Friday, September 30, 2005

The Faux Pas of Film, Pt. 1

This is an exerpt from a Coffee Crew essay I did awhile back concerning the things in movies and films that, quite honestly, irk the hell out of me. I'm sorry for regurgitating old literature that half my current readership has already heard, but lately I just haven't had the time to properly dedicate to getting down the swirls of thought in my head into print. So I offer this up in the meantime:

TV and Movies

I consider myself an average movie patron. I’m fairly up to speed with today’s films, despite the fact that I average about a movie a month, especially with the going price of a ticket in excess of $9 these days. I’m pretty good with following plotlines, though admittedly I sometimes require a session of twenty questions at the end of the more deeper films. For the most part, however, I think I’ve finally reached a point in my quest for entertainment to be able to discuss what I like and do not like, what impresses me and what irritates me. Since it is infinitely more enjoyable to bash topics that annoy, disturb or downright piss off, rather than drone on about ‘liking this’ or admiring that’, this essay will focus on the faux paus in the movie and television industry that particularly rub me the wrong way. I’m not referring to the more obvious blunders, such as terrible acting, crappy writing or a complete lack of a plot, but more specific things that, for the most part, are totally avoidable, had they been given the slightest bit of thought. For example:

• The Planted Moron
The “Planted Moron” technique is one that specifically drives me nuts, mainly because A) It is so incredibly obvious, and B) It insults the intelligence of the viewers. It goes as follows: a group of people are having a discussion about a certain topic, item or event, and inevitably a subject is brought up that the viewer may not recognize or understand. One member of the group, the ‘planted moron’, repeats the subject in a quizzical fashion, as if to imply that he/she has no idea what they are speaking of. Usually this individual is someone other than the main cast, who just happened to be included in the conversation. We can only assume that this is because the producers dare not jeopardize the integrity of the main cast by having them look foolish and stupid, and so they throw in this buffoon who, by all rights, should probably have some sort of an idea of the topic in question, if only by their mere presence in the group. However, this is not their lot in life; their job is to simply allow for a more detailed description of this mystifying topic, for the benefit of the viewers who can now follow the conversation more closely.

Example: Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

The setting: A member of the Enterprise is abducted and replaced by a perfect replica, a probe that mimics the officer in every way. As it arrives back on board, Kirk, Spock, McCoy and “Ensign Perez” rush into the room, and begin questioning the probe on it’s function. The probe replies that it was given the officers form to more easily communicate with the “carbon-based units”. At that time Mr. Perez, in an acting performance that rivals Barney the Dinosaur, interjects, “Carbon-based units?” “Humans, Ensign Perez” McCoy offers in explanation. “Us”.
Now let’s dissect this little exchange. We must assume that Ensign Perez, being posted to the flagship of the Federation, has undergone the rigorous Starfleet academy training, same as all officers on board. We must also assume that somewhere, at some point, human biology was taught in at least ONE of his classes, if not several. Despite the fact that this poor schlep never progressed past Ensign despite looking in his mid-to-late thirties, you would still think he would be intelligent enough to outright know that humans are carbon-based, and if not, smart enough to freakin’ figure it out based on the conversation, especially in an age where everyone on board seems to have enough super-human brains to fix any system that breaks down in their immediate area. I only have an associates degree from a community college, I’m not even sure how a combustion engine works, and EVEN I knew that “carbon-based units” meant humans! Don’t insult my intelligence.

More to come!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Brontosaurus burger, anyone?

Between my friend Steve's blog and my own, the topic of fast food restaurants seems to have been popping up frequently, which reminded me of my own stint in the burger flippin' business. Yes, like so many Long Island teens in my decade, I paid my "It's time you got a job" dues in the ever-so-pleasant service industry of fast food. My chosen poison was the home of the Belly-Bomber itself... White Castle. For those that don't know WC, Let me sum them up this way: a square burger less than half the size of a standard burger with five holes drilled into it, steamed on a bed of onions underneath their dinner-roll sized bun, usually with such a disproportionate onion-to-water ratio that it almost always turns out to be a soggy slopfest.

And it's very probably the world's most perfect fast food.

Being so small, they're incredibly cheap; a poor slob on his way home from a night of bar hopping can stop in and order 2 or 4 burgers just for himself, depending on how much change was left in his pocket. If he was with 3 friends, they could easily order 30 burgers or more and plow through them in a drunken rage.
They're also incredibly quick to make. You can order a value meal of 4 and, assuming a grill has already been made, be sitting down eating them quicker than you can say "would you like fries with that?" (Sorry Steve!)
They're also incredibly bad for you. There's nothing at all redeeming in them, they don't even make an attempt to healthy them up by adding a slice of tomato or lettuce, just the above ingredients, topped with a pickle slice, some salt & pepper, ketchup and, for the ultimate slider, a slice of cheese.
Because of their uniqueness, White Castle is the fast-food equivalent of George W.: You either love em or you hate em, there is no in-between. And just like with our selected official, those who say "nay!" often pick on everything done wrong, and sometimes start rumors to defame the idol of others.
Of course, in Bush's case, it's all justifiable.
So where am I going with this? Like I said, all this talk about fast food got me reminiscing about those days, and I was reminded of a conversation I had with my friend Rich long after I had dropped my last basket of fries. You see, one of the 'rumors' going around about White Castle hamburgers was that they were made from kangaroo meat. Ludicrous, to be sure, but I was constantly being asked, "Hey man, is it true they're made from kangaroo meat??" I assume this was to infer that they were so cheap they couldn't afford real beef burgers. At the time my answer was real simple. "Well" I said, "it says 100% Beef burgers on the side of the box of frozen patties, so I'm guessing it's real beef!" It wasn't until the conversation with Rich years later when it dawned on me how ridiculous that rumor was. Kangaroo meat?? Of all the things they could have picked to replace beef with, why kangaroo meat? I don't think kangaroos are that much more plentiful than cows that it would be such a drastic increase in their profit margin. In fact, I would think it'd be a lot more expensive to ship in kangaroos from the outback and butcher them up in top secret kangaroo-processing facilities, threatening their employees with bodily harm if they ever spilled the beans and paying off the officials to look the other way. A hell of a lot more expensive. You might as well just develop your own dinosaur-cloning facility, genetically grow a bunch of fattened-up T-Rex's and grind them up for some delectable dinoburgers... I can see the rumors now... "Hey, you know why White Castle's are so cheap and crappy? They're made from dinosaurs, man! No, really!" Sure, why not, that'd be REAL cheap!
"Here's your order of Velaciraptor Fingers, don't forget your Dinosauce!"

(Slightly off topic side note: When confirming the spelling of Brontosaurus using, I noticed how completely useless it was as an actual dictionary. The definition of Brontosaurus, according to the site, is "An apatosaur."
Thanks for clearing that up, fellas.)

Monday, September 26, 2005

Daring with your life

I saw a sign the other day. Actually, I see alot of signs alot of days, so many in fact that I'm constantly being reminded of that old Tesla song, you know, "Signs Signs, Everywhere there's signs, Blocking up the scenery, Breaking up my mind, Do this, don't do that Can't you read the sign". Blah blah blah... don't even get me started; that's a blog for another day.
This particular sign caused a simultanious feeling of amusement and concern for me. It was on the side of the street, and it simply read, "Dare to Be a Lifesaver!" along with some contact information on how to become an EMT. Now, I may be out of touch with the rest of the world, and certainly with the new generation, but way back in my younger years (oh, say, around 20 years ago... hey, I'm not THAT old!) we generally dared people to do things that we were quite sure they either wouldn't do, or couldn't do. When we said, "I DARE you to eat that worm!" It was usually because we didn't expect them to do it, at least not with any amount of ease. We sure as hell WANTED them to do it, just because it was gross and not something you see every day, but if it was known that this person generally went around all day sucking up worms just for fun well, there'd be no real sense in daring him to do it, would there?
Now back to my sign. Assuming the rules of "The Dare" still apply, am I to understand that they're trying to recruit people to become Emergency Medical Technicians who they don't think could do it with any real amount of skill or expertise? I'm sorry, but if I'm having a heart attack, I want to be sure the person sent to revive me is fairly confident in his abilities to do so, and is not there solely on a 'dare' or because someone bet he couldn't do it. I mean, if they're ever called in to an accident, I hope they're not told, "We DARE you to perform an emergency tracheotomy on that crash victim! GO! DO IT! DO IT! DO IT!, Awww ewww he did it!!! gross!! I owe you ten." I could almost understand if the sign dared you to be, say, a fireman, there is a certain amount of bravery and even insanity needed to run into a burning building, and even though lives are still on the line, chances are if you run into said building on a dare without any real training, you're only hurting yourself.
I find it funny yet terrifying how the most mundane jobs in the help wanted section require 30 years of experience or a 12-year college degree in so-and-so to bag, but apparently all you need to become an EMT is a large ego.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

New Burger King Menu Item... Guilt

OK, I've had this ripped piece of paper bag in my pile of crap for some time now, always meaning to write about it for the writing group "Coffee Crew" that I belong to. Having never done that, I'll write about it here.
Apparently, I owe the Burger King big time. Not Burger King the restaurant, but the actual man behind the burger himself, THE Burger King. Why, you may ask? I have no idea, but according to the advertisement on the take-out bag I got with my meal a few weeks back, he expects to be repaid.
Allow me to reprint the actual advert I am referring to. It said, to quote,
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So give it the royal treatment. The King has lots of tasty ways to satisfy your morning hunger. You owe it to yourself, and to him, to give 'em a try.

To be frank, I was outraged. "What the??" I thought to myself. "I owe it to HIM to give 'em a try?? Who the F**K does this guy think he is... asking favors of me? What has he ever done for ME??" And it was true. Other than continuously offering to make my burger "my way", what has he ever done to deserve a favor in return? And, for that matter, how does he know I even "owe it to myself"?? Maybe I've been pampering myself for the last 20 years, in which case treating myself to a royal breakfast may not be so well deserved. I just thought it was awfully presumptuous that this self-proclaimed Monarchy of the fast food industry just assumed that I, the lowly Burger Peon, would jump at the chance to repay my benevolent king for all the good he's done for the Burger domain.
To make matters worse, as I look up above the text of this advertisement, I see the title.... WAKE UP WITH THE KING. "Oh, good God," I thought. It now sounds as if I just SLEPT with the man, and now expects me to sample his morning culinary delights in return, as if to say, "It's the LEAST you can bastard!" Now I feel almost guilt-ridden into driving out to BK just to buy a sack of hashbrowns, just to alieve the nagging feeling I have for having used him so.
But I won't.
In fact, I think I'll add "Burger King Breakfasts" to the ever-growing list of things I'm boycotting in life, just for having the gall to try to guilt me into spending my hard-earned money on their crappy morning menu. Fortunately for me, I've never really had it before, so it won't be missed all that much.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

My E-mail is jealous.....

As I was writing back and forth to Steve about the likelihood that anyone would care that I had a blog, I noticed that Outlook's Spellchecker kept flagging the word 'blog' as a spelling error. Now despite the e-mail's seniority in the world of the internet over the whole blog sensation, it still struck me as funny that this program (a function of the internet) didn't recognize the word blog (another function of the internet). In my mind I envisioned Outlook getting all jealous of the blog's newfound fame and superiority as a communication tool, and outright refusing to acknowledge its existence. Like so many of us in the world today, it may very well fear for its own job and, afraid to be outdone by the newer and better model, sticks it's fingers in it's ears and goes "blah blah blah it doesn't exist blah blah blah" – again, like so many of us in the world today.

Of course, the real answer is much more simple: The outdated Outlook Dictionary has just never been updated. But it's always fun to project human traits onto inanimate objects, albeit with the egocentric notion that they're somehow made better by doing so. It does, however seem to make it much easier to relate to objects if we assume that they have some sort of personality to identify with.

Sometimes, it's even fun to do that with people.

Life, the Universe, and Anything

Wow... here I am, my very own blog.... um, hi! I've been convinced by my good friend Steve that I apparently have just as much interesting and blog-worthy observations on life, the universe and everything as he does, and that I should create my own little niche in the wonderful world of Blogging. Being a big fan of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series (and just having watched the movie on DVD) I wanted to create something in the same style as the 'Guide' entries, but failing to come up with a clever name for the blog using the words 'hitchhikers', 'guide' and/or 'galaxy' along with any or all parts of my name, I decided to fall back on the second most popular book of omnipotent knowledge in the 'Guide' universe, the Encyclopedia Galactica, hence changing it to the Encyclopedia Giachettica, an obvious play on my name... well, obvious to those that actually know my name is Giachetti, otherwise it has probably gone right over your head.

Anyway, I thought it was clever.

I also though it was clever to use name the web address "Paulanoma", as this is a reference to a photo that was taken at the above-mentioned friends house of Rich, whereas I stuck my head out from behind him as the photo was taken. The image was passed around and naturally laughed at, as it looked like my head was growing out of Rich's neck. Hence it was known as the Paulanoma picture, and not being able to think of anything else to call the blog address, this seemed as good a name as any.

So, here we are. A place that admittedly may get pretty scary, or at the very least somewhat confusing. As the description states, it's a place for me to dump my fragments of thoughts, whether funny, spiritual, or just plain bitching about something. Feel free to chime in at any point. I'm not a writer by any means, but I hope you glean at least a little entertainment from these entries.