Thursday, June 30, 2005

Whoa! Unexpected!!!!!!

BBC NEWS | Technology | Women gear up for gaming invasion

Well, I'm convinced! A forward thinker has the balls to come out and say that women are the future of the games industry! He's a goddamn genius!

Like I said before, This happens every few months. Each time they list games women like: Zelda, Tetris, online Popcap stuff, etc., and note that one day there will be more female gamers than there are now. This article has the extra bonus of talking about the PMS crew or whatever, a group of "top-level" female gamers (What does that mean? They can play video games well?) who go to stores and talk to women about games while defeating men in whatever stupid FPS happens to be running. Check out the picture of the ladies in the article. Yes, I don't begrudge them the fact that they are as God made them, but c'mon. Are those three going to convince the Cosmo crowd that they need to kick a dude's butt in Battlefield 2? It seems a bit like Lou Ferrigno trying to convince me that scrapbooking is a wonderful hobby. I'd be like, "Yes, but aren't you hugely muscled and a former Incredible Hulk? I believe you because I'm scared of you, not because I'm convinced by your stance on scrapbooking."

Not that I'm afraid of Lou Ferrigno, mind. He's a pansy.

They keep at this so hard because they know that women have a lot of money and that women spend it on stupid crap like shoes and bills. They know that if they can get some women who play games to stand around in a gaming store, they can reel in other women. Do not be fooled: They're not after women because they think that entertaining women is a worthwhile goal. They're doing this because they know women have money they like to spend in the mall. The problem is that they're too cheap to do what they really need to do: Hire developers who will design games that are fun rather than ones that simply copy Doom. They spend time recommending fruit-ifying games when all they need to do is good-ify them.

The tinfoil hat in me suggests maybe these articles come out with such frequency and repetition because they're an attempt to try to tell female gamers that female gamers like games. But that's crazy talk!


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Canada Further Embarasses the US

Ha ha, US. You've been owned.

Canada's House of Commons just yesterday passed legislation legalizing same-sex marriages but providing institutions a right to refuse to perform such marriages for various reasons.

This means that gay couples have a right to be wed, and that churches that disagree don't have to do the weddings.

My god. Rights are being handed out all willy-nilly here in Canada. It's obvious that we're all catching Teh Ghey up here, like we did with that horrid stomach flu a few months ago (man, that messed me up... but not as much as teh ghey!).

An important thing to note: The leader of the Conservative party up here has vowwed to fight this if his party forms the next government, but to do that he apparently has to go down in history as the first Prime Minister in decades to actually strip legal rights from Canadians. I have to wonder, is political suicide a mortal sin like the other kind?

Canada isn't perfect, I'll say that. But I look down at my home nation and I just feel ashamed. It's pretty clear that the US hasn't led the world in anything other than pigheadedness and intellectual denial for years now. Canada is among a handful of countries that realizes that no one is hurt by allowing gay couples to get married. I have yet to hear a single real argument as to why gays shouldn't be allowed to stand in front of a minister like the rest of us can. Nothing but hatred and ignorance stands in the way.

I understand that the law still needs Senate and Queen approval, but that those are essentially ceremonial steps.

I'm an American, sure. But today I'd be proud to call myself a Canadian.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Definition of Superhero

A "Superhero" is defined as anything that Stan Lee came up with for Marvel during his tenure there. This means that if Stan Lee came up with "Walking Man," who heroically strolled across traffic in a slightly gay skintight outfit, then walking is a superheroic act.

I'm writing this because someone asked for my opinion, and whenever that happens, I am compelled to give it. Leave aside the fact that I am often compelled to give my opinions when no one has asked, too.

So, is Batman a superhero? Let's take a look:

  • Batman prances about in a costume. Check.

  • Batman fights evil. Check.

  • Batman has a sexually dubious relationship with an underaged boy. Check.

  • Batman has powers that are uncommon among the average people of the world. Check.

  • Categorizing stuff is silly, and it's easier to just say Batman is a superhero than it is to quote line and verse to exclude Batman from the genre he helped popularize. Check.

  • Yeah, Batman doesn't shoot skunks from his eyes or fly about, but he is quoted as being at the very pinnacle of human capability, mentally and physically. That sounds like a superpower to me, considering that he has had no more time to hone himself than the average other person obsessed with revenge. He also has the power to grant gadgets Plot Immunity, which means that his gadgets and stuff don't have to be explained. Basically, you can say, "It's because he's a bajillionaire!" as you would say, "It's magic!" or "Radiation!!!!!!" for any other hero.

    He's also larger than life and fights villains that are the same. A regular hero would be a soldier in the army or a cop/firefighter/paramedia. A superhero fights dudes in purple spandex who show up and claim to be the ruler of the world.

    Thus, Batman = Superhero.

    Wednesday, June 22, 2005

    Film Critics Are Retarded

    Okay. I'm about to back up the geek bus a bit today. Just giving you fair warning.

    I have a few things I'd like to say to the film industry about Batman. Batman is a psycho. He is a revenge-obsessed sociopath who puts on an outfit meant to scare people and leaps about in the city at nighttime fighting the only people in the city more insane than he is. He's sorta like a tights-wearing White Rabbit, leading us through the Alice-in-Wonderland of Gotham City, where we meet people like the Penguin and the Joker and the Scarecrow, who all use some sort of gas or another. He wins, not because he has superpowers, but because he's BETTER THAN EVERYONE. Batman beats Superman by having kryptonite and not being afraid to use it. He then stands nearby and explains to Superman why he got beaten.

    Note to Hollywood: Batman doesn't wear impenetrable battle armor. He doesn't glide about on a magic cape. He doesn't go to Q to get an explanation as to how this unlikely gadgetry works.

    Goddamn you, David Goyer. Your Blade: Trinity stupidity got into our Batman movie. I hope you accidentally sit on a seatless bicycle and spin around before the grenade around your neck goes off in a violent fashion... also by accident, of course. Or better yet, I use your own tactics against you: "This here puppy is a nydogen-expanse freeload module, capable of exiblating three-thousand kilos of hexablon extrakagate in less than twelve stixohexins. In layman's terms, this crayon's gonna wax your half of town and everyone in it. Time to color stuff red."

    Why can't someone win because they're awesome? Why must every Goyer hero have inexplicable gadgets catered specifically to win the game, no matter what? In Blade vs. Batman, Blade would get anti-black-outfit nuclear-tipped acid darts, and Batman would get weaponized aerosol Daywalker repellant.

    Someone in Hollywood has to realize that you can't really make a real comic book movie without making it a comic book movie. Sam Raimi just about had it right: He didn't put Spider-Man in some stupid black latex outfit and roll up some lab-coated punk to go, "See, this baby here is a patented anti-jet-surfboard foam gun. One good shot of this will go back in time and make sure Green Goblin never got born." And he had a canon reason to put Spidey in black. Batman is awesome because he's awesome. He survives gunfights not because his outfit is bulletproof, but because he either dodges bullets or makes the thugs too afraid to shoot right. Christopher Nolan nailed the intimidation aspect extremely well (for the most part), but still, you think, "Well, how awesome can he be? He's reliant on bulletproof outfits." How much more badass would it be if Batman survived by simply being more badass than everyone else?

    Anyway, that's neither here nor there. Film critics are retarded.

    Film critics for the most part are too good to enjoy a Batman movie. Either they go in expecting a campy thrill ride or they expect the film to just suck. Most of the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes that are negative essentially boil down to, "How DARE Nolan make a comic book movie with real emotion and brains behind it?" Others say, "Tim Burton is like, the Batman god, and this movie is nothing like that, so 'Booo!' I say."

    Batman Begins is a fine film. I saw it twice, and I loved it both times. It made Batman seem plausible, not as a guy in a suit, but as a man who has the drive and the means to take a stand against criminals. It drove home that Batman isn't the (exceedingly awkward-looking) guy in a black suit, but rather the overarching personality of the grown-up Bruce Wayne. Batman is the sum of all the experiences Bruce Wayne has had since his parents' death, and the outfit is just a public face. In fact, in this particular movie, I felt myself wishing I'd never seen the Batman outift and that Bruce Wayne had continued on with the ninja-mugger-of-death outfit he had when he spoke to Sgt. Gordon the first time.

    That's mostly because the new Batman outfit, and the way Bale carried it and spoke in it, were all horrible. not from a fanboy "Wahhhh, I cannot like this because it is not how I would have done it had I the money, power, and talent to have made this movie myself!" standpoint, but from a "Damnit, this badass character looks stupid crouching there like an imp in his goofy pointy mushroom hat and his Harvey-Fierstien-with-a-tracheotomy voice" perspective. There wasn't a single point in the movie in which I felt that Batman out-badassed the scenes in which Christian Bale just bandied about being a ninja. It was like they replaced Bale with a laryngitic leprechaun whenever Batman was wearing the suit. The rest of the film, the roughly 80% in which Bruce Wayne was just Bruce Wayne, Bale was fantastic, charismatic, and vaguely creepy, and most importantly, believable.

    The supporting cast was more or less excellent, as well. Michael Caine's Alfred is the Most Awesomest Character Ever in Films, and that includes Zombie Pirate Henchman #2 in Pirates of the Caribbean. Michael Caine showed once more why he has the power to shoot staples from his eyes. Gary Oldman was decidedly un-Gary-Oldmanlike as pre-Commissioner Gordon, underacting and essentially doing a damn fine job being a majorly skilled character actor in an important but understated role. The villains were universally awesome, except one scene in which Scarecrow is standing there in his mask and a suit looking for all the world like a guy in a suit with a scarecrow mask on. The best way to make a villain look dumb is to make his thugs look more badass than he is.

    Katie Holmes was neither particularly well written or well acted, and she isn't really hot enough to make one forget Batman's badassedness. Still, she did okay, and her relationship with Bruce Wayne is refreshing in its not-entirely-Hollywood-cheese manner.

    The hero of the film, the man who tied the whole thing together, was definitely Mr. Water Company Exposition Guy. Toward the end of the film, when things are getting fairly stupid, this guy shows up and goes, "If that train gets to the center of the city, which is Wayne Tower, the entire city's gonna blow!" Then they cut to something else (I think it was Batman punching a train in the mouth) and then back to this old guy. "Seriously though, man, it sure will suck if that train gets to Wayne Tower and makes the city blow!" The guy and his assistant proceed to do absolutely nothing from then on, but we still include this guy in the cross-cutting during the climax of the film. Batman fighting, train speeding away, Gordon doing something important, train speeding, old guy going "She gonna blow!", back to Batman, to the train, to Gordon, to Batman, to old Water Guy, and so on. And then, when the Day is Saved (spoiler), the Old Water Guy gets a SIGH OF RELIEF ON CAMERA. Like he was there all along. I half expected Batman to show up with the Old Water Guy, shake his hand, and go, "Gotham can't operate without good ol' blue-collar guys like you, sir. Salute!"

    Still, not even David Goyer's complete retardedness can ruin Batman Begins. And David Goyer sucks.

    Wednesday, June 15, 2005


    I'd like to hereby announce the foundation of the CHURCH OF AWESOME!!!!!! on this day, the whateverth of June, in the Awesome year of 24,567,043,221 AFY.

    Many of you may not be familiar with the tenets of this great religion, and so I, Big Goddamn Pope For Life Awesome bin Fricasee I, shall endeavor to enlighten you. Rest assured that you all meet the criteria needed to be made privy to this information. Otherwise I'd have been forced to resort to a round of Instinct Clarification and submit you to a full Internal Glaxicom Reconstitutional.

    Should you choose to disseminate this information, be aware that you forfeit your rights to sentience in regards to the CHURCH and thereby become a Token Bretheren slated for Occupational Reinhabitance.

    The CHURCH OF AWESOME!!!!!! is based on the principles of being completely awesome at all times. Its tenets were brought to this Earth 24,567,043,221 years ago by a giant goddamn flaming tyrannosaurus named Beezu. Unlike all the other dinosaurs of the time, Beezu believed that being entirely fucking awesome was the path to true enlightenment, and so he went around eating all the dinosaurs who disagreed with him. Since all most dinosaurs did at the time was sit around and sink into tar pits and stuff, Beezu pretty much had a smorgasbord on his tiny little vestigal hands.

    It was all good for awesomeness when another awesome thing from outer space, a gigantic space asteroid named Floorplan, came crashing to Earth to try to stop Beezu's awesomeness. While Floorplan was a creature of awesome, he hated Beezu because he knew Beezu was far more awesome than some giant goddamn rock from space, and so he tried to destroy the world by thrusting himself at it with great speed. While this didn't eradicate all awesomeness from the planet, it did destroy Beezu and most of the dinosaurs Beezu hadn't yet eaten. The CHURCH knows this as The Great De-Awesomnification.

    Ironically, this disaster didn't completely destroy Beezu; rather, it made Beezu a god. Beezu gained great powers of awesome from this, and surviving an asteroid attack made him even more awesome. He began preaching awesomness to the lesser beings, the small lame mammals and huge awesome plants and stuff. Eventually a bunch of monkeys turned into people, and Beezu was about to eat them when he thought a moment and realized, "Hey, one day these people will be pirates and ninjas and zombies and robots. I shall let them live, and they shall be my Agents of Awesome." To this end he inserted transmitters, called "Bluvins," into all of the new people so that the people would be driven to make more people and thus create more awesomeness. For males the Bluvins became "pecs" and "balls," and for females, they became "boobies."

    Unfortunately, Floorplan wasn't dead forever. He had become part ofthe Earth and began to slowly corrupt people's Bluvins. What once was a simple source of awesome (balls and boobies) became also a source of lame. Mostly because my stupid religion needs an antagonist. So anyone you hate has lame Bluvins, whereas you have awesome ones.

    To this day Beezu fights lame Blevins with the hope of restoring Awesomeness to all. See how quickly you understand my secret jargon?

    The tenets of the CHURCH are as follows:

    • Don't not be awesome. This one ought to be self-explanatory. If you feel the desire to be lame, that's your lame Bluvins talking. Report to a local AWESOME CENTER for Delamenification.

    • Don't kill people. Every religion needs this one so it can say, "We discourage murder, so you can't sue us because it's not our fault our Head High Archbishop slaughtered 37 children." Really. This is the most important commandment in the CHURCH from a legal standpoint. *wink*

    • Don't hoard your money from the CHURCH. This is very important. Your personal assets lead to lame Bluvins; just look at Donald Trump and Paris Hilton. Your best bet is to give us all your possessions for safe-keeping while you awesomnify.

    • Eat every goddamn diplodicus. This is more a holdover from Orthodox Awesomeness. Since there are no diplodicuses left in the world, this is often interpreted as, "Beat up fat people" or, "What the hell does that mean?"
    • The agents of Floorplan are everywhere. Anyone who disagrees with you is obviously a Floorplanian with uber-lame Bluvins. Ignore them, or better yet, kick them in their Bluvins for justice.

    • Beezu is watching you. Beezu likes to watch stuff, and he loves to watch you as you bumble through your daily life. The lamer you are, the more Beezu watches you, and really, who likes to be watched by a giant flaming ghost dinosaur in the sky? You can Beezu to stop watching you temporarily by sending me $25 per five-minute period of time.

    • Give me some money. Seriously. If you don't, you're full of lame Bluvins and get to be destroyed by my black PR campaigns. I'll tell all your friends that you suck.

    The most important thing to note is that one day Beezu will return to Earth and eat all living creatures who are lame. This is meant to frighten you into compliance, particularly with the tenet wherein you give me money.

    Oh, and also, this isn't the deepest secrets of the CHURCH OF AWESOME!!!!!! Only those who have reached the top levels of the CHURCH can learn its awesomest secrets, which involve water pumps, Chee-tos, and ninjas. Seriously, that shit is awesome. So give me some money.

    All hail Beezu and the awesome Bluvins, Amen.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2005

    Girls and Games

    Just so you know, I'm not really a misogynist. I pretty much hate everyone. There are things I don't understand about women, and they sometimes drive me crazy, but I generally enjoy their company and respect them. Even though all the pregnancy crap pretty much ruined Angel for nearly two seasons; I know that Women at Large weren't responsible for that, and I can safely reserve my anger for that for two or three females in specific.

    That makes me a minority in the game industry, I imagine, but hey. Being a minority is cool. I've been left-handed all my life (Down with Righty!), and the moment someone organizes a Sinister Million-Man March, I'll be there, if only to get street cred so I can walk around in Oakland without getting beat up next time I go there.

    So. Once every twelve minutes someone says, "Hey, I just realized that girls don't play games that much!" like they just stumbled upon some great universal truth. This sparks magazines to run articles and marketers to go, "Hrm, and these 'women' tend to have money, right? Shouldn't we be setting about getting some of it?" Then everyone thinks that there's something wrong with game companies because they aren't going after women.

    Here's a newsflash for people: For a game company to actively go after women would be like contributing to charity.

    You have two groups: One is an easy sell and was already buying tons of products like yours and clearly enjoys spending money on them, and the other is a group of people who require extensive education about your product and generally thinks your product is dumb or frivolous and not worth the price of half of one of those pointy-toed shoes build specifically for groin-kicking. Which does your short-sighted company greenlight money for? Do you advertise to the sure thing or the longshot?

    Most places go for the sure thing, because, well, it's a sure thing. If the advertising costs the same and the reward is greater, who can blame them? And so ads have big-ass boobies in them and show nerds getting laid because they bought the latest Halo game. Advertisers go after the boys and not the girls.

    But this is likely a good thing. Have you ever seen toy ads that go after girls? They're horrible. Pink shit goes everywhere, and two little girls wave dolls about and go, "Oh, it's time to go shopping with Trevor! Maybe this time he'll shine that glinty smile at me!" Imagine that for Unreal Championship and you have an idea where it's going.

    No one is to blame for this. Video games got popular with boys before there were grenades and sniper rifles and giant boobies everywhere. Remember Atari 2600? Boys liked that better than girls did, even when all you had was one orange square shooting at another or a dude with an arrow-sword fighting a duck-dragon. The original developers (and most of them today) were males, and so the games had themes like "Blast stuff" and "Conquer territory with your radioactive death-line." Still, even back then there was a Pac-Man for every Space Invaders.

    Put alongside this that the female gamers I know have the most complex tastes of any gamers I've met. My fiancee in particular loves puzzle games and The Sims, but she also loves carving things up in Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance and beating people up in Jade Empire. At the table, she digs playing social characters but wants to be kick-ass in a fight, as well. Another woman we gamed with was the most bloodthirsty person I've ever shared a table with. These aren't isolated incidents.

    So why do we think "a game for girls" means "pink tripe about planting flowers and hugging"?

    I think it'd be nice for more women to enjoy playing games; it certainly makes my life easier that I can share that with the soon-to-be Mrs. Awesome. But I think it's unrealistic to think, "The industry is a villain because it's not focusing on women." This isn't much more realistic than going, "How come knitting companies don't target men?" I can imagine it now; loud guitars, mud flying about, and a dude grimacing as he knits the hell out of a scarf with skulls on it while two hot chicks in bikinis loaf about around him. The dude can flex and show his scarf and go, "Oh YEAH, knitting is AWESOME!!!!" before thrusting his hands into hot coals and grimacing some more. Then he shoots a gun and drives around.

    I say, if you want more women to play games, stop targeting them so damn much. Maybe actually make a game that can sell on its own merits rather than relying on pictures of "hot" CG chicks to sell it. Games like Knights of the Old Republic, City of Heroes, World of Warcraft, and the like attract female gamers not because they have flowers or involve "nourishing," but because they respect the end user and don't flaunt the stupid crap.

    Meanwhile, stop patronizing them. Don't print articles going, "This sucks, the industry needs more chicks!" Don't pretend to be interested in more girl gamers or girl game developers when you're obviously not. And stop pretending that what men and women want from entertainment is completely different. It's not. Women want fantasies and entertainment like men do, and yeah, most women might not enjoy something like Manhunt (though not many men enjoyed that one, either), but you don't have to go so far as Barbie's Dream Hotel or Mary Kate & Ashley's OMG What's a Sandwich? to have something a woman will like.

    "Women" is a group made up of individual people, not a homogenous group of demographics. Make games people like, and a number of women will play them. Women are awesome; they tend to like cool stuff. The problem is that publishers put out games that suck but include hooks that trigger men's balls to tell them to play them, and this trick doesn't work on women.

    You'll have to actually make a good game to "fool" that crowd.

    Friday, June 10, 2005

    Why God Hates Geeks

    Hey folks. I'm a geek. Seriously. But come on.

    God hates us.

    It's why sitting on one's ass makes us fat. It's why not going outside keeps us from getting attractive tans. It's why eating Doritos and drinking Mt. Dew are bad for us. In a geek-friendly world, these things would be required staples. The world is hostile to us.

    So why does God hate geeks?

    God hates geeks because we are petty and divisive and arugmentative. The average geek has some amount of higher brain function that is often used to create stories or goad computers into doing backflips, but we spend our time arguing about whether Connor and Cordy should have slept together or coming up with schematics for lightsabers. We spend more time on average wondering why so many people on Tatooine speak English than we do speaking English to other people in society. We sit at the TV or computer and play violent video games and then claim to have actually had the adventures we just played. We're dreamers, but few of us actually seek to make our dreams possible. Those who do are either gods (Roddenberry, Whedon) or are sacrificed at the altar of I Could Do Better.

    But the worst thing--the WORST thing--about geeks is this: Geeks hate. We hate harder and faster and with more vitriol than most other creatures on the planet. And we hate dumb stuff that really affects life to the sum of zero.

    Case in point: this thread on about a new constructible card game White Wolf is developing. Think Pirates of the Spanish Main with a more Car Wars-like overtone.

    If the game were published by any other studio, the response would likely be, "Sounds interesting," or, "Not my cup of tea." But since it's White Wolf, the response was, almost immediately, "Screw you, White Wolf, this game will suck." Based on nothing more than a paragraph of information, people jumped to the conclusion that the game will be crap. Personally, I think it sounds pretty cool, and any new game idea that gets put out is a new game we can try out. But people are so angry about this that even Ethan Skemp, White Wolf employee and developer of Werewolf: the Forsaken, couldn't sway them. They just came right back at him and explained that they were unconvinced that this new project will be any good. When told that the game might not actually be targetted at fans of White Wolf's World of Darkness games, they shined back a Penny Arcade comic about a game not being made for critics. Because that's obviously the same thing.

    This isn't the first attack of geek hate. Whenever a movie that has some importance to geeks is announced, we leap on it and beat it to death. I imagine that there are more net words in forum threads complaining about Superman Returns than there were in the last edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. If comic book movies were protected under the Hate Crimes acts, then there would be few geeks left walking free in the US, and I'd be right there with you asking you to trade me some pudding for my cigarettes.

    I could pass a rumor that a Green Lantern movie would come out, and within a couple of days it would be covered in sloppy green geek hate. I'd say, "Hey, I hear they're making Green Lantern: the Movie," and within seconds people would be like, "Oh man, Warner Bros. sucks. I bet they'll get Brett Ratner. He is a crap director. That movie's gonna suck." For some reason, many geeks enjoy the preceived pain of having a favorite show, game, or comic ruined because it means they can prattle out detailed forum posts about who they think should burn in hell. That's the other thing about us geeks: We're most articulate when we're hating something. If you don't believe me, screw you. What do you think this blog is about?

    Technically, there's nothing in the Bible that outlaws outright, unreasoned hatred of an idea or TV show, but then, they didn't have very good TV back in the Bible days (pretty much just Veggie Tales and Cinemax). If there were a process for amending the Bible, I bet that would be a hot-button issue. "Thou shalt not hate on stupid shit like sci-fi TV shows and unreleased games you know nothing about" would make a great 11th Commandment, though I imagine there would be other amendments made first, like "Thou shalt not wear shorts with black socks" and "Thou shalt be allowed to fall asleep after sex without guilt."

    Geeks, we must stop the hate. No one is served when we spend so much time and blood pressure hating stupid shit. I'm taking one for the team here by hating on the haters, so don't let my ironic vitriol be in vain.

    Just stop the hate.

    Thursday, June 09, 2005

    One Correction

    According to this article, being a nerd alone isn't enough by itself to guarantee a life of inaction.

    I'm just being a responsible counselor.

    Nothing Exciting Ever Happens to Me

    I'm starting to realize that I lead a pretty boring life. I'm not really complaining, because things are pretty awesome: I'm getting married in less than a year, I have two awesome cats, I am actually doing some writing for a game at work, my fiancee is rising in the ranks at her job, etc. I'm not talking about a lack of stuff happening. I mean interesting stuff.

    To clarify, I consider the following things to be "interesting stuff":

    • Ninjas

    • Tornadoes

    • Explosions

    • Being attacked by guys with piranhas for hands

    • Getting shot with a laser

    • Emeril

    • Tractors with jet engines

    • Swimsuit models asking me stuff

    • Black currant jelly

    If you go back through all of my entries in this journal, none of the above things have ever happened to me. It sucks.

    Sometimes I just sit there at dinner or hanging out with my friends and try to think of something interesting that happened that day. Like, I feel like something did happen, but I can't remember it, like Tommy Lee Jones came in after and shined me. Like, I'm not really spending most of my time at a computer in an office, but rather I'm out saving crippled people from Sudden More Grievous Crippledness or performing surgical strikes for the Special Forces in Afghanistan (are we still killing people there?). It sucks when the most interesting things I can say are "I might run a game of Angel" or "Man, my Defender sure can't solo."

    Then I look at where I'm coming from. I am a treasure trove of mid-level trivia from The Dukes of Hazzard (in an alternate universe, there is a long post on this site poking fun at the Dukes, but in our universe it got eaten by Blogger). I can laugh for hours about the rules nuances of the World of Darkness or D&D. Sometimes I am aghast at how much of a geek I am, and sometimes I just think, "Man. If only I could run into some black currant jelly."

    So I figured, why bother with it? Why worry about why I'm not Action Man when I can help others with the knowledge I do have?

    And so, I present A Bunch of Ways to NOT to be Action Man:

    • Don't go outside: A lot of people get this one wrong. In general, if you go outside, you can't avoid being involved in some sort of dramatic action sequence. Even just driving to the store gets you stuck in the pathos of shaking your fists at other drivers and mental struggles with traffic lights. Not only that, but there are attractive women out there whose jobs it is to walk around the streets to spice up your driving experience. Also, going outside on sunny days could lead to Sports.

    • Don't play or watch sports: Sports is the death of the Anti-Action Man. Western legend is built on physical prowess, and sports are the best way to display physical prowess short of building an ark or having a gang-bang competition (which is sorta like a sport). You may think you're just tossing a football around, but before long you're leaping about and diving and high-fiving and being whisked off to outer space to fight the Kodan Armada. Besides, sports can lead to Being in Shape.

    • No Exercise: Exercise is the #1 killer of the sedentary lifestyle. Nothing kills off a good gut like getting rid of it. Exercise involves a lot of moving about and heavy breathing, and that never helped anyone avoid interesting things. If you feel you need to work off a little energy, the best bet is to sit on the couch and dangle things at the cat. The cat's insane runnings about will exhaust you and burn off that energy by proxy.

    • Cocaine is not your friend: Cocaine is an excellent way to have an interesting life. It may be awfully appetizing, looking all white and vaguely chalk-like, but don't do it. One sniff of cocaine and you're grinding your dirty boots into Eddie Murphy's expensive couch or writing episodes of Scooby-Doo with veiled drug references like, "Hey Scoob, wanna go get high and engage in buggery?" or, "Rey Raggy, Drugs are Rawesome for rildren!" Cocaine also enables you to vibrate your molecules through solid objects, which often leads to High Adventure.

    • Master the *tsk*: Whenever someone is excited about something, make sure you go, "*tsk*." Example: "Hey, want to go and pick up some free gold ingots at the gold-giving-away place?" "*tsk.*" Part of avoiding action is making sure your close friends get no action as well. The best way to do this is to show utter disdain for anything they care about. Younger, hipper Internet kids can replace "*tsk*" with "meh" to have the same result but with more likelihood of being punched for being annoying. That makes "meh" risky because being punched is generally considered action.

    • Have a busted-ass car: Cars are anathema for the anti-action set. If your car is perfectly fine, you're likely to just randomly get up and go traipsing off to the mountains, where action is a way of life. The slightest paranoid car problem can put the kibosh on that for sure. Personally, I prefer the "Mysterious Slow Leak in the Front Passenger's Side Tire That Remains No Matter How Many Times You Change the Tire on That Wheel." Strange noises and no shocks in the back are good options, as well. In general, if your mom would yell at you for driving in your car, you're good to go.

    • Spend time making lists on your petulant blog: This one ought to be self-explanatory. If not, let me know and I'll give you a list of reasons why this works.

    • Have a condition: Any condition can do, as long as you can look at someone, shake your head, and say, "I have a condition." Stomach conditions are good, because they are usually a side-effect of being sedentary anyway, and people generally don't want to think about what happens when your condition flares up. The classic example is the headache, but you can use your imagination, unless your condition is "lack of imagination." In which case, screw you. Your condition sucks.

    • Have strong opinions about pop culture: This is a touchy one, because strong opinions, even about the stupidest crap like Vulcan sex drives, can lead to violent verbal or physical confrontations and thus, action. Used skillfully, however, your strong opinions can shoo away people who might seek to force action upon you, particularly girls who might bring you some sex. You get extra points if you can argue your strong opinions on an online forum or in a petulant blog, and extra double points if your blog has lists.

    That's not everything, but that's hopefully enough to get you started. If you have any questions, leave me alone.

    Monday, June 06, 2005


    Phew. Boy. Was I cranky today.

    Your Star Wars is Crap

    Just so you know, don't click on the link in the heading today. I warned you.

    People (as in, more than one person) have asked me why I didn't post my thoughts about Episode III. Well, screw you, hippy. Just because a movie comes out doesn't mean that I have to start ranting about it. It's fashionable to be uppity about Star Wars lately, and well, if I wanted to be fashionable, I wouldn't wear the same pair of rubber ducky slippers every day. I was just busy being proud that I didn't have a strong opinion one way or another about the film, as if I had somehow passed the test and could advance to the next stage of Geek Awareness.

    But there has been a common thread in most Star Wars criticism I've heard, and that is that no one knows what the hell they are talking about. People say, "George Lucas can't write!" but these people don't have their own cultural phenomena feeding their bank account with merchandising royalties. People say, "WTF is up with Jar-Jar?" without considering how dumb Yoda probably looked in the day, or that alien that flicks the little stick comingout of its chin to talk. We're talking about a film series with characters named things like Lando and Greezlepump Slapdeback, the majority of which never had names until someone wanted to make action figures. It's a saga that says, "It's the Force!" with the same confidence that most pulp stories say, "This must be some kind of SCIENCE!"

    Granted, the films did employ more midgets than the blockbuster Willy Wonka vs. The Time Bandits, but let's not sugarcoat it.

    Star Wars is crap.

    Episode III, Episode VI, Episode MCMXCXLVII. This is a bright-eyed film-school-hack's vision of A Film That Would Be Cool. It has such memorable lines as "She gonna blow!", "Stay on target!", and "Coohhhh hsssssh, coohhhh hsssssh." It didn't even have Star Trek's "Future's so bright... shades" outlook. It had grown men running around in dresses and whacking each other with glowing sticks.

    Let's look at Episode IV:
    Tousle-haired, whiny farmboy. Princess with here-today-gone-tomorrow accent. Walking carpet who speaks in growls, but everyone understands him. A smuggler who's actually pretty cool, but who looks one bad haircut away from turning into the evil blonde jock from The Karate Kid. A clumsy, effete robot who understands 6 million forms of communication. A small wee trashcan with a spinny head that speaks only in beeps, but everyone understands him. Since everyone shopped at the GI Joe Laser Emporium, the good guys shoot green lasers, and the bad guys shoot red. And what the fuck is a moff?

    Now, people ascribe all this Joseph Campbell stuff to the films, and yeah, it's all there. But that's because Lucas cribbed the story straight from the Campbell outlines. Meanwhile, people are basing their lives on this shit. Dude, the film had rubber aliens, and not even that many of them. You like the films because you saw them when you were ten, and you saw the films because you had all the toys, not because they're life-changing films in their own right.

    So when people say "Episodes I-III are crap compared to the original series," I say, "Screw you asshole, the original series was crap, too."

    Unlike many people out there, I can tell the differences among the reasons why I enjoy something. Below are the reasons why something might appeal to people:

    • Because it's good ("The thing that sucks about The Big Lebowski is that nothing sucks about it")

    • Nostalgia ("That cartoon is awesome because I saw it when I was 12! Who the hell went back and cut out the frames of animation and made the voice acting suck?")

    • Irony ("This show is awesome because it makes my stomach reject my lunch... but in a good way!")

    • Sex ("Man oh man, that Disney-sponsored actress is very attractive! I bet she'll be hot when she reaches the legal age of consent!")

    • Mindless Fun ("Jerry Bruckheimer presents A Michael Bay Film Michael Bay Blows Shit Up A Film By Michael Bay is awesome! Did you see the leaning tower of Pisa get eaten by giant dragonflies?")

    • Because you're stupid ("Mortal Kombat for Genesis is the best game ever.")

    You like Star Wars because of Nostalgia and, possibly, Irony. Admit it. The films are crap. And yes, I'm looking at you, Empire. Saying "I'm the best Star Wars film!" is like saying, "I'm the most pleasant-smelling of all the turds!"

    It's cool to like the films. I like 'em myself. I even liked some parts of Episode II. And yes, Episode III was an improvement. But you must admit, if anyone other than George Lucas made that film, with the logical speedbumps present in that script, that director's name would be Uwe Boll. Let's examine:

    • Padme's Amazing Size-Changing Belly: She goes from being relatively skinny to massive to skinny again to lumpy to massive to smallish again. Then, after the babies are born, she's huge again. Not only that, but she tells Anakin they're pregnant, and then three days later she has twins. Her uterus wasn't big enough at the time to be holding a Luke Skywalker action figure, much less two babies the size of her entire torso.

    • Mace Windu is the Stupidest Jedi Ever: Every other word from Made Windu is, "I don't trust Anakin." But he somehow trusts Anakin enough to leave him alone with the corrupt-at-best Chancellor. Maybe he hoped that their man-boy love would keep them in line. Then when Anakin comes by and says, "The Chancellor is the Sith Lord, we should rush in there now!", Mace goes, "Hrm. Good work, I totally believe you." THEN Mace goes in, confronts the Chancellor, has him beat, and is stopped by Anakin going, "No, you shouldn't! Killing him would be bad, just like when I killed Dooku and all the sand people!" And Mace is like, "He has a point, I guess, maybe I should hesitate--OH MY FUCKING GOD THE SEARING PAIN. BITCH."

    • Anakin's Dream: Anakin has a dream, and his mother dies. He has another that shows that Padme will die in childbirth. This sparks him to turn evil. Well, this and the suggestion that a Sith lord once knew how to raise the dead. Meanwhile, they have bacta tanks and robot doctors and mechanical limbs and space flight and sentient droids and parsecs defined as units of time measurement. Anakin takes this dream, decides that Padme's death is imminent and that the only way to stop it is through necromancy that may or may not be a lie, and turns evil and kills children. I would have prefered the dream be replaced with a dumb robot going, "We don't know why, but she will die in childbirth unless there's necromancy." Which brings us to the next bit:

    • Lost the Will to Live: A character in the movie actually says, "She's perfectly healthy, but for some reason, she's dying. We don't know why, but she has lost the will to live." That character is a robot droid doctor in the high-tech society of Star Wars. This is the same world in which, a couple decades later, a robot doctor revives Luke after getting beat up by his dad, losing his hand, and going head-surfing through giant mechanical Fallopian tubes, and all that doctor had to do was go, "Boot boot boot" and float Luke in Gatorade.

    • Hiding Babies in Plain Sight: "Okay, we have two babies whom the Empire might be looking for. Let's hide one with the only Senator to escape Coruscant and hide the other with people who knew Anakin on Anakin's home planet. This is brilliant! After that, we'll go ahead and help that Nigerian prince move those funds."

    • NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!: Darth Vader, upon rising from the evil Frankenstein table, asks about his beloved Padme. When the Emperor tells him she is dead, he goes, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" and arches his back as we zoom out from the scene. My only thought is that Palpatine was testing the Manchurian Candidate triggers he programmed in. I imagine that the next few days were made up of Palpatine going, "Lord Vader, there are dead kitties on deck 6," or, "Lord Vader, they cancelled Freaks & Geeks," just to make sure the Dark Lord of the Sith's Overacting Protocols were ship shape.

    These are not fine cinema, people. It's frustrating to see the continuation of a childhood favorite not live up to expectations, but jeebus. Get on with life. You spend so much time hating the new stuff that you forget why and how you enjoyed the old stuff: because you saw it with fresh eyes and no expectations, and because you didn't have this perverse sense of ownership over the films. You could enjoy them when you were 12 and not have to worry about losing your geek cred, which probably has a street value of a smack in the face.