August 7th, 2005

I'm creepy

Bubble Tea: Hideous beverage of the Hipster Damned

If you live in an urban area with a decent sized hipster population you may have noticed a beverage that was briefly popular about a year ago and remains a reasonably common choice among the young and vacuous. It's called bubble tea and you can identify it easily, since it looks like someone took a perfectly good beverage and layered frogs eggs on the bottom of the cup. Bubble tea is generally sold at Asian run establishments and generally tastes like crap. It is the Chinese version of Montezuma's revenge, a foul concoction meant to punish westerners for their arrogance and misbehavior. You can see it in the slanty eyes of the waitress as she hands you the cup. They are filled with hatred.

The problem with the bubble tea plan is that not only is the concoction bad for the stomach, it is foul looking and tasting as well. Add expensive to the mix and it's unclear why anyone would buy it once, let alone twice. Enter the hipster. Hipsters are constantly looking for things nobody else wants so they can make it 'cool' and keep it exclusive. Thus you get pre-distressed jeans, vintage ashtrays, and all the other crap that the army of the lame loves so well. Bubble Tea is perfect for them. It's sold exclusively at "ethnic" shops, thus putting it out of the mainstream. It is likely to elicit disgust in most people, thus allowing the hipster to feel superior to them. It is expensive, but not so expensive that you can't buy it on a record-store clerk's salary. It's hipster perfection.

And they drink it. The Asians are happy to watch them gulp the "juice of misery" (as they call it behind the backs of the round eyes) and to count the big bucks in the till as they swallow it. Most normal people are content to look with curiosity as the hipsters suck at their 'unique' beverage with their big colorful straws, happily ingesting what appear to be goat testicles along with their tea. The system works.

Or at least it did.

Yesterday my girlfriend took me down to the Lower East side to see the neighborhood where her grandmother used to rule as a real-estate mogul with an iron fist. She pointed out various sites and important edifices to me, and about half an hour into our tour she suggested we get some refreshments. It was a warm day and a nice cool drink of water or a diet coke sounded great, so I agreed. As we approached the shop she dropped the bombshell. We were headed to get bubble tea.

Now I told her explicitly that I had tried bubble tea a few years ago and hated it, and that I would rather drink raw sewage from the mouth of a pig than ingest that swill, but she was having none of it. She told me that this place was special, this place was different, and the bubble tea would be a delicious treat on a hot summer day. I went along. Why? Because she guaranteed I'd love it or I'd get a hand job while we watched Hot Shots Part Deux later. Let me tell you, it's quite pleasant to feel someone stroking your cock while you enjoy the comic antics of Charlie Sheen.

The bubble tea was nowhere near as pleasant. For one thing the store owner didn't speak any English and gave my girlfriend the wrong flavor of tea. This was made even stranger by the fact that the owner was Chinese and my girlfriend ordered IN CHINESE, but such are the ways of women from the mysterious orient. Who knows. Even after we sorted that out my girlfriend ended up buying 2 teas instead of the one she wanted because they thought her order of my coconut was her asking for another green apple. I'm not saying this shop owner was anti-semitic, but the "No shirt, no shoes, no service" sign had an addendum of "Jews not welcome."

As for the tea itself, well the coconut part tasted like watered down sorbet with a tea aftertaste, and the little brown bubbles...the bubbles...they tasted like rabbit turds. Sweet rabbit turds. The turds of rabbits who had been munching on sugar cane. I finished about half before I wanted to throw up. My girlfriend claimed she liked them and faked eating them, popping a few in her mouth and then spitting them into the gutter while we walked in a vain attempt to preserve the sanctity of the bubble tea experience. She failed. The stuff is swill, always was swill, and always will be swill.

It's food not fit for a pig or even a tapeworm. In fact the only creature disgustingly undiscriminating enough to digest that crap without serious gastrointestinal damage guessed it...

The hipster.

Alien Vs Predator Vs Taste

Alien Vs Predator is a tasteless movie. It is a tasteless movie not because of the blood and gore (There's little enough for it to be PG-13) or any other 'offensive' content. It is a tasteless movie because it was made by people who have no taste.

AvP is a movie that has not only abandoned the concepts of character and plot, but actively rebels against them. In this way it is something of an experimental film. One can imagine some snooty French filmmaker sitting in a chateau in the countryside pondering the existential question "What if we made a movie that was nothing BUT Deus Ex Machina? A film where all plot advancements and untanglements were literally caused by some God Machine? Where nothing anyone did really mattered, and where the only choices the characters could make would be what attitude to have when death came for them?"

This is not inherently a bad idea, but if the snooty French guy made it he would surely add an element of humor or at least philosophy to soften the nihilistic brew. He would also have the decency to admit he was making a statement or punishing the audience instead of trying to entertain.

Paul W.S. Anderson does none of those things. Instead he chooses to ignore the characters, ignore the audience, and focus on making CG monsters slash and shoot at one another. The Deus Ex Machina he regularly employs (the movie takes place inside a pyramid that reconfigures itself every 10 minutes, helpfully opening passages towards or away from whatever the characters need to encounter next right on cue. This entire Deus Ex Machina set up is itself Deus Ex Machina because it's claimed that it's based on the fact that the society/creatures who built the thing operated on a numerical system based on 10. There is no explanation as to why they would use the same second we do as a unit of measurement, one that is completely arbitrary, nor of course why such a society would use a sixty second minute.) doesn't teach us anything about humanity or fate or nihilism. All it does is pamper his infantile "big monster go boom" desires.

Sometimes he wants the monsters to smash up the stone pyramid in such a way that one wonders why there is no evidence of the dozens of implied battles that have taken place there before this one. Sometimes he wants them to stand off against one another like boxers in the middle of a ring, even though this would seem to be reasonable behavior for neither. Occasionally he wants them to breakdance, and they do.

Now one might argue that Paul Anderson is merely meeting the needs of the marketplace with AvP. People wanted to see the two species do battle and breakdance and whatnot and that's what he gave them. If that's the case, though, why is the Deus Ex Machina necessary? It doesn't speed things up, the first battle between the two takes place around the 55 minute mark of a 90 minute film. It doesn't add to tension, in fact the characters become utterly disposable and interchangeable because nothing they do matters. They can spend 10 minutes following the most rational plan anyone could think of, only to have a trapdoor swing open beneath them and disgorge a swarm of deadly Aliens. On the other hand they could follow the most idiotic path imaginable and emerge unscathed because a door shuts behind them suddenly or a weapons cache is seemingly randomly exposed.

In the Alien franchise there is already an example of how to make this kind of picture without resorting to complete garbage. It's called Aliens, it was made by James Cameron, and it features both exciting frenetic battles and a strong plot/character combination. In that movie the actions of the characters carry consequences, and while sometimes things happen beyond their control it is not for arbitrary reasons. There is no reason that AvP could not have been the same sort of film, if you don't count Paul W.S. Anderson's complete lack of talent.

The only question left is why it was left up to him to make this movie. Why Hollywood would choose to hand $60 million and two of its most popular franchises over to a confirmed hack. There's only one reasonable explanation, of course, short of his performing sexual favors for a studio head.

Deus Ex Machina.
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