Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Best Christmas Songs (With No Longwinded Explanations This Time) Song Three:

It's a Minibest!

I found this song in a circuitous way: I posted "All The Little Things" as Song Two Of this year's Best Christmas Songs roundup, and then wanted to download that song, and I found it on Voicedude's site (Voicedude being who made the mashup.)

That led me to the Christmas compilation of mashups, where I found a pretty good song called "Pumping Up Christmas." That song, in turn, featured a snippet of today's song, "Merry Christmas, Everyone," by Shakin Stevens:

And so last night, I got to listen to Merry Christmas Everyone while playing with Mr F and Mr Bunches.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Update To The Next Best Song By Alli Millstein: "Mend My Heart."

It's a MiniBest!

When I posted The Next Best Song By Alli Millstein two weeks ago, I hadn't heard back from Alli yet about the song. It turns out that Alli does things besides sit around and wait to get email from bloggers. Who knew?

But she has gotten back to me, now, and has this explanation for the song Mend My Heart:

I asked Alli:

1. Is it based on a real-life experience? Yours or someone else's?

Alli responded: It is based on a real life experience. Basically what I explain in the song, is what happened. I had a relationship with someone, but it didn't work like I hoped it would. As they say, time heals all wounds, and I ended up finding another individual who could put things in perspective. I know people say not to end a relationship then start a new one right away, but I think that sometimes having a "rebound" can help an individual move on.

2. Did you always have that same metronomic/back-and-forth melody in the background?

Alli: I came up with the lyrics to that song, and the melody at basically the same time. I sort of came up with that guitar riff after seeing Juno (figures), and then came up with a corresponding melody and lyrical line. I was listening to tons of Kimya Dawson at the time, and I think it shows.

3. The imagery of the lovers falling into the ocean in a dream: Did you come up with that on your own, or was that from another source (i.e., a book, or movie or something?)

Alli: The imagery of the lovers falling into the ocean came from me. I was on a bus ride with the person I was seeing at the time, and I fell asleep and was dreaming about the bus falling into the sea. When I woke up he said I had been gripping his hand tightly as I slept. During that time, it was a very beautiful part of our relationship, and those lyrics just sort of found their way into my head.

Here's the song, again, for you:

Like the album? Know someone who would like it as a gift? Buy it here!

"Spaceman From Pluto?" Ridiculous: Everyone knows Spacemen Are From Neptune.

I like reading up on all kinds of arts -- not just the movies and TV shows that get covered heavily in magazines and the 'net, but also on paintings, museums, plays, music, and more. And I like especially an offbeat or unusual article about something; whether the subject or the way it's written is a little un-ordinary, that kind of thing appeals to me more than just another movie review.

That's why I like to browse the Arts and Entertainment section at A1 Articles.

A1 Articles is a service that lets you write and add your own articles to their directory, and also to use their articles and repost them -- or get professionally written copy for your site. Those are all great things, but I enjoy most just getting the rundown on everything from Austin's music scene (where I find out about bands before they hit the national scene) to quirky articles like the one I read today about what movies COULD have been called (like calling "Pretty Woman" "3000" instead, or calling "Back To The Future" by the name "Spaceman From Pluto."

The articles cover every topic I can think of, and that's saying a lot, because Arts & Entertainment is pretty broad and I can think of a lot of stuff. Check it out yourself and see what you think -- I'm betting you'll agree with me.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Best Absolutely True (Well, Almost) Celebrity Stories That Should Be Christmas Movies

It's a SemiDaily List!

An annual tradition of mine is to complain about the pathetic state of Christmas movies and Christmas specials. Considering that Christmas, as an enterprise, does so much so well, it's amazing how little time, effort, thought, or creativity goes into Christmas movies and TV shows, all of which seem to fall into a couple of simple categories that just keep re-telling the same old tired Christmas stories and themes.

There are movies in the "A Christmas Carol" theme, in which either someone retells the story A Christmas Carol, either directly or by "re-interpreting" it into a Miley Cyrus vehicle in which Miley is visited by the Jonas Brothers playing the Ghosts of Pop Stars Past, Present, and Future. I'm not sure why this story has survived for so long or become such a staple of modern Christmases, especially considering that the story itself has little to do with Christmas: While it's set on Christmas Eve, the story itself has very, very little to do with anything Christmas-y. It could have taken place on any day. Sure, Scrooge denies Bob Cratchit an extra lump of coal for heat and makes him come in to work the next day -- but Scrooge no doubt would have done that every day. And Scrooge-past sees himself abandoned at a boarding school, even at Christmas; but he would have been abandoned at school on every day, too. Scrooge then sees the present, where the Cratchits are very happy even though Scrooge is mean, and sees the future, when the Cratchits are sad because Tiny Tim isn't there on Christmas-- but they would be saddened by that little empty stool every day, not just on Christmas.

In any event, A Christmas Carol has survived for 166 years now, and will probably survive another 166 years, so that we'll eventually be treated to A Christmas Carol 2175: Cyborg Miley Cyrus & The Actual Ghosts Of The Jonas Brothers.

While that's the most popular tired Christmas theme, it's not the only one that's used today. The other very prevalent Christmas movie/special theme is the Family Sucks Except Really They Don't, movies which show us how it's possible to love our families if only we visit them at Christmas. This year's entry in that category is Robert De Niro's Everything's Fine or Everybody's Fine or something like that, with Robert De Niro finding out that his whole family hates him and lies to him... except on Christmas.

(I'm just guessing at the plot, based on watching 1/3 of the movie trailer, the most I could stand before I got bored, and a little saddened by the state of Christmas movies.)

Other movies like this include one of my favorites, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and last year's Four Christmases.

Then the other overused category is the "The True Meaning Of Christmas" movie or special, a theme that actually runs contrary to a foundation of Modern Christmas by claiming that Christmas isn't about stuff, when we all know it is.

Let me explain that: There are two pillars on which Modern Christmas is built. The first is A Christmas Carol, which created the "Victorian Christmas" that people associate with Christmas in modern societies in the 21st-Century; people somehow manage to combine into one coherent whole their images of carolers and frosted old-fashioned windows, and the fact that they bought their kids "Zhu Zhu Robotic Hamsters," never noting the cognitive dissonance there.

The second pillar of Modern Christmas is the poem that Clement Moore stole and claimed as his own, the poem everyone calls 'Twas The Night Before Christmas, but which was actually called A Visit From St. Nicholas. In that poem, the speaker regales us with tales of Christmas, and those tales of Christmas are about all the stuff that the people are dreaming of having, and all the stuff that St. Nicholas is bringing them. It's one of the most materialistic poems ever written, as anyone who reads it knows: while the actual author (not Moore, probably) spends a little time detailing the quiet, peaceful scene, he dwells a lot more on the commercial, give-me-stuffery of Christmas:

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

The kids are dreaming of candy and treats -- not of Christmas peace and love and joy. But it gets worse:

With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too.

Note what's listed first: "...and St. Nicholas too." Oh, yeah -- the religious figure is also present.

About that religious figure: 1/3 of his description is the stuff he's bringing:

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back.

I could go on, but you get the point: that poem, the other pillar of Modern Christmas, sets up a purely commercial Christmas: It's a merry Christmas because a saint brought material things to them.

That, though, has been somehow entirely twisted around to the Modern Christmas theme of "The True Meaning Of Christmas," which is always set up as "It's not the stuff we get but the emotions we feel." And so Charlie Brown learns the true meaning of Christmas after buying a terrible tree (only to have the terrible tree become a great tree using the commercial stuff) and The Grinch learns the true meaning of Christmas after taking all the stuff away (but then gives the stuff back, anyway.)

Those examples show that we're really only paying lip service to all this True Meaning Of Christmas idea anyway - -because in the end, after we learn our lesson, we get stuff anyway. Even the Cratchits got the biggest, fattest Christmas goose available, and they didn't need to learn a lesson to get some booty.

I'm tired of those old tropes at Christmas, as you might have guessed, but I don't just sit around and complain about things; no, I take positive steps to remedy the situation, pointing out what Christmas movies are truly worth your while, and coming up with better Christmas movies that should be made, which I'm going to do again this year, with a twist. I'm not only going to give you ideas for better Christmas movies so that maybe next year we could have some good ones to watch while eating fruitcake and drinking egg nog, but I'm also going to add in a "True Life Stories" twist by making each of my movies, this year, based on Actual Celebrity Lives that are Absolutely True, Almost, which is how I came up with the title for this list:
The Best Absolutely True (Well, Almost) Celebrity Stories That Should Be Christmas Movies

These are all absolutely true stories about celebrities... almost, as the Magic of Christmas lets me tweak their stories just a little bit to take the true story, make it a little better, and then make an all-new point about Christmas!

Let's begin!

The Quarterback From Santa Claus:

The True Story: Real-life celebrity Jay Cutler is a pro football quarterback born in Santa Claus, Indiana. Growing up, Jay always dreamed of the day he'd play football in the NFL, leading his team to victory. But it's been a rough couple of years for The Quarterback From Santa Claus, as his disappointing career gets him traded from Denver to the Chicago Bears. Jay arrives in Chicago full of hope, but by December, the Bears' season is almost over, the coach is on the verge of firing, and things are looking grim for our hero...

The Twist of Christmas Magic: Just before Christmas, Bears' coach Lovie Smith is fired by the team, which announces it's moving in a different direction. Lovie is jobless... just before Christmas eve!. When he hears this, Jay realizes that this is his true Christmas destiny: Saving Lovie's job and Lovie's family's Christmas. Jay goes to the practice facility to try to convince the team to rehire Lovie, but the place is locked up for the night. Thinking quickly, Jay organizes a pickup game of football, to be played on Christmas Eve, featuring NFL stars from all over the country. As the stars fly in, they realize they've got no field to play on -- until Jay suggests playing right on Chicago's Magnificent Mile at the height of last minute shopping. As word of the game spreads, the media arrives to cover the events unfolding on the brilliantly decorated shopping district, and shoppers pause in their errands to watch when Jay takes the field with an all-star NFL lineup. Just as he does, Lovie walks out of the store where he's been despondently window shopping. Jay turns to him and says, "Hey, Lovie -- you can coach this team!" Lovie guides Jay and the team through a thrilling montage of football action, at the end of which offers to coach other teams pour in through the media-- and Jay's love of football is revitalized for next year!

The Timeless Christmas Message This Movie Emphasizes: On Christmas, anything can happen if we just believe!

The Updated Christmas Message For Our Modern Society: The 24 hour news cycle and barrage of new media makes it possible to game the system to promote any cause if you come up with the right hook -- and Christmas is always the right hook!

I'll Be Gone For Christmas

The True Story: Real-life celebrity Randy Quaid goes on the run after absconding on a $10,000 hotel bill. As that story unfolds, Randy and his wife face mounting trouble from other government officials who claim that the Quaids stole government papers, falsely accused officials of being corrupt; meanwhile, other actors and show-biz types say Randy is missing rehearsals unexpectedly and that the actor and his wife have been acting in a threatening manner towards business acquaintances...

The Twist Of Christmas Magic: ... but Randy and Evi soldier on, facing more and more attacks, until, on Christmas Eve they are arrested and seen being taken into jail in Los Angeles while reporters and paparazzi crowd around them, taunting them. Randy finally stops and addresses the crowd, claiming that he finally is authorized to reveal the truth: He is Santa Claus, and has been undercover for some time now trying to decide if it's worth it to continue his practice of bringing presents to good kids and excluding the naughty kids; in this materialistic world, Randy asks, does anyone even care any more if you're naughty or nice? The hotel bill was a misunderstanding on his part, and the attacks from government officials are part of a campaign to discredit him because those people are on the Naughty list. The world laughs, of course, and Randy is put in jail, where he decides to stay to teach everyone a lesson. But watching the small TV on the jailer's desk, he sees a story about some underprivileged kids who won't have anything under their trees that year. Randy/Santa realizes that even if most of the world no longer believes in or cares about him, there are still people who depend on him, and so just before midnight he summons the reindeer, walks out of the jailhouse, and begins delivering presents all over again. The paparazzi are there, and cover the story with a newfound respect for Quaid and Santa.

The Timeless Christmas Message this movie emphasizes: It doesn't matter if you believe in Christmas, because Christmas believes in you!

The Updated Christmas Message For Our Modern Society: It doesn't matter how crazy, dangerous or illegal your activities are: You're always just around the corner from respectability and a book deal.

You Say It's Your Birthday

The True Life Story: Real-life celeb Jesus is born in humble circumstances in Bethlehem; his surroundings don't give a real indication of his status as the Son of God and Savior of the World, but a few people recognize the importance of the day and celebrate it with visits and gifts, which get built up and expanded upon over the centuries, until eventually what began as a small ceremony becomes a months-long celebration of lights, parades, television specials, gift-giving, drunken parties, and garish sweaters, with scarcely a mention of the man whose birth is being celebrated.

The Twist of Christmas Magic:... watching all of this from Heaven, Jesus becomes not irate, or jealous, or upset, but overwhelmed by the commercial aspects of Christmas. He ventures down to the "real world" to do some Christmas shopping, picking up Snuggies for the Angels ("They look just like the robes they wear... but warmer!" he tells the clerk) and trying fruitcake for the first time, goes ice skating at Rockefeller Plaza, and otherwise partaking of the worldly pleasures -- all the while attracting more and more attention as people realize that this really is Jesus. As he attracts more and more attention and goes more and more commercial, people become upset that even Jesus has gone commercial, and start turning away from Christmas --- and religion-- themselves. Jesus decides that he doesn't need everyone in the world at all, that he just needs himself and his stuff, and falls asleep in Christmas Eve looking at his own expensive, dramatically decorated Christmas tree... then wakes up to find Santa sitting across from him and looking at him. The tree is surrounded by tons and tons of presents. Jesus begins opening them while Santa watches, and the gifts pile up.

But suddenly, Jesus looks around and realizes it's all useless: He's got Guitar Hero, but nobody to play it against! He's got a bunch of the latest CDs, but nobody to play them for. He's even got a new laptop and digital camera... but no friends on Facebook!

"I can't enjoy all this stuff alone! What am I supposed to do, Santa?" he says, and Santa smiles and says:

"Well, Jesus, I haven't unloaded all your presents yet..." and opening his bag, we see the entire world gathered together, smiling up from Earth. "Happy Birthday, Jesus!" Jesus realizes that he needs people as well as stuff, and, having learned a lesson, we fade out with Jesus challenging John the Baptist to a rousing game of Guitar Hero -- and they're playing The Beatles' "Birthday!"

The Timeless Christmas Message this movie emphasizes: Christmas is a time to say I love you, and mean it.

The Updated Christmas Message For Our Modern Society: Your stuff is only good if you can show it off to other people.

Outsmarting The Boy is one of my hobbies.

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Yamaha. All opinions are 100% mine.

Every year, The Boy thinks that he knows exactly what he's getting for Christmas. That's usually because every year The Boy knows exactly what he's getting for Christmas, which happens as a result of The Boy asking for very few items, and Sweetie being unable to keep a secret for even a few microseconds.

This year, The Boy THINKS he's getting a few small things -- some movies on DVD and games and a couple of shirts -- and is feeling smug because he's got the idea that he's figured us out.

But I've got a surprise in store for him: The Yamaha PDX-60.

No, that's not a new 'droid in the latest Star Wars cartoon; it's the best way to play movies on iPods and get high-quality sound from anywhere in the room.

The Yamaha PDX-60 Speaker Dock uses the "yAired" (tm) wireless technology to give no-delay high quality, deep bass sound from any iPod (or iPhone) located anywhere in the room. It's a speaker system like no other, making it feel like you're there, live, in concert with Pink Floyd or Nine Inch Nails or whoever it is The Boy is listening to these days.

The Boy uses his iPod incessantly: he buys digital movies and watches them on it, and he's got it loaded up with all the music I can't stand but which he loves -- like the aformentioned Pink Floyd, which I USED TO like before he played it nonstop. But that means that he'll get a kick out of the PDX-60, because he can enjoy sound quality that blows away the tinny computer speakers we have, or his headphones; it even comes with a remote, so he can skip through or replay songs and parts of movies without getting up and going to the iPod itself.

As for me, I get TWO thrills out of it: I get to surprise The Boy, who only THINKS he knows what he's getting, and also, I get to have him go back to listening to his music in his room rather than on my computer.

SocialSpark Disclosure Badge

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Best Christmas Songs (With No Longwinded Explanations This Time) Song Two:

It's A MiniBest!

It's Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m. and I'm in my office, trying to keep my spirits up despite it being cold and wet and Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m. and my being in my office instead of at home reading the Sports section.

I was keeping my spirits up by listening to a Trans Siberian Orchestra station on Pandora, and the song Remember came on. I thought: "I should put that on The Best of Everything as today's Christmas song." So I searched Youtube to find a video for it, but then I found this:

"It's The Little Things," the first-ever-that-I-knew-of Christmas Mash-up Song, combining "Remember" with "All The Small Things" by Blink-182. Like putting pineapple on a hamburger, it's better than it has any right to be:

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Best Christmas Songs (With No Longwinded Explanations This Time): Song One

It's a MiniBest! (Click here for more of those!)

In the past, I've written on numerous occasions about what makes a good, or great, or BEST Christmas song. (Here, and here, too, and here, here, here, here, and also here.)

Those posts were marked by two things: 1. Great Christmas music, and 2. Too much writing.

So this year, to keep the tradition going but save my typing fingers, you're getting The Best Christmas Songs (With No Longwinded Explanations This Time.)

I promise.

Here's Number one: The Best Christmas Song That Makes Me Like Eddie Money All Over Again:

It's no I Love A Rainy Night, but it's good:

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Best Way To Eventually Run A Marathon And/Or Have Your Pants Fit The Way You Want Them To (Easy Good Things: Fitness)

What's this all about? Click here!

Tip: Start Small, Finish Big.

I know whereof I speak when I talk about getting in shape. Despite my present, somewhat blobular appearance, I am a pretty healthy guy. My current physique owes a lot to (a) being 40 and (b) having spent a lot of time with my Babies! the last few years and even (c) advances in candy bar technology.

But things were not always so: Once upon a time, I was a workout guru. I lost 100 pounds in six months when I was 25 -- going from 272 to 172 (and eventually down to 162), and while it wasn't, over time, easy -- because running isn't-- the program was easy to start and easy to move up.

I was always a heavy guy, and as time went on, I got heavier. And heavier. And heavier. One day, something clicked in me. It might have been that I could no longer buy my pants off the rack at a regular store. It might have been that girls kept saying I was "just a friend." It might have been that I wheezed when vacuuming.

Whatever it was, I woke up one day and decided to get into shape, and I began, that day. I started running, right that day.

That's like a bonus Easy Good Thing, right there -- before I get to the actual Easy Good Thing, that's a bonus one: Begin now! Don't wait until New Year's Day, or your birthday, or next Friday, to start or quit something. Today is as good as any other day and if you're serious, you'll start right now.

Right. Now!

Like I did, when I began to get in shape. That very day, I went running. At 272 pounds (and a smoker) I didn't run very far, but that wasn't the point: I ran.

I made it all of 1/4 mile that day -- 3 laps around the track, at the time. But, undaunted, I kept with it. The first day, I ran 1/4 mile and then walked for the rest of the alloted workout time of 30 minutes.

The next day, I tried to run just a little further. I went about 3 and 1/2 laps, and walked the rest. Then the next day, I made it to five laps.

I kept it up, increasing my running time a little each day and then a little more each day, until eventually I was running a whole mile. Then 1 1/2 miles (the first time I'd done that since 5th grade!), then more. And more and more.

Eventually, I was able to run for hours on end -- the farthest I ever did in one continuous run was 17 1/2 miles, a run I did with no real training to lead up to it. I just set out running one day, carrying my Walkman and 35 cents to call my brother from a payphone when I got too tired to go on, and have him come pick me up.

In the course of doing that, I dropped weight, and did it rapidly -- so rapidly that my extended family didn't recognize me at Christmas when I came into my uncle's house. I went from a 44-inch waist to a 34 inch waist, in six months. (I did that in conjunction with a strict diet, but that's for another day.)

I kept that weight off a long time, too -- I've never put it all back on, even after I slowed down and even after back surgery and twin boys and a sedentary job, and I still put that thinking into practice. When I decided to get back into shape again this year, I started running 20 minutes on a treadmill. Then, each month, I upped that five minutes, so now I'm at 35 minutes.

Each day, too, I do situps or light weight lifting. I started doing situps by doing 10, many months ago. Each month I increase it by one; this month, it's 26.

And my pants are fitting better again than they have, I have t-shirts that I haven't worn in two years that I can wear now, and I even think I'm looking less blobular.

That's your tip: If you want to get in shape, start now and start small. Wherever you are, fitness-wise, start there and push it further and further, a little at a time. It'll work, and it'll work because in getting in shape, and in everything, it doesn't matter how far you go at first -- it matters how far you go at last.

Still 3 days left in the contest: Comment on this post! You could win a book or magazine subscription (details here) and you'll be making me happy (details on that here.)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Next Best Song By Alli Millstein: "Mend My Heart."

Update: Read what Alli has to say about this song here.

You didn't think that I forgot that November was Alli Millstein Month for Minibests, did you? I didn't, of course -- but I also didn't get around to posting all of the songs off of her phenomenal album Human Nature (buy it here!) in part because I was waiting to hear back on my latest set of questions for Alli, who's been busy.

But, because her album is great and because I didn't finish up in November, I'm declaring that December is ALSO ALLI MILLSTEIN MONTH, and providing you with The Next Best Song By Alli Millstein, the song "Mend My Heart." Here it is, with my amazingly detailed video:

I haven't gotten Alli's input on this song yet, but I chose it for the second one on the list because it's actually my favorite of her songs. I like best, I think, the simple back-and-forth of the music behind the song, and I like the lyrics:

Its that time of year again
The air smells of summer
Rub your eyes and rise from bed
To wake from winter's slumber.

At this point in time last year
Everything was changing.
He broke my heart into pieces,
It took some rearranging.

But now I have a needle and thread,
Sew it up and it will beat again.
Yeah now I have a needle and thread,
Sew it up and it will beat again.

I always hold your arms so tight
while we're sleeping
It's hard for me let go of you
While I'm dreaming.
We will fall into the sea
our hearts and eyes open
our hands are warm our feet are free
we float through the ocean.

and I reach my arm

for a needle and thread
you sew my heart and it beats again
yeah you held my heart
in your own two hands
and now its ready to beat again.

Especially the part about two people sleeping, arms held tight, dreaming of falling into a warm safe sea and floating away; that's an image of romance that's so perfect, it makes you wonder why nobody ever came up with it before.

Read about The First Best Alli Millstein Song here.

Here's a list of all the Minibests ever!

And here's an alphabetical list of everything I've ever discussed here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Best Way To Get Some Free Time. (Easy Good Things: Time)

What's this all about? Click here.

Tip: Schedule everything.

Category: Time.

I have a schedule for pretty much everything I do. I have a work schedule (with its own schedules there), a schedule for when I write, a schedule for when I exercise, a schedule for when I teach the Babies! how to write their names... or at least make big swirly circles that I'll say kind of look like their names... and more schedules than that.

That may sound as though it doesn't leave a lot of free time, but you're wrong and I'm right, and here's why: Scheduling things to be done at certain times means they don't have to be done at other times.

A big problem in my, and I bet your life, is the feeling that I should be doing something. We're always so busy that when we're not busy, we feel like we should be busy, and either go do something to be busy, or feel guilty about not being busy. The result? No down time and no relaxation.

Take working out: We all know we should exercise, and we all know we don't exercise enough. As a result, when we have free time, or time that would otherwise be free, we're likely to either use that to exercise, or, more likely, use that to feel bad about not exercising.

I work out on a schedule: I work out every "Day that's divisible by three," and on Sunday nights, I do yoga, too. That comes out to about 10 workouts a month, plus yoga. The benefits of that schedule are that on days that aren't divisible by three, I don't feel as though I should be working out. I've got my scheduled time to work out, and so I'm free to not do it at other times. Today's a workout day, as it turns out, so in a little while I'll go jogging. Tomorrow's a Saturday, and not a workout day -- and I'll be free to laze around watching Lost, season 3, secure in the knowledge that I'm using my time wisely.


Want to watch "New Moon" online, already? You can Watch New Moon Online the same day it came out at "Let Me Watch This."

Comment on this post! You could win a book or magazine subscription (details here) and you'll be making me happy (details on that here.)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Whodathunkit? -- The Three Best Things You WANT To Know About Thanksgiving.

It's time for another Whodathunkit?, that feature I run just before every major event in American life to give you the facts you really want to know about that big event. It's the only blog post guaranteed* to make you a hit at the next big social event!
(*note: "guaranteed" means "not guaranteed.)

This Whodathunkit?, as the title says, will give you the Three Best Things You Want To Know About Thanksgiving, which by my calendar is less than a week away. (That's how you know my calendar is an American calendar: It has Thanksgiving on the proper day, the day God and Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt decreed. Some calendars -- I'm looking at you Canada-- claim Thanksgiving is some other day, which is completely ridiculous. Canada's Thanksgiving, for example, is supposedly set on the 2nd Monday in October, and it meant to celebrate -- give Canadian thanks for -- the end of the harvest. That's so dumb. Everyone knows that "Thanksgiving" has nothing to do with the harvest and everything to do with surviving through the winter, or, as I pointed out last year, hoping to survive through the winter.

Yes, those Pilgrims were an optimistic bunch, having a Thanksgiving dinner before they had anything to give Thanks for, but at least they weren't so strange as to set the holiday on some Monday in October. Which itself isn't as bad as some other countries' Thanksgivings. Like Croatia's Thanksgiving. Did you know that Croatia celebrates Thanksgiving?

Did you know that Croatia was a country? Now you do, and you'll thank me the next time you're watching Jeopardy! and the category is Countries That Sort of Rhyme With 'Moesha'.

Croatia's Thanksgiving doesn't give thanks for being Canadian, or for not-yet-having-survived the winter, like real Thanksgivings do. Instead, Croatia's Thanksgiving celebrates "the seizure of the city of Knin by the Croatian Army during Operation Storm in the War of Independence." The highlight, that website says, "is the ceremonially lifting of the Croatian flag on the Knin fortress"

Which sounds dramatic and all, but is it as touching a ceremony as when the President pardons a turkey? I think not.

Another country that gives thanks is China, but they do it exactly the way you'd expect a bunch of Communists to do it: By using "Chinese Thanksgiving," or "Chung Ch'ui," as an occasion to exchange traditional "moon cakes," only the traditional mooncakes are used, in times of war, to hide secret messages and "thwart their enemies," according to the website "More4Kids," which is obviously very diligently working to make sure that Kids don't trust the rest of the world, judging by their comment that "there is a lot of bad stuff happening around the world," and so kids should be thankful they live in America.

In America, at least, Thanksgiving is still celebrated on the proper day -- a Thursday in November, although which particular Thursday it is depends heavily on whether the president needs to jump-start the economy; I'm surprised that President Obama didn't decide to move Thanksgiving up a week earlier this year, the way FDR did during the Depression. The Great Depression, that is. Well, the other Great Depression.

Anyway, Obama didn't use that trick to get our economy going, preferring instead to try the "let's let people get new pickup trucks using federal cash" trick. Apparently, the secret manual of knowledge about Americans, the manual that presidents use to control Americans' lives, has been lost.

Or maybe Obama didn't need to move Thanksgiving up, since corporations have done an effective job of ignoring Thanksgiving entirely and simply starting Christmas whenever they darn well please, as evidenced by the November 6 release of the 1,000,000,000th version of A Christmas Carol.

Jim Carrey's latest desperate bid for our attention -- next he'll resort simply to setting his hair on fire in the middle of Fifth Avenue in New York -- isn't the only thing jumping the gun on the Christmas season and relegating Thanksgiving to the back burner. ABC Family is airing two Christmas movies tonight, November 20, but they're three days behind Richie Rich's Christmas Wish and Merry Madagascar. I hope Richie's wish wasn't that Thanksgiving continue to be a separate, independent holiday.

Because it won't be. I predicted last year that eventually Thanksgiving would join the ranks of holidays we don't really celebrate anymore, and this year is proving that prediction even more true. A local Middleton, Wisconsin bar advertised today on the radio that people could watch the Packers-Lions game "on Thursday" at the bar. The Packers and Lions play on Thanksgiving, so not only did this bar offer to let people come sit in a bar at midday on Thanksgiving, but the ad didn't even mention that the day was Thanksgiving. In the ad, it was just Thursday.

This might well be the last year that Thanksgiving is even a holiday; it may be that next year Thanksgiving isn't celebrated at all. Preposterous! you say? (Good for you! Nice vocabulary!) It's not preposterous, though: as more and more people have to work on Thanksgiving, at bars and at the stores that are now open during the day on Thanksgiving, how long will it be before everyone just decides to work? If all your kids and relatives have to work at the stores where people want to shop, how is that a holiday? Three years ago, four major retailers were planning on being open more or less their regular hours on Thanksgiving. Now, almost every store is open at least part of the day on Thanksgiving, including retail giant Fashion Bug.

Fashion Bug.

But can you blame them? If everyone else is open on Thanksgiving, and they are, then Fashion Bug has to open, too, or all the holiday shoppers will spend all their holiday money on factory remnants at other stores. So my prediction last year - -that someday Thanksgiving will mean "eating Turkey Hot Pockets and McDonald's Pumpkin Pies while standing in line at Best Buy" is closer than ever to coming true. I predict that we are at most two years away from people simply opting to have their big "Thanksgiving dinner," if they have one, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, while using Thanksgiving to either work, or to shop.

Until then, Thanksgiving is theoretically still a big event, and we'd better make the most of it, which I'm doing by providing you The Three Best Things You WANT to know about Thanksgiving. As always, I will leave the boring, ordinary facts to the mainstream media; let them tell you how to deep fry a turkey without blowing up your house (hint: you can't, and it's foolish to try), let them talk about the football games and the crowds of people lining up for Black Friday (soon to be Black Wednesday). Here at The Best of Everything, I give you stuff that will amaze your friends, inspire your neighbors, dumbfound your acquaintances, and otherwise exhaust your thesaurus with synonyms for amaze and friends.

Friendly-amazing things like...

1. Thanksgiving is a more philosophical holiday than you think, raising profound questions in our deep-thinking society.

holidays are an occasion for some introspection or soul-searching. On the Fourth of July, we ask questions like What's the meaning of liberty, and I wonder if that firecracker would really blow my hand off if I held it while it exploded? On Valentine's Day, we ponder such quizzes as How many roses can I get using the $1.78 I have in my change dish in my car, and Why didn't I plan ahead and save a couple bucks from last night's poker game?

But Thanksgiving brings out the really big questions. Questions like this person's question to "Askville:"

What would you prepare your vampire lover on Thanksgiving?

That's a real question, or at least a question asked on Askville, which makes me think that whoever asked it was serious, because a question like that is too stupid to not be serious. (That person apparently continued to have problems that holiday season, asking what to give her vampire lover for Christmas...)

I was curious about what other questions people might ask about Thanksgiving. So I went to Google -- how everyone, including Richard Dawkins, proves everything, nowadays; Google is the foundation of science, replacing dark matter in the lives of scientists who don't want to think -- I went to Google and did a search for What do you do on Thanksgiving. I was sure I'd get lots of questions suggested, given that just typing What do you do led to these other questions that people had asked:

I did pause a moment when I saw the fifth question down, but then I got distracted from feeling sorry for that person and instead wondered if perhaps the same person had searched those questions in order, and, if so, what that person's day had been like, first realizing that they're bored, then meeting a drunken sailor, then wanting to sing the drunken sailor song, but their iPod freezes up, then looking up the lyrics, only to realize that the drunken sailor has broken her heart and made her cry, then...

Well, anyway...as I continued typing, the questions got more elegant, yet:

But eventually I finished typing and found an entire article about what to do on Thanksgiving in Orlando, which I read, only to find out that in Orlando, stores are open on Thanksgiving, too, so Thanksgiving is dying even in the Magic Kingdom.

Thanksgiving doesn't just raise questions about vampires and sex and Disney World, though. It also makes people ponder the origins of life, something being done by the person who called the Butterball Turkey hotline to ask if turkeys have belly buttons.

No. They don't -- I hadn't ever even thought of the question, and now I know the answer! But that person's question has made me wonder this: What kind of person sits around wondering whether turkeys have belly buttons, and why didn't that person just look at the turkey they were cooking?

That Butterball hotline gets 10,000+ calls on Thanksgiving Day; I wonder whether anyone calls it the rest of the year, and whether one could call for non-turkey related questions? Like, if you couldn't get through to the Kleenex hotline, could you call the Butterball hotline and ask them, instead?

And did you know Kleenex had a hotline? They do, and I was going to look up the number but I got distracted by the fact that there's a frequently-asked questions section of the Kleenex Website, one which includes this (apparently frequently-asked) question:

What are some innovations Kleenex® Brand Tissue has introduced to the facial tissue category?

As I read that, I imagined hundred, no, thousands, no, tens of thousands of people looking up the phone number for Kleenex, and then calling up to (breathlessly) ask the operator: What are some innovations Kleenex® Brand Tissue has introduced to the facial tissue category?

One innovation, by the way, is that Kleenex invented the first three-ply facial tissue. America Rules!

One thing Kleenex leaves off its site is the credentials it's help line operators have. Butterball doesn't do that; they trumpet the experience their people have: "Each of the turkey experts attends "Turkey U" to prepare for the calls that will be coming in."

But enough of that. On to number 2:

2. New York Isn't The Only Place Holding A Parade, You Know. I'm always amazed that parades still exist, period. They seem so anachronistic, like pocket watches or intact families. Who wants to go sit outside and watch bands go by, and local politicians riding in convertibles waving, when we could be watching a little kid forced to memorize a speech for his dad's benefit? And by memorize, I mean "read from the papers he's holding in his hands and the cue cards that aren't shown on camera:"

You know what's sad about that? That kid was, I bet, forced to do that in an effort to get him onto TV and make him famous (and his parents rich), and the best his dad could parlay that into was a chance to say "Let's Play Hockey" at a hockey game. Even Balloon Dad did better than that -- he got dinner in New York City with ABC executives.

But being in New York means that Balloon Dad and Hockey Kid will miss the other Thanksgiving Day parades, like the "Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade," which will have their own giant balloons and floats, but which will no doubt be put to shame by the real Thanksgiving parade at the site of the real Thanksgiving: Plymouth, Massachusetts, where the real Pilgrims celebrated real Thanksgiving...

... In July...

But never mind that! There's a parade in Plymouth that celebrates everything Thanksgiving! It's got a detailed model of the Mayflower! It's got a depiction of the first Thanksgiving in 1621! It's got...

... a replica Victorian church complete with carolers?

Dang it! Et tu, Plymouth? Even in the Cradle of Thanksgiving, Christmas is taking over? It has to be Christmas carolers, right? After all, there's no Thanksgiving carols, or even Thanksgiving songs, right? Of course there aren't.

On to number 3!

3. There's are Thanksgiving Songs! I should really learn to read on before I ask those questions.

If it's caroling you want, Plymouth, and people who look past Thanksgiving to get to Christmas, then it's caroling you will get.

Everybody thinks there's no such thing as a Thanksgiving Carol, but everybody's wrong, and everybody should have asked me, and should have asked The Knox Clan, who wrote themselves some Thanksgiving carols, carols they've posted on The Knox Clan blog, carols like "Something Smells," an unfortunately-named carol sung to the tune of Silver Bells, with lyrics like:

Should I spray
The stink away
And have a take-out Thanksgiving Day


But, you say, those are just knockoffs of Christmas carols, aren't they?

You're very perceptive. If you won't accept those as Thanksgiving songs, then how about actual traditional Thanksgiving songs, songs that you know and love from your childhood, provided your childhood was in the 1670s or something. Songs like Here we go over to Silly Tilly's, a delightful song celebrating the animals' Thanksgiving together. Or songs like the stirring Singing, the Reapers Homeward Come, which features this stirring opening verse:

Singing, the reapers homeward come, lo! lo!
Merrily singing the harvest home, lo! lo!
Along the field, along the road,
Where autumn is scattering leaves abroad,
Homeward cometh the ripe last load, lo! lo!

Now, that song may not exactly be your cup of tea, but it's at least a billion times better than every single thing Lady GaGa will do in her life. Although, in the interest of fairness, I feel compelled to note that road and abroad aren't really rhymes.

I tried searching for a video for Singing, The Reapers Homeward Come, but all I found on Youtube was this:

But that video does have its own charms, so it was worth the effort.

The number one Thanksgiving carol of all time, though, is certainly Alice's Restaurant Massacree, which you probably know as "Alice's Restaurant" and my kids know as that song that I play which goes on forever and is just a guy talking.

"Alice's Restaurant Massacree" tells the absolutely true* (*probably not) story of how Arlo Guthrie dumped some garbage for his friend, Alice, and got a ticket for littering, a ticket that later kept him from being drafted into the Vietnam War.

Arlo gets all the fame from that song, even though it was abandoned-church living Alice M. Brock who set off all the events by being a lousy housekeeper.

Alice M. Brock deserves a little fame herself, for setting off that probably-not-true chain of events, and she's gotten a little fame herself: she's not just a lousy housekeeper with questionable taste in friends, but also an author, having written and illustrated the book How To Massage Your Cat. She also illustrated a book, owned an art gallery, and writes a blog. The blog is called "Alice's Blog," and can be found by clicking this link.

On that blog, I learned that Alice isn't just memorialized in Arlo's song, but in another song, as well, the aptly-titled Another Song About Alice:

How many people do you know who have inspired two songs about themselves? I only know, like, ten. Counting our cats.

Now, let's have Arlo sing us out:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Best Worst Villain, EVER. (Part Five: What's your plan, man?)

The final installment!

Part Five in my ongoing investigatory series in which I'm whittling down all the villains, ever, into just the one Best Worst Villain, EVER.
Part One: Naming The Villains.
Part Two: Let's Lose The Chicks.
Part Three: Go It Alone.
Part Four: Sure you're crazy, but just how crazy are you?

Everyone's got to have a goal. Maybe even more than one. And the higher the goal, the better, right? Reach for the stars, we're told, because even if you don't make it, you'll get farther than you would have otherwise. I'm pretty sure that's more or less how that inspirational poster, or t-shirt, or poster-featuring-a-guy-wearing-a-t-shirt, goes.

I've never actually liked that quote, myself. I've never gotten it, actually, and in my own mind, I rephrase the quote to be this:

Don't reach for the stars, because your arms are in no way long enough to actually reach the stars, and you'll look foolish standing there with your arms up over your head reaching into the sky with people asking you what it is you're doing. Instead, if you want to actually reach the stars, why not learn something about rocket science and help spearhead a project to send humankind into space, since that's more likely to work and will have tangible benefits for you and for humanity, whereas just standing there with your arms up over your head really doesn't do anything for anyone.

Equally inspirational, right? And helpful, which is important in the Motto Business. Too many Mottos don't have any real world value anymore. A stitch in time saves nine? Who stitches anymore? Nowadays, if clothes get a little ripped, people throw them out. Heck, most people throw them out if they think the clothes might rip someday.

Or what about this Japanese "Motto" I got from "Mottos From The Web:"

"Live as one already dead."

How is that supposed to work? What does that even mean? Live as one already dead? Does that mean I'm supposed to decay? Lie around all day? Crave brains? I'm mystified. And I shouldn't be, because I doubt one already dead would be mystified. Unless I was dead and someone told me that saying, which I think could even mystify the dead. That saying is what's wrong with Japan.

Well, that saying and vending machines that sell teenage girls' underwear.

An inspirational motto can help one have goals, and goals are important, because without goals, we're all just going through the motions of life while not heading anywhere. A goal keeps your life from being one big hamster wheel. Setting your sights on something, anything, gives you a reason to keep doing the things you're doing.

Take me, for example. I have all kinds of goals, some of which are long-term goals (e.g., 1. Get published & make enough money to move to Hawaii, 2. Invent an entirely new kind of doughnut) and some of which are short-term (Don't let my boss figure out that I'm blogging and listening to Dan Patrick online when he thinks that I'm writing a brief). I'm a very goal-oriented person, the kind of person who, now that he thought of it, really does want to invent a new kind of doughnut, the kind of person who isn't sure, exactly, how to go about that but who thinks it might be a pretty big deal if he were to achieve that goal.

The kind of person who, while typing that last paragraph, suddenly thought of Bear Claws, and then wondered if Bear Claws are the same as Apple Fritters, and who then suddenly wanted an apple fritter/Bear Claw very badly. A goal-oriented person who wants an apple fritter/Bear Claw very badly.

Villains, as a group, tend to also be goal-oriented people. That's one of the things that sets them apart from the rest of humanity, and from heroes. In fact, villains are among the most goal-oriented people, while heroes are among the least. If there were a spectrum, then, villains would be at the goal-oriented end of the spectrum, while heroes would be at the just-lazing-about end of the spectrum.

There should be a spectrum. I'll make it so:

Creating that picture made me think it's been a long time since I heard Heroes & Villains by The Beach Boys. So let's listen to that:

As shown on the Spectrum, heroes, as a whole, are not very motivated or goal-oriented people. What goals did you ever hear set by, say, Superman, or Spider-Man, or Timmy Smith?

You all remember Timmy Smith, right? He was the hero of the Redskins' 42-10 victory over the Broncos in the Super Bowl. So a great running back, maybe, but goal-oriented? Also probably maybe, in that running backs are trying to get across the goal line.

So Timmy Smith, alone among heroes, has a goal. But other heroes do not. They don't set out to do something, on their own. They react to other people doing things. Did you ever see Superman get up in the morning and say "Today I'm going to make the world a better place by slowing down the Earth's rotation a tiny bit so that the day is a bit longer and people can enjoy their lives a little more?" No, you didn't. Because he didn't do things like that. He just sat around in his Fortress of Solitude, being all Solitudey, until someone was in danger and he went and reacted.

Ordinary people, as shown on the Spectrum, are somewhat goal-oriented. We want to get a promotion, or get home from work on time, or make sure that we set our DVRs to tape Web Soup because we're not really sure when it's on, and in fact, we secretly suspect that Web Soup is making "new" shows by combining some clips from old shows with some new clips, so that each show kind of seems familiar, making us feel as though we're losing our minds, just a little, because we're never sure if we've seen this Web Soup before or not, so we just tape and watch them all. That's the kind of goals ordinary people set. Heroes, to the extent they have goals, have them when they're in their ordinary-person alter-ego. Spider-Man had no goals. Peter Parker did, though: he wanted to be a photographer and hook up with Mary Jane. Harry Potter, as a wizard, had no goals; he just tried to survive Voldemort's attacks. But Harry Potter, as a teenager had goals: He wanted to be good at Quidditch, and he wanted to hook up with Ginny Weasley.

I'm starting to see a trend there.

Villains, in contrast to ordinary folks and heroes, have goals-a-plenty. No good villain lacks for motivation and no good villain will ever be caught short-handed in the ambition department. Whether it be robbing that bank on the street corner or creating an army of praying mantises to help drive Starbucks off the face of the Earth or good, old-fashioned let's just take over this planet and all the others, villains know that it's easier to get out of bed in the morning when there's a purpose in your life.

And the greater the ambition, the greater the villain. Measuring the goals of the remaining villains on the list will help us eliminate a few more candidates and move further towards the goal of this series, towards choosing The Best Worst Villain, EVER.

Here's our remaining candidates for that title:

Solomon Grundy (New addition!)
Token Female: Reverse Wonder Woman.
The Lizard.
Marvin The Martian
Doctor Octopus
Lex Luthor
The Joker
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Ivan Drago (suggested by The Boy)
The Anti-Monitor
Gorilla Grodd.

The goals of that group vary from Gorilla Grodd's "Beat up Flash and Wonder Woman" all the way up to The Anti-Monitor's "Destroy the Multiverse."

The first obvious starting point is to get rid of those whose goals are too small, then. As commendable as it is to have a goal (you hear me, you layabout heroes? Get a goal! You've got super-powers, for God's sake. Why are you just sitting around waiting for someone to attack, instead of using your x-ray vision to diagnose people's diseases, having your power ring help people commute to work carbon-free, and otherwise improving the world?), as commendable as that is, having a goal that's small-potatoes gets you kicked out of the running for Best Worst Villain, EVER. And so we say goodbye to The Lizard, whose goal was to find a way to heal himself and/or to beat Spider-Man. We bid adieu to Doc Ock, too, as his goal was...

... what was Doctor Octopus' goal? Maybe he didn't have one. I think he got to be a villain when an accident grafted those arms on, and then he was just out to harass Spidey, for some reason. If he ever had a plan, then I don't know what it was. Whatever. He's out.

The Joker's gone, too. While he occasionally spouted off about anarchy in the last Batman movie, his obvious goal was to just create trouble. And, yeah, that's a goal, but it's not a very good goal. It's the same goal my 3-year-old Babies! have, really: Mess things up, yell a lot, don't let anyone sleep in on Saturdays. If The Joker had regularly taken his pants off when company was around, he'd have been my 3-year-olds.

And Mahmoud Ahmendijad's out for the exact same reason.

Ivan Drago (suggested by The Boy) had as his only goal beat Rocky. Not only is that a small-time dream, but any goal that makes me think of the hit 70s song Rocky by Austin Roberts is not a very good goal.

Grodd's out, too, but let's face it -- he was always going to be kicked out. As Darwin made very clear in his Origin of Species, "survival of the fittest" means that whenever humans and monkeys fight, monkeys lose. (The same is true, strangely, whenever platypusses fight with the Forgotten Gods Of the Maori: when that happens, monkeys lose.)

(Note: If there is not, in New Zealand lore, a legend in which the Platypus is created by the Maori Gods as an example of human perfection, only to then turn on them and try to take the Gods' place in the heavens, resulting in an epic battle, the end result of which is that Platypus loses and is transformed into the humorous creature we now know, if that legend doesn't already exist, then dibs.)

(Note, two: I'm not sure Platypusses live in New Zealand.)

(Note, three: I'm also not sure that "Platypusses" is the plural of "Platypus." Maybe it should be "Platypi?")

Solomon Grundy
is a harder case. He's my sentimental favorite in this journey; I really would like him to win even though I didn't remember he existed until midway through the series. But I'm not sure that "getting Jade To Love Him and occasionally being a hero" is a worthy-enough goal, and the fact is, he's made up of sewage, which would not be very pleasant to sit next to at the awards ceremony, so I'll kick him out.

Next goes Voldemort. His goal: Beat a kid. That's what it boils down to, doesn't it? He set out originally to conquer the wizard world, but then his whole quest devolved into Beating up a twelve-year-old boy who couldn't even do magic properly. (I never got that; if Harry Potter was such a powerful, magical person, why couldn't he cast spells even as good as Hermione, who was from a Muggle family?)

And, lastly, Lex Luthor is gone, because deep down inside, I think Lex's main goal, all along, was to get his hair back, which means that all of Lex Luthor's villainy, all his fights, all his genius and giant robots and death rays and jetpacks, all of it amounted to being embarrassed about baldness. Which, in turn, means that eventually, Lex Luthor will just come out and invent a Giant Robot Death Ray JetPack Combover. I can't risk having that as The Best Worst Villain, EVER.

No amount of cool costumes, sexy female
or laser-gun wristbands can rescue

That leaves us with the Destroyers, Villains with large goals:

Marvin The Martian
The Anti-Monitor

So let's get rid of the remainder. Galactus? He was a planet eater who had a surfer working for him as his "herald." As a planet eater, he didn't so much have a goal as he had an eating disorder.

Ozymandias should actually have been kicked out a little earlier, as he relied on others to do his work for him. (He tricked Dr. Manhattan, didn't he? I think he did. Plus, he had that stupid cat-thing. Out.)

The Anti-Monitor and Mangog deserve special mention. Each of them had a clearcut goal. In Mangog's case, it was draw the sword of Odin from its scabbard. Mangog, remember, was a monster created from the combined hatred of a billion billion people. That's a lot of people. To get an idea how many people that is, picture a person:

Got it!

Then multiply that person by a billion:

Um. Okay?

Then, multiply all those people by another billion:

I'm going to get that little backwards "E" symbol...

And the result is this:

That doesn't seem right.

No, wait, wait. The result is this:

Still seems a little wrong.

That's Mangog, and his goal, as the living embodiment of the hatred contained in a billion billion people, was to draw the sword of Odin from its scabbard -- which would have resulted in the end of the universe.

The whole universe.

All of it.

Even platypusses. Platypi. Whatever.

Do you see a problem with that goal? Because I sure do: what's going to happen to Mangog? Isn't he going to die, too? If the whole universe goes?

Of course he is. As noted philosopher Louis C.K. said, "Things that are not can't be, because then nothing wouldn't be. You can't have ... nothing isn't and everything is."

He really did say that, too:

So Mangog wants to destroy the universe with him in it. That's not the smartest goal in the world. Or any world. It's a terrible goal. That's the problem with The Anti-Monitor, too. He wanted to destroy the multiverse, erase it with his anti-matter waves -- but he lives in the multiverse.

Have these guys not thought this through? Obviously not. Thinking things through would have led to a goal along the lines of "I'm going to destroy almost all the multiverse, but leave the parts that I like, and have the citizens of those parts make me their supreme ruler lest I destroy them." Or a plan like "If I'm strong enough to beat up most of Asgard and the Norse Gods, even Balder, and get to the Odinsword, then I can just take over the universe and threaten to pull the Odinsword anytime someone gives me any backtalk."

Those are goals that are worthwhile: Ruling the entire universe, using just the power contained in your own body. Destroying the universe = not a good goal.

And so we come to the final Villain, the Villain that embodies all the criteria required of The Best Worst Villain, EVER. The Best Worst Villain, EVER, is:

Marvin The Martian. Marvin embodies all of the necessary criteria, in that:

1. He is not a woman.
2. He works alone.
3. He's crazy -- but so crazy that he's almost sane, and
4. His goal is a worthwhile one.

Marvin's goal is simple, but majestic: Destroy the Earth. And in its majesty, it is also villainously selfish: He wants to destroy Earth because it obstructs his view of Venus. In that simple, yet enormously tragic goal, Marvin embodies the Best of the Worst: he is willing to destroy an entire planet to improve the view from his Martian condo. His goals are set high, and yet, there is absolutely no redeeming quality to them. He doesn't want to rule the universe, for any reason. He doesn't think he'd be better at running things; at least with some would-be dictators you could say that, that they think things might be better if they were in charge.

He has no revenge motive. He's not trying to get back at anyone. That's something that, while we might disagree with it, we could at least understand it. Oh, yeah, he caused you to lose your hair, I get it. Or something. But Marvin's not out to get back at anyone.

He's not evil, either, not in the typical sense. Sure, yeah, destroying a whole world for selfish reasons is evil, if you want to get technical about it, but he's not, like, mean about it. It's just business, in a sense -- the business of improving his view.

Marvin's simple selfishness put him on a path to world destruction, a path he followed -- and follows still -- singlemindedly, and singlehandedly, a goal he pursues with the calm ruthlessness worthy of The Best Worst Villain, EVER.

Going to comment on this post? If you read it, I'd appreciate a comment. Click here for a longer explanation of why.