Gigantopithecus was an enormous pre-historic ape. In fact, it’s the largest primate anywhere in the fossil record! Standing anywhere from nine to twelve feet tall, gigantopithecus was a force to be reckoned with. Whenever you see someone wearing a Bigfoot t shirt, or perhaps Bigfoot socks, you’re looking at a creature that may very well have been inspired by gigantopithecus.
Gigantopithecus is known from a few fossil remains. We have teeth and mandibles from the creature. Although we only have the teeth and part of the skull, advances in biology allow scientists to infer a great deal about what the creature must have been like. Techniques often involve taking similar, closely-related creatures, such as orangutans in the case of gigantopithecus, and inferring the proportions of the extinct animal based on what we know of modern-day relatives of that animal.
Gigantopithecus would stand between nine and twelve feet tall if it were similar to a modern-day orangutan, which is its closest relative. Fossil evidence suggests a great degree of dimorphism in the species: males were larger than females, by far. The teeth that we have suggest that gigantopithecus ate plant matter primarily, because it has many molars for chewing plants. Also, because the upper canines (the fangs) do not protrude very far, it is likely that gigantopithecus did not intimidate others of its species by displaying its teeth. This is in contrast to animals like gorillas, which can display their long fangs in order to frighten other gorillas.
This leaves us with an interesting finding: since the males were larger than the females, we know that there was a lot of fighting between males, possibly over mates. Generally, in species where the males are bigger and stronger by far, the males compete with one another a lot, and that’s the evolutionary drive behind them becoming bigger than the females. Second, we know that they did not intimidate one another by showing their teeth. This is interesting because it suggests that gigantopithecus did, indeed, compete with others of its own kind, but did not do so using its teeth. This means that it probably had some other threat display. It could, for example, have flared out its shoulders to look bigger, stamped the ground, thrown grass, or used other primate threat poses.
Some people have identified gigantopithecus as bigfoot himself! Most cryptozoologists are amateurs or people working outside of the academy. However, there was a professional, tenured anthropologist who believed in bigfoot and thought that gigantopithecus might be bigfoot. His name was Grover Krantz. Many people in his field thought that he was a crackpot, and a lot of his work was denied by various scholarly journals by other academics who thought it was just crankery. However, Krantz himself never apologized for his belief in bigfoot and continuously tried to prove its existence. Krantz theorized that gigantopithecus (bigfoot) would have crossed the Bering Land Bridge when it still existed.
Most astounding of all, Krantz was, at one point, a skeptic! He began by thinking that bigfoot was probably not real, and gave the creature a 10% chance of existing. Later on, he became convinced that Sasquatch was actually real.
Cats are well-loved in Japan. For centuries, they’ve been the focus of Japanese folklore and myth. In Japanese military culture, there is a philosophy of a one-hit-kill. The ideal strike with a katana decapitates a foe in one blow. The ideal Judo throw ippons an opponent in one smooth motion. In each case, the idea is to attain victory in a single, perfect stroke. This philosophy, oddly enough, is exemplified by the common house cat. House cats pounce from tree branches, or leap into the air and intercept birds in mid-flight. They kill mice by toying with them and tiring them out for several minutes before delivering a single fatal strike. In a way, the cat fights in a manner that is congruent with Japanese martial philosophy.
Housecats have another side in the Japanese psyche, though. While they are seen as helpful and beneficent creatures, they also have a dark side. In Japanese folklore, there is a class of spirits called yokai. They’re also known as Mononoke, a word you may recognize from the name of a popular anime series. Yokai are sometimes good spirits, but just as often, they are mischievous or downright malevolent. And there are several kinds of cat yokai.
One such yokai is the nekomata. Nekomata originated in Chinese folklore. After about six centuries, they began to appear in Japanese folklore as well. There are many different kinds of nekomata and they have different properties depending on what period in Japanese history the legend comes from. One such legend claims that nekomata occur when domestic cats grow old enough to transform into fiendish and mischievous cat yokai. Some nekomata are created when ordinary cats run away to live in the mountains. As they grow older, they begin to stand on two legs and acquire human-like intelligence. They also grow an additional tail. Some nekomata retain the appearance of domestic cats except for the two tails. These nekomata can cause poltergeist activity in a person’s house.
Another example is the bakeneko. This cat yokai is similar to the nekomata. It is distinct from the nekomata in that it only has one tail. The bakeneko is a cat yokai that is known for displaying human-like characteristics. It sometimes walks on two legs or dances. It can also sing or speak like a person, possess people like an evil spirit, and control wildlife, such as wolves.
In both cases, cats are commonly seen as yokai because of the difficulty of domesticating them. Consider the contrast to dogs. Dogs are easy to control and understand human emotions well. In fact, dogs are one of the only animals that can understand human facial expressions. Cats, however, are much more willful. Whereas dogs are thoroughly domesticated, cats are always just on the edge of being wild again. The cat has a certain mystique: borderline feral and capable of dispatching its prey in a single elegant blow. It’s no wonder they’re so popular in Japan, where they can be seen in anime, on posters, and on funny t shirts.
Or, good looking young white people against the world.
As it turns out I have a very good memory for movie plots. I tend to remember films very well and if I don’t just having someone describe a scene or a character is normally enough for me to more or less recall the film in it’s entirety. This stems back to the good old days when my dad would take us to the drive in to see such child friendly films as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or Orca the Killer Whale (one might think these films might not be appropriate for kids but I needed something the get me through the 1st grade. My father ladies and gentleman. Dad of the year).
The point is when I see the second in a series normally within about 10 minutes I have placed all the events and characters from the last film and can enjoy (or not enjoy as the case may be) the sequel but as this movie rolled along I found myself lost without a paddle. I could not remember much about the film or any of the characters and while I am not involved in the production of films as a fan of movies a film that has been more or less completely forgotten 12 months after viewing is not a blueprint for success. I’m just saying. Most annoyingly I could not remember the defining moment of Tris’s life in the killing of her friend Will. All I could remember was a really, really bland character jumping into a hole and a crowd of people all wearing the most boring clothes ever.
So I did what I usually do in circumstances like this and read the Divergent review I wrote back in March. After being stunned once again by what an awesome writer I am (my modesty is pretty stunning as well) I was able to piece together most of the plot. Of course the killing of Will I still can’t place and at the time was pretty inconsequential. I’m pretty sure somewhere between the first film and this one they decided to give Tris more of a back story and angst in order to avoid having her be named the least interesting character in cinema history (barely edging out the steering wheel from Driving Miss Daisy, a plank of wood from the dock of On Golden Pond, and any character ever played by Kristin Stewart).
For some reason I seemed to have liked it although I am at a loss as to why. Perhaps in comparison to the rest of the dross masquerading as film in the Young Adult category at the time it was a particularly shiny and appealing carbuncle but all the curses that plague YA films seems to have come home to roost. There was a time when Divergent could have unseated the Hunger Games off my personal throne as the best of the worst but that ship seems to have sailed.
Of course all the problems I had with Divergent have had no resolution and have only gotten worse. Again, why would anyone join any faction other than Dauntless? If you join any other faction why don’t you just spend all day bent over waiting for the inevitable wedgies that are coming your way? SPOILER ALERT They did sort of answer the question of who is this enemy that requires a giant wall and 20% of your population in the military with a big fat nobody but that just opens up more questions than it answers.
BIG SPOILER ALERT Honestly parts of this film seemed OK but the thing that really, really climbs up my ass is the worst sci fi fall back trope cop out ever: when the story gets stuck you just turtle up and claim the whole thing was just some kind of bizarre science experiment. Yep, the same thing that in my opinion ruined Maze Runner and any number of other crappy movies. You see people who don’t understand that science is actually a functional part of science fiction seem to think they can do anything if they later claim the whole thing was a giant Petri dish. The entire city of Chicago and it’s bizarre faction based social experiment that resulted in the death of hundreds of people was all some scientific experiment to produce the Divergents who are supposed to save the world by…doing something?
(Image from our funny t shirt collection)
It’s actually worse than that. So the main plot point is there is a magic box that only a 100% Divergent can open. But the evil boss lady more or less has all the Divergents executed and since Tris is the only 100% Divergent around the whole “science” experiment could have fallen apart when she fell off a train, got a knife stuck in her by one of the Factionless, or been shot in the head by one of the several hundred rounds shot at her by the Dauntless while she was running away. The thing about science experiments is if you set them up to fail and only succeed by the most random happenstance that is pretty much begging for fail. This entire plot could have failed about 800 different times. Also who sets up an experiment to run 200 years? Wouldn’t that time be better spent using 200 10% Divergents then waiting for the one 100%?
What was in the Magic Box, you ask? Only the “Congratulations you’ve survived our science experiment. Now walk outside and see what the rest of the world has for you” message. I seriously wanted to punch someone at that point.
So worth seeing? I hate saying this but not really. I had hope for this series at the beginning but rather than refining the film and filtering out the bad the lame parts have grown to clog the plot up like algae in your swimming pool filter. The action is sort of OK but everything that sucks about YA films is now here in spades, like they reviewed the first film and decided they need to add more to make up for the lack in that one. Tris was slightly more interested by being haunted by guilt (plus I liked her with short hair) and the Simulation parts were kind of cool if you dug Pink Floyd’s the Wall but other than that there isn’t much to recommend it. 1.5 of 5 phasers.
The Infamous Dave Inman
Day 2 continued. Corsets, pirates, and writers.
I found a table full of books with two gentlemen sitting in attendance and a hand-drawn sign above them that read, “Silicon Valley Writers Community”. I primarily spoke with Jason Stewart, who gave me his business card and told me that my writing would be welcome to peer review for their group, which also served as a resource for finding agents, editors, publishers and just a connected friendly group of resources and support. I need to get in touch with them ASAP.
There was a tap on my shoulder while I tried to process the idea of joining a writer’s group and a small woman was asking me if I was the person interested in the Hugging Corset. Indeed I was, so I followed her back to her booth. Her name is Andrea Edelman, and she was the leather worker responsible for the piece. She helped me try it on and we talked about it for about ten minutes, discussing how unique it is and how it’s in between an under or over-bust corset. Then we ran back over to the Blue Moon Designs booth to borrow their full-length mirror, where (blonde) Kat and Rob were amazed by the corset and how it looked like it had been made for me, which I and Andrea agreed wholehearted. “I haven’t felt this good about a single item of clothing since the first time I tried on my wedding dress,” I told my reflection mournfully.
“Well, I’m certainly glad to hear that,” Andrea said. I asked her if I could come back tomorrow in my pirate costume and wear the corset over that during the day and advertise for her (in a not terribly dissimilar way to how I had originally proposed to work for Dave at Nerdkungfu when I’d met him at Big WOW San Jose a few months before). She said she’d consider it, and let me know that she would work with me to make sure I could have a workable payment plan if I decided I really wanted to buy it outright. I thanked her and sadly took off the corset and went back around the vendor’s room, having only covered less than half of it at that point. (the pirate image is not part of my costume. Just one of the cool pirate funny t shirts I found on Dave’s site).
7. Gonzo the Great from the Muppets
I would love to be friends with Gonzo for the same reason I love watching Jackass: there is nothing funnier then watching friends of yours slightly injure themselves doing ridiculous things. I would be totally happy just hanging out at Gonzos place watching his home movies. Also Gonzo is a serious player, surrounded by mass numbers of hot chicks (haw!) at all times and I would hope to learn a thing or two from him. What is it about him that attracts the ladies? The wild man attitude? The creative mind? The willingness to risk his life for a laugh? The huge curved beak? What?
(Finest moment image courtesy of the funny t shirt category)
Why would Gonzo want to be my friend? Well, I have been known to do the occasional foolhardy and reckless stunts, and if nothing else would always be willing to hold the camera. I have my Red Cross first aid certificate (long story on that) and do not faint at the sight of blood (I cannot promise the same for compound fractures however). He and I have different taste in women (he goes for the short, rounder girls with white feathers and a cute beak and I go for humans) so we would not be competing on the field of love. I would totally support him in that whenever he suggested some wild stunt to Kermit I would call out from the back “That sounds awesome dude!”
5. Scotty from Star Trek
I know what you are thinking. I am such a fan boy why would I not choose Kirk or Spock? Well, to be honest Spock is not exactly a barrel of laughs to hang out with and Kirk would score with every chick in the place human or otherwise leaving you walking morosely home alone. Also he seems to be kind of a mean drunk. Scotty, on the other hand, is a party even when he’s not drinking and when he has a few watch out! In short order we could be singing Irish ballads, making inept pick up attempts at hot green girls, and getting into barroom brawls with Klingons. Also never forget that at one point he was almost convicted of being a serial killer and if that isn’t the coolest story to tell chicks at a bar I don’t know what is.
Why would Scotty want to be my friend? Well, I am part Irish and have a deep appreciation of his accent. I’m not much of a drinker myself and would therefore give him the lions share of the Romulan ale. Plus while I don’t get drunk a lot I always have a lot of fun watching drunk people stumble along and fall on their face (Alcohol image comes from the funny t shirt category). In my defense I am also really good about making sure my drunk friends get home safe, so Scotty would definitely be in his bunk in one piece.
I was thinking about number two through most of this film.
Actually, when faced with rom-coms so trite and cliche I often find myself thinking about the movie I one day hope to create with all my fabulous review blog money (amount of money earned from this blog by me to date: -$0.32) which involves a lot of hot girls, fast cars, and machine guns. You can’t see every movie that comes out of the sewage overflow known as Hollywood without picking up a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t (incidentally, any representatives of the sewage overflown known as Hollywood interested in my current project (working title: Hot Girls in Fast Cars with Machine Guns) should contact me immediately).
Let’s talk a minute about Kevin Hart. I don’t have anything against the man. I enjoyed him in Ride Along and generally think he is funny. However ubiquitous does not accurately capture how much we are seeing him in movies these days. He is in freaking everything and yet seems to always play the same character (fast talking egotistical hustler who’s not as smart as he thinks he is). It looks like Hollywood has settled on the go to guy for the African American funny dude but the fact is like Ghost Pepper Sauce a little goes a long way. His one and only character is in serious danger of wearing out its welcome. If, on the off chance you are reading this post Kevin you need to branch out before you get totally type cast. Do a drama. On the other hand this film made a boatload of money so maybe I should just shut up on my career advice.
So this movie managed to bury the needles on both the cliche-o-meter and the crap-o-meter (lots of scatological jokes in this review. Given what I just saw last night I think this is a good example of life imitating art). It was like the producers of the film read every review I have ever written and used a sophisticated computer algorithm to calculate exactly what grinds my gears the most in a bad film and then included every single one of them like a top 10 tribute. Since I have no life let’s go ahead and list most of them, shall we?
Something died on that screen.
I am not feeling good about doing this review. The fact is I love most of Seth McFarlane’s work. Family Guy is awesome and I kind of man-crushed Seth when I reviewed Ted. I even love American Dad (we don’t need to talk about the Cleveland Show). Like a gangster slowly feeling his cement galoshes harden as the movie progressed I had a slow sinking sensation that I was going to have to come home and dump on a guy I really like.
However, honesty is my middle name (unless you are a hot chick, in which case it’s danger. Dave Danger Inman) and I owe it to you, my beloved readers, to tell you my honest opinion and that is this movie kind of falls on its face. There were a few really funny moments but the humor was either amazingly funny or just plain lame with no middle ground. Like a skinny kid and a fat kid on the same teeter totter the massive weight of the lame side kept this film from going anywhere. This issue was not aided at all by the fact that all the best jokes I have seen in about 5,000 trailer showings. Kudos to studio marketing department. I mean that sincerely. They really picked out the best meat for the trailers and left the rest for the carrion (i.e. the audience).
Like I said when I reviewed Ted Seth is really good at writing what are essentially clones of Family Guy but falters when he branches out from his preferred genre. In this film you can almost see him struggling against the restrictions of having to write a story that goes more than 22 minutes and being forced to adhere to some form of continuity. Pacing and editing were serious issues. 117 minutes is an awfully long time to assume you will keep your audience engaged in a comedy. You’re not showing the Lord of the Rings here.
You’ll want to stick your head in a blender after this one.
I like to think of myself as an everyman when it comes to movie reviews. I mean, sure I’m probably smarter and better looking than most of you (or at least so my mother keeps telling me. I just wish single women of appropriate dating age would figure that out) but grew up poor working class and get a real kick out of most low brow humor. My father was the king of the fart jokes (you main glean some insight into the origin of my own sense of humor there). I nearly hurt myself laughing when I saw the first Jackass movie and am willing to see any Shemp- or Curly Joe-less Three Stooges. In my mind there is no better Friday night than drinking beer and doing donuts in the parking lot of the local bowling alley while my friends shoot guns into the air.
Well, maybe not that last part. But the point is when I review a film I find I tend to be more in line with the average American movie goer than some other reviewers. However, when God was handing out senses of humor I got shorted in my ability to enjoy Adam Sandler’s current style of movie humor. It’s weird. I sat in the theater alternately groaning and holding my breath in hopes of passing out into a restful coma while the rest of the theater was laughing their collective asses off.
This movie was pretty mediocre. However it was not as bad as the last Sandler joint I reviewed, Jack and Jill. This film didn’t have me praying for an asteroid to destroy the earth to save future generations the pain and embarrassment of having to see what we were up to in the early teen years. In fact, I hardly prayed for death at all (great sound bite, in case the producers of this film are looking for something for the Blue Ray box art. “I hardly prayed for death at all!” -theNerdBlog). There were some funny moments and there is no denying the humorous chemistry that Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore enjoy. This film actually found a tone and maintained it. Unfortunately the good elements were mixed in (blended, almost) with dumb humor, horrible stereotypes, fake settings, bad cliches, uncomfortable situations, and metronomic predictability into a sewage runoff like mixture.
Another one I actually quite like. I thought the Capellans were pretty cool and the story great. From a social perspective it nicely explored cross cultural negotiations as well as honor and honestly. I also like the idea that bows, having never been invented on Capella, gave Kirk and Spock a distinct advantage (although technically introducing an unknown technology is about as flagrant a violation of the Prime Directive as having the Enterprise lift out of the ocean in plain sight of a primitive species and giving them a brand new god to worship after defiling and robbing their old temple.
However, let’s talk about one of the greatest unacknowledged tools of the the original series: rubber boulders. Yes, these old friends showed up so often it was almost like the Enterprise would seed the transport area with them in order to give Kirk and crew an emergency weapon to hurl or avalanche at their enemies. It’s like whenever they needed something resembling action they would just fall back on the warehouse of rubber boulders and a half dozen PA’s to bowl them down the hill. Sometimes I wish I had a truck full of rubber boulders to have some fun with. They even spoofed it in Galaxy Quest in with the rock monster.
Anyway, like I said I enjoy this episode and would one day like to do some cosplay as a Capellan. My height would work nicely for that and they do have some cool costumes. Of course first I would have to do Ruk from What Are Little Girls Made Of. That would rock (pun intended). Rock image courtesy of the Funny T Shirt category.
“the Infamous” Dave Inman