Friday, April 30, 2010

SoulSilver Log Part 5

And so Blue proved herself to be the greatest trainer in all of Johto, defeated the evil Team Rocket, and captured the legendary Pokemon Lugia.  For most computer-controlled trainers, this would make up a fantastic career beyond their wildest dreams (because most of them cannot even walk - they only stand).  But our Blue is not most players, obviously.  She was going to be the very best that no one ever was.  Spurned on by the mysterious Great Power, Blue traveled to Kanto, the placed the Great Power called "the first game", to vanquish another set of eight mighty Gym Leaders.

However, first Blue's team needed some shaking up:  gone were Ampharos, Meganium, and Ninetales, to be replaced by Raichu, Flygon, and Arcanine.  Blue proved to be magnificently cold when it came to abandoning Pokemon she had carried with her for many trials and tribulations.  Unfortunately, the others just weren't strong enough, new power was needed in the dangerous land of Kanto.  Grass Pokemon suck, Ninetales was too weak, and Ampharos couldn't learn the powerful move Volt Tackle like Raichu could.  Sympathy for weak Pokemon cannot be allowed - no matter how cute the ones about to be boxed forever might be.  This is Pokemon!  Its a cruel, cruel world.

However, despite the many shake-ups on Blue's team, her unlimited talent was more than enough to cover for any momentary weakness.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Triscuit Protest

Another year, another round of ludicrous rage from Jihadist extremist, right?  What is it this time?  Israeli settlement in the West Bank?  US troops stationed in the Arabian Peninsula?  Film makers showing movies that rightfully criticize the religion for oppressing women with bizarre cultural restrictions?  Salman Rushdie wrote another book?  Five points will be awarded to whoever is able to guess the right answer.  You have five seconds.

...WRONG.  Actually Internal Jidhism has found a completely new target:  Triscuits, the beloved Nabisco snack crackers.  It all traces back to (yes, there is such a thing) spokesman, Younus Abdullah Mohammed, and his response to the recent controversy over latest South Park episodes dealing with the Prophet Muhammad.  Upon having his website vandalized by some 4Chan chaps, Abdullah Mohammed's response was a characteristically intelligent for people who share his world philosophy, calling the hackers "Darwinist [homophobic slur] who are as despicable as the rest, walking around eating your Triscuits."

How dare they attack Triscuits!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dresden Codak

What is the most fascinatingly weird, intellectually challenging, and most beautifully animated webcomic out there today?

The answer should be rather simple:  Dresden Codak by Aaron Diaz.

Oh, you've never heard of Dresden Codak?  You have no clue what the heck a "Dresden Codak" could possibly mean?  You're too intellectually complacent to have your mind blown by Dresden Codak?  Boo hoo.  You're going to have to read Dresden Codak.  It isn't a question of will or taste, its a question of further existence on this planet.  Put on your thinking cap, bucko.  Because you're in for a futurist mega-science/memory reconstruction/"gestational cycle of the Earth-Fetus" ride.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ghost Hound

How in the heck am I supposed to describe this show?  (Sigh) This is not going to be an easy post to write...

"Ghost Hound" is not an anime that sticks to the regular cliches and tropes of most anime.  For 99% of anime shows, it sticks to one particular genre and storyline formula.  "Girl finds love in high school", "main character gains magic powers from some unseen extra universe and saves the world", "giant robot war", etc.  "Ghost Hound doesn't fit into any of those.  It isn't even a weird parody of the genre like "FLCL", or something intentionally or some kind of freak-out "weird for weirdness's sake" type of show.  Its pretty much like nothing else you've ever seen.  But despite that, it never breaks out of the expectations of fiction.

For most of this show's running time, I was frightened beyond words that it would turn out to be one of those shows that constantly adds all sorts of weird twists only to end in a completely random and unfulfilling fashion.  By the end of those shows, you're left wondering what in the world you just watched.  Was that a dream?  Was anything that happened in the show itself real*?  Typically you're left completely pissed and wanting to punch the creators in the face for wasting your time in the first place.  For a good example of western shows, see "Twin Peaks".  Anime has a few examples itself, like the infamous ending(s) to "Neon Genesis Evangelion".  You should always avoid shows like this, because the endings will always be terrible and there is no pay-off to be found.  "Lost" will, in all likelihood, end up exactly in this fashion.  But "Ghost Hound", in its own independent way, did not follow even this trend, and instead had a very logical, clear, and definitive (if not a bit rushed) ending.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

SoulSilver Log: Part 4

This post is a bit more of a side story than anything else.  We'll return to accounting Blue's journeys through Kanto later, but for now I feel there's a story to be told right here.  Reaching the final boss requires that you level grind to at least level 70, and even then Blue is having a unique problem with him. Red has decided to hold up at the top of Mount Silver, a spot you cannot reach unless you have some special moves.  For example, you need Rock Climb, a move that none of Blue's main six can learn.  Why do you have to go through all this nonsense and use Pokemon you don't want to reach the ultimate battle?  What were they thinking?

On that note, we will now join Blue late in her quest to be the very best that no one ever was.  She wandered into Mt. Mortar to find the fabled Karate King after gaining all sixteen Gym Badges, and defeat him.  No trainer can go unfought in this journey, no matter how obscure.  Unfortunately Mt. Mortar is a huge maze, filled with waterfalls, cliff faces, and huge boulders that you need a Pokemon to get through.  And there are lots of two feet bluffs that Blue cannot climb over no matter how hard she tries.  When she tries it, her body is forced back by a supernatural power called Bad Game Design, making her walk in place rather than easily step over the bluffs.  The great power was currently off sleeping, so it was to be of no help.  Clearly this quest was not going to be fun... at all.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon

Hey, I'm back, feeling a bit better.  Can't say the same for my little cousin, though, sadly.  He's just started kemo, and will be in the hospital for the next few months, when he will then get much better and I can play with him again.  Its a hard road ahead, and all our prayers are with him.  Rest assured I'll keep you all updated as to when he's better.  Thankfully before he got sick, my little cousin had the good fortune of seeing "How to Train Your Dragon".  And I'm glad for that, because I love this movie.

The last time I saw a DreamWorks film, I was so horribly disappointed that I vowed to never watch another ever again.  That movie was "Monsters vs. Aliens"*, a cartoon with a concept so awesome that it seemed entirely beyond the realm of possibility to fail.  Oh, but fail it did.  First you have a crowd of characters that make up the most distracting and unlikable comic reliefs since the gargoyles in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (I would mention Jar Jar at this point, but I'm better than that).  Somewhere along the lines of making "clever" pop-culture references and having Stephen Colbert play a techno song on a keyboard for the alien invaders, DreamWorks completely forgot to actually have a story.  Or characters.  Or really anything worth anybody's time beyond basic silliness and constant references to old-time SciFi movies.  To be fair, it had a few funny moments, and some clever shots at the SciFi genre, but altogether I was very unhappy with that movie.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Short Break

I am not be able to update this blog with as much frequency as I have in the past.  Unfortunately, in the light of a personal tragedy, all the stupid bullshit I typically write about just seems empty and hollow.  I'm entirely not in the mood for my usual brand of nonsense -  at least for a little while.  Nothing about this was planned or anything, as tragedies never are.  I should be up to writing again in a week or two, hopefully I can finish my SoulSilver log then.

On a more important matter, I would like to ask for some help.  My baby cousin is very very sick and we only found out just yesterday.  He's the sweetest little thing you'll ever see - this is entirely not fair.  If you could only meet him, you'd want to hold him in your arms forever, he's so lovable.  I feel so damn helpless...  What can one do in this situation?  So if you're religious at all, please give a simple prayer for him.  And if you're passing at a McDonald's, please, throw some change in the Ronald McDonald House Charity Box.  They've helped my family out considerably.  Thanks.

Things will be back online here soon enough.  But at the moment I have far bigger priorities.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

SoulSilver Log: Part 3

Little Blue has had quite a journey over the last week.  The land of Johto has fallen into chaos while Blue was on her journey to be the very best that no one ever was.  The sinister international crime syndicate with a logo stolen from Rutgers University, Team Rocket, has emerged from the shadows to do vague bad things like "use Pokemon for evil".  Since Pokemon dare frighten kids with any actual instance of Team Rocket being evil*, we'll just have to take their own word for it that they're out to do bad things for bad's own sake.

So when Blue traveled to Mahogany Town, she found that the door to the local gym was being blocked by an annoying man.  No matter what she tried, she couldn't find a way around him, as all people in the Pokemon universe are roughly the same size and the door was exactly the width of an average human.  Blue, desperate to get her seventh badge, called upon the great power from another dimension for help.  It told her that all this was being caused by an evil organization the power had fought back in a time known as "the original games", Team Rocket.  The only way to get to get into the gym was to defeat the local Rockets, who were hiding in a secret ninja base below one of Mahogany's two houses.  And the great power told her that there would be help:  the dragon master, Lance.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Short Fiction: "True Love"

I think somewhere along the line of all my posts here, I lose something important.  Instead of creating my own works, I sit around criticizing the works of others.  Its certainly easy to accuse Stephenie Meyers of creating a horrible storyline - what do I know of designing characters, creating a relationship dynamic, and building a world around them?  Put up or shut up, I say.

I wrote this story about two weeks ago, and have been flirting with submitting it here.  Actually I've just been a little shy.  This one is definitely a bit more intimate than my other stories, I'll have to say that.  But what's the use of a blog very few read if I can't write whatever I want?  Here you go:

True Love

I think there was something romantic in my tuna sandwich. “When my children ask me about where I and my husband met,” I began to think, “just what kind of story will I be able to give them?” I hoped for something interesting, something clever, something funny; the kind of story that when anybody hears it, they will immediately know that we were meant to be together forever. Not like my parents. They just met in a singles bar. What kind of meeting with your soul mate is that? How special could your ‘One and Only’ be if you find him in such a completely average way? Such a meeting should be magical and serendipitous; something decided by inscrutable fate whose omens are impossible to see. That’s what makes true love so special. I like that idea. It was such a nice idea that I took another bite of my sandwich.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Welcome to Planet Blue

 The Q? really did die last April Fools' Day.  My April Fools' joke was that you would think that entire adventure in New York City was an April Fools' joke.  Kinda a meta thing.  The reality is that it was a nice way to send off a part of my life that I've been carrying around, more and more without enthusiasm, for almost half a decade now.  The Q? would like dying in an glorious yet ridiculous manner.

Yeah, I renamed the blog.  Some of you may not be all that happy over it, though there's really nothing I can say.  "Tales From the Q?" makes no sense unless you know what "Q?" means.  And since Q?'s only definition is that it doesn't have a definition, how in the heck would I be able to explain all the complex and bizarre mechanisms surrounding the concept which only exists in my own imagination?  The whole idea was purely weird for weirdness's own sake, nothing more.  It isn't even all that funny, when you get right down to it.  I have to look at marketing this blog first, esoteric postmodern symbols second.  And the new title, despite being far more mundane, is clearly a lot easier on the brain.  Also I've retired the whole "Space Monkees" greeting largely because its too silly for my tastes these days.  When this blog moves towards the serious issues, it just sounds entirely wrong to start off calling my audience "Space Monkees".

"Planet Blue".  Its a pun off my Internet name.  I considered a few other names like:  "the Blue State".   I rather liked that name, but it was taken by a liberal political blog.  I'm kinda left-leaning, but I'd rather not associate myself so much with one kind of thinking.  There was also "the Blue Planet", but that was taken by an environmentalist blog.  I also thought of "the Blue Universe" and "the Blue Empire" but I abandoned both of those ideas fairly quickly.  Too many syllables.  Not catchy enough.  There was also "the Blue" but that makes this thing sound too much like its a blog focused entirely on the color blue.  (I'm pretty sure there has to be one blog based on a color.)  So instead I went with a name that might also be the name of a TV channel or a chain of theme restaurants:  "Planet Blue".  Altogether there were probably more clever named I might have found if I thought more, but I just wanted to get a new name quickly so I could move on.

RIP, Q?.  Here's the old title card in case you all miss it:

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Twilight Saga: New Moon

What the name of disco dancing Jesus is Michael Sheen doing in this movie?  Michael Sheen is a real actor - he's not some teenybopper idol or a silly teenager obsessed with these stupid books.  He does better things than this!  Not one actor who has ever appeared in an Academy Award nominated film should ever be here.  Dude, you were in "The Queen"!  You were in "Frost/Nixon"!  What, did you make some bad Superbowl bets last year and desperately needed a huge paycheck?  Is this a birthday present for your daughter or something*?

Now that I've addressed that important point, this is a review of "The Twilight Saga:  New Moon".

Now the first thing you must have asked is:  why in the name of disco dancing Jesus is Blue watching "Twilight"?  And that is an excellent question, to which there is a simple answer.  I am something of connoisseur of bad cinema.  In fact, I go out of my way to find every single movie hailed as "the worst movie ever" just to hopefully one day find the very worst thing ever created by humanity.  For that quest, I have seen such gems as "Battlefield Earth", "Southland Tales", "Showgirls", "Troll 2", "Plan 9 From Outer Space", and countless Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes.  Since at the moment the Twilight series (or "Saga" as its apparently is called now), represents the very nadir of pop culture quality.  From what I've heard, this world that author Stephenie Meyers has created is the very worst of the worst.  An inhuman tract of complete madness in which you are guaranteed to despise each and every one of the characters as they act in horrid incomprehensible ways.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Death of the Q?

All people, living and dead, I have horrible news.  What I must report grieves me as nothing else possibly can...  I find it even hard to find the words.  Oh, woe is me who has been given this awful responsibility!  Oh woe is we all!  The Q?... my friend, mentor, and - at times - lover... has... has....  Died.  Yes, let the awful news ring forth so all may know the tragedy that has befallen our world!  The Q? is dead!  Weep masses, weep!  Our savior is gone from this world, forever taken by cruel misfortune!

How could such a shining symbol of all of over hopes and dreams have collapsed so suddenly?  How could such an eternal ideal - a dream that has lasted since the birth of the universe, simply cease to be?  I'm afraid that it will be up to me, the Q?'s discoverer and dearest friend, to tell its tale:

It all began as a normal day for the Q?.  It awoke in its deluxe luxury condo in Jersey City's exclusive European-style community on the Hudson River, Port Liberté.  Unfortunately, it had been up late that night watching the first episode of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" and then feverishly discussing it on the Facebook Group, "Law & Order: Criminal Intent - USA NETWORK".  This meant that the Q? was now already an hour late for work as a accountant for Washington Mutual, and it wasn't even out of its deluxe king size Raymore and Flanigan mattress yet.  Nope, driving was definitely out of the question today.  The Q? would have to fly.

Kissing its lovely wife goodbye, the Q? jumped out the window, spun its question mark around in a wild circle, and began to sour up in the air like a helicopter.  A flash of bizarre post-modernist lightning blasted across the Hudson River at super speed, over turning yachts and Staten Island Ferries as the Q? rush its way to its office on Wall Street.  At this point even a horrible tragic loss of life would be preferable to the boss's thrashing.  In this economy, the Q? could lose its job!  It only got the job out of affirmative action:  there were no other incomprehensible symbols at Washington Mutual*.

As the Q? began to fly into lower Manhattan, disaster struck.  Little did the Q? know it, but an old enemy was now preparing an ambush.  Many years ago, back when the Q? still was just lowercase, it had traveled to the Sages of the Jupiter to learn kung fu under Master Klo.  The great master had two students, the promising Q? and a young human named Arnold.  While the Q? excelled at every task, mastering all the techniques and philosophy with ease, Arnold could only lag behind, feeling jealous at his advanced peer.  Eventually Arnold fell back so far that he was expelled from the planet Jupiter, leaving the same day as the Q? was given the rank of "Master".  He would never forgive that slight.  For the next three thousand years Arnold began plotting, and working, and scheming.  He built himself a grand army of robot ninjas and zombie pirates and dinosaur vikings to prepare for his assault.

Out of nowhere, Arnold and his evil forces struck!  The Q?, too focused on trying to remember the CPS reports he was supposed to be working on, was struck violently by five thousand electrified shurikens.  As that second, it was clear that the Q? would have to forget about work that day, instead it was time to fight this new foe.  Great and glorious was the combat.  Thousands of robot ninjas, zombie pirates, and dinosaur vikings ran forward to defeat their master's arch enemy, only to be repulsed.  Using its question mark as a might sword, the Q? tore asunder the great army, leaving only a devastated rabble for New York's clearly confused sanitary workers to clean up.  Arnold himself, so shamed by his defeat, took his own life.

For a moment, it seemed, all would be okay.  The wounds the Q? had gained during the battle were but scratches, it had had worse in its day.  But there were other enemies out for Q? blood that day.  Soon came the Holy Crusader Order, a secret army created by the Vatican expressly to destroy supernatural threats, such as the Q?.  Arnold, it seemed, had not placed all his hopes in his own skills in defeating his old classmate, but had created an unholy alliance with all the great foes the Q? had faced in the past.  There was an armada of aliens from the Planet Crux, hired by Arnold to fight the Q?.  And there was the entire army of the undead, every great champion and warrior from the universe's past summoned by Hades, this smarting after the Q? cleared him out in Poker at the Christmas part three years ago.  And there was the Sun Beings, creatures of pure energy that run our mother star, here to fight the Q? simply because there was nothing better to do that day.

The devastation was epic as the enemy charged in, ready to take as many casualties as possible in order to defeat the Q?.  Spaceships and airships and fighter jets and giant robots all rushed in at once.  But the Q? would not be struck down so easily.  Out came a burst of a glorious energy, and the Q? change its font to the superpower mode:  Folio Extra-Bold.  Skyscrapers were thrown back and forth as the fighting intensified.  It was now clear to all that this fight could end in only in the completely destruction of one side, or the Earth snapping in half from the force of immortal combat.

And yet, despite many injuries, the Q? steadily began to chop its way forward towards the enemy camp.  Suddenly the other side knew, deep in its heart, that their efforts were all pointless.  They had underestimated their foe, and now they all were about to be destroyed for their foolishness.  Fear overtook their ranks and they began to flee towards Brooklyn.

Then, without warning, a new combatant entered the fray:  the Beast, covered in blood and fire, rose like a tidal wave out of the East River.  And on its head, perched with sinister glory was none other than Red Highwind, my Bizarro form, with the light of Hell in his eyes.  The enemy, only moments ago shaken to their core then rallied their cause.  They reversed their flight and charged forward, seeing victory at last.

And for the very first time in its eternal life, the Q? felt fear.

For another hour did it try to keep up the fight, but its wounds were too great.  Covered in blows and gashes, the Q? finally did give up its pride and called for help.  Clutching its question mark to the hole in its 'Q', the Q? blew the question mark like a horn, summoning its knights and allies from all four dimensions of the multiverse to come save it from this awful peril.  Just then, Red Highwind, twisting in lunatic rage jumped down from the Beast and cut the question mark in half.

As the life began to flow out of the Q?'s body, we came to its aid.  As it fell onto the ground, resting its broken form, we, the Majestic Order of the Knights of Unquantulatablility came forth and defeated all which had challenged our master that day.  I personally gave my Bizarro, Red a gash on the face he would remember long afterwards, taking his left eye with the blow.  Our losses were great.  By the end of the battle, only I, the Q?, and what of the enemy host had chosen to flee with their lives were left alive.  Red had run off, planning some sort of new nefarious scheme.

Though I offered the Q? help, it refused me.  "Sonny, I have no time for this dieing business.  I'm late for work."  And just like that, its wounds were healed.  That's the Q? for you.  I did love its impossible nature...

But as it limped into the still-standing offices of Washington Mutual (which was odd since everything around it had been reduced to rubble in the Megiddo), I suddenly panicked.  I tried to rush after it, but it was too late.  The Q?'s boss, furious at his employee's tardiness, fired the Q? right at the spot.  No doubt he had seen the great war that had taken place around the office, yet he did not care.  Rules were rules.  And anyway, his boss wanted somebody gone this week - the economy did suck after all.

Out of the office came the Q?, weeping like a child.  I tried to console it, but it would have nothing of my kind words.  "What will my children do now that we have no money?  Will we keep our house?  Will I have to sell the Bentley?  Will Sharon leave me??"  I tried to assure it that none of that would come to pass (lying of course) but the depression was too great for the Q?.

It stepped forward, gave me a weak smile, and then decided to end itself.  It twisted its 'Q' around and then devoured itself.  I was so terrified that I could not even scream.  When it was done, there was nothing left of my master.  Only a bit of pixie dust left on the ground and $2.35 in change for the subway ride home - which naturally I pocketed.
Now I stand here before you all, the masses who I dare not even call "Space Monkees" anymore.  How can their be Space Monkees in a world without the Q??  How can there be anything without it?  What am I supposed to do with myself now?  Can I even keep up this blog anymore?

WHAT DO I DO NOW???????????

* There was an interrobang, but that symbol had a clear logical rational for its existence.  The Q? had tried to make friends with the interrobang and they had gone for drinks a few times, but neither had much enjoyed each other's company.  Now their relationship had degraded to mere half-hearted nods of recognition as they passed each other's path.  The interrobang was kind of a jerk anyway.