It’s a Pet Shop Blitz: “Feud for Thought” review

One thing that strikes me about Broadchurch is that it seems no one gets along with anyone. In almost every episode, everyone is fighting with everyone else! We have feuds between families, family members, former colleagues, and whole professions!

And it very rarely seems rational.

I’d say ‘never’, but the show opens with a child being murdered, so a bit of animosity between the characters can kinda makes sense.

But that was two whole series ago. Can’t they get over it!? Can’t we all just get along? Can’t we get over our petty little differences and learn that we’re all humans, wanting to make the world a better place?

This even happens in the real world! Take France and England! They may not go to war anymore, but they still constantly find ways to get on each other’s tits! Russia and the US still glare at each other from across the Pacific Ocean. And then you have the middle east, where you can throw religion into the mix and holy fucking hell! And all these feuds are pointless, and juvenile, and they all just need get the fuck over it!

And that’s the lesson that framed another episode of Littlest Pet Shop! All about conflict, and conflict resolution! Continue reading

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Not Just For Christmas: “Two Pets for Two Pests” review

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

An Occupational Hazard: “What’s So Scary About the Jungle? Everything!” review

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: “Tongue Tied” review

“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

Evolving Integrity: “Hamster Hoods” review

I’m certain I’m not alone when I say, I want to be a better person. But that’s not easy. There are certain faults I have, that I know I have, that I just can’t seem to get past. One being a lack of self-motivation to write these reviews.

But how do you know what is a fault, and what is a virtue? My favourite example of this being: ‘faith.’ A lot of people think ‘faith’ is a virtue, and I could not disagree more. To believe in something when there’s no evidence for it, and even when there’s evidence to contradict it, is in no way a good thing. In fact, it might even be a sign of insanity.

To give you an example, let’s say a friend of yours swears that he did not brutally murder his girlfriend with a chef’s knife. He’s your friend, you trust him, and so you believe him. I can understand that. Now, lets say he swears this as he’s holding a chef’s knife, dripping with fresh blood, and standing over his girlfriend’s mangled corpse. If you still believe him at that stage, you need psychiatric care.

So I guess it’s good in moderation. Trust a friend, sure… until he proves you can’t.

But are there any absolute virtues? Traits that are always good, in all cases?

Tenacity’s a good one; the desire to never give up. It’s what got me through high school, and my first attempt at college. And most of the major advancements our society has gone through was only possible because of people who refused to give up when things got tough. The suffragettes, the civil rights movement, NASA…

But on the other side of the coin, you have those people who are trying to build perpetual motion machines. People who think that if they work hard, and keep at it, they can defy the fundamental laws of the universe. I imagine if they ever do succeed, it’ll just cause a system error and our entire universe would blink out and be replaced by a blue screen with white text on it.

What about honesty? Well, sometimes you have to lie. Take all those people in Nazi Germany who sheltered Jewish families during the holocaust. Honesty there would’ve gotten innocent people killed.

So, these traits are good in moderation. But too much of them can cause insanity, or just being downright evil. But there is one virtue which I think is absolute. One you can never have too much of: Integrity.

Integrity is basically being honest to yourself. Having a solid moral code you live up to, don’t compromise on, and don’t back down from. Of course, being completely immovable on basic issues isn’t good. But that’s not integrity, that’s just being stubborn. Take gay marriage for instance. Let’s say a politician who was against gay marriage suddenly 180s because he met a gay couple who seemed really nice, and were very much in love, and it made him realize that these people have as much a right to get married as the next couple. That displays a profound amount of honesty and integrity. On the flip side, if he changes his mind because a gay advocacy group promised him a million in campaign dollars, that would do the opposite.

So yes, integrity is most certainly a virtue. And such a virtue seemed to be the theme of a recent episode of Littlest Pet Shop. Continue reading

Love in a Dumbwaiter: “Secret Cupet” review

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a big fan of romantic plotlines. Mainly because I think avoiding the issue is just ridiculous. On My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, only one main character ever expressed even a modicum of interest in a member of the opposite sex. The other five appear to actively avoid romance for no discernible reason. Well, that is with the possible exceptions of Twilight, who fell in love with a block of wood from a parallel dimension. But she didn’t really express an active interest in Flash Sentry, just a passive one. She just stood back, took a few shy glances, and blushed. And now that I think about it, that kind of characterization is bordering on old-fashioned sexism. Expecting the woman to stand back and wait for love to happen to her. What the hell, writers!?

But nonetheless, with the exception of Rarity’s one romance episode, they seem to actively avoid it. And this is part of the reason I like to presume the other five were spayed at some stage.

But that being said, romance is something that needs to be handled delicately, and not shoehorned in for the sake of fan service. And to me, the prime example of this has to be the TV show, Jonathan Creek. It’s a comedy/mystery series about a magician’s creative consultant who moonlights as an amateur detective solving seemingly impossible cases. Most of which are of the ‘locked-room’ variety. For the first few seasons he worked with his friend, Maddie, who also got him started in this business to begin with. Now, in the first few episodes of this show, there was no indication of any romantic tension between these two. In fact, just the opposite. They appeared more like reluctant colleagues. Then, in the final episode of season one, one character says, ‘oh yeah, they want to bang each other.’ And from that point forward, we get this shoehorned romantic subplot that never goes anywhere since they’re more likely to annoy each other before they can put it in. Typically, this is known as a ‘will they/won’t they’ plot. Except in this case, I wish they didn’t… ever. But they did, and a few episodes later, after she left the series, Jonathan mentions that it was a mistake. And I can’t tell if that was Jonathan Creek (the character) talking, or the series’ writer saying, ‘yeah, that was a bad idea, I don’t know why I did that!’

Then they introduced a new character named Carla, who also had a bit of romantic tension with Jonathan. But if you ask me, in that case, it worked. Primarily because they actually had a bit of chemistry. You could actually believe that they were a couple. Sadly, between her first and second appearances, she ended up dumping Jonathan, and getting married to a professional tool. So that wasn’t actually a ‘will they/won’t they’ plot. It was a ‘they did, and it’s over now, but they still have the hots for each other’ plot. And it actually worked!

I guess what I’m saying is, whether the characters actually ‘hook up’ doesn’t matter. What matters is: Do the characters and actors actually have any real chemistry. Can you believe them when they say they’re in love? And even more importantly, does their relationship develop in a believable way?

In the past, Littlest Pet Shop handled this pretty well… sometimes… For instance, Pepper’s relationship with the Captain worked because we saw their relationship develop. There was a bit of old ‘love at first sight’ bollocks, but as the episode progressed, they started to talk, and flirt, and by the end, we can believably presume several little hybrid pups are in their future.

Then there was the time Zoe fell for a mime. She had nothing to base it on, and eventually realized that, so left him in the dust. Again, believable; and because of that, one of the better romance plot threads on this show.

It’s certainly gold in contrast to the time Blythe crashed into some skateboarding ponce and instantly found herself smitten before he got a chance to say anything.

Yes, Josh Sharp. A block of wood with no personality. But perhaps, as time went on, this relationship could develop into one that makes a bit of sense. We could get either some indication that Blythe’s feelings are based on something more substantial; or we could see Blythe come to her senses, and decide to abandon this silly and superficial crush.

But I don’t think either is going to happen. Especially since Josh’s most recent appearance only confirmed everything I just said. He just stands around, says ‘hi,’ as Blythe gushes.

They can’t even try to develop these characters? Continue reading

Malicious in Vogue: “Some Assistance Required” review

One of the many things that differentiates Littlest Pet Shop from My Little Pony, is the setting.

One may think that’s a superficial distinction, but it’s not. The world of Equestria is a land of magic, unicorns, and fairy tale castles; where everyone is nice to each other, and nothing ever goes wrong.

In contrast, Littlest Pet Shop takes place in (for the most part) the real world. Downtown City is located on a contemporary Earth, with modern digital technology and no magic (for the most part). It’s also a world where, to put it bluntly, shit happens. Things aren’t perfect, and bad things do happen. Yes, it never happens on-screen, because this is a saccharine kids show. But given the fact that this is ersatz-New York, I get the feeling that something very terrible did happen in that town about thirteen years ago.

Basically, the difference in setting gives us a difference in tone. Even if it’s just an implied tone. And this is even portrayed on-screen in the attitudes of some of the characters.

In Equestria, everyone is nice. In the real world, most people are dicks; And this has been portrayed on Littlest Pet Shop quite extensively. There’ve been con-artists, violent bullies, thieves, complete tools, plagiarizers, and serpentile delinquents on this show. Then there’s the recurring jackass we have in the form of the Biskit Twins, who constantly make life miserable for our hero. And while Equestria does have it’s share of bad apples, I can name them on one hand. They’re not really a large cohort.

And because of all this, I believe Littlest Pet Shop has cemented it’s role as the show where people suck. And I’m not sure if this is a good thing. Oh sure, it’s more realistic, and certainly kids need to learn that not everything is sunshine and rainbows; but I don’t think it’s a good idea to make children completely jaded and cynical either. Which could probably happen because of this. Especially with regards to a recent episode, where the designated prick didn’t appear to be a prick… at first. Continue reading

An Alien Confusion: “War of the Weirds” review

I would love to meet an alien. Who wouldn’t?

To start, I think it would be nice to finally know that we’re not alone in the universe; It’d make existence seem less lonely. We’d be exposed to a brand new culture, one we couldn’t have even fathomed before, and we’d gain new ideas about biology and evolution. We’d have new motivation to explore the stars ourselves, and they could answer the mysteries of the universe we still haven’t solved. Like how to travel faster than light, what dark matter is, and why American Idol is still on the air.

I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t be excited to meet an alien. Well, racists probably wouldn’t be too happy. They have a problem with members of the same species who just happen to have higher melanin content. Imagine how they would react to a six-armed tentacle beast, even if it just wanted to be your friend and help you cure cancer.

But for the most part, I think we’d be happy to meet alien life. Even if we never met; Even if we just knew they existed because they sent us a radio message. I think that alone would change everything, and maybe make us appreciate our own existence even more.

So all that being said, you’ll understand where I’m coming from when I say, if you think you’ve been abducted by aliens, you’re wrong.

Believe me, I wish you weren’t! Because that would prove aliens existed. But if you have no evidence, your claim has no weight. So here’s what I suggest: Next time you get taken to the flying saucer, when the aliens are looking the other way, reach over and grab something off the desk. Anything! Because no matter what it is, it’ll be a miracle of technology to us on Earth.

The same goes with sightings of flying saucers, and the various alien conspiracies that have cropped up over the years. Show me the proof, and I’ll believe you. Primarily because I want to believe you. But if you can’t prove it, I won’t.

I’m not saying you’re lying. But it’s pretty easy to confuse one thing for another. To see something in the sky you don’t immediately recognize, and assume it’s something unusual. But that doesn’t mean it is.

And that’s an important thing to remember: Just because something seems paranormal, doesn’t mean it is. And that message was sent quite clearly during a recent episode of Littlest Pet Shop… which I totally saw coming. Continue reading