers? You’d put cable companies out of business if you offered all the TV shows you do now, plus adding in new ones, with ALL the seasons, as they become available. But first, please integrate some kind of damn autoplay! I don’t care if there’s commercials in between, or ads on the screen where I am choosing what I want to watch, if that’s what you gotta do to get the show producers to agree to it.

Nerd Workout Playlist

I’m so glad that headphones were invented.  If people could actually hear what I workout to, I’d get laughed off the treadmill and onto the recumbent bike.  They probably wouldn’t let me near the freeweights anymore, either.

However, dear readers, since you don’t work out at my gym (hopefully) and therefore can’t make fun of me while I’m trying to maintain my physique, I’ll tell you what’s on my workout playlist.  And yes, thanks, I know I’m a nerd.  But not I’m not a thick glasses/jeans with tennis shoes kind of nerd…I’m a pop culture enthusiast nerd.  Let me ‘splain:

1. Driving with the Top Down by Ramin Djawadi from the Iron Man soundtrack: this song inspires me and makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something.  It actually makes me smile while I sweat.

2. Percussion Gun by White Rabbits from the It’s Frightening album: I can’t really explain what this song does to me.  It feels almost like being angry in a happy way.  I know that makes no sense.  The persistent drumming in the background really keeps me going.

3. Blow Me Away by Breaking Benjamin:  Yeah, I know!  This is kind of a normal song you might think, but you’d be wrong.  If you’ll recall, it was used during a particular badass section of Halo 2 gameplay.  Total nerd redemption.

4. Canned Heat by Jamiroquai:  There’s few mental images better than Napoleon’s exquisite Vote for Pedro dance.  ‘Nuff said.

5. Take a Look Around by Limp Bizkit:  I don’t really like Limp Bizkit any more than the average person, but THIS Bizkit song rocks the Mission Impossible theme as its spine, and there’s nothing better than a little secret agent work while you’re in the gym.

6. Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins:  TOP GUN!!  NEED I SAY MORE?!?  I HAVE TO YELL BECAUSE IT’S LOUD UP IN THIS JET!!  And having two Tom Cruise movie songs back to back is only incidental, I promise.

7. Wake Up by Arcade Fire:  Okay so this is not really a song that pumps me specifically, but it’s almost 6 minutes long and I love it so much that it makes 6 minutes feel like 2 minutes…which is good when you’re on a treadmill.

8. Square Pegs by Pain:  Do you remember the awesomeness that was the Midgets with Guns album?  If you don’t, then you’re probably WAAAAAY cooler than I was in high school.

9. The Theme Song from Metal Gear Solid 2:  I’m deeply sorry that I have no idea who wrote or performed this song.  But it’s one of the most awesome video game songs ever.  I really don’t like games where you have to be all sneaky/crouchy/silencer etc, but this song made it all worth while.

10. Training Montage by Vince DiCola:  Yep.  The one from Rocky.  This is the most epic 80’s montage song ever.  It’s such an epic montage song that it has the word ‘montage’ right in the freaking title!  Can you imagine?!?!?  Following this up directly with “Eye of the Tiger” is certainly recommended.  If you got it, flaunt it.

-T. Ham

Films vs. Movies

I haven’t spoken to anyone who thought that Twilight was a quality film.  Unless you’re twelve or retarded, you know that watching Twilight is like eating a fried Snickers bar at the fair: it seems like a good idea, and it’s pretty good while you’re eating it, but afterward you feel awful and ashamed and you realize that it’s not like you’ve sampled any fine culinary genius, and in fact have wasted a billion calories and 154 fat grams on, well, nothing.  All the V8 in the world can’t wash the taste away.

Calm down, tweens and mid-forty overweight chicks.  I’m just using Twilight as filler.  My point is, there’s certainly a difference between a “movie” and a “film”, am I right?  What’s the difference?  It’s not budget, it’s not acting chops, it’s not even whether the film gets an Academy nod or not.  The difference is QUALITY.  And quality is not equal to budget.  The two are independent of each other.  Quality is attention to detail.  The desire to express oneself regardless of income potential.  Which is why most independent films are, you guessed it, “films” and not just “movies”.

So am I saying that movies are bad?  Of course not!  Who doesn’t love Terminator and Batman?  But the fact is that these movies were made because somebody somewhere said, “Hmm.  This would make money.”  Go watch all the strife George Lucas went through to make Star Wars.  You’ll appreciate it even more.  He would have made that movie if it would have killed him.  He spent every penny he had and every second of every day making it.  He had a story to tell and he’d give anything to tell it in his medium of choice.  Star Wars is a great film.  But Attack of the Clones?  Just another movie.  A great movie, but still just a movie.

Is there a middle ground?  Maybe.  When in doubt, I call it a movie.  A movie has to EARN the pleasure of being called a film.

I’m such a nerd.

-T. Ham

Donnie Darko: Briefly

I can’t believe I’ve lived with myself for this long without seeing Donnie Darko.  Such a huge part of pop culture; a cult icon that I’ve heard about since it came out.  Things like this are what forced me into hibernation this past year!

Drama aside, I used my xbox 360 to hook into Netflix and watched Donnie Darko after I’d had (more than) a few margaritas with my friends.  At the end of the movie, I was confused and thirsty.  And scared of rabbits.  I went to bed, confused and thirsty.  And scared of rabbits.

I awoke with a headache.  My first thought after peeing a liquid that had an unmistakable Grand Marnier/Tequila odor was that I had to watch Donnie Darko again.  Surely, sober, I’d realize its genius and understand it completely.

“Cellar Door.”

What a great movie!  Entertaining, fun to watch, both scary and darkly humorous.  I’m so glad I watched it the second time!  I still didn’t get it, but I certainly liked it!

“Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?”

The third time around, I must have had on my thinking cap as my 2nd grade teacher would have said, because then I really started to grasp the idea.  I mean, I’m still not entirely sure that what I’m perceiving is what the writers had in mind, but I think it’s in the ball park.  And I truly enjoyed it.  Perhaps the ambiguity of the plot is my most favorite thing about it – it’s like one of those “you decide the ending” books that we had when we were kids (I always flipped to read the outcome of both decisions before actually deciding).  Ten different people can watch something like Donnie Darko, and they’d all probably pull different things from it.  It’s a movie that makes you look at yourself and question things around you.  That’s deep.  Not since The Shining has a movie made me so……perceptive.

And how about that music??  Wow.  Nice.  Mad World was soul shattering in that context.  Watching Donnie sit in bed and laugh…wow.  I can’t say much more without spoilers.

Overall, I give it a whopping 8.5 out of 10 points.  Very enjoyable, even if you don’t understand it the first time (or two) around.

-T. Ham

FREE THE BEAST!

So I took a little break.  Alright, okay, I took a big break.  This is my first blog post in exactly one year.  It’s time.

(Opens door to cryogenic freezing chamber)  Let’s see, what have I missed in the past year?  What th-  I leave you people alone for 12 months and this is what I come back to?

The gulf has turned into oil, a Dances With Wolves remake topped Titanic’s box office numbers, and a Madonna-ish he/she is singing about poker faces?  Are you sure I only slept for a year??  To quote Marty McFly, this is heavy.  Who’s the president, a black guy?  OH…MY….GOD.

Okay well, technically I was wide awake and blogging for election ’08 but still, there have been quite a few significant changes in the world since I last blogged.  I have a lot of catching up to do.

Any old business?  Let’s start with a clean up…(deletes a ton of old posts that are no good)…there, that’s better.  Breathe in that clean, fresh air.  No need for a ton of stale posts stinking up the joint.  I kept some of my favorites.  Now, on to new business.

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How’s that going to fit in my pocket?  Are pants pockets bigger in the future?  Ohhh, it’s supposed to be like a laptop.  But there’s no keyboard.  And really no way for me to see it while I’m typing because it lays flat.  So…it’s not like a laptop at all then.  It’s more like a….well, a really big ipod.  Hmm.  I think I want one.  I’m not really sure why but I think I have to have it (clicks “add to cart”).  No.  Must…wait…til…next…generation…It will be worth the wait, I just know it!  Sigh (clicks “remove from cart”).  ipad 2nd gen will have a camera.  I just know it.

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How come when I get a care package I only get *one* but that guy gets like, FOUR?  That’s not very fair.  Cheaters.  I wish I wouldn’t have entered prestige mode.  I miss my AK.  And I DESPISE heartbeat sensors and noob tubes!  They should make some types of gameplay that nix of that kind of stuff.  If you’re so retarded that the only kills you can get are from a grenade that you automatically dropped after I SHOT YOU IN THE FACE, then you’re pathetic.  You don’t even deserve to hold a grenade.

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Hello Robert Downey, Jr.  All cleaned up now?  Good!  Welcome back to acting, Hollywood missed you.  Ha, wouldn’t it be funny if you got cast as characters with drinking or drug abuse problems?  What’s that?  Oh.  My bad.  I didn’t realize that your last two roles were Tony Stark and Sherlock Holmes.  Don’t feel bad…according to Wikipedia, the mind-altering narcotics that Holmes was known for were legal substances in 19th century England.  And Stark’s a very collected drinker.  He doesn’t get drunk and make an ass out of himself…what’s that?  Oh.  I guess he does in part two, huh?  Didn’t realize.  At any rate, it’s great to have you back.

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Justin Bieber:  stop, man.  Just stop.

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In short, my dear fans, I have loved every minute of my hiatus, however,  I’ve missed you all dearly.  I’ve missed writing.  I’ve missed the level of responsibility that comes from forcing myself to watch things like Giant Octopus vs Mega Shark for the sole purpose of saying that I saw it and being able to discuss it.

There will always be some new or old piece of pop culture on which to wax philosophical.  I’m here to stay.  Don’t everybody thank me at once.

-T. Ham