In South Park Episode 1308 Michael Jackson Possesses Ike, Who’s Seeing “Dead Celebrities” Like Billy Mays Selling Chipotlaway

Oh my God! How does the first episode begin with the Broflovskis having dirty sex! Gross and fantastic.

Dead Celebrities – AHH!

But what is this episode really about? Dead celebrities that are stuck in purgatory and who can’t pass into the after life. A lot of celebrities died this past summer, a number of whom were featured in this episode:

– Billy Mays
– Fara Faucet
– David Kerotine
– Ed McMahan
– Walter Kronkite

– And many more (who else did you notice?)

This purgatory in which they’re stuck is akin to being stuck on a plane that’s on the runway waiting to take off. It’s pushed back from the gate and you can’t go to the bathroom, and they haven’t started serving drinks, and you can’t get off the plane. That’s where every famous celebrity has been waiting for 3 months because . . .

Michael Jackson is in denial about being dead!

Just Let It Go MJ

He’s been in denial his entire life: denial about his age, his gender, his race, his history and his life. People who are in denial can’t move on and they hold up the whole plane – especially those who have a ton of baggage . . . and Michael Jackson has a ton of baggage.

After an episode of making fun of dead celebrities – primarily Billy Mays who has designed Chipotlaway to keep the blood stains out of your underwear after you eat Chipotle – and Ghost Hunters and The Sixth Sense, Ike ends up in the hospital with Dr. Phillips (who has the voice of the Sparrow King from the Lemmiwinks episodes), the doctor of Spooky Things.

When Michael Jackson takes over Ike’s body, we learn that the only way to get rid of a ghost possessing a human is to make the ghost feel like what it has never gotten before and what it longs for living people to acknowledge it as. In Michael Jackson’s case, that’s being acknolwedged as a little, white girl.

Chipotlaway Saves the Day

In order to make him feel like a little white girl, the boys dress Ike up as, well, a little white girl and put him into one of those obnoxious pageant shows. And how do the boys ensure that Michael Jackson wins the pageant and feels like a little white girl so that all of the dead celebrities can move out of purgatory? Well, the only judge who wasn’t arrested for jerking off to the girls in the pageant trades Cartman the secret of Chipotlaway for a vote for Ike/Michael Jackson.

Upon winning, Michael Jackson finds himself acknowledged as a little white girl and his soul is freed. He returns to the purgatory plane which takes off and then all of the celebrities go to . . . HELL!

Final Thoughts

So, I thought this was an incredible mid-season opener. It nailed so many things, had some great lines, was gross and silly and touched on a few worthwhile issues. No, it wasn’t super heady or the best episode or anything like that, but it was jam-packed, relatively twisted and pretty great. I’m totally excited that new episodes are back in the making, and I’m really thrilled to be working on my book right now and getting ready to release it as an ebook. Right now I’ve got a FREE Bonus Chapter from The Zen of South Park available to whomever wants it. There will be more free South Park stuff to come, and I’ll keep you posted on the status of the book.

What did you think about this first episode? Did you like it? Was it a good mid-season opener? Let me know in the comments below.

Enjoy posts on specific South Park episodes.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter as I’ll be live tweeting all new episodes.

Zen Talk: A Common Complaint Flipped on Its Head

“So little time, so little to do.”
Oscar Levant

You start reading this and you think you know where it’s going. However, it quickly takes a turn in a different direction.

This quote struck home with me since this is a particularly busy time in my life, and I always find myself with more to do than time to do it in. I wake up promptly at 6 a.m. and begin working until my brain shuts off at 10 at night (though I still attempt to push through a little reading). The Zen of South Park is part of that day, my start-up consumes most of the time and then my newspaper column and other part time job eat into whatever might have remained to take a breath and a break. Day after day. Hence my feeling of no time to do all that needs doing.

But boy did this quote slow me down. So little time – how true – but so little to do. Hmm. Makes you think about what’s really important in life. A little note that you should stop and smell the flowers, huh? Well, I can’t say that I’ll be slowing down any time soon but I would certainly mention that I will try harder to keep in perspective what’s really important. On that note, I’m going to see Modest Mouse tonight. I can’t wait. Should be good times.

What does this quote make you think about?

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“All About Mormons” (712) Is South Park’s Explanation of Joseph Smith and Mormonism

I know that on a blog called The Zen of South Park, a blog dedicated to a book on religion and South Park, you would expect a pretty long post on South Park‘s episode about Mormonism. But you’re not going to get it.

This episode is incredible, relatively accurate and an amazing portrayal of Mormonism for a few reasons that I will list succinctly.

1. It totally calls out the bullshit story.

2. It doesn’t actually judge Mormonism’s quality based on it’s bullshit story as evidenced by the kind behavior of the Harrison family and this speech at the end by Gary:

“Look, maybe us Mormons do believe in crazy stories that make absolutely no sense, and maybe Joseph Smith did make it all up, but I have a great life. and a great family, and I have the Book of Mormon to thank for that. The truth is, I don’t care if Joseph Smith made it all up, because what the church teaches now is loving your family, being nice and helping people. And even though people in this town might think that’s stupid, I still choose to believe in it. All I ever did was try to be your friend, Stan, but you’re so high and mighty you couldn’t look past my religion and just be my friend back. You’ve got a lot of growing up to do, buddy. Suck my balls.”

3. A religion is judged based on the quality of the religion to its adherents, not the veracity of its story. Mormonism makes it out on the good side of this dividing line during this episode.

What did you think of this episode? Are you Mormon? Can you shed a little light on the accuracy of the story as believed by Mormons for us?

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The Zen of South Park is Happening All Around You

In a recent episode of Lovephones with Dr. Drew and some douchebag who isn’t nearly as good as Adam Corolla, someone called in to discuss the difficulties he was having with his girlfriend’s devoutly Mormon family. After the guy voices his problems, to which many people were likely thinking, “Dude, get out while you still can,” Dr. Drew advises this guy that “if you’re motivated” you can make it work.

When the caller continues on about what gung-ho Mormons this family is, what ardent McCain supporters and how veritably nuts they are, Dr. Drew asks, “Did you see that episode of South Park?” and then relates this problem to the South Park episode called “All About Mormons” when Stan befriends a Mormon kid, who in the end tells Stan that Mormonism may be weird but it works for him and if Stan isn’t mature enough to overlook his religion and just accept him as a person then screw Stan.

This is what The Zen of South Park is trying to do – no, not screw Stan. Use South Park as a conduit for understanding situations in our own lives. My book demonstrates the applicability of South Park and its many valuable lessons in everyday situations like dating people of different religions. In America, a land with so many different races, ethnicities, religions and so forth, many of us can find ourselves having trouble relating to someone we like or at least that person’s family. And South Park has a lesson for us to learn and some advice to help move life forward. That is the essence of The Zen of South Park.

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Read about All About Mormons.

Quran Read-A-Long: The Cow 87-97 Alludes to the Problem with Jewish Chosenness

Since this entire passage seems to me to discuss how the Jews don’t believe in revelations that came after the Torah despite their verification of the Jews’ own text, I’m going to focus only on verse 94, which concerns, I think, chosenness. Please feel free to comment on any other part of this passage, however, as it’s all up for discussion.

The Idea of Chosenness

Jews believe that they are the chosen people. Apparently, they were elected by God way back in the day to possess a certain land and forever be God’s chosen and consecrated people. Personally, I don’t live way back in the day – though I may recall it frequently in anecdotes and such – but rather, I live today. What’s important to me are the concerns that we face today and how to make today a better place.

Living in the Now

Many people don’t share those concerns to the extreme that I do, which isn’t to say that they’re not interested in present day issues as much as to say that they’re not concerned with them to the exclusion of what was once important. I am. Some see that as a flaw or as foolishness, but it’s just who I am. I very rarely see the value of preserving tradition solely for the sake of tradition and particularly if it’s detrimental to modern concerns and progress.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t value and respect tradition and the past. After all, I’m trained as a historian and I love studying and understanding religion (hence, The Zen of South Park). However, I’m not attached to ideas or traditions from the past so much so that I can’t give them up to make the world a better place. Most people aren’t with me on that, and I can appreciate that.

The Problem with Chosenness

The idea of being chosen by God, I think, is a dangerous notion. Chosenness implies elitism and a “better than others-ness” that I find pernicious to people’s ability to interact, coexist and progress. How can we talk to one another knowing that the other considers his race/religion/ethnicity/family superior to everyone else’s – and I don’t just mean to have its general advantages and qualities (which is probably okay) but that he believes that he has been chosen by God as an elect?

That’s a pretty twisted notion and makes mutual dialogue difficult. I constantly struggle with the idea of chosenness because I dislike it when people think that there’s something innately special about themselves that is not so in others – that birth precedes merit. This idea manifests itself in many forms throughout the world, but is quite apparent in the notion of Jewish chosenness – the suggestion that only the Jews are God’s chosen people.

Summary

Now, this passage doesn’t provide a flattering portrayal of the Jews, considering that it lambasts them for rejecting these very words which verify the truth of the Torah, and I must point out that my own sentiments on the matter of chosenness do not follow this general thread of condemnation. However, I found the larger point here – that the Jews stick to the Torah and its notion of chosenness to the exclusion of others being able to reach God, which is a patently absurd idea (that we can’t all be with God in the afterlife) – that I find it damaging and unhelpful and wanted to speak out about it myself.

What do you think of this passage? Do you have anything to add? What do you think of the idea of chosenness, whether in this particular instance as it relates to the Jews or in its general application to so many people’s understanding of themselves and their people as supremely special?

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The Cow: 87-97

87. Remember We gave Moses the Book and sent after him many an apostle; and to Jesus, son of Mary, We gave clear evidence of the truth, reinforcing him with divine grace. Even so, when a messenger brought to you what did not suit your mood you turned haughty, and called some imposters and some others you slew. 88. And they say: “Our hearts are enfolded in covers.” In fact God has cursed them for their unbelief; and only a little do they believe. 89. And when the Book was sent to them by God verifying what had been revealed to them already – even though before it they used to pray for victory over the unbelievers – and even though they recognized it when it came to them, they renounced it. The curse of God be on those who deny! 90. They bartered their lives ill denying revelation of God out of spite that God should bestow His grace among His votaries on whomsoever He will, and thus earned wrath upon wrath. The punishment for disbelievers is ignominious. 91. And when it is said to them: “believe in what God has sent down,” they say: “We believe what was sent to us, and do not believe what has come thereafter,” although it affirms the truth they possess already. Say: “Why have you then been slaying God’s apostles as of old, if you do believe?” 92. Although Moses had come to you with evidence of the truth, you chose the calf in his absence, and you transgressed. 93. Remember when We took your pledge and exalted you on the Mount (saying: ) “Hold fast to what We have given you, firmly, and pay heed,” you said: “We have heard and will not obey.” (The image of) the calf had sunk deep into their hearts on account of unbelief. Say: “Vile is your belief if you are believers indeed!” 94. Tell them: “If you think you alone will abide with God to the exclusion of the rest of Mankind, in the mansions of the world to come, then wish for death if what you say is true.” 95. But they will surely not wish for death because of what they had done in the past; and God knows the sinners well. 96. You will see they are covetous of life more than other men, even more than those who practice idolatry. Each one of them desires to live a thousand years, although longevity will never save them from punishment, for God sees all they do.

New Episode of South Park, “Breast Cancer Show Ever,” is on Tonight!

If you’re looking for the actual review of the episode, click HERE.

When Wendy threatens to beat up Cartman after school, she gets in trouble. Oh no!

Somehow, I’m guessing that there’s more to this episode. Make sure to come back to The Zen of South Park after the episode is over for a review and discussion.

See you later tonight!

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Mummy III, Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, with Fraser and Jet Li Lives up to First Two

Let me say for the record that I didn’t think the first two were so spectacular so my assessment isn’t so much a compliment as an evaluation. Don’t get me wrong, they were pretty entertaining, but at the same time, eh. So, if you thought the sun rose with the first two Mummy movies then don’t let my review get you down.

I will say that I enjoyed it. It was fun, entertaining, had consistent action (though the final fight scene, in my humble opinion, was just adequate), and I even laughed a couple of times. One thing in particular that I really appreciated, I must share.

As background, Rachel Weisz is not in this film. Thus, someone else had to play Brendan Fraser‘s wife. Maria Bello did a fine job, and god bless them, they did not let the switch go without a joke. Had they not acknowledged the wife-swap (heh heh) I would have been sorely disappointed, but just like any self-respecting Hollywood filmmakers would, they made a joke. And it was well done at that. I kind of hope the entire sub-plot surrounding the joke existed solely for the sake of making the joke work. That would make me particularly happy.

As for the rest of the movie, Jet Li was pretty decent – never even spoke a word of English. I thought the amount of Chinese they used in the movie was pretty good – I hate it when movies take place where they don’t speak English to one another but all of the characters are speaking English. Also, the opening mythology behind the modern day plot was interesting. Special effects weren’t bad either. The action took a bit to get started, but overall it was a reasonable ride.

Yes, all of these adjectives are just so-so. Perhaps that should reflect on more than my writing and vocabulary. The movie was hokey, a little desperate for the third in a series and even prepped itself for a fourth. Honestly though, which of the Mummy movies weren’t cheeseball with a side of desperation.

In summary, if you liked the first ones, you’ll probably like this one and if you were ever a little blahed out by the first two, I’d skip this one. I’ll give it 5.5 Chocolate Salty Balls.

Have you seen it yet? What did you think? Do you know why Rachel Weisz chose not to do this movie?

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An Announcement About The Zen of South Park’s Revamping and Restructuring

Dear Loyal Reader,

I want to let you know that The Zen of South Park blog will be changing from today forward. Don’t worry – I’m not going anywhere so there’s no need to cry. I am, however, going to be changing what I do on a couple of days. I’ll explain first and then post the schedule.

From now on Mondays will no longer be days for interviews (though when I have them I’ll just post them when they seem appropriate). Monday will be Fun with the Bible day. This may mean different things on different days but basically, I’m going to pick ideas, themes, scenes or passages from the Bible – both the Old and New Testaments (probably on a rotating basis) – and discuss them in ways that hopefully you haven’t thought about before. Whether religious or secular, already familiar with the Bible or not, Fun with the Bible Mondays are for everyone with any interest in learning a little and being inspired about the Bible’s functionality even in the twenty-first century.

Wednesdays will be Quran days. That’s right – we’re going to read the Quran…together! We will begin with the Prologue today and then every week we will read only 100 verses (about 10-15 minutes, don’t worry). I will say my piece about them and then I invite you to respond and say what you thought. This will be an open discussion, and so long as everyone is respectful, I think it will go very well.

The Quran is the holy book of the Muslim religion and should therefore be treated with a great deal of respect. Though we will be reading it with a critical eye like we would any other text, I will not be approving any callously disrespectful or prejudice comments. That said, I think it’s very important for everyone to read the holy books of other religions because it helps us understand other people better, and with the current state of world affairs, I think that reading the Quran is of special importance. I hope you’ll join me on this sure to be fascinating day to read and think about the Quran. Don’t forget to go get yourself a copy or click HERE for multiple translations to read online (click HERE to read the first Quran post)!

The final change in our schedule will be Sundays, which from now on will be Zen days. As The Zen of South Park blog, I thought it was time to incorporate a little Zen into our lives. I will begin by reading very short essays by the Zen master, Dogen, from his Shobogenzo, and providing a few comments on them. When I run out of these Zen essays I will start writing about sayings of Buddha from the Dhammapada and then move onto other texts from Eastern religions.

On all three of these days (Monday, Wednesday and Sunday) I will announce each week what I will be reading the next week so that you can keep up and prepare it yourself if you want to be ready to comment or participate. Jump in at any time or stage.

As for Topical Tuesdays, Around the World Pic of the Day, Movie/Book Review Day and Religion in the News day, all of those will stay as they are. Moreover, I will continue discussing the South Park episodes that are being aired daily, making the schedule:

Sunday: Zen Topics
Monday: Fun with the Bible
Tuesday: Topical Tuesdays – join me and my good friend and fellow author Chandler Craig (chandlermariecraig.wordpress.com) to see our different takes on the topic of the day.
Wednesday: Quran Read-a-Long
Thursday: Around the World – I will post a photo of me at religious sites around the world with a discussion about the location’s significance
Friday: Movie/Book Review Day
Saturday: Religion in the News

To see an index of my blog articles by subject matter and theme, click HERE.

I hope you enjoy the blog’s new structure and stick with us as we begin exploring some of these new subjects.

Best Regards,

Jay

The Zen of South Park Progress Report

I am glad to say that I’m finally back to work on The Zen of South Park. After packing in Atlanta, moving to San Fran, finding an apartment, setting it up with furniture and crap and then a few nights of sickness, I have, at last, begun to sit at my desk daily and plug away.

And it feels great.

We all have projects that we love, and they become such a part of us that to neglect them is like leaving your child in the rain while you go to the local bar. And then beating him when you get home. It’s just not cool – you know?

I am in the very serious editing stages of the book, which is to say that I have quite solid drafts of every chapter and am now perfecting them by tweaking jokes, analyzing word choice and examing the overall structure of each chapter for consistency, flow, and logic. I actually really enjoy this stage of editing because you can see your book go from a piece of writing to a manuscript. While doing this I am also taking notes on the single point of each section in each chapter so that I can properly write an introduction and conclusion.

As I always reiterate, There are no great writers – only great editors.

How is your project going right now? Did you catch the South Park marathon last night? Which episode did you enjoy most. Personally, I love the “Cartoon Wars” episodes. If you’d like to read an essay I wrote on them, called “A Defense of South Park,” click HERE.

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Imaginationland, Director’s Cut Edition, Sunday Night at 10: The Debate Between Imaginary and Real

Like you, I’ve seen the commercials for the Imaginationland spectacular that’s coming up this Sunday night. What’s the difference between the three episodes aired week after week and one long sit-down? I have no idea, other than the time between commercials. Will there actually be never before seen footage? It’s entirely possible, but I wouldn’t know.

Do you know anything about it?

Last week the Imaginationland trilogy was nominated for an Emmy – South Park‘s eighth, god bless them – and perhaps this has something to do with that, though I’m unaware of the specifics in scheduling decisions. Since Matt and Trey aren’t big on pandering to the Emmy-Hollywood-Celebrity crowd, I’m pretty skeptical that the two are related, though I am sure that Comedy Central is interested in grabbing a third Emmy for its most popular, highest rated and most watched show (are all those the same thing?).

I, for one, absolutely love the Imaginationland trilogy. It’s brilliant. At first I wasn’t too keen, because towards the end of the first episode I didn’t see it wrapping up to a point, but upon realizing that it was more than a single episode – and then three episodes! – I became enthralled by the depth to which the entire trilogy was taken and the sensational points that arose out of it.

Imaginationland is about the existence of the make-believe – how real imaginary things are. This hour and a half of philosophical speculation interwoven seamlessly with a plot about Kyle finally having to lick Cartman’s particularly vinegary nuts – How do you like your sundays Kyle? With extra nuts? – is nothing short of genius.

From the perspective of The Zen of South Park, Imaginationland adds particular vibrancy because the understanding that imaginary things – like many of the religious figures we revere, and even, say, maybe, God – are real and can have far more importance and influence than tangible things has a dual effect. At once it provides us with historical fodder while simultaneously affirming the fact that historicity can be far less important than perception. For instance, haven’t people like Superman or Jesus, with their values of justice and the importance of fighting for truth been more influential and important than almost every other person? What about Luke Skywalker – imaginary – vs. Mark Hammell, tangible. Skywalker is more important (by far) and has had far more of an impact on the world. Can we really say that just because he’s imaginary he isn’t really real?

If you haven’t seen it or if you have, I highly recommend that you plunk down in front of your tv this Sunday night at ten and take a look at Imaginationland – and potentially an extended version, at that.

Have you seen it? What’s your favorite part? What do you think about this debate between imaginary and real?

For more going on in the world of South Park, check out my quick question about the South Park video game, HERE. Don’t forget, a review of Step-Brothers is coming later this afternoon (and hopefully X-Files sometime soon!).

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