Television

danger_room_protocols  

I have to admit when the X-Men 90s cartoon was airing I was busy bopping around Boston and then towards the end getting married, so I missed this whole era.  To be honest the aesthetic really isn’t my thing, but I respect the kids who grew up around it that are completely devoted to the particular brand of action that the cartoon delivered and delivered well by all accounts.

Youtube user joelyface is putting together his own fan series and the results are fantastic.  Check out the video below to see a faithful recreation of the character designs and support him if you can.  

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Tempted to wait up until 3am to watch the premiere this evening but I think I’ll need to make it through the workday tomorrow before the binge begins.  

Jessica Jones will be decidedly adult and word are that it is going for a neo-noir vibe. Watch the opening credits below.  To me it feels like an homage to a PBS detective show that I would watch after school. (Yes, as a child and teenager I intentionally watched a lot of public television) The opening then moves into guitars and drums suggesting that someone is going to get beat up. Chances are it won’t be Jessica.

Let’s get some biases out of the way. I’ve spent the last few months hate watching Arrow. I’m a little reluctant to blame the show itself for my distaste. I expect I am being a fuddy duddy and am trying to project my long held understanding of the character onto Stephen Amell.

I’m not generally insistent that fantasy shows have any sort of basis in reality, but characters in Arrow consistently pull 180 degree morality turns.  Kill or not killers, I love you today, hate you tomorrow and love you again during the next story arc. The whole thing feels very frustrating.

The Flash shares some of these problems, but I find that enjoyable. I don’t think it went as far as it needed to in the first season, but now that the main arc is finished they may be able to explore some some of the more gonzo story lines, which is where the show excels.  That may be part of the problem with Arrow, because the show is trying to be grounded it may not be capturing my attention.  Moody, unshaven angst bores me while a telepathic, genetically modified gorilla causes me to cheer.

I have high hopes for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, you can see their version of Hawkman and Hawkgirl above.  Hawkman looks a little like Batmanuel, but having more Tick in the world is never a bad thing.  LoT is a time travel show and I have long maintained that the only way to do a time travel show properly is to go full gonzo. A series of insane, confusing, logically suspect “I am my own grandpa” style of stories.  Doctor Who does this well, and LoT needs to follow suit.

I’m grateful to the Arrow for giving us these shows, but wish it could become more like them.  Maybe the CW will skip ahead a few years in the plot and do aging, on-armed, cantankerous Green Arrow from The Dark Knight Returns.  Now that would be good television.

Source: First Look at Hawkgirl & Hawkman’s “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” Costumes – Comic Book Resources

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From 1980 to 1984 “That’s Incredible” was worth staying up for. I remember being enthralled with heroic rescues, amazed at human feats of incredible danger or artistic merit (to a ten year old) and closing my eyes during the surgery segments they seemed to have every other week.  

If you think about it, That’s Incredible was Youtube and Facebook pre-internet. Even in the intro below they have video of cats sitting in pots. Why would they do this, unless they somehow predicted what our lives would be like now.

Hats off to you Davidson, Crosby and Tarkenton, you are indeed prophets of this new age.

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You will get some crusty ole’ individual who shakes their fist and insists that Huckleberry Hound was superior to the nonsense that is on TV days but this is colored by experience. I also legitimately feel the absence of the Saturday Morning Cartoon block. Aside from the warm comfort of nostalgia you can objectively see that the content, quality and morality of children focused animation has become progressively stronger. 

There is some argument that the decade old trend of non-sequitur in cartoons has weakened this trend, but even then I can argue that the intelligence of early Spongebob, Ren & Stimpy, and even Uncle Grandpa are still shoulders above the tepid toy driven programs of the eighties.

I love seventies and eighties cartoons and newer experiences will never take away from those experiences, try and watch some of these older programs though and they can become a bit tedious with adult eyes.  You will see repeated and reused animation sequences, plotlines that go nowhere or make no sense and dubious moral choices that would end in tragedy in real life.

Note that I am not talking about cartoons in the first half of the 20th century that were written and designed for adults before intrusive censorship and the idea that cartoons were only for children. In some ways modern animation reclaim this legacy, cartoons that have broad appeal but are clever enough to speak to both audiences without pandering to either.

Do shows like Adventure Time, Steven Universe, Gravity Falls, The Regular Show, Bee and Puppycat and so on spark your imagination or leave you wishing for days of yore? Please discuss in the comments or join us on Facebook

Source: Are today’s cartoons the best that kids’ television has ever been? | Polygon

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Without directly knowing, Mike Ploog has been with me my entire life. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that Mike has intersected with the things I love from childhood to the present day.

There are a variety of images I could have chosen as the lead for this, but I think simple demonstrates his talent best. Mike Ploog seems to effortlessly display movement. When you look at a Ploog sketch you intuitively know what is going to happen after and what has happened before. You can feel Werewolf by Night’s mouth open in close in a menacing growl, his shoulders roll and his hands moving towards you. You instinctively feel that you are in danger. It takes a great talent to convey that.

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Mr. Ploog was in the marines for a decade before working for the mighty Filmation and Hanna-Barbera and then with the great Will Eisner on the Army’s Preventive Maintenance Monthly. During Marvel’s horror era Mike Ploog was the artist for the creation of Ghost Rider and Werewolf by Night. He drew some of the most dynamic versions of the Man-Thing and several other titles.  His career in the film industry is nothing short of astounding working on design, illustration and story boards for Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards and Lord of the Rings, Heavy Metal, The Thing, The Dark Crystal, Superman III, Supergirl, Return to Oz, Disney’s forgotten Black Cauldron, Young Sherlock Holmes, Little Shop of Horrors, The Witches, The Tick television series, The Prince of Egypt, Titan A.E. and 2000s X-Men.

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Ploog’s early comic work drew me to his style in the seventies, even when I didn’t quite understand who he was but then he followed me throughout my teenage years by working on and influencing some of the greatest fantasy ever put to film.  Almost without exception, if I was obsessed with a fantasy film Mike Ploog was behind the scenes laboring on it in some fashion.   Carpenter’s The Thing is my favorite horror film, Superman III inspired me to become a software engineer (weird, but true), I fought with my parents because they were going to see Lord of the Rings without me, I can sing most of the songs from Little Shop of Horrors and Young Sherlock Holmes is a bizarre masterpiece that also introduced the world to John Lasseter, now Disney and Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer.

I’ve passed these loves down to my children and I hope they do the same.  There is something special about each and every one of them and Ploog’s contributions large or small resonate still.

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After almost fifty years of working in creative industries Mike Ploog is releasing an art book filled with his life’s work.  This will be 320 pages of illustrations and examples from his career. The Kickstarter will run through July 16th of 2015 and I highly recommend you pick it up. In my mind, supporting a man who has given so much to what we love is an important thing to.  His work draws you in and seeing it together like this will pull you back into worlds of your childhood and inspire creatives of the future.

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robolad

Oh Robolad (or Robolar, I can never tell) you taught me so may things.  If I consume only candy bars I may wake up dressed in a glittery jump suit. You taught me that the Mars space program is so poorly funded that their spacecraft is constructed from cardboard boxes and poster paint.  I now know that the denizens of Mars have a Boston accent.  

Hundreds of times in the eighties I heard that earth fruit is “Yummy and not bad”, so much so that every word of your important message is burned in to my brain and I can repeat it today.

I will never forget you Robolad, or Robolar…whatever your name is.

There are a certain group of people who will find this hilarious.  The rest will just be confused.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=3nsDv_lkaLw%3Fw%3D640

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We have been talking about comics a lot lately, but we have hit some kind of comic book inspired, television nirvana, so expect some more comic posts until this trend stops. According to the schedule that doesn’t seem likely for a while.

 

Yesterday we posted about how enjoyable Daredevil was. After the critical acclaim, the best news about this series is that we have three additional stand alone series then a team-up series involving all four of the newly introduced characters.  If they follow the comic arc of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist then it should allow for some morally complex storytelling, departing from the wonderful, but mostly family friendly movies.

 

I’m trying to avoid spoilers, but I am eager to see how some of these characters will be handled including the design and art direction.  We have a couple of images that have made their way through social services including Dr. Who alum David Tennant as the truly despicable Purple Man (show above) and the some of the first in character shots of Jessica Jones and Power Man (Luke Cage).  So far, I’m pretty happy with them.  Unsure if Tennant will actually have purple skin, but noting the realism of Daredevil I will not worry about it too much.

 

David Tennant as the Purple Man

 

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Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones

 

 

Mike Colter as Luke Cage

 

 

via RadioTimes and Koray Erson

Update: Gallery with additional set photos

 

 

I know it is the job of the network to make things look great, but so far Daredevil is looking like a proper Daredevil show. Dark, violent dealing with crime and living in Hell’s Kitchen. I secretly wish it was set in the eighties, but that just makes the job more difficult for the staff.

Scott Glenn has settled nicely into the aging mentor role which seems to work perfectly here. Catch it on Netflix on April 10th.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=RzNH7FkGSQU%3Fw%3D640

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Fresh off of a season finale that Twitter and Facebook are still divided about, we have a quick little snippet from the newly named ‘Fear the Walking Dead’. It is not quite enough to satisfy until the new show premieres this summer, but you might need all of that time to decompress.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=unWdvWPmiPk%3Fw%3D640

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If I think back, I probably saw Space 1999 before I saw The Thunderbirds, basically going at the Gerry Anderson catalog backwards. Anderson was so proific though that I have keeping up with all of his creations. I am just getting familiar with his UFO series now.

Something about the design of his shows seems to stick with me. I remember the first time I saw Thunderbirds and thinking how odd the character designs were, but after an episode or two they just became characters to me. I think that speaks to the way that Anderson presented. There was enough explosions, fires and spaceships to pull you in, but the stories were always fun and kept you watching. I talk often about how Japanese television was my first exposure to longer story arcs in children’s television, but Anderson was doing it too. Heyou did not underestimate the intelligence of his audience, even if that audience was only six years old.

If you bring up The Thunderbirds with the right generation you will get a warm reception. Mostly the old shows still hold up. As per norm for the time period they still veer into casual racism every once and a while and that is hard to watch, but the miniature sets, pyrotechnics and comedy are still wildly entertaining. I haven’t tested this on my own kids yet, I am not completley confident they would have the same reaction. I allow nostalgia to color a lot of these old memories for me and they may feel more interesting then they actually are.

Since the geeks are currently inheriting the earth we are driving the entertainment, so I guess it was inevitable that we would get a Thunderbirds reboot in this generation. When the new character designs were introduced a few weeks ago the internet unified in a collective ‘ew’. I also joined in the chorus of thinking the characters were more off putting than inspiring.

New-look Thunderbirds

Time passes and we get our first look at the full first trailer and I feel like I get it. The folks in charge of the reboot want to stay as true to the spirit of the original where they can and update it just enough to draw in a new audience. Honestly I think they have hit the target. I came to that conclusion when the trailer gets to the part where they have the futuristic sub with mechanical arms and it felt like Thunderbirds. All the wacky physics made all the memories flood back.

I need to read more detail about how they are filming, but while the characters are computer generated it feels like some of the ships and the sets are still handled in minature which is why a lot of this feels very authentic.

We will have to wait until the full show premeires, but I am now full of optimism. People seem to be getting sick of reboots, but as long as I am entertained I don’t mind the occasional tweak to the formula. Sometimes as it makes the whole better and I am all for introducing a new generation to Anderson’s work.

Here is the old intro folks to kickstart those Saturday morning Gen X and late boomer memories.

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The teaser for a teaser bit may be a little played out, but I like that we get a sense of tone in this Netflix exclusive series.  I suspect Marvel has another winner with this one.  A dark show without the constraints of network television in short story arcs that lead to continuity in the next series. Netflix will follow Daredevil with Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and then an Avengers style team up with The Defenders.  Each arc will have a thirteen episode run until the team up, which is listed as having four to eight episodes.

Marvel will get bonus points with me if they get Affleck to do a cameo.

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For a blog named Giant Japanese Robot, I certainly do not have enough posts about Giant Robots.   Part of this is that I am just a regular joe with a job and I post in the time I have and whatever is catching my fancy.  For a while in an earlier incarnation of this site I talked a good bit about advancements in modern robotics, but if I was honest with myself what I really enjoy are those clanky giant mecha that I grew up with in the seventies.  They were huge, colorful, humanoid and completely improbable.

There is a shared camaraderie among those that grew up in that period and watched those shows.   I’ve met folks from a bunch of different places around the world who watched them under different names and dubs and the feeling is still the same.  If the following gives you chills then you know you are in the club.

I spent a lot of time in the basement workshop as a wee boy trying to make giant robot costumes with zero success, so when Raymond Ramos mentions and posts pics that he is working on Gaiking cosplay I am interested, but a bit doubtful.

I was wrong, so wrong.

Raymond Ramos is a local guy who does cosplay, and he absolutely kills it.  From Raymond’s Facebook page you can see that his favored cosplay appears to be perfecting Blade, but he has also done Bane, G.I. Joe and an intimidating Blade Thundercats mashup.

Here is Raymond with the final Gaiking costume compared to an illustration of the robot.

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Another more detailed shot of him at Rhode Island Comic Con.

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I’ve seen a lot of people attempt giant robots in cosplay, but never so successfully, at least with the Go Nagai style robots.  Check out his page and support him.  Local artists like Raymond put in a ton of work because they love the genre and they love seeing people react to their creations.  People like him make the world a bit better.

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MINOR SPOILERS FOLLOW: Finally caught the premiere episode of CW’s The Flash.  While my disdain for Arrow is well known I have to say I really enjoyed The Flash.  The tone is completely different and the show contained a ton of DC silver age references.  (Gorilla Grodd anyone?)

Besides this being a completely different universe a lot of comic fans become rigid in their desire to see their stories make it to screen.  Take a look above at the classic Flash villain, the Weather Wizard.  Besides his name being completely dorky, the court jester vs. Robin Hood costume doesn’t do it for me.  I much prefer the version below that we got in this episode.

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Earlier we discussed DX9’s completely sweet homage to GoBot Cy-Kill HERE.  Apparently Dx9 is in the habit of taking things that are lame and making them awesome.

In 1986 we got to see Transformers: The Movie and it was deeply confusing to children, including myself.  Major characters died, there was a curse word, there was Orson Welles in his final role before he died.  Then out of the wreckage of the planet Junkion we received one of the greatest gifts a movie like this could provide, a transforming junk robot motorcycle with a mustache.  As a bonus this motorcycle, Wreck-Gar was voiced by Eric Idle of Monty Python fame and was accompanied by a Weird Al song, a holy trinity of eighties rad.

While easily besting the later Transformers movies by Michael Bay in plot and art direction this movie was essentially an advertisement to sell a new set of toys.  I quickly ran to Child World to find a version of Wreck-Gar and was crushed to find there wasn’t one.

They did eventually release a toy, but imagine my disappointment when in my head I had the uber cool image above and what we received was he below image.

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Blocky, no mustache, poorly articulated.  This wasn’t Wreck-Gar, this was the Transformers equivalent of an accountant. NOTE: I mean no disrespect to accountants, you provide a valuable service, I salute you.

Now, this was mostly remedied by a 2011 release of a new toy in North America.  That figure had some nice lines, even if the face was sculpted so it looked like he should be wearing a truckers cap.

As we mentioned in the earlier Cy-Kill article, DX9 makes some pretty sweet stuff for the grown up toy collector.  They finally did Wreck-Gar justice, even if this figure is not called Wreck-Gar, but Splinter. So, it isn’t ‘officially’ the Transformer I pined for as a child, but good enough.  Dude looks like he is ready to mess up some Decepticons and then down an oil can before his next fight.

This figure will set you back close to $100.  I have seen it at Amazon and specialty toy shops online.  Probably not the best purchase for your smaller transformer fans.

splinter (Custom)

 

Thats all to be said about this.  Feel free to be chatty in the comments and I’ll leave you with one of the greatest songs ever performed. Enjoy.

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Comicbook.com received an advance screening of the first episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. before it airs on Tues. Sept. 23th.  Check out their review below.

Generally  I really like the show, but for about two-thirds of the first season I think it was only running at about 25% of capacity.   I am not sure if they were just being cautious about how much Marvel a general audience could handle or if there was interference from the network.  In the face of criticism though they seem to have ‘fixed’ the series by the end by pushing away some of the frivolous characters and creating a strong association with the cinematic universe, basically everything that people expected from the beginning.

AoS still has a long way to go before the show is a huge hit (I still think Skye’s character is a distraction) but I think they may be up to the task. I am looking forward to finding out.

via Comicbook.com, click HERE to read.

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I was going to write about the utilitarian aspects of buying glasses online, but this came up, which is significantly more awesome.  Spiderman always takes precedence.

I follow a bunch of geeky creators on Twitter, because people who make stuff generally have wonderful things to say.  Joe Caramagna, writer for Marvel Universe stories and generally nifty guy was talking about how his little one was digging CTW’s (now Sesame Workshop) The Electric Company Spiderman shorts.

I had the vague recollection that the Spidey Super Stories weren’t  included in the Electric Company’s DVD box set for licensing reasons (I’m not actually sure about this) so I asked him if they were collected somewhere.  Joe responded “YouTube! A bunch of them are up there.” after which I smacked myself in the forehead and said “Of course! Youtube, where youngin’s go to watch their video stories!” and lo, Youtube has a million of these things.  Paradise for a nostalgia craving superhero addict like myself.

Now, I haven’t seen these in at least thirty years and my brain is very forgiving when it comes to things I loved in my youth, so note that when you watch.  Of particular interest to me is the sly integration of reading prompts, an incredibly catchy theme song which rivals the sixties Spiderman cartoon, disco funk inspired music, the dulcimer tones of Morgan Freeman narrating this adventure, and the rapid escalation of The Spoiler’s criminal activity from petty vandalism to murder.  From what I understand this is the first one that aired, and to be honest rewatching this I think I prefer it to the current slate of Spiderman movies, that may just be me being crotchety though, so ignore that comment and enjoy the video on its merits.

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The Geeks Have Inherited the Earth

It is not a bad time to be a geek.  Turn on the television, walk into a theater or any bookstore and you will see superhero genre fiction everywhere.  In a country with a diverse past such as ours we get to look at these spandex clad do-gooders as sort of a moral center, a flexible mythology that we can read ourselves into.  We do not have the luxury of the previous generation’s cowboys and war heroes. Our heroes are a little less based in reality but still follow the same archetypes. We may not be Superman, but we can certainly look up to what he stands for. With these creations populating our young consciousness it was natural for them to become a popular television trope.  What surprises me is how terrible most television iterations have been.  I know shows like ‘Lois and Clark’, ‘Smallville’ and ‘Arrow’ have their rabid fans and far be it from me to question another persons tastes, but they just don’t do it for me.

We Deserve Better

While Marvel’s ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ didn’t quite make the grade in the first two thirds of their season it made up for it in the end. DC properties on the other hand have been dreadful, uber pretty people snoozing through scripts in ridiculous outfits.  If you are going to wear spandex in front of millions of people you better own that sucker or else you are just a boring actor in a silly getup. This is especially disappointing as you look at DC’s animation offerings which have been particularly strong like Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black AdamBatman: Under the Red Hood and Justice League: Doom, solid writing, risk taking and high quality productions all around.

Hope for the Future

WARNING: The following trailers are for prime time television, but are a little dark.  Consider them PG-13 for our regular readership.

DC seems to have received the message with a couple of their new shows.  First up with have Gotham, set in the Batman universe it follows a pre-Commissioner James Gordon. If the writers don’t fall into the Star Wars prequel trap of inserting too many circumstances and characters that occur later into the timeline then this show could be fun.

Next is Constantine.  I’ll forgive people if they aren’t familiar with the character, he isn’t your typical ‘underwear on the outside’ protagonist we are used to.  Originally appearing as a minor character in the Alan Moore’s 80s incarnation of Swamp Thing he eventually gained his own title ‘Hellblazer’.  There was a 2005 film starring Keanu Reeves that was decent, but didn’t quite capture all the nuances of the character in the short running time.  Constantine is a chain smoking, smarmy occult detective with some fairly questionable motivations.  I’m not sure how deep NBC is going to go with the character, but the trailer shows no fear in directly using religious symbolism, which I think is great news and means they won’t shy away from some of the more uncomfortable aspects of who the character is.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPE2oBnzROY

…and the Rest

Let’s hope the writing is as good as the trailers tease.  There are more shows coming, the ‘Arrow’ spin-off ‘Flash’, another season of ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ and a slew of Marvel shows on Netflix that will tie into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Like I said in the beginning, not a bad time to be a fan and I hope we continue to get great, mature content for the foreseeable future.

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The following theories should only be taken partially seriously and are bound to cause nerd rage that I am not responsible for.  Having these in the back of my head helps me enjoy a series more that has been moderately dull so far.  We do what we can because we must.

Skye is a descendant of Peggy Carter
I don’t really have any evidence for this but it feels like a nice fit, especially since they are hinting hard at Skye being more important than she seems.  Does she have any sort of powers from exposure to the Super Serum?  Unknown.  This  would make any interaction with the Avengers awkward and sets up a nice connection to the Peggy Carter TV series that is now in development.

Agent Coulson’s girlfriend is the Scarlet Witch
Once again this is starting to get a little thin.  Clark Gregg, the actor who portrays Coulson once mentioned that there was a Scarlet Witch connection to his girlfriend but he may have been mistaken about the cello reference or he is just messing with us.  It would dovetail nicely into the Avengers 2, but it is said that Coulson will not appear.

Agent Coulson is The Vision
I have been holding on to this theory for months. Nothing that has been revealed in the show so far has made me feel otherwise. If you are dead and brought back to life after several days how much of your body could you retain? Probably not much. I expect that most of Coulson is artificial even if it is organic.

The Clairvoyant is Ultron
In case you don’t already know Ultron has been announced as the big baddie for the Avengers 2.  Coulson keeps saying over and over how mental capabilities of this sort do not exist or have never been verified by SHIELD. (At least until Disney gets the mutant license back) One way around this would be to predict the future through the power of MATH, an ability I expect Ultron is pretty good at being made of gears and whirligigs.

The Skye and Ultron theories are all mine, the others I can’t take credit for.  You may enjoy them for what they are worth or scream at your LCD screen at the ludicrousness of it all.  Feel free to discuss.