Sunday, August 31, 2008

How I Met My Mother Tongue

This past season, I really got into "How I Met Your Mother." Despite the presence of Neil Patrick Harris and one "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" cast member, I had originally dismissed it at face value as a seemingly unoriginal sitcom. (Ditto "Scrubs," which I eventually grew to love, and then hate.) I don't hate HIMYM yet, but I am only now finishing up the first season, and I've only seen bits and pieces of the second season, so give it time. I get a twinge of nostalgia every time I see Ted's Wesleyan T-shirt (my alma mater, as well as that of co-creator Carter Bays), and I love the extensive use of the word "awesome," which I also say a lot. In fact, the show's catchphrases are the subject of my most recent gallery at TelevisionWithout, which you can read here:

How I Met Your Mother: The New Verbiage

Enjoy! - Z

Full Mental Jacket #3: Foundations of Experimental Research

In Robert Plutchik's seminal work, "Foundations of Experimental Research," he discusses several important case studies that influenced the course of experimental research in the 1980s. One of the most important was a case in which a test subject was placed in a completely dark labyrinth with no food or water, but was told that he could find food (cherries, strawberries, bananas, pretzels) in the four corners of the maze. While he sought out these food items, four lab assistants in photoluminescent cloaks -- nicknamed "ghosts" -- were released into the labyrinth with orders to chase the subject down, thereby triggering both panic and alarm in the subject. However, the "ghosts" were ordered to back off whenever the subject ate anything. The ultimate point of the test was to prove that by triggering a "panic/alarm combination," the researchers could cause the test subject to eat more pretzels, and therefore gain weight. The "PAC-Man" tests never proved anything, but later versions of the test performed with female test subjects yielded much more tangible results.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ben Stiller is Awful

Hey, all -

Now, I'm really looking forward to "Tropic Thunder," but this is the first Ben Stiller movie I've felt even the slightest desire to see in years. Most of the movies he does bore the hell out of me, or worse, make me incredibly uncomfortable -- I can't stand to see stupid people making stupid mistakes or telling stupid lies. "Mystery Men" and "Zoolander" are great, but the rest... (Shudder.) Anyway, here's my article on the worst Ben Stiller movies of his career:

Tropic Thunder: The First Good Ben Stiller Movie?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Zach's Writin' Roundup

Hey, all -

I haven't been posting any links to my writing since I started there in May, but I thought you all might be interested in my latest gallery, which is breakdown of all of the movies that The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor seems to rip off. Check it out here, then check out these other galleries:

The Dark Knight: Which Bad Guys Should Batman Fight Next, And Who Should Play Them?

Hancock: Greatest Movie Superhero Ever? We Compare Him to the Rest

Hellboy: Who's Your Daddy? The Most Likely Movie Mephistos

G.I. Joe: I Irresponsibly Pre-Judge the Movie Based on Photos of the Cast in Costume

The Love Guru: Ten Mike Myers Characters that Deserve Movies More

The Incredible Hulk: Edward Norton's Top-Secret Set Diary

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: What Really Went Down on Set

Lost: The Ten Best Castaway Backstories

It's a lot to take in, but pick, choose and enjoy!

Full Mental Jacket #2: Clown

I guess I'd always thought that professional clowns delusionally believed themselves to be entertainers of children, who always put a smile on their faces. If the cover (and back cover) of Emmett Kelly's autobiography is any indication, Mr. Kelly -- the godfather of circus clowns -- knew exactly what he was: an unholy monster. Clown: My Life in Tatters and Smiles shows Kelly in full-on sad hobo clown mode on the front cover, then again on the back, where he's terrifying the crap out of a small child. He even seems bored with the whole scenario, as if it's happened to him a thousand times before, and the screams of a boy are only the background noise to the career path he's chosen.

Now, I couldn't bring myself to read the autobiography of a frightener of children, but I imagine this book is required reading in clown college courses across America. But after looking at the back cover -- or, let's be honest, the front -- who in their right mind would choose to become a clown? Someone who hates children and wants to see them miserable? If so, I think that might explain the continuing existence of a clown industry, and it might be something that the police want to look into. That is, if they aren't profiling clowns for all serial killings and kidnappings already.