Image is Everything

Over the last year, Kobe Bryant has learned that as a professional athlete IMAGE IS EVERYTHING!

It seemed so easy for Mr. Bryant. The years of 2000-2002 were the greatest years of this young man’s life. The Los Angeles Lakers won three straight NBA Championships, a feat that has only been accomplish by four teams in it’s illustrious history (’52-’54 Minneapolis Lakers, ’59-’66 Boston Celtics, ’91-’93 Chicago Bulls, ’96-’98 Chicago Bulls). I might add, that an unstoppable force known as Shaquille O’Neal was the MVP of those three NBA Championships.

All that changed on that fateful June night in 2003. Kobe took it upon himself to commit adultery with a 19-year-old high school cheerleader. Of course it seemed like a good deal at the time. I bet it was hard to pass up a cute little blonde who felt that she and the superstar had “chemistry” between them. I do not want to get too deep on the “Rape Case”, as I do believe Bryant was innocent, and the girl was just after money. (In fact I believe she was taking the case to California because she could not get a lot of money in Colorado) This is, however, the point at which Bryant’s image started to decline. Kobe was booed at the American Music Awards. He was booed at a Jay Z concert in Los Angeles.

Kobe spent most of this past off-season figuring out how to get rid of his coach and arguably the best big man in the history of the NBA, and he succeeded. The 2004-2005 Lakers team is totally different from last year’s Western Conference Champion team with three key departures. The Lakers saw the departure of Phil Jackson and Shaquille O’Neal in the off-season, and Karl Malone, who has recovering from surgery and has not played in a game this year, refuses to return to the Lakers. Let’s take a look at the Phil and Shaq situations.

Phil Jackson is arguably the greatest NBA coach of all time. He has been the coach of some of the greatest teams of all time. One of his Chicago Bulls team acquired the best record in NBA history (72-10). The man knows how to coach. He has nine NBA Titles, and in his 14 years of coaching has a record of 1007 wins and 385 losses including playoffs. What more could you want from a coach? In my opinion the man is a first ballot hall of famer. He coached a few guys with huge egos, but Kobe’s was the worst. Kobe and Phil had their differences, and the Lakers front office couldn’t take the chance of their star player and star coach colliding, so they did the same thing they did with then player and coach Magic Johnson and Paul Westhead. “Sorry, Coach, you gotta go.” One of Kobe’s problems was out of the way.

Shaquille O’Neal is a physical specimen. The man is 7 foot 1 inch tall and weighs in at a staggering 340 pounds. “Diesel” dropped a lot of the bulk he had gained the last couple of years and is in tremendous shape. Everyone heard about the petty squabbles that O’Neal and Bryant had during their tenure in Los Angeles, but they always seemed to work things out. At the end of the 2004 season, however, the Lakers had two options: keep Shaq and trade Kobe or keep Kobe and trade Shaq. Now, if you look at why the Western Conference has won 5 of the previous 6 NBA championships, you could see the obvious choice would be to keep the big man. The Western Conference thrives on having the big forwards and centers. The Lakers could have very easily traded Kobe Bryant for Tracy McGrady and kept the big man and perimeter player that has made them so good these last five years.

Jerry Buss has a hard on for Kobe though. Shaquille was shipped off to Miami for the fair Caron Butler, the average Lamar Odom, and the bad Brian Grant. The Lakers also received a future draft pick. You would think that by picking up three players the Lakers would benefit from this trade. HAHA! Not in the least! Looking at the Lakers record (14-11) and the Heats record (20-7), it is quite obvious who is reaping the benefits of this trade. Dwayne Wade was good at Marquette University, and now that he has Shaq to play with he’s emerging as one of the league’s stars. The Miami Heat have a very good chance of winning the NBA Championship this year, and Kobe can stick that in his pipe and smoke it.

On Christmas day, Shaquille O’Neal and the Miami Heat travel to the Staples Center to take on Kobe and his Los Angeles Lakers. At the end of the game, when Kobe Bryant looks at the scoreboard and realizes that HIS team just lost by 20+ points, he realizes that he is not the superstar that he wants to be. I hope Kobe Bryant finally realizes that he cannot carry a team on his back.

Ranting Time Reloaded

Apparently slamming the Matrix for not being worthy of the title visionary has enraged the masses, so prepare yourselves. It’s clobberin’ time.

First off, if you haven’t already, check out the article mentioned above. You can find it here.

In that article I explain that the concept of the matrix itself is pretty much identical to the matrix from Shadowrun, so I won’t get into that any further in this article. Instead, I’ll be going into the other things that the Matrix stole from.

Before I begin, however, I must point out that I do not hate the Matrix. I like the movies, they’re entertaining. I do, however, hate undue accolades. The movies do not deserve to be called visionary, and neither do the creators.

Right then, first things first. Bullet time. When the first Matrix film came out the big thing that people talked about were the bullet time sequences, mainly the one where Neo does that limbo move to dodge bullets. While the sequences did in fact look cool, they weren’t original. The bullet time effect has appeared before the Matrix. In the first Blade film bullet time is used briefly during the sequence in which Deacon Frost asks Blade to join him whilst holding a young girl hostage. Blade was released before the Matrix. Second example. Futurama. That’s right, a cartoon did it before as well. In the episode entitled “A Clone Of My Own” the Planet Express crew rescues Professor Farnsworth from the Near Death Star(a space-bound retirement home). During their escape a bullet time sequence shows the Planet Express Ship freeze in mid-takeoff, then the environment spins around it in exactly the same manner as the scene from the first Matrix film where Trinity jumps up into the Karate Kid-esque pose, then kicks somebody in the head. That episode first aired in 1999, and was written a year in advance.

The next argument for the Wachowski brothers being geniuses is their blending of religion, philosophy, and science fiction. Nope, sorry, not going to do it. Mary Shelley wrote “Frankenstein” in 1818. “Frankenstein” blends philosphy, religion, and science fiction into a much deeper story with better defined characters. The main themes of “Frankenstein” is the debate of nature against science, man against machine. Guess what the main theme of the Matrix is. Yep, you guessed it, man against machine. In “Frankenstein”, however, Victor creates the daemon who is, in the end, the death of him. In the Matrix, the human race creates the machines to help them, and in the end, the machines are the death of the human race(most of it, anyway). The Matrix takes the theme of “Frankenstein” and makes it literal, but in the process loses the character depth and substitutes it with wooden, cliched stock science fiction characters. Neo is the staple “reluctant chosen one”. Trinity is the love interest who really doesn’t have much to her character aside from being said love interest. Morpheus is the cryptic mentor whose main purpose is to wax philosophical and propel the plot. Agent Smith is the one-dimensional villain who has no character traits aside from wanting to take over the world and destroy the hero in the process. All of these are standard science fiction archetypes that have been seen many, many times before. So, to recap, the philosophical/religious context of the Matrix is essentially the same as “Frankenstein”, which was written nearly two hundred years beforehand.

The other main theme of the Matrix is “do we really exist?”. A good, thought-provoking theme. That’s been discussed for hundreds of years. And is also the theme of a Game Boy Legend of Zelda game, which came out in 1994. In the Zelda game, subtitled “Link’s Awakening”, Link finds himself shipwrecked on an island. Eight dungeon crawls and a big boss battle inside of an egg later, it turns out that the entire island was the mental construct of the big fish that lived inside of the egg and was not in fact real. Much like the Matrix is the construct of the machines and is not in fact real.

Arguments that have been put forth as to why the Matrix is in fact visionary can be broken into several main categories. The first two of these categories have been addressed already. Those categories are technological/special effects impressiveness and the combination of religion, philosophy, and science fiction. Another of those main categories is the argument that it was a mainstream hit, and that because of that it merits the title of visionary. That argument, however, is weak, and here’s why: the insipid and unorginal beast that is reality television is riding a huge wave of mainstream popularity. Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s visionary, or even good, it just means that it was marketed well and/or pandered to the lowest common denominator.

The rest of the arguments put forth as to why the Matrix is visionary involve slamming other films, which isn’t particularly relevant to the discussion. The Lord of the Rings movies did very well, yes, but no, they’re not visionary films either. Star Wars falls into the same category. A visionary film is, at it’s core, a film that tears down preconceptions about the medium and innovates something new. The Matrix did not do that.

I know that there will be those of you who read this and still think I’m a crazy Matrix-hating Star Wars geek, and that’s fine. You can continue to line the Wachowski’s pockets and phellate their egos at your liesure.

Walrus out.

Merry Mas!

You may have noticed something on your daily walks. Or drives. Whatever, you know what I’m talking about. You may have noticed there’s a sudden influx-yeah, that’s right, influx-of people saying “Happy Holidays!” instead of “Merry Christmas!” Everywhere you look-“Happy Holidays!” Now, right-wingers, who as we all know, never scream or complain about anything that doesn’t matter, have begun taking offense to this. The popular story is that liberals are trying to take the “Christ” out of Christmas.

What can I say? You got us.

We’ve been doing it for a while. Just wait until you see what we’ve got planned for Easter. And Palm Sunday? Free Foam Hands. Yep, we’re gonna de-Jesusfy this whole nation, starting with Christmas. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Democracy’s a bitch, ain’t it? If only England had won the Revolutionary war, we’d still be under divine mandate (i.e., what Righties want) and everything would be okay, because you could do whatever you wanted in the name of Jesus. Well too bad, suckers!

Now, the question that must be asked is, “why on earth are liberals trying to de-Jesus Christmas?” Well, I’m here to offer a few ideas on the subject.

1. Political correctness. Yeah, you heard me. It’s not politically correct to push one holiday over the others. Chaunnukah (spelling? wrong), Ramadan, and god help us, Kwanzaa (those crazy negroes!) all fall around this time of the year. Not to mention the non-secular New Years and Thanksgiving (and boxing day, if you’re Canadian). By just saying “Happy Holidays”, imagine all the money and time you spend on signs! Not only is it politically correct, I daresay it’s fiscally responsible!

2. A Tradeoff. Yeah. Remember that thing that happened a month and a half ago where a bunch of religious crazies voted to ban gay marriage and re-elected The Idiot Who Shall not be Named? Well, it’s payback time. We don’t get our gay marriage, you don’t get your Jesusy Christmas. Now everybody’s pissed off and nobody’s happy. Except me, because I’m a sadist.

3. Because Jesus would have wanted it that way! Think about it, folks! Jesus was a humble guy. Does he really want everybody going nuts on his birthday, when there’s a perfectly fine, obese fake man that could get some of the attention? I know nobody celebrates my birthday that much (February 27, have gifts ready). I’ll tell you one thing: give me Jesus’s powers, and I promise you a lot better than loaves and fishes. Imagine this: all the hotpockets you could want. And no water into wine. Nobody’s going to get laid drinking wine. Let’s try water into Jack! Now we’re cookin’ with gas!

4. Because it helps the environment. Okay, that one I just made up.

5. Because we just want to piss off Conservatives. Let’s face it, you guys deserve it. You took the snow owls out of our forests? Well eat a hot dose of commercialism and nondescript greetings! Yeah, you heard me! No Jesus at Christmastime! Go watch some lame Christian movie like “The Passion of the Christ” or “Christmas with the Kranks”* or something.

6. It doesn’t matter. A greeting is a greeting, and if you need this much Jesus, just go blow your brains out with one of those numerous hunting rifles you own and see him personally.

Anyway, Merry Mas everybody! May all God’s/Yahweh’s/Buddah’s/Allah’s/Aton’s/Satan’s/Kali’s/Shiva’s/Vishnu’s/Bruce Cambell’s/Nobody’s blessings be upon you!

*Actual fact: due to a positive vote from the 700 Club, “Christmas with the Cranks” is a minor hit. Proving that no matter how crappy something is, if you slap something Jesusy on it, Christians will chow down like dingos in a maternity ward.

Tales from the Bishop: Put 'em on the Corner

Dear Entertainment Industry

Stop letting retarded skanks get famous. Seriously, it’s grating on the nerves to be an intelligent person in a world where stupidity, jackassery, and assholery are touted as genuinely positive qualities. I turn on the television, and what do I see? Paris Hilton, failing to make onion rings on the Simple Life, while waiting for a chance to show her cooch to somebody. Ashlee Simpson, cowardly leaving her band when she’s caught with her head up her ass, then blaming the professionals… who dealt with the cards they were diven by playing pretty damn well… for her own dishonesty. Tara Reid, taking twenty minutes to realize one of her revolting, surgery-scarred fake knockers is hanging out for all the world to see. That slut Dick Cheyney telling people to go fuck themselves. These are the people you idolize, the people you push on a world full of impressionable children… why?

Hell, there’s smart people out there. I know there are, I watch late night television. (Incidentally, I also know that if you get “Girl Power” free with “America Uncovered”, because that commercial is everywhere, even on the Church Channel). I see their handiwork on cable television… you show me the genius who wrote “We’ll eat like dingos in a maternity ward!” and I’ll show you somebody who should be writing television.

But now, television, music… it’s all synthetic, pointless drivel. Why is Ashlee Simpson a celebrity? She’s not good looking. Her sister was. Hell, that’s as good a reason as any for Jessica Simpson to be famous, you can hit the mute button and stare at her if the mood strikes you. But Ashlee? She’s just something to shove on people… a little bitchy prima-donna riding the coattails of a good looking human being with pop nuggets that are better off left in whatever damp and wormy seat-cushion they were dug out of. And Paris Hilton? What the hell did she do to become a celebrity? Screw people? Be rich? Industry, THOUSANDS of people do it on tape and film it. Most are better looking than Drips McGee. But she’s rich, I guess. Sort of makes you look past that jagged nose and lazy eye. And gigantic…

…but I digress. Some of the people you push on us actually have talent. Tara Reid, she…

…okay, bad example. But Avril Lavigne… okay, tangent time.

“My Happy Ending” is a pile of crap. It’s not a song, it’s a bitch-fest, much like this column. It would not get ANY airtime if the singer was not already famous. Is this really a song good enough to promote? Good enough to WANT to sing over and over again and concerts? Does anybody BOTHER learning the lyrics? Jesus Christ…

So I go back to my old stuff. And I listen to it. And one day you’re flipping radio stations, and it’s the same sound you’ve heard for years… WITH SOME RAPPER RAPPING OVER IT. You know what I mean? I’ve never gotten over Puffy and Faith Evans slowly mutilating the Police Classic, “Every Breath you Take” in such an uncreative, mentally constipated song. And then one of my absolute FAVORITE songs… “And the Beat goes on” by Whispers… gets used as a backdrop for Will Smith’s “Miami”. What the hell? You know what we’d call that in writing? Plagarism! Fucking uncreative people tweaking someone else’s perfection! But in rap, it’s called sampling.

Of course, actual musicians from the age when music was good have to pay the bills, and sell out to these talentless hacks. Which explains Miami. But Sting’s a billionare! Why the hell would he sell out to P. Diddy? Makes no sense! So now I have to wish death on two people. P. Diddy and Sting’s tantric ass.

Hell, I have more respect for Lil’ John than P. Diddy. At least that backbeat didn’t come from some talented artist… and the backbeat is really what sells the song, people. You know this. A song is like a house… the lyrics really are unimportant if it sounds good. Sometimes, the voice contributes… but can you really see P. Diddy’s voice contributing to anything but a murder-suicide?

Well, keep shoving these people at us, and you’ll get what the entertainment industry got with the advent of 80’s New Wave and Nirvana…

…lots and lots of money.


There’s an easy way to stop the industry from making all of this garbage, and forcing it on us. So…easy. All you have to do is ignore it. Destroy it’s food by not buying the records. No money, no reality shows about how rich people are. You know what you do to the Tara Reids of the world? Don’t buy into their crap when they drop 20 lbs and they have to buy new hoots to stay sexy. Let ’em live with what they got. You think Karen Allen ever got a tit job? No-she just took care of herself, and was a distinct, talented actress who smacked the living crap out of Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Give us more Karen Allens, Hollywood. Hell, give us a Grace Kelly, someone who at least tries to be classy.

Take your Lindsay Lohans, your Paris Hiltons, your Tara Reids, your Nichole Richies, your Christian Agulierminas, your Britney Spears’s, your Dick Cheney’s, and let ’em earn their money the way a whore should. Put ’em on the corner.

Signed, R.B.B.

Ranting Time with Walrus

“The Wachowski brothers are visionaries”. That’s a paraphrased quote from the ad for the Matrix 10 disc set, and I call bullshit.

The Wachowski brothers aren’t visionaries. They didn’t create the Matrix.

Yeah, they wrote and directed the movies, and came up with all the philosophical crap and the machines and junk, but they didn’t create the Matrix.

In the 1980s a pen and paper RPG called Shadowrun was published by a company called FASA. It’s a game set in a cyberpunk-ish setting, but magic has been reborn into the world and so there are orks, elves, dwarves, trolls, dragons, and other such beasties roaming around the planet along with the humans. That’s not particularly important to this article, though, so I’ll get back on my ranting track. Anyhow, inside the Shadowrun rulebook is a section about using a decker(a hacker-type character) to navigate the matrix. That’s right, the Matrix appeared in Shadowrun in the 1980’s, many years before the film hit the silver screen.

The Shadowrun matrix is a virtual world inside of computers that characters with the appropriate skills are able to navigate. The matrix can look like nearly anything, as can the decker inside of it. In one example from a Shadowrun novel called “Wolf and Raven” by Michael A. Stackpole(which is really good, by the way), a decker enters the matrix to steal information from a corporation. The decker is incredibly skilled and can warp the matrix to her will(Neo flying, anyone?). She’s also a baseball nut. She warps the matrix into a baseball diamond, and battles the programs sent out by corporate security to get her out of their system by putting them out in the virtual baseball game.

A virtual world that people can warp to their advantage if they have the skills, and which is populated by programs and drones just going about their business. Sound familiar? That’s because the Wachowski brothers pretty much mashed a philosophy lecture and some Hong Kong action movie scenes together, put them in a setting taken from a fairly obscure(to the non-gamer, at least) game, and called it their own.

So next time you hear somebody call the Wachowski brothers visionaries, think nice and hard. Would you call somebody a visionary if they ripped off the Matrix films? No, I didn’t think so. So don’t call these guys visionaries for ripping off an RPG from the ’80s.