Ladies and gentlemen, we welcome you to the sensational, long-awaited, revival of the World Wrestling Entertainment brand split and draft... eh, argh, pardon, got my notes mixed up. Say, returni... OH, MY! HE'S HERE! THIS IS IT!
[N.B. Full RNC acceptance speech]
HE IS HERE! THE ONE FORETOLD, WHO DELIVERS ORDER OUT OF THE PRIMORDIAL GREY WASTES, WHO DESCENDS UPON A CARPET OF LIGHT! HE COMES! HE COMES! THE CONQUERING LION OF THE UNTAMABLE GOLDEN MANE! THE EVER-VICTORIOUS, THE CHAMPION ETERNAL, THE DRAGON REBORN, THE STALLION WHO MOUNTS THE WORLD! MAKER OF THOUGHT, BUILDER OF AGES, CHAIRMAN OF THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION! HEAVEN HELP US, HE COMES! THE WINDS CARRY HIS WORDS, HIS WORDS SHAKE THE EARTH!
YES, THE DEFENDER OF ANCIENT RIGHT, SAVIOUR OF ALL MANKIND, AND *STILL* UNDEFEATED GOP HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE UNIVERSE, HAS COME TO CLEVELAND!
His Himperial Majesty is content, loyal subjects; the days have been kind to him. His consort has been warmly received, and his favourite and heir apparent - a goddess in all but name, if we may be so bold - has been properly introduced. And the people love her! Oh, they love her, almost as he does himself! They love her as they hate the turncoat backslider Lyin' Ted, who again lived up to his name, even as he partook of the GOD-EMPEROR's sacred hospitality.
But, no matter; the great people of the Republican National Conference have long judged Lyin' Ted, and found him unfit. The GOD-EMPEROR has prevailed, and his triumph is absolute. But wait! He has put one YUGE HAND up! Has he not delivered, alone among the pretenders, he asks. Yes, you have, the people chant. And he pauses, as if to take in the enormity of the occasion, before continuing. There is one last thing.
He shifts his gaze eastwards, towards the heart of the dominion, where a deathly blue bruise has formed over the red lifeblood of the nation. There, he declares, Crooked Hillary awaits - barely standing with the support of a Kaine. Yet it will be no easy campaign, for she is fortified with dark magics, underhanded tactics, and a legion of Social Justice Warriors.
Will this pass? The GOD-EMPEROR asks, his voice now a whisper; and as one, the audience roars its defiance: NO, NO, A THOUSAND TIMES NO! NOT SINCE THE OCEANS DRANK ATLANTIS AND ITS GLEAMING CITIES, HAVE THE SONS OF THE ARYANS COME TOGETHER AS THIS! HE COMES, HE COMES, HE IS AS ORANGE AS THE SUN! TRUEBORN OF THE AMERICAN EAGLE, LAST KNIGHT OF LINCOLN'S REALM, GOD-EMPEROR TRUMP! HE HAS PUT HIS TITLE ON THE LINE, AND CHALLENGED CROOKED HILLARY FOR THE UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP BELT! HISTORY BEGINS HERE AND TODAY, FOLKS! SEASON TICKETS GO ON PUBLIC SALE TOMORROW!
HE MAKES BELIEVERS OF THEM ALL!
The Bread Between The Hams
- Our President tackling educational revamps and class anxieties, with the graceful delicacy expected of the office
Because why does the meat always have to be on the inside? So, before concluding with a very long and very hammy movie review, I'll just do the more straight-laced discussions.
First up, a fascinating pair of Reddit threads, on telltale signs that someone has come from poverty or wealth. The main takeaways seem that the less-wealthy are fixated on not wasting food, and not wasting stuff in general (with a major exception, but we'll get to that in awhile), while the truly wealthy are characterized by an inability to understand that people don't just do what they want, when they want to.
And it's not like they're deliberately being mean about it, either, which takes us to a big realisation: the different wealth/social classes simply don't interact much across class lines, save for possible superficial hi/bye greetings. A one-percenter is likely to spend most of his personal time with fellow filthy-rich acquaintances, who would think nothing of dropping it all and flying to some Caribbean resort on a whim. Thus, they can be sincerely surprised when they happen to interact with friends who don't do that sort of thing.
On the social class issue (recall our previous study of Fussell's classification back in 2011), I recently became aware of Michael Church's three-ladder class system proposal for the United States (original copy apparently taken down under suspicious circumstances, but this being the Internet...):
Some quick observations: first off, it's interesting how closely Church's ladder rungs correspond to Fussell's (sub-)classes, as seen from the above table. Where Church's model expands upon Fussell's, is in explicitly separating out the social dimension (note that Fussell did discuss the often greatly-different "feel" between a blue-collar household (~L2) and a white-collar one (~G3), despite both making similar incomes; indeed, as incomes go, my own guess would be that the equivalances would be roughly diagonal, i.e. L1-G2-E3 and L2-G3-E4 have comparable earning potentials, if with huge outliers at the top ends. Note that Church classes celebrities as mostly top L1s, assuming lack of formal book-larnin' chops)
In particular, Church's model details the most common methods by which individuals traverse ladders. For example, the transition from L1/L2 to G3/G4 (by getting MBAs, diplomas, professional certifications, etc) is the standard "upgrading" path we've been sold on (i.e. "first in the family to attend college"). The crossover from G1/G2 to E3/E4 is then the classic "entering upper echelons of society" story - the average college graduate ain't joining J.P. Morgan/McKinsey-tier firms, realistically some pedigree helps greatly (i.e. parents being white-collar intellectuals, versus say machinists)
Of course, looking at the table, it's easy to miss that by far the bulk of the population is on the Labour track, and that almost all meaningful social interaction is within the same "box", and maybe neighbouring boxes - members of the general public might never cross paths with most of the E1/E2 types (excepting perhaps those venerable political dynasties, and even then probably at most extremely impersonally)
Church goes on to explore the inter-ladder interactions, and the summary is that he views the Elite class as setting the Gentry and Labour against each other ("divide-and-conquer"; think GX liberals allied with minority L4s and UCs in the Democratic party, against the generally-conservative LXs and religious GXs in the Republican party, with E1s funding the E2s at the heads of both parties... or at least that was how it was, before the imminent GOLDEN ERA OF GOD-EMPEROR TRUMP). For the details, I suggest reading Church's original thesis.
[N.B. I understand that delving into class systems, like financial self-help (i.e. get rich someday) is not done in some polite circles; however, I would argue that they remain totally valid avenues of study, because how is one going to tackle the very-real and scarcely-less urgent matters involving these fields, if one cannot even acknowledge them?]
To end off, a brief comment on poverty. As sometimes recognized, being poor goes both ways. Probably more often than it should be, it's simply that life isn't fair - just because one guy has worked very hard and climbed from L4 to multi-millionaire L1 in a few decades, doesn't mean that anybody, or even more than a handful, of those who toiled equally hard will reap the same rewards (but, the E1/E2s would have you believe that it's all your own fault for not putting in continuous 14-hour days like John Boxer Lei Feng Henry over there)
So we come to the major exception hinted at earlier - why, if the poor have such a tendency towards frugality, do so many of them seem to splurge their remaining paycheck (if any) on consumer goods, as soon as possible? Well, one explanation is that word gets out very quickly about any small windfall - there's always some nephew who needs his dental bill paid, some uncle who needs bailing out, some grand-aunt who really really has to meet the minimum on those payday loans, but she'll give it all back next Tuesday... and before our bootstrapping labourer can set anything aside, it's all gone anyway. After a few rounds of this, he'd figure that he might as well spend it on something for himself first, then...
Gods Of Egypt
Essentially: Who would win, Leonidas or Jaime Lannister?
[N.B. There are probably already far, far, too many analyses on the topic]
(Sources: independent.co.uk & unrealitytv.co.uk)
Having just caught this movie the other day, I can't help but get the impression that professional critics - who have with few exceptions dissed the film - have gotten it completely wrong. They have, as far as can be discerned, approached it as a typical blockbuster action-fantasy flick, which it most certainly is not; had they bothered to set aside their uptight pretentions for a moment, they might have discovered the secret backstory - and a rich tapestry of subtexts - lurking beneath the conventional disguise of its orange-blue hue.
It all begins with King Leonidas. Remember 300, released ten years ago? The one that broke new ground with its striking visual style and way-cool stop-motion scenes? Well, after becoming a pincushion for his troubles, Leonidas woke up years later to discover that not only had he not been invited back for the sequel, the powers that be had selected a limp-wristed pansy-waisted Athenian to make out with Eva Green.
Needless to say, Leonidas was not amused.
Royally riled up, he began trudging the desert sands in search of his revenge, and in due course picked up his own green-decked hippie groupie chick (that said, I completely understand. I mean, look at those abs). Said chick had an annoying habit of referring to him as "Set", which to him was kinda cringey even for a pet name, but it's not like there was much choice in this godforsaken corner of New Mexico.
I've got to admit that this is a little speculative, but by far the most convincing hypothesis for what happened after this, was that the movie producer had accidentally blown most of the remaining budget during a drunken night out at the local casino. Then, after waking up with a hangover, he reasoned that his only shot at salvaging this mess, was to scavenge whatever assets he could from the other studio lots.
It wasn't easy, but they managed to borrow Jaime Lannister from next door with the promise of a French-Cambodian Cersei-lookalike babe, and some random guy cosplaying as Frodo, who was hanging about the front desk. To be frank, it wasn't a very encouraging beginning, and the cast were gathered around discussing how best to proceed... when a seriously pissed-off Leonidas crashed the party with a horde of zombie Spartans and stabbed the producer in the gut.
Then again, guy had stated his intention to retire, and honestly he had it coming anyway. Most present were impressed by Leonidas' impassioned "This is Sparta!" proclamation, but relations with Jaime quickly went south when it turned out that he had designs on the same target lover. As so often happens when an armoured-up dude bumrushes Leonidas, Jaime got his ass whupped, and Leonidas was going to cut off his hand as a lesson, when he realised that someone else had done that already. Therefore, he gouged his eyes out instead.
Just to take stock here: we've got a Leonidas, who's still nowhere closer to getting a role in the third instalment of his own franchise; a Jaime, who can't seem to stop shedding important bodyparts; and a Frodo, who...
Actually, it was all going rather well for Frodo here. The dashing hobbit had found an exotic squeeze with a thing for short-statured charmers, and was happily nicking most everything that wasn't nailed down. The local citizens were so slow that he didn't even mind that he had forgotten where he had stashed his cloak of invisibility... at least up until when those zombie Spartans stormed in and abducted his girlfriend.
Okay, so things were going bad for Frodo too.
Anyway, update: Alt-Cersei gets with Leonidas, and not completely unwillingly, as it happens - lady gets around, after all. Leonidas for his part has become obsessed with construction, perhaps due to the psychological scars left over from Thermopylae, where he could really have done with a modest wall; Jaime, on the other hand, has shut himself up in some abandoned hipster microbrewery to mope, but then, Leonidas was doing so much better for the domestic economy.
And so Egypt might have steadily risen up the GDP rankings, had Frodo's honey not turned out to be a Lannister fangirl. Having twerked her way into the position of secretary to Leonidas' chief architect, she procured the plans to the imperial treasury, where Leonidas had stashed one of Jaime's eyeballs in cryostasis (I know, don't ask), and demanded that Frodo retrieve it - or no more steamy make-out sessions.
Just so you know, this is a hobbit who had burgled Smaug, and some acrobatics saw him snag the eyeball easily enough. Just as well he took Legolas' advice to stack his Agility stat, then. And so Frodo returns, ready for some hot bunga-bunga, only to find that his girl had snitched him out. Fortunately, he had an Elven smoke grenade left over. Unfortunately, he hadn't counted on the guards having taken Legolas' mail-order course on archery, and even more unfortunately, he failed both his First Aid and Wisdom rolls, and pulled the arrow out.
Chalk up one (very avoidable) dead girlfriend for Frodo, here.
Ol' Frodo-boy wasn't gonna take that lying down, and he marched straight to Jaime's microbrewery retreat, and kicked the door in. He then went into a long-winded rant about how all of this could have been prevented had Jaime just given her his damned autograph at the last meet-the-idols session, but apparently neglected to take into account the very stark size difference here, and got bitchslapped about like a ragdoll.
Just to get Frodo off his back - and his eyeball back - Jaime agrees to try CPR on the corpse, privately wondering if Frodo's parents had dealt with all his pet dogs by sending them to a nice farm somewhere. Jaime then was, like, about to pat his new pal on the back and go, eh, how about we just go out on the town and pull some fresh tail, will be easy as pie, have you seen how dreamy I look with this dinky eyepatch? And Frodo was, nah, muh true love, we need to find the One Ring.
Myself, this is an indication that they ran out of the money for their last decent scriptwriter.
As rumour has it, the replacement producer who had the misfortune of having this steaming pile of incoherent crap tossed into his lap went knocking on doors, as his unmourned predecessor had, requesting to borrow Gregor and Sandor for CLEGANEBOWL GET HYPE, but was laughed off the set. Credit to the guy, he didn't know when to give up, went on to call in some old favours, and wangled several rejected Rocksteady costumes from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles dressing room. A stagehand then turned up with a couple of sandworm props left over from the old Dune miniseries, and the director threw up his hands and said, okay, we'll think of something.
Then the phone rang, and the producer excitedly revealed that George Lucas had some excess models and crew that got cut from the final release of Episode VII, and were they keen?
And so it passed that Jaime and Frodo entered a Stargate to visit Good Jedi Palpatine on his refurbished Republic assault ship, where he spends his days shooting lasers at a shadowy galactic-scale Sarlacc pit; they then fight the Rocksteadys and sandworms - since the staff had gone through all the trouble of kitting up - and then proceed to have an audience with... a hundred Samuel L. Jackson knockoffs, who spend minutes ruminating on the mysteries of lettuce OH MY GOD STOP IT NOW IT HURTS IT HURTS SO MUCH PLEASE END IT
Sadly, the producer had managed to pull one last favour, and Leonidas gets transformed into Megatron, and warps in on Good Jedi Palpatine to mug him for his Darth Maul lightsaber. Megatron Leonidas then ascends his TWO THOUSAND CUBIT LONG OBELISK (which totally doesn't represent anything, not at all) for the final showdown with Cosmic Sarlacc... hey, this sounds like it might actually be worth watching, after all.
But no, along came Jaime and Frodo to spoil the mood. They clamber up along the outside of said obelisk to take on Megatron Leonidas, which is a f**king dumb idea at the best of times, and personally I was just hoping that they would be kicked off the stage, so they could get on with Megaleon vs. Supasarlacc. Frodo had apparently negotiated headliner status somehow, though, and he completely unrealistically plucks the One Ring off Megatron Leonidas' helmet, but force of habit takes over, and he tosses it over the edge (facepalm), before a doubly-pissed Megaleon very justifiably ejects the nuisance.
Recap here, since Frodo's plunging over the top in dramatic slow-motion anyway: the entire point of the Chuckle Brothers going up against a Giant Spartan Death Machine, was to retrieve the One Ring for Jaime, so that he can morph into a Lannister Optimus Prime and go toe-to-toe with Megatron Leonidas. So far so good? And, since Lannister Optimus Prime can, you know, fly, all Jaime had to do was to grab the One Ring, transform, and swoop down to grab Frodo before he becomes hobbit mincepie. Straightforward, right?
Back to the action - Jaime looks at the One Ring, then at Mr. Frodo, then back at the ring, then at the hobbit, who by now is greatly regretting hooking up with this muscled imbecile...
...and Jaime dives for Frodo, leaving the One Ring to fall into the empty void (if you pause the movie at this point, you can catch the exact moment where the blood drains from Frodo's face, as he realises just how irredeemable of an idiot Jaime is). He puts out an arm for the by-now very sad hobbit to grab, while hanging on to the ledge by the fingertips of his remaining good hand (at least he thought that one out). Then again, when you've got a Megatron Leonidas boot the size of a small car strolling over to step on those fingertips, it most probably wouldn't have made much of a difference anyway.
Given that the rest of the cast were preparing to mutiny by this point, the director worked in the ass-pull that the movie had obviously been meandering towards all along, and Jaime transforms into Lannister Optimus Prime in mid-air, thanks to the Power of Friendship™, and because the One Ring wasn't necessary as The Power Was Inside Himself All The While (Kung Fu Panda™). An utterly uninspiring final duel follows, and you can see Leonidas clearly not having his heart in losing to yet another f**ked-up hedonistic party boy, but that's what the script says, and so he swings the lightsaber around a bit.
And so Lannister Optimus Prime got elected as President of Egypt (it's not like the citizens are gonna argue with an eighty-foot tall metallic monstrosity that shoots frickin' laser beams out of its eyes), and in a breathtaking display of cronyism, installs Frodo as his Prime Minister, despite his only reliable skill as demonstrated throughout the entire two hours being that of robbing blind everybody and everything in sight.
Not only that, it turns out that Good Jedi Palpatine had the ability to resurrect most everyone who had previously died to Megatron Leonidas and Lannister Optimus Prime, which only makes the entire shambles even more of a pisstake. Fake Samuel L. Jackson dismantles Megatron Leonidas' organ transplant racket, and Lannister Optimus Prime gives a short speech denouncing the Prosperity Gospel. It then wraps up with Jaime scooting off to search for Cersei, and Frodo up for hubba-hubba with his squeeze, because they've learnt what's truly important in life from their misadventures. The End.
Next: Eye To Eye
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