Monthly Archives: June 2007

Really, REALLY DBD – Illness strikes! Beware of the SICKO!

SICKO!

Well, I’m sick (like really, really) so I skipped work and am now going to have to cancel plans to see Ratatouille today. I can’t really come up with a great excuse for my lack of posts (there are other sites and things I’m neglecting as well) but what I can say is this: working with infants is alot more work than it seems. >_>;; This week I started as a teacher’s assistant at an infant daycare and less than three days since I started, I get sick. So here I am…not doing anything.

Ha, well aside from the release of Ratatouille here in the good ol’ US of A, there is the new documentary out by Michael Moore–titled, Sicko.  While Fahrenheit 9/11 was all right, it was a little too biased (in my opinion) for what is supposed to be a documentary.  I’ve never seen Bowling for Columbine, but I suspect it was the same.  Sicko is sure to make people squabble over it, but that’s what Michael Moore feeds on—controversy. (no pun intended)

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#7: Bite-size Buddha’s and Plastic Limbs

Are you bored?  Do you wish you could have a 12″ doll of yourself to play with?  Well look no further!  For the people at Herobuilders.com, it is a simple matter of you sending a picture of yourself (and if you want it to talk, send a voice sample too!)

Hungry?  Need spiritual enlightenment?  Try visiting ChocolateDeities.com, where you can order you’re very own Ganesh to sink your teeth into!  It tastes so good, it’s almost blasphemous!

DBD – The 4400 Season Premiere!

The 4400 - season 4

Lovely how plans tend to go to the dogs sometimes.  I’d meant for Monday’s post to be on the season premiere of the 4400, but unfortunately a visit to a distant family friend made that an impossibility.  I’ll have to catch a re-run one of these days, and perhaps I’ll make my post on the show after I’ve seen the first two episodes—but until then, here’s an article about the premiere episode for season 4 off of sci-fi.com:

Jordan Collier…you shaggy bastard!

#1: Rules of Revolution – A Look At The Bizarre

((I’m no fan of ‘Panic! At the Disco!’ but I loved this AMV done to “Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off”))

I finished Revolutionary Girl Utena a long time ago, but still, it always sorts of catches my fancy—particularly due to the elations and frustrations I felt at the hands of the ambiguous characters. I have yet to watch the movie, and I have yet to read the manga, but the show itself will always remain one of my favorites. 

Back then, after watching Ep. 16 (one of the humorously bizarre filler episodes) I wrote this little article putting my confusion and delight into a nutshell—

RULES OF REVOLUTION:

Rule 1: Sisters are either in love with their brothers…or have sex with them.  (never both)  No exceptions.

Rule 2: Think your straight? Think again….and again, and again, and again, and again—

Rule 3: Each fight deserves apocalyptic opera rock in the background. I’ll say it again. Apocalyptic opera rock.

Rule 4: The monkey-rat eats everything. He eats his food, her food, your food, their food…stuff he THINKS is food. If his mouth isn’t chewing something, its cuz he’s dead.

Rule 5: Are you pissed? Slap Anthy. Go on. Do it. It’s what everyone does…everyone. Everyday. Every minute. Every second. (Every episode?)

Rule 6: You cannot attend Ohtori Academy unless your parents are dead, you’re into incest, your gay, or seeking to ‘prove’ or ‘disprove’ some abstract concept like eternity or miracles.

Rule 7: Everyone knows how to fight with a sword.

Rule 8: Choo-Choo =/= Chu-Chu.

Rule 9: The overly dramatic is not dramatic, its comedic. And the overly comedic is not comedic, its dramatic.

Rule 10: Leaves, spinning roses, stopwatches, cats, and bells mean more then they seem to mean.

RGU!Runaway kangaroos, dinners made of shaved ice, and little monkey-rats that eat everything. Revolutionary Girl Utena is most certainly one of the oddest animes I’ve watched, but still, I can see why it’s a classic. Angst AND humor? It’s delivered flawlessly together in an entrancing show of stinging backhands, confused identities, and misguided intentions. Flowing beneath the story is a constant current of darkness and doom (yes, darkness and DOOM) that sort of dances around in the back of your mind, despite some of the lighthearted parts of the series. The reason behind the fighting, the ever present threat of apocalypse peeks its head out at you when the characters experience their worst. The damaged bits that sort of flap around inside them become apparent at times in their interactions, as well as their battles. These kids are screwy. Some kids are so screwy it’s a wonder they haven’t been committed.

But to say RGU (my lazy acronym for the show) is depressing would be a lie. What RGU is, is engaging. It’s a drama that, despite its oddities makes you wanna know what the hell is going to happen…and for the most part, hope things go all right.

EDIT:  Today’s short post is due in part to the fact that I’m going to be busy most of today and won’t have time to do something more detailed.  Sorry folks…I may post more on RGU later, though.

#4: Video Game Music – Rocked and Remixed

If you’re really REALLY into games, chances are you’ve sat down and listened to game soundtracks—both old and new.  Something about these tracks tend to soothe or invigorate.  Maybe it’s just the memory of excitement or contentment that makes those silly little midi tracks so likeable. 

Maybe it’s just that we have bad taste. 

Whatever the reason—gamers like video game music—and there’s nothing wrong with that!  So here’s my post on VG music, because more people should realize the skill of some of these composers and the ones who remix their songs.

I guess I should start at the basics.  Back in the day, when video games were just getting their start, developers began to use computer chips to create their music.  The computer code would be changed into analog soundwaves and out came the sound from the speakers.  The sounds would generally be looped and used sparsely between levels, like Pacman.  It eventually came to pass that, if any music was to be added to a video game, a programmer would have to be the one to code it in.  This was unusual—mostly due to the fact that most programmers didn’t have any sort of musical talent.

This went on into the 80’s, when technology became more advanced and new methods came about.  With the introduction of the Motorola 68000 CPU and Yamaha YM chips, the 8-bit sound was born.  More tones of sound could be used, of up to 8 or more thanks to the new chips.  By the mid-80’s, game composition saw a noticeable improvement as well, as more composers came on board with musical experience.  Some of the first (and most notable) of these composers were:  Koji Kondo (Super Mario Bros., and The Legend of Zelda), Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy), Koichi Sugiyama (Dragon Quest), and Hirokazu Tanaka (Metroid and Kid Icarus).

kid icarus!kid icarus!

These composers created long-lasting musical peices with limited resources, and still today you see the strength of their music in popular culture.  As game systems evolved, so did the music, and really the rest is history.  Some of the best VG music spawned from such consoles as the SNES and Sega Genesis.  F-Zero, Chrono Trigger, Castlevania IV, and Street Fighter II each have their memorable themes thanks to the SNES digitalized sound.  And of course, one cannot forget the masterful music of Sonic the Hedehog 2 (though just about each game from this series was beautifully done.)

And just how big has VG music become?  Well, aside from the various concerts game music has spawned (Video Games Live, Play!  A Video Game Symphony) and the various bands and performers dedicated to doing only VG covers, and the countless VG remixers both by renowned and unknown artists…well, yeah.  I think it just speaks for itself.  For a nice live performance, check out this Koji Kondo concert.

But touching onto the subject of VG bands—there really are rock bands dedicated only to performing VG covers.  How many of you know the NESkimos?  What about the MinibossesThe AdvantagePowergloveGame Over?  Well each of these rock bands have done songs from all manner of games, and they all kick ass in MANY directions.  The Advantage does a rather groovy rendition of the second level of the NES Gremlin’s game, and the NESkimos do a terrific job of the Phatt Island theme from The Curse of Monkey Island: LeChuck’s Revenge.  Powerglove has a next to godly rendition of the Tetris theme, and the Minibosses do an awesome job tearing up the songs from Super Mario Bros. 2.  My favorite from Game Over has to be Cataclysmic Clash, featuring themes from Mega Man 3 with an awesome set of lyrics.  Though everyone of these bands have songs that people can download on their sites, they’ve all got their own CD’s for fans to buy.  I’d say they’re definetly worth it.

Martin Leung AKA the Video Game Pianist

On the more orchestral side we have the Video Game Pianist, known the world over for his piano compositions and medley’s.  His real name is Martin Leung and he’s been featured on MTV, Nintendo Power magazine, and various newspapers, networks, and radiostations in several different countries.  He was first launched into stardom when a video was posted over the internet of him performing the legendary Super Mario Bros. theme blindfolded (along with a Mario medley.)  His site (linked above) features some of his music, and if you’re into piano like I am, you’ll like it. 

There’s also a new game music site mentioned in Leung’s news, where actual VG composers and gamers come together as a community.  They’ve got a decent looking CD on sale called “Best of the Best: A Tribute To Game Music”, and features various celebrity composers doing songs from Silent Hill, Final Fantasy X, Duke Nukem, God of War, World of Warcraft, and Kingdom Hearts. 

Jumping into the next venue of VG music, we have remixes—where hopeful VG composers hope to show their prowess with song whilst simultaneously paying tribute to the games they grew to love. 

Overclocked Remix

The biggest video game remix site on the net (that I know of) is OverClockedRemix.Org.  It is essentially one giant community of gamers who love video game music—the population divided amongst those who actually play music and remix VG songs, and the ones who simply listen.  Music from both old and new games are given a makeover as various artists set out to prove that VG music (in its own right) is an artistic art form (and it is).  Submissions are open for any one who would like to contribute—but to filter out lower quality works, all submissions are first reviewed by a panel of judges (of course, all musicians.)  Remixes do not necessarily mean only techno and its various subgenres, but rather, any rearrangement and change done to an original theme.  Rock and orchestral remixes are popular, but of course, you’ve got your rave and trance remixes as well. 

OCRemix also have their own podcast—where in one episode they managed to interview the game composer for the Halo series, Marty O’Donnel—and an online radio station too, where they play remixes from the site 24/7.  As far as projects go, they’ve done a number of special musical tributes for games like Kirby, Chrono Trigger, and Donkey Kong. (the last two of which I downloaded myself)

Perhaps the greatest thing I love about video game music is how much nostalgia it strikes up.  I realize that nostalgia can be a bit annoying and sappy at times, but it always makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside to remember the fun I had playing these games and hearing their music.  It inspires you to be brave and injects a bit of youthful energy into your brain, y’see.  Atleast, that’s my experience with VG music.  Perhaps I’m just a silly romantic nerd.

But I’m sure these video game mascots can appreciate what I’m talking about:

Youtube!

Go Nights!  Show Lara what you’re working with!

#3: Penguins and Torture – Misguided escapism and the fall of true horror.

A reader sent Fangoria (a horror movie magazine) this letter discussing Grindhouse’s economic fallout and how movies today don’t even skim the waters of reality:

…To the shock of both film critics and genre fans, Grindhouse had a disappointing opening weekend at the box office.  When something like this is beaten out by an Ice Cube family comedy, you know we’re in trouble!  Does anyone have any answers?  Personally, I believe timing was a major factor; an Easter weekend release was not very smart!  But there’s something more being said here.  Horror fans have been hungry for this sort of film for eons, and to finally have it brought to major theatres—well that’s definetly the icing on the cake!  Or is it?

As I was watching Grindhouse, a couple of things occured to me.  While I thoroughly enjoyed myself, especially during Robert Rodriguez’s Lucio Fulci-esque Planet Terror, I found myself thinking, ‘What’s the point?’  If I want to see a Lucio Fulci film, why don’t I just watch one?  Maybe I was hoping that sharing something like this with the general public might enhance the viewing experience, or perhaps grindhouse movies could possibly go mainstream!  But here’s the real problem:  We’re all sick and tired of remakes and homages, whether we’re willing or ready to admit it.

We’re living in a time of war, public beheadings, hostages, terror, and potential Iranian nuclear doom.  You’d think the horro genre would have something to say about all this—not in a direct/obvious way, but in a subconscious manner, the way horror is supposed to work!  We all remember the fright films of the Vietnam era—those are classics now!  But unfortunately, this era is almost completely forgotten.  Will we really want to watch the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake (the film that started the craze) 10 years from now when the original is still far superior?  This reveals a lot about our generation.  We’ve got nothing to say, even living in these extreme times!  This could have easily been an era of genre classics, but instead we’ve released the creative license to fanboys and not artists.

–Tarik Polansky

While important things are going on both in America and the world (a civil war in Iraq, global warming, and an upcoming presidential election here in the states) my generation in particular has chosen to ignore such issues in favor of living their own makeshift realities.  …These realities consist of computer generated talking animals, and people being tortured in variously horrifying ways.  I cannot quite understand why so many thought Saw and Hostel were such great movies.  Alternatively, I don’t know why penguins were suddenly catapulted as one of the most loved animals in the US.  One thing I DO know, is that these films continue to be made purely for profit.

I’m not going to play stupid.  Of COURSE money dictates what films are going to be made.  Companies want movies that will attract an audience—not progress art.  But I have to admit, I wish being innovative and intelligent was all it took to get people interested.  Back in the 60’s and 70’s you got all manners of movies appearing on screen, addressing directly (or indirectly) the problems of society.  Nowadays, writers and directors are afraid to comment and point out various issues due to fear of ostracization both by critics and audiences alike.  It’s “too depressing” or “too bothersome” to sit and hear what it’s really like outside of our own comfort zones.

So why do we like penguins and torture films?

The “March of the Penguins” had to be the least fascinating accumulation of penguin documentation known to the history of man.  Morgan Freeman is a good actor.  I loved him in “10 items or Less”, “Batman Begins”, and “Unleashed”.  …But he should NEVER narrate another film so long as he lives.  Even worse than “March of the Penguins” was “Farce of the Penguins”, done by the unwitty half-wit Bob Saget–one of the most ABYSMAL comedians to ever hit television screens since sitcoms went down the ol’ shitter. 

And riding on the coat tails of the penguin tornado came “Happy Feet” the ‘almost all right’ film about an outcast heretic known as Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood) who just can’t stop his sinful feet from doing the tap dance of catastrophe.  The movie would’ve been all right if they had put in more dancing numbers, more of an ACTUAL antagonist, and even less environmental BS (or atleast pull it off more gracefully, like Ferngully).  The ending was definetly “WTF” worthy.  It was a rushed, half-assed ending, constructed purely to excuse the pseudo-musical that preceded it.  I was left unsatisfied and disappointed when I left the theatre that night.

When the dancing penguins cleared from my head, I came to hear about “Surf’s Up”, yet another penguin film, but this time dealing with surfing culture and your general beach shenanigans.  Lulled by the charm of animated-talking-animal films, my friends have been tempted to go see it.  I’ll admit, so am I, but as I stop to consider another popular film trend, I begin to shudder—deeply unnerved.

On the more perverse side, we see our head-humping hotshot Eli Roth slap together yet another reel of gore-porn–spiced, seasoned, and smelling slightly less fresher than Preston Lacy’s ass.  My disappointment with the first Hostel movie was its failure to paint out well-rounded characters, its disturbing ability to pulsate male homophobia, and it’s complete lack of imagination.  Nothing about what I was seeing was terribly original.  Just very bloody and very sadistic.  I probably would’ve thought the movie better (and scarier) if I had never even seen it for heaven’s sakes!  I recall sitting in the theatre and feeling nauseous–like I was getting on a terrifying roller coaster ride.  But then the movie started, and after the first ten sets of boobs flashed across the screen, I realized I was in for 94 minutes of a different kind of torture…

From Hostel 2, I’ve heard tell that it really is just a rehash from the first—only with girls.  The women (the ‘heroines’) are your typical stereotypes—rich sluts—fixed with such drab and colorless lines that one can’t help but wonder if they bought all their lackluster sayings from an Ed Wood vending machine.  The ever so critical Rotten Tomatoes racked up an average rating of 4.6/10  Now it may seem unfair to shoot down a film I haven’t even seen…but I’m coming from both an artistic and moral point of view when I say:  I REFUSE to watch Hostel 2.  Why?

Because Eli Roth is a jerk. Period.  He doesn’t deserve to be called the ‘leading man of horror’.  He’s an artistic nightmare (if you’ll excuse my pun,) and he couldn’t construct a genuinely frightening film if a serial killer sat on his head.  People mistake gore for horror.  Gore is not horror.  I repeat:  GORE IS NOT HORROR.  Films like:  Saw (one big horror rip off), Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the remake), and The Hills Have Eyes (the remake) do not deserve to be stuck into the horror genre.  In fact this dives headlong into another topic I wanted to address before I make my final point.

Movies today are not progressing.  America has become caught up in a trend of remakes (especially in horror) and doesn’t seem to want to make anything new.  And it’s not just in movies, either.  Everywhere I look I see regurgitated fashion, hear musical copycats, and feel cultural regression.  Our society, our escapist society, does not wish to acknowledge the problems of the world, the decisions that need to be made, the things needed to be created.  We remember the past and we’re stuck in it.  We create our fantasies and we drown in them.  We close shut our minds and focus only on the pretty and horrific things that send sugar-razored chills up and down our spines.  And there is nothing more demented than what our fixations have become.

Penguins and torture.

Innocence and evil.

Joy and violence.

I want people to sit and wonder why so many others (perhaps even themselves) like watching sadistic films—NOT horror films, just SADISTIC films—films that take away the element of fear and leave only an adrenaline rush.  There is no fear when watching Hostel.  You know what is going to happen.  These wannabe horror films take viewers away from the position of the victim, thus taking away all elements of REAL horror.  By PORTRAYING violent deaths—closing in on it, feeding on the energy, drawing it out—the audience no longer view things from the eyes of victims, instead, they see things from the eyes of the killer.  The knife is in their hand and they are now feeling empowered.

Surf's Up

But don’t forget the penguins!

The lovable fluffy things that dance on the other side of the spectrum—never quite teaching us anything about discrimination, race, religion, or hell, even the environment—instead simply giving us a reason to smile.  And what’s wrong with smiling?  What’s wrong with kids feeling good and parents feeling good with them?  What’s wrong with being politically correct and portraying idealistic ideas?

It’s wrong because the world is not this way.  I’m not saying to show the kids murder, show the kids political backstabbing, or terrorist attacks.  But the sugar coated PC-ness that has infested children’s entertainment makes life seem hollow and 2D.  Instilling awareness and tolerance in children early is a good thing.  Putting blinders on them, just so that they can be warped by movies like Hostel later in life, isn’t.

My best friend’s brother (who in all fairness is yet another friend) wrote a rant about some comments made by Eli Roth to a fan in Fangoria.  Now I’m copying and pasting this because I feel that this guy (who also happens to be the one nicknamed Spaz in my post on FPS games) puts down in words what many horror fans WISH to say.  Originally posted in a place none would see it, I now bring it to you in a spot where more are inclined to read it. (because it deserves to be read)

For a time there was a group I frequented of hardcore malcontent Horror people called The Abominable Apothecary. I use the past tense because we all stopped going when it became apparant that the only thing we had to look forward to were remakes, uninspired sequels, and watered-down Hollywood shit. You should have heard them go on about Saw.

Contrary to popular belief I’m not a fan of senseless violence. When not based in plot or character with a fair degree of justification I feel cheapened. Meaning somewhere some hack has just written a story that another person thought was good enough to invest millions into to perpetuate a cycle of stupidity.
When it comes to story you can believe a great many ridiculous things but when it comes to human nature it is one thing you can never try bullshitting to an audience. It’s because of this every recent Horror movie I’ve seen with an audience has nothing but laughter and applause for the onscreen violence. Who cares about character when everyone’s stupid? During Final Destination 3 a baked kid in front of me commented to his group about the camera work, “Holy shit, a low shot! It’s all dramatic now!”

Then again there’s always something like Ross Campbell’s manga The Abandoned with amazingly real and empathetic characters… In A Zombie Story! That’s right, your run of the mill roving ghouls, but with awesome characters. What does it say when the only Horror films made have great monsters, the only Horror stories written have great characters, and both have absolutely nothing else?

I’d like to blame political correctness but I know that’s not entirely true.

A recent viewing of the film Hard Candy makes me wonder why it’s okay for a psychotic teenager to torture a pedophile but when the tables turn it’s not okay to have her hurt in turn. Suddenly the title has changed to “Sympathy For Mr. Pedophile” and a film nobody wants to see.

The writer & director of fledgling film Last Stop (http://www.laststopthemovie.com/) had this to say about it’s troubles. “Last Stop is pretty damn dark, there are two scenes with violence towards children that have put some fear in those who would finance it.”

Then again there’s always those douchebags that use it as a stepping stone to justify their shitty films. In Fangoria magazine there was this recent query about Hostel:


“I went to a screening of Hostel at the Toronto Film Festival and Eli Roth was there to introduce it. All in all the movie isn’t too exciting; it’s gory and blood-filled which should please many. My main issue is with the blatant and overt heterosexism and homophobia that permeates the film. The characters continuously refer to each other as “fag” or “you’re gay” and everyone laughs and everything is jolly. But not for me and not for a lot of queer rights supporters.
The most appalling display of homophobia occurs when the three main characters (all heterosexual males) are on a train. A man joins their little group and places his hand on one guy’s leg. The guy proceeds to freak out and orders the man to get lost and he willingly obliges. Later in the film the guy bumps into this “dirty disgusting homosexual” and decides to make amends. He apologizes for his rude reaction and proceeds to have a heart-to-heart conversation over a drink he buys the gentleman. His friends of course call him a “fag” for having done this. Later in the film it turns out that this “sick homosexual” will become this guy’s killer. The lesson learned? “No matter how nice they seem, never be nice to a homosexual, because in the end they’ll get you!”
I understand that this is just a horror film and that it probably won’t impact much of society, but as long as movies like this continue to target an audience of teen to late-twenty heterosexual males (where the majority of homophobia and heterosexism prevails) issues of anti-gay prejudice will never be satiated. I had the perfect opportunity after the film to question Eli Roth about this in front of the entire theater but I chickened out (mainly because he was receiving nothing but praise and my comment would definitely have put me in the minority) and I have regretted it ever since.
I have been highly disturbed by this since I saw Hostel and it’s something I felt I needed to address. I may have missed an opportunity during the festival but I’m trying to make up for it now.”

Usually people don’t respond to the letters but Eli Roth thought it better to attack the author: 


“Letters like this one reflect a disturbing trend happening in cinema today: political correctness. This person is clearly out of touch with how young people in America speak. If you go to any high school or college campus kids use the word “gay” to describe something that is stupid or idiotic. I am trying to write characters who are real and speak the way young American people actually talk to each other. When someone is acting like a pussy they call that person a “fag.” It does not mean that the person using it is homophobic or is saying that someone afraid to do something is homosexual. It’s interesting to note that this reader found no offense at burning a girl’s face off with a blowtorch and then cutting her eye out, but was seriously disturbed by the words “gay” and “fag.”
I remember when Basic Instinct came out some activists were protesting because they were afraid that people would think that all bisexuals were murderers. Does this person honestly believe that this movie will make people think that homosexuals are killers? Come on. Grow up. Get over yourself. When I was in college a student held a seminar about “recovered homosexuals.” He invited six “recovered homosexuals” to talk about how religion cured them as if they had some disease like alcoholism. About six hundred angry people attended the seminar, many of them gay, and the whole room watched in amazement as these people on stage talked about using Jesus to choose “the right path” and how they left behind a life of “homosinuality.” This was an event I witnessed with my own eyes and I used it as a basis for a character who acts out his repression through torture instead of religion.
Is this person saying I don’t have the right to write what I’ve seen into my scripts? Should we all just give up and make movies with characters so politically correct that they don’t offend anybody? Who wants their horror films safe? If you want safe movies that are politically correct why are you reading this magazine? Why not spend your time fighting politicians who try to outlaw homosexuality instead of filmmakers who are reflecting the world they see around them?
However Hostel clearly stirred something in this reader and sparked a discussion which for a filmmaker is all you can ask for.”

Just what we need, some NYU brat riding the coattails of famous directors and shooting his mouth off to the people that took the time to see his movie. Fuck Eli Roth!

Now we’ve got a new an unneeded subgenre of Horror, “the torture movie”. Nobody asked for it, nobody wants it, and this is why we’re watching some prick getting his fingers cut off and hearing someone behind us respond, “That’s what you get faggot!”

All these things are the reason why the hardcore fans I know stay in the heydays of Horror when they still had great characters and monsters, a unique plot, and were genuinely scary. Relegated into a cookie-cutter purgatory I too share their cynicism but hope and work toward a better future.

I never thought I’d say this, but I think for a time Horror deserves a rest.

 

For more Eli Roth bashing, visit this site. I like bashing Eli Roth. He stands for just about everything that’s wrong with the movie industry (and probably America, too.)  I guess this post became something of how much I hate him and these torture films.  The penguins are bareable compared to seeing someone’s achilles tendon sliced through.

Well, my rant is through.  Not as broad as I would’ve liked it, but the recent release of “Hostel 2” turned my eyes red…the penguin movie, “Surf’s Up”, also has me feeling guilty for wanting to see it.  I feel like a marketing victim.

Anways, next post shall be on video game music and why it’s so damn cool.

DBD – Dead Blog Day

Borrowing a term from the creator of Megatokyo, I am sorry to say that today is a “dead blog day”, and my post on films will have to wait till later.  I won’t say I’ll post Friday (or even the day after that) because…well, I’m sort of graduating from high school this Friday.  (whoops) 

So until I get time to post (which will likely be Sunday…or Monday) I’ll leave you this picture of the Joker, to be performed by Heath Ledger in the upcoming Batman movie “The Dark Knight” (set for release July 18, 2008 in the US.)

John Wayne Gacy

The Joker

#2: First Person Shooters – A Girl’s Look At Big Guns And Even Bigger Goofs

I AM NOT A FIRST PERSON SHOOTER FAN.

Fix me with a humming BFG 9000, and chances are I’ll just close my eyes, burst a few shots from a dark corner, and hope for the best. 

…So why can’t I get into FPS games?

Because I’m a fighting girl.  I like Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom, Tekken, and Mortal Kombat.  I also like life sims like Animal Crossing, and RPGs like Seiken Densetsu 3 (you thought I was going to say Final Fantasy, weren’t you?)  The question is then:  why am I doing a post about FPS games?  Well, it’s mostly because I’m thinking on pre-ordering a copy of Halo 3 (set for release Sept. 25 here in the US.)  I recall experiences playing Halo 2, and finding it to be one of the few shooters I managed to enjoy (and feel I had a chance at surviving at.)

What frustrates me about first-person-shooters is how much of an EXPERT every player seems to be.  I can’t hope to sit down into any game (whether with friends or online) and expect to walk away with any shred of dignity.   Halo 2 was literally the first game in which I didn’t find myself gazing shamefacedly down at my controller—the game was too fast for that.  Half the time I was running, and while I was running I was lobbing grenades and taking potshots at people’s heads.  I lamented the uselessness of the Needlers while irascibly cursing any over-confident jerkwad that sliced my player in two with the energy sword.  I roared loudly in excitement when I achieved my first killing spree—only to groan dejectedly right afterwards, when a sniper offed my player.  I played Halo 2 for a short time, but in that short time I felt myself become better and confident.  For once, the boys weren’t taking me lightly.

But then I stopped.  The copy of Halo 2 I was borrowing from my brother found its way back to his home upon request, and the grueling hours spent playing at my old highschool’s teachers lounge/science room on Friday nights lost its appeal.  But the memory stays with me of the fun I had.  My friends groan whenever I bring it up—they’ve played the game till they were sick of it.  But I didn’t burn myself out.  With a pathetic Xbox 360 library consisting of only one game, and plenty of money to spare, I’m thinking of joining in on the fun for the new installment in the Halo series.  But is it worth it?

A bit of browsing has had me watching videos from the Halo 3 beta, and reading some articles on the coming game.  So far, what I’m getting is this:  Halo 3 (the beta, anyways) is like a glorified Halo 2 expansion pack.  One of the things most people have complained about is the graphics.  When viewing video from the beta, one doesn’t see anything that would indicate Halo 3 is from the Xbox 360 platform.  It’s not as ‘polished’ as Gears of War—in fact, it’s rather rough around the edges.  But we have to remember that it’s the beta, the final version can’t be expected to look that way.  We’re still going to be realistic here, though.  Halo 3 is never going to be as pretty as Gears of War.  Period.

 …But who cares?

It’s been reported that some improvements have been made in turn of Halo’s physics and weapons.  The needler doesn’t suck anymore.  It has finally been deemed useful by beta players.    The grenades have been made even more explosively wonderful, and the assault rifle enters the armory yet again.  The banshee has been tweaked as well—you can’t head straight down anymore, but there is a speed burst you can pull off to rip through enemies quicker than paper tissue…and there’s also the banshee bomb.  The banshee bomb—originally removed from Halo 2’s multiplayer—has been brought back to raise hell.  A single bomb from the banshee is enough to destroy a mongoose and all those on it.  A person with good aim can do alot of damage with that.

So there’s my temptation.  Steaming and sizzling on a polished silver platter, ready to be taken and devoured by me in all my destructive joy.  …But what am I supposed to do with it, really?  I don’t have Xbox live, and at the moment I can’t afford it.  None of my friends are Halo fanatics, in fact, I’m the ONLY one who is talking about buying the new game.

 Me.  The self-proclaimed ‘non-FPS fan’.

Add on to the fact that my ego shall take a great beating online ANYWAYS, and you’ll see the trepidation creep into my eyes.  Online gameplay is fierce—plagued by annoying 13-year-old boys screaming into headsets and sounding like nine-year-old girls, and also crazed and overly serious Halo gurus who make quick work of any idiot not watching his back.  I don’t really like Halo online.  I like Halo with people around me, playing with people I know who can forgive my mistakes, and even give me pointers.  I don’t like playing with players more concerned about their rank than having fun.

…Thinking back on my experiences with shooting games in general, I recall warmly Socom 2—a lovely 3rd-person shooter on the playstation that anyone could play online without having to pay a bloody cent.  I did all right in that game.  I’ve even memorized maps in that game.  But then hackers messed the gameplay up, and it lost its magic online.  Socom 3, from what I’ve played of it, seemed even better (especially with the new security measures implemented) but as it was, I never was able to get into it in full.

Other shooters I’ve played include the hectic and redundant Doom.  There was also Quake and Duke Nuke ‘Em, which I can remember being terrified of as a child as I watched the older kids play them at my babysitter’s house.  The James Bond game—Golden Eye—was glory baked into a cake.  The Moonraker lasers and Golden Guns were much sought after items in my friends multiplayer games.

Last year, I’ve discovered such old classics as Perfect Dark and Unreal Tournament.

If you ever happen to play Perfect Dark for the N64 (I’ve heard PD Zero is garbage) try doing deathmatch in multiplayer with no weapons.  These slap-a-thons are especially funny when you’ve mismatched character’s bodies together (i.e. men with women.)  Another thing to try in multiplayer is to make it so that the only weapon available is the tranquilizer gun.  This is best done on the stage with the pipes that if you fall off of them, you die.

Now…Unreal Tournament…well…

My memories of this game have always been made ridiculous, not so much because I thought the game was bad…but because I was forced to team up with someone.  My friends, as a joke, thought it would be great to play capture the flag with everyone being the same character:  Brock.  So every time someone would die, the announcer voice would say in a comedically gruff voice, “Brock–is–dead.”  These would’ve been even funnier…if me and my team-member (hereby named Spaz) weren’t the only ones dying.  Here’s a taste of what I went through that agonizing hour—

ME:  Spaz, what the hell are you doing!?

 SPAZ:  Huh?  Oh, I’m going to get the flag.

ME:  I’VE GOT THE FLAG!!

[BROCK IS DEAD]

Aside from my excitement for Halo 3, and all the warm and fluffy experiences I’ve had with other FPS games, I think I’ll (for the most part) just stick with my Snowman furniture and “Hadouken!” thanks.

Next post:  Expect a rant on movies tomorrow, and how I hope Hostel 2 tanks in the box office.

#1: Women in Geekland – Nothing More Than Glorified Eyecandy?

Lady Death and her ‘Crusader’

Because no creature of evil can defend against the MIGHT of a Crusader’s sword.

 

So why is it that girls always seem to be dealt the bad hand in video games, comics, anime, and movies?  Heck, that’s an easy one to answer.

It’s because guys make the majority of the market.  We all know it.  But does that justify things?  Should female otaku and girl nerds stand for a community SO used to seeing women in submissive/background roles, that even when they try to place women in a more complimenting role, they just inadvertently press onto them all the stereotypes of the female gender?  I’ve read comics, played games, and watched shows that’ve successfully managed to undermine female achievement through such pitfalls as, “Sentementality,” or “Sexuality.”  …Personally, I think it’s all baloney.

Maybe it’s just because most of these guys (in this world of action figures, special edition trading cards, and cosplay) can’t relate to women.  I mean, let’s face it, alot of anime and video game fans are socially inept.  Or maybe they’re just misogynists who LIKED the big-breasted beauties of the comic/anime/video game universes.

Now…I’m not trying to seem like a crazed femi-nazi…but it DOES get a bit frustrating walking into a comic book store only to earn the suspicious and condescending glares of the guys present there.  My friend and I lament the fact that we, as girls, can hardly EVER walk into these sorts of stores without feeling like aliens.  And what gives?  Women read comics too, and they play games, and they watch anime…granted they are the minority in terms of the marketplace—but does that justify overlooking us?

Others don’t think so.  Through a serendipidous entry into Google search, I stumbled across a winner of a site called Girl-Wonder.org, which is (yes) a feminist site designed to fight misogyny in comics.  Now, normally I shy away from this sort of thing because alot of times I find these places to be a little too extreme…but I think these people are very fair.  They aren’t asking for girls in comics to be made stronger.  They aren’t asking for them to be made ‘ugly’ or ‘intelligent’.  They’re only asking that women in comics be depicted REALISTICALLY.  That means without being objectified, without being shoved unfairly to the side, without being used as tools for violence and degradation

The site mascot, Stephanie Brown, was Batman’s ‘Girl Wonder’.  Her death in 2004 raised a very big uproar among many fans—not so much because she was killed, but rather, how she was killed.  I cannot claim myself to be a Batman reader (as of yet, that is…I plan on getting into the story through those big anthologies they’ve got) but I read background information on Stephanie Brown’s death and read some interesting discussions in the forums.  I quickly realized that what DC had done really was unfair.  As a girl, a budding comic-geek, and an aspiring comic writer, I cannot stand for this sort of attitude to continue.  It’s ignorant and old-fashioned—a trend that hasn’t stopped since the fifties for cryin’ out loud.

If you look at the bigger picture, I think we can all agree that comics have entered a bit of a slump in the past few years.  It’s been largely due to its inability to attract new readers.  These movies they keep coming out with have helped, but the majority of comic readers are still of older age…and male.  They haven’t tried to change their ways.  It’s a stubborness that has fueled the continuous refusal to give comic heroine’s a better deal.

I don’t know if any of you have tried, but jumping into the middle of a long-running comic series is like jumping dead into a hurricane.  Marvel and DC have made it extremely difficult for new readers to get interested in their products because they’re too busy making more comic books for their older readers—the readers who have been reading since they were kids

But that isn’t right.

The long-time readers are beginning to stop collecting, and the storylines and alternative universes are getting so muddled that it’s no WONDER no one new has joined the ship.  So what should Marvel and DC do?

Try marketing to the youth.  Try marketing to the women.  Try spreading to other demographics and revitalizing the industry.  Didn’t I say that the comic business was elitist?  It’s a bitch to get in, and easy as hell to fall out.  Women and minorities are misrepresented in stories.  Themes that had been done to death are recycled for another regurgitated tale of heroism.

How about something new?

Comics have the potential to do so much socially, artistically, hell—ECONOMICALLY.  Some comic creators have already set off doing their own thing, doing just what should be done:  Stopping the stereotypes.  But they don’t get enough attention.  People aren’t hearing about them, because big time comic book companies are blocking our view with their antiquated themes and characters.  It turns potential readers off. 

So all in all, I think the last thing we’re going to have to admit is this:  the big-boys are going to have to clean up their acts and try making their products more universal if we want to see the industry pick up again.

And that means stopping discrimination and eliminating many archetypes.  No more Stephanie Brown’s.  It’s not just good for women, it’s good for comics.  Period.