Archive

Monthly Archives: December 2016

2016 has been one brutal semi-truck wreck after another. and the universe is the semi. some of us have had some ok personal things happen (we’re homebuyers now for example) but it’s hard to argue the world at large hasn’t been put through the ringer. but that doesn’t mean it’s been all bad. so for funs i decided to compile a list of some things i liked about 2016.

overwatch

i don’t play enough different games to have a game of the year. i go hard in the paint with one release at a time, sometimes two. this summer, the #onlywatch curse was lifted, we were allowed open beta, and idk how many hours of this thing i’ve played now, since it’s on battle.net, not steam. it’s a very competitive team game that even when i’m losing, i generally am having fun with. that’s not ever been true before for me. losing in rocket league is pretty demoralizing after a while, losing in battlefield is super irritating, and losing in dota 2 generally gets you flamed by 15 year olds who don’t understand the cast ranges on your hero’s spell. (shoutout to that invoker player wednesday night.) overwatch is pretty, deeper than it looks, and fun. it feels great to play. the development team is, on the grand scheme, very upfront about changes made and even sometimes not made. also it’s cover character is in a same sex relationship in the outside-the-game canon. representation in a way that isn’t the character’s defining feature is amazing.

so ❤ u overwatch, ❤ u tigole, can’t wait to play doomfist on oasis. man i hope he’s what we think he will be and terry crews voices him.

my high school music is back

new albums from thrice and an anthony-green fronted saosin? are you kidding? in 2007 i would have been backflippin in history class when i found out. now it’s a shame what has happened to dustin’s voice since the artist in the ambulance days, but it’s still cool music, and i really really enjoyed saosin’s offering a lot. it feels like the saosin album we always deserved. also beyonce has absolutely killed 2016 even if i would never have admitted to liking her back in the day.

also there’s been some actual real hiphop

within like a month, a tribe called quest and run the jewels both drop new albums and both are brilliant. we can’t be far from jon connor finally dropping #vehiclecity on us, but he’s got about 22 hours if he wants to make it for 2016. people with more mainstream tastes got offerings from kanye, kendrick, childish gambino, and j cole. most rap is in a horrible place right now but if you know where to look for the goods? good year.

a lot of people thought bernie sanders was a good idea

2008 convinced me i was a political loon because the candidate for president i aligned best with was an absolute fringer. this year a really noisy large number of us thought democratic socialism was a pretty good idea. thumbs way the hell up, man. stay noisy. maybe don’t harass regular people, of course, but stay noisy.

plus there’s a lot more.

it’s been a really good year for gaming (except the NMS thing >_>) and pro-gaming in general. 2017 should only keep it going as we all drool over mass effect. at this point i’m out of stuff off the top of my head though and just want to jump back into overwatch.

this feels too long to fit into a tweetstorm, so here we go.

everyone needs to stop being so fucking offended russia tried to influence the 2016 election. they need to stop being so shocked when the US government responds by cutting off some diplomatic relations, and they also need to stop being so shocked that putin was advised to respond exactly in kind. its not even that surprising that he would say “nyet, let’s wait until new president to make the decisions.”

so if you, hypothetically, had a country with global influence, and there was this other country with an election that would impact your agenda directly, would you rather the winner be a) random or b) a better chance of your favorite candidate winning? because that’s this country’s foreign policy. the US actively rouses up regime change in states like libya and syria. if they didn’t, if they weren’t using all possible options available to them to meet their ends, we’d be up in arms about it. we’d be flaming weak leadership every day. our CIA has done this shit forever. ask tech, who’ll tell you “i’m from where the only place democracy’s acceptable is if america’s candidate is electable.” we go even farther in smaller countries. we even foment revolts and civil wars. we actively arm al-qaeda affiliated rebels because they oppose the leaders we do. but how the fuck dare vladdy-P steal some emails and give them to wikileaks, right?

does it suck that russia may have had influence on our election? hell yeah it does. it bites when the shoe’s on the other foot. be mad at your own folks for not stopping it. be mad at the DNC for falling for goddamn spearphishing because a dude said “legitimate” instead of “illegitimate.” be mad at morons who think because their nazi boards use “cheese pizza” as code, emailed lunch plans are secret messages about child sex slavery. shit.

so you’ve been pwned. you think you know who did it. that sucks and is embarrassing.  there must naturally be consequences. not too severe, because you do the same stuff yourself, just don’t get caught. the response is to deliver a non-threatening slap because obviously it is. send diplomats home. we aren’t going to do anything real over it because there’s no evidence (afaik) that they actually like broke into voting servers or anything that direct. OMG I AM SHOCKED ITS THE COLD WAR. and putin’s advisers tell him “give barry o’bummer the i know you are but what am i treatment.” OH NO WHO CAN BELIEVE IT. FOREIGN DIPLOMACY IS NEVER LIKE THAT. yes it is. and it’s always been putin’s propaganda that obama is a weak leader. russia is a very right-wing place that would see obama as a giant wuss because he’s a neoliberal, just like republicans do. so he’s waiting for trump, who has been publically pro-putin and would tell you that himself. (i think. you never know what he’s gonna cop to.)

basically i would like the shrieking left to calm their chestboobs about all this. the DNC and the US intelligence community got caught with their pants down. they respond because they have to, and lightly because it isn’t a big deal. you know what’s an actual big deal? that the state department waited 8 years to come out against israeli settlement. john kerry’s speech the other day, while it is the direction i wish we could go, was the foreign policy equivalent of all-chatting “gg, teammate is ass” and immediately leaving the game. if that’s been this administration’s policy all along why has the US supported israel through E VER Y THING until the UN vote this week? and if it changed, what changed, when, why? naw. we gotta scream about how skeptics of the government story on russia are kremlin agents. i hate everything.

well not everything. i hate everything about world events right now.

this will be filled with major plot spoilers. if you’re here trying to decide whether to go see the movie, go see the stupid movie. it’s good. you’ll love it.

*hillary shimmy* hoo! okay.

rogue one is in the upper tier of star wars films. 7 was better, but it’s better than 6. i am open to placing it equal to or even above 7 upon more viewingses.that makes the tier order 1. New Hope/Empire per your own personal preference, 2. Force Awakens, 3. Rogue One, 4. Jedi, 5. monday morning meetings, 6. revenge of the sith, 7. getting a root canal, 8. groan wars/phantom grimace.

i struggled with the first act or so a little bit, which might have been the movie and might have been that i wasn’t properly caffeinated yet. we’ll see when i see it again. which, i’m totally seeing it again at least once.

the best part is, rogue one is here to help fix star wars in general. every time i’ve watched the original movie, i’ve been bugged a little bit more by a nagging plot hole: how can such a gargantuan and well-engineered thing as the death star have a dumb little flaw like that? i’d always assumed the rebels could only have gotten the death star plans from a defector, but how there’s such a gaping flaw just boggled the mind.

enter this movie. an unwilling engineer to the project built the death star to be vulnerable to attack on its exhaust port and then was himself the defector who told the rebellion where the flaw was (through giving them the plans and hinting at it in his hologram). pow. plot hole closed. rogue one is a top-flight star wars movie simply on the basis of making the OG star wars even better.

so anyway, i think part of what made this movie a little tough for me to get into was the bewildering array of names and locations it throws at you in about ten minutes of screen. (imdb for spelling) enter Galen and Jyn Erso, Cassian, Saw Gerrera, K2, Jedha and three other planets, you’re just tossed in here. i’m down to just be tossed in to a universe, don’t get me wrong, but it was a little confusing and the barrage of locations made me barely remember any of them.

the movie really comes into its own for me when jyn, on jedha, encounters the hologram of her dad. i dont understand what made saw gerrera decide “nah you go i’ll just chill here and die” but other than that it’s tough to have much complaints about the rest of the story. hell, the good guys don’t even live to tell the tale. that was outright arresting. there’s no ex machina to swoop in and save jyn and cassian on the beach? they just… they win, but are left in an impossible situation, and just… the movie lets them die?

do you guys understand how bold that is? hollywood heroes always live to the end credits. no matter how positive you are they’re toast. killing off characters not only prevents $equel$, it’s emotionally risky. you’re either going to make the viewer sad, or you’re not, and the latter means they didn’t connect to your characters. it means you failed. when the stormtroopers shred k2 i figured that was the token Good Guy Death since he was after all a robot, even if he was robot alan tudyk. then the movie immediately shows me they died for something, when stunning young carrie fisher lookalike ingvild deila (with some post-effects help of course) gets the plans, says something nice about hope, and we know what’s going to happen from there. to kill the main characters like that, the movie has to first a) make you understand them, b) make you like them, c) make you attach to them, and then d) take them from you, but show it wasn’t in vain. it’s a bold move, a confident move, and it worked brilliantly.

the only thing i would change is probably the rest of the ending. i’d find a way for the battle at the end to blend seamlessly into the beginning of episode 4. i really thought that’s what was happening when vader said to assemble a boarding party, and when it wasn’t, felt let down (and then remembered that the planet they were around was totally not tatooine). maybe leia’s ship immediately blasts to anywhere in hyperspace, any rim system to try to avoid detection, but somehow the star destroyer follows them, leia tells r2d2 she needs to record a message, and roll credits. idk it needs work but i am also not getting paid trillions of dollars to write movies either.

oh and let’s not forget that c3po found a way to worm his stupid ass into the movie for exactly 10 seconds, which he spent WHINING, BECAUSE HE IS GOOD FOR NOTHING ELSE. i’d delete that too.

sitting here trying to think of what else to say, it strikes me how powerful rogue one really was. it feels like SO MANY THINGS HAPPENED when really there’s just a prologue and 3 distinct acts.

P. galen gets taken
1. jyn comes to the rebellion
2. galen gets killed
3. the assault on the archives

that’s it. that’s the movie. it’s so simple. just a couple of really big events move jyn erso from Fuck Everyone And Your Cause, to dying for it. it only really takes one big event for cassian to go from I’m Just Following Orders to disobeying outright for his conscience. these are effective and make sense, not giant leaps like jyn discovering cassian’s dad was also called galen or something. (i will seriously never forgive bvs.) character arcs move more in two hours than they do in many movies that stretch on for ages. and that’s why rogue one is the prequel we all deserved, man. imagine character work like this around anakin and obi-wan, instead of… trade routes… and monologues about sand. i can’t wait to see this thing again and pick up on all the little things i didn’t catch the first time around. and i hope we get more little side-stories like this in the intervening time  between real star wars movies, and maybe even after as long as they stay good. the universe has a TON of untapped stories to tell. if KOTOR taught us anything it’s that.

attached trailer reviews: all garbo except hidden figures, and even that i don’t have any need to see in theaters. give to netflix pls.

i haven’t written about any movies in a while so i figured the best time to do that again was at 1am on a saturday/sunday. (and publish at 2:30 bc why not i can’t sleep anyway.) about a week ago i saw the new benedict cumberbatch vehicle. actually, i love everyone in this cast. sherlock, and the operative from firefly, and i’ve had an embarrassingly big crush on rachel mcadams since red eye and etc. you should expect minor spoilers here but nothing game breaking.

it’s impossible to remember any of the names in this movie, so i will refer to the following characters:

  • doctor strange
  • the ancient one
  • rachel mcadams’s character
  • chiwetel’s ejiofor’s character
  • the bad guy
  • the evil god-thing
  • wong

Short, spoiler free review: I liked this movie. I didn’t love it. tilda swinton was great. chiwetel was great. benedict wong, as “wong,” was outstanding. his beyonce gag made me almost choke laughing. rachel was good but didn’t get the screen time i expect SMART DIRECTORS to GIVE HER. cumberbatch was very good but his accent came and went a little. it was very very not boring and i had fun. the visuals were overdone at times, and the entire plot is only possible because of two extremely stupid decisions.

Longer, spoiler-light review:

i didn’t know anything about this comic universe at all going into the movie. that’s not uncommon but i’ve at least heard of most marvel properties. doctor strange is a new one to me. it starts by asking a deep, dark, and heavy question as top-of-his-game neurosurgeon Strange murders his own hands by driving like an arrogant moron: what do you do now?

instead of answering that question in any sane way, instead the movie explores different themes, like making an everlasting (positive) impact on the world. strange can’t keep working on his new surgical techniques now, but he can become some magical mystic warrior. just because one thing was taken away, the movie says, that doesn’t mean you can’t keep on in other ways. strange himself just never really addresses that. after about halfway through the film his hands are just never mentioned again. do they get better? that was his plan – learn to heal them like the paralyzed dude did – but when he accepts his new…role?… we forget that plotline completely.

mentioning the paralyzed dude brings me to the first extremely stupid decision.

strange can’t save earth from This Marvel Movie’s Version Of Alt-Hell without using the pendant thing. he can’t use the pendant thing without studying under the ancient one, who he first has to find. he can’t find her if the formerly-paralyzed dude doesn’t decide for some reason to give him the time of day, even though they have a history (very small world here). and he can’t find paralyzed dude if his rehab tech doesn’t seriously and egregiously violate HIPAA. i’m not kidding. this made me actually angry in the theater.  you can’t just go tell your patient about another patient just because he’s also in the medical field and a right prick and you want to make a middle finger of a point. there’s no medical reason for him to reveal that patient’s case to strange, who does not have permission to see that file, which means if someone found out he could face, i shit you not, $50,000 in each civil and criminal fines and up to a year in jail, let alone getting fired from more than just your job. no matter how frustrating a patient is, no rehab therapist is going to commit career suicide and risk prison to make a point. get all the way out of here.

also, This Marvel Movie’s Version Of Alt-Hell is getting annoying. please god let there not be a portal to another galaxy/plane/universe/dimension/whateverthehell in black panther. this goes back to the avengers at least and has to stop.

anyway. this movie was cool and different in a lot of ways. when the ancient one says “it doesn’t have to make sense” that explains exactly the way you need to look at this movie. people wave their arms around and MAGIC BULLSHIT HAPPENS and it doesn’t make any sense, with the sole exception that you need a sling-ring to make a portal. given how much appears to happen without those, that’s a strange and arbitrary rule in a universe that otherwise has none. but i had a lot of fun trying to figure out what was going on, and watching crazy fight sequences that defy Euclidean three-dimensional space, and correctly predicting what the cape was going to do when i saw it move the first time.

the trouble is sometimes the visuals get all of the way out of hand. strange’s first encounter with the ancient one is the worst offender here. he flies around and sees shit. what shit? whatever tilda swinton wants him to see, and how does he see it, like is he there, or is he astral projecting, or is she bringing it here, and how come she can throw him across time and space and back again with a shove but it takes a sling ring to make a teleport? that scene was overwhelmingly visually confusing to the point of being almost unwatchable. it was weird for the sake of weirdness.

i understand what it was trying to do, but something can be bewildering without being toss-you-out-of-the-movie visually confusing. the dark zone or whatever the evil god-thing’s house was called was kind of the same way, but not because it looked confusing, more like the texturing and lighting budget all went into Earth scenes and then it came time to add this and only one artist was left for the whole thing. like, it didn’t look bad exactly, just, like CGI, while the whole rest of the movie has wrapped entire buildings around dimensions you and i don’t exist in and looked amazing.

sounds like i’m whining a lot but i really did enjoy this movie. i told my coworkers it was “okay” and then had to quickly remind them of how i generally feel about movies for them to realize that was an actual endorsement. (these are people who don’t think thor 2 is boring because he fine. like, yeah, would without thinking twice, but google is for that.) kinda feels the same here as i am about to yell a lot at the bad guy in my lewis blackest voice.

hey asshole. and all other assholes in movies about magic spells and stuff.

and listen close, this is important.

if you need.
a spell.
from a book.
break in to the library.
and kill people.
to steal a spell.
in a book.
a physical book.
if you have to do that.
take the fucking book! not a page! don’t rip out a page and leave the book behind, you world-class moron. how can doctor strange stop your plan if he can’t learn the spells to do it in the book you took the spell from? why take the extra time to find the spell you want and tear it out – carefully, don’t destroy it – when you can just take
the whole
book

so yeah that was extremely stupid decision number two. bad guy takes a page out of a book instead of the whole book is an ugly movie cliche that makes no sense at all. happens right off the hop and made me think “oh god here we go.” but like i’ve said repeatedly the movie redeemed itself pretty fast. it’s really good when it gets out of its own way. wong is a treat, everyone else is awesome, try not to think about physics at all, and enjoy the trip.