I’ve been bitching about the trailers for the new Superman movie, Man of Steel, ever since the first one came out. The movie is being directed by Zack Snyder, who knows how to do stylish action. So I was perplexed why I hated the trailers so much.
Well, maybe “hate” is a strong word. The trailers just bored me. They didn’t make me want to see the movie. A trailer should make you say, “Hell yeah I’m fucking seeing that.” But with the Man of Steel trailers, I’m just “Eh.”
I kept waiting for a trailer to give me some excitement. And then last night, it hit me. The reason the trailers are not exciting me is because I’m not excited to see yet another Superman origin story, because I’ve seen it to fucking death.
I would be totally excited to see Red Son brought to the screen. I’d love to see Superman fighting Darkseid along with the New Gods. I’d love to see a Superman/Batman movie where they meet for the first time and learn they have to work together. Heck, Doomsday brought to life would be fucking awesome. (If only to see Booster Gold on the big screen!)
But yet we get another fucking origin story. We’ve done this with the Donner movie. We’ve done it with the Animated Series. We did it with Smallville. Even Superman Returns had to deal with his origin. I’m fucking tired of it.
And who is the bad guy? Zod. On the bright side, it’s not Lex. We’ve definitely did Lex to death. But Zod is basically the go to guy when Lex is not being used. We know Zod’s story. It’s been done to death.
Note to Hollywood: Superman does not need an origin story. We know who he is. And anyone who does not know who Superman is will not go and see the fucking movie. So ignore those idiots.
I can’t help but think they’re giving us yet another origin story to squeeze yet another movie out. Give us the origin. Give us a sequel. And then give us a third that ruins the series. Rinse and repeat.
Update: Right on cue, those zany guys over at Cracked have written an article explaining why it’s so hard to make an interesting Superman movie.
I recently wrote why I thought Microsoft’s Vista operating system failed. Today, I’ll talk about the failure of Windows 8.
As you may have heard, Windows 8 marks the first time in Microsoft’s history that PC sales dropped after it released a new operating system. Think about that. The days of people lining up at midnight to get the latest and greatest from Microsoft are gone.
The main complaint about Windows 8 is the Metro/Surface interface. It’s a touch interface, and despite the fact that hardly anyone uses touch monitors on the desktop, it’s the default interface. As of now you can’t even switch to the typical “Start” menu interface as the default. You’re stuck with touch every time you start your computer.
To me the failure of Windows 8 is not the touch interface. A touch or a kinect interface is the future and the decision to include a touch interface was brave and bold.
The mistake was not in including it, it was in making it default.
Microsoft should have released two versions of Windows 8. A standard desktop “Start” menu version for the masses and corporations. And a touch version called, “Windows 8 Surface.”
Creating two versions of the OS would have shown the world that Microsoft is prepared for the future while still being relevant in the present. Corporations, the largest purchasers of Microsoft’s operating systems, would not have feared the retraining costs associated with an entirely new interface would have likely updated older XP and Vista systems.
But here’s the real icing on the cake, Microsoft should have released their own stylish and awesome Surface PC fully utilizing the new touch interface. Just like it did with its tablets.
Sure it would have pissed off its OEMs, but Microsoft’s Surface PC would have been a high-end system. The Dells and HPs of the world could still sell their low-end black and beige boxes. But Microsoft’s Surface PC would have guided them to where the world was going. And to survive, they would have followed.
I’m not saying that Windows 8 would have been a huge success if Microsoft would not have pushed the Surface interface down our throats. We’re living in a post-PC world and people are not buying PCs as often as they used to. We do a lot of “computing” on our phones and tablets. And PCs are powerful enough nowadays to last several years. But by pushing us into the future while ignoring the present, Microsoft’s “brave and bold” decision to force the Surface interface was mostly just bullheaded.
Writing about Microsoft’s Vista operating system might seem outdated. However, to this day computer pundits are still jabbing Microsoft Vista. For example, in an editorial at ZDNet Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols takes a stab at Vista while criticizing Windows 8.
Vista certainly got a LOT of hate when it came out. Microsoft was even forced to bring back XP for a while to keep OEMs and customers happy. But the failure of Vista had everything to do with the long term success of XP. To put it simply, XP was around so long that it made it impossible for most people to upgrade to Vista, which made Vista look really bad. Let me explain.
Windows 98 was released less than three years after the original release of Windows 95.
Windows 98 SE came out in May of 1999. Less than a year later.
Windows ME came out in June of 2000. A little more than a year after SE.
XP was released on October of 2001. About a year and a half after ME.
Then…. nothing. Until Vista was released in January of 2007. SIX FUCKING YEARS LATER!
So prior to XP, you could buy a computer and upgrade to the next version of Windows and still run it fairly well. That was a huge part of Microsoft’s upgrade cycle. It was like users got a second computer for the price of a small upgrade. Users loved it.
But with XP, people were trying to upgrade to Vista with systems built over a half a decade old. Vista was entirely new and was designed to work on modern hardware, e.g., dual cores, 4 gigs of ram, and the Aero interface required a decent graphics card. There was simply no way Vista could run a computer bought in the early or mid 2000s.
But people tried anyway and hated it. They criticized Vista for being slower than XP, because on their ancient systems, it was. Those people took to the net and soon Vista had a reputation for being slow and buggy. And despite numerous attempts to turn the perception around, Microsoft finally admitted defeat and released Windows 7. In 2009. Nearly two years after Vista.
And Windows 7 was a success, because it was back on its original upgrade cycle. So when people upgraded their new systems to Windows 7, it worked well. And people were happy again.
Until Metro. Then the PC industry died. But that’s a story for another day.
Me (answering the phone at work): “Hello.”
Co-worker: “Hi, is Becky there?”
Me: “Nope, she’s in court. Do you want me to have her call you when she gets back?”
Co-worker: “No, just have her call me when she gets in.”
eBay recently did a study of its online advertising for search results in Yahoo, Bing, and Google and determined they don’t help drive new business. I’m not going to argue with eBay’s study, because I don’t give a fuck.
However, Ray Fisman over at Slate asks a very broad question based upon eBay’s narrow findings: Do Paid Search Ads Work?
It’s pretty clear to me why paid search ads do not work for eBay: Because the vast majority of people who buy stuff from eBay will search for what they’re looking for on eBay. You’d have to have a pretty fucking stupid eBay user to try to find stuff on eBay via Google. It reminds me of Jerry on Parks and Recreation using AltaVista to find his Yahoo email account every morning.
In fact, the article written by Fisman makes that point pretty clear, he just ignores it. The only times paid search advertising does work for eBay is for people who have not shopped on eBay previously. That makes sense. An ignorant person who has never used eBay before would probably start with Google first. But as the article states, after three such searches, such people became eBay users and stopped using Google.
However, not every business has the loyal user base of eBay. For example, there are probably millions of users who have never heard of Newegg. My guess is that if Newegg did the same study, it would find that paid search results would constitute a better investment.
So the main problem with Fisman’s article is that he takes one fact concerning one narrow circumstance and tries to ram it into every circumstance without an ounce of critical thinking. But critical thinking does not always make the most enticing headlines. And obviously Fishman (and his editor) knows that.
Every couple of months a news report comes out about some change Facebook is implementing (or thinking about implementing) and that it will “kill” Facebook and everyone will leave. Those articles cause people to fill Facebook with complaints about the change and threats to leave.
I’ll make one very easy prediction: If Facebook dies, no one other than stockholders will give a fuck.
Facebook is simply one of many internet trends that everyone thought was going to be with us forever. So it’s really no different from AOL’s chat boards, xoom.com, geocities.com, wordpress.com, MySpace.com, etc. And when each of those died, no one gave a fuck. No one gave a fuck because the vast majority of people had already moved on to the next next big thing.
The same will happen to Facebook. Most pundits or complainers think that, 1., Facebook will die suddenly, and 2., people will be pissed off because they won’t have anything to replace it with.
However, Facebook will start to die slowly as people move to the next next big thing, and then will die very quickly once there is a critical mass of people on that next big thing.
The vast majority of people won’t even notice the difference. They won’t think “Gee I miss Facebook” or “It really sucks that no one uses Facebook anymore.” They’ll simply be using whatever they’re using and doing whatever they’re doing.
There’s something about “internet time” that eliminates nostalgia. We look back fondly at certain TV shows, movies, bands, sodas… etc. But I’ve never met a person who said, “Gee, I really miss wasting 8 hours a day on Digg.”
There’s an interesting post over at Slate about the way the world treats and reacts to non-drinkers. I read it because I also do not drink alcohol. Never have, never will.
She complains that people are always demanding her to justify why she doesn’t drink. I totally agree, people ask me quite often why I don’t drink. However, her mistake is to argue that such questions are somehow unique to alcohol.
I don’t drink alcohol the way other people don’t eat oysters, or don’t start the day with a cup of coffee. I don’t drink because I don’t like it, I never have. But the difference between me and people who don’t eat oysters is that I have to explain my choice—and I’ve had to for 20 years.
People are creatures of habit and are utterly curious about anything that doesn’t fit the norm or what is expected. So it’s not surprising that no asks why you don’t like oysters. A lot of people don’t like them, and even more have never even tried them.
But when you choose not to do anything everyone else does, people are going to question you.
For example, I have a friend who does not like pizza. Every time it comes up in a group someone will ask, “What, you don’t like pizza?! How can you not like pizza?!”
I have another friend who does not like hamburgs (despite liking other meats). Every time it comes up, someone in the group will ask, “How could you not like hamburgers?! They’re delicious. Everyone loves ‘em. Are you a vegetarian or something?!”
Drinking is quite common among adults (and young adults, and teens). So to choose not to do it when “everyone else” is doing it, is weird. And inquisitive people want to find out why.
As an analogy, a former roommate received a letter from a girl written in French. He thought we could go to the library and translate it by simply looking up the words in a French to English dictionary. I pointed that it really wouldn’t work too well because French uses a different form of grammar. He was shocked. He had never considered there could be a different form of grammar. He asked, “Why don’t they use our grammar?”
There’s been a lot of speculation that the Boy Scouts will drop its rule against gay and lesbian leaders and members. It’s about fucking time, here’s why:
Clearly the Boy Scouts is a private organization and I strongly believe that private organizations should be allowed to act as such. E.g., no one should be able to force the KKK to allow black and jewish members. But in this instance the ban against gays and lesbians violated the group’s own stated purpose. Accordingly, the ban makes no sense.
The Boy Scouts is not a Christian organization. In fact the Boy Scouts has no religious affiliation at all. Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, etc, are all allowed to join. However, the group does require a belief in theism. In other words, as long as you believe in some concept of a deity, you can join.
Which is why the ban on homosexuals made no sense. Certainly there are plenty of religious groups that feel that homosexuality violates god’s many laws. But there are also plenty of other religious groups that do not feel the same way. E.g., a local Christian church openly accepts gays and lesbians. While the Old Testament was quite clear that homosexuality was an abomination, the New Testament is completely silent on the topic. And, well, if Christians can throw out ancient rules regarding the consumption of shell fish, why can’t they also throw out the racist and xenophobic rules, too?
And furthermore, even if every religion in the world believed that homosexuality was an abomination, which is clearly not true, that would not change anything. Because there is no necessary connection between believing in a deity and being homosexual. If believing in a deity is the criteria for joining, being homosexual is irrelevant.
So if you’re a member of the Boy Scouts and don’t feel comfortable around gays and lesbians, there’s a great group you could join instead. The aforementioned KKK.
Plenty of critics are lamenting the end of 30 Rock. I’ve never seen it, but apparently, the show was quite funny and smartly written. Some critics are going as far as saying that 30 Rock was too smart for American audiences who favor dumb comedies such as the Big Bang Theory.
This caused some outrage on Reddit with users claiming that BBT is a smart show.
I have no idea if 30 Rock was too smart for Americans. Like I said, I’ve never seen it. But I have seen BBT, and I can tell you, it’s not a smart show. It’s funny. It’s entertaining, but it is not smart.
BBT defenders point out that the show presents a lot of scientific concepts and ideas. It does. But it only does in the context of pop culture references…. er… hip science references.
People who went to college and consider themselves smart will giggle with joy whenever BBT references some scientific word or principle they’ve heard before. “Ooooh… they’re mentioning Schrödinger’s cat. I’ve heard of that before, that makes me feel really smart.”
And of course the show even got the reference wrong. Erwin Schrödinger did not intend the thought experiment as evidence that a cat can be thought of being both dead and alive, it was to show the ridiculousness of such a thought. But the actual theory behind Schrödinger’s cat was not as funny as getting it wrong. So the writers got it wrong.
As I said, BBT is funny. I watch it every week. But it’s not smart. It’s quite dumb. And merely blindly referencing science does not make it smart. Anymore than Billy Joel’s mere referencing of various historical political facts in We Didn’t Start The Fire, did not make him an expert on social political history.
I don’t know if you’ve heard about the bizarre actions of singer/songwriter Richard Marx, but in a nutshell, a very small time blogger called him “shameless” and the singer went sort of nuts, in my personal subjective opinion.
Marx started harassing the blogger via email, which the blogger assumed was both fake and a joke. Why would someone who sold 30 million albums care what a little blogger said? But then Marx took the issue to his verified twitter account.
In the end Marx left his very nice suburban home to meet that blogger in a shitty bar in Chicago to discuss the problem. Marx simply wanted to know why the blogger considered him “shameless”?
The blogger wrote that he considers Marx shameless because he “was the kind of musician who wouldn’t be ashamed to record anything he thought would sell a million copies.”
It is my opinion that the blogger is wrong. Marx is not shameless. There are three possibilities relating to shame, you can either have shame, you can be shameless, or you can be without shame, which is actually different from shameless.
Think of it this way, a rock is not shameless, it lacks any capacity for shame. And that’s where Marx fits into this.
Some songwriters consider themselves artists and they don’t want to pander to the lowest common denominator. They want to move people to new places, and you can’t do that by regurgitating exactly what people expect and want. Which is exactly how Marx writes his songs.
Marx is more like a maker of toilet bowl plungers. Someone who makes plungers wants them to sell to as many people as possible. So plungers are made to be as popular as possible. But we don’t talk about pandering to the lower common denominator when pragmatic products are involved. Hipsters don’t say, “God, you’re using that plunger? That handle is so easy to grip and the plunger end really clears plugged plumbing, and not to mention that its aesthetics are so last year.”
Here’s the plunger proof: Marx doesn’t even understand what being shameless means. He accuses the blogger of being shameless for writing a book and selling it on Amazon. Marx seems to think that selling any product is shameless. That’s not true. There’s no shame in staying true to your art and and selling your music anyway. Look at the Beatles. Heck, even artists can pander a bit, without being shameless.
George Harrison pandered when he released the god awful Got My Mind Set On You. Cheap Trick pandered when they released their awful hit, The Flame. And Radiohead pandered to the grunge crowd when it released Creep.
But none of these are examples of shameless behavior, because the artists were ashamed of their releases. While Harrison is dead, both Cheap Trick and Radiohead refuse to play those songs. They’re ashamed of them. Hence, they’re not shameless.
To summarize, the difference between being shameless and without shame boils down to Marx’s lack of capacity to even recognize that he should be ashamed. There are plenty of musicians who release crappy music knowing it will sell well, but they don’t care. Despite knowing they’re crap, they continue playing them year after year. Because to them, it’s all about the money. Their greed keeps their shame in check, so they’re shameless.
But that’s not Marx. He actually loves the utterly crappy songs he writes. Thus, shame is never a consideration. Thus, he is without shame.
In a way, being without shame is actually sort of a compliment. Marx is doing what he loves. While a shameless musician would be doing something he cares nothing about, or maybe even hates, just to get money.
But in another way it’s a backhanded compliment, because at least a shameless musician knows how crappy he is.