Archive for July, 2011

A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner (TheByteScene Review)

Rating: 3 pink hats out of 4

I spent quite a bit of time thinking about the first article for TheByteScene and I spent even more time considering which movie would be lucky enough (if one can even call it luck) to be the first reviewed. After all, this is going to be the first article written for a page dedicated specifically to reviewing media, and not just analyzing it for psychological, sociological, and anthropological purposes; it needs to be heavy, it needs to have meaning, it needs to be powerful. The movie needs to be something interesting enough that people will want to read it, or if people don’t want to read it, those that do should be interested enough to keep on reading it when they do. It definitely needs to be a movie that people want to see, and not a movie that I tell them they need to see. Which is why it might seem odd that that specific “First movie” is none other than A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner, a made for television film based on a popular Nickelodeon children’s show that first aired in 2001. I suppose the important thing about this review and the subsequent reviews that will follow is the fact that despite what the general public may want or desire, since this is my endeavor, the decision regarding what to review is mine entirely and, interestingly enough, mine alone. Moving on from that point, we move towards the movie itself!

The film is based on, as mentioned earlier, a popular Nickelodeon cartoon that first aired as a series of shorts in 1998. Three years later, the show became a full fledged animated series about a 10-year-old and his magical wish granting goldfish (who also double as his fairy god parents). As one can imagine, the main character, Timmy Turner, gets into all kinds of trouble thanks to the limitless magical sources at his disposal; as such, the show is filled with various amounts of humour targeted at both the children that watch the show, and the parents or guardians who might also (not unlike another Nickelodeon hit starring a sea sponge). Various pop culture references are thrown about here and there and many of the episode titles are references to famous movies, catch phrases, songs and television shows. Grow Up Timmy Turner (hereby shortened to AFOMGUTT, a rather hilarious acronym) takes place in the same universe as the cartoon, though it is a full live action featurette with CGI thrown in for good measure (to animate the fairy god parents, voiced by Daran Norris and Susan Blakeslee, and played by Jason Alexander and Cheryl Hines), with one added twist to give the movie a reason for being: the entire plot takes place 13 years after the television series with a 23-year-old Timmy Turner (played by another Nickelodeon star, Drake Bell) refusing to grow up and give up his fairy god parents.

It must be mentioned that the animated series introduces a set of rules and restrictions on each god child through a large book called “Da Rules.” The foremost rule is constantly stated to be that a child must give up their parents once they “Grow up” or once the fairies are no longer needed (an extension of the fact that a child only truly needs fairy god parents when they have been put in a situation that dictates such a need. Being that the show is targeted towards children, the question of why most children in war torn nations don’t have fairies and why they don’t just wish the world better is never posed, and if one can suspend their disbelief towards such a notion, then almost everything that happens in the universe can make sense; though I digress), Timmy Turner exploits the former of those two restrictions by refusing to grow up. That being said, he refuses to move out of his parents house, he refuses to find a job, and he refuses to fall in love (those being the three ways one is expected to “Grow up” both in the animated universe and, more often than naught, in the real world as well), and therefore he keeps his fairies. Throughout the film, various attempts are made by both his parents and the fairy world’s “Judge, jury, and executioner” figure Jorgen Von Strangle (played by Mark Gibbon) to get Timmy to fall in love and, being what the movie is, he fails each time, usually resulting in some form of slapstick where a character falls in love with another and does everything in their power to fulfill their desires.

Though one might imagine that the main antagonist of the movie is Timmy Turner himself, considering that each and every move he makes is entirely selfish and counter productive to a healthy human’s natural growth, the film’s two primary antagonists are an oil tycoon named Hugh J. Magnate Jr (a play on words for the phrase “Huge magnate;” to anyone who is not aware, the word “Magnate” is a derivative of the Latin word “Magnus” itself meaning “Great.” Therefore, the man’s name, once translated literally is “Huge Great.”) and Denzel Crocker, Timmy’s school teacher who is after his fairy god parents. The oil tycoon’s main goal is to build an oil guzzling hotel on the space that an old dogwood tree occupies (for any of the more discerning viewers, the hotel that Magnate plans on building is reminiscent of the Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, right down to having an oil drill on top where a crane was until reconstruction began again in 2008, though I digress once more) and he enlists the help of Crocker once the latter convinces the former that he is not crazy and that fairies do exist, though all of this is merely a plot to introduce the audience to the girl who is fated to steal Timmy’s heart and finally make him grow up, Tootie (played by Danielle Monet).

Through Tootie, Timmy learns to stop being selfish and to grow up, and in the end, he wins the girl, beats the bad guys and moves on with his life, ending his time spent as a “Slobbering man child,” as Crocker (played by David Lewis, who also voices the character in the animated series) gently puts it. I suppose an important thing to note about the film is the fact that it’s actually quite good; the acting is decent considering that most of the cast play characters who are literally cardboard cutouts, and despite the fact that they are forced to play the characters as cartoons, and not as true live action ones. For example take Denzel Crocker; in the animated series he is famous for jumping up and down whenever the topic of fairies are brought up and in the film, he is forced to do the same (right down to a wacky background being displayed, while the character jumps up, down, left and right to accommodate the role he is supposed to be playing). This doesn’t take away from the film at all considering that the majority of what happens comically is largely slapstick humour played deliciously straight. In fact, that’s the one part of the movie that I cannot bring to enough attention; the movie is actually quite funny, and many of the pop culture references are timed so ridiculously that the viewers can’t help but chuckle, if not laugh entirely.

The bits of visual humour are largely slapstick, considering that the target audience shouldn’t even be in their double digits yet, and despite the associated stigma with such a style of comedy, the delivered product does rank rather highly. A scene that immediately comes to mind involves Crocker and Magnate discussing plans for some sort of fairy catcher where Magnate and Crocker constantly hit and bump into each other over the course of a few minutes. The scene offers very little dialogue, apart from the necessary exposition and while I wasn’t laughing out loud, I did emit a small chuckle which, all things considered, means quite a lot. In summation, the comedy works for the target audience, and it works even more because of (and in largely thanks to) its animated roots. While the acting might be a bit stiff, and the “Time to grow up” plot line has become slightly overused over the past few years and in films and television in general, AFOMGUTT is a good movie overall and is also definitely worth watching, if not for the plot, then at least for the laughs and chuckles one will emit whilst watching the film.

On a final note, however, I’d like to mention that Drake Bell is not good at playing a 10-year-old trapped in a 23-year-old’s body. This is made extremely evident near the end of the movie where he begins to achieve a more mature psychological outlook (though the outlook is that of a traditional 23-year-old; girls, girls, girls, and so forth); at this point in the film, his acting takes on a more authentic role, specifically, the audience is able to connect with the character and understand him better. This is largely in comparison to the slobbering man child that the audience is first introduced to, where the question of why he doesn’t grow up is constantly posed. The first few minutes of the film aren’t enough to get a person to stop watching, though, so take that last bit of information with a healthy grain of salt.

As always, this has been your Admin; comment and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

Russell Brand’s Acting In A South Vietnam Resort Destination (TheWeeklyReview Issue 6)

Alright everyone, it’s that time of the week again; time for me to discuss what happened personally this week, and to discuss any ideas I had that weren’t long enough for any other article! Well, that and to talk about the articles I did publish this week, or to just rant again (except with TheWeeklyReview, I’m ranting for a special occasion). Either way, without further ado, let’s begin TheWeeklyReview!

I suppose the most important thing that’s happened this week is my visit to Mui Ne, a coastal town in southern Vietnam that’s essentially become one massive resort destination. That unto itself, however, is where the interest in Mui Ne ends. It is, for all intents and purposes, nothing more than a resort town whose main source of income are tourists coming on vacation. As further example of this, the main street in Mui Ne (leading to the resort where I stayed) is filled with three things: local boutiques, restaurants and more resorts. I can safely say that I’ve never seen such a high concentration of hotels and resorts in my life, excluding Las Vegas itself. In regards to Las Vegas, however, I’d like to take some time to talk about the hotel that I had the “Pleasure” to stay in. The Sea Links Beach Hotel isn’t a bad hotel, nor is it terrible, terrifying, horrendous, or dreadful, but the property has a certain characteristic that I can only describe as derivative (if that’s even the proper word to use in this scenario). Although, even the word “Derivative” is unfair because the hotel isn’t really derivative of something, so much as it wishes to be something else; specifically: a Las Vegas hotel (even more specifically: a low quality Las Vegas hotel).

Everything from the layout of the lobby, to the restaurant, to the golf course, to the bar, to the ball room, to the board rooms, are all attempts at recreating a Las Vegas like experience. The worst part is that one could completely disregard all of this, assuming that they don’t pay very much attention to the property itself, and get past all of this, but the entire hotel tries so hard to shove it in the face of its guests that it’s almost impossible to entirely avoid. The first thing that one notices once they step into the lobby is the carpet and, clean as it may be, it doesn’t belong anywhere other than a Vegas dealers floor, which is really saying something considering that the hotel is literally 10 minutes away from a very Vietnamese city, albeit with a few quirks to keep tourists entertained. Moving on from the carpet (that occupies almost every part of the hotel), the guests are introduced to this rather large lounge like area that doubles as the hotel’s main bar. Following this structure is the main restaurant, a corridor leading to the balcony, and another corridor leading to the hotel’s main ballroom. The balcony provides a rather nice view of the sea, the pool and villas that are currently for sale; it’s a simple view overall, and I actually have nothing more to say about it. The restaurant, too, requires little description. It has a few VIP rooms designed for higher profile guests, and it also has a neat and tidy wine cellar for any of the more educated guests willing to pick out their evening delight. In addition to the in-hotel features, the hotel has a golf course (which I believe is still under construction) that is, for all intents and purposes, a golf course and nothing more.

On a final note, the hotel complex doesn’t just include a hotel and golf course; the developers are attempting to build an entire city, and while the hotel, villas, and golf course are complete, there are entire apartments still to be constructed. Though my utter dislike for the hotel might make it seem that I also didn’t like the city of Mui Ne which, if inferred, I must apologize for. The hotel notwithstanding, I absolutely loved the city of Mui Ne, and despite the rain that swept the three day trip, I can safely say that given another chance, I would definitely go back to visit to the city to visit the sand dunes, spend more time by the beach, and explore the city even further. Additionally, I would love to visit the neighbouring city of Phan Thiet, though that really is just an added thought; I would like to mention that despite my constant searching for one, I was utterly and entirely unable to locate the city’s Opera House. That being said, I’m going to safely say that no. Not every city I visit has an opera house for me to marvel at.

Moving on from Mui Ne and it’s lack of opera houses, we move on to a more pressing matter, specifically, the acting ability of “Beloved” English actor and comedian Russell Brand. Now, considering the majority of his roles involve him playing a drug addicted womanizer, one might wonder why his acting is being called into question. In fact, some might even be so bold as to say that his acting is fantastic for what he plays. He acts with nothing more than pure conviction and determination to fill the shoes he has been told to wear, and more often then naught, he succeeds. Russell Brand’s style of acting has been providing him with a continuous stream of pay cheques and “Adoration” (as it were) by fans the world over, and I was one of those “Fans.” That is, until I saw the insane train wreck that was the 2011 remake of the 1981 hit film Arthur. Keeping in tone with the rest of this article, I’m not going to sidestep the issue further: I genuinely enjoyed watching Arthur, and getting to see Russell Brand play the role, I’ve come to several conclusions regarding his so-called “Acting ability.” To begin with, despite my continuous stream of jokes and sarcastic quips, I cannot deny that the man has talent as both a comedian and a relatively straight man type actor.

Now, before I explain why Russell Brand’s acting has struck me, I must be allowed to give some insight into the topic of Arthur (the 1981 movie), for those who aren’t aware of it’s presence. The movie details the life of Arthur (played by Dudley Moore, a role for he which he was given an Oscar Nomination), a spoiled, rich, alcoholic, womanizer who is forced to marry a woman he doesn’t love in order to keep his father’s massive fortune (because he’s a drunk womanizer, this is incredibly important, as getting money without working for it is a dream of many an individual). Over the course of the film, he falls in love with a working class diner worker (played by Liza Minnelli, a role for which an Academy Award nomination was not presented to her) and in the end, he decides to give up his fortune for her love, a rather sweet feat up until his grandmother decides that he’s going to keep his fortune because no one from his family has ever been working class. It must be mentioned that despite this supposed lack of moral, Arthur does grow up (because his father figure dies on him), despite the fact that he ends up having his chauffeur drive him and his love interest through Central Park (because driving a car through central park, in place of a bicycle or horse, is perfectly safe and reasonable). The 2011 remake has the exact same character and basic plot, though the ending is slightly different. Instead of Arthur being given the money and winning the girl immediately after he ends the wedding with the woman he is forced to marry, he ends the wedding, runs to the true love and is rejected outright. Following six months of sobriety, Arthur discovers that his true love has written a children’s book (which he buys, of course), finds her at a book signing and tells her that he loves her (and then he informs his true love, and the audience, that after doing charity work and sobering up, his source of income has opened up to him).

At this point in the film, Russell Brand plays a sober character. He doesn’t just stand there saying outlandish and pithy things (this is a line in the film that Russell Brand himself delivers, proving once and for all that he is entirely aware of his own existence and that he is aware of why and how he is funny). He plays the straight man, instead of the injured and defected party boy, and frankly, it is that change of character that has made me believe that Russell Brand is entirely capable of playing better and more serious roles, while maintaining his trademark “Stand and be pithy” behaviour. This bit of information is extremely important because it’s allowed me to come to terms with the fact that underneath his insane and slightly alcoholic visage, Russell Brand is entirely capable of truly good acting. Yes, it won’t win awards, and yes, it’s not fantastic, but it is good (and at this point, good is a lot better than what others have to offer).

Moving onto the final point of the week, brought about by Russell Brand’s acting, I’ve decided to launch a new page to TheByteDaily. I’ve noticed that while I might not update with articles as frequently as possible, to insure that each article gets at least a day’s worth of attention, I cannot write a review of a movie and an additional analysis (or another article) without one article or the other losing its attention. Therefore, I would like to formally introduce TheByteScene; a new page dedicated solely to reviews of movies, television shows, music, manga, comic books, and just about everything in between. I hope that with TheByteScene, I’ll be able to streamline the viewing of reviews and analyses, and I’ll also be able to make sure that each and every article gets the same amount of attention.

Finally, this week, we had two articles written; this one over here (one Promises and Perfection) and this one over here (on Criticism and Attack). Enjoy the week’s reading folks.

As always, this has been your Admin; comment and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

Welcome to TheByteScene

In case anyone’s really wondering right now, this isn’t a review. In fact, it isn’t anything other than an introduction to TheByteScene. Here you’ll find reviews for various movies, television programs, comic books, manga, and just about everything else in between, though that’s what I’ve been writing everywhere else. The truth is that any article designed to be a TheBytePost article is sent to TheBytePost’s page. There it stays until the next article is written, though if I want to write another article on the same day (and more often than naught this will be a movie review or SOMETHING like that) it won’t get the same direct attention that the first article would get because it’s only on the home page. Now, this might seem odd considering that the home page is where all articles would like to be; but I propose this information right now: any new article is sent to the home page anyway, so only the first article of the day is posted on TheBytePost’s page.

No, but seriously, I’m really hoping that by adding this new page, I’ll be able to write more, and frankly? I think that’s exactly what everyone wants: more articles, and better articles. Not to mention an easy to navigate blog.

As always, this has been your Admin; comment and criticize and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

Criticism and Attack; A Matter of Critical and Offensive Importance

I recently finished watching The Warrior’s Way (a Samurai film with roots in the deep west) for the second time and since I am somewhat of a fan, I decided to search for reviews by popular critics and the general public by going to various websites and so on and so forth (the foremost being YouTube; if you want to know how people feel about a movie or TV show, go to YouTube, search for the trailer and read the comments. For every troll comment, there’ll be one that makes up for it; a genuinely interesting and thorough comment). Suffice it to say, I found the reviews I was looking for; though in the process I also discovered a rather startling fact, specifically that people don’t know the difference between criticism and attack. Now, it’s all well and nice to dismiss this as a mere observation with no real data to back it, but luckily for all those involved, I searched further (on websites such as IGN, GameSpot, Veoh, Dailymotion, and even the New York Times) and I’ve found that people actually do not know the difference between the two concepts. The good news, however, is that TheByteDaily is always there to provide a helpful hand when it comes to definitions and descriptions, so for all intents and purposes, read on, read on, read on.

To begin with, criticism is the act of finding and discussing the merits and faults of an individual, or substance of matter. For example, merely claiming that The Warrior’s Way “Sucks” is not criticism. In fact, it’s the furthest thing from criticism as it contains no actual argument as to why the piece of work is bad. Furthermore, the comment fails to provide any of the film’s merits (the good stuff) and therefore, because it fails to defend it’s argument and because the argument is nothing more than a simple comment without taking into account what the film did right, it can be classified as “Not criticism.” Attack (in the psychological sense) is the forceful act of blaming, abusing, and violently finding fault in an individual, or substance of matter. Claiming that The Warrior’s Way “Sucks” is attack. Yes. It isn’t violent and it certainly isn’t blaming the movie for anything, but it is abuse and it is finding fault, and that thereby, and by default, makes it attack. A proper criticism of The Warrior’s Way would be as follows: “The Warrior’s Way sucks because the movie attempts to make up for its bland acting, and insistence on sticking to overused cliches, with pretty visuals which do not do enough to distract the viewer or allow the audience to venture into a state of escapism. Additionally, while the acting, visuals, and western cliches take away from the film, the score is well used and the movie sounds fantastic.” Note that in the above criticism I pointed out why the movie is bad, discussed these reasons and then proceeded to point out something that movie did well (specifically, its musical score).

Contrary to popular belief, criticism is not equal to attack and, in fact, it’s quite the opposite; while attack is often used to demoralize an individual, criticism is meant to give them a reason to find solace in their faults. Criticism allows an individual to come to terms with their discrepancies, and at the same time, it allows an individual to find ways to fix these mistakes. Additionally, while these faults are brought to attention, an individual’s merits (that is to say, their good qualities) are also discussed, which allows them to apply these positives to their negatives to better themselves. This, however, is all assuming one knows how to handle criticism; the next point of interest that I noticed while researching the aforementioned film being: how does one handle criticism?

Well, the first step is actually quite simple (in comparison to the subsequent ones); before one can begin handling criticism, they must first understand what criticism is. If this set of information is not available in one’s pool of knowledge, then they must immediately refer themselves to the beginning of this article (or a dictionary; whichever is easier). For the intents and purposes of this exercise, criticism is, once again, finding the good and bad in someone or something and attack is, once again, finding the bad in someone or something. The worst thing anyone can do is enter a discussion about criticism (specifically one where they themselves are being criticized) without truly understanding the difference between criticism and attack. Interestingly enough, the next step in the process (of handling criticism) is understanding whether or not your critic understands what criticism is. This can be rather difficult to figure out, but it’s all a matter of knowing your audience.

If they don’t know the difference, educate them, otherwise move onto the next step. Specifically, listen to your audience and try to understand the points they are making. More often than naught, this will be easy because your audience is talking about yourself or your own work. If it at first they make sense, this is a good sign, one should keep listening to insure that they continue making sense before launching their own argument. However, if the audience does not make sense and their points appear to be invalid, quickly ask them to elaborate further (so as to avoid any further difficulty) and above all else, do not hold back on any questions you might have. The worst possible situation to be in is one where you or your work is being criticized and you don’t understand the points being raised. It must be mentioned however that there will always be a point where the criticism doesn’t make sense, which is why it is imperative that one listens closely to what is being said so any concerns can be rectified.

It must also be mentioned that there will always be a point in the criticism where an individual will not agree with their audience or critic, and the worst possible thing to do in this scenario is ignore the critics and claim them to be a series of philistines who do not understand your work or your medium. The reason why, obviously, is because you’ll be right; your critics will not understand your work and they will definitely not understand the amount of time and effort you have put into your medium, and with this knowledge in hand, you will cloud your own judgement, which is why if the first thought that comes to mind while you’re being criticized is that they’re wrong and you’re right, you won’t be going anywhere helpful, or at all. If you want to handle criticism properly, you need to get past the fact that you worked hard on something, and the fact that you spent hours of your life devoting yourself to a certain medium, and understand that the critic hasn’t, therefore their claims (whether accurate or not) are still founded because they have the ability to step back from the work and look at it objectively. This objective gaze is something you definitely cannot do (no matter how much you believe you can) because to you, whatever is being criticized, is entirely subjective.

On the topic of objectivity and subjectivity, however, I’d like to offer this bit of insight: yes, one must remain objective to fully take in everything that is being said, but it isn’t wrong to be subjective during this time. Quite the contrary actually; if you aren’t subjective to your own work, then what’s the point in having worked so hard in the first place. Yes, I can certainly understand having someone meticulously berating you for a minor misdemeanor (which to you seems almost inconsequential) and I can absolutely agree that it can get to be a bit much. I also agree that it can be hard to not want to voice your opinion on the subject even more vocally, which is why you shouldn’t and mustn’t stand there and remain entirely objective to the criticism. Which is why, before I conclude, I’d like to add one final bit: when it comes to something you believe in (especially something you feel proud of, or something you’ve devoted yourself to) be incredibly and absolutely defensive. Do not miss an opportunity to defend yourself and your actions by using carefully constructed and extremely thorough arguments as your base. Allow your critics to see that you do understand their point of view, but also that you are capable of developing criticism on your own, in addition to being able to explain your choices and thoughts. I understand that there are certain levels of criticism where one cannot respond directly, or in a manner where they feel comfortable, but remember that nothing worth having or doing comes easy; meaning that if you’ve somehow managed to find something you’re good at, or something you enjoy doing, and someone comes along and tarnishes the idea, defend yourself. But remember to take their words into consideration, and to criticize and not attack. Otherwise, you won’t progress at all, and you can almost entirely forget about moving forward or growing as an individual.

As always, this has been your Admin; comment and CRITICIZE, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

Promises and Perfection; A Journey to Cure Writer’s Block

For the past few days I talked about how I planned on writing an article about the time I spent with a sea captain, a French chef, and two wine suppliers, and while I was certainly excited to get down to writing such a thing, I’ve come to the realization that I’m drawing a blank. Sadly, however, this isn’t the first time it’s happened and I’m starting to worry about this annoying case of writer’s block that I’ve gathered, mainly because it happened with the HBO article as well. I suppose I should quickly mention that the sea captain was very entertaining, the French chef didn’t really lead me to any specific psychological realizations (only that I need to work on my French) and the wine suppliers were very interesting to talk to. Additionally, one of the suppliers has been selling random things (from airline tickets to wine) for over 15 years, and while this certainly isn’t anything spectacularly interesting, it takes a certain set of skills to be able to make sales an interesting topic for over 5 and a half hours. Good show to that particular human being for keeping me interested.

Moving on to the writer’s block, however, it’s important to understand a few details about my writing methods. To begin with, any ideas I do get for an article are immediately written into a little black moleskine that I always keep with me. I make sure of this for later days where I can, hopefully, expand the idea into an actual article worth reading. However, for the past week or so, the moleskine (notice that I call it THE moleskine and not MY moleskine. This is an important point to note because calling it MINE would imply ownership over it, though based on the total amount of other people’s notes inside of it, I’ve decided that it is, for all intents and purposes, public property, though I do digress) has been absolutely filled with expanded ideas that I just haven’t written. Moreover, I fail to see any real point in attempting to write a proper article for each idea due to my current state of block, so I’m going to empty out all the thoughts in the moleskine so I can start fresh at a later date. A little bit of back story before I begin though, before my first ever hiatus during the later part of June, I tried to write a similar article where I did a “Data dump” (I’m trying to make that a thing by the way. The term “Data dump” refers to any given situation where an individual provides all the information they have on a certain, or any, topic) but I never got around to finishing it because that article wasn’t so much about writer’s block as it was about boredom; sadly, the article is still around (under an incomplete heading) and even though I might get around to finishing it, I highly doubt that that will ever happen.

Let’s begin with the first thought that’s been kicking around the moleskine: Perfection and 12th Company (the title refers to the 12th company fromTite Kubo’s Bleach). Now, this particular thought is interesting because the problem is that I can’t seem to figure out a way to really tie it all together; the point is that perfection is over rated and that humans have a tendency to circle around conflict, and frankly, I can’t seem to figure out how to actually write something like that. My problem here is the fact that the entire article revolves around a series of dialogue between Mayuri Kurotsuchi (the captain of the 12th company) and Szayel Aporro Granz (an enemy; I’m not explaining it anymore, go to the links if you want more information on the two of them) regarding the concept of perfection and science. The former claims that to be a true scientist, one must constantly face a paradoxical sequence of events where striving for perfection is the goal in one’s life, though actually achieving that perfection is the opposite of what one wants to do. The latter on the other hand is immortal and claims that the former can’t win because the latter can never die (brilliant strategist, that one; I’m sure he’ll go far in life). Either way, the problem here is that I can’t figure out a way to make any of this seem anymore relevant than it already is. Furthermore, I haven’t figured out a way to make the whole “There’s no such thing as perfect” cliché have a reason to be discussed. I mean, in all seriousness, Kurotsuchi sums it up rather nicely, so people? Don’t go trying to be perfect when you should be the best you can be in any given situation, which is actually stellar advice for anyone really.

Now that I look at the moleskine though, every subsequent article I’ve tried to write has incorporated the perfection motif. For example, this next one is about BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad (a manga series by Harold Sakuishi depicting the lives of would be rockers. The series is actually really good, and it’s as much the story of the main character as it is the entire band; I highly recommend taking a browse sometime) and perfection, which makes absolutely no sense seeing as how the main theme of BECK is growth and, quite literally, conquering hardships through determination and hard work (in comparison to striving to be perfect). The interesting point here is that the topic of BECK would be perfect for an article, though the combination of perfection just doesn’t work. Perhaps therein lies my problem; it’s very difficult to write something interesting about perfection without restricting oneself to the cliches associated with it. Or perhaps perfection is one of those things that’s difficult to attain anyway, but either way, perfection to me, at least, doesn’t seem to be a good topic to work with because, to me at least, there isn’t anything else to work with; the article’s talking about perfection to begin with and there’s really nowhere else to go that hasn’t already been gone (though if I tried to write something that hadn’t been done, I’m afraid I’d be left circling a very small and very blank piece of paper).

Frankly, however, I’ve decided that I’m not going to make promises on possible articles anywhere other than TheByteCorner. Otherwise, I feel the need to actually write an article based on the promise, and most times of ten I don’t see the need to do so, especially considering that I usually write an article a few days after the fact (which allows me to think and mull over the subject to figure out which angle I’d like to take). Therefore, I’d like to conclude today’s exercise in humility (that was a joke, by the way) by promising to not make promises I can’t keep (anywhere other than TheByteCorner). I think that’s a rather good promise to make actually.

As always, this has been your Admin; comment and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

The Corporate Branding of a Limitless and Not So Secret Vietnamese Vacation (TheWeeklyReview Issue 5)

Alright everyone, it’s that time of the week again; time for me to discuss what happened personally this week, and to discuss any ideas I had that weren’t long enough for any other article! Well, that and to talk about the articles I did publish this week, or to just rant again (except with TheWeeklyReview, I’m ranting for a special occasion). Either way, without further ado, let’s begin TheWeeklyReview!

To begin with, I’m now in a new city in the country I’ve traveled to and I’ve come to conclusion that it is absolutely insane to be doing what I’m doing. The point of these articles is to educate, enlighten, and infuriate, which is why I can’t keep hiding where I am. Everyone, for the past week, I’ve been in Nha Trang in Vietnam, and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying myself here. You see, the reason I didn’t announce it in any other article was because I was concerned about whether or not there were any restrictions on WordPress in Vietnam. If I didn’t have WordPress, then I wouldn’t have been writing anyway, but now that I’ve written and posted several articles, I’ve no more reason to hide the truth. Although, I was equally worried about what might happen if I were to be restricted (based on the internet and so forth), but if the kind and generous (I’m kinda pandering here, but the Vietnamese people are incredibly kind and very friendly; as I pointed out earlier) Vietnamese people want me to stop writing, then I will gladly oblige them. Until then however, I’m going to continue writing and posting articles about Nha Trang and wherever else I go. Speaking of which, last week I was in Ho Chi Minh City (originally called Saigon, but renamed after Uncle Ho, a revolutionary leader who’s pretty much loved by everyone here, quite genuinely too), though if anyone was smart enough, they’d see that everything I brought up could be pretty much traced to Ho Chi Minh City anyway. The main point is that I’m not going to hide my location because frankly, it is absolutely impossible for me to maintain a facade of omnipotence and omniscience, so this is just as much a matter of personal laziness as it everything else.

Actually, before we move on to everything else, I’d like to take a moment to discuss brand awareness and its effects on myself and those around me, though this might just be me personally. Thanks to my lack of data gathering before hand and thanks to the lack of knowledge about the country (both are my fault entirely here), I led myself to believe that I’d be coming to and, not to mention, staying in a rather backwards country (thankfully, I was slapped across the face by Saigon on the first day of my visit, and that way of thinking has been relieved from my mind). I feel that over time (thanks to the war Vietnam has suffered, and moved on through) there has been a certain “Brand” associated with Vietnam. I mean, taking into consideration the way the media treats and has treated this country (with various movies such as M*A*S*H [which was equally about the Korean and Vietnamese wars as it was a satire on war in general], Full Metal Jacket and Good Morning Vietnam) I was definitely not expecting Vietnam to be what it really is and I am both ashamed and annoyed at myself for thinking this way. Yes, Vietnam has been through rough times, and yes, the average income of the nation is between 1000 and 2000 American dollars (which isn’t saying much considering the current state of the American dollar [I couldn’t help myself; I had to make that joke]), but this place is absolutely beautiful! I mean let’s face it, the buildings are gorgeous, the cities are clean (and I mean really clean; I’ve seen stray cigarette buds [butts? I don’t know anymore] here and there, and sure there’s a little bit of garbage on the streets, but for the most part they are remarkably clean), the people are so kind and friendly (I’m not letting this one go; the people that I’ve seen, both on the streets and whom I’ve talked to have been nothing but generous), and the food is great. So what more do we really want?

Though that, to me, is the “Branding” point that I brought up earlier. I feel that we, as a species, believe in brands to such a degree that we cloud our vision to anything else. Wal-Mart proved this rather well with their “Great Value” BRAND of product. Everything under the Great Value brand tastes like anything else that isn’t under the same brand. Loblaws’s yellow No-Name proved the exact same thing, but I think they started off a bit earlier, though the point is that we’ve deluded ourselves into thinking that certain brands are better than others when the goal we should be striving for is the elimination of our current perception of branding. Yes, I agree, certain choices to bring up better product, though that also has a lot to do with out perception of popularity and wealth (two topics that I honestly couldn’t cover without sounding both illogical and insane), but those are exceptions to a very steadfast rule; we shouldn’t delude ourselves into believing the superiority of one brand over another and we definitely shouldn’t let the branding of countries and people (the audacity of that statement should really prove my point here) cloud of collective visions. Though frankly, I know that eliminating the human perception of branding from our minds is a pipe dream, but I know that I (for one) am going to try to not let brand names cloud my judgement like it did with Vietnam.

Moving on from my recent discoveries, we move on to the beautiful seaside city of Nha Trang. The city itself is widely for tourists and this is made incredibly evident by the massive number of hotels and bars that one can find along the beach in addition to all the back streets of the city. All in all however, the sites I’ve seen have been absolutely gorgeous and once again, the city has a theatre that functions as the main site of the city’s festivities, though this particular one is fashioned more around Roman architecture than it is French (like Saigon) though whatever the influence, the thing is gorgeous. Another interesting landmark is the Tram Huong tower that’s found near the center of the city, which was made to resemble a lotus. I, on the other hand, believe that it looks more like a lemon squeezer than a lotus, though that may be due to my lack of artistic or architectural knowledge and skill, but I digress. The statue looks good in the city, the central area is beautiful, the beaches are nice, warm and sandy, and most importantly, there are never any moments where one is bored here. Take for example The Sailing Club, a local club that goes absolutely insane during the night time; it’s absolutely fantastic on the inside, and it definitely took a few visual nods from the Ana Mandara resort (branding people, branding! Also, Soylent Green is PEOPLE so I do digress) found nearby, but during the night time it changes personalities entirely becoming, for all intents and purposes, one massive party. Additionally, every Saturday, the club hosts a beach party filled with all kinds of local and foreign affairs including local dragon dancing, foreign fashion shows (and by foreign, I mean it’s filled with all the latest fashions from Europe and so on; all done in an incredibly interesting, yet amateur fashion [pun entirely intended]), local lion dancing, foreign magic shows, and just about everything in between. I say that it’s absolutely fantastic, but in all fairness to the building, it really is just a night club/ restaurant, so if you’re looking for a place with loud music, then go to the Sailing Club. In addition to the Sailing Club, I had an opportunity to go the Six Senses resort at Ninh Van Bay, and while the trek up to the Rock Villa was somewhat grueling for my unathletic build, it was certainly an experience all on its own.

Now, moving away from Nha Trang and into a more cinematic universe, I recently finished watching Limitless, and while I’m not going to do an official movie review of it, I’m definitely going to talk about how amazing it was. To begin with, I’m pretty sure everyone knows the plot by now; struggling writer Eddie Mora takes a dose of a new drug called NZT-48 to become some sort of super genius by accessing the remaining 80% of his brain that he couldn’t access before. Though, that number is wrong seeing as how we are using 100% of our brain 100% of the time because every part of our brains do something, so that really should’ve been Morra’s first indication that taking the drug from his ex-brother in law of a drug pusher would be a bad idea, but I digress. The movie is near flawless to me, and I think that every single part of it, down to the opening credits was brilliantly done. First of all, I’d like to commend Bradley Cooper on his acting skill, I mean, to be able to handle that kind of role where he constantly has to switch himself on and off for two different kinds of characters that he plays, and for being able to immerse the entire audience all on his own, not to mention to be able to get the audience to actually cheer and root for him despite every wrong move he makes is brilliant. Speaking of wrong moves though, I found it increasingly odd that he constantly went back to his girlfriend Lindy, though that’s only a minor problem I had with the film. The cinematography was absolutely brilliant and the small things that the film did (for example, how the skips forward were literally like photographic stills, constantly moving forward to show passing time) really bring everything together. For me, the best part of the movie were the scenes where the medication was taken by various characters; the way the screen lit up to showcase a sudden “Awakening” really delivered the message that NZT is a miracle drug capable of literally awakening one’s senses.

The interesting point about Limitless, that I’d like to make at least, is that it was poorly reviewed by many critics, and this really does show how one cannot just go forward based on the experiences of others. Though, in all fairness, that’s exactly what a critic is meant to do; they give their opinion based on previous experience for others to go and find out themselves. For example, if I had trusted critical reviews of certain movies, I would missed going to see so many films (many of which were actually rather funny, action packed, dramatic, and so on and so forth) because of them. This is why I’m going to pose a quick statement that rather sums up this point quite neatly: trust the opinions of others, but don’t base your own opinion solely on theirs.

On a more serious note however, I’d like to take some time to wish the good people of Norway luck in their future (this is, of course, following the news of the attack on the Norwegian people by one of their own). I offer no political opinion, no major revelation, and certainly no insight on the matter; I just sincerely hope that the people of Norway (not to mention their friends, family and so on) make it through this dark time safely and in a healthy fashion.

Finally, this week we had two articles; the well written one here (on writing styles and so forth) and this terrible one here (on HBO); I promise that new articles will be written soon, most of which based on experiences in Nha Trang, so look forward to those soon. I can guarantee that these ones will NOT be as terrible as the recent HBO one.

As always, this has been your Admin; comment and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

 

 

HBO and My Sister’s Keeper; No, I Don’t Have A Better Title

Alright folks, I’ve been trying to write an article on HBO and My Sister’s Keeper for the past 4 days and it just isn’t working very well, or at all actually. The idea of the article was to present the faults of the movie and compare it to possible made for television programs that could’ve arisen, but that wasn’t working. The next idea was to compare the movie and film industry because of the film and that definitely didn’t work. Finally, I tried to combine HBO and the movie into one idea and I had no idea where I was going with that. So let’s get the point across quickly: HBO is amazing, and I can’t stand My Sister’s Keeper because the plot is nonexistent, the characters are boring and I can’t stand the overall message because no matter what Anne did, she had no choice in her life and the only reason for her existence was to the benefit of both her older sister and her overbearing (and slightly insane) mother. Not to mention the fact that the father and the brother were underused; though frankly, after every other problem the movie had, that’s one of the smallest details to take into account.

As I continued to work on the article(s) I couldn’t agree on a central point and I was entirely incapable of creating a piece of writing that I was both proud of and confident in. I literally wrote at least 10 different articles, each of them with different introductions, different points of view, different themes, different overarching points, and even different words (I have a set vocabulary people, I’m sure anyone can pick up on that) than I usually use and frankly? Each and every version was absolutely terrible. At first, I thought the problem was based on the idea. I mean, in all seriousness, there really isn’t very much you can do with just the HBO idea because it’s so open to interpretation. During one brainstormsession, for example, I thought that I might discuss the date HBO was conceived (1972, and I’m only giving that information because I finally have a way to deliver it) or the fact that HBO usually receives the most Prime-time Emmy nominations every year, but I realized that the information was almost irrelevant and (though I love the channel) there really isn’t very much I can say about it that a quick trip to Wikipedia wouldn’t be able to divulge.

After that one particular session, I changed the focus of the article to My Sister’s Keeper. I tried to point out the flaws of the movie and ways it could have been better, like I did with Battle Los Angeles but I just couldn’t get past the fact that the movie was dreadful (seriously folks, Anne never had a chance or a choice in either the movie or the book; I shudder to think that I wasted over 5 hours [2 for the movie and 3 for the book] of my life to focus on something so mindless and boring). I mean I really tried to work around its flaws and I tried my hardest to present ways the movie could’ve actually been liked (for example, if it was a made for television film, it would’ve almost definitely been nominated for something and the critics wouldn’t have shredded it the way they did), but that didn’t work. In fact, during one attempt, I tried to discuss the movie and television industry and I ended up sounding like a disappointed elderly man in a cheesy lifetime soap opera, discussing how times were better “Back in the day” and so forth. Clearly, I decided against that idea. In that attempt, I was planning on discussing the merits of criticism in the television and film form, but that didn’t end up sounding as good on paper as it did in my head, so I changed my mind and axed that article as well.

I continued coming up with possible ways to write the article until I realized that the problem wasn’t so much the idea as it was the person writing the article (or in this case, trying to write the article). I decided that I wasn’t focused enough on the concept and so I locked myself in my hotel room, sat on the couch, turned off the television (tuned to HBO no less), and tried to write something; I tried to write anything that could come to mind, anything that sounded coherent. Instead however, I ended up using the hotel’s superior WiFi service to download a copy of Limitless (and to everyone who is asking, relax. I used iTunes and paid a hefty $28.24 to get the copy in HD, because I like watching things in crystal clear high definition. I once again digress, however), and I then came to the conclusion that if I had at least one NZT-48 pill, I’d be able to focus on the article and get it written, but that was nothing more than a pipe dream (so to speak). The best part of that afternoon was when I decided that I’d try comparing Limitless to My Sister’s Keeper (in terms of acting and direction, of course; anything more and I might have actually started crying a little because the former is so good and the latter is so terrible that it would be like comparing a rose to a pile of dirt. Assuming that the rose was an almost perfect thriller, filled with good turns, amazing acting and cinematography that is absolutely gorgeous. The pile of dirt remains to be My Sister’s Keeper) but the definitely didn’t work and, again, the article was axed.

The next stunning conclusion was that the problem wasn’t my lack of focus, but my lack of interest in the article. Finally, I had hit the hammer on the head (or nail or whatever it is the hammer is trying to hit. Bloody violent device as it may be); I actually didn’t care enough to write an article about My Sister’s Keeper and HBO. People: I don’t care about My Sister’s Keeper anymore. I’m quite literally going to finish writing this article and stop caring about it ever again. If I’m asked about either the novel or the movie, I’m going to direct the individual to a pile of dirt (or perhaps a nice field where grass is growing. No, no, first a wall of paint drying) and instruct them to watch it for 2 hours; here they will find a nice pile of dirt, and who knows, maybe they’ll even be inspired to write or direct another pile of dirt. I can guarantee you that the ensuing mess will be more coherent and interesting that the original reason for their inquiry. Though, I must add a very important detail. I love HBO, but I definitely couldn’t get myself to write about it because in all seriousness it is just a television channel. It isn’t, by any means, a serendipitous moment of awakening and it definitely isn’t going to solve any of the problems I have with television because it is just a channel (albeit, a very good one, with high ratings and a decent level of watchable shows), and nothing more. The world isn’t going to stop turning because of it, and the critics are definitely not going to change their attitude on Limitless because I’ve fallen for a channel that has decent programming, so I’m going to move on from it.

I’d like to make one last point before concluding this article with the traditional ending: this was, by far, the most difficult article I’ve ever tried to write and I certainly hope that the next few will not be as monotonous as this one.

As always, this has been your Admin; comment and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

Writing Styles; Stepping Out Of The Ordinary

Over the course of four months, since I began this blog and writing articles, I’ve noticed something rather interesting (well, interesting to me anyway) about my writing style that I’m sure any teacher could point out quickly. My style is very loose and impersonal; it’s not very formal and the most important part is that I write as I would speak, choosing to use certain phrases and words that are only truly carried in speech. That being said, I also tend to write my articles as I would an actual speech, with pauses and emphasis placed throughout to allow one to imagine a human voice speaking directly to them (in place of a voice in your head that sounds out the words that you read on the page). Suffice it to say, if anyone’s read anything else in this world (whether in English, Spanish, Japanese, or Vietnamese) they will almost immediately notice that my writing is either lacking in sophistication or tact (take your pick really), which frankly doesn’t really matter to me. Oh, and in case anyone’s wondering, this is the “Step out of the ordinary current” article, so if you’re not interested, well then I suppose you’re going to have to leave.

Allow me to explain, first, however what I mean by “Step out of the ordinary current.” I don’t mean go ahead and jaywalk in a busy street without looking to check both ways first; nor do I mean to go and completely ignore social graces by punching a dolphin in the face (I’ve discovered The Oatmeal by the way); I also, definitely don’t mean to try a new dinner mannerism by throwing your plate against a wall and jumping up and down on the meal before eating it. Then again, I also kinda do mean to do those things because there are certain standards and practices that only occur because nothing else has been tried. I touched upon this aspect regarding music in a tweet a month ago where I stated that new music only exists because of old music. This was during a trip to the Downtown Toronto Distillery District during the jazz festival; here I had the pleasure of listening to a French jazz ensemble that combined Punk and Rock with traditional French jazz, with the results being absolutely fantastic. While listening, the age old argument of “Old vs. New” came to my mind and all throughout I couldn’t think of anything other than “The New only exists because of the Old.” Which is, for all intents and purposes, the truth. New music only exists by having its roots deeply founded in older, more classical music. Punk, for example, has chords and rhythms found in classical music by Beethoven and Mozart, and the same can be said for almost every other genre. Rock takes from country, country takes from punk and everything takes from Bach.

However, another truth is the fact that things are only new because someone decided to forgo the old and move onto a different idea. They did this by stepping out of their ordinary current (ordinary being a preordained decision or concept, instead of the normal definition that refers to something that is simple or dull) and coming up with a different and original concept that still had its roots in an older design, and this, incidentally relates back to my earlier point about my writing style. I write in a very loose and impersonal manner where I can afford to get carried away with meaningless exposition; I can rant and tirade without having to worry about following set rules because most times out of ten I haven’t the faintest idea as to what my point is and I usually figure something out in the end. This is why I could never submit any of my articles to any newspapers or writing competitions: because I would lose and be laughed out of the contests and probably go home, run to my room and cry myself to sleep before waking up and repeating this process for the next 3 hours. Suffice it to say, what I write for TheByteDaily wouldn’t be sent anywhere because it doesn’t really have it’s own place other than here. It’s part Op-Ed and part writing whatever it is I want to write about (which is pretty much an Op-Ed in more words. Also, it doesn’t have the journalistic ZING that I love so much), so it doesn’t really have it’s place in the professional world or anywhere else, for that matter.

This writing style is absolutely and completely different from any other style I’ve learned and the only reason I’m doing it is because I have the opportunity to experiment with it. Notice that this is exactly my original point; step out of the ordinary current (ordinary being the generally accepted writing principles of detailing your thoughts and summarizing them in the opening paragraph so the reader is able to understand what they are reading, and so on and so forth. Let’s also not forget that most essays are written in the third person, though opinion essays are given direct leeway. Newspaper and magazine articles, furthermore have certain paragraphs that detail certain facts and pieces of data), try new things and attempt to eradicate and learn from older principles. To tell the truth, I haven’t really done anything too extreme to know what would happen if I were to completely ignore older principles (like the dinner mannerism example from earlier), but I do know for a fact that there are certain steps and methods in writing that don’t need to be followed if one wants to have an interesting and intelligent piece of work. These previous steps were set up by guidelines to ensure an appropriate understanding of the written language, and they are extremely important; though the truth is that, more often naught, these steps are time consuming and extremely difficult to replicate because everyone has their own little derivation to work with (which only makes things even more complicated, though I digress). The point I should’ve made a few paragraphs ago is that the only way to properly move forward is through trying new things and by applying old principles to new ideas. The only difficult part is getting enough people interested in your work (and you, more importantly) to notice what you’ve done; without landing yourself in a boiling pot of hot water. Oh, and the most important thing? Step out of the ordinary, and try your best to try new things without destroying good dinner ware. It’s so difficult finding decent dinner ware these days.

As always, this has been your Admin; comment and criticize and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

 

 

The Secret Vacation of Danny Fenton (TheWeeklyReview Issue 4)

Well readers (more like reader; singular) it appears that I’ve once again done it! I have, once again, postponed my writing until the last minute and have, in the process, forced myself into a corner where I must, above all costs, write an article so as to not break my promise regarding TheWeeklyReview. Now, in my defence, it isn’t that I don’t want to write or that I’ve nothing to write about. There’s just this little fact rolling around my head; specifically? I’m on vacation and am thoroughly enjoying myself, so I simply haven’t written anything because, after stuffing myself with various cuisines of the world and doing all kinds of fun “Touristy” things, I simply haven’t written anything. That being said, I suppose it’s only fair that I discuss and review the week!

Let’s begin with the topic that’s foremost on ALL of our minds: where have I been vacationing? I’m not going to tell anyone because I want you all to guess where I’ve been. Also, if I tell you where I am right now, that will go against my writing style, where I only drop hints about who and where I am. Regarding the trip to the Distillery district, that was all past tense, meaning that when I was writing, it was already over and done with, so I wasn’t really giving much away (apart from my love of music and jazz; though, anyone who doesn’t enjoy jazz is beyond me), so it was alright. However, as I’m sure anyone can deduce, I am (in fact) still on vacation, meaning if I were to give away my location directly, I would be voiding a very important part of my writing (specifically, the never directly explain who I am part). I digress, however, because I absolutely LOVE this place. I mean, the food is delicious, the people are so incredibly kind and welcoming and the weather (though extremely hot and humid) hasn’t been too bad (actually, that’s not entirely fair to say. You see, yesterday and the day before it started raining an insane amount, both times at about 3 pm [PM?] so that really inhibited what I could do for the latter part of the day, but apart from that, the weather wasn’t too bad).

Moving on from the minor things, we move towards the major things, stuff like architecture! It’s interesting to note that the city was colonized by the French, so most of the older buildings have a very heavy French influence; things like the opera house and the post office are remarkably French. The post office, however, is even more interesting in that it has a very Gothic design to it (and in my opinion, looked a lot like Grand Central Terminal in New York, though many buildings with large and open concourses resemble Grand Central Terminal, so it isn’t really fair on my part to make such a statement. Though I do maintain that the inside of the post office resembled that of Grand Central Terminal). I suppose I should also mention that the Opera house is absolutely gorgeous; also heavily influenced by the French; the building was built in a French Colonial design, which really adds to the overall flair. I think that, if given the chance, I would’ve spent quite a bit of time in the overall building and not just admiring it from the outside, though certain restrictions (like not booking tickets for an evening) definitely impeded my overall stay.

Other points of interest include the city’s main (and, of course, largest) church. I didn’t spend very much time admiring the church as I should have, but I can safely say that the next time I visit this city, I’ll be sure to go to the church and also go to the many parks and gardens present. That really is my only regret; I spent so much time eating, sleeping, shopping and just walking around the inner city that I didn’t really spend as much time as I could have looking at the tourist attractions (now, the phrase “Tourist attraction” is difficult to pinpoint because shopping, eating, and sleeping are also tourist attractions. I suppose I’ll need to clarify, “Tourist attraction” refers to areas of a location where one can find many tourists gathering. Things like large churches, opera houses, libraries, post offices, parks, gardens, palaces, and the like all count as tourist attractions, but I digress). Which is why the next time I visit this certain city, I will, in fact, spend more time acting like a tourist; taking pictures, sitting in gardens and parks, and so on and so forth.

Moving on from this exciting and rather informative news is a slight revelation I’ve had about Danny Fenton (also known as Danny Phantom, that show on Nickelodeon that aired a few years ago? You know what? This is the wikipedia pagethis is the tv tropes page, and this is the Nickelodeon page). The actual show is fantastic and if you haven’t already seen it, you should go out and watch a few of the original 10 or so episodes in the first season (then go watch seasons 2 and 3, plus the movies), but my real problem (and revelation) is with the character of Danny Fenton; specifically that he is one of the least intelligent characters ever created.

Now, in the opening credits, we are introduced to Danny Fenton as being “Just 14 when his parents built a very strange machine” which is all well and good. Clearly his parents are inventors (of the “Strange” kind) and they are merely flexing their scientific and creative muscle, which is to be respected and lauded. In this day, and in the current economic climate many households are facing, it isn’t often that one finds a group of people willing to invest both time and money into a machine that is “Strange” and which (furthermore) is “Designed to view a world unseen.” This statement is rather interesting as clearly these parents are both imaginative and intelligent enough to build such devices. Though the next part is a reflection on their son as the audience is then informed that “He (Danny Fenton) is gonna catch em all cuz he’s Danny Phantom Phantom.” Their son is training to be a Pokemon master. Which is the first indication that perhaps he isn’t as bright as one would imagine. Continuing with the lyrics, we are then informed that “When it (it being the machine) didn’t quite work his (Danny Fenton’s) folks they just quit when Danny took a look inside of it.” Allow me to pause and be the first to ask this rather intrusive question: AT WHAT POINT DID ASH KETCHUM BECOME A NUCLEAR PHYSICIST?! At what point does a perfectly sane individual turn around and say “I’m going to go mess around with this high tech piece of equipment built by my two genius parents and try to FIX the device that even THEY couldn’t work with?” There should be NO reason (and yes, I just broke back into my habit of capitalizing my text) that Danny Fenton should have EVER gone anywhere NEAR the ghost portal (these aren’t spoilers because you don’t know what I’m talking about. If you do then shhhh, don’t tell anyone) and he DEFINITELY shouldn’t have tried to FIX the thing! I understand that the writers were merely trying to fill in a plot point posed by the producers “He’s a ghost boy fighting ghost crime, but HOW?” and I understand entirely that it’s a kids show and that most kids are smart enough to know to NOT go near their parents’s science experiments and so forth, but what about DANNY FENTON?

If his parents are as tech savvy as we are led to believe in the mere OPENING CREDITS, then Danny should KNOW that their work requires knowledge and a certain (oh I don’t know) MASTER’S DEGREE IN PARTICLE AND QUANTUM PHYSICS. He should know NOT to mess around with their stuff (stuff is now a scientific term, MOVING ON) and he should DEFINITELY know not to go and try to FIX it. Not because he’s just a high school kid who never once is seen taking physics on screen (which is true), nor because he might kill himself (which, let’s face it, he technically does seeing as he becomes a ghost), NOR because he might endanger others (that’s a bingo there too folks, a rather roundabout “Bring balance to the force” kind of bingo, but I digress), but because his parents have clearly done this kind of thing BEFORE. I’m not saying his parents are neglectful (though their parenting methods DO raise certain questions), I’m not even saying that his parents are morons (they kinda are though), I’m calling out Danny Fenton on this one. Under no circumstance was it necessary for him to put on a suit and go INSIDE the malfunctioning machine and under no circumstance was it necessary for him to ever believe that he could FIX anything, and it really irks me that he is one of the most well developed and well rounded characters to ever come out of a rather outstanding television program and yet he is so incredibly moronic! A quick word before I move on? It works. Somehow, by killing himself he fixes the machine, and that annoys me EVEN MORE than his blatant stupidity.

Finally, I haven’t written anything this week, so there’s nothing to put in this section, but I will be writing a few articles over the course of the week, so look forward to those soon.

As always, this has been your Admin; comment and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

Not Sweating the Sales Personnel (TheWeeklyReview Issue 3)

It’s been a while hasn’t it? Well my last article was on the 5th, meaning that if I don’t write something today, I’ll have taken a week off and frankly that just won’t do. Therefore, without further ado, let’s get started (and this part I’m going to love) with TheWeeklyReview.

I don’t particularly have a fantastic introduction planned, so I suppose I’ll just jump into it: I can’t stand the way I treat sales people at stores. Not because I’m rude to them or because I insult them in my mind or because I wish they would care a little more, but mainly because I have no idea how to treat them. You see, it seems like a horrible thing to say, but it really is the truth. Sales personnel and sales staff at stores are extremely different from the people buying from said stores. They are there to make a sale and make the customer feel welcome in the store they work in, therefore the customer is expected to react in a similar fashion, or at least try to act in a similar fashion (I don’t fit into this category and I’ll explain why soon). This category of customer walks into the store, treats the sales personnel with respect and dignity. They ask for assistance when they need it, they smile at the sales staff, and maybe they’ll make some idle chit chat before either buying something, or simply leaving the store. However, despite this expectation, there are customers who do not act in such a fashion. These are the customers who know exactly what the sales staff want (simply put: money) and they act in such a fashion (I don’t fit into this category and I’ll explain why soon). They walk into the store acting like they own the place, they yell and bark commands at the sales staff and they extremely upset when things don’t go their way. When they leave, they huff and puff (like a wolf apparently) and generally, they’re not very happy people and they certainly don’t smile as much as the could. Then we come to the last category of customers (where I fall); these are the people who know exactly what it’s like to be a sales person. They know what the customers are like and they know exactly how quickly a smiling customer (category 1) can become angry and rather childish (category 2) and we try our best to not end up being category 2 customers. At the same time, they know that the sales personnel really don’t want to be there, so no matter how cheery you are, it will only really help their day move faster by a very small amount.

This, however, is the point I am trying to make; there are 3 ways to treat sales personnel and sadly, because everyone knows that money is trying to be made, I find it extremely difficult to pick the appropriate way to treat sales staff without (first of all) undermining their humanity and (second of all) upsetting or annoying them. At the same time, however, I know for a fact that they most likely don’t want to be my friend; they only want me to feel comfortable enough to make a purchase or to leave without making a massive ruckus about the state of their shoes, so being extremely kind and jovial really isn’t the best way to act either (not because it isn’t nice, but because it’s a waste of time for the both of you. You want the product and the sales personnel wants the sale of the product) therefore, I am back to the original point that I, in fact, have no idea how to treat sales personnel. Which is why I’m going to continue acting in the way I currently act. By being kind to the sales personnel and immediately telling them that I will only need their help if I find something that I want to purchase. It is both respectful and extroverted, while also introverted enough to project an air of quite hostility. Just the right combination for others to know that while you are interested, you certainly aren’t that interested.

Moving on from my introverted ways we move towards other things that happened during this week, mainly, nothing else. I’m not joking here people, apart from the whole sales personnel thing, not very much else HAS happened today. I mean, sure I saw a bunch of movies that I didn’t even bother analyzing or criticizing, and sure, I decided that people should stop freaking out about the tiniest details but, actually you know what? I’m going with that one. People, stop freaking out over the SMALLEST things, because it’s becoming extremely evident that people can no longer distinguish between “Small, tiny discomfort” and “Massive leg crushing pain.” If your soup is cold and you want someone to heat it up, ask nicely and the person will heat it up. Don’t yell and scream at them because that wastes both of your time and gets us nowhere. Now, I know it sounds odd but the concept of “Small” is incredibly fluid and astoundingly subjective so when I say “Small things” the concept of “Small” is going to change from person to person, which is why I’m going to come up with a handy guide for not sweating the small things. If it’s something that can easily be fixed by asking another human being, don’t worry about it. If it’s something incredibly out of your control, don’t worry about it. If it’s something you could possibly upgrade to, and yet you don’t get the upgrade because you originally only wanted the base model, don’t worry about it. If you can easily fix it yourself, don’t worry about it. If it requires service that is readily available, don’t worry about it. Finally, if it was something had the smallest and most inconsequential chance of happening and it doesn’t, well, DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT because it wasn’t going to happen in the first place.

Apart from that however, there were three articles written this week. This one here (on Garbage collection and the like), this one here (on Robot Unicorn Attack), and this one here (on Battle Los Angeles). Enjoy folks!

As always, this has been your Admin; comment and criticize and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK