/>

/>

/>

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Face Palm Moments in Journalism: Michael Moore FINALLY responds to proof that he owned Haliburton stock...by lying some more.

(photo @ nypost)


A few months ago, I wrote this article about Michael Moore and the ways that he lies, distorts the truth, and seems to have a difficult time practicing what he preaches.  In case any of you thought that this was some type of ultra conservative hit piece, you should know I actually agree with quite a few of Moore's viewpoints.  My issue with Moore is that people like him, Glenn Beck, and Sean Hannity are much more interested in generating anger/controversy (and subsequently, better ratings/movie revenues) than exposing or reporting on the truth.  These guys don't make money by presenting sound and rational arguments; they do it by getting their fanbases riled up and foaming out the mouth, truth be damned.

Now that we have that out of the way, one of my biggest "gotcha" facts about Michael Moore was that he had owned and profited off of Halliburton stock (along with many other major corporate stock shares) through his tax shelter, The Center for Alternative Media and Culture.  Moore claims that he started this "foundation" to help fund  "cultural performances."  The reason that I and many others refer to this organization as a "tax shelter" is because on its 2000 tax return, only $42,798 of the TAX EXEMPT organization's $628,837 in assets for that year were donated (listed only as 6 'FILM GRANTS' and 8 'OTHER CONTRIBUTIONS').  That's quite a large amount of tax exempt money, corporate bonds, and stocks sitting there and earning interest and dividends without being taxed.

If you go here and type in "Center for Alternative Media and Culture", you can find tax returns for other years and find a few more interesting things; like the fact that the small amount he donates each year often goes to organizations that promote films and books...two things that Michael Moore has dabbled in a little bit.

                                                                                accesshollywood
Along with mastering the ironic 
formal wear + baseball hat look when he hits the red carpet


But let's get down to what you really came here for:  Michael Moore FINALLY addressing the Halliburton tax claim head on.  Here is the clip from an interview he did with CSPAN on October 2, 2011. (In case CSPAN gets poopy and makes me take down the clip, here is the direct link that also includes a transcriptl).




Okay, let's start off with what Michael Moore actually told the truth about.  We've already covered that it was his "foundation" (whatever definition of that you believe) and not him that bought and sold the stock.

As far as his money manager being in jail, he's probably right about that one as well.  The firm that prepared his tax records was run by Kenneth Starr (no, not the one with an obsession with Bill Clinton's sex life), who was sentenced to a little over 7 years in jail for running a $29 million dollar ponzi scheme.

Fun fact:  When the FBI came to Kenneth Starr's apartment to make the arrest, they found him hiding in his coat closet.

                                                    amazon.com
R. Kelly approved of this 
defensive financial strategy


So here is where I have a problem with Moore's explanation:  First of all, he said that once he discovered that his money manager was investing in stocks, he "eventually" fired him.  What doesn't make sense is why he continued with the same money manager in 2001.  

To be fair, all he did was sell stock that year.  But when Moore got a new money manager (CRM Management) in 2002, though, he...oh, I'm sorry...his tax exempt "foundation" began to buy stocks again.  Unfortunately for his portfolio, Pharmacia Corp and Tenet Healthcare didn't do too well.

                                            wikipedia
 Sicko:  The secret financial revenge film

But let's be kind and continue to give Michael Moore the benefit of the doubt.  Let's say that even though he signed those tax returns for 3 years (he now has his wife, Kathleen do it), he just didn't notice the massive amount of stock transactions taking place.  

Just like Ron Paul shouldn't get a pass for claiming that he signed his name to things he didn't read, neither should Michael Moore.  But as anyone who has been the parent of an elementary school kid can tell you, sometimes good people really do accidentally sign things that they should have been paying more attention to.

But once again, if he fired his money manager for investing in stocks, why did he let the next one do it as well?

And here's the real kicker:  Up until the above interview, Michael Moore had flatly denied ever being part of any stock ownership.

-He denied it in 2005, calling people that believed the claim "crazy."
-He denied it to the liberal filmmakers of 'Manufacturing Dissent' in 2007, claiming that the same public records documents you can see in this article were "photoshopped."
-He denied it a third time in 2009 when asked the same questions by the Wall Street Journal.

It would have been much easier to believe in the possibility of Moore's innocence/ignorance if he had just said that his money manager went against his wishes in 2000 and 2001 (although there would still be the pesky issue of the second money manager doing the same thing).  This sudden ability to speak frankly about events that happened in 2000-2001 that he had never spoken of before is a bit odd.  Maybe it's because more and more people are realizing that the documents he once used to deride as being fake are now easily accessible public records.

Whatever the case, his usual tactic of taking the truth and twisting it like a pretzel isn't something I'm going to let him off the hook on this issue.  Your move, Mr. Moore...

                                                   evilmadscientist
...and no Michael, you don't get to eat the pretzel.
  


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lessons Learned the Hard Way: When your college professor inadvertently (and consistently) uses double entendres, try not to laugh

(photo @ pokato.net)


If you are ever in a college music studio for a particular instrument (like trombone), you will discover that each member of the group tends to fit a certain role that has been assigned to them:  The perfect one, the disrespectful one, the weird one, etc.

I was unfortunately saddled with the label of "the perverted/twisted one" through a serious of unfortunate and unfair instances that were (mostly) beyond my control.  My trombone professor is the person who began referring to me as the one with a "dirty mind", but it was actually (mostly) his fault.

My professor constantly and inadvertently used double entendres at some of the most awkward points of conversation imaginable.  I know that you are probably thinking that he did this on purpose, but none of us really thought that he did.  For starters, his actual attempts at humor were usually pretty terrible.  The funny things that he said on accident were always much funnier. When anyone (especially me) would laugh at his unfortunate and possibly Freudian slips, he rarely if ever saw the humor in it.

Through a series of 3 encounters like this that I was directly involved in, my professor developed the iron clad perception that I could turn any spoken phrase into some type of off color joke.



Strike 1


One of the good things about our professor was that he knew more about different techniques for the playing the trombone than any other person on the planet.  Unfortunately, this often manifested itself into various periods of intense and crushing focus on one way of doing things that may or may not have worked for everyone.

One of these methods required you to form your embouchure, move toward your mouthpiece, and firmly air attack the note as soon as it touched your lips.  The purpose was to make sure that you were setting up your embouchure and air for the right note before you tried to play it.  Our professor called these "Ho Attacks."

                                                            gtplanet
Just stay with me here...


While we were told not to do this in normal playing situations, we were required to do it as a technique exercise/warm up.  Having spent the majority of my middle and high school music education being told specifically NOT to air attack, I found this sudden reversal of articulation methods to be a bit of a challenge.  

"Nick, I know this is tough," my professor said.  "But if you want to be a better player, this is what you need to be doing.  You want to be a better player, right?"

"Yes," I answered (though I briefly considered saying 'no' just to throw him off).

"Good," he replied.  "You need to make this a daily part of your warm up routine.  It should be one of the first things you do when you begin playing and you need to do it for at least 5 minutes a day.  After that I think you will notice a huge difference."

"And if you are still having trouble with it," he continued, "then you just need to do more ho's."

                              sodahead

My brain had virtually no time to tell my mouth to shut itself before childish giggling spewed forth from my lips.  My professor looked at me, rolled eyes his, and then began his speech of shame.

"Really?  You think it's that funny?"  he asked with one eyebrow raised to his hairline.  "It's only funny because your mind made it that way."

He was clearly annoyed, but at least this time my professor admonished me with a smile.  The next incident would not find me to be as fortunate.



Strike 2

During one particularly grueling semester, our professor got on a huge kick about posture.  Now to be fair, much of his advice during this time was very appreciated and something that I still use today:  Having good posture for playing a wind instrument is not just about sitting up straight, but also about sitting in a way that releases pressure off of your lower back so that you can better support your air.  

My professor, however, never did anything halfway.  He decided to bring in a "posture specialist" from another school to work with us on different breathing and sitting techniques.  

                                              culturemap.com
We all figured it would just be a nun that would 
strike us with a ruler when we slouched.

Before having us meet as a group, our professor actually scheduled an individual posture appointment on a Saturday morning for himself.  On Monday morning, he came in and raved to us about all the work that she had done with him.

One of the methods that they focused on was breathing from the "bottom up."  People will often times take a big breath by loudly sucking in air while tightening their chest.  This tension actually decreases your air capacity and support.  What the posture specialist stressed was thinking of the air slowly filling up from your diaphragm to the top of your lungs.

She even said to think about breathing in "from your feet."  Our professor set the stage for his breathing "epiphany" by explaining that at his personal session with the specialist, he had just come in from jogging and was still wearing his running clothes

"It was amazing." he excitedly began.  "I've always been able to make my stomach expand when I breathe, but never like this.  And when she told me to breath in from my feet and up through my legs, I actually felt my shorts move.


                                                      amazinavenue


There was something about my professor being alone in his office with a female posture specialist and "feeling his shorts move" that made me absolutely lose it.  Unfortunately, he did not see the humor in the situation at all.  Unlike the last time, my professor sharply admonished me and suggested that I "grow up."



Strike 3

A member of our trombone studio had recently been arrested on drug related charges.  This was not the first time that illegal substances had gotten him into trouble, but it was the first time that he had been sent to jail for it.  When he came out, he asked our professor if he could come back to the trombone studio.

Despite the fact that he had repeatedly messed up his college career (and his life in general), he was still a very talented trombone player.  Our professor decided to give him another chance, but had some misgivings about doing so.  At the end of one of my lessons, he asked me if I thought he was doing the right thing.

"Well, I'm all for second chances," I began, "but this is chance number 127 for this guy.  I want him to do well and get his act together, too.  But I have to wonder if you would be giving him yet another opportunity if he wasn't as talented as he is."

"That's a good point," he replied.

"I also worry about enabling," I continued.  "There's a chance that he will look at this as an opportunity to get things right...or he might look at it as an affirmation that he can do whatever he wants and get away with it.  If this was one of the first times he had messed up, I'd be all about giving him another chance without any reservations.  Since this has happened so many times before with the same result, I'm not sure what to think."

"Well, that's where you're wrong," my professor sternly replied.  "Because this is the first time that he will be accountable to me.  And you better believe that I'm not going to let him get away with any of the crap that he's done in the past."

At this point, my professor had made a confidence inspiring statement that would have been a great way to end the conversation...but he had one last thing to say that to this day is the most awkward statement made to me by a teacher that I have ever heard:

"He thinks he's untouchable.  Well I'm gonna touch him like he's never been touched before."


                                                            hotstockmarket
I tried not to laugh...I really did.

As my vocal chords betrayed me and laughter burst forth from my lips, my professor shook his head and sighed "It's always something with you, isn't it Nick?"

As anyone can see, the three incidents that caused me to laugh like a rabid hyena at my professor were all understandable.  Unfortunately, he did not see it that way; he had decided that it was simply my corrupted and twisted mind (rather than his poor word choices) that brought unwanted attention and ridicule to some of the things that he said.

I learned an important lesson that day...

...well, actually, no I didn't.  With the exception of the "shorts moving" statement, I really can't see many people not laughing in any of those situations.  When it comes down to it, I'll carry the burden of misperception if it means that I get to keep my sense of humor.




Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Science of Being Hit in the Groin


The other day, a male friend and I were trying to explain to a female friend what happens to a guy when he is hit in the groin. Many women (including the one we were speaking with) don't understand it at all. They equate a strike below the belt to that of any sort of physical collision: An object (or horrible, awful boyfriend that you should get out of your life) hits your body, causing the nerve endings where you got hit say "Ouch! That hurt!" and that's the end of it.

If only it were that simple.

I personally believe that God has made it so that the accumulation of these unfortunate attacks or mishaps help to balance out the fact that we don't have to go through childbirth. There is a whole science to being hit in the nuts that makes it much more painful than it would first appear. For my example, I shall use one of the worst hits to that area that I have ever endured, courtesy of an ultimate frisbee "accident." 


My friend Mark can catch and throw a frisbee like he was born to do it. Unfortunately, this awesome talent that makes you popular on the college quad also make him an agent of blinding pain and anguish.

During one particularly grueling and testy ultimate frisbee game that we were both participating in, Mark made an incredible diving catch right in front of me. He rolled up off of the ground, threw the frisbee as hard as he could at a vertical launch, and 
hit me right in the junk.



                                                             wallpapersfolder.com




According to Mark's account, he was very frustrated with someone else on the field, thought I was him, and only meant to throw it at said person to hit them in general. He even claimed that his throw was not specifically targeted for their nuts. I would like to believe him, but the unborn children that I will never be able to have since that day whisper a different story in my ears as I cry myself to sleep at night. 


Now let's talk about what happened to me (and anyone else that receives a pulverizing shot to the groin) during those critical first 5 minutes.




The Physical Strike

For starters, yes, it is a physical strike to a part of your body, which due to nerve endings can and will hurt. But unlike other areas, the groin lacks much of the protection that the rest of your body does. Think about those slow motion camera shots of a football player being tackled or a boxer being punched in the face. Then take away the bones and large muscle mass or fat that covers most of your body. Now imagine that part of your body receiving a hit with the same type of force in slow motion.




                      kylepounds

Here's a picture of a garbage bag.
Your imagination can do the rest.



Optional/Inconsistent Side Effect: The Rage

At the time you are hit, you maybe have maybe 5-20 seconds where you are either in shock or in a blind rage at the person who did this to you. During these few seconds, you are able to move ahead fueled solely on adrenaline and anger.  I once saw a friend who after getting kicked in the nuts, chased his attacker for 3 blocks before finally falling to the ground. 

I, however, went down like a sack of bricks immediately during this particular incident. But I have had the "rage push" before. Afterwards is when the real agony begins.



The Stomach Ache

As you lay on the ground or keel over, you develop a very weird stomach ache. It's particularly odd because you know that no type of release from your large intestines will cure it. It almost feels like someone is spraying a type of stomach ache gas that is slowly making its way towards your lungs. The sensation tends intensify greatly at first and then just lingers.


This is caused by the fact that your testicles are connected to your abdominal region via nerves and blood vessels. The pain that you felt on initial impact travels up to that area (and later to your spine) via the spermatic plexus, which is the primary nerve in each of your testicles.



                                                     entertainmentwallpaper
...or just one of them.


The stomach ache kept me firmly on the ground, groaning in pain. Unfortunately, I was far from the end of my suffering.



Nausea

The next feeling that many groin hit victims experience is nausea. This is caused by one of two things: A rush of sympathetic nervous system discharge (which hinges greatly upon how susceptible you are to vomiting in general) and/or the severe and sudden contraction of stomach muscles associated with the physical strike.

My susceptibility to motion sickness is bad enough that the movie Cloverfield (which I absolutely love) causes me to get sick every time I watch it.  As you might imagine, this did not bode well for me while laying on the ground after getting hit in the nuts.



                          cinemaknifefight
"Can't blame me for puking this time, nancy boy!"


The False Bleeding Sensation

Next you might feel as though all the blood in that part of your body is rushing forward to get out. Often times, you will mistakenly believe that you are actually bleeding. You're (most likely) not, but you never get used to the fear. No matter how many times you get hit in the crotch, it always feels like some type of horrible permanent damage as been done.

Due to the fact that I cannot find anything online to support this false bleeding sensation to the testicular area (and that I was afraid to click on some of the search results), anyone that can confirm having also felt this would make me feel much better.



The Empathetic Pain

The next part is psychological. We have all watched TV shows, internet videos, or even real life situations where someone gets hit in the nuts and we proceeded to laugh. Suddenly, you feel awful about that. How could this agony and despair ever be used as a source of humor or ridicule? 


This type of empathy towards others in pain is not uncommon, but it can give the receiver of a recent hit to the nuts a crushing feeling of guilt and despair.



                                             thescreeningroom.ca
For a few hours, this will not seem funny to me at all




The Aftermath

Once you get up, you feel weak and timid. If it was a really solid and dead on hit, you'll still feel the pain long after you have come out of the initial shock and start trying to move around. The stomach ache is still there and you're having trouble walking without a limp. Your pride and your body have been hurt in the worst way possible. It sticks with you. Guys will talk about getting hit in the nuts "the other day" when referring to an incident years ago. It's that traumatic.

So there you go. I hope some of you have learned something new. To the women reading this, I still think that childbirth has got to be far more taxing. The thought of a person coming out of another person might have some sort of poetic/metaphoric beauty, but the science and actual physical process of it sounds horrifying.


But unless you're an NBA groupie or a Mormon, you're typically not going to have 20 incidents of childbirthing pain in your lifetime. Just please don't use this article as an inspiration to help balance the scales with men.



                                                              inquisitr.com
Unless it's Vanessa Bryant (right) kicking Kobe
for cheating on her so much.  He deserves it.



Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how much I suck more personally, I can also be found on Twitter.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Justified Sports Hatred: Craig James



Jesse Craig James (who wisely chose to go by his middle name) was a sportscaster for ESPN/ABC and a former star college and NFL running back.  He attended Southern Methodist University and was a part of the famed 'Pony Express' team in the early 80's that won 3 Southwest Conference championships (and arguably should have won a national title in 1982).  

Along with Eric Dickerson, James was one of the best running backs in college football.  In 1982, he was named the NFL rookie of the year and was an integral part of the New England Patriots '85-'86 Superbowl season. In 1989, James retired from being pretty good at football and became a professional broadcaster/complete tool.

Oh yeah, James is also a "sports writer" (quotation marks deserved), but we'll get to that in a minute. The following are just a few of the many reasons that Craig James is reviled by many college sports fans and his other fellow broadcasters.


James strikes out against my team; dirty secrets are revealed.

My first experience with James' unique brand of awful was in 2007 during an improbable run by the University of Kentucky...in football.   The Wildcats were 6-1, ranked #8 in the country, and had just defeated the #1 ranked LSU tigers in triple overtime. There was one lone voice of dissension, however, that REALLY did not agree with having the Wildcats ranked in the top 10. 

James (who is one of the voters for the AP Top 25) actually moved Kentucky down to 24, with the next lowest vote from anyone being 16.   As Kentucky fans are wont to do when they feel that their team has been wronged, myself and many others did some digging on Mr. James. As it turned out, there was some interesting information about the man to be found on the interwebs.

Craig James attended SMU in the midst of the school committing incredibly serious violations that ended with the Mustangs being the only college football program to ever receive the dreaded death penalty.  Despite proof that many players were being paid by the university, James denied any wrong doing. A quote from his book about his college playing days states:

"Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you I never received a nickel during my playing days. But I can say with certainty that no benefits were ever extended to me from anyone associated with the SMU administration."

I guess we should give him the benefit of the doubt (despite his tacet admission that he did take money from someone), but there's just one little problem with that:  

The booster that set up the slush fund that was used to pay players was named Sherwood Blount.  He established the fund in 1981, which means it was being used while James was helping to lead the Mustangs to an undefeated season. When James left SMU and went pro, guess who his agent was: Sherwood Blount.  

It's not that much of a stretch to assume that this probably means James was receiving money while at SMU, as well. Combine that with his carefully parsed statement about never receiving money "from the administration," and you have a real lying and cheating villain to focus your anger towards.



                                                    blog.chron.com
His attempts at looking 'down to earth' by
wearing a cowboy hat were enough on their own.


The righteous anger at James that I and my fellow Kentucky fans felt was short lived, however, when our team lost 4 out of their next 6 games, including an embarrassing home loss to Mississippi State.  

Despite the fact that the AP Top 25 is supposed to be a week to week snap shot of the best teams in the country, maybe James doesn't see it that way. Maybe he looked at it as an overall picture and a way to predict how things would be at the end of the season. If that was the case, than philosophical disagreements can arguably be trumped by the fact that James was right; we didn't belong in the top ten.

Little did I know that James' minor slight towards my school would be nothing compared to his inept broadcasting and personal vendettas that would end up making him once of the most hated broadcasters and sports personalities in the country.


Craig James helps gets a good coach fired

Texas Tech signed Craig James' son, Adam, at his father's behest/insistence.  Despite being physically gifted, Adam James showed a very poor work ethic and lack of respect for the coaching staff that neither head coach Mike Leach nor his position coaches could overcome. Things came to a head one day when Adam showed up for practice with a concussion. He slowly walked around the field in sunglasses and street clothes, which was against team rules (all players are to dress out at practice and participate as best they can if injured). When Leach asked why James was wearing sunglasses, the team trainer told him it was because James' eyes were sensitive to light.  

Leach then told the team's trainer to have James go inside somewhere out of the light, like the media room, where there was a stationary bike that he could ride. Leach and the trainer also specifically instructed Adam James not to go into the electric closet, which he later admitted that he knowingly did (under oath) and shot this video.  He also texted his dad about hiding in the storage closet because he thought it was "funny".

This led to Craig James getting very angry and going into full helicopter parent mode. After much "consideration and prayer" (which apparently didn't include asking God about facts), James went after Mike Leach's job, claiming that his son had been forced to practice with a concussion and locked inside of an electrical shed for 3 hours. He even  hired a PR firm to help in his crusade against Leach. Worst of all was that ESPN allowed James to use the network to falsely report about his allegations against Leach on air.


                                    barracudapost
Reports that James wore this hat while 
off the air could not be confirmed or denied.


Texas Tech fired Leach for "mistreatment of a player", despite evidence that the boosters just didn't want to pay him his upcoming/large salary bonus or extend his contract. The Red Raiders were 11-1 the year before and 9-4 the year that Leach was fired. He had the support of many former players, alumni, and the university. But in the end, James' whining (through an ESPN bullhorn) combined with some stingy boosters who were looking for a reason to fire the coach led to Leach's dismissal.


Once again, Craig James is a terrible AP voter

Being an SEC football fan, it absolutely killed me to watch Boise State defeat the University of Georgia by 2 touchdowns in what essentially was a home game for the Bulldogs. Still, I have to give Boise State credit for actually showing (again) that they are for real...

...which is much more than Craig James will ever do.  A few weeks ago, James had 10-1 Boise State (their only loss being by 1 point to TCU) ranked 24 in his Top 25 (there's just something about that number with him). His top 25 included having Georgia at #11 and multiple teams with easier schedules ahead of the Broncos.   

Other teams ahead of Boise State included 7-5 Missouri and 8-4 Notre Dame. Despite many claiming that James had a bias against against the school, the AP said that they have "no reason to step in."


                                                     theoppositeofawesome
...despite James stepping in this whenever he turns in his ballot.



For some reason, the rules do not apply to Craig James

James recently announced that he is leaving ESPN (FINALLY!) to run for the US Senate (oh no...). He is running as a conservative Republican. The GOP's strong belief in fiscal self reliance will certainly fall in line with his principles of kicking and screaming like suburban soccer parent when their spoiled brat kid doesn't get his way, but I digress...

Many of us saw James running for Senate coming from a mile away, which is interesting considering that ESPN has fairly strict rules about its on air personalities expressing their political beliefs. ESPN censured Paul Azinger for criticizing President Obama on twitter. Lou Holtz got in trouble for attacking Nancy Pelosi, though to be fair, he probably just thought she was a nurse trying to give him the wrong medication.


                                  irishcentral
Get that needle away from me, you harlot!


James, however, was able to attack President Obama and espouse his political opinions on his blog, Texans for a Better America, while still employed by ESPN.  Sportsgrid does a great job at showing how it was a clear violation of ESPN's media policies, but they also have the same question that myself and many others do: Why does James get away with it when others do not?


James is a horrible sportscaster

Watch this video of James losing it like a complete tool due to his own terrible joke.  I'll wait...



Okay, so maybe he fell victim to the sportscaster giggles like so many others do. Still, at least their chortling sounds somewhat manly and not like an ostrich in heat.  

Here's another clip where he tells you not to watch the network that he works for. You can almost hear the last piece of Rece Davis' soul fade away into dust from having to sit next to this idiot every Thursday Night.

Even other broadcasters are willing to openly state how much they despise this guy. My favorite quote comes from Andy Staples. When asked which college football announcer he finds the least appealing, he bluntly and directly answers:

"Craig James, because he adds very little to the broadcast, and ESPN has sacrificed much of its journalistic integrity to protect him in the wake of his campaign to get Mike Leach fired at Texas Tech. If ESPN replaced James with any random ex-jock, viewers wouldn't complain a bit. Yet for some reason the network has bent over backward to protect James. It makes no sense".

                                                                  mkryu
Artistic interpretation of Andy Staples' analysis


Keep in mind that this is the same guy that created his own school of broadcasting and named it after himself.

Before I began writing this entry, I had trouble deciding whether or not it should fall under the label of 'Face Palm Moments in Journalsim' or 'Justified Sports Hatred'. Once I got done doing the research, I realized that calling James a journalist would be like calling vegetarian bacon a type of food:  Sure it's technically correct, but it's also a horrible abomination.


                                                            deadspin.com
Craig James:  The vegetarian bacon of sports broadcasting.


Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter. 

To get updates on when new articles or podcasts are published (and occasional random musings) 'Like' the official RamblingBeachCat.com Facebook page. Every time someone does, another 5 prostitutes lives are spared.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Terrifying Moments in Children's Television: Captain Planet and the Planeteers

(photo @ wikipedia)


Captain Planet and the Planeteers was a cartoon that aired in the early 1990's.  It was conceived and produced by Ted Turner/TBS. The show was a bizarre attempt at combining environmental education with an action oriented super hero cartoon. Despite its terrible production values and animation, it developed a bit of a cult following that remains to this day. It also had one particularly disturbing episode that completely neglected to deal with any environmental issues, instead deciding to ramp up the creepiness.

Before we dig into the episode in question, you should know a little background on the show itself. Despite the show being called "Captain Planet," it actually revolved around 5 multicultural children called the Planeteers. Each one of these kids had a special ring (to go along with their insufferable personalities and ethnically stereotyped mannerisms) that gave them special powers that they derived from the earth itself.

                               giantbomb.com

Kwame (Earth)
The unofficial leader of the group, Kwame (who is from Africa) wields the power of "earth," which allowed him to created localized earthquakes. Thankfully, he never developed a god complex.

                                 quitcaken.com
                                                
Wheeler (Fire)  
Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, Wheeler is the group's occasional comic relief and also the one that tends to make poor/destructive decisions. Fitting the way that many foreigners think of Americans, he often acts on impulse and doesn't realize the damage that he does to others. Wheeler also has what basically amounts to a high powered flame thrower on his ring finger, so no one messes with him.

                                giantbomb.com

Linka (Wind)
Linka is from Russia, which at the time the show began airing was still the Soviet Union. Despite being blond and having a foreign accent, she is the brains of the group. No character ever made a pun about her wind powers "breaking," which really is a shame.

                                   linkrandom

Gi (Water)
Gi has the ability to control water, but not to create it (unless it is required by that episode's plot). Even though she is from Thailand, her accent most definitely isn't. Gi also gets incredibly emotional and upset when animals are harmed in any way. Unless the entire team is vegan (and there's no way that Wheeler doesn't eat Big Macs and steaks every day), this probably made meal time very awkward.

                                quitcaken.com

Ma-Ti (Heart)  
From the Amazon rain forests in Brazil, Ma-Ti was born with the same name as an alcoholic drink (though pronounced differently) and a terrible personality. His power is supposed to have something to do with love and compassion or some crap...really he's just completely useless.

                                                              wikipedia

Captain Planet  
Sporting a magnificent green mullet and Carolina blue skin, Captain Planet is summoned by the Planeteers combining their powers after they are tired of having their butts handed to them (or the show's writers need to wrap up the episode). His powers are a little hard to define (he basically can do whatever is needed to save the day), but he is consistently shown possessing superhuman strength and the ability to fly.

The episode that we are looking at today is the show's attempt at an anti drug message called 'Mind Pollution.' (See what they did there?) It begins in a very confusing  manner: A blond kid is running aimlessly through the streets of Washington D.C. while a sinister voice taunts him about how hard it is to be the new kid in town. Since this is probably how most new congressmen begin their first day after being elected, nothing seems too out of the ordinary...until the sinister voice is revealed to be a drug dealing rat named Verminous Skumm.

At least his customers know that he
will never put rat poison in the product.

Skumm is selling a drug that he calls 'Bliss.' After his hard sales pitch of "none of your problems will matter," the boy buys a pill while being encouraged by his anamorphic drug dealer to get "blissed out."

After taking the pill, the boy's eyes turn red and he begins to cackle hysterically. He then immediately decides to run out into traffic, where he is nearly hit by a car, falls to the ground, and hits his head against the curb. This causes the boy to laugh even harder. It also gives Venimous a chance to do the obligatory maniacal laugh and explain that his victim now feels no pain.

In the meantime, the Planeteers are shown doing basic maintenance on their flying machine under the direction of Linka. The group is taking a vacation to Washington D.C. so that she can visit her Uncle Dimitri, who works at the Soviet Embassy, and her cousin Boris. Linka hounds each member of the group about double checking their work and making sure that everything is done properly. When Wheeler attempts to make light of her perfectionism, Linka uses her stern Russian accent to sharply rebuke him and question his lazy American work ethic.

 "Frickin' commies..."

After blatantly violating Washington D.C.'s no fly rule and landing right next to the Washington Monument without causing an international incident, Linka departs from the group to see her uncle. When she walks inside, we discover that her cousin Boris was the boy from the drug deal/traffic incident that we saw earlier.  

After coming downstairs to greet Linka, Boris does what many people feel like doing when family comes to visit: He runs back up to his room, locks the door, and takes drugs. This causes him to come back downstairs dressed like an extra from a Molly Ringwald movie and act like a complete tool.


"What's happening hot stuff..."

At this point, Boris' father finally notices his son has a gigantic cut on his head, which Boris of course claims that he "doesn't remember" how it got there. Instead of taking care of his son himself, however, he asks Linka to treat the wound. Boris accidentally knocks the rubbing alcohol from her hand, which lands directly on the stove. This causes the entire kitchen to go up in flames in a matter of seconds.

As Dimitri goes to get the fire extinguisher, Boris asks Linka what they should do. Her actual response is:

"Use baking soda...and...WIND!!!"

Seriously, that's how it went down. Take a look:




Linka and Boris then decide to completely abandon Dimitri and his newly damaged home to ride their bikes together. While they are doing this, Boris inquires about his cousin's powers. She explains that they come from a special ring she wears that is connected to the earth. Since this answer made her sound like a drug addict as well, Boris takes this opportunity to offer her a gigantic bag of "bliss" pills in exchange for a chance to use her ring.

Linka chastises Boris for using drugs and attempts to take the pills away from him. In the ensuing struggle, the bag is ripped and all of the pills fall down a conveniently placed storm drain. Boris yells at Linka for losing his stash, calls her a "stupid cow", and once again darts into oncoming traffic.

Later, Boris goes to meet with Venimous Skumm again only to find out that he doesn't have enough money to buy even one pill. He instead offers to steal Linka's ring and bring to him.  But when Venimous hears that a kid possessing a ring with elemental powers is in town, he quickly deduces that it is one of the Planeteers.  Skumm makes Boris promise to bring him not only the ring, but Linka herself.

"And don't let me ever hear about 
you wearing sunglasses indoors again!"

Linka rushes back to her uncle's house to find that he has left due to "trouble at the embassy." The trouble turns out to be mobs of people that are high on bliss and committing acts of violence and vandalism all over the capital. But just as Linka begins to freak out over the possibility that her cousin may be a part of it, Boris shows up behind her.

He lies and says that he is no longer taking bliss, when in reality he has bought her a burrito and put a bliss pill inside of it. Linka takes the food, completely unaware of the future ramifications.


...or the hilarious irony of being 
unknowingly drugged by a burrito.


Elsewhere, the Planateers receive an "Eco Alert" in the Washington D.C. area. Apparently, the city is going crazy due to people's minds being polluted by the drug, bliss. (See what they did there?). The team flies over to Washington, where they are set upon by a mob of strung out addicts under the command of Venimous Skumm.

Wheeler attempts to stop them with fire, but the mob simply marches through it, unaware of pain and only wanting to bend to the will of their drug dealer.

Bliss apparently shares some of
the same attributes as PCP and diplomatic immunity.

The Planeteers break from the normal order of last minute solutions and attempt to summon Captain Planet. The plan does not work, however, due to the fact that Linka is now also a bliss addict and under the control of Venimous Skumm.  

The Planateers are somehow able to recapture Linka (though she is still completely incapacitated) and flee with her into the Capitol building. While inside, Ma-Ti uses his power (SERIOUSLY, HE ACTUALLY USES IT) to discover that all authority figures and security personnel have fled Washington like a bunch of pansies, leaving only roaming bands of drug addicts and the Planeteers.  

At that moment, a large mob (which has now strangely begun to look like zombies) begins to surround the capital building like it was the mall from Dawn of the Dead.


"Stop filibustering...and give us braaaains...."

About here is where things really begin to get weird. It starts with Wheeler exclaiming:  

"If you were a zombie, where would you be...the Vice President's Office!"

At the time this episode aired, Dan Quayle was the sitting V.P. He may not have been able to spell very well, but that hardly made him a "zombie."   

While Wheeler is making his veiled political attack, Linka attempts to let the zombies into the building. As Wheeler tries to stop her, she tempts him with bliss. As vaguely patriotic music plays in the background, Wheeler throws the drugs on the ground and demands that she snap out of it. While all this is happening, Boris hurls himself through the window, severely cutting his arms and causing his blood to spill all over the floor.

I know this sounds a bit too insane to all be happening at once, so here is the clip:




The group takes the injured Boris and runs from the rampaging mob of drug addicts/zombies that have now breached the interior. For some reason, they decide that the safest course of action is to head to the top of the building and stand on a narrow ledge. As they are doing this, the zombies break through the observation windows and begin attacking them. Ma-Ti almost falls to his death, but unfortunately, he is saved.

While the Planeteers fight for their lives, Venimous Skumm flies up on his helicopter to where they are and throws a full bottle of bliss pills towards the group. This is when things get pretty dark:


Yep, just like the Bravestarr episode we looked at a few months ago, a kid totally O.D.'s and dies. But this time, you get to see it happen and hear his final, raspy breath.

As you probably can tell from the end of the clip, zombies don't really care about giving people time to grieve. Despite Linka's drugged out state and severe depression over losing her cousin, Wheeler yells at her until she is able to once again use her earth ring to help them summon Captain Planet.

Somehow, the Planeteers are able to shout a hearty "GO PLANET!" (their deus ex machina catchphrase) while standing over the body of their dead friend.


The 'Cartoon Network' logo has
never looked more inappropriate.
                                                       
Captain Planet proceeds to beat the crap out of Skumm, Linka greives for her lost family member, and no one asks where our leaders or military were during a national crisis in our nation's capital. The episode wraps up with the expected anti-drug PSA, followed by the terribly awesome Captain Planet theme song.

Once again, I have to commend this cartoon (as terrible as the series was as a whole was) for having the guts to show a kid actually die due to a drug overdose. If you watched this episode when you were young, there were a couple of important lessons to be learned.

1.)  Taking illegal/harmful drugs is something that can hurt everyone, even your own family members.
2.)  If you still decide to take illegal drugs and buy them from a giant rat wearing a trench coat, you probably deserve to die.

THE POWER IS YOURS!

                                                                     elephantjournal


Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter.

To get updates on when new articles or podcasts are published (and occasional random musings) 'Like' the official RamblingBeachCat.com Facebook page. Every time someone does, Captain Planet decides not to turn another human into a tree.