The Problem with Figure Skating

With another Olympics behind us, much has been made of the decline in US figure skating. Everything from lack of competition, racism, and/or a change in the scoring system has been mentioned. To which I only have to say that a pipe to the knee never helped no one, Michelle Kwan, and everyone else is being scored in the same system.

The real reason figure skating has been down is because of the sharp decline in The Cutting Edge viewings.

Note: The dip in 1994 was most likely caused by our focus on the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding scandel when it should have been on reruns of The Cutting Edge.

This past Olympics I caught The Cutting Edge on TV once… once! For me to be in the proper frame of mind for figure skating, I need to be thoroughly brainwashed by a will they/ won’t they, opposites attract kind of love story. And I need more than one viewing to do this. There was a time when The Cutting Edge flowed on TBS every hour on the hour. It has all but been replaced by endless reruns of The Big Bang Theory, which has demonstrated no discernible correlation to gold medal or taste or humor.

It’s not lack of desire or training that’s hurting today's figure skaters, it’s a lack of D.B. Sweeney. A top skater needs to figure out that it’s not about classical music or rock and roll, but some sort of compromise of a generic jazz song (?) that you don’t need to pay licensing rights for, that’s what’s important. That’s what wins Olympics.

Lessons from The Cutting Edge

  • The importance of toe picks
  • To appreciate the smell of the ice
  • Form or precision doesn’t matter, what matters is blurry jump cuts that may or may not be actual skating on ice
  • It doesn’t matter if you’re blinded in one eye or you’ve alienated every person in figure skating, there’s always the next Olympics
  • A 31-year-old guy and a 24-year-old women are not over the hill for championship level pairs figure skating
  • Pamchenko?

Tapioca? Tupac?

If you’re not going to show The Cutting Edge, at least, give me some Cool Runnings or Mighty Ducks 2.

Cyberspace Madness: Chief O'Brien Hates his Job more than Me

City Cyclops proves it ain't easy being Miles O'Brien.

Also, this is exactly what I imagine when I imagine Tasha Yar in a thong.

Although, if I could make three changes to my job I would:

  1. Be in a room by myself
  2. Whittle all my responsibility down to pushing a single button
  3. Be called Chief (Boss is also acceptable)

Around YouTube:

Weird and very well done, it probably could have been edited down to a tight 3 minutes from its 4 and half hour run time though. And where was Bill Murray!? I think I saw a digital Wayne Knight, but no Bill Murray... come on!

The made this video about The Simpsons in different languages (The Monorail song is worth it):

Professor X is a Dick

I come from a world where Professor Charles Xavier is considered a “good guy.” Yes, he amassed a personal army with a jet and enough firepower to blow up Wisconsin. But he had a good reason… he… um… had a tiff with his best friend. So, there was that. Also, the government did have an actual anti-mutant agenda. So, maybe, it’s not an insane idea to be prepared. Still what separates Professor X and the X-men from any other extremist paramilitary group?

When Kitty Pryde famously said, “Professor X is a Jerk,” it was because Xavier wanted to transfer/demote her to the less dangerous, more age appropriate New Mutants. By the end of the comic, everything is all better: Kitty is back on the X-Men, she befriends a magical dragon, and everything is alright. But is Professor X a Jerk? Before we go into this, let me first add that there’s something wrong with any teacher who wants to be called by an initial. I want a mutant teacher will will teach me to control my eye blasts, not a bud who will let me smoke and sneak me drinks at mutant prom. Maybe, a reasonable decision would have been to follow through and not put a teenage girl in harm’s way and, maybe, not let her keep a dragon which you have little to no knowledge of.

Back to the jerkiness: there’s lots of lists depicting the various ways Professor X has been a dick in the comics. I mean tons. Like so many. I mean so many that why am I even writing this? But my primary issue has become Patrick Stewart’s film version.

To be honest, most of my Professor X memories come from the 90’s animated series. Which featured an even more watered down, always-does-the-right-thing sort of Professor X than the comics did. Each week the lesson was WWPXD: What Would Professor X Do? He was a little like a mutant Mr. Miyagi, but not the hard partying Mr. Miyagi of Karate Kid Part I, but the emasculated Hilary Swank Mr. Miyagi who was less sexualized (if that’s possible) and 10% more Jesus (I’m fairly certain Mr. Miyagi walked on water in that final film [And no, Jaden, I don't count your "movie" as a Karate Kid film]).

So, using that as my base and watching the movies, there seems to be a running theme in terms of dickishness, i.e. Professor X has become a bit of dick. The thing with the X-men and Wolverine films is that it seems that each movie is written without ever watching the movie before it. Or, maybe, they just let Professor X be as a bad as he want to be because they cast the always lovable Patrick Stewart in the roll.

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Badsense: How Google Adsense Banned Me

Now the story of a website who lost it’s commission and the one writer who had no choice but to keep it all together. It's Arrested Adsense.

The Culprit

Some of you may know this pitiful tale of woe, but let me catch you up if you don’t or give you the fuller story. Given my limited sense of humor, I decided it would be funny to do a parody of Mormon porn (that’s those pictures of women in bikinis that have been photoshopped to look like they’re nude), but using all round pop culture characters. So, it’s basically circle on circle action. Kind of a one note joke (if even one note), but it made me chuckle, so I went with it, and I was kind of impressed with my bubble porn making skills if I do say so myself… first try, people!

Days later I get an email from Google giving me a warning for what they deemed as "lewd" content. Not funny I get, but lewd?

First Warning:

Adsense Policy Video:

The basic gist of their standards:

  1. We decide what’s offensive
  2. Everything can be offensive to someone

It’s interesting that they claim this to be a manual process because that means someone would have had to look at the above picture of Ms. Pacman and thought that it was actually offensive (and, maybe, it is offensive but you’d have to be very prudish and you probably wouldn’t say more than, “Oh, you little rascal.” And I'd say, "Grandpma, you just don't get me!"). I think obviously the keyword “porn” set off a warning flag (wait for the klaxon), but these images would only appear pornographic to something that had no concept of what it was looking at… like a robot. Like something that could only identify that there are circles covering what could be explicit content but not what the explicit content actually is.

So, given this was a parody piece of a scantily clad Ms. Pacman, who normally wears just a bow anyway (I also realize it may have been Power Girl's chest hole, but this is just what's visible on every comic image of Power Girl, so any website that publishes any picture of Power Girl should be in violation), I clearly (probably?) did not validate their policy. I wrote an email stating this opinion and low and behold they rescinded the penalty. That’s right, they rescinded the penalty. I fought the law and the Gnards won! Or so I thought.

Days after this I get a second email saying an article I wrote 4 years ago now violates their content policies. So, they gave me a small moral victory and then proceeded to run my website through the meat grinder to see what else they could squeeze out. Well played, Corporate Giant, well played. Now this page is admittedly a little more questionable. It’s an article poking fun of weird/sexy Japanese toys, so I can see their point but the content is still not trying to be provocative. It’s tongue & cheek, not tongue in cheeks. It was an old article though (before I had any quality control - yeah, this is quality control), and I hadn’t put a lot of work in to it and didn’t mind seeing it go, so I deleted it. Not even an edit… just BOOM! delete (and without giving too much away it eventually got unboomed). However, the next email from Google said my site was still in violation and it could be literally any page on my site.

Final Message:

And that was about all the fight I had left in me. I’m not going to let Google dictate my content because that’s essentially what they’re asking for, full editorial control. I have hundreds of pictures on Wolf Gnards that could be taken the wrong way if that’s the mindset you come in with. The problem is there is no humor algorithm, they can’t tell what’s parody or sarcasm, so if you have anything that pushes the envelope past PG, it can and probably will be subject to a penalty. I rarely curse and I rarely write anything that could be qualified as sexual, so if my content is considered dirty, all content is considered dirty.

The craziest thing though is that the most pornographic content I ever had on my site came for a Google Ad for League of Angels (which I refuse to link to on principle). Every time I logged onto my own website I had to be confronted with jiggling computer boobs! That's them putting this on my site, not me.

Typical Google Ad:

Which also given their rules means:

  1. They have to protect League of Angels from my eye damaging content
  2. League of Angels would object to my content

So, on one end you have Google taking ads (and getting money) from anyone with very little regulations regarding boob jiggle. And on the other end you have Google putting extreme regulations on the sites that they have to pay (and if they punish you at the right time, they get to keep the money you earned by hosting their ads). In short, it’s very easy to pay Google and very difficult to get paid by Google.

But I’m just a David and this website is the best slingshot I got, and Googliath will not even notice this. Will Sarah Palin worm her way out of the woodwork to support my first amendment rights? Probably not. Google actually is within their rights to do this, I get that (I technically did violate their terms), it just doesn't feel right to me.

Bright side: As you can see, I do have ads back (at least, I did seconds before this was posted). I want to thank Lijit for taking a chance on a small town boy, just a steel mill worker with a dream of dance putting advertisements on his website.

Five Years of Wolf Gnards: The Murriversary

Five years ago, I had a dream. A dream of made up charts and obscure pop culture references. This is that dream. I’ve had a lot of fun though and even a little success. I got my work out there, mainlined into pop culture consciousness, and I’ve managed to meet a few cool people who might even call themselves fans. All and all it’s been a wonderful experience. I may not have actually solved any mysteries or really answered any questions, but I’ve had a ton of fun trying and that’s got to count for something.

So, if you’re a long time fan, let’s reminisce a bit… and if you’re new to Wolf Gnards, here’s a little recap.

The Top 5 Posts of the Last Five Years!

AKA the only Wolf Gnards Articles you Know

5. Hipster Irony One of the sacred tenets of article writing is “something, something hipsters.” And, of course, if possible, “something, something bad about hipsters.” I don’t really care about the misuse of the term irony, and I’m not even entirely sure if it is a misuse. I just don’t like the idea of liking things ironically in that you only like it because it’s not worth liking and if was worth liking you wouldn’t like it. Or even the concept of “it’s so bad, it’s good.” Why can’t it just be good? I want to like things unironically. So, yes, I don’t like “hipsters” because they like things that they don’t actually like… and that also might be ironic.

4. Greek Tragedy My favorite part of this is how people like to belittle my genetic expertise as if I have any sort of genetic expertise. The only advanced degree I have is in English, and look at all it’s gotten me! Of course, Greeks can be blonde, the Greek thing was probably more of springboard for me because it’s such a rare thing. The point is that it’s rare, and 3 out of 3 is not rare. Also, Dave Coulier tweeted this, so it pretty much validates everything...

3. Pictures of Topanga This is another sacred tenet… picture of girls will get traffic. I very quickly discovered random pictures of girls will generate far more traffic than any well thought out piece of writing. Girls = traffic. Hot girls = even more traffic. Nostalgic hot girls = maximum traffic. Who didn’t have a soft spot for Topanga? A smart girl who doesn’t realize that she’s hot to the point that she’s willing to date (and marry) the lesser Savage brother (because if you read this blog regularly, you too probably identify yourself as a lesser Savage brother. We are all lesser Savage brothers).

2. Pictures of Zooey DeschanelMore pictures, more girls. Also, please, note that this was a pre-New Girl crush. There’s really not much to this article. It was really just an excuse to post this picture of Zooey’s bangs. I had the idea to do the bang breakdown, but I had no idea that it would be 50/50 until I started looking at pictures. Did this site make Zooey Deschanel famous… absolutely not. Did this site accurately decode why people like her? Probably not. Has Zooey Deschanel seen this picture? That’s a strong maybe. From my photoshop to her eye, not a bad day at all.

1. The Groundhog Day Article! And then there was Bill Murray. This article is basically the guiding force behind Wolf Gnards (none of my Monster Squad articles even cracked the top 10). I didn’t really know what this blog was about until I wrote this article. It was kinda nerdy and kinda pop culturey, but no real focus in either direction. This article really set the tone for what Wolf Gnards would eventually become and the overall snark of the website. There was definitely a time when I was desperate to get out from under its shadow because I’ve never been able to come close to replicating its success (Pop quiz: what site launched this article? Digg. Can you believe that? One day on the limping corpse of Digg provided more traffic than any other referral source combined). But I’ve learned to love that shadow, and if you’re gonna be in anyone’s shadow it might as well be Bill Murray’s.

Where’s the Beef and other Unanswered Meat Questions

Is the only question man has left really “Where’s the Beef?” Where, indeed. Is the beef over here, is it over there? Is the beef in a house, is the beef with a mouse? Is the beef in Texas? Is the beef overseas? Has the beef been inside the human spirit this whole time? I like to think so. This is probably why I was drummed out of journalism (they made me hand over my checkered fedora with my press pass stuck in the side). I just couldn't answer these vital questions. Maybe, I just tried too hard to always get the most sensational beef headlines - “Beef Attacks Baby.” Maybe, I just failed to understand the who, what, when, where, how, and why of beef.

Where’s the Beef? is not just something printed on ironic t-shirts, it was the jingoistic Wendy’s tagline of the 80’s to sell hamburgers. Your burgers suck, our burgers rule! Also, it’s a penis metaphor. Your burgers are tiny, our burgers satisfy her cravings. The commercials are basically about a cranky old lady asking “Where’s the beef,” in various locations under various circumstances over and over and over again.

The point is no one would ever snicker and point at you in the locker room while you're eating a delicious Wendy’s double stack (not that I’d know). So, where does this leave us...

Who’s the Beef (Tony Danza, obviously)?
If we study a brief history of Wendy’s spokespersons we may find the answer:

Illustrated Wendy - Pippi Longstocking Wendy is the company mascot and is based of the founder’s then eight-year-old daughter. Whether she had freckles and pigtails the world may never know, but she moved burgers. Burgers are for closers. Wendy has been the mascot throughout Wendy’s run. However, the real Wendy isn't even named Wendy, she's named Melinda Lou. She was nicknamed Wendy because she couldn’t pronounce her own name (thanks Wikipedia!). Although, since her problems were with E’s and L’s, her nickname should have been Murindarou. Would I eat at a restaurant called Murder Yous, you bet I would.

Clara Peller (the Where’s the Beef lady) - Before her Where’s the Beef commercial fame, Clara was in a bitter custody battle for her children, resulting in her assuming a variety of disguises and vacuum dance montages. Eventually she was cast in what was supposed to be just a small part and history was made. Where’s the Beef didn’t just sell burgers, but records, board games, t-shirts, bubble gum, magnifying glasses, penis pumps, and spaghetti. Which eventually got Clara fired. She was the company’s spokeswoman until she did a commercial with Prego claiming she had finally found the beef.

Dave Thomas - After Clara left Wendy’s for a big Italian sausage, Dave Thomas, the Founder of Wendy’s, stepped in. Only Dave Thomas had the raw animal sex appeal that could save this fast food chain. It is weird that they decided to use bumbling old people to sell food to young people, but it worked great (Not clown great... or even king great... okay, maybe, not that great at all but better than a Jack-in-the-box). His commercials were probably far more success over the long run, but they weren’t a cultural phenomenon. After 800 some commercials the only things I can recall about Dave Thomas was that he never graduated high school and he was wonderful in Strange Brew.

Animated Wendy - After Thomas’s death, Wendy’s decided to animate and update Wendy for the new millennium. She’s a hip old young granny redhead who can hip-hop, bebop, dance ‘til ya drop and yo-yo, make a wicked cup of cocoa (That’s Mrs. Doubtfire reference #2!). It didn’t work. Wendy's probably should have rastified her by another 10%. They needed something big, they needed a return to their roots, they needed The Goddamn Wendy.

Real Wendy - Where has the real Wendy been all these years? I feel there was a series of memos sent at Wendy’s Burgernational Inc. that pleaded her to step up because they needed a Thomas at the wheel (grill?). Then a series of replies saying that Wendy doesn’t really feel TV ready, but she does like the burgers. And why don't they just hire a sexy redhead instead. Then a series of interoffice emails saying, “Hey, doesn’t Wendy sorta look a little like Melissa McCarthy." Then someone had the bright idea, “Hey, if people love Melissa McCarthy and Wendy looks like Melissa McCarthy then people will love Wendy.” Which made Wendy Thomas believe by the transitive property of Melissa McCarthy that the world would love her too. All which leading to…

Hot Wendy - It turned out people might not want to be reminded of the side effects of a lifetime of eating fast food. So, they found a younger, hotter version of a grownup Wendy (ably played by the adorable Morgan Smith Goodwin). She’s the kind of Wendy you could really see yourself making a penis metaphor with. She’s the best of all worlds: she’s an updated Wendy for today's yo-yo cocoa twitter generation, she’s a real human being just like Big Dave, and she’s as catchingly annoying as Clara. But unlike Clara, you still kind of want to have “burgers” with her. And by “burgers” I mean "[edited by wife]," that’s what the quotations were about.

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