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Write the Accent

Today I’m going to stray off the topic of movies and onto the topic of books, because I read almost as many of those as I watch movies and they can be equally annoying when things aren’t done right. One particular problem that books have that movies don’t is accents. In a movie, a character either has an accent or doesn’t depending on whether the actor speaks in one or not (we won’t get into how WELL the accents are done). So when you’re writing a movie you can get away with just saying near the beginning that your character has a Scottish brogue and then just writing all the lines as if an American were saying them, because the accent onus is on the actor.

In books (unless it’s an audio book) there are no actors, so it’s up to the writer to make sure the accent comes across to the reader. You can’t just say the character has an accent and then not write in one. I’m not saying you have to make your writing nearly incomprehensible when a character speaks differently (are you listening, Charles Dickens??) [yes, I know he’s dead] but you do have to write in a way that will let readers hear the accent in their heads when they’re reading. Therefore, you can only write an accent that you know. Some people get this, others do not.

There are plenty of books that have this problem with accents, but I’m going to pick on the one I read most recently: Sizzle by Julie Garwood. The book is otherwise enjoyable, but every time the supposedly Scottish main character Sam Kincaid spoke, I was annoyed, because he didn’t sound even remotely Scottish. Garwood herself seemed to realize this, because she kept mentioning the fact that he has an accent in the prose and in other characters’ dialogue. Sorry, but this just doesn’t cut it. Even throwing in the occasional ‘dinna’ instead of ‘didn’t’ isn’t writing an accent, because people with accents also have different slang and syntax. British people will say ‘I’ve got’ instead of ‘I have.’ Their buddies are ‘mates’ not ‘friends’ and they don’t have cell phones, they have mobiles. And this sort of thing shouldn’t just come through in the dialogue, either. If your accented character is your perspective character, if we’re seeing what’s going on through their eyes, then even your prose should have a tinge of accent in it. Don’t go slipping up and calling it gas instead of petrol just because the character’s not saying it out loud.

If you want to write an accent, you need to learn it. You don’t necessarily have to be able to speak it – just hear it in your head. To get your brain used to it, watch a lot of British TV (or Australian or Russian or Portuguese or whatever), read a lot of British books, and, if possible, give your work to an actual British person to check over. It seems like a lot of work, but doing it any other way is just lazy. You don’t want to be lazy, do you?

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Top 5 Animated Sidekicks

Disney started it: the practice of adding in a cute sidekick character to their animated stories so that young children would have someone to amuse them when the movie’s grown-up characters were advancing the plot. It’s characters like Thumper from Bambi and Mushu from Mulan that provide most of the funny and/or cute moments in an animated film – which is why we love them! Disney et all must be getting better with age, because my top five animated sidekicks are all from recent movies.

Scrat from Ice Age

#5. SCRAT

Movie(s) appeared in: Ice Age and sequels

Scrat makes the Ice Age movies worth watching. He’s a sort of prehistoric squirrel rat (hence the name). He’s not a sidekick in the sense that he follows the main characters around, but he’s usually there in the background somewhere on his endless quest to grab and eat that acorn. He never talks, only screams, as endless frustrations and accidents crop up that keep him from his nut. Scrat proved so popular in the first Ice Age movie that he’s gotten several animated shorts all to himself.

Maximus from Tangled

#4. MAXIMUS

Movie(s) appeared in: Tangled

Tangled was a fun movie all on its own, but it was Maximus that made me love it. He’s a palace horse who loses his rider early in the movie but continues doggedly searching for the thief his rider was after. He’s very dog-like in some of his mannerisms (he’ll sit, sniff the ground, etc.) but horse-like in others (his proud stance, his love for apples, etc.) He can’t talk but he’s easily smarter than any of the human guards, so they tend to follow his lead… right to the good guys! He’s not a villain, but he sure is a pain in the butt for the main characters.

Puss in Boots from Shrek 2

#3. PUSS IN BOOTS

Movie(s) appeared in: Shrek 2 and onward

I didn’t like the first Shrek all that much, but I liked the sequels because of Puss in Boots! Puss is a swashbucking kitty swordsman with a secret weapon: his incredible cuteness. This makes him a valuable ally to Shrek and his crew. Usually the cutest characters are the ones who can’t talk, but Puss’ adorable Spanish accent (he’s voiced by Antonio Banderas) just makes him even more adorable. He’s at his cutest in Shrek Forever After when he’s fat and spoiled.

Mo from Wall-E

#2. MO

Movie(s) appeared in: Wall-E

Like all of the robots in Wall-E, Mo is only capable of speaking a few electronic sounding words, but those few words are more than enough to get across his meaning. Mo (short for Microbe Obliterator) is a cleaning robot whose whole life is devoted to sanitizing the ship, so when filthy old Wall-E tracks in more dirt than he’s ever seen in his life, Mo suddenly has a bane of his existence. Mo follows Wall-E all over the ship cleaning up his messes, and ends up accidentally saving the world. Not bad for a tiny monosyllabic robot with obsessive compulsive disorder.

Dug from Up

#1. DUG

Movie(s) appeared in: Up

Most of us had a vague idea of what our dogs would sound like if they could talk before we saw Up, and Dug is it. Dug is a dog with a special electronic collar that allows him to talk – not like humans and other animated dog characters though, but in stream-of-consciousness dog-brain talk. He’s the low man on the bad-guy totem pole, so he becomes the new best friend of the main characters. After all, how could they not fall in love with him when he says things like: “I have just met you, and I love you,” and “squirrel!”

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Does Disney Hate Money?

Disney is a paradox. Obviously they love money, or they would have stopped releasing godawful sequels to Air Bud eons ago. But why, then, does the Disney Vault exist? For those of you who are not familiar with the Disney model of DVD releases, it goes like this: Disney releases a version of a classic movie (Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, etc) on DVD. Regardless of how popular and/or timeless the movie is, they will print only a certain number of copies, and then stop. The title is then said to “go back into the Disney Vault” and everyone who wants a copy is out of luck, at least until a few years later, when they bring it out of the vault again for a new version with more special features or a shiner box.

I’ve heard that the theory behind the Disney vault is to make more money by making everyone jump to buy the DVDs when they come out just in case someone they know might want a copy in two years, and also by making superfans buy six slightly different versions of the same movie. I can see that (sort of) but what about all the DVD sales they’re missing out on during the years the movie is in the vault? For those years, anyone who wants a copy is getting it on eBay or in used video stores instead of direct from Disney, so they’re missing out on the money.

I mention this now because Tron is a Disney movie, and their bad vault timing is losing them a lot of money. With Tron Legacy coming out in December, everyone wants to see the original Tron (either for the first time, or again out of nostalgia). And you can’t get it. The only DVD copies I’ve seen belong to Amazon resellers who are charging $45-$195 for the 20th Anniversary Edition Disney put out in 2002. They’re planning a re-release for 2011, but that’s too late. There’s a Christmas season going by right now where plenty of people like me are looking to buy copies for their parents, who saw it and loved it when it came out in 1982. Disney’s going to miss out on all those sales.

So, did somebody make a mistake, or did Disney just recently decide that it hates money?

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When Movies Are Better Than Books

When I was procrastinating today, I came across an article on the MSNBC website called “Five Reasons the Potter Movies Are Better Than Their Books.” Some of the reasons they give are stupid (Robert Pattinson as a whole reason? C’mon, that’s really pushing it unless you’re 13, female, and obsessed) but they do have a point. Even though people (read: book fans) always make a big deal about movie adaptations being pale imitations of the original novels, sometimes they really are technically better than their sources (not that you’ll ever get the book fans to admit it).

A lot of it boils down to: good idea, poor execution on the part of the original writer. With proper application of the screenwriter’s rules of adaptation – you owe nothing to the original, but everything to the intention of the original – you can theoretically produce a better story. It’s rare, but it does happen.

I have a short list (a very short list) of stories I have experienced in movie and book form where I felt the movie version was stronger. I’ll share some of these with you now, along with the reasons why the movies are better. A note to book fans: please don’t firebomb my house.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

I absolutely hated the Lord of the Rings books. Though I am capable of making language and length concessions when reading the work of historical writers (in fact, I quite enjoy the work of Charles Dickens, and he never wrote a word where ten would suffice) I found J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing to be rambling and unfocused. His fantasy world was fantastically detailed, but decidedly lacking in conflict, at least for the 150 or so pages I managed of The Fellowship Of The Ring. I was over a third of the way through the book and the main character hadn’t even reached the elf village where he would START his quest to get rid of an extremely powerful ring. I can see writing a story about two hairy little men eating ten breakfasts and walking through the woods AFTER your series has developed an enormous following, but starting the first book with such uneventful, rambling, unnecessary chapters should be a recipe for rejection by publishers.

In the film version however, screenwriters Fran Walsh, Phillipa Boyens, and Peter Jackson only had two hours in which to depict that entire book. Naturally the first things to go on the chopping block are all those bits where nothing happens, which tightened and strengthened the story. Gone too are the large blocks of text describing elf faces and hobbit breakfasting rituals in minute detail, because they can be slapped up on screen in a split second and still convey the same information. A picture really is worth a thousand words, and for that I am beyond thankful, because it means I can skip reading the rest of Tolkien’s epic.

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events

This movie, directed by Brad Silberling, is based on the first three books in the Series of Unfortunate Events sequence by Lemony Snicket (which is a pen name, obviously). In each book, three orphaned children with special skills are sent somewhere to live with an aggressively clueless, spineless adult. They almost fall prey to the evil Count Olaf, who wants to steal the fortune their parents left them, and then they escape by forming an ingenious plan that would obviously never work. There’s also a maddeningly opaque overarching mystery plot throughout the series regarding their parents’ deaths that is very dissatisfyingly concluded. The only really charming and redeeming qualities are how devoted the three siblings are to one another and the dark, macabre, depressing, semi-invented world that they inhabit.

In the film version, screenwriter Robert Gordon kept everything that worked (the sibling devotion, their unusual skills, Count Olaf’s disguises, the dark fantasy world) and changed everything that didn’t. He tweaked the children’s escapes until they actually seemed semi-believable, balanced out the adult characters so they didn’t seem like such utter retards, and clarified and resolved the mystery plot. The result was still episodic, charming, and quirky, but also tight and more believable. Even though they left it open for a possible sequel that never happened, they managed to forge a satisfying conclusion – something the books never managed to do despite completing their 13 volume run.

The Road

Cormac McCarthy’s book, The Road which is about a father and son trekking across a post-apocalyptic landscape, won the Pulitzer prize, so I realize I’m not making any friends by suggesting that it was anything other than the greatest book ever written by anyone ever in the world. But I’m going to say it anyway: I didn’t think The Road was that good. It was McCarthy’s writing style that really brought it down. He never grounded the reader in a location before starting in on whatever it was his unnamed father and son characters were doing, and he never really described their world at all except to say it was grey. He was also annoyingly vague about how it all started (apparently, it’s not supposed to matter, but that doesn’t stop him from giving his characters flashbacks). The events were harrowing, the circumstances bleak, and the characters endearingly devoted to one another, but McCarthy’s confusing sentence and paragraph structures were frustrating.

In the film version, obviously, you didn’t have to endure McCarthy’s writing to get at the story because it was all displayed right there on screen for you. Likewise since it was visual, it had to have a setting. It couldn’t just look like a formless grey cloud. It had to have roads and bridges and trees and skies and such. The harrowing events transfer easily to the screen and when screenwriter Joe Penhall flashes back to show their lives pre-apocalypse, there’s little doubt as to how the world got that way (nuclear war) and what happened to the boy’s mum. McCarthy was right that we don’t need to know WHY the war started, but we did need more than: “okay, the world is ruined, let’s go for a walk.”

I’ll also tentatively add Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to the list, even though I haven’t seen it and I preferred the books to the other movies, because Harry, Ron, and Hermione spend about a third of it wandering around in the countryside doing nothing, and I’d like to see that part of the cutting room floor.

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Justin Bieber: A Memoir About Nothing

For those of you who haven’t been keeping up-to-date on utterly pointless celebrity news, Justin Bieber (teen plague/singing sensation) has released an autobiography. It is currently #43 on the Amazon.ca bestseller list, above Mark Twain’s autobiography and Lee Child’s latest Jack Reacher novel.

Justin Beiber is 16 years old. Factor in all the time he spent drooling, growing up, going to school, etc. and you end up with a ridiculously short time to chronicle. Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s perfectly possible to write a compelling book about a short period of time. John Krakauer, for instance, wrote a really great autobiographical book called Into Thin Air about the few days he spent trapped on Mount Everest in a storm. However, unless something particularly harrowing happened to you during that short time period (plane crash, hostage situation, alien abduction, etc.) what do you have to write about? Beiber spent what, like 10 minutes letting his mom record him singing, 2 minutes uploading it to YouTube, 30 seconds meeting Usher, and then a whole lot of repetitive time traveling, singing, and reading adoring fan letters from 12-year-old girls.

Maybe it was these adoring fan letters that convinced Beiber that his life story is worth publishing (teenagers, especially boys, tend to think the world revolves around them even when they’re not famous), or perhaps he’s just eager to cash in on his fame before his 15 minutes are up (you know that’s what the publisher was thinking). So he wrote a book (or, more likely, he hired a ghost writer to write him a book).

When you’re trying to chronicle a very short time period, you find yourself resorting to describing mundane details just to fill up space. To drive home just how absurd and vapid the result will sound if you go ahead and publish it anyway, here is respected actor Gordon Pinset reading aloud from Justin Beiber’s recently published autobiography, entitled (I kid you not) Justin Beiber: First Step 2 Forever:

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The Devolution of a TV Show

Though there are some shows that get cancelled after a single season (like Firefly), and some shows that run for over a decade (like Law & Order), I’ve noticed a pattern that the majority of one-hour dramas seem to follow that ultimately leads to their downfall in about five seasons. It goes something like this:

Season 1

The show’s premise is fresh, with the possibility of thousands of different scenarios stemming from it to create drama, like patients coming into a hospital or crimes being investigated. But the actors and writers are still finding their way with the new characters. No one’s quite sure how the relationships are going to shake out, so it’s not perfect yet.

Example: In the first season of Bones, the premise of forensic anthropologist + FBI agent as a crime fighting team yields plenty of interesting cases involving everything from suicide bombers to pirate treasure. However, Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and Booth (David Boreanaz) are still a little wary of each other and haven’t settled into their full partner dynamic yet.

Booth and Brennan from Bones

I feel that we should have some sort of ritual. Perhaps involving diners and pie?

Season 2

The show has hit its stride. The characters are all fully rounded now and have intricate interpersonal relationships. Their jobs/lives provide a seemingly limitless source of external conflict, and it seems like with the premise they picked, the writers can keep coming up with great new ideas for stories until the end of time.

Example: During Season 2 of Alias, Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) helps to bring down the villainous spy cell she unwittingly worked for, freeing her up to do a myriad of different official missions for the CIA and to give in to sexual tension and actually have a relationship with her former handler Michael Vaughan (Michael Vartan).

Vaughan and Sydney kiss on Alias

This is so perfect! I’ve been wanting to kick ass and suck face since the first episode!

Season 3

The show is still operating at peak efficiency and there still seems to be plenty of drama to be had from the premise. In fact, the show is so popular that the network execs are preparing to give some supporting characters their own spinoffs. Sometimes these spinoffs are introduced during episodes in this season. In preparation for filling the gaps next season, the writers introduce some fresh new secondary characters.

Example: During the third season of Grey’s Anatomy, the character of Addison (Kate Walsh) leaves Seattle Grace Hospital to take a trip to Los Angeles, where she meets up with an old friend and is invited to join her practice, thus setting the scene for the Addison-centric show Private Practice, which will start next season. Mark Sloan (Eric Dane) moves into the hospital to fill her spot.

Addison and Naomi from Private Practice

NAOMI: You should so totally move here.
ADDISON: You are so totally right!

Season 4

The departure of the spinoff characters alters the dynamic of the show. In addition, the writers are running out of credible interpersonal problems to give the remaining cast. Writers force secondary and guest characters to step up and shoulder more responsibility, often forgetting that those characters were secondary because they weren’t very interesting. The writers put some of the original characters in mortal peril (or if the show is an action based show, in really serious mortal peril) as a way of forcing fans to stick around and find out what happens.

Example: In the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the characters have graduated from high school. David Boreanaz, who plays Buffy’s vampire boyfriend Angel, departs for his own show, Angel. His place is rather inadequately filled by a college TA named Riley (Marc Blucas).

Riley and Buffy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

RILEY: I’m your new TA. Bone me?
BUFFY: My vampire boyfriend cut out on me, so why not?

Season 5

Things are starting to fall apart. Some of the other actors are leaving to pursue other projects, forcing the original secondary cast to become the primary cast. Any remaining original characters have long since exhausted all avenues of interpersonal conflict with one another and now interact almost entirely with guest or supporting characters. Additionally, the writers are running out of story ideas that have to do with the original premise, and they turn more and more to extra-premise storylines and mortal peril to keep things going. For many shows, this is the last season.

Example: By the fifth season of McLeod’s Daughters, main characters Claire and Becky are gone, as are a lot of popular secondary characters. The writers bring in previously unmentioned friends and cousins to round out the cast. Episodes, which were previously based on the trials and tribulations of running a cattle station, start to be more about other things, like drag racing, organized crime, and mining rights.

McLeod's Daughters peril

You got run over by a car? But I only just rescued you from being kidnapped yesterday!

Further Seasons

If the show has a strong, loyal fan base that is miraculously not driven away when the show’s premise stops being relevant to what’s happening on screen, the show may malinger for several more seasons. After this point, the cast has often been almost totally replaced. Secondary characters are repeatedly introduced and discarded when they don’t fit in, and the external conflict becomes increasingly ridiculous. Eventually the show slips quietly under the waves to die.

Example: By the seventh season of One Tree Hill, the writers are really reaching. They lost their “high school” premise at the end of Season 4 when the characters graduated, and they lost main characters Lucas and Peyton at the end of Season 6. Episodes in this season revolve around pregnancy scandals and moviemaking. Lucas’ brother Nathan is now the main character and his wife’s new sister Quinn and former secondary characters Clay, Mouth, and Millie moving up to the main cast.

Haley and Jamie from One Tree Hill

JAMIE: So daddy went dancing with another lady, and now I’m going to have a half brother?
HALEY: Something like that.

I was thinking of this because Private Practice seems to be devolving at an alarming rate. Last season was only Season 3, but already they had a bunch of car crashes, were lost in the wilderness, were attacked by psychos, and killed off. Now in the beginning of Season 4 they’re entering into random chemistryless marriages. It smells like impending show death, so I’ve jumped ship.

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Generic Lies and Reassuring Platitudes in Interviews

For some reason, average moviegoers watching an interview with someone involved in the film business (actor, director, writer, etc.) expect to hear honest answers to the interviewer’s questions. When they hear generic reassuring platitudes, they’re surprised and disappointed. They figure the interviewee is no fun, or is really private, or is the world’s least original person.

The reality, however, is that when you’re in the movie business, you really can’t afford to say what you think, unless your opinion is completely positive. If you so much as make a negative comment offhand in private, it can filter its way down through your wife’s hairdresser’s roomate’s son-in-law who happens to be the underassistant to the person you’d love to work with, but who won’t give you a job now because you insulted your former co-star, who happens to be his mistress’s best friend’s former dog walker.

The closest thing we, the ordinary uninvolved public, can get to the truth about what they’re really thinking is to try to decode the generic lies they tell to cover up their real feelings. Translating them is like decoding especially PC-ified bullshit. Lucky for you I write crap for a living, so I can take a stab at cracking the code. Here are the results of my extensive pondering. You can use it to entertain yourself while you’re watching DVD Featurettes or, if you’re in the film industry yourself, to disguise your negative opinions so you don’t lose any work.

When an actor, upon being asked about the film’s director, says: “He really knows what he wants,” he’s probably actually thinking: “The guy’s a bossy jerk.”

When anyone is asked about what a famous actress was like and they say: “she’s so focused on her work” they probably actually mean: “she completely ignored me.”

When a director, talking about her lead actor in the film says: “I was so fortunate to get him,” it might be code for: “he was the last person on my list, everyone else said no.”

When a novelist or a screenwriter or playwright is talking about the film adaptation and says: “It’s so surreal to see my work on the big screen,” it’s pretty likely that deep down they’re thinking: “I barely recognize my own story, they totally ruined it!”

When new or B-list actors are talking about working with older or more famous actors and they say: “I really learned a lot from her,” they’re probably thinking: “bitch thinks she’s better than me!”

When a director is talking about an actor and says: “He’s such a great improviser,” he might actually be thinking, “The annoying bugger would never just do what I told him!”

When an actor is talking about the director and says: “She had a really clear vision” they probably mean: “She wouldn’t listen to any of my ideas.”

When a director is talking about an actor and says: “He had a lot of great ideas” he’s probably leaving off the end of the sentence, which goes: “Which I shot down, because they were stupid and he’s just here to read the lines I give him, dammit!”

When a crewperson is talking about the lead actors in a film and she says: “They had such great chemistry,” she probably means: “they were boning offscreen, too.”

When anyone in a movie interview talks about someone they worked with and says: “I have a lot of respect for him as an actor/director/writer/producer/etc.” (and rather obviously leaves out any mention of him as a PERSON, they’re probably thinking: “I hate his frigging guts.”

And do you know what the best part about telling these reassuring platitudes is? Some people say them and actually mean them, so no one will be able to tell whether or not you’re lying!

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How to Have Helpful Opinions

For a lot of people, reviewing a movie begins and ends with the phrases: “it sucked” and “it was awesome.” However, even if you’re just talking to your friends, this information isn’t enough to help them make a decision. After all, everyone has different opinions and expectations. What you thought was awesome might suck to someone else.

You might think you’re not capable of forming a more complex and helpful opinion if you don’t know about three act structures or two shots, but insider knowledge isn’t necessary to be an amateur movie critic. All you have to do is take a second to think about how the movie made you feel, and then use the following decoder to translate it into something helpful. Observe.

I was bored — usually means — the pace was too slow for me.

It blew my mind — usually means — the movie was based on an innovative idea.

I hate character x — usually means — it was hard to identify with the characters.

It was so cute — usually means — the actors had great chemistry.

It was stupid — usually means — the world rules weren’t close enough to reality for the audience to believe in them.

I cried — usually means — it was moving, but not necessarily sad.

It wasn’t what I was expecting at all — usually means — the movie had a misleading trailer or failed to hit the points expected of the genre.

I was excited — usually means — it was fast-paced with lots of action.

I didn’t get it — usually means — the plot was too complex.

The only one that doesn’t really work is “it was funny,” because responses to comedy are so subjective. In this case, you should think about what movies your friend has thought were funny (for instance, did they laugh at Team America or at George of the Jungle?) before recommending a comedy to them. I get bad recommendations from people all the time simply because they don’t take into consideration that we have different senses of humor.

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A Parliament of Flames

As the owner of a movie related website, I frequently have cause to look up information on IMDB. Whenever I do so, I always make a point to scroll down to the bottom to look at the message boards, just for a laugh. I’ve found some pretty ridiculous thread titles, but the funniest part is always how even the most reasoned debates eventually degenerate into two people hurling insults at one another. This thread was so funny I had to read it out loud to my brother in its entirety. It was on the Sam Worthington boards, but it doesn’t matter which actor/movie you look up, there’s always a thread like this. Here are a few choice snippets:

rajak1: What you see as subtlety in your little fangirl world is a lack of acting talent in the real world.

Athena21: People in the biz obviously see him as talented. Someone like you (someone with the maturity of a two-year-old) will never understand why they do – but that’s ok because people are allowed their own opinion and retarded people like you are always given extra leeway anyway.

rajak1: I think you are the only one here on this board not able for a serious discussion, cause your behaviour on this (and other boards) is like a hormone-driven drama queen.

Athena21: You wouldn’t know a serious discussion if it bit you on the arse. For one thing, you don’t debate. I often do… I can’t decide whether to think of you as a kid that has lost their favorite toy or a hormonal thirteen year old. Either way you are someone who is a complete joke.

rajak1: If you cannot stand the critism here on this board, maybe you are too much a pantywaist…

Athena21: …you are a troll, and trolls aren’t welcome.

Two people with no idea how to debate debating over their (in)ability to debate… did your brain just explode? I think mine did.

As long as internet message boards offer users the ability to hide behind screen names and there’s zero possibility of “debaters” ever having to meet in person, this sort of thing will continue to happen. People have to let off steam somehow. It makes me wonder, though: what if the internet style of debating bled over into politics?

Currently, parliamentary debates in Canada are boring. Their discussions on renewable energy go something like this:

ALBERTA MP: Blah blah oil blah blah prosperity blah blah taxpayers blah blah deficit blah.

ENVIRONMENT MINISTER: Blah blah climate change blah blah future blah blah biomass blah blah responsibility blah.

If, however, we let the politicians wear little paper bags over their heads…

I move that anyone who disagrees with me has to wear a PLASTIC bag

…. and pick out nicknames for themselves, then their debates would sound more like this:

Iluvtrees: We need to stop burning coal and oil or the environment will be ruined in only, like, twenty years.

Icecapzsukmaiballz: Twenty years, pff! Who cares?

Iluvtrees: U should! I care!

Icecapzsukmaiballz: Yeah, only cause u r like, married to a tree, you dirty hippie.

Iluvtrees: U should talk, what do u do with all that oil, ne way greaseball? Bathe in it?

Icecapzsukmaiballz: Shut up, u r so immature. We r supposed to be having a debate and u r just insulting me. U r so stupid, ur brain cellz must be dead from all that patchouli u r sniffing.

Iluvtrees: I m not debating??! U r the one who callz ppl dirty hippiez when they have legitimate concerns. Maybe if u wernt getting it up the bum frum the oil companies we could have a real discussion!

Icecapzsukmaiballz: I m not gay!!!!! Ask ur mom, I gave it to her last nite and she loved it.

Iluvtrees: F*** you, a**hole.

…and at this point the censor would have to step in, since these things are usually televised, but wasn’t that more entertaining? It’s like C-SPAN crossed with Jerry Springer. Apparently Australian parliamentary debates go something along these lines. Bill Bryson, in his book In a Sunburned Country, says it’s well worth the trip to Canberra to hear them go at each other. I’m totally putting that on my list.

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Inception: Why it’s not as awesome as you think (or as awful)

There seems to be something of a war going on over Christopher Nolan’s latest film Inception. On one side you’ve got the online critics (like Laremy Legel from Film.com), who seem to be in a competition to get a quote on the DVD box, and the print critics (like Andrew O’Hehir from Salon) who seem to be using the movie as an excuse to unload all their bottled up vitriol on the undereducated internet plebs.

If you haven’t seen Inception, it’s about a team of thieves who steal ideas from people’s dreams. They decide to attempt a supposedly impossible feat – planting an idea. It’s really cool to watch but it had major consistency issues and that’s all I can say to you right now without giving away the plot. If you want to keep reading, go see the movie. I’ll wait.

Back? Well, just to be safe, I’m going to give this warning (cover your ears).

CAUTION! THIS ARTICLE WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS! DO NOT CLICK ‘READ MORE’ UNLESS YOU ARE OK WITH BEING EXPOSED TO SPOILERS!!!!

For those of you who have seen Inception and were confused by it, you may be interested to know that this is not your fault.

Read More

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