On packaged software

What the fuck?! How is it that the software that comes with my new camera is NOT AS GOOD as the software that is already on Windows?! How is that?


On Thor and the Avengers movies

I have been thinking about this new batch of Marvel movies. There are some fucking awful crimes against humanity in there, like Daredevil, Elektra, and the fucking Spider-Man trilogy. Not to mention how terrible X-Men Origins: Wolverine was. But there is hope. Iron Man was amazing, Hulk was very true to the comics and very fun, and they are connected. And recently, it has been announced that Thor, Captain America, and the Avengers will be getting films, as well as sequels.

Thor has been in a tizzy of new information, from the original announcement of Kenneth Branaugh at the helm. And now, we got two of our leads: Chris Hemsworth as the God of Thunder and Tom Hiddleston as Loki, his half-brother and villain.

This both helps me and troubles me, but more on that in a minute.

They both look good for the part, especially Hiddleston, who I can just imagine in giant golden horns. And while the cast is important, there is something much more important, looming on the horizon. The story. The plot. And I will tell you right now, if they make this a giant “Lord of the Rings in Asgard” I’m going to bash my head against a fucking wall. That is NOT THOR! That is not what the comic is. Hopefully, I’m just being preemptive in my rage. Though I doubt it. I trust Branaugh. He is a lauded Shakespearean actor and director, and I certainly expect him to do things the right way. And I hope that he gets to what is truly important in Thor, the theme of humanity vs. divinity.

I know exactly how I would like to see this movie pan out. I want the intent and major theme to be about Power through Weakness. The backstory of Thor is that Thor was a dick who didn't like humans. So Odin, his father, sent him to earth, trapped in human's body - that of Dr. Donald Blake. Not only that, but Blake is lame, having a bum leg. Thor's hammer is also thrown to earth as well, where it becomes a walking stick in Donald Blake's possession. But when slammed on the ground, it transforms into Mjolnir, and Donald Blake becomes the God of Thunder, the great Odinson Thor!

Basically, I think the theme should work on those lines. While Norse mythology is nice, and of course we need a Loki and an Odin, I would prefer if all that happened as merely backstory, and we have a real superhero movie on our hands, with actual super villains. But crap, they got Loki cast, doesn’t that make him the major villain? Probably. But if they were to do this the right way, based on the comics, then Loki would actually be the major villain of the upcoming Avengers movie, the force that brings together these heroes.

So if not Loki, who? I mean, the vast majority of people cannot think of very many other villains from Thor’s rogue gallery. Hell, he almost spends more time beating the shit out of other heroes than he does knocking up villains. But there is one group in particular that would work out well and are major rivals of Thor. Who, you might ask? The fucking Wrecking Crew!

With a slightly different backstory than that in the comics, both for time and to fit within the theme and our society better by making them construction workers who get laid off because of these economic failures and such, and turn to crime afterward, are taken down by cops, or maybe even Thor, and thrown in the slammer. And this is where the important stuff happens. Loki is one of those villains that pulls on the strings, like a puppet master, and is at his best when he does that, so the same should hold true in this movie. Loki finds the bitter and angry crew and blesses Dirk and empowers him and a crowbar with God-like strength, stamina, and power. The Wrecker, a borderline sociopath anyway, with a grudge to settle, splits his new found powers to his friends, though by the end he absorbs it all again for a one on one fight with Thor. That's just me. And the plot that I like.

But all this means we have holes in the casting. Like, Donald Blake, and Wrecker, plus the rest of his Crew. As a fan of Branaugh, and having seen a lot of his films, I know he generally takes the lead on himself. I would LOVE to see him play Donald Blake, the heart and soul human half of Thor. The new films are moving towards older actors in the leads of these films, and while he wouldn’t be the God in the flesh, I think it is the strongest choice. Plus, seeing him, Robert Downy Jr., and Edward Norton all talking together would just be a fucking brilliant thing to see on screen.

Then we would also need a Wrecker. For this, I can think of no one more hardcore and awesome to do this than Jason Statham. He looks the part, and I would love to see him go bat-shit evil, especially once it gets to the end, as Wrecker does beat Thor! One of the few characters in comic-dom to do it. I would love it. I imagine the final scene as Thor and Wrecker duke it out, with Wrecker actually getting the win, knocking Mjolnir from Thor’s hands and beating the shit out of him in the background as we see the hammer, and Donald Blake is left powerless without the power of Thor. Then Wrecker walks over and tries to lift Mjolnir, which he cannot do. Then Loki, bored, and angry that he himself is not the one to down his brother, removes all of Wrecker’s powers, and it is now man versus man instead of God versus God. And the handicapped Blake wins it, takes him down. It is a powerful way to have the final fight end. And one I think would get a lot of strong attention.

But Thor isn’t the end for these characters. They move on to the Avenges flick, which I have no clue how they’ll do, though I know there are more characters to cast, like Ant-Man and Wasp (come on Alan Tudyk for Ant-Man), and very importantly, Captain America. Flame me all you want, but Matthew McConaughey has the look, the distinctly American dialect, and I think would be a phenomenal choice to round out the cast as our patriotic leader.

But that’s just my opinion.


On Dollhouse

I have to say, Dollhouse isn't what I expected, and that makes it amazing. It is a strong ensemble cast (strong than any previous cast, as in each previous Joss show, there as always been at least one character I did not care for, and I love and want more from all the characters, even poor Dominic). It is a strong sci-fi show. It is amazingly character built. Not a single episode goes by without it affecting at least one character.

While I do believe the show suffers from its need to have a "Buffy" or "Angel" (as I feel Firefly did), it doesn't suffer from the lack, but from the forcing of Echo to fill the slot. We know she is the lead. We don't need every episode to be focused on her. Let every character breath and grow.

The show from what I understand doesn't cost Fox very much at all. That is almost a sure bet!

The writing is intensely well done. Every line feels deliberate and wanted, nothing feels out of place, and every character has a voice. Every line is nuanced and interesting. Take last weeks episode. We all know Ballard is our male hero, but the entire episode was written and shot as if he was truely the villain! Even the fight! But I want to root for Ballard, but I also want to root for Boyd! That is good writing.

Overall, history shows us that when Joss Whedon gets a second season, his shows are immensely blown-up! They flower into television art. So allow Dollhouse to bloom!

This show could possibly die tomorrow night. It could be finished, and the one season on DVD is all we get. If you read this, please, watch. I'll even give you an order to watch it in if you don't want to watch it all in order:

Episode 2) The Target
Episode 6) The Man on the Street
Episode 7) Echoes
Episode 8) Needs
Episode 9) Spy in the House of Love
Episode 11) Briar Rose

That will get you caught up to watch the finale! Now don't get me wrong, every episode is great (though some are better than others, and some are very standalone, though that isn't necessarily a bad thing), but this is the fastest and simplest way to understand.

NOTE: Echos, Needs, Spy in the House of Love, and Briar Rose are all currently online on Hulu and Fox.com. Watch them there! Also, if you want to watch previous ones, I am sure you can find them online, but I do not condone piracy ... in writing.


On "Bad Words"

I was asked recently: "What makes a word 'bad'?"

I understand the intention of the question, but first and foremost, using words incorrectly, or grammatically constructing sentences with stupid words, like "delicious" to not describe food, or "Nuculer." Though I do love the word "irregardless" because of Jimmy Fallon, and will use it until my dying breath, which will probably be reserved for another word, like "Help me, I'm falling" or "I didn't mean to say that you irritate me."

But the true intention of the question is the opinion of "curse words." I cannot fathom any single word actually being bad. The context and the way it used, yes, but the words themselves are just words. That's the beauty of English. We have so many words to say the same thing with different intentions. So in and of themselves, words are not bad. Though I do not think anyone would like being cursed at, which is entirely different than the word itself.


On Supernatural's Season 4 Metaplot

Supernatural was at one point, a really great show. It was evocative, had great play with the two main actors, and was honestly one of the shows I told everyone they needed to watch. Dean is one of the greatest characters on television currently, and Jensen Ackles is ones of the best actors I can think of through the portrayals he has done.

But this season, more recently these last two episodes, have been terrible. They both start out strong, with interesting themes, character developments, and progressions, until it comes to the climax, where it becomes just a hodge-podge of stupidity, a lack of understanding of Christian mythology (sidenote: yes, I said mytholgy; If you have a problem with that, then get over it, as I have an opinion on that), and just stupid "twists." It's like they added M. Night Shyamalan to their writer's circle.

Every season of Supernatural has had a meta-plot, a guiding hand throughout the course of the episodic events. It has been different in each season, and each season has a different feel because of it. Season 1 focused on the brothers doing their thing as hunters, alone except for each other, as they search for their Dad. A hint of the theme was mentioned each episode, but only three episodes in the whole season even dealt with this plot (and I am stretching on one of them). 2.5/22

Season 2 delved deeper into some setup that had been thrown around in Season 1, with Sam's strange psychic powers coming to the forefront of the metaplot. In the long run, the whole season was about Sam and the other Psychic Children, but instead of touching on it each episode, it devoted a certain number of episodes to furthering this plot, while still keeping the rest of the season episodic in nature. Overall, there were six episodes dealing with these themes, as well as a few episodes that dealt with themes from last season (and a few that were foreshadowing later events, like Houses of the Holy). 6/22

Season 3 is all about Dean, as at the end of Season 2, Dean sold his soul to bring Sam back to life. This is a very different metaplot, that even hinged on a Season 2 episode. It touched and drove EVERY episode of this season, which was a nice change, as the whole season was about different things, but they all tied into the metaplot seemlessly. Only two episodes truely were solely about this plot. 2/16

Season 4 ... started VERY strong, with Dean coming back from hell, saved by the Angels to do God's work. There are some GREAT episodes of Season 4, all of them dealing with Dean and Sam as they both changed because of the events between the two seasons. But after these past two weeks, things are getting out of hand. Including last Thursday's episode, there have been eight episodes that dealt with this plot either singlehandedly or worse (more on that in a minute.) 8/18!! That isn't even including a season finale yet!!

Then you have "It's a Terrible Life" - ha, ha, I get it, it is a play on that movie ... - and "The Monster at the End of this Book".

It's a Terrible Clique starts with the two brothers in very different life than the last episode, working for a computer company of some sort. Sam is a Tech guy, and Dean is one of the middle management types. Twists and turns reveal a ghost is forcing bad employees to be GREAT employees, so commited that after a single failed action for the company, like the computer freezing and losing a days work or forgeting a memo, they kill themselves. Sam and Dean, having no memory of their hunter lives, still are able to stop the ghost! It was a great episode ... until the last five minutes. There is a great recurring character that SHOULD have been the plot of this epiosde, the Trickster, from Season 2 and my favorite episode from Season 3. He is all about screwing with Sam, and this is what this episode did. Until the guy I thought was the Trickster killed himself, and even up until the last scene, I was sure that was gonna be the reveal. But what was the reveal? A fucking Angel, dicking around with Dean, since Dean had a terribly powerful and emotion scene about how he isn't strong enough to do what God wants him to. What the hell?! Why did this episode have to tie in to that plot line at ALL?! It could have stood on its own, especially after the involvement of the NEXT episode.

The Monster at the End of this Episode is a GREAT premise of meta-fiction. Sam and Dean find out that books have been written about their lives. Literally. Episode titles and straight out scenes, to the T. They track down the precognitive author, who in a bit of meta-fiction reveals that he never stopped writing, though the books stopped being published, and this is all currently happening as he wrote it. There are so many good things to say about this first part of the episode that it makes me EVEN MORE ANGRY THAT THE REST WAS TERRIBLE!

In a nice plot hole, the author shows the last chapter he wrote, that ends with Sam sleeping with Lilith, the big bad of this season and last. Come to find out, if only the precognitive author had seen ONE FUCKING SECOND LONGER, he would have seen Sam was luring her in to kill her. But nope, we needed worthless stupid conflict between the brothers.

Oh yeah, why is the author a pre-cog? Because he is a PROPHET FROM GOD WRITING THE "Winchester Gospels". What the fuck?! First off, the Gospels are the "Good News of CHRIST!" Jesus has to be in them for them to be Gospels! Secondly, WHY DID THIS HAVE TO GET TIED INTO THE PLOT?! Why couldn't this episode have stood on its own? Nope, we have to listen to Dickhead Angel as he tells the author/prophet that he has to keep writing, and isn't allowed to help Sam and Dean, and if he kills himself, the angels will just RESSURECT HIM AND FORCE HIM TO KEEP DOING IT!

Now, there is some great Castiel moments, who is the best thing to come out of this season - except for "Kneel before Todd!" - and the introduction of the idea of Archangels was intriguing, though it played out like a lame jury-rigged poor man's process earthquake with lights outside ...

So help me, if the rest of this season is going to keep forcing this dickhead Angel and these stupid plots into my face, I'm gonna drop the show entirely.


On April Fool's Day 2009

April 1st, 2009 has rolled along. And I look back to the great pranks that happened this year like ... youtube flipping videos upside down ... and ... really fake news about Firefly coming back and Lost being canceled.

What the hell? What happened? Last year, the internet was ablaze with the GREATEST prank for a LONG time, the RickRoll. And what do we get this year? Hackneyed efforts and lame jokes. Hell, "I herd u lik Mudkips" last year, but this year, you just ban everyone, DA?

I am sadden by the state of prankster affairs this year.

But know this, April Fool's Day, I'm never going to give you up. I'm never going to let you down. Never going to run around and desert you. Never gonna ... ok, I'm sure you get the joke, so I'll leave it at that.

By the by, Blizzard. If you DID do PVP Dance-offs, I'd actually pay for WoW. Just sayin'. I said the same thing about Bard. And about playing as a Wisp. Why is it that Blizzard's best ideas to get me hooked on their game are only jokes to them? They need to do more field testing and surveys.


On Childish Things

If you know me, then you know that Labyrinth is my absolute favorite movie of all time. It's got adventure, morals, clear lines of thought and directing, great cinematography, and David Bowie. There isn't much more you can ask for from a flick. Why do I lead this blog in with that? Because two scenes in particular have been in my mind recently.

The first scene is that of the junk lady and Sarah. Long story short, Sarah is brought into her room, and has all of her toys and things piled around and on her, weighing her down, as the Junk Lady tries to make Sarah forget about her purpose there in the Goblin Kingdom. And it works, until Sarah realizes that all these things are just that: things, toys, trifles. And declaring "they're all junk" the entire room begins to collapse into itself, showing the junk that lined it, as she goes on to her quest to save her baby brother.

Obviously, this scene has a lot of important things happening in it, though the one I wanna harp on is the most blatant: the idea of Sarah realizing the worthlessness of her toys and "throwing away" as it were her childish things. This is an interesting scene, as the movie gives a good character view of Sarah through these items in particular, as well as foreshadowing the vast majority of the movie through them, let alone sparks off the conflict that sets up the plot with the Goblin Kingdom through her own love of her toys. It goes so far as having her throw away the lipstick she used earlier in the movie to help solver her way through the labyrinth which ended up being worthless, as the denizens continued to screw with her.

As the junk lady tries to smother and bury Sarah in these items (coincidentally, turning Sarah into a Junk Lady herself), our heroine realizes her folly in caring so much about these things and tosses them aside, and pulls herself out of the pile of junk she had almost buried herself in.

We as watchers can take a certain amount of advice from this obviously: let go and put away your childish things, your games, and books, and toys. It is a step along the road to being an adult. You have to put aside those things so you can focus. You hear messages like this all over the place, especially in circles of advice and foundations of faith, like your parents and churches and elders and what have you.

But this is merely the prelude to my main point. The ending of the film has Sarah, now finished on her Heroic Journey to become an adult, or at least to stop acting like a foolish child, as she is putting things away in her room, letting go of not only those toys and things, but the memories that have been keeping her from enjoying life with her father and step-mother (this is another entirely separate topic, hell the whole movie is really, heh). She then sees the reflection of her friends she made within the Labyrinth. First Ludo, then Sir Didymus, and finally Hoggle, who implores: "...should you need us, for any reason at all ..."

At this, Sarah breaks down. She says that she does, for no reason in particular, but she does need them. All of them. Which leads to a happy dance sequence where friend and foe and imaginary creature alike laugh and have fun, as Jareth (temptation, but again, that is another topic) flies off, not invited.

What does this truely have to do with the previous idea?

We all have items in our lives that are childish. We have our games, our toys, our hobbies, that are not what a self-respecting adult would do. But this is a new age, and we are a new generation, and Sarah reminds us that we NEED these things in our lives. We need to be able to think like a child and have joy like a child sometimes in our adult lives. We cannot remove everything, or else we lose a piece of who we are. It is inexplicable, and highly attested (especially by our parent's generation), though for no reason at all, I am sure everyone can understand this. And agree.

Do not let go of your childish things. Not all of them at least. They are what built you up to where you are. They are a foundation that once chipped away, leaves nothing, and a new building is set where the old one existed. Cling tightly, for no reason at all. Just because you choose to continue to cling.


On Dollhouse

It is currently Saturday, right after 1. I have Dollhouse episode 7 cued up and waiting for me to watch it. And I realize just how much I've been wanting to watch this episode.

I've heard people complain about Dollhouse. It isn't your standard Joss Whedon show, it doesn't have a lot of the things that makes a Joss Whedon show his show. And I call bullshit on this. People complain about the lack of witty dialogue and 4th-wall-burning banter. Some crave the intense and twisty romantic entanglements of the main characters, which we are just barely seeing. Some even call him a hack because all the new characters are the same, or fill the same roles, as previous characters, the best and most distinctive one being the relationship of Echo and her handler Boyd as compared to Buffy and Giles, her watcher.

And I call bullshit.

None of those things are what make a "Joss Whedon show" a "Joss Whedon show." Those might be some of the things that tie together the three (and a half, if you include Dr. Horrible) shows we have seen, but there is something deeper to it. I am a writer. I am a creator. I look at things a lot harder, longer, and more theoretically than most. And I guarantee you, Joss Whedon does as well. Especially for his creation.

So, what makes Dollhouse a "Joss Whedon show?"

It is intensely character based. Or at least, it is finally turning that way. The show suffered from having to explain the world to its viewers. It is truely the viewers fault that the show was not immediately excessable. It is hard to jump into a show like this, and instead of doing it as the original intention was, to jump in with both feet and let those who could swim in the deep end of the show drown, and those who could drink it in deep, they took an easier approach with some shallow pool action.

I am not condemning this idea, nor am I condoning. I am a smarter viewer than average, and would have liked the jump-in approach, as I think it makes for a better story. But that is the past.

It is also intensely changing. Every episode matters, in the long run. Dollhouse had a VERY hard time making me believe this until episode 4. This is all one part of a bigger narrative. A bigger story, centered around our characters, specifically Ballard and Echo, and then rippling out from them to touch everyone else.

The world of Dollhouse has lots of rules. And more importantly, it has lots of rules that need to be broken, and our viewers need to know these. It wasn't truely until two episodes ago that I felt that the show started flourishing.

Rachel and I watch together, and as I read online and talk with her, it seems that I am the only person who really loves the character of Dominic, head of security. To me, this man is the most Joss-Whedon of the characters. He is dark, powerful, smart, and passionate about his own feelings. So much so that he would endanger his life, his company, and his mission to kill Echo when he thought he had a chance because he views her as a threat to his own life, company, and mission! I love the play, I love the actors portrayal, and I love the fact that he has been in every episode with a strong appearance and a strong role, yet is only a recurring character.

Actually, looking at the show now, the recurring characters ARE stronger characters at this point. Which is mind boggling from a show-watcher standpoint. I see the few characters who are getting regular billing, and find myself wanting to see more of Dominic, Dr. Sanders, and Millie (even though I hated her for SO long until last episode).

Man, last episode. I've told my friends, and now I tell you. If you do not jump on this show immediately, you will be lost. Not in the good way. Not even in the bad way. Just inexplicable and totally lost. Even if you can catch up and watch everything, you are missing the very important absorption time, especially after S01E06. Holy shit.

I ramble on and on, not making a lot of coherent progress from one point to another, to get to my main point. Dollhouse is definitively a Joss-Whedon show. And one all of you should be watching. Including me. Right now. Bye.


On 4e Rangers

I remember when 4e Dungeons and Dragons was announced, and they told us how they were doings things (power sources, 4 roles). I looked to Martial Striker and smiled. Look, me, here is the guy who deals damage by being purely awesome. This is gotta be the Rogue. That is sneak attack to a T. Wait, Rangers? Well ... ok.

I also remember picking up my first DnD book ever, the Ravenloft Domains and Dread book for AD&D 2nd edition. And seeing the great Defenders of the Woods, the Ranger! How has this great hero archetype, created for Strider from the Lord of the Rings, been reduced to a not-quite-as-cool-as-a-Warlock clone?

Let me break it down for you.

2nd Edition Rangers // 4e Rangers
- Class Grouping/Power Source: Warriors // Martial
So far so good. This is the same class so far.

- Statistics: Strength, Dexterity, Wisdom // Strength, Dexterity, Wisdom
Wow, still the same. This is exciting.

- Alignment: Only Good // Any
Wait a minute, our first snag. Rangers are warriors of good, not bidden by ethics, just morality in 2nd Edition. Where is that flavor in 4e? Well, as a general rule, 4e didn't want alignment forced on anyone (Paladin, I'm pointing at you). So I guess that is cool. Well, not cool, but adequate.

- Armor: Class abilities work in leather or lighter // Cloth, Leather, Hide
Ok, ok, I'm good with this. This is still the same.

- Weapons: Two weapon fighting and archery // Two weapon fighting OR archery
Huh? So you mean I have to pick? And if I have high strength, it doesn't benefit my archery? And if I have high Dex, it doesn't benefit two weaponf ighting? And I can use crossbows? So, instead of being versitle, and a fighting force, I have to pick my role. ::sigh:: ok, this is still just kinda the ideas that 4e wants, so I guess I'm cool with it. Let's keep going.

- Magic: Starts at level 8, and is Divine // None.
Ok, hold up. Not only do I have to pick what I'm good with, I don't get magic anymore? Rangers have always had magic. That's their schtick. They even have a specific magic school: Ranger Magic! What's up with this? I understand that Encounter Powers and Dailies are supposed to give the effect of spells to non-spellcasters. TOO BAD RANGERS ARE FUCKING SPELLCASTERS! ... Let's continue.

- Tracking: Free Tracking Proficency // Free Skill Training in Dungeoneering or Nature.
Ok, this seems fine and dandy ... until you realize once again, I have to pick what I'm good at tracking. Rangers used to be able to find tracks ANYWHERE! FOR FREE! Now I gotta pick. Ok. Let's just call it customization and leave it at that. Next.

- Stealth: Upgrading Percentiles to 99% // Stealth is class skill.
Ok, this is a fundamental problem. Now, because of customization or whatever, Rangers are no longer the stealth machines in the woods they were. They no longer act like protective panthers, hunting their quarry and then jumping down with two daggers, or shooting it from up in a tree. You gotta waste Class Skills on it. I know what your thinking: Justin, you're being a douche. Why are you trying to compare things like that? They are Class Skills for a reason.

Ok, fine. Let's take a look at skills:
Skills: Free Tracking Proficiency, Free Percentile Hide in Shadows and Move Silently, Proficiencies equal to your Int bonus // Nature or Dungeoneering for free, then pick 4 from Acrobatics, Athletics, Dungeoneering, Endurance, Heal, Nature, Perception, Stealth.

What happened to Bowyer/Fletcher? What happened to simple Cooking? Not important to combat so removed from the class options? This is absurd ... Let's go on.

Extra damage: Special Enemies // Hunter's Quarry
So ... instead of just dealing extra damage to all orcs, goblins, cats, ghosts, whatever ... I deal extra damage to one guy on the battlefield ... the closest one to me on the battlefield, and it doesn't matter which one. I guess this is the ability that made Wizards think that Rangers were Strikers. Yeah, that extra 2 damage REALLY is equivalent to Backstab. Oops, I mean Sneak Attack. And to make it worse, look at fucking Warlocks! They get magic, cool effects from their curse, even though it is mechanically the same thing as Quarry but BETTER, AND THEY FUCKING GET SHADOW WALK?! RANGERS DO FUCKING SHADOW WALK! THAT IS WHAT THEY DID! 99% of the Time, they hide and were silently 100% of the time!

Animal Empathy: Changes Reaction rolls with animals // Zilch
Fuck this. Now, instead of a group of wild animals coming on the party and the Ranger stepping forward to change they animal's reactions from snarling to purring, they step forward to get +1 to attack and shoot an arrow at it. What the fuck is that?!

Non-damage, non-magic abilities: Cure Lycanthropy // Zilch
Fuck this.

Oh, and with the Martial Power book, they are bringing about Tempest Fighters. That's right one of the best built classes, and a very cool one, is going to start DOING TWF BETTER THAN RANGERS?! WHAT THE HELL?

The only hope I have for this class as it was is whatever the Primal Defender or Leader is. Perhaps called Warden. But until then, the Ranger has been screwed. It is now a flavor-less filler that I wish they had waited on. The only reason it is even IN core is because they needs a martial ranged user, and they didn't want Marking to be ranged.


On Opportunity

There are stupid things people say. Lots of them. But none of them piss me off more than "opportunity knocking on your door" or however you want to state it.

I have lived a good fourth of the full life of man. And in that fourth, I'll say a good half of it was spent trying to further any sort of career I would want. I spend the vast majority of my time writing, creating, and spending time in my mediums, be it comic books, films, or poetry and theatre and novels. I have worked diligently to continue on my course, writing scripts, understanding the theory behind comic books as a communication medium, developing nuances in character voice and plot structure. Every step I have taken has made me a better writer.

Then I look around. I see people around me, who have spent nowhere near the same amount of time. Have nowhere near the knowledge or talent. Have nothing close to the ambition. And somehow they are making it, in the mediums I am hacking my way through to get at. For them, some mysterious entity has come by and offered them a chance to make their dreams come true. And it has left me back in the brush, hacking my way to any semblance of what I want my life to be.

What kind of fucker is Opportunity? What makes one person more likely to have someone come up and say to them "Hey, I saw that comment you made on facebook, and it intrigued me" or "That sketch on deviantart that you didn't try hard on reminds me of what I was looking for"! How is it that I've been working this long, and have never gotten an opportunity? Why do others get things placed in their laps while I am the only one working to get my opportunity lap-dance.

I know I sound bitter. I AM bitter. I cannot fathom how this works.

As I look upon all that I just wrote, I can help but scowl. I know I am better than those people that opportunity offers her hand, and I know it because I have been hacking. I have been writing, and working, and understanding. I've put in the work. So fuck opportunity. I'll have to make it happen. And when or if she comes knocking, I'll just tell her to fuck off!



Well, I mean I'll listen to what she has to say first. I'm not a total dick.


On Online TV Shows

With the rise of easier access to technology, a younger age of becoming comfortable with it, and a growing online society and culture, it is only a natural response for entertainment to turn to this new media of communication. From reading blogs like this one, recapping things in real life, to forums where people create and work together, art sites where you can now share what only your mother cared about, entertainment can be found everyone online. But the thing that really intrigues me are the concept of televised programs online.

The beauty of television was the intimacy. When it first hit households, it replaced the fireplace as the centerpiece of the parlor and living rooms. It become centerfold for entire families for many years, who would gather around and collectively find something on the five or so channels that broadcast anything and enjoy life together. It was there, like another member of the household. Collectively, you cared about the happenings of the characters, the plights of their narratives.

This idea held true for decades, as the television continued to create new versions of itself, from the introduction of cable, to adult specific entertainment (not just porno, kiddies, thought that is a part of it), to eventually cauterizing into so many different channels with the advent of further broadcasting and satellite television that you have to pick what your mood is. Comedy? They got a channel. Cartoons? What decade? They got one for each decade starting with the 70's, with litterings of older shows on other channels.

I cannot as a historian (as I am not one) say with an form of definitive answer when the television moved from being the centerpiece of the home, but it did, to be replaced with the computer. Now, each household had multiple televisions. Hell, the average number of televisions per household is 2.4. Now, not only have the channels become cauterized and separated, but so have the viewers. Don't want to watch CSI with mom? Go upstairs and plug in the X-Box 360. But still, there was only one computer. For awhile.

All this history and theoretics of history aside, now a new society has erupted and become the norm. It started with Livejournal, moved to Myspace, continued to Facebook, and now exists strongly as the Youtube community.

Ah, Youtube. A place to find stupid people doing stupid things, rare videos, fan-made AMVs, and more recently, actual television. It didn't take long, but now there are many actual televison shows, even one specifically created with Youtube Celebrities as the cast, and to be honest, there is some really good content among the v-logs and copycats:

- Man in the Box: An office comedy show that has me laughing harder in two minute segments than The Office ever did.
- I'm a Marvel ... and I'm a DC: Created at first as just a pardoy of the popular Mac vs. PC commercials, it turned into a life of its own, giving commentary on the wave of comic book and superhero movies that have been flooding the media (I have an opinion on that, trust me) and then from there into actual plot and narrative. All in stop motion by one RandomGuy and a RandomGirl, with sometimes a RandomCat.
- Barack Paper Scissors: The first really well made Youtube Gameshow! Inspired by the new president (but not truely about him, you staunch Republicans, so give it a shot) and taken to ridiculous lengths, with weekly winners and new competitions weekly.
- Hooking Up: The aforementioned first actual Youtube television show with Youtube Celebrities.

But just like with television, once something becomes very good, with the accessability to do almost anything creatively online, shows have begun cauterizing to be more specific, this time by production company or front-man, normally both. But these guys are now making money doing their goofy shows, and the production quality becomes higher and higher.

- Cinemassacre: Started as a joke for his friends by a film-maker-in-the-making James Rolfe, it has blown out of proportions into a megaplex of fandom. Getting famous with his curse-spewing, beer-swilling video game reviewer of retro and classic shit the Angry Video Game Nerd - now with two seasons under his belt (avaliable on DVD) and grow production values (15 minute long episodes when most shows run around 3) - James has begun to shape an enterprise of internet television.
- That Guy With the Glasses: A group, run by one funny guy and his friends, that started with just goofy 5 sec cliffnote-style parodies of movies, then leading to his arguably best character the Nostalgia Critic, now they have expanded to 20+ shows from many contributors. Some are good (the aforementioned Nostalgia Critic and his female counterpart; Full Circle by a "true music lover" Paw), while some are what you would expect (Game Heroes game reviews and podcasts considered to be amazingly "Awesome") to the just the plain bad (you don't have to look hard). But doesn't mean they don't deserve props.
- Runaway Box: A production company, the one that puts together Man in the Box that I mentioned above, has more than that. Original Music Videos, parodies, Eric Estrada, Lando Calrissian and more, these guys are great. Sure all the videos are still posted on Youtube, but they have a vision, and work their asses off getting content out for their viewers. They will be famous someday, I am sure of it. Hell, you could technically say they are now!
- Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog: How can I leave this out. This is the product of the writer's guild strike, and it was great! Check it out, and get the DVDs, folks! Support the stuff you like.

There are more and more than this, and these are just a few that I tune into weekly. You should be as well.


On "I Love You, Man"

So, after desperately avoiding the movie theatre during the Watchmen debut and following weeks (merely from my own fear of how they will change the movie and all the reviews I have read and heard that are so conflicting I could put them all on jury duty together), Rachel and I finally made it back to good ole Regal to see what we thought would be another masterpiece of the new dramady masters Jason Segal, Paul Rudd, etc. And man ... do I have an opinion on this flick.

Currently, I have found myself in a crisis similar to the plight of the main character, Peter Klavin (Paul Rudd), which has been adequately called "bromance." So watching a comedy about it I thought would help alleviate my own feelings. The only problem was, I didn't get to see a comedy. Peter asks his girlfriend to marry him, which of course she agrees to, as it is too early for conflict. Then Peter realizes he has no male friends. I could easily continue to recap the movie, but I really just do not feel like reliving it.

The movie was long, slow, and worst of all, couldn't connect. All the characters came across cold and unrelatable, and very much not funny. Great actors I love, like Jason Segal, Jamie Lee Presley, Paul Rudd, Jon Favreau, Andy Sandberg, and many more funny people just could not make me laugh more than an awkward semi-smile and chuckle. I loved the Rush sequence, but that is about it.

When it comes down to it, the movie suffered from a few major flaws, first of which being bad writing. Great actors cannot turn crap into gold, no matter how much ad-libbing is allowed. And all the fumbling Paul Rudd does to find fun "guy phrases" to say are hollow and pointless. The "break up" scene was pointless, and the drama that caused it ended up being entirely renigged without a climax. While I'm talking about Paul Rudd, I want to make it clear. He is one of the funniest guys I have seen, playing Fontana in Anchorman, the hilarious Chuck in Forgetting Sarah Marhsall, and poor and lonely David from 40 Year Old Virgin. But he is not ready to hold the lead role in a film. Look back to Role Models, another Paul Rudd first time ride in the front man's seat. Another cold, and not quite that funny delivery. I do not know what people are thinking, but he isn't ready. Let him get back to character comedy, and leave the dramady to Seth Rogan and Jason Segal.

Jason Segal was good as Sydney, funny even, though unbelieveable. We never find out his line of work - Rachel argues with him here, saying that he is an "investor", but there isn't any actual proof he does that as a living or if he just plays the market - and all he does is spout guy philosophy throughout the flick. His big plot-screw-up-moment that lead to the break up scene was actually the best thing that could have happened to Peter. And not in the good way that movies spin things on their head. Hell, Sydney didn't have a flaw in the climax at all, as he was right, and when Peter and Zooey (Rashida Jones - another cold portrayal of what should have been a very funny straight "man" to Paul Rudd) realize their collective mistake and try to get Sydney back, he is ALREADY FUCKING heading back to the wedding to be the Best Man! That scene undercut any actual growth of the characters for the audience, as inevitably, Sydney, the best fucking friend Peter, or anyone, could have had, was still coming to support the friend who told him to stay away and not come to the wedding.

The real problem with this movie was that everyone had too much fun. All the actors knew each other, they are all friends, and they all just kinda phoned it in. I bet it was a great experience for them to create the flick, one of the best in their careers, I'm sure. But the flick itself suffered. It is like handing a camera crew to a bunch of college buddies who decide to film themselves being "funny." They certainly enjoyed it, but it is nowhere near the quality of something that should shown nationwide in our movie theatres.

I'd like to say the good moments counted out for the bad, like the nice switch up of the masculine gay character (Andy Samberg, funniest role in the film, and he wasn't that good this time around) to foil the effeminate lead of Rudd, but they don't. They are barely memorable.

In the long run, if you want to see it, wait a year and a half for it to play on Comedy Central. And then do your taxes/homework/Sudoku while it plays in the background. It'll be funnier that way.

Grade: C

On Blogging

So I decided to start a blog. A real one. This has a multiple-fold purpose:

1) Organize my thoughts. "I have an opinion ..." has been my mantra for a very long time. I can think of very few subjects, items, people, topics, or conversational centerpieces that I do not have an opinion on ("The Venture Brothers" is one, as a note). So I have decide that I will start doing a blog. I have no clue how blogs become popular, but I hope I generate some steam. Or at least SOMEONE reads, though that is not a primary purpose here.

2) Keep myself writing. I want to be a writer. Of many things. Poetry, theatre, short stories, novels, fiction, comic books, essays, editorials, critiques. MANY things. This is a way to keep my brain working, my fingers moving, and my words flowing. If I can write a blog at least every other day, then I'll be able to continue on.

Sidebar: What will I be writing about? Well, whatever the mood strikes me as during the day. Sometime during the day, hopefully, someone will spark an interesting topic, that will send me reeling. And there is the gold, the magic, the chutzpah. Well, maybe not chutzpah, but you catch my drift.

3) To express myself. I have noticed that - obviously - different people have different coping methods. Such as my wife, Rachel, is a "bottler." To cope with situations beyond her control, she takes everything she feels and bottles it down into her. Now, regardless of the effectiveness of this technique, it is still a technique. Writing and talking are how I cope. If I am pissed, I have to say it, or write it. Then I'm very rarely still pissed. It's a thing. And that's what blogs are for, right?

4) Because. There is a bandwagon. I would like to be on it.

I am sure there are more reasons I can think of, but for a first post, an introduction to no one, there seems to truely be no point in continuing at the moment. So I shan't.