Today’s news and commentary:
- “A Simple Truth”
- “Barghouti Is No Mandela”
- “Which is the chatty sex? Turns out both are”
- “New Drug Deletes Bad Memories”
- “Robot built to help farmers with weeds”
- “Robot built to help farmers with weeds”
- “EU consumer chief wants "fire-safe" cigarettes” (Easy way of doing this: ban tobacco. There is no point in keeping it legal.)
- “Good vibes power tiny generator”
Transformers: Identity Crisis
- Week 1: Bumblebee/Loki (2007-05-22)
- Week 2: Jazz/Meister (2007-05-29)
- Week 3: Ratchet/Schaltklinke (2007-06-05)
- Week 4: Elita One/Freya (2007-06-12)
- Week 5: Generation Two (2007-06-19)
- Week 6: Ironhide/Eisenhaut (2007-06-26)
- Week 7: Optimus Prime/Konvoi (2007-07-01)
- Epilog: Microtron’s review
My name is Microtron and I am the child of Megatron the Ambassador to Earth from Cybertron and I really don’t want to write this but he’s making me so here I am writing this stupid thing. And the whole thing is stupid and everyone is making a big deal over nothing and that’s stupid and I want to go do something else and I would but he has a really big plasma cannon.
I hate my life.
The truth is I’M BORED! If he would just let me out once in a while and do something outside the stupid spaceship, I would probably be the good little darling he wants, but no, some stupid law means I have to stay put in this can and do nothing.
And he’s standing over my shoulder and saying something about how I need to be fair and talk about all kinds of important stuff I should know and stuff. And he has a really big plasma cannon.
Fine. According to Cybertonian law, the spaceship (right now sitting in the Pacific Ocean in international waters off the coast of North America) is an embassy, which means it’s technically part of the Republic of Cybertron. I am a citizen of Cybertron and can be in the embassy. But I’m not an ambassador or a staff member or part of the police force at large, so I have like no business being outside the embassy, so he says. And that’s stupid because we are in international waters, so I should be able to fly around and look at stuff. Okay, the robot with the plasma cannon wants me to say that I do get to fly around outside some. I transform in a very light business jet, and I am painted in pretty hot pink and black and I would look totally cool if anyone could see me because I can only go a few miles or kilometers or whatever from the spaceship because he won’t let me do anything fun like buzz Hawai‘i.
Okay, I can’t fly to Hawai‘i, at least not from here. But he’s being overprotective and silly because he is a parent and somehow that damages you. And just because a cruise ship wobbled funny when I flew right over it doesn’t mean I had anything to do with it.
So I have to stay in this stupid spaceship and it’s boring. Why did he even have a kid on Earth if the kid couldn’t do anything? He says when I’m mature enough I can be deputized if we are still on Earth then, go out and capture Autobots and bring them to justice. If we are still on Earth. And then it’s just work, no sightseeing, no fun. I understand why Las Vegas is Autobot City.
So I heard about this Transformers and wanted to go see it. I saw the cartoon movie they made about twenty years ago and it was bad bad bad bad bad and had nothing to do with anything, though sometimes when I’m mad I kind of wish Unicron would come and eat the planet and then I wouldn’t have to be stuck here. Or maybe just the stupid spaceship. So I went and asked Dad (Megatron) and this is what he said certainly not! And then I walked away because talking to him was pointless. And he has a plasma cannon.
But I’m really bored and I want to see it so I went to Starscream. Starscream is like a parent to me, and he and Dad—I think he’s a he, or maybe a she; I don’t think either of them have decided or care. Weirdoes. They both say I watch too much human television, like I have anything else to do.
Anyway, Starscream and Dad love each other and Starscream is like a parent and so I asked him and please please please pretty please pretty pretty please I never get to do anything! And he said have I told you how many times I’ve been shot at? And then he went on and on about how the United States is not friendly to us, and how the National Guard and the Army and the Navy and the Air Force like to shoot missiles at him whenever they realize he is not a normal jet fighter, and like these other times when police officers have shot their little guns at him and stuff like that, and even this one human who attacked him with a baseball bat. And then he said something about how I won’t fit in an ordinary theater so there’s no point in even trying. And then he said that it would be out on a few months on DVD and BlueRay, and then we would get a copy and watch it together if we wanted.
So I told him okay and went straight to Soundwave.
Soundwave is like really boring, like he has no personality whatsoever, I kid you not. His job is like to communicate with the humans and translate stuff and stuff, so he studies all the time. And he turns into some obsolete recording device, which is stupid. He says it’s symbolic. Uh-huh.
So when I’m not working on my education or being bored (mostly the same thing), Dad has me working for Soundwave. He says the few of us kids of embassy people born here on Earth need to have jobs, so he stuck me with Mr. Boring and the others get jobs like working on engineering or reformatting and stuff. And even though I watch a lot of human television programs and know English and Spanish and Japanese really good, he makes me study some others. So I like ask him, why do I got to study Turkish? And tells me in the most boring way possible that there are these countries that have shown some interest in talking to us, and Turkey is one of them. And so are Switzerland, India, Brazil, Israel, Morocco, South Africa, Thailand, and Taiwan, so I need to work on some new languages because he needs more help. Great, my parent wants me to be a diplomat. How stupid. So I tell him, hey, this movie is coming out, so we should go see it so we can adapt to how the humans understand us. And then he shows me some of the essays he already wrote about the movie, so the humans know the Autobots are a bunch of liars, and I tell him he shouldn’t judge movies he hasn’t seen, and then he asks me what the chances of the movie being good are based on what it’s about and who’s making it.
I hate it when he’s right. Which is like always.
And then he had to go because Laserbeak just flew in to inform him that Optimus Prime had been arrested.
Like everyone knows, Optimus Prime is like the guy who pretends to be Autobot Commander for the humans. Some human caught him snooping on like his human ex-girlfriend of his, and then it came out that he was perving all over her. Oh, no! No one understands me! I got be the leader and that makes me sad! Boo hoo on you, Optimus Prime! Everyone liked you and you didn’t have to do anything but say Autobots, transform and roll out! Let’s see you try to make sense of noun declensions in Hindi and tell me your life sucks. You don’t see me digesting humans. Loser.
He really is a loser in person. I tapped into the sensors in his cell and he was just sitting there. Okay, not sitting. He just transformed into a truck cab and parked in the corner. Loser. And usually Starscream or one of the deputies was around trying to ask him questions, and he was like totally out of it and saying all this weird stuff. Total loser. I mean, he was like so into this human, and she dumped him, and he is so not over her. I could like tell you some really sick stuff he said, but Dad says that’s not really nice and none of anyone else’s business and I am way off topic. But I can say that one of things he was going on and on about was that his girlfriend would have done stuff with him if he hadn’t been so pervy. And he wanted to go to some of the times they would be showing the movie with her because everyone would cheer him and he would be so proud and she would be proud of him. And one of these showings was going to be in San Francisco. And then he said something really weird and you would just deactivate if I put it in here, but Dad has the plasma cannon so I can’t.
And so I double-checked when there would be Autobots showing up for movie showings, and there was going to be one in San Francisco, and I really really really wanted to go and I knew Dad would say no. And so I waited for the day and went anyway.
And I can’t tell you how I did that because Dad doesn’t want me to. But it was really cool.
So I put these decals of Autobot symbols on my wings so they would think I’m an Autobot, not like I like them, especially after I read The Welder Diaries and The Autobot Manifesto. Like Barricade said, I wouldn’t be a Decepticon, so I won’t be an Autobot. But I got to blend, and in any case, it’s not like I get to wear the government-service symbols yet.
So I get to San Francisco Bay, and my Dad wants me to say I’m really sorry for causing some car accidents when I did the loopty-loop thing around the Golden Gate Bridge, but it’s not my fault those humans are lousy drivers. And then I tried the flip-and-transform thing like that Buttmonkey guy who plays Starscream does in the movie and tried to land on the bridge and I went SPLASH into San Francisco Bay. But, hey, not even Starscream does that. Okay, he can, but he doesn’t like it because it’s really hard to slow down enough at the right moment before doing it. And so I kind of plowed into the water and people got wet on the bridge and I kind of got stuck in the water. I didn’t exactly sink but I never quite learned to swim since I TURN INTO AN AIRPLANE, so I’m going nowhere.
Well, lucky for me Broadside was there in the bay. Broadside is a big, big Autobot who turns into an aircraft carrier, so he’s really, really big but he’s really, really slow. The Autobots like to bring him out in fights but he mostly stands around and looks scary because he’s really really slow, so no one is really scared of him and he should really be scaled down into something else. But for an Autobot he’s also nice, and he saw me and transformed and then walked through the water and picked me up. And this took about an hour. And then he says I need to be careful and that the movie tricks are silly, and he walks me to the shore and puts me down and wishes me well. And that takes like another hour. And then he goes back and that takes a while.
And while this is going down this orange and blue robot thing comes at me, and it’s Huffer. He’s one of the ones that turns into a truck that looks a lot like the one Optimus Prime turns into but his transformation totally sucks, and I think that makes him feel bad and he takes it out on everyone. And he’s like what are you doing here! No one authorized any minibot airplanes! And he’s scary and he wanted to know who I was. And I said my name was Stratos Fear because that’s like a joke name at the embassy for like what one of their kids would come up with, and I told him I had been at a United States base in Japan, and I said stuff in Japanese, and he said stuff back in Japanese, and he told me my accent was terrible and that I was too stupid to live if I did stupid stunts like that. And I said I was sorry and he threatened to do bad things to me, and then he stomped off.
And so there was this big screen where they would show the movie when it was dark out, and there were all these humans, and there were also a bunch of Autobots. Ultra Magnus was there. He’s supposed to be the acting Autobot Commander, and he’s formatted like Optimus Prime except he’s painted white and since Prime’s been arrested he’s been very public. And he was standing there preaching to humans about fighting for justice and stuff blah blah blah so boring I’d rather listen to Soundwave. And the humans clapped like they actually liked what he said. Whatever.
There were also some Yuckatrons from the movie, and they were wearing really big pairs of sunglasses and trying to sign autographs. And there was Cliffjumper, who’s like one of the older Autobots who came right from Cybertron, and he turns into a red New Beetle, and he looked angry. And near him were a bunch of the younger Autobots, and one of them was Hot Rod. Hot Rod is like totally hot. Okay, Autobots get ridiculous with so many of them being painted red, but Hot Rod actually makes it look good.
And now Dad made me take out all the stuff I just wrote about Hot Rod. Anyway, Hot Rod was standing around with that drag queen Arcee, and that other drag queen Tracks, and they’re standing around talking to each other and he’s making himself look stupid trying to look impressive to them (he really doesn’t need to do that, he is so hot) and suddenly Wheelie (who’s an annoying little dorkbot) comes running up to me and jumps up and down and like finally I look at him. And I really really really want to tell you what he told me, but I can’t because Dad says so, and he has the plasma cannon.
And then Wheelie runs off and starts blurting it out to Hot Rod and friends. And Tracks tells him like shut up! You want the humans to hear? And then Arcee was like flipping angry and wanted to know where he heard this and was saying she was not going to do that, and humans were starting to look and Hot Rod got mad and said he wouldn’t do it either. And then he just looked awesome as he stomped over to this parking lot and started yelling at this white PT Cruiser. And he said that Ironhide didn’t have any business making decisions without them, and he started kicking the front bumper. And then the PT Cruiser transformed and oh my gosh it was Elita One. And then she is like yelling back saying he is being stupid and he doesn’t care, and he’s being so awesome yelling back at her saying Ironhide needs to listen to them and that they have rights. And then Elita One said he sounded like a DECEPTICON and Hot Rod got so mad and he was like putting some serious dents in her. And then Arcee and Tracks were like pulling him off her and lots of humans were looking.
And then Ultra Magnus came over and separated everybody and started going on and on about how everyone was upset about how the Decepticons had captured Optimus Prime, and that even now they were planning his rescue. (They are not. Dad says they won’t bother and will probably announce he’s dead in a week.) And then he says the movie is a tribute to Prime and his great leadership and that we should all consider what the Autobots stand for when watching the movie, and all this stuff about sacrifice and stuff. And while this was going on Elita One snuck off and went into this truck trailer which looked just like the one Optimus Prime always drags around, and the truck cab looked like Huffer, so I knew something was going on.
So it finally got dark enough, and all the humans sat down on these chairs, and the Autobots gathered around and we watched the movie. And Hot Rod was all snuggly with Arcee, and so I picked up Tracks and put him in my lap because I wanted to make Hot Rod jealous even though he doesn’t know I’m alive. And Tracks did stuff, and Dad wants me to not talk about that, and he has a plasma cannon, so I need to talk about the movie.
So this was like two movies actually, kind of like that one movie Steven Spielberg made based on a Stanley Kubrik script, A.I. That was half syrupy cutesy stuff and the other half was creepy Kubrik stuff and it was weird. And this one was like that, maybe because Spielberg helped produce it. But it was directed by Michael Bay, who only makes noisy, stupid stuff where lots of things blow up, so it was sometimes syrupy and cutesy and the other half noisy and stupid and had lots of things blowing up.
So the cutesy, syrupy movie was actually not that bad, really stupid but halfway watchable. And it was about this Sam Witwicky guy (played by Shia LeBouf) who wants to get a car so he can hook up with this girl (played by Megan Fox), and then this magic Camaro Bumblebee (played by Camaro Karen) who’s really an Autobot appears and weird things happen. And whoever wrote this part was cribbing off of E.T. and The Love Bug because that was pretty much it. And then some more Autobots appear and magically change into local cars and stuff and they ask for help getting these glasses he owns so they can find the magic Allspark which can bring machines to life magically so they Decepticons can’t get it and do evil, evil things. And then there’s a bunch of halfway decent comedy about Sam trying to get the glasses. And they did a little to develop Sam and his girlfriend as characters. A little. And that’s where that pretty much ends.
And like the other movie is this lametrunk excuse for an action movie that is loud and stupid and has some really really stupid stuff in it. And most of it was really stupid and didn’t make much sense. Like the magic Allspark which can turn ordinary machines into robots using its magic radiation. And Sam being chased by Megatron (played by Omni Imperator) up a building, which is like in every horror movie (killer appears, victim runs up the stairs). And the baddies can clog up the telephones and the Internet but they can’t stop the humans from using walkie talkies. (Something like what was in Independence Day.) And the Allspark is so powerful that the Decepticons can’t be allowed to get it, so they let this kid Sam carry it around, leave him unprotected, don’t even bother to think of a plan to keep it safe, and bring it to an urban area to hide it so the Decepticons can show up and recklessly endanger humans, blow up things, and tear Jazz (played by Spasm) graphically in half. And there is no character development, or any real reasons for anything other than to be loud and annoying. And it has Optimus Prime (played by Roadkill, voiced by Peter McCullen) abandon Bumblebee when he could easily rescue him, and a bunch of annoying ethnic stereotypes that are so twentieth-century and lame (I though the United States banned open bigotry), and a stupid secret government group called Sector Seven which has the most unlikable character ever since Telly in Kids and we don’t even get to see him die messily like he deserves. All we get to see is Bumblebee pee on him, all graphic and full frontal, I kid you not. (He should have been stepped on.) And they lifted Bumblebee’s hood and found an engine when it should have been a bunch of computer guts in there because he’s a robot and he doesn’t have a gasoline engine in there. (Snap him in half if you don’t believe me.) And there is stupid stuff where the Transformers blow their cover stupidly, like putting an Autobot symbol on the front of Prime’s grill, or a Decepticon symbol and the phrase TO DESTROY AND ENSLAVE on the side of Barricade (played by Doughnut), like no one would notice that. And even though they had Prime preaching about sacrifice, and he could have easily destroyed the Allspark and saved everyone a bunch of trouble by stuffing it in his chest and killing himself. Does he kill himself? No! He has to keep the movie going on that much longer. I might have enjoyed the syrupy movie but the totally exhausty movie spoiled it. Not worth it. And there were all these stupid product placements, and it was this big long car commercial, and GM must have really been hungry for money to make this happen.
(I guess I don’t need to say that there is no Allspark, and there is no magic radiation that turn ordinary machines into Transformers, and that we cannot magically scan something and become that thing. It took a bit of time, a bunch of modifications that were really not fun, and a blowtorch to turn me into a jet, and then there was all the work for the paint job, so I know it doesn’t work that way. If we could do that, we wouldn’t need to be transforming robots because we would be shape-shifters.
And Soundwave was dead on about a bunch of things. Autobots are good and defend humans regardless. Decepticons are all bad for no real reason and get like no character development like they’re a bunch of pointless killing machines. Autobot dictatorship rules. Made the cartoon movie look good. Soundwave is always right, darn it.
And so I got really sick of watching this, so I stood up, and Tracks fell down, and a bunch of Autobots yelled at me just as Sam finished off Megatron by smushing the Allspark into him because I was blocking their view, and then I was walking away as I was trying to figure out where I could get enough runway to take off, and then I knew there was a reason there were no Autobots who turned into airplanes here, and while I’m thinking about asking Broadside for a favor getting me in the air, there’s Huffer and Cliffjumper coming up to me and saying you’d better come with us and they take my arms and lead me away. And I ask them what they want, and they say they need to talk to me, and they take me to Huffer’s trailer in the parking lot. And even though I’m taller than both of them I know they can beat me deactivated, so I’m really scared. And then Elita One comes out of Huffer’s trailer, and even though it’s dark I can see that Hot Rod beat the exhaust out of her, and she has all these dents in some of her panels and her face is really messed up. And she asks me who I am, and I give her the Stratos Fear story, and say I beat up a few Decepticons over Tokyo Bay, and she calls me a liar, and then tries to slap me in the face, and after she jumps up and down a few times she does it. And then she says there is no Stratos Fear, and she nods at Huffer, and Huffer says combat deck, transform!
So I’m standing there, and the trailer transforms into Prime’s combat deck, and that little Roller robot rolls out and transforms into something scary I’ve never seen before, and the combat deck has scary glowing things on it, and I’m scared. And then Elita One says she’s going to learn the truth and tells the combat deck to start by cutting off my wings. And I so I fire my turbofans and jerk away from them. And I wish I had some really powerful jets instead of the lametrunk engines I have, and I just run.
So I’m running though San Francisco at night, and I’m trying really hard not to step on things and humans, and Cliffjumper has transformed and is coming after me and gaining on me without even trying, so I duck down this side street and Cliffjumper crashes into an awning. And then Huffer pops up at the other side of the street, and he looks mean, and I get really scared when I see Cliffjumper coming at me from the other end and I panic and start climbing a building. And I wasn’t designed to climb, so I am tearing the building up and bricks are falling down and I am really scratching my paint, but I’m getting there, and the turbofans help a little. And Cliffjumper comes after me, and I kick him in the head, and when he hit the ground I think it messed up his panels. And then I keep going, and so I’m a few stories up.
And the roof was creaking because, even though I’m not as heavy as I look I was heavy enough. And that Roller thing arrived and it climbed the side of the building, and I was picking off bricks and throwing them at it and it was still coming, so I ran and jumped to another building, and that made noise and something of a mess. And Roller was still coming, so I went to another building, and then it was not only Cliffjumper and Huffer following me, but then there were a bunch of other Autobots down there away. And Omni Imperator was waving his fist as me, and Buttmonkey ran and jumped and transformed and tried to fly at me but he couldn’t get airborne so he plowed into a building. And Wheelie was climbing and saying Decepticon, come on by, give up now or you will die. So I go running and jumping, and some of them start shooting plasma guns at me, and there’s something of a mess, and I keep running and jumping, and then I’m like, I’m finished, and I run and jump and transform and blast the engines as much as I can.
And I’m going too slow to get airborne. And I fall.
And then I’m going up because out of nowhere Deputy Vortex, who turns into a helicopter, he’s there and partly transformed and he’s grabbed my wing and holding me up and he’s yelling hit it hit it hard! And I revved my engines all the way up and he pulls me along and I got fast enough that I could stay up. And the Autobots are still shooting at me, and we head out over the bay, and Broadside comes after us but he’s too slow. And then partway home some of the Aerialbots came after us, but they flew away after Starscream and about half a dozen Seekers showed up.
Not that I wouldn’t have minded being blown away because first Vortex was yelling at me, and then Starscream yelled at me, and then Dad threw me in the brig next to Optimus Prime and yelled at me and said I broke so many laws and I was in so much trouble. And I pointed out yelling at me was not in the parenting manuals I’d looked at as an effective technique, and he just yelled at me more. And then he went away, and I told Prime I saw his son Hot Rod and that he was hot. And he was sort of happy to hear that and I told him that I saw him beat up Elita One, and then he started yelling at me. And he wouldn’t shut up. For hours.
So now I’m writing this to say I’m sorry. And I had no business being in the United States. Or running around or damaging buildings. Or sneaking out and scaring everybody that they had to send someone after me. (You little snitch Frenzy!) Or messing with the Autobots. Or pretending to be one. Or being so stupid as to fly somewhere without a convenient runway. And I’m sorry Hot Rod can’t see Arcee for the nasty skank with fat thighs she is. She probably has rust too.
And Dad has the plasma cannon. And I will never, ever do that again. That movie was so not worth it.