Friday, December 31, 2010

Congratulations, Refia!

Wikis suck.  If you ever are tempted to become a member of one - don't.  Instead vandalize, that's far healthier for you.  And more fun.  Yes, wikis can be a nice hobby and give a limited illusion of community, but they're also massively stupid, Communist enterprises.  If you ever have fantasies about being stuck in horrible empty-headed bureaucracies and confusing committees, its perfect for you.  Never before in the history of humankind have basic issues ever become more complicated with legal-jargon, precedents, and the voices of a million people debating with a million different ideas.  And usually it will be over something like whether the character template should be blue or beige.  I know from experience, there's nothing to be gained from being a part of a wiki.

Anyway, a few months ago I started Magicite Madness II with Drake Clawfang, at the Final Fantasy Wiki.  All it was supposed to be was a fan poll, nothing complicated.  256 characters in the series battling for the position of most popular - that's it.  Sadly its become a complete disaster.  Terra is the Champ, and just for fun, I wanted her to fight Vivi, the previous Champion for the title of Ultimate Champion.  Unfortunately three people were in charge with three different ideas of what the rules should be, and everything fell apart.  I share part of the blame for it, mostly because I let another person get involved when it should have just been me and Drake.  This could only happen on a wiki, by the way.  Terra had more votes than Vivi, but she won thanks to annoymous votes, and...  you know, it doesn't matter.  Its stupid.  The whole thing is stupid and it ceased being fun.  I don't care anymore.

So I'm declaring Refia to be the real winner of Magicite Madness II because she's pretty.  I know that doesn't make any sense, but neither does any other conclusion.  Also Refia is pretty.  So that's that.  Congratulations, Refia!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Super Mario Galaxy 2

I think I'm going to have to go ahead and say it, because for whatever reason nobody else has.  Mario is boring.  I'm not talking about his games, they're fantastic, but the character himself.  He's dull, he's wooden, there's nothing there.  Honestly, after so many years of saving Princess Peach and crushing Goombas, I still don't know why Mario even does it.  What does he care if Bowser takes Peach away?  Everybody just sort of assumes love, but Mario doesn't actually seem capable of loving anything.  If anything, Nintendo has been actively avoiding pairing Mario and Peach up, aside from a kiss on the nose or two.  He likes jumping, I can tell by the excitement in his voice when I do a triple-jump, but beyond that, who knows?  At least he's enjoying himself.

But beyond getting the next Star, what is Mario after?  What is his real goal?  Does he have one?  Where does he live?  Its baffling to me that the most famous face in video games is also one of worst developed and ambiguous characters of all time.  This is why in Smash Bros and Mario Kart nobody ever picks Mario:  there's just no personality*.  Nobody actually wants to be Mario, we just use him to jump around.  Bowser has character, he's jealous, angry, and arrogant.  Link from the Legend of Zelda has some personality, its pretty subtle, but its there.  You know he actually wants to save Hyrule, you know he loves characters like his little sister and his friends.  The difference is that Zelda games actually have plots, and for whatever reason, Mario as a series is physically forced back from ever evolving into something more complex than "jump here, kill that".  And really, its to this series' detriment that it limits itself like this.

Despite that, Mario still makes awesome games.  "Super Mario Galaxy 2" is still a great game, just as good as the first one, but its lacking something.  This second game, despite having far better platforming levels, and much some truly excellent moments of gamplay, is hollow.  Its partially because I've basically played this exact game before:  "Super Mario Galaxy 1", remember?  And its also because Nintendo seems to actually going backwards with this one.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tron Legacy

I saw "Tron Legacy" for Daft Punk.  And it had tons of Daft Punk.  They did the entire soundtrack, and what a soundtrack have they made.  There is an Oscar for best musical score and if Daft Punk doesn't get up that on stage in their funny little racing helmets to accept it, then I will eternally hate the Academy Awards.  This is techno at its most awesome, just incredible.  "Tron Legacy" might just have the best soundtrack for any movie ever, it fits so perfectly.  Its such a good soundtrack, that I almost forgot how stupid the rest of the movie was.

The original "Tron" was released in 1982, twenty-eight years ago.  That was back in the days when computers were just taking off, when most businesses still did work on paper.  The PC was still new technology, forget about visual interfaces, or mouses.  It was before Google, before Windows, before the Nintendo, before the Macintosh, before the World Wide Web, and if you're reading this blog, probably before you were born.  Computing was still a very wild frontier of seemingly limitless opportunities for a very small niche society of programmers and technicians.  "Tron" was made for such a different world.  If you follow Moore's Law, since 1982 the amount of transistors that can be fit on an integrated circuit has increased by 16,384 fold.  My old dusty Nintendo 64 is massively more powerful than the most cutting edge computer from the early 80s, and realize that the 64 itself is a dinosaur compared with the machine you're probably reading these words on.  The very concept of graphical interfaces was still in development.  This meant that for the audiences viewing "Tron", it really was the first visualization of the computer world.

"Tron Legacy" just does not share that spirit, sadly.  There doesn't seem to be any real interest in capturing the magic of the idea of "Tron" by updating it to the modern world.  Instead they just made an action movie, a good action movie, but just an action movie.  The original "Tron" wasn't very good, but at least it was trying to do something that movies had never done before:  CG effects, cyberpunk storyline, and acknowledging video games as a major cultural force.  The new one...  its shiny.  I like shiny, though.  "Tron Legacy" is a good movie for what its doing.  And that's to be fun.  This is a great fun movie.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Black Swan


I've been hearing a lot about "Black Swan" recently.   Apparently it has caught Oscar's eye, and now has somehow managed to reach right into ring of various Best Picture frontrunners.  Those leaders include the Facebook epic "The Social Network", "The Kids Are Alright", and "The Fighter".  Unfortunately, those movies are all such bores, clearly made by people with no interest to entertain anybody but the Academy itself.  "Black Swan" however, is a horror movie.  Horror movies never get appreciated by those snobby top critics, and they never ever get Academy nods.  Just how awesome must this movie be to have reached this level?

Pretty damn awesome.  If you want a dark beautiful psychological horror film with some lovely lesbian fanservice and creepy visuals, here you go.  Where can you go wrong here?  Of course, all this immediately disqualifies "Black Swan" from ever winning Best Picture.  If I were Director Darren Aronofosky, I would be proud of that fact.  Darren, climb up to the roof of your house and shout to the world "My movie was too good for Best Picture!"  You deserve it, dude.

Ballet is not my favorite art form, I'll admit that right now.  However, after seeing "Black Swans", I'd actually want to see the show Natalie Portman puts on.  She is able to mix together virginal restraint and a wonderfully screwed-up self-mutilation obsession to create a disturbing dance for her audience.  Forced to play both the heroine and the villain of the ballet Swan Lake, Nina's mind splits between her safe isolation and sexualized-violance.  She isn't being haunted by vengeful spirits or jealous understudies, rather its her own psyche that is tearing itself apart.  Its a nasty little film:  sexy, frightening, and artful.  Plus plenty of lesbian fanservice.  When Oscar time comes, I know what horse I'm backing.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bleach Recaps: Ep. 184, Kira and Kibune, Offense and Defense of 3rd Division

Kira and Kibune fight in this episode.  That's really it.  A secondary villain fights a minor forgettable character in a mediocre battle that does not even reach a conclusion.  Does anybody even like Kira?  ...As it turns out, bizarrely, he's one of the most popular characters in Japan, having come in 9th place in the latest popularity poll according to the Bleach Wiki*.  We all know that Japanese teenagers for whatever reason love chronically depressed men and that's all kinds of messed-up.  But Kira isn't even Cloud Strife-level depressed, he just kinda has low energy and limited enthusiasm.  He should just work up the courage to ask Momo out, what else are you going to do for the thousands of years you have to live as a Soul Reaper?  Either get a girl or mope around.

Oh wait, Momo is dead.  Guess not.  Well, every other female Soul Reaper is single.  Keep at it!

As for Kibune, he's voice by Christopher Corey Smith, who previously worked as the Emperor in "Dissidia", which is probably why the guy is a smug effeminate jackass who you just want to punch in the face.  As much as I'd like a career in acting, I sure as Hell wouldn't like to be type-casted as the "guy who voices smug assholes".  Kibune in this episode is sounding less like the Emperor and more the like boss of the Meteo level in "Star Fox 64".  If you played that game, you'd recall that that boss was a robot piloted by a gay monkey - and he was piss-easy to beat too.  And that's Kibune for you:  a gay monkey.  Ultimately this all means that I don't really have anybody to root for here because I don't like either of these characters.  Which means I probably won't like this episode either.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A DREAM Deferred

Just a few moments ago the US Senate voted to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the military policy that excludes openly gay and lesbian personnel in the military.  Its been a very long road for this repeal, with President Barack Obama opening the discussion to end the unjust institution for over a year now.  Yet one cannot deny that his slow patience was what made all this triumph of equal rights possible.   Obama made sure that the joint chiefs of staff spoke to Congress beforehand and even gave in on a Conservative demand that a study be undertaken on the combat effects of repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  Guess what?  There were no detrimental effects.  70% of military personnel interviewed believe that allowing gays to serve openly will have no affect on combat effectiveness, and many actually thought it would increase their fighting ability.  At this point, only those completely driven by anti-homosexual prejudice can possibly stand for Don't Ask, Don't Tell now.  By next week this will be signed into law and every American of any sexual preference can fight for their nation.  Congratulations, lame duck Congress.  I guess you can do something after all.

Obama may not be the most successful President ever, but at least he's accomplished this.  However, I personally am going to wait and see him have some success in the War on Terror and solve the economy before I promise to vote for him in 2012.  But he should know, victories like this will be very convincing in the ballot box.

Unfortunately on the other side of today's events, the D.R.E.A.M. (Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors*) Act was blocked by filibuster.  This act would have given a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who came to this country while still minors and have either served in the military or gone to college for two years.  Now what in the world is wrong with that?  We'll just have to examine that in today's post.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Here we are again, Twilight.  We meet again.  Time for us to do epic battle once more.

"Eclipse" is the third movie in the "Twilight Saga" a series of films whose stupidity can only be matched by its popularity.  Essentially Twilight is the Justin Bieber of literature/cinema, its so fashionable to hate it that can you resist taking a cheap shot?  I mean, just say the word "Twilight" in some places and you'll find yourself pelted with garbage and then they'll open the door out with your head.  As entertaining as that would be, that's the wrong way to approach Twilight in general.  Because as a twenty-year-old male, Twilight was probably as much designed for my demographic as "Mary-Kate and Ashley:  How the West Was Fun".  Its for girls, preteen girls.  And as we all know, everything that preteen girls like is incredibly stupid and utterly horrible, like Justin Bieber or the entire program schedule of MTV.  But who cares?  These books, even for five dollar paperback romance novels that typically can be found in grocery stores, are utterly horrible.  And they're entertaining because of how stupid they are.

Honestly I don't think the fans even notice how bad these books are, and if they did, they don't care.  A book is not what's written on the page, its how you interpret it.  Thus people can claim that they love these books/movies while still hating Bella.  To the readers, Edward and Jacob are the perfect magical sex gods and they belong to THEM, not to Stephenie Meyer's author avatar, Bella Swan.  They have their own avatars to insert into the story!  Forget Bella and Edward's love story, this is the love story between Edward and the reader.  That's all its ever been about.  Also Jacob shirtless, that's the other major theme of this story.  The vampires, the werewolves - all that's just flavor for a preteen sexual fantasy.  And that's not nearly as entertaining as what's actually on the screen, which is utterly hilariously bad.  So that's where I'm coming from here:  it sucks, you know it sucks, lets laugh at how bad it sucks.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


"Rapunzel" also known by the hideous American title as "Tangled" is Disney's fiftieth* animated film.  Being the fiftieth, "Rapunzel" stands on a long and glorious legacy stretching all the way back to "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", which includes such highlights as "The Lion King", "Sleeping Beauty", "Pinocchio", "The Little Mermaid" and also... um... "Chicken Little" (can't forget that!).  Considering that "Rapunzel" comes out just one year after the beginning of Disney's second revival with "The Princess and the Frog", can it manage to keep up the quality family entertainment?

Luckily, it has!  Oh yes, "Rapunzel" or "Raiponce" like in that French poster I have linked here is far and beyond superior to "The Princess and the Frog" (which I liked) and easily one of the best movies of the entire year.  Bravo, Disney, bravo.  After seeing a movie like this, even I hope to one day discover that I too am in fact a lost princess of a magical kingdom.  And considering that this is the second most expensive movie ever made in all human history, Disney better damn should have made an entertaining flick.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bleach Recaps: Ep. 183, The Darkness Which Moves! Kibune's True Colors

I think at this point we're all pretty sick of this Amagai arc.  Its been mediocre episode after mediocre episode, with only the briefest highlights in occasional combat.  Today's episode does not really have any highlights.  There are a few staged fights between certain members of the Soul Society, but they don't actually fight-fight.  They talk for awhile, maybe have their swords touch like three times, then they all become friends again.  Bleh.

At the start of the episode, Amagai, newly converted to Ichigo's side, is seen running around with the fugitives.  So, Captain No. #1 immediately decides that Amagai must be a traitor as well and then orders for him to be captured too.  El Capitan Uno is kind of a stupid leader, without any kind of imagination or flexibility.  In fact, this Yamamoto guy has been nothing but a stumbling block for years now, getting in Ichigo's way every single season somehow.  And yet for some reason instead of sending this possibly senile old man into an Old Age Home every Soul Reaper still respects his word as law.  Guess what?  For the rest of the episode the entire Soul Society is about to fall into chaos.  This folks, is why they pay Yamamoto the big bucks.

Almost immediately Renji runs into Squad 7's Lieutenant, Iba, from now on known as Lieutenant Flat-top thanks to his bizarre choice in hair style..  They get into an argument over whether they should follow orders like morons or betray the Soul Society like intelligent people.  Then someplace else, Squad 9's Lieutenant, Shuhei, from now on known as "Mr. 69" thanks to his tattoo, is attacked by Squad 11 and Cueball Ikkaku.  Are things heating up?  Hell no.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Very Republican Christmas

The "James Zadroga* 9/11 Health and Compensation Act" is that one Christmas present America is not going to receive this year.

The bill was designed to provide aid for the workers who helped clean up the mess following the 9/11 attacks in New York City, and so thanks to their valiant efforts were given cancer and other lovely medical problems.  Many worked without respirators and ate their food out in the open air where dozens of chemicals were still floating around from the collapsed buildings.  Of course, this situation was not helped by a particularly stupid remark by a former Governor of my state, Christine Whitman, who somehow managed to become EPA commissioner.  She decided, pretty much all on her own, that the air was safe.  Which we now know it wasn't.  Plus EPA documents about the air quality around Ground Zero were edited by the Bush Administration as part of their usual Communist-like governing philosophy:  "if we believe it and make everybody else believe it by force, it will be true."  (And don't think the municipal government of New York is completely innocent here either.)  So there are a lot of sick people who in an act of great patriotism have been essentially double-crossed by their own government.  Is that not worth $7.4 billion?

Actually no, if you listen to the Republicans.  It isn't.  Apparently, the United States of America, the richest country on the planet, does not have the money to pay for its heroes, or the terrible deal we gave them.  Merry Christmas, I suppose.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Persona 3

So one day the Internet comes over to my house and tells about this awesome game called "Persona 3".  I'm a little confused, since I had never heard of "Persona 1" or "2", and I'm doubly confused since apparently a "Persona 4" is on its way.  Well, the Internet, being something of a scratterbrained idiot, kept on babbling about how this was such a deep RPG, with such a brilliant story, and such an amazing experience.  Its part of the Shin Megami Tensei series, the most wack-job of wack-job JRPGs.  This the series where you fight giant penises and vaginas and the last boss is God.  Yeah.  Well, the Internet had sucessfully convinced me that the game was worth trying, so it had succeeded in that mission.  For the rest of the day we watched DBZ reruns.

Well, since I really didn't want to start the Persona series in the third entry, I first began by playing "Persona 1" for the PSP.  Unfortunately P1 was an incredibly shitty game, easily one of the worst RPGs I have ever played.  Fighting enemies is a wild guessing game between trying to find out what kind of the fifty-seven types of attacks will actually do damage or talking to the enemies and guessing wildly which conversation peace will make them happy.  Worse, its a traditional RPG with rows and turns, but inexplicably there's a weird grid-thing that's like a half-assed attempt at a SRPG like "Final Fantasy Tactics", all this means is that half the time you won't be able to attack enemies.  The only good thing about the game was its soundtrack, which was an awesome composition with incomprehensible Engrish lyrics.  I can understand not liking the soundtrack, but I think its rockin'.  Anyway, I gave up that game like two bosses in or something, and I never looked back.

Luckily "Persona 3" has absolutely NOTHING to do with "Persona 1", or if it does, the game doesn't make it clear at all.  The only things the two share in common are the Personas themselves and this weird mystical guy named Igor.  I feel like the ignorant fool who played "Final Fantasy I" in order to be prepared for the other games in the series*.  And I'll admit that "Persona 3" is a bit better, but hardly as great as the Internet was claiming.  I should stop listening to that guy.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Bleach Recaps: Ep 182, Amagai's True Strength, Zanpakuto Is Released!

So here are again.  Another "Bleach" episode.  This week is probably the most difficult kind of week to recap.  Things happened, the plot moved... but nothing awesome happened.  There was nothing truly horrible and disgusting, and there was nothing all that awesome either.  I mean, yeah, Amagai's Shikai was pretty cool, but is that all we got?  Well, I guess when your TV show has 182 episodes - more than "Ranma 1/2", more than "Seinfeld", and more than "The Flintstones", every single episode can't be a winner.  I guess the only ones who really suffer are us, the audience.  Really this episode wasn't boring, but it wasn't fun either, so what do I say about it?

We open with Ichigo, Rukia, and Prince Shoe hiding out in the Soul Society sewers, a nice trick Ichigo learned several seasons ago thanks to out old buddy, Hanataro.  Hanataro was a Squad Four healer dude with a crush on Rukia - I use the past tense since I think this show completely forgot about him, just like Ganju.  Its been eighty episodes since we've heard hide nor hair or either of those characters.  Well, the point is that even after the numerous invasions of the Soul Society, the Soul Reapers still do not know how to police their sewers.  Same thing happens in New York City, I imagine, explaining why the Teenage Mutant NINJAR Turtles are never found by the authorities.

Nothing happens for awhile, then we find our old buddy, the Evil Monkey Who Lives in My Closet, Kumoi.  Kumoi has a lovely plot-revealing flashback that explains what has happened to Princess Lampshade-hat.  Turns out that the Princess we saw entering the compound was just a fake, the real one came two minutes later and was immediately kidnapped.  (So that means that my theory that the Princess was always a doppelganger fake from the start no longer holds any water - lame.)  Kumoi is also pissed that the Soul Society has been incredibly incompetent up until now, but then again, the Soul Society has always been incompetent.  These are the same people who almost got beaten by the Bounts, for God's sake.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Happy Hanukka, Illinois!

The state legislator of Illinois today gave its citizens a perfectly wonderful Hanukka present:  legalizing civil rights in the Land of Lincoln.  Starting June 1st of next year, couples of any sexual orientation can receive civil union licenses from their local governments.  I'm always happy to see another victory in the battle for recognition.  Its only a "civil union" license, and the tortured alternate phrasing is a conscious insult to same-sex couples, but still, its a step forward.  You gotta celebrate every victory.

Of course, this really doesn't change anything for Illinois's same-sex couples beyond just a legal sphere.  I say that if you want to be married, you're already married.  Have the ceremony, get a Reform Rabbi (or some other equally open-minded religious official), who cares if you don't yet have a certificate?  Even if you live in states that are especially backwards when it comes to standards of tolerance, like Texas or Mississippi, have that wedding.  Have your Dad walk you down the aisle, dance with your Mom at the reception.  A marriage is between you, your family, and God - and if God has anything to say about it, he or she has all eternity to object personally.  And if you anybody on Earth has anything else to say, well, it isn't there business.  President Obama himself can protest outside the Synagogue, Church, Mosque, or whatever venue you're getting married in.  But even the Leader of the Free World can't stop you.

So get married, Hanukka is a lovely time.  Mozeltov, same-sex couples, and Mozeltov, Illinois.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -Part 1-

In this episode of Harry Potter, Harry and his wizardly buddies are gonna fight some "Bleach" Hollows!  Not just any Hollows - Deathly Hollows!  I don't know what that means... but it should be awesome!  I wonder what Hermione's Bankai will look like?  Should I start shipping Ron and Rukia?

Okay, tragically there is no Hollows.  The title actually says "Hallows", which is far lamer.  There actually isn't much of anything in this movie.  You never go to Hogwarts, most of the cast only shows up in the first forty minutes and the last like twenty, and the plot doesn't even really move all that much.  Honestly for all that happens in this film, I have no idea why it had to be two and a half hours, this thing could have had an hour cut easily and been perfectly fine.  There isn't all that much story to this movie, and yet it is so long.  Basically this movie is about camping.  Having not read the book, I can't say I know if this actually is faithful.  I do know that if this movie is a faithful adaptation, the book should have actually been named "Harry Potter and the Lovely English Camping Holiday".

That's all really unfortunate, since this is probably the most well-made Harry Potter movie yet.  As a matter of fact, the only one prior to this that I actually liked was "Half-Blood Prince", and I suspect that might be because I stopped reading at Book Five.  The main trio have become exceptionable actors, the effects are good enough, and the directing is beautiful.  Heck, even if this movie is mostly a vacation, I'd like to go visit Britain now, the director made it look so lovely.  It isn't easy to make grey rainy ol' England look like a stunning Middle Earth fantasy landscape, but somehow they pulled it off.  Its a good movie - triply good if you're an ultra hardcore Harry Potter fan who ritualistically carves a lightning-bolt scar into your forehead every night while you pray to your Harry-God.  Even if you aren't those people, you'd probably like it.  But still:  too much camping!