A Million Little Mistakes

So, as we all know, the first series of Broadchurch was all about secrets. Everyone in the show had a dark secret and each of them were revealed over the course of the show, culminating with the reveal that a familiar character was a murdering bastard!

So what’s the theme of the new series? Not sure yet.

The first episode didn’t have much to work with. All it did was set up future plot points. I guess one could argue it was about returns and resurrections. The phoenix rising from the ashes. That kind of thing.

We have Hardy, making a return to an old case; We have Ellie returning to Broadchurch as a kick ass cop; We have murdering prick trying to make a return to freedom; We have the two lawyers, each making a return to court after a prolonged absence; and it ends with Danny making a return from being buried in a grave.

No, he didn’t turn into a zombie, that’s another show.

But the second episode doesn’t share that theme, at least, as far as I can see. It appears last week’s episode of Broadchurch follows a completely different theme: Mistakes, and either accepting the consequences, or fixing the damage.

(Once again, don’t read this if you haven’t caught up on series one of Broadchurch.) Continue reading

Some Other Beginning’s End

Well, Happy 2015, everyone! And as another year goes by, it’s time we set the previous year ablaze in a hateful effigy.

After all, we had Ebola, Oscar Pistorius getting off, Scotland declaring dependence, Syria going to shit, those girls in Nigeria, Cliven Bundy, Turkey banning Twitter, Heartbleed, that weird moment when bronies were accused of harbouring pedophiles (turns out it was bullshit), that nutter in Santa Barbara, the shithead cops in Ferguson, the shithead cops in Cleveland, the shooting in Ottawa, North Korea hacking Sony, Robin Williams dying, fucking GamerGate, and motherfucking ISIS!

It’s been a shit year all told, and I’m glad it’s finally over! And me, being the eternal optimist that I am, I’m hoping this means society is on the upswing and things will only get better. We can assume the recent bullshit in France is a fluke.

But I have no idea! So I guess the only thing to do is hope for the best and prepare your nuclear fallout shelters, just in case. You know, they might come in handy.

Now, if only, the Latimers thought of that, then the events of the last week’s episode of Broadchurch wouldn’t have come as such a shock to them!

Before we continue, I’d just like to say, if you haven’t seen the finale of Broadchurch series one, stop reading now. Oh, don’t give me something about, ‘uh, I’m not going to watch that show.’ No, watch it, now! The first series was fantastic, and you need to watch it! And as I cover the new series, I’ll be ruining the first. So let’s get rolling.

Oh, yeah, I’m going to be covering the new series of Broadchurch… shocked? Continue reading

It’s All Secrets and Lies!

I have no idea what it’s like to grow up in a small town. And there are two reasons for this.

For starters, I didn’t grow up in a single town. I grew up in two, and neither of them were particularly small. But neither of them were ‘big’ either. I’d say there were about medium.

Sault Ste. Marie was a nice enough little border town, twinned with its American neighbour. I remember once getting a kick out of doing a bit of ‘international travelling’ over my lunch break, because my mother decided we’d have lunch across the border. It seemed almost surreal. And Sault Ste. Marie was also a major port of call across the Great Lakes, connecting Superior to Huron. So it had enough of an industry, specifically the giant steelworks that you’d get a great view of while travelling over the international bridge, which gave the town a sizable population. And it was big enough that you couldn’t possibly know everyone. But it was also too small to have anything interesting going on. I’m remember we had a museum, but I also remember that I lived in houses that were bigger than that thing. I also remember I lived in a lot of houses.

Then, when I was around 11, craziness happened and I moved to Sudbury. A much larger town, with much more going on, including a very large science centre that I used to spend entire days at. But it also had much less sophistication. A real hick town. I blame the mines.

And now, I live in the big city! Oshawa! Part of the GTA (apparently)! And I actually like it here. My only wish was that it was easier to get around. If only I didn’t melt my car last year.

But I’ve passed through small towns, and I’ve met people who’ve lived in them, so I know they exist.

You know what I mean by ‘small town’ right? One main/high street where every business is located, surrounded by side streets filled with houses, one or two schools, and a church because every town needs one apparently. And with such a small population, it’s like the Cheers bar grew and mutated to 100 times its original size.

You know the Cheers bar right? You’ve seen Cheers… Where everybody knows your naaaaame… Right?

Anyway, it’s a place where everyone knows everyone. It’s peaceful, and quaint, and nothing bad ever happens. Or at least, that’s the stereotype, init?

In our culture, small towns are romanticized. They’re quaint little places, with tightly knit communities, and where everyone can trust anyone, and the biggest possible crisis would be the time when Mrs. Fielding found out she might not have enough yeast for the bake sale.

But is that accurate? Probably. But in even in the land of sugar and friendship, they got a few bad apples, so it’s likely that even in the coziest of small towns, you have a few pieces of rotten fruit. Perhaps not apples, but some type of plant-matter. But even then, exactly how bad can it get?

The murder of an eleven-year-old boy… Well, that’s pretty bad.

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Broadchurch. Continue reading

Not Just For Christmas

Well, Happy Holidays everyone! I hope you’re all having a merry old time.

I’m not, I’m spending it with family, so by default it’s crap.

Regardless, it’s a time of celebration, joy, and consumerism, as people give gifts, get drunk, and have fun.

But what kind of gifts? Toys are a given, every child loves toys. Makeup is a common gift for girls and women, and many people give clothes because they like to think practically. Some people also give cash or gift cards, the lazy prats. Gift cards are the worst because they’re actually a step down from cash. They’re just as practical, but only valid at one location and often for a limited time only. And if the store closes down, you’re fucked!

But even cash annoys me because it shows no effort. This is something I mentioned before: The real meaning of a gift should be in how much effort and thought is put into it. Saying, “here’s a twenty,” involves absolutely no effort, and even less thought.

So what did I get for Christmas? A $25 prepaid Visa card. Okay, that actually costs more than cash and is exactly as useful. However, I guess I could use it online. That’s a plus.

But there are other gifts one can give. For instance, some people give pets for Christmas. Dogs, cats, that kind of thing. Which is great. There’s a lot of love one can get from a pet, and it can last a lifetime. But it’s important to remember that. It’s important to remember, as every animal shelter on earth needs to remind everyone every goddamn year, that “A pet is not just for Christmas!”

Basically it means people are taking in animals at Christmas, and giving them as pets, without thinking it thorough. Without considering the costs and responsibilities that come with pet ownership. And this is evidenced by the fact that most pet shops and animal shelters see an upswing in pet sales/adoptions in the run up to Christmas, and an associated upswing in the number of returned and abandoned pets in the months following.

You see, it’s fun for a couple of weeks, or maybe even months. Then you realize you have to feed this thing, and reality hits like a ton of dog shit you need to pick up!

If you’re going to get a pet, keep it. This shouldn’t be too hard to understand! Pets are great! They’re constant companions that’ll always stay with you. And if you don’t think you want that, don’t get one at all!

And while we’re on the subject of pets, let’s talk about another episode of Littlest Pet Shop. Where the lesson is simple: If you’re going to buy a pet, keep it! Don’t be a pet-tease! You cocks! Continue reading

Rainbow Rocking in the Free World

Who doesn’t love music? I know I do!

Most of my tastes in music are based on what I listened to as a kid, and I listened to a lot of different music as a kid; music from artists such as: The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Collective Soul, Wilson Phillips, David Bowie, Meat Loaf, Goo Goo Dolls, The Who, Megadeth, Elton John, Aerosmith, Duran Duran, Genesis, Blue, Santana, John Mellencamp, Ozzy Osborne, Sara Bareilles, Toto, Eurythmics, Fastball, Brian Adams, Def Leppard, Matchbox Twenty, Led Zepplin, Counting Crows, Sky, George Michael, Robbie Williams, R.E.M., Peter Gabriel, Nirvana, Backstreet Boys, Kenny Loggins, UB40, The Spice Girls, Skid Row, Billy Joel, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Blues Traveller, Rush, Seal, Tears for Fears, Mötley Crüe, Starship, Pink Floyd, Train, Rick Astley, Moist, The Tea Party, Metallica, Eric Clapton, Oasis, Journey, Sloan, Styx, Tom Petty, Michael Jackson, Barenaked Ladies, Bon Jovi, Bachman–Turner Overdrive, Sophie B. Hawkins, Van Halen, Sass Jordan, Rob Zombie, Bob Seger, Korn, Midnight Oil, Honeymoon Suite, and New Radicals… just to name a few.

And you’ll notice, with this breadth of musical exposure, I’ve listened to everything; virtually every genre under the sun with the exception of rap. And because of this, I like almost anything. Give me any new song from any new artist, and there’s a good chance I’ll like it, as long as it’s good.

Oh, I know what you’re going to say, ‘just because you don’t like it, doesn’t mean it’s bad!’ And sure, I’d agree with that. Art tends to be judged subjectively, in a purely opinionated and emotional way. And those opinions and emotions tend to vary from person to person. What one person thinks is crap, could be the most beautiful thing in the world to another; and they’d both be right.

However, I think we can agree when a song is not very sophisticated or complex, or when the lyrics are cliché or nonsensical; and I think we can all agree that the worst criticism one can give to a work of art, is that it’s boring.

Case in point, I know a bit of guitar… a very little bit… basically, don’t ask me to sight-read sheet music, and don’t ask me to join a spontaneous jam session until you give me a chance to review the old blues scale. But I can certainly belt out a few power chords if the mood strikes me. And power chords, in case you didn’t know, are the simplest fucking chords in existence. You hit only two strings, and the finger positioning is always the same, just move it around the fret board. And I only bring this up because if someone as crap as I can successfully pull off a Nickelback song, that doesn’t speak well for Nickelback, does it?

Basically, I’m saying Nickelback is shit.

But if music is good, I like it. If it’s interesting, fun, complex, profound, emotional, or just really really catchy, I like it. You won’t see me sticking my nose up at soft pop, or reggae, or grunge or mainstream metal. I love them all! And I love it when people share my perspective. When I see others who feel the same way. Those who see all music as music. Not as the cornerstone of a major cultural movement, or the central bedrock of a personal identity. But just some nice sounds that one can love, or hate. Sounds that are fun to make, and fun to hear, and nothing more.

And that brings us to a fantastic celebration of music in the form of Technicolor humans forming a band.

Yes, it’s the sequel to 2013’s epic film of adventure and magic, Equestria Girls. Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks! Which is film about adventure, magic and music! Love the contrast. Continue reading

Every New Beginning

Ah, Royalty. In this day and age, it’s vestigial. A remnant of ancient society that we just haven’t bothered to get rid of. The only cases where a society has rid themselves of their monarch and established a republic are cases where their monarch was an asshole. Even going back to possibly the earliest republic: Rome.

Before the Roman Republic was established, their last king, King Superbus (yes, that’s his real name), was an arrogant and tyrannical prat. Of course they overthrew him!

The United States ousted the British Government because of taxes and other things, France overthrew their king mainly because of the wealth gap, Germany got rid of the Kaiser because he was a twat who caused World War I, and India dropped King George VI because… well because Ghandi didn’t like him, apparently.

But as long as one doesn’t make too many waves, or piss off the people, they should be able to maintain their rule indefinitely, even if the vast majority of people don’t really care for them. Why? Because it’s just not worth getting rid of them. There really is no point, because even if only a small minority of people support them, their non-supporters just wouldn’t care enough to change things. Everything’s fine! Why fix what isn’t broken?

In Canada, our monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, the same as it is in the UK. And her only job, really, is making sure every nation under her rule has a government… that’s it. She doesn’t have to make any decisions, do any real work; just greet dignitaries, make the occasional speech, and sign every document the parliament puts on her desk. She doesn’t even have to read, she just has to sign!

It must get boring. I know if I had a boring job where I did the exact same thing day after day, no choices, no judgement, no challenges before me, I’d slowly lose my damn mind! Which I guess would explain Prince Philip, wouldn’t it? If only he had a hobby, maybe he’d stop putting his foot in it. I assume that’s how Her Majesty stays sane, some secret hobby no one knows about, like writing erotic fiction under a pseudonym. Maybe she’s the real author of Fifty Shades of Grey! Wouldn’t that be great!?

If life is boring, it’s not worth living. You gotta keep busy, you gotta stay sane. Royalty that does nothing but sit around and wave has no real purpose, and that’s all we have in modern times, unless you count Saudi Arabia. Which I wouldn’t, because I did say ‘modern’ there.

However, in Equestria, Royalty has power. None of them are mere figureheads, overlooking their society while perpetually disconnected from it. They all have a role to play. Well, all except the newest member of the royals: Twilight Sparkle.

And this leads us into the fourth season finale of My Little Pony. Where Twilight finally gets a job. What took her so long? Continue reading

An Occupational Hazard

No, I don’t know what fear is. And I honestly wish I did. Even after taking a course in Psychology, it still doesn’t make sense to me.

All I know is what can cause it; typically a bad experience. For instance, it was over a year ago that a rocks glass mysteriously shattered in my hand, and caused a lot of bleeding, and now I’m deathly afraid of glass… alright, that’s a lie, I haven’t developed a fear of glass, even though I expected to.

Can fear develop spontaneously though? Yes it can, apparently. It just didn’t with me. I don’t know why, you’d think I’d be more vulnerable to that kind of stuff.

But it’s hard to understand exactly why fears develop. Some, you can understand quite easily. I, for instance, have a slight fear of heights. Or to put it more accurately, I have a slight fear of falling from heights, and then experiencing a sudden stop at the end.

But that seems rational, right? Now how did that fear develop? I have no idea! I remember when I was a kid going on trips with my class to the woods, where there were rocky crags and cliff faces, and they made me nervous, but I don’t remember ever falling from one, or seeing someone fall from one.

Maybe some fears we’re just born with, and they have no origin story. Maybe some are in our DNA, and have developed over the past million years of evolution. And fear of heights definitely gives you an evolutionary advantage.

So, in that case, how might someone develop a fear of clowns?

Yes, some fears are irrational, and may develop through mysterious and random or unusual circumstances; or Stephen King films. And we may know they’re irrational, but that doesn’t stop us from having them. It’s the biggest problem with having an anxiety disorder, knowing about it doesn’t fix it.

But you can get over your fears. One way is through ‘systematic desensitization,’ according to my psychology text-book. Basically, you are gradually exposed to your fear, as you tried to stay relaxed. In a way, it’s like bringing the tide in, to slowly push your fears away.

The other approach is flooding, where you expose yourself to the greatest element of your fear, and as you panic and shout, ‘get it the fuck away from me,’ the doctors will just ignore you. In a way, it’s like bringing in a tsunami to take your fears down like it’s Indonesia.

Eventually, the idea is to prove to them that nothing bad will happen. It’s penetrating that outer shell of human reason, all to prove to their monkey/lizard/fish brain that their fears are unjustified. And over time, that fear does go away. Of course, then they might develop a fear of psychologists.

And who knows? Maybe that’s the best way to do it. To get someone to confront their fears and face them head on.

Which brings me to Littlest Pet Shop, where we deal with primal and irrational fears, and attempts to defeat them. Continue reading

Communication Breakdown

“The main point of this self-help DVD is that only you can help you. No need for me then, thanks for the twenty quid.” – Hugh Dennis, Mock the Week

I shouldn’t have to mention how redundant the self-help industry is. Nonetheless, it’s a booming field, patronized by individuals who’re well aware that they have problems, and want to fix them. The problem is, they think the solution is in a book.

Two problems with this!

To start, the vast majority of these books are written by people with no training in any field that qualifies them to give people advice. They’re just average people who thought: “hey, this psychology thing doesn’t look too hard, maybe I can give it a shot!” And as I explained last time, attempting to deal with the serious psychological issues of others when you don’t know what you’re doing can cause some extremely severe adverse effects. And even on the off-chance you get a real psychologist on board, you run into our next problem.

All these books are loaded with quippy statements, and funny stories, that sound profound and inspirational but are absolutely useless for the purposes of self-improvement. And to explain this, let’s take the ur-example: Dr. Phil! Every episode of that glorified self-help seminar ended with someone saying they were a changed person and everything was going to be better forever. Completely glossing over the fact that this shit’s hard! It’s hard to be a better person, you can’t change your habits and attitudes overnight, no matter how many inspirational one-liners you write on Post-it Notes! I mean, I had to become a Buddhist to get over my anger problems; and even years later it’s still something I struggle with on a daily basis! But imagine what would happen if they said that on the show. People would stop watching because that’s the one thing they don’t want to hear. They want the quick fix, they want the simple solution. And if you tell them it doesn’t exist, they’ll just go to someone else. Someone who is more than willing to lie to them in exchange for a book sale.

Yes, I just called Dr. Phil a sell-out. What of it?

So what am I getting at? Basically, the entire self-help industry is a load of bollocks! It certainly makes people feel good, but so does heroin. And oddly enough, it’s just as helpful. But what’s the harm? Well, it’ll certainly make your wallet feel lighter. I think that counts!

And I am so glad the writers of Littlest Pet Shop agree with me. Which brings me to a recent episode of the show, where they take the piss out of the self-help industry! Continue reading