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Happy National Detonation Day!

5 Jul

By guest blogger, Colby Smith. 

Ah, the 4th of July. The day we Americans celebrate our independence and freedom by blowing stuff up.

Wait, what? Shouldn’t we celebrate with parades and performances honoring our country?

Well, maybe a little, but our favorite part is when we teach the 10-year-old how to detonate a mini-grenade or fire a cannon, or reenact the War of Independence by using small tanks and Roman candles. And who could forget the semi-legal mortars? These are very important to our country. 

All in all, we are proud to live in  a home where we are legally allowed to show off our military power for the neighbors, after dousing the flaming roof, of course. 

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Appalling Theme Park Ideas

12 Nov

Books that should NOT be turned into family fun parks.

Welcome to Where's Waldo World! Toddlers this way...

When I learned about the potential of a Hunger Games theme park (“Bring your whole family to a magical place where you can slaughter children for entertainment!”), my mind naturally jumped to other tasteless literary theme park adaptations the world should definitely avoid.

Heart of Darkness Jungle Trek: Survive tropical diseases, deadly animals, killer natives, and mad cohorts long enough to capture or kill a power-drunk megalomaniac before he dismembers your family and sells your bones as branded tchotchkes at the gift shop.

Fahrenheit 451 Farms: Enjoy some book-burning good times with literary bonfires, random deadly attacks by robot dogs, and speedy overdose resuscitation. You can’t leave the venue until you memorize a novel of your choosing.

Where’s Waldo World: Separated families must locate all their members from among thousands of similarly dressed strangers. (Note: This park is not unlike Disneyland.)

Holyland: A Bible Adventure: Survive a fiery furnace, sell your sibling to nomads, build a raft in the wave pool before the cataclysmic flood is released (every 30 minutes), and demonstrate your bravery and stone-slinging skills against a giant homicidal sociopath in heavy armor.

Arrow to the Sun Adventure Park: Learn about the rich culture of the ancient Pueblo Indians, get shot into the sky on the Arrow Ride, then battle lions, snakes, bees, and electrocution on an artificial sun.

Dune Safari: Go on an exciting spice hunt while under a heavy Harkonnen laser barrage, wear stillsuits during 120-degree desert jogs as you flee giant attacking Worms with razor-sharp teeth, and invite the entire family to try the “humanity test” with a genuine replica black box and gom jabbar.

Tom Clancy Land: Celebrate the magic of the Cold War and America’s military-industrial complex by experiencing a nuclear reactor accident during an undersea submarine battle, enduring the Ebola adventure, and taking a ride in the Rapid Decompression chamber. And don’t forget to suit up for a raid against paramilitary narcotics traffickers in a Colombian jungle!

And of course, there’s always Maze Runner World, but that practically goes without saying. What are some other truly awful ideas?

Back-to-School Special: Hobbies for Traitors

27 Aug

Five activities to do while awaiting trial.

Well, the news has been pretty depressing, hasn’t it? Every day we read stuff like:

Bored Transgender Teen Kills Bees, Ignites Wildfire Near Mosque

Blames Obama for addiction to meth, GTA V

But it’s not like a humor blog to shy away from the big issues. Instead, we’re going to deliver five mini-lists ripped from the headlines to celebrate back-to-school week. Today’s commentary is directed at helping future Bradley Mannings as they sit in prison debating their gender:

Nine Better Things to Do While Awaiting Trial on Treason

  1. Lobby foreign countries to break you out of jail and provide asylum. Sweeten the deal by offering a cut of the royalties from the inevitable made-for-TV movie.
  2. Hack into the prosecution’s database and replace any incriminating evidence with trivia about Barbra Streisand movies.
  3. Bulk up.
  4. Polish the brass bits of your uniform so you look snappy during the sentencing.
  5. Send fan mail and campaign donations to Julian Assange, care of the Ecuadorian embassy, London.
  6. Convince Red to get you a rock hammer, Bible, and Rita Hayworth poster.
  7. Translate the Harry Potter books into binary or Klingon.
  8. Make a pinhole camera and take selfies to post to your Facebook timeline.
  9. Apply for complimentary subscriptions to obscure magazines like Tool Photo, American Pet, and Famous, Unfortunately.

Lies, but Entertaining Lies

28 Jun

Twelve Hot Entertainment Rumors That You NEED to Read

Can it be true? Probably not.The Internet is at its most powerful when spreading wildly speculative and (often) preposterous stories (aka, “breaking news”). This traffic of tastylicious rumors—especially regarding pop entertainment—has created its own kind of cultural sideroom, where you can sit and wonder at the things somebody has said about media, its personalities, and the world at large.

So, under the guise of a social experiment, we’ve created some potent but ridiculous “media news” to see how far it can travel. We hope our “news” races across the planet, starting an unstoppable chain of spin-off “news” across the length and breadth of the Interwebs. So kick back and dig your teeth into some juicy nonsense, and don’t forget to spread the word.

Movies

  • Contrary to revisionist claims by director Francis Ford Coppola that Apocalypse Now was based on Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, it actually began as an adaptation of Dr. Seuss’s I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew.
  • Thanks to groundbreaking camera, costume, and lighting tricks, Humphrey Bogart’s song-and-dance scene in Casablanca was actually performed by Fred Astaire, with the vocals dubbed in later. 
  • To prevent unnecessary waste of animal products, Sylvester Stallone’s “egg scene” in Rocky actually employed stunt yolks for every take.
  • While filming the time-jump scenes in Back to the Future, Michael J. Fox claimed to have actually seen the future, and predicted not only the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s but also the future market for flux capacitor–themed t-shirts, cufflinks, and refrigerator magnets. This is why he is a rich man today.
  • During the time fracture event just noted, a part of Michael J. Fox’s soul was sliced off and became Jason Bateman, which explains their eerily similar appearance, film choices (Teen Wolf  1 and 2), and the fact that they have never been professionally successful at the same time.
  • And speaking of Back to the Future, have you ever consider the possibility that Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow was a characterization not of Keith Richards but of Christopher Lloyd’s own Reverend Jim Ignatowski from Taxi.

 

Music

  • After AC/DC’s founding members pass away, their label will release the rejected demo recordings from the band’s “Billy Joel period.”
  • The unreleased Beach Boys album Smile was actually an appalling tapestry of drug-induced sound effects, including high-frequency whines, coughing, and bicycle chain noises set to the the rhythmic beating of animal carcasses. Even categorizing it as “experimental” couldn’t make it marketable, so the label shelved it.
  • Rihanna and Adele and Beyoncé are actually three manifestations of the same personage. That’s why none of them has a last name.
  • Justin Bieber has consulted with a leading plastic surgeon about revolutionary new medical procedures that would make himself look more like Lady Gaga. Alas.
  • The Sugarhill Gang got the bass line for their hit “Rapper’s Delight” from Queen bassist Roger Deacon, who borrowed it from Vanilla Ice, who “adapted” it from Chic’s Nile Rodgers, who stole it from my uncle Phil, who grew up with Nile in a small ranch community south of Provo, Utah. Phil and Nile haven’t spoken since.
  • It’s not that Paul is dead; in fact, he never existed.

 Now it’s your turn to spread the word. Shout a metaphorical, “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!” from the rooftop that is Twitter/Facebook/Instagram. And feel free to propose your own juicy tidbit. Thanks in advance—Michael J. Fox already told us how well the experiment turns out.

Cinema, Simplified

14 Jun

Your guide to movie trailer styles

I love movie trailers because they are efficient. To fulfill their purpose of enticing film viewers, they must promote the best aspects of their source material. This is done by showcasing the highlights—the highest drama, the funniest jokes, the most compelling special effects, the best music—nothing is held back. Brace all these with a mere semblance of plot, and you’ve got the perfect mini-movie, just as entertaining in its brevity as a full-length film.

To promote your enjoyment of this media art form, Maximum Know-How here offers our list of the 12 types of movie trailers:

1. Stable Narrative—This is the standard format. The first half establishes the setting, premise, and characters. The second half is “the collection,” comprising plot points, dialog snippets, and memorable visuals.

Never seen this film, but sure want to. Great trailer.

2. Jagged Narrative—Adapts the Stable Narrative for action, suspense, and horror films by filling  the collection with moments of violence, danger, or swift movement, all cut quickly together. These moments can be taken completely out of context because we’re conveying the visual idiom of the genre, not the plot.

Both trailers for this film are excellent. We learn the players and the premise, and are ready to watch.

3. Give ‘Em What They Want—Used mainly for franchise sequels or adaptations of popular literary works. For the latter, the audience already knows the story and simply wants to see what you’ve done with/to it. For franchise trailers, communicating the plot is less important than letting viewers see familiar characters, themes, or inside jokes.
 
Lightsabers? Check. Laser blasters? Check. Space battles? Check. Weird aliens? Check. Let’s see it!

4. The Assault—A more intense variation of the Jagged Narrative, trailers in Assault mode pummel the viewer with noise and combat spread across the entire running time. The target audience for these films are more focused on eye-candy than plot or characterization, which means they work best for heavily violent action or horror. Pounding techno music increases the tension.

Just about any Jason Statham film should qualify here.

5. Cavalcade—Focused primarily on presenting a large, all-star cast. A great technique for ensemble comedies and war epics.

Look at all these famous people having fun! Don’t you want to see this?

6. Licensed to Sell—Like the movie they advertise, these make it clear that licensing—of music, cars, toys, whatever—is their sole purpose for existence.

In this sense, these trailers kind of serve as public service warnings.

7. Artsy Enigma—Less about plot than creating an emotional connection to the premise or characters, these can work really well. Divided into three subcategories: Esoteric (if you had already seen the movie, then the trailer would feel like a joyous reunion), Spare (franchise teasers), and Ostentatiously Vague (so full of itself that it doesn’t need general audiences to understand the plot).

Sorry, what’s going on?

8. The Giveaway—These are trailers that intentionally give away the entire plot of the film, whether because they think the film is so good that you’ll like it anyway or because the film is so bad they are pretending there’s even more intrigue in store.

Great film, but I was like, “That’s it? I already knew that would happen!”

9. Dramatic Ironicalness—Maybe you’re in on the joke but the actors aren’t, or perhaps the producers break the fourth wall just for the trailer. These attempts are either brilliant or stupid.

This trailer was far, far more entertaining as a unit than the movie was.

10. The Non-Trailer—Video entertainment that has little to nothing to do with the advertised film.

So funny. I watched this over and over again. Never bothered with the movie, though.

11. Deceiver—There’s a (small) difference between marketing and lying: the former portrays the best version of reality; the latter misleads you, knowing but not caring that you’ll be an unhappy customer. These trailers are bad marketing because they’re selling something to the wrong audience.

This movie apparently has stomach-churning violence and gore. Surprise!

12. Fail—Incoherent, boring, or reveals its movie as the piece of rubbish it is.

I haven’t seen this movie, so I’m totally jumping on the insult bandwagon.

20 Random Things to Have an Opinion About

12 Mar

20 questions, volume 1

Are you a conversational pushover? Do loud, obnoxious people give you grief about not being able to hold your own in a serious discussion? Are you looking for obscure issues to have concrete opinions about, so you can trick people into thinking you have intellectual depth?

Maximum Know-How is here for you, with this premier edition of 20 issues—some of them even currently relevant—that you can think about now so that you’re ready with a snappy observation should the topic ever arise in a social setting.

  1. Most dangerous: Iran or- North Korea?
  2. Least trustworthy: China –or- Russia?
  3. Lance Armstrong: Devious jerk –or- moral leper?
  4. Whose Line is back: Are you “ecstatic” –or- “euphoric”?
  5. Pepper Pots –or- Natasha Romanoff?
  6. Obamacare: President’s sincere attempt to improve our healthcare system –or- pushing wholesale socialism with his eyes wide shut?
  7. Bee Gees –or- Beach Boys?
  8. Rotten Tomatoes –or- IMDB?
  9. Loss of Olympic wrestling: IOC corruption –or- cultural shift?
  10. Doctor Whoor- Downton Abbey?
  11. Joe Flacco’s $120.6 million contract: Totally worth it –or- Totally ludicrous?
  12. Sequester: Typical political grandstanding –or- Brilliant, under-the-counter way for both sides to cut the budget drastically while getting to blame the other party?
  13. A-Rod’s fading career: End of an era –or- It’s about time?
  14. Adele’s “Skyfall” wins Oscar: Best Bond tune ever –or- Academy’s 50th b-day gift to the franchise?
  15. Arnold Schwarzenegger: Hang ‘em up –or- keep on shooting?
  16. Senator Rand Paul’s filibuster: A bold statement for civil rights –or- “I thought his name was Ron Paul”?
  17. Pixar: Death throes –or- just in a rut?
  18. More Bourne –or- more Mission: Impossible?
  19. New pope: Heavenly selection –or- political appointment?
  20. Daily Show’s Stewart going on hiatus: The man needs a vacation from fake news –or- What do you mean it’s not real?

What to Do When It’s Time to Die

8 Mar

Death touched my family this last week. This is the closest it’s come, but the relationship was distant enough that I feel melancholy, but not threatened. That said, I lay in bed this morning sifting through cultural memes about what mindset I should adopt when facing death. You know, those “live each day as if it’s your last” or “eat, drink, and be merry” or “last chance to save—sale ends tomorrow.”

So what would I do if this was my last day? I certainly wouldn’t be sitting here writing this. In fact, the computer wouldn’t even get turned on. Work, email, video games, Facebook, the endless halls of distraction afforded by the web—all seem trite and pointless when set against one’s mortality. International affairs, sports, local news, movie trailers—all my usual Internet haunts are now hollow and joyless. The only thing I’d consider is watching Whose Line clips on YouTube. Yeah, I might do that on my last day.

Meal-wise, I’d be eating out because a healthy diet won’t do me any good now, and who wants to die with dirty dishes in the sink? I’d hit a breakfast buffet, and get a teriyaki bowl for lunch. For dinner… I’ll decide that later.

Now, how to spend the day? Exercise—like jogging or the gym—is unappealing, but I would like a hike in the crisp sunshine. I wouldn’t go too far afield in case I expire on an obscure mountain trail and end up traumatizing some poor Boy Scouts on a day hike, or requiring the Forest Service to spend $450,000 (or whatever) to extract my remains by helicopter. I think the local nature park would suffice. Maybe take a drive out to the bird sanctuary south of town.

Interestingly, my lifelong media obsession has dried up. Movies and books would take up too much of my day, TV is inane (I’ve long known that), and music—what fits the mood? Dance music is about living, rock music is about anger and alienation, classical music takes too long, hymns are perfect for reflection and contentment. But I want to spend the day living, not reflecting. To my surprise, I chose Nanci Griffith’s cover album, Other Voices, Other Rooms, but I’d skip the really depressing tracks.

What I should do is spend my last day surrounded by family and friends. But it’s short notice to set up a big party, and telling them why they should come see me would poison any chance at a fun gathering. I thought about calling them up (totally out of the blue) to chat, but if I didn’t share my news, they’d feel guilty for having a meaningless conversation, or angry at me for keeping them in the dark. Instead, I think I should spend an hour or two writing thank-you notes by hand—“thank you for being part of my life” sorts of things.

Of course, there’s also the urge to devote myself to a day of reckless abandon, law-breaking, drug use, telling jerks what I really think of them, blurring my mind with booze. But I’ve always preferred clarity and peace, so why ruin it now?

In the end, I suppose I’d spend the day doing and saying nice things for others, whether I knew them or not. Picking up litter during my hike, opening the door for strangers at the restaurants, being patient with children and strangers, being sincere and open with family and friends. I assume God knows I’m coming, so I’d keep in touch with Him through the day in case there was any last-minute business He wanted me to take care of.

But of course, I don’t expect to die tomorrow. So I’ve finished my heart-healthy breakfast, worked on some B2B marketing brochures, and written a blog post. I think I’ll go for a walk this afternoon, though, before the kids get home from school.