Sunday, February 2, 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII (2014) Live Blog

The Super Bowl is today. I'll live blog it. It starts at 6:30 or something. It'll be played by millionaires who will, win or lose, party.

1:30pm-- Philip Seymour Hoffman is dead. Will they cancel the game?

3:00-- Puppy Bowl begins. I hope the league has finally done something about concussions.

5:35-- Anticipation grows the FarmersOnly.com commercial.

6:00-- I think they are pre-empting the Super Bowl to show something from the Disney American Experience thing at Epcot.

It's now the [something something] Pre-Kick Show. (Editor's Note: The Serum Magazine will not be using any brand names in today's blog (unless it's a really good punchline (see FarmersOnly.com joke above)) because nobody's paying us shit. This will make the commentary of commercials particularly difficult.) Queen Latifah is singing Whaddyacallit The Beautiful.

It's 6:15 or something. Commence selling me stuff!

I'll be one-handed typing and one-handed eating wings throughout the game, just like that Alanis Morissette song.

Bad sign: Kurt Russell introduces your team. Worse: You enter to Bittersweet Symphony.

Escape from New York joke. Jesus.

Fuck I forgot Joe Buck was calling the game. I may cancel this whole thing.

Now we scout referees? Jesus.

This national anthem is going to take forever.

Air Force firebombs stadium after national anthem, per tradition.

Joe Buck, re: coin toss and kickoff after this commercial break: "Cannot wait."

Joe Namath just wants everyone to remember how he is better than you. That's why he's wearing that enormous fur coat.

Except he blows at coin tosses.

Breaking news: Players wore t-shirts.

Pre-Kick Show over. Thanks for following the live blog.

"We're going to follow up this commercial with a commercial that's double the length. And follow that up with a three-plus hour commercial called the Super Bowl."

My favorite commercial is the one that says you aren't allowed to disseminate accounts or descriptions of the game without the NFL's expressed written consent.

Orange guy tackled. Not a good sign.

Safety first play. Not a good sign.

With that safety, a TON of people with shitty numbers in their work pool are celebrating.

The center's name is Manny Ramirez. #MannybeingManny

Great play by Percy Harvin, named for famed British poet Percy Shelley.

I'm going to picture-in-picture Synecdoche, NY and cry for the rest of the night.

Fox really pulled out the stops on their graphics size for the Super Bowl.

Autobiographical side note: I thought "Super Bowl" was one word for a long time. That's why the tag on this post is "Superbowl." Don't make fun.

The last points of last year's Super Bowl were on a safety. This means two safeties represented consecutive Super Bowl scores.

Pete Carroll challenges spot of the ball. Remember that a challenge is not legal until the camera zooms in on the red flag in the middle of the field.

This commercial with creepy kid narrating: shitty movie or jeans commercial?

Turns out car.

I've never seen a commercial for Maserati before. Now my life is complete.

Seattle loses first challenge. With that, the long national anthem, and the safety on the first play, a bunch of prop bets are already over.

It's 5-0 Seattle. I won't be using the Seattle team's nickname in this live blog because it is offensive to various species of birds. #Iamnotamascot

Big mental mistake by Seattle Special Teams, which is why they are called Special Teams.

Full disclosure: I am wearing Broncos socks.

Uses of the word "popped" to mean "hit so hard he'll have brain damage in ten years": 1

It's a half hour into the game and I haven't bought anything yet. That should tell you how the commercials are.

Never will I have as many people care or even know about anything I do as there are people who care about what is happening on my TV right now.

Well, at least all these guys are benefitting a non-profit organization, the National Football League.

Pretty nice throw but Seattle's Russell Wilson. I didn't know you could throw the ball, ya know? Seems like cheating. But hey, I say do it until the refs throw a flag.

Joe Buck makes a big deal about the ball not getting to the line of scrimmage, indicating that he has forgotten the rules of football at the worst possible moment.

John Fox challenges the previous play. Camera zooms on red flag.

Hey commercial: I don't drink that beer and you can't make me!

Challenge overruled.

Joe Buck says that challenge was a waste. He doesn't know what it's like on the field, he's never played a game of football in his life he doesn't know what it's like you try it Joe Buck fuck you you try it you think it's so easy

Not a touchdown. #playbyplay

8-0 Seattle, if anyone cares.

This commercial with U2 is most noteworthy for the awesome from-the-ceiling microphone Bono uses.

Full disclosure: I like U2.

I am wearing U2 socks.

The Serum has learned that Peyton Manning will come out as the first openly gay NFL player during the Bruno Mars halftime show.

Peyton Manning threw an interception. Apparently he DID take advice from Eli after all.

Blame the cold weather for that bad throw.

I'm thinking that I should have referred to Percy Shelley as an "English" poet rather than "British." I'll see what Wikipedia says.

8-0 at the end of the first quarter. Keep in mind that the first quarter is the least important of the four. So keep watching, the quarters get more important. Points are worth double in the second quarter!

Yeah, Wikipedia calls Percy Shelley an "English" poet. Consider myself corrected.

"Statistically, what a difference," Joe Buck says to open the second quarter, once again relying heavily on adverbs rather than strong verbs.

That was a multi-layered joke. Much like the Seattle defense so far in the game. #colorcommentary

Brutal pass interference call for Broncos fans and people anywhere who hate to see that.

That last play was a touchdown. #playbyplay

15-0 Seattle. It's a big hole for the Broncos to have to climb out of, but ultimately life is meaningless.

That light beer's commercial centered around the fact that you won't want to drink it, so you'll want to just put the cap back on and put it back in the fridge for some other sap to have.

If you think people care if their products are made in America, you haven't noticed that every fan at the Super Bowl is taking a picture with their iPhone right now.

Guy who intercepted Manning earlier is now hurt. The football gods are harsh, but just.

Oh it looks like he's okay. Gets a standing ovation from the crowd, like when Congress applauded that soldier at the State of the Union.

Okay it wasn't really like that. Also I have no way to know if he got a standing ovation.

Football from one guy to another. #playbyplay

Be quiet, crowd! We want to hear him say "Omaha."

Broncos get their first first down, about fifteen minutes of playing time after Seattle got the game's first first first down.

Was going to make a joke about Knowshawn Moreno's name, but Key and Peele have covered it all.

I don't even know if I spelled his name right.

I may have to take a break, as I am suffering from not-having-buffalo-wings fatigue.

Wes Welker catches a ball. Tom Brady somethingsomething.

Troy Aikman: "Peyton Manning is the quarterback." That's some Tim McCarver-esque brilliance there.

Dude's name is Ball. Of course he'd be good at either sports or ballroom dancing.

Another interception by Manning. This one returned for a touchdown. That's huge, if you think anything in a football game could ever be important.

22-0 Seattle. That's a pretty big number to a number that's as small as they come.

Penis joke in that commercial.

Penis joke in that commercial too.

Another turnover by the Broncos. This is not their best game.

The couch-trained referee in me says that is not a fumble and Denver will keep the ball. At this point, they should take the ball home so Seattle can't get it anymore.

Slow clap in that commercial. Maybe too slow? I forget what they were selling. Clap-speed enhancers? I really don't know.

Dear commercial that has someone speaking a different language: People watching the Super Bowl DO NOT want to read subtitles.

Fumble overturned, Denver gets the ball, I was right hooray me.

Joe Buck: "If the Denver Broncos want to feel good about themselves going into halftime, they need something to happen now." Or they could base their self-worth on something other than a small subset of football play results.

Two minute warning. So watch it, Two Minute.

This commercial features a multi-lingual America the Beautiful, or my TV is broken. Also I don't know the lyrics so I really don't what they were saying.

They showed a shot of the Statue of Liberty. Remember that this game is in New Jersey, not New York. Also remember that the State of Liberty is in New Jersey waters.

Or at least I believed in middle school.

Troy Aikman thinks there should've been a flag on that play, but who cares what he says.

Eli Manning was just on my TV. I work hard to avoid that unless I'm prepared.

I know for a fact that nobody is reading this right now. Kinda makes you wonder. If I keep live blogging but nobody sees it, am I really live blogging? And how will anyone know I did it live?

Failed fourth down conversion by Broncos. Embarrassing.

[redacted Woody Allen joke]

Oh it's halftime. Seattle is still winning.

A halftime random thought: After having only spicy pickles, going to back to regular pickles is like when you're in high school and you go back to your elementary school and you wonder why the urinals are so low.

This Seinfeld thing is bad because the editing is nothing like Seinfeld.

I liked this halftime analysis better than most weeks because, though equally vapid, it was much shorter to fit in the Seinfeld thing and the Bruno Mars show.

Children singing at the Super Bowl halftime show. I'm assuming their won't be nipple this year.

Bruno Mars looks like whats her name. #goodjokeinmyhead

Bruno Mars is almost as good of a drummer as Justin Bieber.

He's playing the song from those commercials.

And playing in front of a colorized Windows 95 screensaver.

As the Red Hot Chili Peppers take the stage, I expect Flea to perform a moving tribute to his Big Lebowski co-star Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Oh, I meant female nipple. There's plenty of male nipple.

Oh cool they got Will Ferrell to play drums.

I think Peyton Manning listened "Give It Away" before the game, too. Hey-o.

Whenever a ballad starts at the Super Bowl halftime show, I assume it's "We Are The World."

Fireworks over the beautiful swamps of East Rutherford, NJ.

I just saw the guy who plays Jack Bauer, presumably promoting that Jack Bauer show.

I don't care what Howie Long thinks about football-- why would I care what you thinks about Bruno Mars?

In an unprecedented move, Commissioner Roger Goodell has decided next score wins.

Shiny-ass jacket on that guy right there. Not Bruno Mars. I mean a guy who plays football.

Opening second-half kickoff returned for touchdown. That one team sure is doing a lot better than that other team.

And so now is 29-0 Seattle. That's not even a joke.

I refuse to make a joke about the lights going out.

Peyton Manning with a really good throw, except it didn't go to anybody, so it doesn't help anything.

This game is really making me think about if Eli Manning is better than Peyton, if Peyton Manning is as great as people say he is, if I should have more wings now.

Troy Aikman: "There's a Bronco down." Joe Buck: "Actually it's a Seahawk, you fucking idiot. Can't you see that he isn't wearing bright neon orange, you dumbass piece of shit. I never liked you, I'm tired of your dumbass commentary and I have no respect for you. Go fuck yourself, you stupid dick."

Man, Tim Tebow can make money by being bad at football. That's totally unfair to me, who is also bad at football.

These players are so fat they should call it a neutral zone infarction. Burn.

Troy Aikman said "ball skills." LOL

Scary music going into the commercial break. Watch out behind you, Peyton Manning! Ahhhh!!!

This commercial has a Bob Dylan song, "I Want You," playing. It is therefore my favorite.

New England fans are upset. It could have been the Patriots getting blown out in the Super Bowl.

Holding penalty on Seattle. Will this turn the momentum?

Percy Harvin' a Good Game. I just came up with that.

Troy Aikman laughing makes me sad. I don't even know what he was laughing about because I was burping.

Remember when a Matrix joke would have been timely? It was the year after John Elway won the Super Bowl.

Sometimes I watch a commercial and I wonder if the people in it are celebrities that I don't know or if they're just commercial actors and I don't get it.

The Broncos game plan at this point seems to be to deny reality.

Wow that was a hilarious fumble. He was carrying it, and then he wasn't carrying it anymore.

This sport just doesn't seem safe.

Joe Buck talking about how Pete Carroll is old but is annoying so you wouldn't know.

I like when football players all clap at the same time. That's really what teamwork is all about.

Hilarious touchdown. I can, but won't, stop watching.

36-0. Fire Peyton Manning.

Alright, let's start the greatest comeback of all time, right?

I've never been more ashamed of my socks before in my life.

(The Broncos socks, not the U2 socks.)

Uses of the word "popped" to mean "hit so hard he will have brain damage in ten years": 2

Yellow thing thrown at the people, that means Broncos get to play again. #rigged

Alright, this has been a tough game for the Broncos, so it's a good thing it's a best of seven.

Touchdown Broncos. Nobody cares.

Two-point conversion successful. 36-8. Those are funny numbers.

I'm launching a write-in campaign for Super Bowl MVP.

Troy Aikman, who has no problem saying "Washington Redskins," believes "game manager" is a "derogatory term" for quarterback.

As I've said before, Fox's injury timeout music is classy as fuck.

YOU CAN'T JUST RUN ONTO THE FIELD AT LAMBEAU FIELD THAT COMMERCIAL IS STUPID

This game is starting to get out of hand.

Russell Wilson. Boring name, exciting player.

Touchdown Seattle, again. I can safely project that Seattle will win this football game. It's 43-8.

There it is, the copyright notice commercial! NFL once again has the best ad of the game.

Peyton Manning is going to throw darts at his picture of Andrew Luck when he gets home.

Richard Sherman faked injury so he could sit on the bench and focus on his post-game comments.

The referees see this as free flag-throwing practice at this point.

Richard Sherman is actually hurt. I'd feel bad but nobody would care if I got hurt.

Wes Welker getting redemption by catching all these fourth quarter passes.

Peyton Manning has set the record for the most completions in a Super Bowl. He'll go home proud of that record.

Joe Buck refers to Bruce Springsteen as a "local artist." Yeah, maybe that's true but I think he's pretty famous nationally now.

Troy Aikman reminds the audience that he isn't that impressed because he's won a Super Bowl too.

Nothing happening in the game. Is boring.

Here's the "look at how sad the Broncos are" segment. They look real sad.

I hope someone on Seattle is the David Ortiz of the team and has the goggles on already.

Some dude is just carrying the Lombardi Trophy around on the sideline.

Seattle players still celebrating their tackles, as if they aren't playing against a team of players who are dead inside.

Peyton Manning fumble. He's gonna want that one back. "That one" being this game.

Now that dude is just holding the Lombardi Trophy. He looks lost and confused, like maybe he shouldn't be holding it. "Who gave this to me?" he's wondering.

Russell Wilson pulled after an embarrassing performance.

Joe Buck tells us Russell Wilson's QB rating for the game was 123.1, which is a stat that means nothing, and nobody even pretends it means something.

I'm loving these slow-mo shots of Seahawks players smiling. It's like the Cute Cam from the Puppy Bowl.

Two minutes left. Can Peyton Manning score 5 touchdowns to lead the comeback??

I'm just waiting for Peyton Manning to shed his classy, good-guy image by punching someone in the face.

And it's over. Seattle wins by a lot.

Now is the moment when photographers earn their pay, fighting through crowds to get the shot everyone wants to see tomorrow: players lamely shaking hands.

The last stressful moment for the stadium's personnel passes without a hitch, as the correct confetti is shot out over the field.

I'm going to stop watching now, and you should too. Thanks for reading this. My back and fingers hurt and I'm tired, hungry, and I have to pee.

Bye.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

2014 State of the Union Live Blog

Tonight is the State of the Union, the one day a year when the President announces all the good news that had been hidden from the media all year. "I know what you're thinking," State of the Union addresses typically begin, "But the State of the Union is actually good!"

The Serum Magazine will be live blogging it, because that's what you do when you have the internet and you can type fast. One fun game to play is to see how many jokes from our live blog of the SOTUs of 2012 and 2011 we repeat. (Note that we did not cover the 2013 address because I just didn't give a shit.)

So pull up a chair and stare at your computer screen for the next however long Obama talks for.

8:45pm-- The Serum has learned that Obama will enter the House chamber to the song "Wrecking Ball."

8:48-- The Serum has confirmed that we repeated the joke about not repeating jokes from our 2012 coverage.

8:51-- As we await the broadcast to begin, I'm watching the end of the Biggest Loser. Mitt Romney something something

8:55-- As per the time-honored tradition, GOP House members will be showing their dissent by having their staff tweet line-by-line opposition to the President's speech.

8:57-- This dude just lost 16 pounds.

9:00-- Brian Williams introduces the NBC broadcast as Carrie Underwood sings to the tune of Joan Jett in the background.

Obamas enter, but none of the important ones.

9:04-- Cabinet members entering, posing for a moment in E!'s 360 view camera thing.

9:07-- Joe Biden shoots the breeze with John Boehner. "So, uh, you ever been to one of these things before?"

I'm switching to an internet stream of C-SPAN, to get Congress' perspective on this thing.

Bald guy introduces "The President of the United States." Looks like he actually  had the balls to show up.

WAIT HE'S BLACK??

The thing about C-SPAN is that I have to fill in my own vapid play-by-play of Obama shaking hands with all these rich people.

"Oh, there's that guy. Yep, they're gonna shake hands. There he is, kiss-greeting that woman. She's rich. Oh, can't forget that guy, also very rich. Long-time millionaire, I believe. Oh hey, here's another old guy with a lot of money. Him too. They will now shake hands with Barack Obama."

Sergeant At Arms successfully delivers Obama past Congress and into the hands of the Lieutenant At Arms.

John Boehner's introduction of Obama much better than last year's "Members of Congress, here's, well, you know him. That guy, here he is."

Obama: "My fellow Americans." Hey, that's me!

Obama: "A man took the bus home." Joe Biden?

Obama mentions that the war is over, and a standing ovation follows. "The other war is still going on," he adds, to silence. "I knew I should have cut that line."

Yeah, fuck you China! Here's a standing ovation about how China is number 2, USA number 1.

Obama says America is well-positioned for the 21st century, which started over a decade ago.

Joe Biden begins doing homework behind the President.

Obama: "Let's make this a year of action." That was my mantra when I turned 15, too. Hey-o.

Congress members clap at the "working hard" line, in the greatest moment of irony.

Joe Biden now writing checks behind the President.

House and Senate Democrats applaud over Obama's line about not waiting for Congress to take action, because they like not doing anything, I guess.

Everyone gives Michelle Obama a standing ovation except that guy sitting right next to her.

Oh. Oh, nevermind on that last thing.

Obama: What matters is not "accident of birth" but hard work. So are you #TeamAccidentOfBirth or #TeamHardWork?

John Boehner gives a standing ovation to "single mom" line, because Obama slyly snuck it into a line right after he acknowledged the Speaker.

Pretty sure Obama just said "shit jobs overseas." I don't have a joke, I just wanted to say it first.

Biden scratching his chin repeatedly, wondering, "Did I shave today?"

"We have the chance right now to beat other countries..." Um, I couldn't type fast enough, I guess he's talking about the Olympics?

All this talk about "putting Americans back to work" makes Obama sound like every teenager's dad.

Obama wants goods to be stamped "Made in the USA." Easy of enough, we could hire some Malaysian kids to stamp everything we buy.

On patent reform, Joe Biden gives Obama two claps. Two.

After Obama's impassioned comments on natural gas, Joe Biden scrawls a fart joke to tell him later.

"Climate change is a fact," Obama says as he begins to list all facts.

"Let's get it done," Obama says about immigration bill, thereby dooming any meaningful reform to the sidelines of a conversation about a birth control amendment.

Ensure job training programs have "one mission: train workers . . . and match them to good jobs." That's two missions, Barack O-bummer.

Obama wants Congress to give Americans a chance, like he's setting us up on a blind date.

"Five years ago, we set out to raise the odds for all our kids." And today, Vegas bookmakers say a $2 bet pays over thirty cents more than it did back then.

"Research shows one of the best investments we can make in a child's life is high-quality early education." You lie!

The push toward high-quality Pre-K indicates the Democrats' shift in interest in an even younger voting population for the upcoming election cycles.

John Boehner looks like a schlub without a pocket square.

"Women make up about half our work force." Sounds about right.

John Boehner applauds, yeah, women deserve equal pay for equal work, but I'm not going to let the cameras catch me standing.

Mad Men reference met but uproarious cheering.

"I believe when women succeed, America succeeds." A surprising amount of people are scowling at that. Elected officials, I mean, not just the Duck Dynasty guy.

"No one who works full time should have to raise a family in poverty." Give the family to rich people, then?

EVERYONE GOOGLE PUNCH PIZZA MINNEAPOLIS NOW.

Google, Punch Pizza, and Costco have gotten name drops in this speech.

This federal contractor minimum wage increase affects Edward Snowden's replacement, right?

Tom Harkin's moment in the sun right here.

Obama: "Give America a raise." Give America a high-five, too! We've been waiting here for, like, ever.

Stuff about IRAs for people like me. But that shit's so boring. Get the part about steroids in baseball already.

Uh-oh, health care talk. John Boehner will slaughter any Republican who moves for the next few minutes.

Now Obama introduces a woman with a conveniently timed health crisis, which is, as you know, the new American Dream.

Obama says he won't convince Republicans of the merits of the health care law, and Joe Biden looks at Boehner like, "He means you, ha ha."

Boehner now cracking his knuckles over the votes to repeal Obamacare.

"Citizenship means standing up for everyone's right to vote." Not according to Wikipedia.

"Citizenship means standing up for the lives gun violence steals from us everyday." Not according to Wikipedia.

Obama: "This year, I pledge to personally remove the gun from every American's homes and hands."

Boehner refuses to applaud over the Sandy Hook reference, believing that to be a talking point from last year's State of the Union of the last year's State of the Union only.

Applause for armed services, including by the uniformed members of the armed services.

Obama: "America's longest war" will end this year. Not the war on the drugs. The Afghanistan one.

Obama lifts a line from Bush about terrorists not attacking our country. Boehner applauds meekly.

"al Qaeda" count: 3

"Syria" "cyber attacks" count: 1 each so far

Says he won't mire Americans is open-ended conflict, but he was talking about wars, not Congress.

"America must move off a permanent war footing." Congress reacts with confusion, unable to fathom what he means.

Obama says he wants to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. And open one at Guantanamo Gulf.

Eh that joke was lame. Let me try again.

Obama says he wants to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. He can just send all the prisoners home and drone strike them when they get there.

House stands in unison for Israel. They did not for the children of Sandy Hook.

We're still talking about Iran? That's so 2005-2010.

Obama just complimented JFK, Reagan, and the old Soviet Union in one sentence.

The stenographer is just fucking sitting there, man. Not stenog-ing anything.

With this focus on Iran, Obama once again picks up where Bush left off-- this time, with regards to the Axis of Evil.

Obama suggests the U.S. Olympians will "bring home the gold." Does he know there's more than one gold medal?

"My fellow Americans, we fucking rule. We're the fucking best. Are you kidding me? Look at how great we are. Jesus." Uproarious applause.

Obama's going to introduce another guest. This shit is not ending anytime soon.

(Obama taking a selfie joke)

Obama refers to American soldiers as "comrades." Don't think conspiracy theorists will overlook this.

Twitter snark goes silent for a second here, hold on.

Obama ends his speech by ripping a picture of the Pope, saying, "Fight the real enemy."

Okay that's the end stop reading now.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

What Do You Think?

There was a controversy today. What do you think? Tell us in the comments or on Twitter @BillyPal!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Is It Funny? That AIDS Tweet

By now you've heard that someone tweeted a joke and got fired for it because that's America-- a place where a TV personality can go on an anti-gay rant and inspire freedom fighters to hail it as protected speech but a private individual can't make a joke without inspiring universal backlash and loss-of-job.

As a satirist (or, more accurately, snide internet opinion typer), I find this troubling. First they came for the racist jokes, and I did not speak up. Then they came for the AIDS jokes and I did not speak up...

But anyway, regular readers know I'm not here to talk about the controversy. I'm here just to determine on thing about the joke in question: Is it funny?

The text of tweet, in case you haven't internetted in the back 24 hours, is as follows: "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding, I'm white."

To discuss this tweet's humor or lack thereof, first we have to agree that it was intended as a joke. But more importantly, we have to agree on what the punchline is. I think a lot of people are upset because they want to grab the tweeter (you can find her name on any of hundreds of other posts about this) and say, "That's not funny white people get AIDS omg you never even saw Rent or Philadelphia." These people aren't giving the joke enough credit.

The joke isn't intended to be a "ha-ha black people are suffering" thing, because that would be horrific and not even a joke. The joke is supposed to be largely at the tweeter's own expense; she doesn't realize that she isn't invincible because she lives a privileged and sheltered life, what with her executive office and twitter on a plane and everything.

If we remove this joke from context and put it in a pile of jokes, mixed in with jokes by uncles and jokes by comedians, we might laugh. It's a fine start to a joke, but it didn't really take the joke where it could go, or it's not worded exactly right. I think I and others have said this about Twitter jokes, before, though, that they don't get the attention that other jokes might-- too often, rough drafts of jokes get tweeted but they look no different from final drafts to the reader.

So my verdict on this joke: Not that funny. Try harder. This joke was not worth losing one's job over.

But where it really gets funny is what happened after the tweet. The joke is about someone not realizing that their actions have consequences even though they think they are invincible, and then she got fired for it. That's comedy.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Serum Magazine: JFK Assassination Coverage

In America, people like guns and gun violence so much that we get excited for how to talk about the 50th anniversary of a President getting shot to death. And so the country takes part in this nostalgia-festishizing of a famous murder, this universal yearning for a simpler time when killing was done not on the other side of the world but right in front of our home movie cameras nor by radical suicide bombers or remote-controlled robots but by someone like you or I, a time when social disagreement didn't result in filibusters or Sunday morning talk show criticisms but repression of and violence towards your political enemies. The Serum Magazine thought it would irresponsible not to participate. (See our coverage of the September 11 ten-year anniversary for another example of how we've dealt with anniversaries of emotional click-bait events.)

So here are a half-assed executions of brainstormed approaches.

Proposal: Invent Time Travel and Let's All Go Back to Watch Together
I know this is too late for the anniversary tomorrow, but maybe we can agree to make this the goal for the 100th anniversary. There are people who have doubts that Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy, even though Oswald all but admitted his guilt by saying, "I emphatically deny these charges." (Speaking of which, I've always had a problem with people using "emphatically" to describe their denial of something. It's not up to them to determine if their denial can be called emphatic or not. They have to just deliver or word the denial emphatically, then it will be described as such.) Also, he got shot by Jack Ruby, and anyone who has seen Law & Order knows that guilty people get shot by vigilantes at the last second of the episode because the justice system is broken. The justice system was certainly broken in 1963-- how else would Jack Ruby have gotten so close to Oswald with a gun if it wasn't?
Anyway, some people aren't convinced. And there's always this desire among hypothetical time travelers to go back and see what really happened (or, for people who have no respect for history, to change what happened). But if someone goes back and says that it turns out there was someone shooting from the grassy knoll, who would believe them? So my proposal is that once time travel is invented, everyone in America goes back and waits in Dealey Plaza for the motorcade to turn the corner. It's imperative that nobody change history, though, so hopefully the large crowd won't deter the shooters or tip of the Secret Service that something might happen. And it would probably be OK if someone gave Zapruder a zoom lens.

Speaking of Time Travel: Jack Ruby
Has anyone ever wondered if maybe Jack Ruby was a time traveler who came back from an alternate future in which Oswald confessed his role in a vast conspiracy going all the way up to Lyndon Johnson and former Vice President Richard Nixon and the country collapses as a result and war and slavery and starvation reign for decades and everything is so terrible that the only way to stop it was to send a hero back in time to take down the one man who revealed it all?

An Incomplete List of Events since November 22, 1963 That Were More Important Than the JFK Assassination
Chappaquiddick

The Changing Speed of News
According to my TV, a lot has changed since 1963. Whereas people back then got their big news from a crying newscaster blubbering on ten different TVs on a store front on Main Street, people today hear everything first on Twitter. I'd like to take some time to consider how some of those tweets might have read had the assassination happened today:

@CowboysSuperFan9: JFK just drove by my office and now I can't get a burger next door because of all the security.
@TexasSchoolBookDepo: Great view of JFK's motorcade out our windows!
@DallasPoliJunkie: Something weird happened on Elm St as POTUS drove by. Heard pops, secret service guy dove on the limo
@NewsChannel: Sources say Pres Kennedy shot in Dallas, status unknown #JFKshot
@UmbrellaMan: Horrible. Doesn't look good. Blood everywhere. Shot from the front, it looked like #jfkshot
@UmbrellaMan: I mean back. Shot from the back. Lots of blood. Jackie hit, too? #jfkshot
@NewsChannel: President Kennedy, shot in the head in Dallas, has died, multiple sources say.
@NewsChannel: JFK: "I'm losing my mind trying to please these Dallas people!" #jfkshot
@NewsChannel: We apologize for the previous tweet. The person who posted it has been reprimanded
@Someguy: So that happened #jfk #jfkshot #president #assassination #verizon #deals #cellphone #apps
@Walmart: The entire Walmart organization expresses its condolences to Jacqueline Kennedy and her family.
@Someotherguy: OMG just realized Lyndon Johnson is President now. We're doomed #jfkshot
@Someguy2: So do we have a special election to replace JFK or do we just not have a President for a year?
@Somewoman: Texan Conservatives: "No King No King la-la-la-la-la" LBJ: "Idiots, there will be a king!" "But you said, uh..." "I will be king! (1/2)
@Somewoman: Stick with me, and you'll never go hungry again!" "Yea! Long live the king! Long live the king!" (2/2)
@Someguy3: And people wonder why we need gun control #jfkshot
@Someotherguy14: What were they thinking driving in the middle of a city like that?
@Somewoman32: So sad. JFK, our strongest anti-communist leader EVER, killed by leftists
@Someguy9: @Somewoman32 What about Eisenhower? Or Truman? Or literally anyone else?
@Somewoman32 @Someguy9 JFK was the first Catholic. That means he hated communists more than any other Pres
@Someguy9 @Somewoman32 That's stupid
@LBJ Here's me being sworn in on the plane. #newpresident #jfkshot twitpic.com/LBJnewPresident
@ESPN Tune in to the Mavs at Knicks game early to see a moving tribute to JFK #jfkshot

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Is It Funny? The Onion's Fake 9/11 Subway Ad

Ever heard of The Onion?

Me too.

Sometimes they use swears words and stuff.

There was a blink-and-you-miss-it controversy over a fake ad they made for Subway relating to the blink-and-you-miss-it terrorist attacks from September 11, 2001. Here's a fucking Buzzfeed article about it. Some people said "blah blah I'm offended because Rudy Giuliani" and some people said "blah blah but whatever." It was a classic American controversy. But here at The Serum, we set aside the controversy and determine: Is It Funny or Not dot com?

So, is it funny?

Before I can address that, I need to talk about something: 9/11. It's been twelve years. Comedy is supposed* to be tragedy plus time. And if the comedy is contingent on the extent of the tragedy, well, then this shit should be hilarious by now.

But it's not, my sponsors** tell me. So can a fake ad referencing the most hilarious least funny aspects of 9/11 be funny?

Well, to answer that, first we must address the surface level jokes, the puns. "Fly on in" and "You'll 'never forget' this deal." Those are some solid puns or whatever you want to call them. But they are pretty pedestrian. Who hasn't made a flying-into-a-building joke or collapsing-twin-phalluses joke when trying to shock for no reason since that fateful September day when Bush suddenly became electable?

Of course, though, The Onion didn't make this so they could do a few cutesy, easy jokes about 9/11. (See The Serum's 10-year anniversary coverage of 9/11 for more cheap jokes, including the front page layout.) They're making a comment whatever consumerism whatever whatever corporate whatever whatever. The point is, it's funny because it wasn't entirely outlandish. Especially since we're in the middle of Subtember. I mean, don't you think it'd be a missed opportunity if The Magic Bullet didn't have a great deal on November 22, the 50th anniversary of the whatever? Of course you think that! Because that's our world.

That's our world, man.

Verdict. Is it funny? Yes. I can laugh at it, the rest of the world can laugh at it, and the people who made that ad will laugh at all of us soon.



*According to some fucking guy.

**Fuckin uptight, non-existent bastards.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Is It Funny? George Zimmerman's Lawyer's Murder Trial Joke

Being the warm-up act at a highly-anticipated event is always a high-pressure situation. George Zimmerman's lawyer learned that last week when he opened the trial about the killing of Trayvon Martin with a joke. Was it in poor taste? Was it offensive? Was it poor legal strategy? Did it demonstrate the defense's lack of comprehension of the fact that a young man is dead due the actions of Zimmerman? Well, that's not for me to decide. I just need to determine if it was funny.

The joke, in case you missed last Tuesday's Daily Show episode: "Knock knock/ who's there/ George Zimmerman/ George Zimmerman who?/ Alright good, you're on the jury." The lawyer was then baffled that there was no laughter, upset that the murder trial jurors, judge, spectators, and press didn't come ready to laugh.

To be honest, I think this is pretty funny. It uses a classic set-up technique, but rather than adhere to our expectations of a last name (like the famous Mr. You-Glad-I-Didn't-Say-Banana) or who-based pun (as in the "Jokes for Second Graders" classic "Boo who?" "Don't cry, it's just me!"). No, this joke references the fact that the case was nationally notorious and the only way to ensure that someone didn't know the details of it was for the judge and attorneys for both sides to go door to door and trick would-be jurors. Such an unlikely scenario, it's hard not to find it somewhat humorous.

The problem here is the context with which the joke was delivered. First of all, as noted earlier, it's a murder trial. When people are in the mood to be completely serious, this kind of gotcha joke is no good. Murder trials are a better time for silly puns. (e.g. Prosecutor, holding bloody knife: "What is this?" Defendant: "I'm not sure." Prosecutor: "Take a stab at it." general laughter. Defense attorney: "Your honor, I request a sidebar... a SIDE-SPLITTING sidebar!" general laughter. Judge: "I don't see how the fun in this trial can be SUSTAINED any longer!" silence.)

But there's a more important issue here that the defense attorney failed to grasp when telling this joke. As noted, the whole understanding of the joke relies on the fact that seemingly everyone knows who George Zimmerman is because the story was so huge and it's virtually unfathomable that enough people for an entire jury didn't know who it was. This is a well-known fact, except among the jurors themselves, who ultimately were his audience. So the punchline, which is about the lack of knowledge that the jurors have, could not be apprehended by its audience, because it is about their ignorance and at their expense. This would be like telling a Yo Momma's So Stupid joke to the Momma in question.

The joke was sadly wasted on the wrong audience. The Is It Funny? verdict: Guilty.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Billy's Opinion: Abolish All These Pointless Elections

As we speak, whistleblower/traitor Edward Snowden is either en route to Cuba or Ecuador or is in Moscow waiting for a plane or maybe is somewhere between. This is a bad opening sentence. The point is he is seeking amnesty from political prosecution by the United States.

The mainstream consensus among flag-fearing Americans is that, though the NSA's surveillance isn't ideal, Snowden is a traitor for revealing to the citizenry some of the actions that their representatives do in their name. This tells us that we are, in general, OK with not knowing what our elected officials do in our name. So if we don't know or care to know how they represent us, what's the point of electing them in the first place?

It's become clear that there are important duties of the President and Congress that the American people who elect them will never know. Surely the NSA surveillance program is not the only top-secret task that top elected officials in government oversee.

When electing Congresspeople and Presidents, how can we determine a person's ability to do the job when we don't know exactly what the job entails? And when someone faces re-election, how can they be held accountable for their actions if we don't know what they've done, and in what context?

Consider this: among our elected officials, the NSA surveillance is a non-issue. There was no outrage from anyone before the leak even though, as Obama said, Congress was kept up to speed on PRISM.

In other words, even if we believe that some of our representatives are uncomfortable with the scope of the program, all agreed that the secrecy rules made by the NSA are more important than their own values, the values for which they were supposedly elected by their constituents. So again, why bother electing them?

I'm not suggesting that the NSA surveillance programs need to stop or be scaled back. Quite the opposite. If we all agree, and it seems that most of the people with a voice in the country do agree, that Americans need to be protected from even the knowledge of how the government is protecting us, then we need not be involved in the process of selecting our government officials. That's a decision that should be left to the people who can be trusted.

After all, if it's worth it to collect data or at least set up the capability to collect data about the goings-on of people in America, then surely it stands to reason that everyone poses some amount of risk. And if that's the case, we can't really know that American voters are really voting for the best interests of the country in mind.

Who can be trusted? Well, that's not for us to know.

So the solution, it's clear, is to stop holding elections. Just let the people who are already in charge of making decisions for us without our consent make decisions for us without our consent. It's not like the American people have really been consistent with their messages from the voting booth. Since 2004, the power has shifted, thanks to American voters, from one party to the other dramatically every four years, ensuring that no party can actually achieve anything.

Hell, eliminating democracy would likely help overcome the most hated thing in America: partisan gridlock.

We should never hesitate to give the government more power when it comes to national security, even if "national security" really means not "citizen safety" but "protecting government secrets," because you never know when those government secrets might be ensuring citizen safety.

Remember, the government says PRISM could have prevented 9/11. If even one more 9/11 is prevented by the institution of fascism, we must move toward it.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Billy's Opinion: How to Fix Unpaid Internships

As you may or may not have heard, a New York judge ruled that a couple of unpaid interns working on the set of Black Swan were actually supposed to be paid because of like, labor laws or whatever. This ruling calls into question all unpaid internships, because, as it turns out, you can't just call someone an intern if they are performing vital roles for the company and aren't deriving more personal and/or professional benefit than the benefit the company receives for having the work done. Here's an article about it, with the Department of Labor explanation: The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees and on occasion the employer's operations may actually be impeded." In other words, interns should only be unpaid if they are fucking everything up and call that "learning."

I find this very troubling for two reasons. First, I have come to the realization that I was exploited as an illegally unpaid intern by various organizations. I mean, look at the benefits reaped by the MLL from when I edited this video for them. Over 114,000 views, 111 comments, 119 thumb-ups and only 8 thumb-downs.  That video easily my most-seen/read creation (far above this post from the First Golden Age of The Serum, the time I was the host of a public access show, and the penis graffiti I scratched on the sidewalk outside my work), and surely it's that video that made the Major League Lacrosse the household name it is today. I should have marched into the commissioner's office and demanded fair pay. Then, of course, he would have shrugged and said they didn't really need anyone to make shitty-ass videos and that I could go fuck myself. At least I would have my dignity, if not my 114,000 views. (That's a lot!)

But I find this troubling for a second reason. The Serum Magazine has been looking for an intern to not pay for almost two years now, to no avail. (For details, click here.) It's gotten to the point where I'm honestly willing to not pay ANYBODY to do the menial, degrading, but absolutely critical tasks of an intern. And now suddenly activist judges legislating from the bench declare that that would be little more than slave labor heralded as a resume-builder. How the children today are coddled!

What ever happened to working your way to the top? People used to start at the bottom and celebrate each of the major milestones of your climb to the zenith of the Success Ladder: first paying job, first time with health care, first middle-management position, end of ladder. That's the American Dream. As a participant in the film industry, I can tell you for sure that in this business, as with many others, there's a lot of sayings about starting at the bottom and keeping your mouth shut and doing whatever people say. It's what we're all taught: being underappreciated and ignored is the best way, nay, the only way to get noticed. If we coddle young people into thinking they deserve being paid for doing work before they've paid their proverbial dues, how can they learn that hard work is its own reward? They'll think they are entitled to the same kinds of benefits regular people get for doing less, easier, more fun work. To quote George Costanza, it's out of whack.

Okay, fine. Scrap unpaid internships. They are illegal. Okay. But businesses reluctant to pay low-experience, high-need "workers" can be satisfied in another way. We just need to get the focus back on the educational aspect of these opportunities. So we should be allowed to invite pre-job young people into our offices and show them how things work. Here's my solution:

Institute little things called Multi-Week Interactive Guided Tours. Tour participants can see what it's really like inside an office, and even participate in some office activities! Tour spots are limited, so be prepared to defend your spot on the tour. Along with doing some office tasks, you can even meet and mingle with some of the mail room's best and brightest and network with the people at Starbucks you talk to every morning. And when it's all over, you can get as many copies of a personalized form letter recommending you to future places of employment!

That sounds so fun, interns, er, tour-takers should have to pay us. We're providing a great service, entertainment, and experience. It's a win-win.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Is It Funny? The Patriots Sign Tim Tebow

Here at The Serum, we like to look at controversial jokes in the headlines and determine, regardless of the controversy and potential offensiveness, whether the joke itself is funny or not in this occasional column called "Is It Funny?".

Last night, a great controversy swirled over the New England Patriots' facetious signing of free agent Tim Tebow, the most popular football "player" ever. Putting aside the cruelty and downright bullying of Tebow that this joke signing entails, we are charged with determining whether it is funny or not.

Wait, this was for real? My mistake. Nevermind.