What in God's name is wrong with us?

(Guest Author: “The Magic Ninja” Joey Tesauro)

So last week was a day of rejoicing for Xbox gaming geeks such as myself. The most recent addition to the infamous series of video games Grand Theft Auto was finally ported to the big green machine after being a Playstation2 exclusive since it’s initial release last October. While all of us formerly were limited to playing it at our friend’s house on their PS2, all the while muttering, “it’s really not THAT great” in our fits of jealous self delusion, now we’re able to play it on our own.

I’m not going to launch into a review of this game, the thing pretty much speaks for itself at this point, assuming you haven’t of course been living in a cave for the last five years or so. The game does feature a whole new host of features, one of which allows the main character, voiced brilliantly by relatively unknown rapper Young Maylay, (Damned if I know who the hell this guy is, but he holds his own against James Woods and Samuel L Jackson, and that’s impressive), to go on dates.

Here’s the part that interests me, though I will state for the record I haven’t progressed far enough into the game to try the dating parts myself, I’ve only heard second hand tell of it. Supposedly, the programmers wrote additional sequences to the dating, that instead of CJ just going into the apartment for coffee, there were actual sex scenes, and mini games involved during the sex for actual gameplay.

Now I’m not one of the five people on the planet who bought Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball, the idea of video game characters naked does nothing for me, that’s not what interests me about these cut sequences. Of course they had to be cut, because they would have earned GTA the dreaded X rated label, and then no stores would have dared carry it. The game’s apparently racy enough already.

So let me get this straight here. You can have your main character pick up a hooker, beat her to death with a baseball bat, and then take her money, but you can’t show a man having CONSENSUAL sex with a woman?


Now if you will excuse me, it’s time for a drink.

Phil's Take: Three Sports

I don’t know if I need to tell you all, but I’m a huge sports fan. Usually when talking about sports, we talk about basketball, baseball, or football. In the past week though, I watched a great event that had nothing to do with those three sports.

I watched the 2005 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Final Four.

In the first match of the day, Duke University ran all over the University of Maryland. However, the second semifinal match of the day was the greatest lacrosse game I’ve ever seen. Johns Hopkins University took on the University of Virginia in the nightcap. With the match tied at seven, Virginia’s captain Matt Ward scored the potential game winning goal with 12.9 seconds left. The game is over, right? WRONG! Johns Hopkins’s sophomore Jake Byrne won the face off and sprinted down the field, whipping the ball past Virginia goalkeeper Kip Turner to tie the game with 1.4 seconds left.

Holy shit…

I couldn’t believe what I just saw. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. With sticks flying and smacking him in the arms, Byrne shot and scored. The sophomore kept his composure and saved the season for his senior teammates. In the overtime period, Johns Hopkins senior Benson Erwin scored with less than a minute left, to lead the Blue Jays to victory.

The championship game pitted the number one ranked Johns Hopkins Blue Jays against the number two ranked Duke Blue Devils. Johns Hopkins is considered by many to have the greatest lacrosse program ever, yet they haven’t won the championship since 1987. Duke only suffered one loss this season, 11-10 in double overtime to Johns Hopkins last month. Duke wanted to avenge that loss and take home that national championship. This is the match everyone wanted to see.

The game was very physical, and Duke led at the half 7-6. With the game tied 8-8, Jake Byrne scored the game winning goal in the fourth period. Johns Hopkins held on with stringent defense and won the match. Their 18 year drought without a national championship has ended. The Blue Jays became the first team since 1997 to go undefeated and win a national championship in a season.

I’m going to be attending East Carolina University in the fall, and I now wish that they had a lacrosse team. The sport is absolutely amazing, and I recommend all of you to watch it.

I'm JUST Sayin…

#6 – Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a frog?

A frog?

Not bird, nor plane, nor even frog, it’s just another volume of “I’m JUST Sayin…” a glimpse into the mind of King Cobra or as I’m known in France and Canada: “The Great Dark Thing That Ogles Our Women.” As always, I don’t precisely start out knowing what it is that I wish to discuss, distress, dismember, disrobe, and/or discombobulate at any given moment, but sometimes I’m struck by Inspiration. Other times, I’m actually mugged, rolled, and left with knife wounds in a rest stop bathroom outside Castle Rock, Maine by Inspiration, while Inspiration and it’s friends use my debit card to buy porn, booze and switchblades.

Today’s Lecture Topic:


I have been much irritated of late by the Visa Check Card Commercial featuring a host of Marvel superheroes coming to the rescue of some chick in a mall parking lot. Leaving aside the question of WHY the entire roster of the Avengers and the X-Men were wandering around Twin Pines Shopping Centre, or why Captain America is suddenly strong enough to burst through CONCRETE (not that comic fans are anal about such things), but why does Spider-Man sound like a drunken Corey Feldman with a head cold? Sure, he’s young and he’s supposed to be a wise-cracking devil-may-care type, but that voice track is just ANNOYING! He literally sounds like a voice-over that Prisoner and I would have slapped together in ten minutes at KBSH Television in Hays (home of the legendary “SANDWICH OF IVAN JENSEN”). It’s as if they’re trying to make the commercial ridiculous to apologize to those who are too GROWN UP for caped heroes…

I guess I just don’t get it. I’ve read tons and tons of fiction, both adventure/escapist (soooperhero and comic booky) and “Real Literature,” and frankly? I don’t see that much difference. There’s apparently some unwritten line of demarcation that makes the little 24 page paper pamphlets mind-sucking pap, (Doesn’t being 3 bucks a pop make them adult? After all, who but a grown-up has that kind of disposable income?), while virtually the same story told with Russell Crowe in the lead becomes a poignant and tender Oscar nominated must-see film experience.

For the purposes of my BMF list and the subsequent Hall of Fame (currently over in “The Jungle”, he said, hinting broadly), I won’t draw any lines on genre. Children’s program, soap opera, comic book, movie, Tijuana Bible: Everybody gets an even playing field. Mebbe it stems from my pathological need to balance the scales (hey, YOU try being the only BOY child in a family of psychotic Amazon women and see if YOU don’t have a problem with marginalization), but mostly it comes from this truth: Ideas is ideas. The set dressing isn’t nearly as important as what you’re trying to say. If your story is, say, a deep and philosophical look at the world around us, why should it matter than the main character is Wonder Warthog? (Heh. I love Wonder Warthog. “I gave ’em all a TV, and a Cadillac and sent them to Mississippi! They’ll never bother Americans again!!”) Aaaaannnyway, there are tons of television shows on the air where the main characters do thing that are reminiscent of comic book/superhero stories, in a GOOD way. From Gil Grissom’s almost telepathic understanding of a crime scene, to Sydney Bristow’s fighting skills, to the Bruce Wayne fortune of Doctor Carter on E.R., virtually any show has SOMETHING that’s over the top, that’s larger than life, that’s… fuck it, comic booky.

Halle Berry is much criticized in comic book bitching circles for supposedly having been quoted about her casting as Storm: “There were so few good roles for African Americans, that I had to be in some stupid comic book movie.” Does she have a point? Sure. Will the irritation of a dozen (or even a couple THOUSAND) hardcore super-geeks make a damn bit of difference to Halle Berry? Nope. Not a sausage… bugger all. Ms. Berry will continue in her happy, beautiful life with her dune buggies, and her mansions, and her sleeping with her Hispanic chef Joaquin Behindjoo, and there won’t even be the tiniest fiber of her being affected by it. I mean, everybody KNOWS that a REAL actress wouldn’t be in some childish comic book story of her own accord?

To which we retort: THPPPPT! Let us respond to this imaginary Halle Berry by pointing out that not EVERY superhero comes from comics, and not ever COMIC has a superhero in it! There are literally hundreds of comic books that come out every month with nary a caped crusader in ’em. Why tar them all with the same brush? Also frustrating to me is this: For the past 20-odd years, there has been this underlying belief that no concept from comic books is REALLY successful until they “escape!” You’ve got have movies, got to have McDonald’s cups, got to have merchandise. Don’t get me wrong, when you can buy Wonder Warthog Underoos in a XX Large, I’m there, but can anybody tell me how that affects the story? Is the Fantastic Four movie going to improve the Fantastic Four books? Probably not. Is it going to make people more aware of the property? Certainly. Will it make people respect the original material? Not if they’re predisposed to think of it as silly juvenile crap… It’s a Catch-22. The people who don’t read comics because they’re “childish” will never know what has changed, and when a creator does something truly well-done and adult, they’re often chided for working in the medium. Why the heck would anybody who doesn’t already LOVE comic books want to work in the medium?

Witness “Sin City,” a well-done, adult comic. Now that it has a MOVIE, we continue hearing how “lucky” Frank Miller is that he can now go and do “real art.” And when artists from other mediums move INTO comics, somehow their work is considered to be superior, such as novelist Brad Meltzer’s flawed gem “Identity Crisis.” A more adult Justice League, I like, but why does adult always mean conflicted, angry, confused, and/or dead? Aren’t adults allowed to be fun and goofy, too?

Most annoying to me: The condescension has now permeated the comics themselves. I just read the latest issue of “The Ultimates,” from Marvel Comics (mostly on the strength of Bryan Hitch’s ULTRA-sexy portrayal of old-school heroine The Valkyrie. Hey, I’m married, I’m not DEAD!) I alternately love and hate this book (just like my high school girlfriend!) and the latest issue irked the hell out of me. Set in a world where superhumans are just beginning to show up, this issue shows Henry Pym (having been thrown out of The Ultimates for wife-beating) teaming up with a group called “The Defenders.” They’re based on an old comic book series (creatively called The Defenders, another reason why I hate The Ultimates sometimes. It’s all retelling stories with a “fresh creative spin.” And by that, they mean “You may have seen this before, but now, they say FUCK!”) and makes their members seem like putzes. Sure, it’s funny to hear “The Black Knight is stuck in traffic!” and “Isn’t it cool that we finally have a member with superpowers?” and “Next time we have sex, I want you to dress up as Captain America for me!” but it seems disrespectful to the work that they’re adapting. To take a COMIC BOOK about SUPERHEROES and use it as a platform to say how ridiculous a COMIC BOOK about SUPERHEROES is? That’s kind of insulting, isn’t it? It’s just mean, like a swirly for the kid you just beat up and gave a wedgie. It’s just insult to injury…

And besides, Peter Parker wouldn’t sound like Corey Feldman. He’s from Queens! He’d sound like a young Archie Bunker!

Music ReView: Limp Bizkit: The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1)

Limp Bizkit has been on a crazy rollercoaster ride for the past few years. After Wes Borland (the group’s original guitarist) left the band in October 2001, Fred Durst (lead singer) went to Guitar Centers all over the country on a crusade to find a new axe-man. Instead, they found Snot’s Mike Smith at a bar and used him for their 2003 effort, Results May Vary. Fans flocked to the disc like a pair of sweaty gym socks and then, threw them away. Late last year, Borland came back and Smith was canned.

So what do you when the original gang is back together again? You write about it in your blog ofcourse. That’s what Fred Durst and all the cool 13 year-olds do. He used his online journal to explain to Internet fans his distaste for the media and how powerful the messages in Limp Bizkit’s new songs were. Additionally, after hacking into his personal computer, Internet fans got to view “The Fred Durst Sex Tape” (which would later be taken off all porn web sites after a lawsuit was filed). So, a couple of blog entries and a sex tape later, Limp Bizkit released their fifth studio album The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1).

Just like any other Limp album, they progressively become worse. From the opening guerilla ballad, “The Propaganda,” Durst shows his talent of rhyming words and failing miserably when he spits, “Wanted dead or alive is my profile/Hostile is the frame for my state of grace … Main attraction, fuck you in your pussy mouth/Cum again friend, now we got some action.”

The record gets slightly better. Although the next five songs have cheesy, yet difficult to understand messages, the rhythms are hard and furious. However, on the last track, “The Surrender,” it seems like Limp’s car ran out of gas. It’s like everyone gave a half-ass effort, especially Durst who starts the song off with an oxy moron as he whines (yes, whines), “Don’t label me a monster, I’m a monster just like you/Don’t label me a victim, I’m a victim just like you.”

The record consistently tries to mimic Rage Against The Machine and ironically, Fred Durst has stated in the past he hates posers and people who rip him off. In any event, The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1) only contains seven songs and lasts around 30 minutes. At least Limp Bizkit had the common courtesy to put fans out of their misery within a half hour.

This rollercoaster ride has come to a stop and I think I’m gonna be sick.

Limp Bizkit: The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1)
Rating: 1.75 stars out of 5
Record Label: Flip/Geffen Records
Official Website: LimpBizkit.com