Saturday, July 19, 2008

Monster Hunter [chat]

Maybe if we spend the entire week talking about Monster Hunter we can determine what the game is. Because hell if I know what it is.

Saw Batman:

1. Batman wants some soup.
2. Batmanuel.
3. Disturbing The Joker.
4. Misdirection.
5. Hey, Batman!
6. Morgan Freeman.
7. Well paced.

Pretty good.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Profiles in History Prop Auction

The Profiles in History auction House will be auctioning props from nigh-every classic film in the past 50 years later this month. Check out the link to view some of the pages from the catalog.

I want the Scotch Glass from Blade Runner.

WoW Achievements: Whatever, Blizzard

Via Wrath of the Lich King Achievements will be added to World of Warcraft. While fan reception has ranged from "zomg awesome!" to "zomg stupid!" I'm left trying to best articulate how little I care.

My issue is twofold. First, Achievements are not new. Let's say that there is an Achievement of "Win 10 games of WSG in a row." If you win 10 games of WSG in a row you get that achievement. But one can already perform that task; one can already set a goal of "win 10 games of WSG". Achievements take content which already exists and adds a new database to record what a player does. Second, Blizzard has said that achievements may provide prizes such as "tabards and pets", which is Blizzard code for "aesthetic changes". So Achievements will not be a new path to a sword of +500 to awesome but rather Achievements will be a method by which players can get a green tabard as opposed to the presently available blue one. Yawn.

I'm not going to begrudge Blizzard for adding Achievements. But I will ask why anyone cares. When I asked my guild why anyone would care the first response was "E-Peen", which at first made me chuckle but now leaves me perplexed. E-Peen is about being better than other players, amassing more of a given thing. And while Achievements are, indeed, statistics to amass they have no impact on gameplay, on a player's abilities. Why should I care that you or I can win 10 games of WSG in a row if doing so does not improve our characters? If a player achieves 300 achievements their character has not changed, has not access new useful gear or currency. They just have a 300 next to their name in a database. Whoopty shit.

I can understand accumulating and taking pride in the acquisition of a means or a gameplay impacting end. Accumulating Gold is sensible. Accumulating Badges of Justice is sensible. Accumulating pvp points, arena points is sensible. Accumulating Honor is sensible. Accumulating better gear is sensible. But accumulating numbers in a database which have no impact on gameplay, which afford a character, at best, access to aesthetic modifications? Why would anyone care?

I won't go so far as to say that Achievements are a way for noobs to feel as if they are accomplishing something; that would be needlessly mean. I'm not going to say that Achievements distract players from meaningful, useful pursuits in the game; who am I do declare what is meaningful? But I will say that I do not care about Achievements at all. If someone wants to focus on Achievements and increase those numbers in that database? Awesome! Good for you. But as for myself? I'll be busy in Sunwell trying to get my Sunflare.

Facebook brings out the stupidest in everyone

You know there are times when I think I should get a facebook account, then within a second I realize why I don't want one. It is infested with retards and scum. Take, for example, this guy.

Batman is Silly; Dark Knight is Pretentious

Batman & Robin is on TNT...

I think this approach to Batman works better than the Batman Begins / Dark Knight approach...if only because Batman & Robin acknowledges how absurd the idea is...whereas Batman Begins tries to make it...realistic.

That's the problem I had with Batman Begin. It was so fucking silly and pretentious and inharmonious with itself due to that attempted realism. In Batman Begins they're trying to realistically portray some incredibly rich guy dressing like a bat who snoops around late at night fighting crime. They’re providing depth, backstory, motive and an appeal to realism.

But it can't be made realistic. It's not realistic. It's fundamentally absurd.

Gritty semi-realistic Batman works as a comic, as a cartoon. It works in forms of media which fundamentally suspend realism and create a new world in which the story can be told. I can understand cartoon Bruce Wayne prowling the streets of cartoon Gotham. That makes sense; that’s coherent. But if you have a real person, an actual human being, put on the batman costume, with the little ears and cape? That is silly. That is absurd. Trying to make that not silly…trying to make that realistic…is where it all falls apart.

George Clooney as Batman makes sense. Adam West as Batman makes sense. That casting, that approach to the series, acknowledges how silly the concept fundamentally is when made real, when portrayed by human beings, and finds a harmony with that silliness by embracing it.

But Christian Bale moodily brooding over his destiny, his lost parents, his grasping at an idealized form of justice all while dressing up as a widdle bat? That is fundamentally not harmonious, not realistic. It is inconsistent with itself.

I’ll watch Dark Knight and enjoy Heath Ledger as The Joker. But throughout the movie I’ll continually ask myself, “Why the FUCK is he dressed like a clown?” In the same way that when Christian Bale puts on his widdle bat ears I’ll continually ask, “Why the hell doesn’t he just shut up, make a large donation to the Gotham police department, and fuck Maggie Gyllenhaal?!”

Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, attempt to make realistic something which is fundamentally absurd. If they were just superhero movies? If they embraced the Superman, Fantastic Four, X-Men approach and abandoned realism to compliment the fundamentally unrealistic components of the stories? Then they would be awesome. But as it stands they are simply frustrating, inharmonious, silly, and pretentious.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Watchmen: First Trailer

Link to the first Watchmen trailer.

I can't wait to see the blue moon man makes his blue moon base on the moon. Because it's symbolism, you see: He's sad.

Wii MotionPlus: The Wiimote works now

It appears to be the case that Nintendo finally made the Wii do what they said it would do in the first fucking place:

The real stand-out of the three games was Swordplay, which has you wielding a two-handed sword in bouts to knock either an AI-controlled mii or a friend off the raised platform you're fighting on.

The precision of the controls was, in a word, astounding. I found that I could move the tip of the sword around in tight figure eights, an old training exercise from my fencing days. I also didn't have to rely on broad swings from either side and above to hit my opponent. The controller was able to sense thrusts as well.

The game had a little trouble keeping up with fast attacks, but if I slowed my attacks down a bit it was easy to direct and land attacks and parries.

City Dwellers Angry That Someone is Taking Their Trash

According to this article San Francisco residents are angry that 'poachers' are sifting through their trash and recyclables for aluminum and other profitable treasures.

Am I the only one who finds this the least bit fucked up? It is trash. You threw it out. In doing so, you have waived all rights of ownership. If an ambitious person were to stay ahead of the local garbage collection, which will just put all of that crap in a landfill, and sift through it for things that he could sell to make a living, who are we to argue? Since when have we become a country that punishes innovation? No harm is being done, and jobs are being created. The treasures these 'poachers' sell are almost exclusively recyclables, so they are helping the environment. I don't see the harm. One could make a case that city recycling programs are losing money, but if that is the case, close them down, the privately owned scrap yards and recyclers would, by contrast, be doing well. Let these poachers run our recycling for us, and let the free market handle its business.

I can understand taking issue with 'garbage poaching' being done sloppily, leaving trash strewn about. Feel free to place littering sanctions upon these sloppy poachers, hell, set up some government regulations to ensure it is being done properly and safely. But don't punish the innovators finding jobs when the market isn't being so kind.

Calorie Sticker Shock: Yey Ignorance!

New York is the first city to implement a law which forces chain restaurants to post calorie counts in the same size and font as that item's name for every food they serve. This has caused a situation, regretfully referred to as "sticker shock", in which consumers are now aware of the calorie counts of the foods they consume at chain restaurants.

Now, you have to be wondering where I'm going with this. Am I going to bitch about counting calories? Am I going to rant about passing legislation to more easily provide people with information that is already available? Am I going to hunt and peck through the article to find stupid quotes and so lash out at Nora Cara and her "But you pick up a little muffin with your coffee, and it has 630 calories in it? That’s a bit extreme!" idiocy? Nope! I'm going to rage about this:

“Some people actually tell us we should take off the labels, because it discourages them from ordering what they want."
What's the phrase used to indicate an intentional avoidance of information in order to avoid guilt, liability, reality? Oh yeah, it's called willful ignorance. And it is stupid.

Calorie information is everywhere. Moreover, foods objectively exist independent of the information provided about them. So that 510 calorie muffin is 510 calories regardless of whether or not someone knows it. The only thing which changes with these new labels is the degree to which people are informed.

How would removing the labels at this point solve the "problem"? How could a person even maintain that veil of ignorance? Once an individual learns that their corn muffin is 510 calories (zomg!) how the fuck will removing that information from the nametag remove that information from one's mind, from one's awareness? Have New Yorkers finally reached the mental status of goldfish, with a short-term memory of 15 seconds? Hell, maybe this even indicates that New Yorkers have lost their concept of object permanence. If upon removing the 510 calorie label that information is gone what happens if they leave the restaurant? Does the restaurant still exist when they aren't directly looking at it? If the muffin ceased to be 510 calories when the label was removed maybe the restaurant ceased to exist when they left!

If we assume that New Yorkers do, in fact, have long and short term memory and this "remove the sticker mentality" is meant to only enable consumption of foods yet to be seen how the fuck is "I don't want to know" a sensible mentality? Whence the problem with an awareness of calorie counts? Is it guilt? Do they think that weight gain is a cognitive process, that awareness of calories makes one fat? Maybe staring at the numbers just makes them feel fat; they've lost their ability to manifest their Will To Power and as stupid, lambish, drones they're subject to fuck if I know what and that somehow makes them feel bad. For whatever reason they would rather bury their heads in their own ignorance than be confronted by the reality of the situation.

What's most infuriating to me is that grasping at ignorance; willfully deluding one's self and avoiding information.
But then Fowler noticed that the waiter had handed her friend an old menu, which didn’t have calorie counts on it.

“You got a menu without anything on it?” she asked her friend. “Can I have yours?”
A corn muffin is 510 calories regardless of whether or not you know that. If you want to eat a corn muffin eat a fucking corn muffin. If you want to avoid 510 calorie muffins then don't eat a corn muffin. If you, in your idiotic, delusional, confused little pissant mind want to eat a corn muffin and think it healthy despite reality? If you are grasping for uninformed ignorance? If you are trying to trade for that menu without the calorie counts so you can order whatever you want and NOT THINK ABOUT IT? Crawl into a hole and die. Or, at the very least, do not recoil and act offended when they come to sheer you.

Pull your head out of your ass. Shut the fuck up. Objectively assess the world in which you live. ACT ACCORDINGLY! Eat healthy if you want to be healthy. Ignore nutritional information if you do not care. But don't piss around exchanging menus so that you can maintain your uninformed ignorance and convince yourself that your super-brownie-fudge-vein-splosion is healthy just because it has milk in it.

Pope Benny: War Makes for Strange Bedfellows, J

Raztinger takes on Moral Relativism

Sources say J conflicted, torn between hating Relativists and Pope Palpatine.

News at 11? Unlikely.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Zero Punctuation: Alone in the Dark

'Should' is a funny word.

As part of a larger project I'm trying to define what "should" means. Not in the dictionary sense of "define", mind you. Rather, rather I'm trying to clearly articulate the components of the human condition indicated and invoked by the word "should".

There are a few different uses of the word "should".

1. pt. of shall.
2. (used to express condition): Were he to arrive, I should be pleased.
3. must; ought (used to indicate duty, propriety, or expediency): You should not do that.
4. would (used to make a statement less direct or blunt): I should think you would apologize.
For my purposes I'm interested in primarily the third use, that notion of, for lack of a better word at this moment, obligation.

While "must" and "should" may be said to be synonyms, depending on who you ask and what dictionary you consult, I think there is an important distinction to be made between the two. "Must" can indicate a very definite, obvious, required obligation. One could say that a rock, subject to gravity, must fall after being thrown upwards. One would not say that a rock, subject to gravity, should fall (in the same way as one would use "must"). Yes, one could use "should", within the gravity example, in the second sense of the word, in a conditional, expected sense. But my primary focus, as stated before, is on the third; that sense of, for lack of a better word at this point, obligation. In the rock throwing example, "must" and "should" would not be used in the same way to indicate the same thing. "Must" would be a focus on obligation while "should" would be a focus upon conditional expectations.

"Should" does not mean "obligation" in a strictly required sense. "Should" does not invoke a full notion of "behoove", of self-betterment via some task. "Should" is not a requirement, not a command, not an imperative. "Should" is some notion identified by and including concepts of duty, propriety, expediency. Certainly each of those particular words could have a particular use which denotes some concrete, demonstrable, required, obligatory notion. But my focus is upon the commonality definition of those words, a notion and definition which relies upon the greatest common sum of the parts moreso than an inclusion of the particulars of each. I think that generalized, common concept would be more of an incorporeal, social, fabricated notion of obligation based upon (I don't know what).

That's what I'm trying to figure out at the moment. First, is this observation of "should" correct? Second, what is unique to "should", as a concept? Third, assuming answers to the first and second questions, what is the foundation of "should"? From where does "shouldness" come?

I'd appreciate any ideas.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cooking: Bratwurst Boiled

I usually tend to keep my thoughts on cooking to myself. My reason is that I eat what I cook, not what you cook, so the shit you cook does not affect me. If you want to microwave a steak that's your own damned business. Yes, I'll secretly hate you on the inside for microwaving a steak, but if you're going to choke the fucking thing down I consider that punishment enough.

The problem with this little policy of mine is that occasionally I do have to eat what others cook. And while I'm usually happy to feign polite acceptance of the completely bizarre methods by which people prepare their food on occasion I'm confronted by such an insulting and derogatory method of preparing meat that I just have to bitch about it. What, you ask yourself, could piss me off this much?


Meat is not for boiling, ok? And if there exists a meat whose ideal cooking method is heating via boiled water? Then that meat is not food. And don't fucking talk to me about lobster. Lobsters are for grilling; you rip off their fucking tails and you grill their damn tails. I might possibly allow you to kill the lobster via boiling, maybe. But, again, we're only boiling the damn thing to kill it; we are not boiling it to cook it. NOTE THE DIFFERENCE!

But to get back to bratwursts. I don't care how mundane and stupid you are; I don't care if you think hotdogs are for boiling* and are so fucking confused about life that you think bratwursts are just fancy hotdogs. Bratwursts are not fucking hotdogs! And even if they were glorified hotdogs? HOTDOGS ARE FOR GRILLING, ASSHOLE! You don't boil MEAT! See the above paragraph!

If you want to do it right you'll grill your bratwurst, or perhaps cook it in a skillet with garlic and onions. But if you are going to boil a Bratwurst, if you just love that rubbery texture and complete abandonment of flavor? Then you boil the fucking thing in beer, with GARLIC and ONIONS! That's the only method by which boiling meat is justified: if the substance in which the meat is boiled contains alcohol and there is enough garlic included to offset the evils of boiling meat.

Cooking is not about heating food, not about killing bacteria. Cooking food, preparing food, is about the experience of preparation. Cooking is about the process moreso than the end. If you're just throwing shit into boiling water to get it hot, if you toss your food onto a grill, an oven and walk away? You're missing the fucking point. When you prepare food, cook food, part of what you're doing is engaging with that food, experiencing it on a level other than simply consumption.

If you don't agree with that, if you think me silly or moronic? Then, fine, just microwave and boil everything you eat. Enjoy gnawing on the rubbery mess you've convinced yourself is edible. Just don't fucking serve it to me. Because I'll punch you in the fucking gut. And considering that your gut is going to be full of rubbery, boiled shit? I doubt that you'll want anyone applying pressure there.

*This is leaving aside the problem of people who think that hotdogs are for eating.

Monday, July 14, 2008

McCain: Czechoslovakia a Concern

On July 14, 2008

"I was concerned about a couple of steps that the Russian government took in the last several days. One was reducing the energy supplies to Czechoslovakia. Apparently that is in reaction to the Czech's agreement with us concerning missile defense, and again some of the Russian now announcement they are now retargeting new targets, something they abandoned at the end of the Cold War, is also a concern."
- John McCain

In case you missed it, Czechoslovakia stopped existing in 1993.

Final Fantasy XIII on Xbox 360

Final Fantasy 13 will be released on the Xbox 360 as well as the PS3.

Fred Phelps to douche-up Douche's Funeral

Fred Phelps, leader of Westboro Baptist Church, has announced plans to state a protest at the Funeral of Tony Snow. I am full of conflict. I hate Fred Phelps. I hate Tony Snow. Yet...I don't know, this seem poetic somehow.

Wii MotionPlus

The Wii MotionPlus:

Nintendo's upcoming Wii™ MotionPlus accessory for the revolutionary Wii Remote™ controller again redefines game control, by more quickly and accurately reflecting motions in a 3-D space. The Wii MotionPlus accessory attaches to the end of the Wii Remote and, combined with the accelerometer and the sensor bar, allows for more comprehensive tracking of a player's arm position and orientation, providing players with an unmatched level of precision and immersion.
Next up is the Wii MotionPlusPlus followed shortly by the Wii MotionPlusPlusPlus and finally there is a Wii MotionPlusPlusPlusPlus slated for release in 2024.

Bush Lifting Offshore Drilling Ban

Despite the fact that we cannot drill our way out of our current energy crisis President George W. Bush will this afternoon lift the Executive Order ban on offshore drilling. While no drilling can occur unless Congress lifts its own ban this move by President Bush is still frightening and misguided.

Four dollars a gallon is not an unrealistic, exorbitant, unmanageable price for gasoline. Hell, I pay upwards of $60 a gallon for Vodka. Yes, when we were in high school gas was only $.99 a gallon. But if we abandon that historical perspective and rather objectively assess the price within the scope of our present economy? $4 is not a lot of money for a gallon of a necessary liquid. The problem is that we as a species are engaged in a shift in our infrastructure from cheap energy to expensive energy; so we're needlessly pissing ourselves stupid rather than simply adapting. That lack of adaptation is what infuriates me more than anything else.

Somehow humanity has convinced itself that it exists independent of the world in which it lives, that despite our knowledge of the price of gas, its limited nature, and our inability to drill ourselves out of the problem people still buy SUVs and waste their money on needless extravagances. People are still mowing their lawns with gas-powered mowers. Yet we seem willing to destroy the environment and grasp at straws out of that fundamental desire to maintain normalcy.

That's what I do not understand about this whole situation. We want this unending supply of cheap fuel so that we can maintain our current economic philosophy of buying stupid shit simply because we can. We don't want to grapple with discovering a new source of fuel. We'll just buy a hybrid car and use the money we save on other stupid shit. We're simply remaining complacent with what we have and attempting to whine and bitch our way via drilling, ignorance, and half-assed compromises to a continuation of the way things are.

And it doesn't make sense.

The problem is not the environmental issues, the political issues. The problem is not even the idea that we have to drill our way out of this mess. The real problem, the true dilemma, is that we've managed to entrench ourselves in this happy little fabricated view of normalcy as a house and a car and two kids and a dog that we're so addicted to it, so unwilling to compromise and adapt that we're completely unwilling to accept a change in our situation. We would rather dig in, drill in, and cling to this illusion of perpetual gasoline and our Beaver Cleaver idealized little Ziplock existence rather than change.

That's the wholly bizarre aspect of this whole situation. We're not striving for zero emission automobiles or, hell, even abandoning automobiles for something better. We're not striving to embrace far more rational economic policies and, say, stop buying stupid shit. We're not striving for anything. We're merely wallowing in this normalcy of gasoline addiction and middling cars with adequate gas mileage. Hell, at last week's G8 meeting they agreed to halve emissions by 2050. That's not change, not striving, not grasping or engaging. That's foisting the responsibility off on someone else.

I'm not necessarily hoping for an awakening of the proletariat. I'm not envisioning a future in which we stop wasting money on pets and movies and reach a peak of mutual enlightenment; I don't imagine that we'll embrace the reality of our situation and so establish a harmonious existence with the world in which we live.

I just think it would be keen if people who bitch about the price of gas would stop mowing their lawns with gas mowers; I think it would be awesome if we embraced marginal change and adapted rather than dig in and bitch until the last possible moment. And at the very least if we could stop blatantly, wastefully, wrecking the planet with this gluttonous, slothful lurching through our own moronic, lazy addiction that would be just fucking dandy. Let's at least drill efficiently and rationally, in a loose sense of the word, rather than just open up the Outer Continental Shelf out of a hope that doing so will compell the fuckheads to vote for McCain.

Aside: I've looked at Bush 41's Executive Orders and Clinton's Executive Orders but could not find the Offshore Drilling ones.

Hellboy II Pseudo-Review

The Star Wars movies are essentially composed of the following:

1 Fight Scenes
2 Clumsy Romance
3 High-Speed Chases
4 Questionable Acting/Writing
5 Freak Shows
6 Talk of Destiny

Hellboy II unproves on this formula by replacing "high-speed chases" with "relatively-low-speed chases". This isn't to say that Hellboy II is a Star Wars movie, but the comparison was impossible to avoid because it's not very inaccurate.

From the top.

Fight Scenes - there are a lot of them. Essentially, the movie would be about 14 minutes long if all the action was removed, and those 14 minutes would consist almost entirely of Howdy Doody and karaoke. The fights are pretty cool in general, but the number of them make this very much an action movie. No time for charming character moments, no time for build-up or anticipation, no time for much of anything besides killing monsters into pieces.

The original Hellboy, I thought, struck a pretty good balance between action and inaction. There was time for things to happen, and there was time to reflect and exhale and nurture a buddy-movie and an "I like you because you're different like me" romance all while gradually bringing the main story to its climax.

Even Star Wars showed a few minutes of briefing before the Death Star battle to give it some weight. Hellboy II would have played a 5 second sound byte explaining what the objective was as the pilots were already fighting. And there would be no fewer than 2 Death Stars.

Clumsy Romance - The original movie's romance was awkward because its male hero was awkward. To be sure, this film's lover is awkward as a character too, but the real problem is that this film keeps most of his exchanges with his beloved on a telepathic level, hidden from the audience. If the fight sequences followed the same laws as the romance subplot, both combatants would begin with a lingering high-five that would allow them to decide the outcome of the fight without actually showing us anything. We'd just have to take their word that the fight was amazing.

Relatively-Low-Speed Chases - Maybe a subset of the fight scene in that they occur in between them. Not much else to say. People run after each other and they're not in speeder bikes or pod racers.

Questionable Acting/Writing - If Jeffrey Tambor ad-libbed all his lines, then he needs to be more closely scripted, and if he was following a script then god help us. Also, Ron Perlman needs a new fake laugh along with more/better rapport with his enemies. The sense of humor from the first movie was all but absent in this film, and although the acting wasn't perfect in either film, only the second contained scenes that made me want to look away because I was taught not to stare at people who are embarrassing themselves.

Freak Shows - You know when Luke and Obi-Wan enter the cantina and Lucas shows us around the bar so we get a chance to appreciate all the crazy masks ILM made? Not necessarily a bad thing, but when the movie is short on time because of all the fighting, it doesn't make a lot of sense to blow so much footage on a troll market that appears on film more like the Disney Land ride version of a troll market. On the plus side, a lot of the monster designs are pretty rad, and I do dig the freaks that come out of del Toro movies, and some of the freaks even move the plot along rather than drag it to a near halt, but this movie's cantina scene is rather weak.

Talk of Destiny - This is actually a hook that makes me enjoy Hellboy. The nature/nurture experiment that's going on is something I like to see, so I was rather disappointed when it was relegated to a couple of quips (including a god-damned "we are not so different, you and I" from the villain) and a monologue.

In short, Hellboy II spent so much time fighting and looking at monsters that it all but discarded everything that made the first movie funny or charming or interesting. I honestly don't care if I ever see Hellboy II again.

Sunday, July 13, 2008