Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Lego Movie

I just came back from watching it, I highly recommend it. It's so much fun I just can't begin to describe it all the plot is nice and complex without being too heavy or confusing, the characters are awesome. We get to see Wonder Woman on screen, which is fantastic.

Go watch it. I highly recommend it for all viewers.

Friday, November 15, 2013

House of M.

So I read a graphic novel, more like a collection of comics, called House of M.

It was pretty neat, some high concept stuff, and most of the big super heroes in the Marvel universe make an appearance, like Captain America, Iron Man, Namor, etc...but essentially this is a Wolverine story.

As it turns out I'm not a huge comics fan, I love the stories, I love the movies too, but the comics themselves are just not my thing. I am more a fan of novels I think.

That said this story was AWESOME and I just want to tell you about it.

SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So basically The House of M is the House of Magnus, or Magneto. You see Magneto has children, one of whom is the Scarlett Witch. She can alter reality. Usually she alters very small things in a limited area, but she goes a little nuts and alters the entire world.

She does what she thinks her father always wanted, she makes him ruler of the mutants, and mutants ruler of the earth. 'Sapiens' are the normal humans, and they are now the minority. This reality is pretty whacky.

Wolverine is the only guy that knows about the old reality. So he goes around unlocking the memories of other people, building an army to take out Magneto and his kids and try to return the world to normal.

During the big final battle The Scarlett Witch decides to do the opposite of what she had done before, instead of making most people mutants, she turns the world into a place where there are no mutants at all. Only the mutants with Wolverine are shielded (by Emma Frost).

So in the end the world has basically just a couple of mutants left, even Magneto is stripped, and just a couple of core X-Men like Cyclops, Emma Frost, Wolverine, most of the ones you might know, they are the only ones retaining their powers. Poor Iceman gets totally screwed, ha!

But have no fear, Captain America, most of the Avengers, the Fantastic Four and the rest are still around. They aren't mutants, you see, most of them have their powers through Super Serums and Experiments (think The Hulk, Captain America), Super Gear/Tech (like iron man's suit) and/or their alien biology (like Superman, only he's not a Marvel character). Some 'super heroes' are just badass men, like The Punisher or Batman (again, he's DC not Marvel).

So the cataclysm of de-powering most of the mutants doesn't take away all the supers, just the ones born with weird genes.

Still, it's pretty freakin' drastic.

Read it, it's fun.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Live Free or Die by John Ringo

I just finished the novel Live Free or Die by John Ringo. I really like the way Ringo writes, very basic and too the point. Lots of action and dialog, some narration but not a lot of internal monologue or exposition. I would love to write in that style.

The problem with this book is the strange politics it preaches. I'm all for having characters that feel a certain political bent, or books that have to do with politics, but in this book the story stops dead cold so Ringo can go on some libertarian rant. The rants are disguised as dialog of the main character, but are paradoxical to the choices the main character actually makes.

If you look at the date this was written you'll see why, it's during the huge upsurge of the Tea Party, and somehow it looks like Ringo bought in. He regurgitates their entire platform at one point and then goes on to channel a little Ayn Rand. That's right everyone, taxes are evil, the wealthy are the best people to trust with our future prosperity and without the threat of dying for lack of basic necessities the exceptional will be stymied.

The rants stop the story dead cold, taking you right out of it, total non sequitur. If not for these rants I would not have noticed the hate being spewed for anyone other than conservative white westerners. People that have been fucked over by their 'leaders' for generations die because they are too stupid to listen to those same leaders, so they deserve to die, while the hero is shown to be a strong and forthright person by not listening to his country's leaders.

Yes, it's that bad.

It is seen as a good thing when people who lack basic medical services and education are killed off. The dead weight of humanity. Seriously, there's a virus that targets non-blonds, the aliens use it to get rid of the worthless people, a way to thin the population without getting rid of any that are worthwhile. This is shown to just be logical thinking by the aliens. Logically they could have gotten rid of everyone but the Chinese and they'd have had a much more disciplined workforce, but that fact does not fit in with Ringo's world view of the powerful white individual leading the world to salvation.

Also in the book things move a lot smoother once the lawyers are all killed. He even brings out that tired old saw about Shakespeare saying the lawyers should be killed first, totally misquoting and misinterpreting the entire passage. A person as literate as Ringo should read the play before fucking up the quote. A character in Othello says the lawyers should be killed first, not Shakespeare himself, a character, and the purpose for targeting lawyers is that it is hard to orchestrate a coup unless you get rid of the people who know how to use the legal/justice system. Also lawyers in Shakespeare's time were not the same as now. Meanwhile that same character who enjoys the death of so many attorneys uses a major law firm to stealthily acquire monopolies in several key industries in the US and world.

And thank god they destroyed SanFran, Manhattan and Detroit. That got rid of all those dirty liberals so we could finally get rid of the EPA and the endangered species act. Thank god for that. And with the lawyers mostly dead there's no one to stop the rich and powerful from trammeling the rights of the small fish. But as long as the big fish aren't taxed or regulated, it's all good.

Then the rant about the War of Northern Aggression, seriously? Had nothing to do with keeping slaves either, nope. And it wasn't The American Civil War either, nope. The South was right, but they just lost, but later in the book might makes of many logical cross ups committed in this novel.

Also the blond women who survive are afflicted with a final disease that gives them the sex drive of men. Seriously. Ringo's sexual frustration plays out in this story. He's not realizing that women already have the same sex drive as men, they just don't have the desire to spread it around with guys who aren't going to stick around and take care of the children. Apparently this disease overrides that basic instinct, so women stop caring about who fathers the babies, so overwhelmed by sexual desire they do away with any thoughts of birth control as well.

And here is the kicker. The whole purpose for the aliens to drop these diseases was to thin the population to a more manageable amount, and to target those bad workers for Non Whites. But then the aliens release a plague geared towards upping that same population, meaning they didn't really want a ton less people, just a ton less of the 'wrong sort' and then they wanted the 'right sort' to breed like crazy. How very logical of them.

So you could take this whole story as being a great work of comedy. Totally hilarious and politically incorrect and all of that, perhaps lampooning the Tea Party, but then I read an interview with John Ringo. He's serious. Politics are like religion and anyone that disgrees too harshly is just stupid.

Man...I just wanted to read another great John Ringo story, full of machismo, tits and big fucking guns. The preaching just ruins it for me.

No one cares about your politics Ringo. I like your stories, so please stop ruining them with the Fox News version of social commentary. It doesn't work anyway unless you integrate it well, and you are no Heinlein.

Monday, October 21, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013

I'm entering the 30 day novel writing competition this year. It is held through November. I'll be writing a super hero alien invasion story. Should be fun stuff.

The issue is that I have another novel I'm in the middle of right now, Blood of the Gods, so I have to bust ass on that to finish before November 1. I've been taking my time on it since it's my first novel and I'm using it as a learning experience, but just like designing and making games or any other creative project at some point you have to buckle down and punch it out.

So the next week or so will be dedicated to that, then it's Super Hero time!

My brother will be helping me plot out my Super novel, he likes Supers quite a bit. The whole family is going as the DC Universe for Halloween this year. I'm going as The Penguin.

Escape Plan and Carrie (2012) - Quick Takes

I did a double feature this weekend and saw Escape Plan and Carrie...

You can skip Carrie if you've seen the original. This remake was totally unnecessary, it added nothing. The most interesting thing about the experience was the guy who sold me my ticket had no idea that Carrie was a remake. He did know who Stephen King was, so at least there's that.

Escape Plan was a solid 'dude' flick featuring the best pure acting I have ever seen from Arnold Schwarzenegger. He's always been a great on screen presence, carrying many action movies all the way to the top of the genre, this is not one of those movies but Arnold's pure acting performance here was surprisingly good. Escape Plan is not going to be in anyone's top 5 Arnold flicks, perhaps, but it's a solid entry. I enjoyed it much more than either Expendables movie but a bit less so than the latest Rambo. Stallone is the star of this movie, but I think Arnold easily steals the show.

More Musing on Writing

Those who follow my illustrious and virtually nonexistent writing career will note that I've made a TON of board games, card games and a handful of little video games. These are great, they are fun design, make and play. One of the major challenges to game design is knowing what to cut out. I guess if you are making a huge A+ title with a studio of hundreds you can sort of bloat out your designs a bit, but if you are just one guy in the basement toiling away you need to get to the point of your game, the central mechanics that make your game fun, and stick with that.

You'll have more success in actually finishing that way. Of course there are some absolute studs that buck this trend, but I'm talking about mere mortals here.

One thing I enjoy about writing is that you don't have to do that as much, you don't have to suppress as much in order to finish. If you are designing a game you keep thinking to yourself, "wouldn't it be neat if..." but then you have to force a dead stop. Maybe it would be 'neat' to add everything you want in but you need focus or risk the project spiraling out of control.

In writing a novel I can add all the neat stuff I want, it takes a tad more time, but it's not as insurmountable. There are no technical limitations, no limitations on myself as a programmer or graphic artist. I can write 10x better than I'll ever program or draw, because I've been writing and telling stories since I was a kid.

Artistic freedom is great, lack of limitation. It might be a curse, as you aren't forced to focus. And honestly I'm still struggling to finish my first novel, but the possibility for endless expression is there. Something did not have as a game designer.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Gravity - Quick Take Review

Space Sucks

This was a great movie. Not surprising with such a stellar cast. Is there anyone more perfect to play the voice of NASA than Ed Harris? Or cocky astronaut than George Clooney? And how about Sandra Bullock in spandex trying to hold her shit together?

I like how this movie is not trying to be all things to all people, there are basically only 2 characters and the voice of Ed Harris. It doesn't have scenes on the ground with weeping relatives or the freakin' president assuring the country that "we're doing everything possible, bla bla bla...let us pray." None of that shit. It's just a straight thriller in an awesome environment with minimal casting and scope, answering a simple question, are George and Sandra going to live or die?

I recommend this movie to any scifi buff, spectacle buff or fan of Sandra Bullock.