Monthly Archives: September 2011

A New Hope vs the Man of Steel

It’s time to geek out for a second, but to do so for a very good reason. 

Typical geeking out generally involves debating the finer points of Star Trek or time travel at a bar somewhere in the neighborhood of 2AM when I’d been drinking since it was light out.  Depending on the season, ‘drinking since it was light out’ could mean five o’clock or this could mean eight, but it will generally always involve the Elmwood Lounge.

Back to the point: geeking out—

Who do you think would win in a fight, Luke Skywalker or Superman?

I ask this because today is their birthday—I’m talking about Mark Hamil and Christopher Reeve—although I imagine one will be enjoying it a bit more than the other.

Too soon?

Is it fair to look at Hamil and Reeve and, rather than see the men and their accomplishments and body of work, wonder which one of them would win in a little Rocky V style streetfight?

And don’t start playing that game with me, you know damn well what happened in Rocky V—do not pretend that movie doesn’t exist.  I saw it, you saw it, and sticking your fingers in your ears yelling, “lalalalalalalala” isn’t going to change it. 

It doesn’t go from Rocky IV: The Rise of Drago to Rocky Balboa, you know it doesn’t.  I don’t like it anymore than you do, but burying your head in the sand isn’t going to make it go away.

Moving on:

Superman vs Luke Skywalker

This match up actually makes perfect sense and none at all. 

I could argue that in the Star Wars universe within the plethora of alien races bouncing around Kryptonians aren’t that out of place.  Superman can—apparently—breathe space, or not need to breathe at all, however you want to say it.  He’s gone to different worlds right, different galaxies?  He could totally make it to a galaxy far, far away. 

Countering that is some fanboy who, after correcting my pronunciation of manga, will remind me that despite the spaceships and flying cars, the cloud cities and laser guns—in short, the highly sophisticated whats-its, gadgets, gizmos and whatchajigits—all that space opera nonsense took place a long time ago.

So while Kryptonians may theoretically cross paths with races or whose-its from the Star Wars universe, Superman himself is unlikely to do so. 

Unless he travels back in time.

OK, so let’s just forget about ‘long time ago’ nonsense.  I never cared for that.  Yeah, it sounds cool in that grand epic way, but it’s stupid.  It is.

Superman vs Luke Skywalker.

Let’s go with the understanding of the Force that we all took away from the original trilogy: the Force is essentially magic.  Jedis are more or less super-hippies but their glow sticks can cut you in half. 

Being a Jedi is all about getting in touch with the energy that flows through all things, and through meditation and mental training and all that, controlling that power and using it only for, you know, good stuff. 

Like recycling. (we ran out of High Life cans—his right leg is made from Steel Reserve tall boys)

Somehow believe in magic is preferable to the “explanation” from Phantom Menace.  What the shit was that?  Midi-chlorians?  Little Force grabbing things living inside your cells?  What? 

Did we really need Qui Gon to wip out Wilford Brimley’s dia-bee-tus tester to find out little the little kid from the Pretender flashbacks was wicked Forced?  Can’t you just sense that shit—you know, with the Force?

Whatever, so the Force is magic.  Superman doesn’t do well with magic.  Kryptonite and magic, those are his weaknesses.  And shellfish. 

So if the Force is magic Luke should have a chance here.  He could use it to “see” Superman coming, even with superspeed, anticipate his attacks and react to some degree.  His mastery of the Force could give him a fighting chance, possibly a shot at grabbing or at least deflecting an attack from Superman.

Superman has his heat vision, but that shit should be deflected by Luke’s lightsaber as easily as a blaster.. blast.  Superbreath might be a little trickier since not only is it cold but if Superman took Lois out for a nice Italian dinner prior to the match, that could garlic laced superbreath.  Its well known that in addition to dirty thoughts and getting super angry, nothing weakens a Jedi like garlic breath.

OK, so lightsabers.  I’ve read a few things about maybe a lightsaber can mess up Superman, maybe it can’t.  Lightsabers are pretty badass, I’m not sure I should have to point that out, and they can cut through just about anything, so that might give Luke an advantage over the Man of Steel.  If he can get close enough to him to use it.  And score any hits what with Superman superspeed dodging him.

Now some thoughts are that a lightsaber, despite it awesomeness and incredible power, would be completely ineffective against Superman.  He’s resistant to.. you know, everything; plasma, extremely high temperatures, nuclear explosions and, according to Wikipedia, “extreme force.”

Perhaps… extreme Force?

Think about it.

So if none of those things can harm him—I did mention nuclear fucking explosions—can a lightsaber even put a scratch on him?

It might, but only if the crystal used to harness said awesomeness and incredible power was kryptonite.  Whether that’s possible is also up for debate.  Maybe it isn’t, or maybe it just needs some Sith tweaking to make it so.

According to the Wookiepedia, Luke does briefly go the Dark Side.  It’s some nonsense about Palpatine coming back—he has clones or something.  I don’t know, but if that’s the case he should be all set.

So the Sith will tweak their lightsabers.  They don’t exactly play fair, in case you haven’t noticed, and if Darth Maul or Count Dooku are any indication, the Sith got some skills when it comes to pimpin lightsabers.  If there’s any advantage to be had from friggin with the general mechanics, Luke needs to exploit them.

Of course, going back to the Superman turning back time thing, all he really has to do—if you want to believe Luke make it five minutes of jacked up Force fighting and pimped out kryptonite lightsabering—is fly in circles until he goes back far enough to find baby Luke and “pound him into goo.”

Might seem unfair, but Superman isn’t going to let some womp rat shooting cry baby take him out.  Superman is pretty much the supreme being on the planet, he’s held off Darkseid, he’s come back from the dead to kick Doomsday’s ass, he’s indestructible.  And he knows it.  The ego is a powerful thing, and like the vision and the breath, I’d imagine that’s a super- too.  So if things start going in Luke’s favor, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Doesn’t necessarily sound like the boyscout Superman has come to be depicted as does it?  No, but much like Luke, in order to make things interesting in this throwdown, we’re going to need some dark Superman—that’s right, I’m talking about Superman III!

We need junkyard Superman, with the  darker blue and the five o’clock shadow—the one that starts shattering liquor bottles by flicking peanuts at them after a solid round of day drinking. 

This Superman would pound a baby into goo.  This Superman would also not let that shit get that far.  He would take Luke out long before it got to the baby-goo-turning back time point.  Otherwise, it gets in the way of his drinking.

Superman would have the upper-hand here without a doubt because he’d be drunk and therefore supercoordinated.  Plus, the only time I ever saw Luke in a bar, he almost got disemboweled.  Maybe he was underage, maybe he shouldn’t have been in the Cantina in the first place, maybe those were just a pair of interstellar truckers looking to explore his Death Star.  I don’t know.  I don’t want to know.

What I do know is that if it wasn’t for the geriatric Brawlin’ Ben Kenobi that kid would have been toast.  And he wouldn’t have shit right for a week.

But now you can argue that if we have a Dark Side Luke and a Junkyard Superman, it isn’t the true characters anymore so the the point is moot.  Maybe, but that’d be a hell of a fight.

Deep down, even though I’d love to see an epic battle here, I think a Superman/Skywalker throwdown would look a lot like that Lonestar/Dark Helmet fight from Space Balls.  Superman is just going to reach out and hold back Luke’s head while he goes on swinging and swinging and finally gets all tuckered out. 

Then Superman throws him into the sun because that’s what Superman does with everything he doesn’t like.

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well there’s your problem—you didn’t instert the panle into the mainboday

It shouldn’t surprise anyone in this day that the entire world is connected.  That’s depressing as shit when you really think about it.  Whether we like it or not we’re all connected, and more so than ever before thanks to the internet, instant news, social media, all that.  Now we’re all connected. 

Its gotten more extreme with the explosion of Facebook and Twitter, but they didn’t start it.  As communication around the globe became easier and faster everyone’s problems became yours, no matter where they were.

see, everybody's on there..

It’s all butterfly effect now, what with the tweeting and the Facebook.  Just think of the Earth as Ashton Kutcher, and the third world is Amy Smart when she was all knifed up and whorey looking.

You remember those Christian Children’s Funds, now Child Fund International, commercials that used to ruin your cartoons or popped up when you were surfing for soft core porn at four in the morning?  What, you never did that? 

Nevermind, I’m sure you’ve seen them.  If not, think of those Sarah McLachlan SPCA commercials.  Almost as depressing, but instead of Miss Arms of an Angel I’m Gonna Ruin Your Whole Fuckin Day, you have that fat guy rambling about starving kids.

That’s like giving a fat homeless guy money for food.  You’re fat.  Don’t kill my buzz with some barely coherent story about needing a sandwich, clearly it isn’t much of an issue.  Besides, I’m drunk—I would love a sandwich too, and if comes down to me or you, I’m getting the sandwich.  Or more beer.

But now little Agapito in his shanty condo with the classy tattered tarp roof having to portion out bits of rice for himself is your problem.  You watch that commercial enough and it’s probably your fault.  Why are you just sitting there?  For just pennies a day you could feed little Agapito.  Pennies.  For the cost of a newspaper you could provide him with—wait, a newspaper?  Nobody buys newspapers anymore.

Plus, nobody cares about Agapito.

The good news is cheap labor.  That’s always been true of the third world, but back in the day it was just called colonialism.  Exploiting is exploiting, whether it’s the British controlling the opium trade, knockoff Nikes made in Indonesia, or Kathie Lee’s garment empire in Honduras—which she reportedly rules with song and an iron fist—that’s what the third world is there for.

But the role of taking advantage of the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to plug their noses because it’s a well known fact that everyone in the third world smells like either shit or tumeric, has to evolve eventually.  And so it has.  

The third world I’m loosely defining here as anywhere not the US and maybe the UK since they probably all smell like Guinness and Jameson and therefore don’t fit the criteria mentioned above.

And so we have outsourcing. 

The bane of modern existence.   Few activities remain that don’t involve calling Sanjay or Bayani.

Outsourcing: if they’re not making our shoes, they’re answering our phones.

Outsourcing is the reason no one wants to call a 1-800 number, because after fifteen minutes in the maze of automated menus you finally stumble upon a real live person.  I say stumble because you’ve just started shrieking incomprehensibly and button mashing like you’re drunkenly playing Mortal Kombat, and there is no way you could navigate that menu a second time. 

There will be a second time, don’t misunderstand me, because ten seconds after you hear that human’s voice you’ll be disconnected. 

And then spend the next three hours trying to find you way back through the automated maze, a task that will prove impossible because those damn little Muppets flipped over the stone tiles on the floor you marked with arrows in lipstick for you to find your way out of the labyrinth once you’ve saved your little brother from Jareth the Goblin King.

a typical day at the office in the Phillipines

But getting a super real live person is pretty pointless since they just learned English yesterday from watching a handful of infomercials and bootleg DVDs of Richard Simmons’ Sweatin to the Oldies. 

Their training program couldn’t afford the real deal, which as terrifying as it is, I assure you do exist, since this call center was relocated from Jersey to the friggin Phillipines and the difference in price between the bootleg (that they bought in Times Square after haggling that homeless dude down to $3) meant feeding the entire country for ten years. 

Of course, this ten year supply of food was actually four boxes of Grape-Nuts.

But it doesn’t matter how they learned English since they have to mumble while holding the phone a minimum of two feet from their face.

It isn’t just customer support centers that have slowly been relocated into less and less reputable areas of the globe.  Our cardboard construction trade has all but left its longtime home in Ohio, known since just after the Civil War as the architectural cardboard capital of the world.

You know all those cardboard displays you see in stores?  Over the years they’ve gotten more and more complicated; they’re no longer simple boxes and stands. 

Now there are flaps and shelves and reinforced thingies and metal rods I affectionately refer to as my beatin’ sticks.

These things used to be easy to put together.  It used to be pretty intuitive.  Slot A, hole B, attache header.  Simple, right?

What complicated them are the instructions.  It’s best just to look at the pictures and ignore the written instructions completely. 

Trying to decipher the instructions, while possible, can sometimes just make things worse.  On the other hand, its kind of like knowing a second language.  Kind of like reading A Clockwork Orange, after a chapter or two you understand Nadsat. 

By the end of the book you even start to think in Nadsat.  Yeah, by the end you govoreet real horrorshow, don’t you my droogie?

Actually, it’s best to close your eyes use your sense of smell to assemble it. 

I was less surprised with the spelling of panel than I was with their artistic use of ‘instert,’ but my favorite part came in Step 8:

Put the mainboday into the base

I know these are instructions for a cardboard display, but… these are just instructions for a cardboard display.  If they can’t get these right, then what do assembly instructions for more complicated machinery look like?   

Maybe outsourcing …isn’t such a good idea.

and the kellogg’s breakfast machine marches on

Am I the only one who thinks 28 flavors of Pop-Tarts is a bit excessive?

I’m only talking about the ones that are available; keep in mind that there are also ten limited edition flavors, five unfrosted, Pop-Tarts Splitz and the Printed Fun line (which are just creepy)—oh, and about a bajillion discontinued flavors like Pina Colada and Spaghetti-O Surprise.

Twenty-eight!

It’s a goddamn breakfast pastry!  Who needs that kind of variety?

OK, so maybe some people do. 

But are they really buying name brands anyway?  I don’t have any kids and it’s a big day if I buy something that doesn’t look like it came off the Repo Man set.  Of course, these people have TV shows.  Maybe I need a TV show. 

No, that wouldn’t work.  I don’t like people looking at me.

Pop-Tarts aren’t even the real deal; keep that in mind the next time you go to buy some.  They’re the ripoff, not the Toast ‘Em Pop Ups, not the Yogi Bear Tastee Tarts, the Crackin’ Good Toaster Pastries or the Little Debbie Toaster Singles (nice cupcake, Little Debbie). 

OK, so those are rip-offs too, but Pop-Tarts started it all.  Well, sort of.

Back in the day, generally assumed to be a Wednesday, but in this case a Sunday, Post announced that the process of sealing food inside of foil wrappers that they’d perfected on dog food, had been adapted to breakfast. 

Post-brand breakfast had previously been Grape-Nuts, so everyone pretty much quit their jobs, set their houses on fire, slept with their wife’s sister and generally partied like it was the end of the world (which in the 1960s they thought it was every other week anyway) since they were so balls-deep excited, since Grape-Nuts are friggin awful. 

You ever eat a bowl of Grape-Nuts?  It felt wrong, didn’t it?  It’s neither grapes, nor nuts, and a bowl of it lasts forever.  I’ve never been able to finish a bowl, never, and I’ve tried.  I’m not the kind of person who gives up easily against a bowl of cereal. 

I think to combat world hunger we need to air-drop a couple boxes into every third world country around the globe and wait.  Either all those starving people will kill themselves because Grape-Nuts are all we gave them to eat, or the whole hunger thing will be over since Grape-Nuts last fucking forever.

Moving on—

Foil sealed food.

Thus was born Post Country Squares.  Sort of.  They weren’t quite ready to release their breakfast pastries when they announced them on February 16, 1964, and that’s what gave Kellogg’s the chance to swoop in and steal the entire thing.

Within six months Pop-Tarts were on the shelves and the guys at Post were just beginning to realize how seriously boned they were.

Kellogg’s had the edge because they were already sponsoring every kid’s show on the air, from Yogi Bear to Scooby Doo and Secret Squirrel.  If it was a cartoon in the 60s, chances are Kellogg’s was bankrolling it in some fashion. 

Within a few years the breakfast pastry industry was raking in $45 million, and Pop-Tarts dominated it.  No other brand could survive more than a few years, and despite the guys at Post swearing their Country Squares were the superior product, even they couldn’t compete.

Post had also renamed their product once they saw how Kellogg’s advertising bitch slapped kids.  Country Squares wasn’t a cool enough name.  They needed something hip or fly or whatever.  Remember the ripoff Toast ‘Em Pop Ups  I mentioned earlier?  Until the 70s when they sold them off, those were made by Post, and were the original Pop-Tarts—the Country Squares that started it all.

My point here is that Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts were the Armageddon to Post’s Deep Impact, The Prestige to their Illusionist, the—I’m out of ideas, add to the list for me.

Furthermore, since September 1964, Kellogg’s has gone unchecked and virtually unopposed in the world of breakfast pastries and this market dominance has gone to their head. 

Gingerbread?  Watermelon?  Rainbow Cookie?  Salt Water Taffy?  French Toast?  Peanut Butter & Jelly?

You’re just doing it because you can.  You don’t even care anymore.  You’re rubberstamping any flavor some intern comes up with now.  It’s just a guy shrugging and saying, “meh,” every time your R&D department needs approval. 

competitors.. competitors.. nope, all clear..

You don’t have any real competitors.  The idea that Pop-Tarts has competitors is comparable to Country Time Lemonade serving cease and desist orders to every six year old with a lemonade stand.

See, they wouldn’t—is my point.  Little girls selling lemonade aren’t a threat to them, much like how anything in the world is no match for Pop-Tarts. 

Much like the honey badger, Pop-Tarts just don’t give a fuck.  They can do whatever they want.

Bottomline—you only need three flavors: Strawberry, Brown Sugar/Cinnamon, and S’mores.  Covers all the bases.  You have your fruit, you have your kind of sweet but kind of boring, you have your dessert.  What more do you need?  Do you really need Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough or Hot Fudge Sundae?  In a Pop-Tart?

Unnecessary.  Overcomplicated.  And in the case of Rainbow Cookie Sandwich, just plain stupid.

But its gone too far now to stop.  The Pop-Tart machine has become too powerful, it’s expanded and grown unchecked and without opposition for so long it may no longer be possible to temper its advance across the globe.

It’s like the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918.  Or AIDs.  Or Japanese anime.  There’s no stopping it now that it’s rolling.

Pop-Tarts have spread around the world; they’re available in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Ireland.  They had only recently attempted to break into the Australian market at the time of  Steve Irwin’s death when their Strawberry Stingray Pop-Tart was discontinued amid complaints and cries of, “Too soon, too soon!”

Since Strawberry Stingray was the first and at that time, only flavor available in the Australian market, and not one likely to be popular anywhere else since Australians are pretty bat shit crazy with what they eat, Kellogg’s made the decision to pull out completely. 

As a result, Kellogg’s  stock plummeted as they were forced to eliminate nearly 1,500 jobs responsible for the development, testing and marketing of future Australian flavors such as Blueberry Balmian Bug, Wacky Wallaby Pineapple, Bogong Moth Milkshake Surprise, and a line of Witchetty Grub Go Tarts that were to feature different flavored frostings.

The loss of their Australian market has been the only true set back for Pop-Tarts, with the exception of the dumb shit that sued because his Pop-Tart broke and caught fire in his toaster. 

Apparently he’d also super-glued the plug into the electrical outlet, other wise I’m sure he could have just unplugged the fucking toaster.  No, unplugging it isn’t an option.  Clearly Kellogg’s just produces highly flammable foodstuffs with the intention of setting their customers’ homes on fire.

Setbacks.. setbacks.. setbacks.. right—no, haven’t really had any as they’ve spent the last almost forty years taking over the world.  But we must beware their popularity, their unchecked dominance of the breakfast-to-go market. 

Their ridiculous flavors could be just the start.  Who knows what will be next? 

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