Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hilde de Hilde

We've created a lot of superpowers throughout the years:  flight, super-speed, mind control, whatever.  You name it, they've thought of it.  What hope is there for new magical characters if people cannot invent a new power for them?  If you make Laser Dude and his power is to shoot lasers out of his eyes, all he'll be is a Superman but with only one power.  No amount of "edginess" will make Laser Dude anything more than Superman on the cheap.  And it doesn't matter how many belts he has or how tall his collar is, he won't ever be cool or original.  But I think I have something here that nobody else has thought of yet.  This story is written as a history, though I can assure you nothing here ever took place, none of the people mentioned have ever lived, the places no do not exist, and Armando Sargasso is just as invented as anybody else.

The Following is a Selection from Armando Sargasso's famous historical work "The Legend of Hilde de Hilde, Queen of Heaven", a famous work in the Reina Hilde, and favorite of schoolchildren of all ages:

This is the story of a girl who needs no introduction, the Queen of Heaven, Hilde who as we all know was born on Earth in a town named De Hilde.  Before her birth, the town had a different name, but it was promptly changed upon the advent of its most famous child.  Nobody remembers the previous name, or even really anything else about De Hilde, only that it was the place were Hilde born.  Hilde's parents were named Madre de Hilde* and Padre de Hilde.  They used to have more usual names for the time period but they changed them when their daughter was born.  Padre de Hilde explained his and his wife's decision some years later:  "well, as far as we could see it, me and Madre de Hilde had lives that were pretty boring before Hilde came along... actually I don't quite remember what life was like before my daughter came.  It couldn't have been important, since Hilde wasn't around.  We definitely won't change our names back... we'd hate to offend her further."  A similar sentiment can be found amongst the de Hilde's families neighbors and indeed is in fact universal throughout this kingdom of my birth, which as we all know is called "Reina Hilde".  This of course means that Hilde's full name is the nonsensical "Hilde de Hilde" - though many praise the name thanks to its lyrical qualities.

Monday, July 26, 2010

On Atheism

I think its about time I spoke up about this, even though I've been keeping my mouth shut on this particular issue for years now.  I avoid this one mostly because I used to be about as fervent a believer in this faith as any other member.  At the time, I figured myself smarter than everybody else, and working hard to free them from a self-imposed evil delusion.  And now all I can see is a stupid little kid who was angry at the world for no real reason.  So I'm going to put all my eggs in a basket right here and say it:  atheists are annoying.

There's a Party Line for the atheist religion - a series of assumptions that an atheist in order to be an atheist seemingly must assume as an article of faith.  I'm not talking about people who are agnostic here or people who simply don't care about matters of faith at all, I'm talking about people who are bona fide atheists, somebody who willingly applies that category to themselves and take pride in it.  The first of all is that there is no God or greater supernatural power in the universe, which is fine in of itself I suppose.  Its a very sad and cold way of looking at the universe though, which is something I'll deal with later.

The second bit of atheism is the more annoying bit of it:  its hatefulness.  Atheists for whatever reason often do not simply deny the existence of God, but actively hate God.  Its a weird sort of paradoxical philosophy:  God does not exists and he sucks if he does.  So religion isn't just incorrect, its an evil to mankind that must be eradicated.  This gets worse though.  If an atheist believes religion is evil, he or she must then come to believe that all people with faith are either fools or worse.  They have come to understand a truth of the universe that the rest of the world is ignorant to.  So then the old evangelizing spirit breaks in, creating a small army of self-righteous atheists spreading their ideas.  Militant atheists have to destroy faith, as the very concept of people believing in God challenges their faith.  Religion isn't just evil, its threatening to their fragile assumptions.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Me Sketches

Just a little sketch I did of my Internet avatar. There's a forward facing version too but I seem to have misplaced it.  I'm something of a mildly talented drawer, why should I have to rely on Akihiko Yoshida for my mask?  Note the quantum nose - it appears and disappears according to angle, just like Yoshida oddly enough.  I gotta color one of these though, because as mere pencil sketches they don't show up well enough to replace the Luneth Dragoon image I have now.  Essentially this is a truer version of the mental projection of my digital self.

Note the symbol on Blue's breastplate.  I've decided that this will be the replacement for the Q?.  It will just show up at the bottom of posts for no real reason really.  Its like a signature I guess.  If you want to know what it means, its a Japanese letter (specifically of the katakana script) which is called "tsu".  I don't fully understand the sound it makes:   according to Wikitonary its a "choked sound", whatever that means.  I think its something akin to a pronunciation mark like a Spanish tilde or something.  Actually I don't really care what it means or represents, because it looks like a happy smiley face.  Its even better than the emoticon =).

So that's really all I have to say here, be seeing you guys.

Update:  I wasn't aware of this at the time, but this actually is my 100th post.  So... horray!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dragon Quest IX

In my recent bought of fanwankery about the Final Fantasy series, I said something along the lines of "Final Fantasy's development teams are run by monkeys* and the 'Dragon Quest IX' team is an example of people who know how to make a proper RPG".  Funny thing that, because at the time I hadn't played a single second of "Dragon Quest IX".  I just sorta had a very good feeling about it.  And since my gut has been right about the games I play nine times out of ten, I figured that a "good feeling" was enough to recommend it prematurely.  Now having played a few hours of "Dragon Quest IX", I know for a fact that once again my gut was absolutely 100% correct in every way as usual.  This game is awesome!

I mean, this is just about the best game I've played all year, I love it!

And that's so surprisingly considering how really basic this game is.  Nothing this game is any way more advanced than say, "Chrono Trigger" which came out fifteen years ago.  I mean, its a turn-based RPG straight out of the SNES days.  Its like my last post was accidentally a wish upon a star, and now the Blue Fairy has come down and delivered it.  Its crazy.  Well, it isn't exactly my idea of a perfect modern RPG (if this were in fact "Final Fantasy XV" I don't think I'd be half as enthused with it), but this is about as good as this genre gets.  Even as it celebrates the classic RPG formula it adds in new details that these games should have thought up years ago.  The gameplay is simple (hardly more complicated than "Final Fantasy IV DS" from two years ago), the storyline is entertaining enough without being an obstacle to overcome to get back to the gameplay, and the graphics are easily the best performance the DS has ever given.  Read on if you want to know more, but already my recommendation is complete and unconditional.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

BlueHighwind's Final Fantasy XV

Its no secret that the Final Fantasy series is a mess at the moment.  They haven't had a really good game released since...  I don't know... man, its been a while.  What games have come out lately?  "Crystal Bearers" could have been great, but it was way too short, "Dissidia" was crap, "Final Fantasy XIII" turned out to not even be worth trying ("a flawless, 14-karat turd" - mrklarryd), and there are at least a dozen other games they've released in this series lately that I haven't even bothered to pay attention to.  The last great Final Fantasy game I think might actually have been "Final Fantasy XII" which came out four years ago on the PlayStation 2.  Even then, amongst Final Fantasy fans I'm something of a minority for thinking FFXII was that great, there's a lot of people who absolutely hate that game.  Maybe you could count the "Advent Children" remake from last year - that was pretty decent, but it wasn't a game.  The PSP remake of "Final Fantasy Tactics" was awesome, but that game is twelve years old at least.

Final Fantasy's fanbase is usually the most divided group out there, but FFXIII's response was negative even for this crowd.  Recently the CEO of Square Enix, Yoichi Wada, even had to publicly say something along the lines of "I know some of you guys hated this one, I'm sorry, I don't know where we're going next".  Then again, the game still made a Mt. Fuji and a half of money, so maybe there isn't an issue at all.  However, let's be real here:  FFXIII was only such a huge release because of the brand name.  If this wasn't "Final Fantasy" but instead "Corridors and Cutscenes:  The Game" I don't think it would have made half as much money as it did.  Even as it makes huge profits, this brand is hurting.  How much punishment can a fanbase take?

You see, FFXIII has its fans.  But when "Final Fantasy XIV" and "Final Fantasy XV" come out, the FFXIII crowd is going to be just as unsatisfied as the FFXII people, the FFX people, and even those sad hold-overs from FFVI and FFVII.  I'll explain:

Saturday, July 17, 2010


I went to see "Inception" in a theatre that was just about the biggest, most ridiculous, and loudest IMAX auditorium that you'll ever find.  And even though that theatre could fit hundreds of people, it was packed (this movie will make millions).  But the theatre wasn't the only thing that was huge.  There was a bag of popcorn on my lap so big* that by the end of the two and a half hour movie, I still couldn't see the bottom, if there even was one.  The drink was a fluid monstrosity which I think held more liquids than the average lake.  It was so heavy that I was afraid of dropping it, because I'm pretty sure if I had, the soda would have smashed right through the floor and through the Earth straight down to the oceans south of Australia.  But even so, nothing could metaphorically reach the scale of this gigantic movie.

"Inception" is essentially the "Avatar" for director Christopher Nolan, of "Memento", and "The Dark Knight" fame.  Like James Cameron did last year, Nolan claims that he's been working on this for at least a decade, and has been waiting for the technology to advance or maybe just to get the funding for his little big pet project.  It goes without saying that "Inception" never would have happened if not for the new Batman series.  Eventually this concept of giving directors huge resources to make personal pet projects is going to bite Hollywood in the ass quite badly, but for now it seems to be working well.  So once again we have a big experimental movie that the critics seem to like, audiences are going to see in droves, and probably will even get a pity Best Picture nomination which it has no chance in Hell of winning.  Movies like this can't win Best Picture, sadly.

At two and a half hours this movie is already Jurassic (I'm running out "big" synonyms) in scale.  But even though its twenty minutes shorter than last year's "Avatar", it feels about an hour longer.  I don't know exactly what it was, but something about this movie just made it feel like forever.  It wasn't a drag, just long.  This movie is draining.  The plot gets so complex that even I had a bit of trouble keeping track of everything.  But the movie is even more epic in scale.  There are about fifty different gun fights, amazing visual effects, and the most complicated plot I've ever seen in a movie.  If all that sounds like a sandwich too copious for your mouth to bite down on, maybe you'll want to skip this.  But then you'll be missing out on a truly once-in-a-lifetime film experience.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wealth Redistribution

Being afraid of turning into a liberal commie bastard, I make sure to watch a lot of Fox News and listen to a lot of conservative talk radio.  Of course, I do this with an intensely critical mind.  So one phrase I hear a lot is this boogie man called "wealth redistribution" - that Obama is going to steal money from one group and give it to another.  But I'm not entirely sure what they mean by it.  As far as I see, it can mean either:

1) The phrase rings of propaganda that I'm more than a little used to hearing in the regimes of Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot.  In at least design "wealth redistribution" is supposed to take from a needlessly wealthy minority and give to a poor minority.  It didn't work.  Of course, in those regimes, wealth was indeed redistributed:  one group murdered and stole from the original wealthy class and the peasants and took it themselves.  The rich died, the poor starved, and the Party got incredibly rich.  So what the conservative pundits are talking about here is Obama taking over in an dictatorial regime that will essentially steal everything for himself.

2) Or perhaps its supposed to simply mean that Obama's policies are designed to indirectly sap wealth from one group so as to give it to another poorer group through government aid and benefits.  The health care bill, in a horribly over-simplifying way, does this.  If you're a libertarian and hate the idea of the government getting to decide just what you're allowed to own, either directly or indirectly, then you're definitely going to hate this one.  There's definitely a long Constitutional argument here for why the government shouldn't be involved in this sort of thing.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Despicable Me

Somehow I knew that Armond White was going to love this one.  The man gets predictable after awhile.  You see, he trashed "Toy Story 3" in his review, but he wasn't quite finished with pissing people off.  So when it came to him reviewing (irony of ironies) "Despicable Me", it had to be a positive review just so that he could trash "Toy Story 3" some more.  He didn't review "Coraline" last year, he just kept on pointing out how "WALL-E" sucked.  Its a "divide and conquer" strategy:  Pixar vs. everybody.  But I'm not going to fall for it.  Why can't we just love all the good animated movies for what they are?  You're allowed to love other movies after you love a Pixar one.

Honestly after seeing "Despicable Me", I really can't see much here that "Toy Story 3" didn't do equally well or better.  I don't know what he's talking about.  The only difference is that the Toy Story franchise looks at the phenomena of toys with an uncritical eye; loving the objects of childhood rather than calling them "corporate shill" like White wants.  (This man has been many things in his time, but one of them definitely was not a child.)  He rambles about commercialism and assumes that Pixar is in some way being disingenuous when they show emotions through the lens of an inanimate object.  So he refused to accept the very concept of the movie - maybe didn't even see the movie - and so his review was pointless.  Nothing he could say about this subject could ever mean anything.  Armond White, as I've said before, is a terrible critic, but he's worse than that:  he's intellectually complacent, even as he uses pretentious terms as "trompe l’oeil" (English:  an artistic illusion of depth) - even though in fact he's the trompe l’oeil.  He wants to be seen as an edgy critic who sees the emotional failures of movies that more gullible audiences miss, but actually he's just a fraud.  Its his employers and readers who are the gullible ones.

But enough about Armond White, too much has been said about him already.  Let's just review "Despicable Me".

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Predator 3

Yeah, I know the name of this movie is actually "Predators", but you know what?  This is the third* Predator movie, so its "Predator 3".  I've been waiting for "Predator 3" ever since I saw the first two movies on rented VHS back in the late 90s - and now its finally here.  No lack of a number in the title can make this movie any less "Predator 3" or a "reboot" like some claim it to be.  Finally a third member of a series that represents the best of the 80s action genre - made twenty years after that decade ended!

Now as a "Predator 3" this movie gives just about everything you can ask for.  The best killers from around the world are abducted by aliens and brought to a foreign planet that is actually an intergalactic game reserve... with the humans as the game.  So amongst this group is Adrian Brody - ex-Black Ops, Token Attractive Female - Israeli Defense Force, that Angry Mexican Man from Every Robert Rodriguez Movie Ever (by the way, this is a Robert Rodriguez movie) - Drug Cartels, a death row convict, an African Death Squad member, a Russian square-face action figure, a quiet Yakuza Dude who just stepped out of the panels of a Japanese manga, and.... Eric from "That 70s Show"(??) - who just so happens to be the most likable character in the whole bunch.  What's Eric's power?  Well, he's a doctor and the rest is this movie's little secret.  This strange crew is para-dropped onto the alien planet, and immediately try to figure out just who or what sent them there.  Luckily Adrian Brody has seen the trailer on TV just like the rest of the United States, so he pieces it together fairly quickly.

So what occurs is all fairly formulaic:  gang of misfit soldiers fight each other for a second, gang of misfit soldiers piece everything together, gang of misfit soldiers fight aliens.  Adrian Brody starts out being a real cold jerk, but you know in the 11th hour he's going to turn a corner and save Token Attractive Female.  Also, despite how strong they try to make Token Attractive Female, you know at some point she's going to have to be saved by Adrian Brody.  What really kept my interest in this movie is Eric.  I knew he couldn't just be a civilian, and his ultimate place in the plot made for an interesting unknown.  Tragically I called the twist anyway, but I could at least hope they would do something more interesting (they didn't).  But despite even that, "Predator 3", is still one of the best action films I've seen in awhile, and the second best movie I've seen all year.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Unquantulatable Quest

Once upon a time, I edited the Final Fantasy Wiki*.  Most of the things that I did there were completely boring constructive edits that are really not worth all that much mention.  Do you guys really want to know about the fast and exciting times of writing lists of "Vagrant Story" magical abilities?  Neither do I.  Honestly, the only reason why I edited anything there was in order to become Supreme Ruler, and then vandalize the wiki in what would be the most legendary vandalization in the history of the Internet.  However, since I made my intentions pretty clear (my other goal there was the most shameless attention seeking done this side of reality TV), the plan never really worked out.  Also I wrote a series of rather ridiculous walkthroughs that were less gaming advise and more tracts about how I hated certain characters, especially Vaan.  They were also the fifth most juvinile things ever written, and huge embarrassments to everybody involved (accept for the odd legion of readers who enjoyed them for some reason).  Eventually my tenure at the FFWiki ended in a lot of tears and a giant apology to just about everybody on Earth.

As you may or may not have noticed, things have changed quite a bit since then:  the Q? is dead, I seem to have finally discovered that the entire universe is not a giant joke, and I actually care what other people think when I write something.  There are probably going to be more changes as well coming pretty soon.

But old me was not all bad, at times I was even brilliant.  Just to show that I'm not trying to bury old history** I will now celebrate what I think to be FFWiki me's finest hour.  At the start of every walkthrough page, I wrote random bits of non-sequitur topics as an "intro".  For example, I wrote this for Page 12 of my "Final Fantasy IV" walkthrough:  "Happy 2009, Space Monkies! I, BlueHighwind never really thought this year would come. I had suspicions last year, I guess, but I also put them away as baseless conjecture. This is means that the theoretical "2010", which I always scoffed at as pure myth, may also become a reality. Weird."  Unfortunately after two years of this, I had completely run out of ideas for intros.  So I decided to write a short story in the upper margins of my final walkthrough, which conicidently was for my favorite Final Fantasy game, "Final Fantasy XII".  It was as I described it, "my epic space opera adventure, Unquantulatable Quest".  I would wander the stars every page and meet strange aliens in a search for truth in the universe, which I ultimately found.  So here I present the entirety of Unquantulatable Quest right here on Planet Blue for your reading pleasure:

Monday, July 5, 2010

Musings on the Final Frontier

By the time this article is published on Planet Blue, these words will be nearly instantaneously transmitted to every corner of the globe.  Somebody as far as twelve thousand miles away from me (that's the other side of the globe) could read what I'm saying here with an time lag that is - in terms of historical world thought transmission - completely infinitesimal.  Compare:  in about the year 50 AD* the Gospels of the New Testament of the Bible were written.  It took those Gospels about sixteen centuries to finally reach the place where I am writing this article, New Jersey.  However, this article will reach the eastern Mediterranean in a matter of seconds.  Yes, the Internet is filed with all sorts of its own internal divisions (how much time do you spend reading websites written in Turkish?) and only the wealthiest one quarter of the world's population has any kind of Internet access at all, but its incredible globalizing effect cannot be understated.

But its more than just the Internet.  Air travel, large-scale shipping, worldwide transit, telecommunications, and an unlimited array of technology has drawn the planet together into a single massive culture.  Not five hundred years ago, a person born in England would have only the vaguest concept of most of the world.  Today world maps show off every single odd bend and turn in every tiny island on this planet of ours.  Ideas like "Western culture" are only fledging remnants of a time when people had no knowledge or understanding of an ocean as vast and domineering as the Pacific.  You can fly around the world with a limited expense.  I imported a stuffed "Legend of Zelda" Link doll made in Japan which crossed thousands of miles of ocean and land to reach me, all for just thirty dollars - and yet I still thought I was overcharged for it.  This is the first time in history that the human race was unified and most likely it will be the last time as well.

Over the course of the next couple thousand years**, barring a major extinction event, the human race will find itself spread out across the cosmos, settling distant worlds lightyears apart.  That very massive separation in distance (and thanks to relativity time as well) will inevitably divide our species once again in multitudes of highly diverse cultures.  The very same technological advancements that have brought us together so much today will drive our children apart.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Most Kick-Ass Goddamn American Movies of All Time

Happy Birthday, USA!

Occasionally its somewhat annoying to live in a super liberal out-of-touch Pinko-Commie welfare state.  On the one hand, I love New Jersey and wouldn't give up living here for anywhere*, but on the other hand, living in this state also means that there are tons of stupid restrictions on every bit of your life.  If the government finds that something is "un-safe" they'll ban it.  So guns are impossible to buy here, kids need to sit in booster seats until the age of ten in cars, and smoking is banned everywhere except for a single corner in West Orange - and its taxed so heavily that you need to put a second mortgage on your house in order to get a single pack of Newports.  However, none of this means anything to me, except for one tiny little ban:  no fireworks.  You cannot buy, sell, use, own, or transport any kind of fireworks in the Garden State except for public demonstrations after filling out approximately six miles of official forms.  So I can't have real fireworks on the Fourth of July**.  Yes, it is against the law in this state for me to do my civic duty and blow some shit up on our nation's greatest patriotic holiday.

So the only fireworks that I can legally enjoy this year will be those in my own living room.  Luckily America is also the home of kick-ass good old fashioned high-explosive action movies.  New York has been destroyed more times on film than Jerusalem has been destroyed in the real world.  We don't just love explosions:  we worship explosions.  It becomes something deeply engraved into our subconscious.  For example, I cannot enjoy a movie where at least one sentient being's life is not ended in some spectacular fashion (note that not a single movie I've recommended is lacking in this feature).  Its reached the point that the sight of the White House being destroyed is almost as sacred of a patriotic image as Emanuel Leutze's "Washington Crossing the Delaware" - which by the way could be greatly improved if at least one of those canoes were on fire.

So for all you suffering under fireworks bans, I now give you, with tongue only half in cheek, the Grand List of the Most Kick-Ass Goddamn American Movies of All Time, as a fictional replacement for real-life destruction and mayhem.  These are the movies that manage to take all fifty states, with all our arrogance, ignorance, and free spirit into a five beautiful star-spangled rolls of films.  Enjoy.