February 10, 2014

Pirates, and the dumb thing Youtubers are doing to James Norrington

by Me

Meet Jack Davenport.

"Hello, ladies."

“Hello, ladies.”

Jack Davenport, like many actors, has been typecast … sort of.

If you recognize Jack, it’s probably not because of the little seen film “Pirate Radio” (called “The Boat that Rocked” on the other side of the pond because the Brits are cool). Davenport plays a guy unfortunately named Twatt, whose job it is to run around and chase these hippie pirate radio DJs, searching for a way to keep rock ‘n’ roll out of as-yet untainted British ears.

No, if you recognize Jack Davenport, it’s probably from his roll in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise in which he played a guy whose job it was to run around chasing, you know, pirates.

That’s right. Jack Davenport: Pirate chaser.

What is it about this guy that has movie producers think of him when they need someone douchey to chase pirates? Is there something about him we don’t know (or want to)?

I just imagine the scene after a casting call. Hundreds of actors have gone home unemployed, and a director is sitting around (in parachute pants) fearing that his whole movie is kaput.

“What are we going to do?” he asks. “I’ve got Russell Brand to play One-Eyed Willie in my Goonies prequel, but who will play the soldier guy whose job it is to run Willie down?”

“I’ve got it!” the casting director says with a snap of his fingers. “Let’s get Jack Davenport!”

Davenport, to his credit, does an awesome job as Twatt (though his character seems closed, maybe a bit dry and uninviting … sorry) and gives an exceptional performance as Commodore Norrington, so, um, good job, completely unrelated casting director people.

There’s also this supremely dumb trend of putting clips of Davenport-as-Norrington to various pieces of music. I’ve pasted one above, but will spare you the rest.

Bonus: Those of you who have seen the Pirates films will remember Davy Jones, the octopus-faced villain in the second and third movies. Played by the great Bill Nighy, the astute movie junkie will not care at all to learn the following…

Nighy was the voice of The Network in the absolutely hilarious Simon Pegg/Nick Frost vehicle “The World’s End.”

Nighy was also, as we’ve already mentioned, in “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” which means Nighy is probably the only actor in history to be in two completely different movies called “World’s End.”

Eh. Nevermind. Just, um, one question:

September 13, 2013

Miley Cyrus and her not-so dumb performance

by Me

Miley Cyrus’ now infamous performance at the VMAs was featured, in one form or another, in just about every newspaper, website, television station, dinner table, water cooler and aboriginal encampment across the United States — nay, the world. And every last one condemned her for being distasteful, at best. Her performance was almost universally reviled.

Now, with 20/20 hindsight, we at Dumb Things will agree. Miley’s performance was distasteful — distasteful like a FOX!

Miley ad

Take a look at Youtube. What do you see surrounding Miley’s video? An advertisement for her new album which, just by happenstance, drops less than a month after her shameful display of hyper-sexuality at the Video Music Awards.

Taken in context, Miss Cyrus’ VMA performance, during which she was seen to twerk and grind ad nauseum was pure, unadulterated, orchestrated genius.

Think about it: Miley and her handlers knew exactly what they were doing, using the VMAs as the perfect venue for Cyrus to pull her best Lady Gaga impression. “Let’s create the most sexually suggestive, morally repugnant performance we can,” they must have said, “and then launch the album a few weeks later.”

And, you know what? It worked. Miley became the talk of the nation (keeping in mind the quote commonly attributed to Brendan Behan, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”).

That’s earned media, in the parlance of public relations. Millions and millions of dollars worth of free publicity, not to mention water-cooler- and dinner-table-talk, all expertly timed to happen just before her latest album release.

You, media hawks, you, culture vultures — you have been handled.

What we have here is a three-step chess play, designed to set the stage, hook you and then reel you in.

First, came that video of Miley Twerking in a frog costume. That baits the hook.

Then the VMA performance, which causes the fish to bite (you being the fish). Then all the ads for Miley’s upcoming album start popping up and, before you know it, you’ve downloaded it from iTunes, watched it on Youtube, and find yourself gasping for breath in a bucket half-filled with seawater.

Move #4 may be a return to her pop-country roots, which folks will buy, too, and willfully spread the word on how Miley “grew up.”

Distasteful? Sure. Repugnant? No doubt. Amoral? Certainly. But dumb? No way, and completely orchestrated.

July 25, 2013

The politicians most in debt

by Me

The Center for responsive Politics recently put together a list of the political campaign most heavily in debt


, and while Connecticut races don’t rank too highly, they do rank.

Top on the list is Maria Cantwell, whose campaign is more than $2 million in debt.

The campaign of Connecticut’s Elizabeth Esty, who won last November in a hotly contested race, is nearly $300 large in hock. she takes the spot at no. 31

Nearby Esty is Sen. Richard Blumenthal who, at $250,000 worth of debt, ranks 34th on the list. To find another Connecticut politician, you have to go all the way down to #102, Chris Murphy, whose Senate campaign is a comparatively measly $26,520 in debt.

Here’s the full list, if you’re seriously interested in drilling down that deep.

It’s fascinating to note that Blumenthal was recently named the richest freshman in Congress, his net worth listed in the neighborhood of $94.87 million. Esty, not quite as wealthy as Mr. Blumenthal, has already begun raking in the cash for her 2014 reelection campaign.
Yay for politics. So, they’ll repay their debt and raise money for the next campaign and the process will continue, into infinity, like some boulder of money that must be rolled back up to the top of the hill, yet again.

July 14, 2013

Sharknado: Everything that’s wrong with society in one made-up word

by Me

Sharknado. Or perhaps we should write it, #Sharknado.

If you have zero idea what a sharknado is, count yourself lucky and click away, dear reader — click away and save your very soul.

Still here? OK…

“Sharknado” is, assuming you don’t already know and are a weird, masochistic glutton for cultural punishment, a SyFy channel original movie in which, thanks to the help of a massive storm, thousands of man-eating great whites come raining down, mouths agape, upon an unsuspecting populace.


Here at DTOTW, we believe this heralds the coming of the apocalypse. When the trailer, below, premiered Twitter was, well, all a-twitter with the news. The story was covered by National Public Radio, among other respectable news outlets. Will Wheaton got into the act, as did Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker.

Sharknado is a designed-to-be-bad movie featuring terrible actors — all apologies to Ms. Tara Reid, whose recent portrayal of Lady Macbeth at London’s Globe theater we heard was positively divine (not really). And yet folks — intelligent, successful, talented people (some of them, anyway) — line up to be a part of the fun.

The movie will do very well. People will tune in by the millions, knowing full well that it’s going to be unwatchable.

Now, we are not the first to suggest that filmmakers are following the “Snakes on a Plane” formula, combining two frightening things into one horrible amalgam of idiocy.

But “Snakes on a Plan” should have been the end. When, dear God, will it stop? Tarantulacane? ZombieNaziquake (in which the ground opens up to allow swarms of zombified Nazis the chance to take over San Diego)?

Now, the odd thing is, a sharknado is a real possibility. Not likely, per se, but possible. It has happened. There is, for example, a town in the Philippines that dealt with a rain of fish as recently as last year. Hell, there’s a burg in Honduras that has an annual festival devoted to fish-rain.

And, lo, the people gazed toward Heaven as the rivers ran with maple syrup and fish did fly as birds, and the people knew the end was nigh.


January 30, 2013

The kinda dumb story of “the cup song”

by Me

Those of you older than 14 may not have heard the cup song, or heard of “Pitch Perfect.” The story of the cup song is simultaneously a wonderful allegory for the power of social media and the future of music, and proof that kids are, essentially, dumb.

From old-timey country ballad to tween sensation, the cup song has gone through some odd iterations — and most of the thousands of little girls currently annoying their parents by banging cups on desks and tables have no idea of the song’s origins.

This is the cup song, as performed by Anna Kendrick in the film “Pitch Perfect.”

That’s cool. But, wait — there’s this band from across the pond, Lulu and the Lampshades, who did an even better version of it, way, way back in 2009.

And, as Know Your Meme points out, the two, too-cute girls from Lulu got the cup beat from a different YouTube video, published more than a year earlier.

But, long before that — like 90 years before — Mainer’s Mountaineers recorded a country tune called “You’re Gonna Miss Me.”

Knowing the long and tortured history of “You’re Gonna Miss Me” isn’t dumb, and seeing how social media can turn a dusty, half-forgotten country tune into a tween mega-hit is fascinating. Do kids even care that Mainer’s Mountaineers recorded, nearly a century earlier, what would become a bit for Anna Kendrick on David Letterman? Probably not.

UPDATE: As a few commenters (see below) have mentioned, the cup beat portion is far older than we at Dumb Things previously thought.

The classic show “Full House” featured the “cup game” way back in season three, in 1989, as seen in the clip below.

But before that, Christian singer Rich Mullins played the cup game in 1987 to accompany his song, “Screen Door.”

Probably, though, the cup game is older than that. Was Mullins the first? If you know differently, leave a comment.

January 17, 2013

Will the real groundhog please stand up?

by Me

The complete and utter idiocy of the pagan-esque tradition known as Groundhog Day has grown exponentially. You can’t turn around without smacking a groundhog in his weather-predicting mouth.

We all know Punxutawney Phil, or however the Hell you spell the name of the small town in Pennsylvania with only that one dumb claim to fame. But did you know about Western Maryland Murray?


How about Nibbles? No?

Well, you must know about Smith Lake Jake, Patty Pagoda, Shubenacadie Sam, General Beauregard Lee and Wiarton Willie.

Groundhog Day itself is idiotic, like Paganism-lite, a way for God-fearing Christians to dabble in a bit of Nature worship on the side. But the proliferation of rodent weather prediction takes the dumbness to a level only the Tooth Fairy could reach.

Each town, and that’s only a small selection, relies to some degree on a rodent for weather prediction and/or tourism dollars.

And it’s just dumb. I mean, look at that a picture of a groundhog.

Look at his face. Cute, you say? I say that’s not the visage of a trained meteorologist. Ol’ Phil in Pennsylvania is only right 39

percent of the time, anyway.

July 25, 2011

For God’s sake, put some clothes on

by Me

As a news site in Florida is reporting a pair of sunbathers crashed on a water scooter and had to get taken to the hospital.

What’s special about that? Well, let’s say the injured couple were going for that full-body suntan.

That’s right, as wesh.com reports, two people were injured in a water scooter accident at Cypress Cove Nudist Resort in Kissimmee.

The kicker: They were both 62 years old.

Now imagine that portly gentelman on the right with two broken arms and bleeding profusely.

Now, let’s go ahead and imagine the scene. You’re an ambulance driver. A call comes on the radio reporting a water scooter crash. You turn on the lights, step on the gas and go. You arrive, you and your cohorts get the gurney out of the back of the ambulance and race to the scene to help and … OH MY GOD WILL YOU PEOPLE PLEASE PUT SOME CLOTHES ON! SHIELD YOUR EYES! AAAAHHHH!!

The unidentified couple were apparently traveling at a speed of about 40 mph when the water scooter they had borrowed from a friend hit a sea wall.

According to the report, the man suffered two broken arms, which means he’ll be wearing something, at least a few casts and a hospital gown (thank God) for a while.

June 20, 2011

Hackers hit dating site with the ugly stick

by Me

Here’s a case where hackers did something positive.

Website hacks have become ever more prevalent these days. Lulzsec, for example, is credited with cracking the CIA’s site (and no, not the Culinary Institute of America) as well as PBS’ website.

If you look like this, don't bother dating at all. Unless you can find an enchanted princess chained to a rock by a dragon and who, therefore, can't run away.

You could make a case that throwing a thorn into the side of national security and public broadcasting is not that nice. But, according to media like The Guardian, among others, a group of hackers infiltrated Beautifulpeople.com and let 30,000 ugly faces in the front door.

In case you don’t know, Beautifulpeople.com is a dating site that relies on no fewer than three mortal sins — lust, pride and greed. In order to be accepted, a potential dater must be rated as beautiful, and the site itself boasts thousands of people rejected for not being pretty enough.

And it doesn’t end there — last year, 5,000 people were kicked off the site after Christmas when they appeared to have gained some weight.


Then the hackers opened the door.

“We got suspicious when tens of thousands of new members were accepted over a six-week period, many of whom were no oil painting,” managing director Greg Hodge told The Guardian.

Upwards of 30,000 “ugly” people were let in the door, many of whom were then kicked out, costing the site tons of cashola.

This is Monica Hansen, Miss Norway. Apparently all Norwegian women look like this.

Oh, by the way, the virus was called “Shrek,” after the animated ogre who proves that looks don’t matter.

Interestingly, it matters where you’re from. Swedes are the most represented nationality on the site, as are Norwegians. Brits, Irish and Americans, apparently, need not apply.

God bless those hackers. Score one for the homely.

June 16, 2011

Animals are stupid: Dogs can’t stop going in circles

by Me

Here’s out Animals are Stupid post this week, featuring the dog who can’t stop going in circles. Metaphor for life? Maybe.

June 8, 2011

Connecticut’s mountain lion tweets his banality

by Me

It started with the Bronx Zoo’s cobra, which supposedly escaped.

Then other people — and we must stress this point, they are people — started Twitter feeds for various animals and inanimate objects. Teddy bears have had Twitter pages, as have cats, mice and God only knows what else.

Now the Connecticut mountain lion has gotten into the act.

The debate of whether or not Connecticut is home to mountain lions has raged for years. The Department of Environmental Protection has denied the fact while residents across the state have sworn up and down that the “big cat” they saw was a real, honest-to-goodness mountain lion.

Meet Connecticut's newest social media guru.

But now the DEP has changed its tune — the department issued a statement confirming that a big cat sighted in Greenwich is, in fact, a mountain lion.

And all of two hours later it was sending out tweets. Here’s a sample:

“You said I didn’t exist #DEP but I do – This is my coming out ceremony! ROAR baby!”

Which, we have to admit, is pretty funny.

But, really, who has time for this sort of thing? One imagines some fat, bored journalist, vainly attempting to interject a bit of excitement into his banal existence, and maybe create something viral, too.

But, then, who are we to judge?

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