Why Bear Grylls is the still the man.

Preface:  I wrote this piece in July.  Now its November…..and this post still gets more hits than almost anything else that I’ve written.  Anyway, I’m not going to change anything that I’ve written, but I will say this: my opinion has changed.

Bear Grylls basically hid in a corner for this entire period.  It might have something to with the Discovery Channel wanting to totally bury him, but despite this: there was no statement, written or otherwise, that I heard about, explaining the situation.  So, due to the fact that Bear Grylls seems to be avoiding everyone, and some interesting video clips posted on this post, I will officially say this: it seems like Mr. Grylls was up to no good.

But that’s all I will say.  I’ll leave this post up as is.  Let’s just say…..I’m a little disapointed.

(Long live Survivorman.)

November 2007

Okay….it’s time to address what I’ve been hiding from.

That’s right…..the whole “Bear Grylls is fake, Man VS. Wild is fake, this is guy is a phony” dilemna that has swept the newswaves and blogwaves by storm.

I feel I should write about this, seeing as how I wrote a post about two weeks ago pretty much saying that the guy is the man. And lets get something straight right now….Bear is the man. Plain and simple.

I first heard rumblings on Monday night, while I was a enjoying a Chicken Fajita at the Daly Planet in Burlington, VT. My buddy who reads my blog called me to tell me that the London Times was reporting that Man VS. Wild was fake; he just wanted to give me the heads up since I had just kissed Bear’s ass a week before. That was nice of him.

When I returned home, one of the first things my roomate did was start rubbing the “Bear is a faker” story in my face.

“Heeeeeeey, did you hear the news, MAN VS. WILD IS FAY-AKE, MAN VS. WILD IS FAY-AKE.” Then she started asking if I got her email she sent me, which was a link to the BBC story about the controversey (here’s an updated version).

So okay, we all know the details…..allegedly staying at motels, claiming horses from a ranch were wild, claiming they were in Hawaii when in fact they were in Figi or someplace.

I’m not going to sit here and try to say that this stuff didn’t happen: who am I to say that? But I will say this, as everyone and their father tears Bear to pieces: these are only allegations, made by one Mark Weinert, a survival consultant from the U.S. If there’s anything I’ve learned from watching ESPN over the last few years, its that allegations, are, well, allegations. Remember when Kobe was accused of rape? And all the Sportscenter announcers came out and said, “It’s important to remember….these are only allegations.”

Well, its the same deal here….these are only allegations.

Am I accusing them of being false allegations? Ofcourse not. I’m just saying, that’s what they are. And while we’re at it…lets take a look at Mr. Mark Weinstein, survival consultant.

Not to pick here…..but what exactly are his motives? It seems pretty clear he no longer works on the show; so what’s he doing now? Why doesn’t he work for them anymore? Did he leave? Was he fired? Was it on bad terms? Did he just want to get his name out there? Again, I’m not accusing him….I’m just asking. I’m curious.

If you don’t mind….I think I’ll nitpick some more. Weinstein brought up the following example in his story given to the BBC: on one episode, a raft was built. Weinstein showed everyone how to build the raft, and after building it, it was taken apart, and Bear re-built it, with the camera crews on him. Bear never mentioned that someone else helped him build it.

Now….a couple things here. First of all, this shouldn’t seem surprising at all. Think about it: a survival consultant brought in to help out with the show demonstrates how to build a raft. Doesn’t this make sense? Let’s look at it from Bear’s view: the man is a survival nut, but there’s no way he knows everything about the subject: nobody does. So they bring in a few consultants, and in one instance, Mr. Weinstein demonstrates the most efficent way to build a raft. Honestly, that’s what they paid him for: to be a consultant.

And furthermore, this shouldn’t diminish Bear’s standing at all. Like I said earlier, no one can possibly know everything about one thing. By putting two heads together, the best possible outcome came about; that’s what they planned for.

The fact that Mr. Weinstein seems upset, or even mentions the fact that Bear doesn’t name him on the show, is absolutely preposperous. Honestly, is Bear going to look into the camera and say, “With the help of my survival expert, I just built this raft, after he showed me how.” Ofcourse not; but I’m sure, if one was observant enough, that they would notice the name Mark Weinstein in the credits as “Survival Consultant.”

This raises a more important issue: that despite the fact that we have been living with Reality TV for about 15 years now, many people are still clueless to what this actually is.

Let’s go back in time: in the early 90s, MTV decided to broadcast a bunch of twenty-somethings living together in an apartment: it was called The Real World. It was a ground-breaking idea: before this moment, the concept of watching people in an everyday context on TV didn’t exist. It seemed radical. But before long, The Real World had people hooked: it was exciting to see who was backstabbing who, who was hooking up with who. Ironically, MTV revolutionized TV, but not in the way that most people thought it would when it launched in the early 1980s; instead of changing the music world, they changed the entire world of TV programming.

And its been a high ride ever since. The Real World is now one of the longest running and most successful shows in TV history. The amount of Reality TV shows that have been spawned are countless: in 2000, a whole new concept was launched when CBS gave us Survivor. The idea was that one by one, contestants were elminated. Instead of simply watching people, we got to watch people cheat and back-stab their way to the top of the competition. It was fun to watch.

(One note on Survivor: Chuck Klosterman once wrote an article for Esquire which was fascinating; it compared Survivor to Lost, specifically how the characters on each show differed. His main point was that while on Lost, the characters were truly great and strived to build a community, on Survivor it was impossible to be great, because those weaker than you would vote you off. His conclusion was that the only way to win the million dollars on Survivor was to be a genuinly, un-great person with no personality, which is entirely true. And somehow, this makes it more fun to watch; its society at its worst. I couldn’t find the article, but its probably buried somewhere on Esquire’s website).

And so today, we are left with an endless supply and variety of reality TV shows: some are downright awful, like the show on Bravo that followed Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston around last year (the highlights were great, the show itself, impossible to watch [you would think]). Some are entertaining, although you wouldn’t want to admit that you watch them (think Next on MTV). And some are terrific.

One of the first reality shows that I fell in love with was Monster Garage on Discovery Channel. As far as I know, it was the channel’s first attempt at reality TV. Quickly, they found out they had something good.

They put some of the best mechanics and specialists in Southern California into the same garage, and gave them crazy projects to work on. It was great. The best part was that, because it was real, these guys images were on the line. They wanted to make the best product possible so that people would see they were good at what they did. Squabbles often rose, and the scene was usually tense. It was great TV.

And at the end of the day, that’s what we’re left with: great TV, or mediocre TV, or awful TV, but always: TV. And TV wants one thing from you: money. Namely, advertisers.

Where there are advertisers, there are production people. And production people have one goal: make it a show that people will watch. If the people will watch, the advertisers will pay for the people. So at all costs: make sure the people watch.

For a long time, what we didn’t realize about reality TV, is that it isn’t always what it seems. A lot of us have seen the VH1 special about the producers on The Real World, and how they spiced things up by planting ideas into peoples heads off of the set. And not only that, but we should all know at this point that anything can be fixed in an editing room: sound can be added where it didn’t happen, ect, ect…The tricky part is that these producers aren’t lying: they simply spice things up where they can, and bend or cloud the truth where they need to……so that we will watch.

And so we get back to Man VS. Wild. This was always a show that threaded the line of showmanship: Bear was obviously doing a little performing in front of the camera. But let’s not forget: Bear, and his producers, want us to watch. The showmanship is just one aspect of the show that makes it great…..and vulnerable to critics.

Another thing is this: the show never claims to be an actual survivor show…..and it isn’t. Its easy to get swung into an episode, and start thinking, “Is Bear going to make it?” Well…..ofcourse he is. Not only does he have a cameraman and sound guy with him, but rescue teams, survival consultants, and supplies are probably a quick cellphone call away. Anyone who doesn’t realize this is simply forgetting a general rule: they are watching Reality TV, not Reality.

In actuality, the show is not showing a man fighting for survival: it is showing us a survival expert showing US, the viewers, how to survive if we are ever to find ourselves in a dire situation. And that is what makes the show so great. He shows us to urinate on our shirts and wrap it around on our head in the desert, in order to keep our heads cool….a novel idea that I can now use, if, God forbid, I’m ever stuck in a desert. He points out what to eat, and what not to eat. He shows us how to jump off a forty foot cliff into a river and survive.

That’s what people aren’t taking from this: its a survival guide, not a guy fighting for his life to survive. The whole show is contrived: but contrived in a way to be constructive and entertaining. And when you boil it down: isn’t every show contrived, except perhaps for live sporting events? (Do not, please do not, tell me news coverage isn’t contrived).

Now, I can’t speak for the allegations that Mark Weinstein has made: I hope the more disingenuine ones, such as the one that they were actually staying in motels at night, are not true. But no matter how it ends up, everyone simply has to realize what they are watching: they need to put two and two together, and realize that someone has to be out there with Bear. They need to realize that, as is so often the case, the Discovery Channel has provided us with a show that is both educational and entertaining, but in the end, pays the bills for the station. And they certainly need to realize that behind every episode starring Bear, there are probably 4-5 producers figuring out how the show is going to be aired.

I’ll end this article with a post to Discovery’s webpage, where they have a little biography on Bear. I pretty much took this stuff their site verbatim in my post on the matter, but I did mention it at the time. Reading about his accomplishments, it is clear to me that, no matter how it turns out, Bear Grylls is one of the toughest, most inspring individuals out there. Here’s the link.

Enjoy Your Weekend.

Until Next Time,

Greg

I Like Philosophy (Part 1); A REALLY COOL GAME TO PLAY (Part 2)

“I am so stupid

That I cannot understand philosophy;

The antithesis of this is

That philosophy is so clever that it cannot comprehend my stupidity;

These antitheses are meditated in a higher unity;

in our common stupidity.”

-Soren Kierkegaard

“All I know is that I know nothing.”

-Socrates

What’s up people,

Friday night, I decided to write. Lately, I haven’t been able to write much, and when I do, its not as long-winded as before. But I got my thoughts out there: that’s all that matters. I wrote about all sorts of stuff: a radio show, some crappy blog group I joined, and ohh ya, philosophy.

Here’s an actual quote that I wrote: ““Just so everyone knows my feelings on Philosophy: I think its stupid. Why should listen to what some so-called “Sophicate” had to say about life, 2,000 years ago? What the Hell would Plato know about, say, computers, or cars? Jack shit, that’s what!! And just so everyone knows: just about everything that ever came out of Aristotle’s mouth was horseshit.”

Well….even I didn’t know I felt that strongly about the subject. Must of been those two coffees with milk and sugar that helped open up my aggressive attitude (maybe I can blame the coffee on why I spelled ‘Sophisticate’ as ‘Sophicate” as well).

Anyway, one of my a readers, and a good friend, who happens to be chilling in Thailand at the moment, left me a pretty hot-blooded response. Here it is:

“People are still talking about Aristotle’s work 2000 years later. Something tells me at this pace nobody will be talking about your blog ever…
PS what the hell do you know about computers and cars???”

Ouch…..that shit was HARSH! But, he is right….although old Stotle was wrong a lot of the time (not backing down here, sorry), to say that everything he ever said was horseshit, is, well, horseshit. So to anyone who read this and has a special place in there heart for that Greek dude Aristotle, here is my formal apology:

“Dear Aristotle Fans,

I am very sorry. Although Aristotle wrongly believed that men had more teeth than women, and although he shot down Democritus’s brillant hypothesis that the Milky Way was in fact light from distant stars, he did have some great ideas, one of them being that we gain knowledge through our five senses, and he also educated Alexander the Great, who went on to conquer more land than any other military general ever, excluding Ghenghis Khan and his grandson. I was way out of line in dissing Aristotle: there is absolutely no way people will be talking about me in 2,000 years, but they may still be talking about Aristotle 2,000 years from today.

There, I said it…I’m sorry.”

I also dissed Plato in my rant, cause the guy didn’t know anything about cars or computers…..umm, yah, I’m gonna blame this one on the coffee again. Plato in no way deserved any flack.

Whatever…..I’ve talked about this crap way too much. A couple more thoughts before I go:

I spent the last few days in northern Vermont (I’m on vacation if you’re reading this at work…..don’t mean to rub it in or anything, but…..

I’M ON VACATION, HOORAY!!!

I’M ON VACATION, TODAY!!!

I HAVE NO WORK, JUST PLAY!!!

I’M A JERK, BUT HEY!!!!

I’M ON VACAAAAAAATION!!!!!).

Vacation, yo.

A few things I forgot about, in no particular order:

  • The air is freaking clean up there. Even in the town of Burlington, which has about 40,000 people, its wicked clean. I love Boston and everything, but it can get a bit hazy.
  • It’s also colder. I forgot about that. It drops to like 50 every night; during the day its about the same. Makes me not miss living there in the winter.
  • All Dunkin’ Donuts in Vermont suck. This needs to be known.
  • New World Tortilla is the bomb. Just had to get that out there.

Alright…..before I go to do whatever the Hell I want for the rest of the day, I’m going to leave you with a little game to play. Here’s the deal:

Awhile ago, I decided to write a series of posts about what original Nintendo games had the best music. I posted a couple, but honestly, I don’t think they came out that great. So instead, I’ve invented a game.

I’m going to post two videos below. Each one has popular Nintendo game on it with fantastic music. All you have to is this: take 5 minutes aside and give them a listen. Then wait about an hour. After the hour has passed, observe for the following:

Is the song(s) still stuck in your head?

Is one song overpowering the other?

Did both songs fail the test?

I think the more efficient way to do this would be to listen to one, wait an hour, and then listen to the other, and see which one gets more stuck in one’s head. But hey, however you wanna do it, do it.

If you decide that one song is more addictive than the other, or that they both sucked, or that I suck at life and my blog is a piece of shit……hey, drop me line! I’m interested to see the results.

Here they are:

Until Next Time,

Greg

Attention: This Blog Sucks!!

Hi Everyone,

A long time ago, back in high school, I used to have a class during Second Period that was simply off the hook: Music Appreciation. The teacher was Mrs. Daley, a woman in her forties or fifties who decided to take up teaching high school kids just to see what it was like. Unfortunately for her, she landed the most rowdy bunch of hooligans she could have hoped for.

Day after day, I watched Mrs. Daley struggle. There was no hope: she was in way over her head. Half the kids in her class slept or talked; the other half wreaked havoc. Atleast two classmates from that class are now in jail or have served jail time.

I wasn’t innocent of this behavior by any means, by I always towed the line: I never took it too far. I let everyone else do that. The shining moment in the class came when the ringleader of all the bad behavior showed up with a cane one day after being absent for two weeks: he had broken his hip while running from the cops one night, falling off a 12 foot wall. For two weeks, it was actually kind of quiet. Then, one day he came back with a cane and a smile, and the class roared in applause.

Poor Mrs. Daley!

But the point to this story is what I remember distinctly from one morning: a kid by the name of Vinny was sitting way up front, raising his hand and snapping his fingers. There was a lot of chatter going on, and Poor Mrs. Daley was confused and flabbergasted as usual. She didn’t notice Vinny waving his hand in front of her.

When he couldn’t get her attention, he started doing the whole, “OOOHH, OOOHH, Mrs. Daley?! Mrs. Daley, Mrs. Daley?”

No response. His hand started to wave back and forth rapidly.

“Excuse me, Mrs. Daley?! Mrs. Daley?!”

Finally, she noticed him.

“Yes, Vinny?”

To which he responded: “THIS CLASS SUCKS!!!!”

Half the class was so absorbed in other sorts of bad behavior that it wasn’t even hardly noticed, but I’ll never forget it: it was probably one of the most blatanly insane thing a kid could ever yell at a teacher. I can’t imagine what was going through her mind at the time, or what she did when she went home.

Honestly, I hope she’s doing alright, and if Mrs. Daley is reading this, I’ll take the liberty to apologize for the entire class. HEY, MRS. DALEY, WE’RE ALL VERY SORRY. WE NEVER MEANT TO CAUSE YOU SUCH PAIN AND ANGUISH.

But to get back to my blog: Lately, it has just flat out sucked. I haven’t put any time into it, and this is evident by the decrease in readers that I’ve noticed everyday. I just want you to know…..I’m doing my best.

Anyway, I’ve gotta make this short: I’m supposed to be on the road to Vermont as we speak. There’s a big brewfest tommorrow on Lake Champlain that is straight up, BOMB ASS. But I want to say a few words before I slug two ice coffees and head up I-89.

Blog Groups: So I joined this blog group recently called Boston WebBloggers. It was recommended to me by a friend. Our first meeting was supposed to be on Wednesday night at Algiers in Harvard Square. Granted, I was ten minutes late, but guess this: no one showed up. It wasn’t like, “Ohh, there’s only two people here,” lame. It was like, “I’m all alone, I have no friends,” lame. Because I RSVP’d, I had the chance to review them. I was going to rip them in a comedic way and post the link, but for security reasons I couldn’t show the link. But just so you know…..the Boston Webbloggers group sucks. No one shows up to meetings.

Ofcourse, when I got there, I asked the waitresses if there were any blog groups there. They said the only group they knew of was the Socrates Society: maybe I should try them?

Now, I was fully aware the Socrates Society was not what I was looking for….but for shits and giggles, I figured I’d give it a try.

Over in a dark corner, there was a table with a ‘Reserved’ placard on it. At this table sat three crusty old guys in their fifties or sixties. The crustiest was in the middle of a sentence that was probably going to stretch for about 20 minutes. The other two guys noticed me, but Crusty just kept on spewing a constant stream of philosophical thought gibberish. Since I don’t like standing around and being ignored, I cut him off:

“Exuse Me!”

Crusty, with an annoyed look in his eye, turned his head. His stream of thought had just been shot.

“Hi, I was wondering if you guys are a Webbloggers group?” Saying it out loud, I realized how ridicolous of a question it was.

“Hah! Webbloggers?! No, my good man, we are not the Web, although we once had an intro page that was quickly take down. We Do Not Do Anything on the Web. We Are Certainly Not Web Bloggers, as you say!”

Me: “Ohh.”

One of Crusty’s Buddies: “We discuss philosophy…”

Me: “Ohh.”

We sat there for about one more second, and I was gonna say something along the lines of, “Nice talking to ya,” when Crusty went right back into his babbling madness, turning his back on me. Now, I’m not easily offended….but what a rude prick! I muttered something like, “F**k you, Crusty!” as I walked away. Honestly. I really muttered. That’s usually not my style.

Just so everyone knows my feelings on Philosophy: I think its stupid. Why should listen to what some so-called “Sophicate” had to say about life, 2,000 years ago? What the Hell would Plato know about, say, computers, or cars? Jack shit, that’s what!! And just so everyone knows: just about everything that ever came out of Aristotle’s mouth was horseshit.

I will say that I’m big fan of Socrates: that dude got straight up killed for what he thought, and he was pretty badass, unlike some of his pupils. I think its safe to say I’d hang out with Socrates (and he was probably a whole lot cooler than the losers who belong to the Socrates Society).

But anyway….I’m rambling. Kind of like my old philosophy professor: the guy never got to the damn point! And as for most philosophy readings, I find them much like Cranberry Juice Concentrate (not the Juice or Cocktail, the Syrup): much to dense to be enjoyed, and often responsible for inducing vomiting and/or diaherra. So there you go…..those are my thoughts on Philosophy.

Other thoughts: Toucher and Rich, the afternoon guys on WBCN in Boston, are not just a funny radio show: they may be the funniest radio show in history. With all due respect….they are my role models.

Bill Simmons: As some of you may know, I consider Bill Simmons to be, loosely, my favorite writer, although I don’t read him that much anymore (he doesn’t write as much anymore, anyway). I think there are a lot of people who are on this boat with me: the guy really revolutionized sports writing (with the help of the internet), and in my opinion, helped spawn such sites as Deadspin (which is indispensible in my life at this point….I can’t live without it).

But this latest story about Bill has me scratching my head. He applied for the President position of Red Sox Nation (don’t even get me started on this….Red Sox Nation may be the most moronic group, ever), but really gave a tongue and cheek application. As is usual with Bill, he had to poke a little fun: his victim was a Red Sox color guy Jerry Remy.

Now Remy, who is kind of an old salt, seemed pretty offended, and called Bill out on the air about it during a game. Bill, it would seem, would just apologize, or let the situation go.

Instead, he seems to have lost his mind.

I love Bill and everything…..but this is just going waaaaaay to far. Someone needs to talk to him. With all due respect to one of my favorite writers, and a revolutionary writer on the internet……he’s coming off as a serious jerk here.

Seriously Bill……lay off.

On that note, I’m heading up to Vermont to KICK SOME ASS AND DRINK SOME BEER…..AND WE’RE ALL OUT OF BEER.

Sorry…..had to do it.

Until Next Time,

Greg

Badass TV

Hi there,

As some of you can tell, I haven’t been writing as much lately. I’m sorry; between apartments searchs and everything else I’ve got going on right now, I just haven’t had the time, and when I do, I’m too tired to really concentrate on writing.

But I do want to say a few words about my favorite TV station: The Discovery Channel. Lately, it seems like everyone is getting into it, and quite frankly, I couldn’t be happier. It means that there’s atleast some people out there that think shows like Deal No Deal on NBC rot the brain. I’d just like to talk a little bit about some of the shows:

Cash Cab:  This show has been around for awhile; I’ve just never watched it. But they’ve really been promoting it, so I’ve started. And like most shows on the channel, its great. So many trivia shows put all the emphasis on drama, and miss the main part: trivia. The first of these, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, was actually really good. And people loved it, which is interesting, seeing as it was on network TV, and most shows on network TV appeal to idiots. But even Millionaire relied on some gimmicky stuff to keep people interested: in the end, it never stood up to the Grandaddy of Trivia Shows, Jeopardy. It has had more viewers, was more exciting, and had more lights, but in the end Jeopardy simply had much more trivia: it was a better quality show. And Jeopardy is still around; Millionaire isn’t.

Since Millionaire, a lot of spin-offs have come around, leading to the most recent, Deal No Deal, which I won’t even discuss. Amidst all this crap, Cash Cab is a treasure. It combines quality trivia with a little piazz, just not as much as Millionaire. Check it out if you’re not doing anything on weeknights between 6 and 7.

Survivorman: These days, the show that really seems to be sweeping everyone by storm is Man Vs. Wild. I first saw it back in the fall: it was a random Friday night, I was going somewhere, and I ended up being an hour late because I couldn’t stop watching it. I’m glad this show has finally made it: it totally kicks ass.

But there’s another show out there that doesn’t get nearly the publicity: Survivorman. Survivorman follows the pursuits of Les Stroud, a guy who runs an outdoor Canoe Company in Candada. He’s left stranded by himself abosuletly wild places, such as Pond Inlet, Nunavut (above the Artic Circle), northern areas of Canada, the Canyonlands, Utah, and remote areas of Costa Rica. Unlike Man Vs. Wild, Les is actually left totally alone in the wilderness; there is no camera guy or sound guy to accompany him. This is not take anything away from what Bear does on Man Vs. Wild; its simply different.

Les carries over fifty pounds of camera equipment on his journeys. He does all of his shooting with his tripod and handheld cameras. Its not quite as in your face as Bear’s show, but its equally impressive. To give an example: Les will descend a rockwall that stands in his way, set up his tripod with the camera aimed at the same rock wall,  climb back up the wall, and then descend it with the camera rolling, just to show us how he does it. Then he throws the equipment back on his back. I don’t care what anyone says….that’s damn impressive. I’ve also seen him walk across an entire valley with the camera rolling and pointing at him; once he’s done walking, he has to turn around and come all the way back for his equipment.

Anyway, I feel his show to be a little more intimate: its almost like a wilderness diary. And he doesn’t get nearly the attention that Man Vs. Wild gets. So if you come across Survivorman on Discovery: don’t change the channel. Just a heads up: there’s a new one airing this Friday night.

Man Vs. Wild: Okay….I couldn’t have this conversation without mentioning Man Vs. Wild. It simply wouldn’t be right. But since I’m assuming that most everyone has seen the show atleast once, I’m not going to talk about (okay, I lied: a brief description: This guy Bear is dropped by plane into wilderness areas, and along with his camera guy and sound guy [both survival experts, also], he demonstrates how to survive in the wild and get back to safety. It usually takes him a couple days).

Anyway, I’d like to talk a little bit about the man, the myth, the legend, Bear Grylls (just so everyone knows: this info was taken from Discovery’s websit:

  • Bear grew up on the Isle of Wright, where he would hike with his father.
  • Bear served for three years in the Special Air Service, a special forces unit of the British Army. While serving, he broke his back in three different places while parachuting over Southern Africa.
  • Despite his injuy, he became the youngest British climber to summit and descend Mt. Everest, at the age of 23. He wrote a book about his experience.
  • Following this feat, he and some members of his climbing group became the first people to succesfully circumnavigate the United Kindom on jet skiis. You read that right: Jet Skiis. I mean, can you imagine driving a jet ski around the entire United Kingdom??
  • But that’s not all: Following this, he led the first unassisted crossing of the North Atlantic Ocean in an open rigid inflatable boat. That’s the North Atlantic folks…..the same place where the Perfect Storm took place. And that’s an inflatable boat, thats, well….inflatable. The more you learn about Bear, the more you realize that he’s not even really human….he’s like a super human. He wrote a book about the experience and the British Navy awarded him for it.
  • In 2005, Bear took his amazingness to a whole new level: breaking a world record, he decided to host a dinner party at 24,500 feet. The table was suspended by a cable attached to a hot air balloon. He rappelled from the basket to the table, dressed in a full Royal Naval uniform, and ate a three course meal. After eating, he saluted the Queen and sky-dived to Earth. I don’t even know what to say here…..I’m flabbergasted. (Note: he raised money for two charities while doing this).
  • Also in 2005, Bear took a group of men to the Sahara to undero the strenous training of the French Foreign Legions. Ofcourse, it was all done in the heat of the Sahara. (This was for a British TV show).
  • And finally, just two months ago, Bear became the first person ever to paraglide over the summit of Mt. Everest. Yes, that is correct….he paraglided over Mt. Everest, at 29,500 ft. It was a special paraglider with an engine attached, in order to reach these heights. He had a partner with him in another paraglider whose engine failed, so only Bear made it over the summit. After flying over the top, his engine died too, so he had to fly to safety. But just imagine this for a second: the top of Mt. Everest is one of the most extreme places in the world. People can’t even breathe there without oxygen tanks. And this guy was actually paragliding around in the air?? I mean….I’m speechless.
  • Did I mention: he has numerous books that are best sellers.

So to end this discussion: Bear Grylls might be the most incredible guy on the planet. No wonder I’m addicted to his show. To make him even cooler, he lives on a barge on the River Thames, with his wife and two sons, one of whom is named Marmaduke.

Bear Grylls: the man who is cooler than everyone else.

Until Next Time,

Greg

Transformers: More than meets the eye?

“We must’nt hurt any humans.”

-Optimus Prime

As you may have read in my earlier post, I went and saw Transformers on Saturday. Hadn’t been to the theaters in awhile; just felt it was time. I’m not really gonna do a review….I’m just going write some quick-hit thoughts on the experience.

Plot: I thought the plot was pretty good, for what it is: a blockbuster summer/action movie. The good robots come to Earth to save their universe (I think); the bad robots come to Earth to do bad stuff, and hurt people. Honestly, for a summer blockbuster, I’m not looking for much else. However….

Dialogue: The dialogue could’ve been better. I mean, I’m not looking for much, as I just demonstrated in the above paragraph, but give me something to work with. For awhile, especially in the beginnning, it was just downright awkward. I think whoever the screenwriter was just gave it to his 11-year old daughter to work on. I mean, all I ask is that it sounds like real conversation…..it sounded pretty canned to me, even for the genre (Spider-Man, Incredible Hulk, ect, ect…)

Another Problem: the main guy was a total dweeb. I can’t be alone on this….he was awful. I wanted to jump through the movie screen halfway through and beat him up, and I’m a pretty mild-mannered guy. He just wasn’t a likeable guy: he took being dorky to a knew level, and it wasn’t cool. Then I found out his name was Shia LeBeouf. Yah, I think its safe to say that we’re all a little cooler than Shia.

As for the main girl: I’ve seen better. As is standard in these movies, the main guy has a main girl that he falls for, and then she ends up being a pretty tough cookie, and she helps him with whatever the problem is. And ohh yah, she’s gotta be hot. Anyway, the girl from Transformers fit the role…..but it was like eating a hotdog with no mustard. Sure, she had all the qualifications, but there was no flavor. She wasn’t even that hot (yes, she was hot, but, I don’t know, something was missing). Above all, her personality was just a little too indifferent: the whole time she gave off a vibe that was sort of like, “Um, yah, like, let’s save some robots.” I wasn’t impressed. Here’s her webpage.

Ofcourse, super dork managed to not appreciate the coolest part of this girl. When it came to light that she used to steal cars (hmmm…..where have I seen this in a summer movie before?) he was like, “What?!? Why didn’t you tell me??” He was all offended. If I found out that my girlfriend used to steal cars, I’d be like, “Yah, baby, you rock! That’s f**king awesome!” A sidenote about this relationship: of all the improbable movie relationships, this one just might take the cake. I mean, this guy was too dorky for even me, and I’m a freaking dork: I write in a blog, for God’s sake. And this girl, not to be judgemental or anything, sort of seemed like a superficial bitch.

Let’s sort this out: In the beginning of the movie, she’s hanging out with the football players and cool people, and dating some guy on the team (we’ll assume for the time being he’s the quarterback). They’re all kind of jerks. We notice her smiling at this kid as he gives a God-awful school presentation. Then, without warning, she breaks up with her boyfriend (when he won’t let her drive, cause of his rims), and she gets picked up by the loser that everyone hates. And after saving the entire future of a race of robots and planet Earth, she falls for this guy.

I’m sorry….there’s no way this would last. In the sequel (you know…..when the Deceptacons swim up from the bottom of the ocean), we should be shown a ten minute sequence when she dumps his ass for the local basketball/hockey/football/baseball/wrestling hero. Please…..show us this. I hate this guy. (Note: the first time I read about all-time improbable on-screen couples was while reading Bill Simmons on espn.com. He mentioned the main guy and girl in Back to School. While this is a perfect example, I think the Transformers couple actually takes the cake….atleast the girl in Back to School seemed friendly).

Alright, enough about people.

Let’s Talk about Robots: The robots, were…..well, they were cool. I mean, it wasn’ the greatest special effects I’ve ever seen….but they were cool. Unfortunatley, I haven’t been keeping up with the cartoon (or rather, watching old episodes from twenty years ago), so I didn’t know who everyone was. Ofcourse Optimus Prime was there…..and Bumblebee was the main guy’s guardian. I mean, there’s not much else to say….they were pretty cool (I liked the guy who wanted to take everyone out the whole time).

One thing I noticed…..Optimus seemed very old. I think this was a good thing……I just got an old man vibe from him.

As for the Action Scenes: This was one area where the movie shined. The action scenes were top notch. Car chases, robot battles, rockets, the whole deal……the action scenes were great. They didn’t skimp there.

Movie Length: A half hour too long. I’m sorry, but 2.5 hours was too much……they should have cut out about a half an hour. I really started to lose interest during the final robot scene, and just wanted the damn movie to end (ofcourse, it may have been because it was the late show and was about 12:30am).

Other notes:

Notable Actors:

Tyrese: Tyrese did a good job. Again, nothing that was really stood out…..but I liked him.

Johnny Knoxville?????: I swear to God, the Captain in the Army (main guy number 2) was Johnny Knoxville. Is anyone with me? Actually, it was Josh Duhamel. I swear to God…..this guy mine as well be Knoxville’s twin. I was convinced it was him. Anyway, I actually liked this guy.
Jon Voight: Jon Voight was there. Is it me, or does he just always seem to show up in movies like this? I didn’t know who was in it, but when I saw him, I wasn’t surprised. It was like I expected him to be there.

The Token “Fat, Un-Athletic guy who is a wiz with computers and provides comic relief”: Introducing……Anthony Anderson!

The Token “I’m totally hot, but you better respect me, because I’m the smartest person here, and I’m going to save the planet whether you like me or not” girl: Some blonde girl who was British. I love how Hollywood just assumes, “Well, if we make her British, everyone will believe it when she turns out to be brillant.” Whatever…I didn’t mind. Her real name is Rachel Taylor.

John Turtorro: Hey, Movie People. The next time you cast John Turtorro in a movie like this, can you not make him a total loser that nobody likes? Thanks….he’s one of my favorite actors.

Bernie Mac was there. As usual, there was a warm, fuzzy feeling in my stomach.

The Parents: The parents of Shia provided comic relief. How do put this…..I would call them the “Poor Man’s Parents from American Pie.” Ofcourse, it was pretty much only the Dad in American Pie…..but I got the same vibe. And they weren’t nearly as funny. They even went so far as to have an uncomfortable discussion about masturbation, followed by amazement that their son had a hot girl in the room. I kept expecting Stifler to run into the room. Anyway….I wasn’t a big fan, but despite all this, I laughed.

Bumblebee: I liked Bumblebee, but I thought his relationship with his buddy was a little unhealthy. C’mon bro…..you gotta go back to your planet with your own kind. Why would you wanna hang out with a human all the time…..especially a nerd like Shia. Not only that, but wouldn’t it be a little awkward for Shia to make out with his girlfriend while he knows Bumblebee is always watching.

All of this being said…..I almost got teary when they took Bumblebee to do tests on him. It reminded me of E.T. when they took E.T. away from Eliot to do tests on him. I’m glad he got his voice back in the end.

Anyway, those are most of my thoughts on Transformers. I didn’t mind it….but I probably won’t see it again for awhile. However, I was laughing for extended periods of the movie…..that’s always a good thing.

Until Next Time,

Greg

Optimus Prime: A True Role Model

In case you were wondering what I was doing tonight, here are my plans:

Transformers used to be one of my favorite cartoons……since I haven’t watched it in about 20 odd years, I’m a little rusty in my knowledge of the show. Naturally, I’ve been doing a little research.

Because we all deserve to witness great things, I am posting the following clip of Optimus Prime’s battle with Megatron. This video proves the following: The Transformers may have had some of the best music in cartoon history; Optimus Prime is the Freaking Man; One of the best lines in cartoon history may be, “I’ll rip out your Optics!”; Megatron is a total pussy; Optimus Prime is the Freaking Man; Hot Rod is a total Horse’s Ass.

With all due respect, if this doesn’t rivet you, then you are not my friend. Not only are you not my friend, I don’t ever want to meet you. If you see my on the street, and recognize me, walk the other way.

Long Live Optimus.

Until Next Time,

Greg