June, 2009

Book Review: I am America (and so can you) by Stephen Colbert

Ten Word Summary: The megalomaniac title says it all – this ain’t for you.

There is a reason why comedy shows are short and varied: Jokes wear thin. Imagine instead of attending a comedy show, you’re given the script and you’re expected to comprehend, appreciate, and laugh at it. It doesn’t work, unfortunately, most of the time.

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Sure, the book has its moments, and the approach is fun and intuitive. But just like a fresh paint of coat that makes the room brighter (or in a book’s case, different), sooner than later the paint’s gonna stink and you’d be on your way to the nearest exit. This pretty much summarizes how you should go on about reading the book if you’re not planning to set your eyes on fire: Read it in short bursts. Just like a TV show, you can only handle so much before you find yourself flipping through other channels.

The issues “discussed” in the book are neither new issues nor tackled with any purpose but to extort any potential humor out of them. Which is great and is funny when done right. My favorite parts are the bits on religion and the vocab listing at the end. This of course makes pretty solid material for a 30 minute show, but the humor often fails to translate well, making the ones that do (in comparison) stand out are laugh-out-loud funny.

Bottom Line: You’re probably going to worship this book if you’re a fan of the guy, but the book’s content isn’t fit for the print media. Except for the cool stickers.

People You Inevitably Meet in the Gym

There are streotypes about almost everything in the world, but, let’s face it, some things are stereotyped for a reason: They’re only “politically correct” short of being facts.

The list below presents some of the people you will inevitably meet in the gym. If you have more to add, please do!

Ms. Cleavage

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There is no doubt about it: It’s probably the number one reason why men are in the gym. Namely, it’s the number one reason why they tend to do cardio – because she is doing cardio. No one will ever get her, not even the most well-defined muscular guy. To us, she is a Goddess. To her, we are nothing but white noise. The worst part of all, is that she knows it.

Mr. Muscle Man

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This guy eats his mom for breakfast. There is a whole range of men – from the flabby to the very fit – but this guy has tried every hormone and every protein shake to date. He’s your ultimate source of info (whatever he says, don’t do it), and the best guy to call when that barbell is gonna topple over.

The Ghost

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For girls, it’s a guy, for guys, it’s a girl. The Ghost refers to a gym member who you can see enter the gym, but suddenly disappear. They’re no where to be found, not even in the locker rooms. They’re probably in a secret workout facility – that’s when you suspect that your “premium membership” isn’t quite as premium as you would have hoped.

The Loser at the Treadmill

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It’s also a phenomena if your gym sports a lounge, seating area, or PC terminals. The Loser just happens to jump on the treadmill/sofa/PC next to you, only to strike up a conversation a couple of minutes later, and asking you to add him on Facebook. And when you don’t, he would ask why the next time he happens to bump into you.

It’s the 50′s

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This is a group of women who work out for 10 minutes then spend the rest of the hour or two gossiping in whatever clearing they find. They discuss everything, from The Ghost to Ms Cleavage to their husbands to their idiotic maids or children. To avoid talking about each other behind each other’s backs, they all leave at the same time.

The Woman You Thought Was a Man

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Ever had some tough weights to lift, and you go ask for help, and when the person turns around, lo and behold, it’s a woman? Yes. She’s usually a bit short, sports a boy cut and is quite muscular (for a woman) and can carry as much weight as any guy in the gym. She’s definitely not one to get upset.

The Hijabis

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The Hijabis are an interesting bunch of girls. They’re always in their 20s, and almost always come in packs. If it’s a single Hijabi attending, she wears dark colors. If it’s two, they were moderate colors. The larger the group, the greater the variety in the clothig. They’re almost always occupying cardio, or in the stretch area carrying small weights, all while gossiping about something. Then post-exercise they replace the “It’s the 50′s” group in the clearings.

The Guy Who Know’s He’s Too Hot

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This guy is worse than The Loser. He knows he’s too hot that even guys ogle at him, and hence he’s the most snobbish person in the gym. If you ask him for advice to get his great physique, he replies in obscure monotony. If a girl makes a pass, he ignores her existence. He’s after Ms Cleavage, who is also unaware of his existence. It’s the battle of the egos.

The Water Cooler Attendant

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There are two types of people who attend the water coolers: Sweaty men with bulging biceps and panting women with tight asses. The former usually target incoming ladies; he pulls out a plastic cup, fills in water, and drinks like it’s his business, all while flexing. The lady attendant, on the other hand, is almost always busy leaning down to tie her shoelaces. You’d think she’s making braids when you visit the cooler for the 6th time during the hour.

The Groovy Personality

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It’s usually the overweight people who can be quite jolly. The woman walks in – loved by everyone – and yells to everyone at the gym “how’s it shakin y’aaaaaaaaall?!”. She has so much self confidence she can pole dance without a worry in the world. She’s got amazing stamina but just can’t seem to lose weight.

The Guy With Severe Fashion Issues

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This guy needs to buy new training outfits. He turns up always with a really, really tight shirt you can actually see the skin pores, and, more disturbing, a really, really tight swimmer’s shorts, with no underwear, and if your eyes are not skilled enough to avoid the nether regions you will be scarred for life.

The Narcissist

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This is the person who, in the locker rooms, takes his/her clothes off slowly and deliberately, making sure everyone sees their bodies and curves. After a shower, they admire themselves in the mirror for prolonged periods of time. They check their newly upgraded bodies, their face, any new zits or freckles or left over lint. Then they smell their armpits, and carefully deodorize it. Then they blow-dry their groin (yes I saw it happen), and put on their well-ironed and well-folded clothes, also slowly and deliberatley. Then they pamper their hair and face and put on aftershave and whatever. It takes them more time to groom than it takes them to work out. To them, they’re the only people who exist in the gym.

The Hopeless

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They’re a peculiar bunch, a category I belong to. The Hopeless are people who have been going to the gym while getting slow results (gain or lose weight). We’re hopeless to strike a conversation like The Loser. We’re hopeless to be groovy. We’re hopeless to have an ego war with Ms Cleavage or the Guy Who Knows He’s Too Hot. The only reason we go to the water cooler is to drink, and we don’t have people to socialize with – for us, gym is a business; you walk in, pump iron, and walk out. For a hopeless cause.

Insane Genious

That’s what I have been called, according to a psycho-analyst:

This is a work of a genious, truly, not insane, but genious, indeed try to make something out of that talent, like inventing something that won’t kill us all, or a cure for cancer, you can do it.

Quite inspiring, exactly what I needed :D

Meanwhile enjoy this wonderful piece of music:

Today’s Friday Prayer’s Topic Would Be…

I still didn’t go to prayer yet, but I already know what the Imam will be discussing: Michael Jackson’s and Farrah Fawcett’s deaths vs the recent Iraq bombing and Iran elections.

It’s such a classic topic discussed whenever some major idol dies (in the Arab/nonArab/Muslim/nonMuslim worlds). The other time when this Lebanese singer, Suzan Tamim, got shot in Dubai Marina, the Imams made a huge fuss about how everyone is investigating and mourning the death “of a singer whore” instead of investigating the massacres done against Muslims everywhere. Added to that, this episode is teaching our kids that pop idols are more important than our brothers and sisters in Palestine/Iraq/wherever.

What I find interesting that, though to no surprise, the Imams think of the Muslim problems to be the top priority and only to be solved. Sure, I don’t disagree they’re important. Massacres have to be stopped.

But during the du3a2 phase of the khutba, he doesn’t bother himself to pray for the starving and desperately malnutritioned in Africa. He didn’t bother to pray for the lost lives in the Sri Lanka tsunami, except explicitly mentioning he Muslim survivors. So, the others deserved it? Apparently, according to him – for the tsunami is the wrath of God of course sent to punich everyone there for some grave sin they’ve done.

Which grave sin? Sending in their women here as maids so they can feed the family back home, and you end up raping them? The tsunami should have gone the other direction. Our Muslim Imams need to wake up to life and start giving a better image of Muslims and stop alienating Muslims themselves from their own religion.

Yes, the world grieves that MJ is dead. I grieve too – whether or not you’ve been too hot about all his ‘odd’ things, alleged pedophilia or whatever, you can’t deny his music did something. Heck, most of ┬ámy generation grew up on his music.

What will happen if Fairuz dies? Expect us to just sit quiet through it, because she is a “singer whore” and not a martyr? Maybe they will make an exception, she did sing an ode to Palestine several times.

Movie Review: Transformers 2

Movie Review: Transformers 2

It has been a long time since I got so pissed off at a movie. But let me begin the review by highlighting the positive things about it: All the bots still look terrifcly awesome and the explosions are, well, quite a blast so to speak.

Alright, with all that out of the way, let’s see why this movie totally sucked.

First of all, the story. Sure, these kinds of films don’t really need a strong story anyway. It isn’t actually that the story is necessarily bad, but rather how it comes together with the other negative aspects of the film, things really become ridiculous. The film picks up a couple of years after the first one. The Autobots (good guys) are allied secretly with the human race (ie USA only) to hunt down the Deceptions (bad guys). Things go awry of course when the hunter becomes the hunted when Sam (the main teenage hero) is in possession of some shard of the AllSpark, apparently something terribly important to the Deceptions. So everything goes afuss and big explosions happen.

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Snoring yet?

Like I said, the story is sufficient to provide some action, which is what the film should be about. Unfortunately, lots of time is wasted in vain to flesh out the story or give background on certain Autobots/Deceptions that you really wouldn’t care about unless you’ve been avidly watching the cartoons and have memorized each and every bot’s background. Lots of time is also wasted in actual combat scenes. Though they serve the highlight of the flick, lots of the mech fights could have been made shorter, or skipped altogether. It seemed to escape the producers (both of which are good, which comes as a shocker) that most mortals can only handle so much action. It’s even worse when the battles make little sense, as you never know what really is going on until some crucial storyline event triggers in the middle of the fight to wake you up.

How long is the movie? It’s almost 3 hours long. That’s an overdose of long action no one needs.

Bad things don’t end there either. There are many gaps in logic. I completely understand that one should enter such a movie with suspended sense of belief, but there are matters you simply cannot overlook.

First is Orion’s Belt. When our heroes are in the Egyptian deserts, they seek Orion’s Belt to find the location of the artifact. As I recall, Orion’s Belt is somewhat horizontal, yet in the movie they refer to other three stars. I took the liberty to put an infrared filter to make the major stars more pronounced; the three stars encircled in white comprise the Belt, the three stars in green are what the movie tells you is the belt (click for bigger view):

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it looks like a man with a penis

The next part is what drove me insane, which is that, according to the movie, the stars point to Petra. It’s as if by magic that they point to Petra, though it could be really any city within that line of sight. I will also overlook the fact that they were probably facing east or west (I don’t recall if it was dusk or dawn), so technically speaking Petra isn’t even an option.

The maddening part is that Petra is in Egypt.

There is no indication that the heroes went to Jordan. In fact, it is told in the story that the artifact is buried here in the deserts of Egypt (which looked a lot like Wadi Rum) and that the stars shall point at the location. Suddenly Petra is in Egypt. The next thing you know, a battle ensues around the Pyramids, and the heroes travel from Petra to Egypt within minutes of course to join in the battle.

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Another odd aspect is that during the course of the battle, the Americans ask the Jordanians for help (the battle is in Egypt). Jordan sends in two choppers which instantly get blown up. The Americans then show power by sending their entire well-equipped fighter jets. There is also no sign of any Egyptian forces.

Speaking of which, why is Egypt depicted in the “traditional Middle Eastern stereotype”? What’s shown of Egypt, other than the ever-present athan, is some run-down ghettos. Sure, it’s the desert part of Giza, but seriously? Now I also have never been to Egypt, but I do know Egyptians do not look like Mexicans (nothing wrong with Mexicans) and that they do speak Arabic, not some jibberish which was actually subtitled to Arabic! And then when an actor says “we are from New York!” the security chief of the borders say “Ah! New York!” and lets them in. There is also a scene with all these posh-car-transformers driving alongside camels. And the slutty heroine suddenly sports a veil while she is running away from a bot (how she magically got the veil is never revealed).

Combine all of that with THE MOST ANNOYING SUPPORTING CAST (both robots and humans) ever seen in a film and you have a major recipe for disaster.

As a final note, for all movie directors, please when you make a battle scene, keep the time of the day consistent. I would understand if a battle begins by noon and ends in the afternoon. But you can’t have one scene at zenith and the other at sunset (for dramatic effect), and go back and forth between them.

I can go on with other issues of course but I guess you don’t need any more convincing that this is a sucky movie.

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