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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Oscar Coverage? Nah. I'm good.

I'm just not feeling it this year. I don't have a real dog in this fight, in that I don't feel strongly about any best picture in the running. The Revenant was, at the very least, gorgeous and well acted. I'm pretty irked at the folks who say Di Caprio simply grunted his way to the Oscars. I've seen how people get when they're that cold. I'm actually not sure he was acting, I felt for him almost the entire time. That dream sequence in the ruin was some pretentious time filling garbage I Will. Give. Them. That.

Everything else is fine. It wasn't a really good year. But you want my butt in the seat you should have put Inside Out in the brass ring. That really was the best movie this year, and don't give me that look Anomolisa. I mean... where the hell was I supposed to watch you?! Though I do think it's pretty funny that Charlie Kaufman made this with Dan Harmon and Dino Stamatopoulos. I seem to recall that Community had the single greatest take down of Kaufman's work to date.

But yet again, the ballots are simply stuffed with safe bets. Just like last year. And also just like last year... I got better things to do.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

You ever have one of those movies?

One of those movies that always gets you? I honestly don't know why anyone would try to make a superman movie after this. Brad Bird perfected it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Year of the Kraken.
V.E Schwab

This past month has not been kind, but I have since made considerable efforts towards kicking it's ass. I've stopped drinking, I'm running 30 minutes a day, switched to fish n' chicken, and! I've started writing that novel I'm working on.

And if that processes has taught me anything about my writing... it's that I need to start reading more. My pitifully small library has been an issue in the past. I mean, I hear my mom's voice right now being all "how can you write if you don't READ?!" I actually spend 2 hours a day reading. Though it's mostly cracked and news. Too much video game news, but still, I read.

But if it's a novel I want to write it is novels I will have to understand. But where to start? Something close to what I hope to write? That seemed like a solid plan. So I tried Johnathan Strange and I treated it like it was printed on sandpaper.

I'm glad I actually sat down and watched the whole mini series the BBC did (it's really good). Because it has egregious third act problems. The final act spends way too much time setting up a sequel that will apparently never happen and it ends on a semi-tragic note I felt it didn't earn. If I actually read the whole thing I might have been soured on writing for a couple more months. Even the show; which covered the Napoleonic war, a literary wizard feud, fairy folk, and sand horsies, felt like it was constantly starved for sh*t to do. So the lesson here is don't have 2 characters hate each other for the sake of drama if that drama isn't half as interesting as a friendship would be.

Imagine a scene where Johnathan tried to be Norrell's wing man at a dinner party? Imagine Norrell trying and failing to make a friend. Imagine that in the place of one of the hundred times he moans about how much he haaaates Jonathan Strange. 

Huh... I didn't sit down to review JS+MN. I'm actually here to talk about A Darker Shade of Magic. It's wonderful. It's a hokey premise (an 18th century wizard has a magic cloak that lets him travel to 4 alternate magical "Londons") and has fun with it. It's so much fun to read it's inspirational. Which is what I really needed from a book. Story structure and grammar improvements,(I'll need to ply my college editor friend with some serious liquor), were the practical goals. This is actually putting my mind at ease.

For so long, nearly my entire life, I've kept my favorite stories to myself. Because every time I sent a decoy out into the world, for a class or what have you, it was occasionally stamped into the dirt. Seriously, I once took an intro to play writing class that traumatized the ever living shit out of me. Here's my professor's IMDB page. On the first day of class I said I really liked state of grace, I'm a huge Mae Whitman fan to this day. She thought I was a kiss ass and never let me forget it.

I was the first person to finish their one act play, everyone else was either checked out or part of the theater nerd cabal. Thus my work was set upon by both pithy disgust and frozen indifference. For 2 weeks all that seemed to happen was a slow motion autopsy of my creative short comings.

Two. F***ING Weeks.

I've already droned on too long about ancient history, but I can tell you this... I'll never write an elevator scene for the stage again. Jesus, I guess I needed to get that off my chest. I've haven't brought that up in 5 years.  This must mean I'm subconsciously serious. I hope this means I'm going to write a high fantasy novel that's a satire of stagnant story telling with the tenor of a PG-13 Pixar movie.

*breaths deeply* Ok, let's do this!

I have a rule.

 If something makes me choke on my coffee, I have to post it:

I'm gonna need a Nathan Fillion one. I'm gonna need it.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The best part of Rogue Nation is the first 60 seconds.

Finally got a round to watching MI: Rogue Nation. It was just ok. I'd put it a teeeeeeeny bit above  Spectre in that RN manages to be slightly less incomprehensible. But I'm not here to talk about the actual movie. Today I'm all about the production credits!

Joe Kraemer is a man deeply in love with the Mission Impossible theme. That's a love I can understand. If it's not the greatest heroic theme ever written it's at least in the top 5. And since it took at least 4 companies to get that puppy in the air, he had a lot of room to build to it. By the time I learned China's answer to Amazon makes movies now, I was ready to love this movie.

Warming up a crowd is a thankless art and this man knows exactly what he's doing:

Admit it. You wanna see Ghost Protocol again now.

Crackpot Theory: Location+nonsensical noun=sexual poisition.

Ever done a Dallas Panini Press? What about a Polynesian Soup Spoon? 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Watch Stephen Colbert partake in a glorious 10 minute train wreck.

What... what is happening?!

This is either the best thing or the best-est thing Colbert's Late Show has ever done.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Firewatch Review: Hey there Delilah.

Interactive drama. I've wanted it for so long I'm not sure how to feel now that I've got it. I can't speak for anyone else, but for my taste, it's about time a game was all about understated loneliness. The kind of loneliness your conscious mind never registers. The kind you might take a job out in the middle of nowhere to stop thinking about.

I couldn't have played this game at a better time. As a guy who was just on the receiving end of a text breakup, I could do with a virtual hike alone in the woods. A virtual hike alone in the woods set in a time before cellphones? All the better.

Moving on... you play a man who's had a years long relationship fly into the sh**er and he's taken a job at a Firewatch station to eat up his summer. For the next few months you've got no one but a fellow Firewatcher miles away to keep you sane. Your objectives are boiler plate at first. Stop a couple teens from setting off fireworks, clear trail heads, etc. But don't worry, things get weirder. 

Rich Sommer (the tv guy from Mad Men) nails the nonchalant despair a guy running away from his life would need. He's a delight and I can't wait for more VO work from him. Cissy Jones's Delilah suffers from an introduction that tries too hard. Ever notice when a writer NEEDS you to like someone that everything that comes out of their mouth in the first chapter is forced, unfunny, sarcasm? The first hour She grated on my nerves a bit, but before long she had me chuckling out loud. Their budding romance is the single greatest relationship I've ever seen in a game. That's your $20 right there. If that's the sorta thing that's worth that kind of scratch to you.

It's certainly worth it to me.

This game nnnnnnnnnnAILS sunsets. I mean, my god.
Please go into this game looking for a drama, not a mystery. Though there is one, and it's pretty good, it's not the point. Folks are griping that the end comes out of nowhere. It absolutely does not, it ends precisely when it means to. I cooked up several high-drama thriller plot twists that I'd muse about on my way to the next objective. I'm relived the game never acted on them. It played on my expectations brilliantly and left a lot up for interpretation.

I ended up liking Delilah. I almost got a crush on her. But like a lot of women I've met and was momentarily into... I'm sure she told me a bunch of lies to keep from hurting my feelings. That was my read on the character. Just do me a favor and take some pictures with that camera you find. And stick around for the end of the credits. There's no extra scene or a shocking revelation. There's just a perfect way to end a first person interactive drama.

Make of that what you will and please buy Firewatch. Though looking at steam's top sellers, that doesn't seem to be an issue. They certainly deserve it.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentines Day from all your Fallout 4 companions.

Thanks, Jillian Bakos!

I uh... I got nothing today.

Still clacking away at my Xcom 2 review. Here's a preview: "It's goooooooood." Now while I work on getting a little more nuanced with that opinion, here's what Stephen Tobolowsky would look like if he were a Disney Princess.

Thanks PeterBanning!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

This fictional ad from NASA seems a smidge dystopian

Where the air is free? Guess we never crack terraforming, huh?  But seriously, these space tourism ads are just the best.


F**k YEAH!
Anyone else wanna high-five an Art Deco statue right now?

Monday, February 8, 2016

What's the most shockng thing about XCOM 2?

It's got a good yarn. The aliens aren't just a paramilitary threat anymore and their motives aren't  resigned to some some throwaway lines at the end of the game about them finding the perfect warrior.

There's a mystery at the heart of XCOM 2 that's way more intricate than Advent simply processing humanity into food. The dialogue can be hammy and the performances don't always hit (Shen sounds pretty sleepy sometimes) but the act of freeing earth takes scientists and engineers. Not just better guns and soldiers. There's some half decent drama to be found hacking away at alien corpses in the lab, surprisingly.

Advent is a puzzle just as much as it is an enemy. In other words, the last thing I thought I'd find compelling about XCOM 2 was it's story.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

"Well it's damn good to BE back, sir."

.Apparently rag-tag resistance fighters are also shockingly accomplished interior decorators


Ever go back to an old game and strike gold?

Just thought I'd pick up a magazine in Concordia, then bam!

 Damn funny meta-joke staring me in the face. I guess canonically none of the vault hunters ever actually die and how do you actually display plot inconsistencies? Love it. Love everything about this gag.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Digital Chicken Soup Part 2

I'm not a Thrones fan who reads the books, that's a personal failing. I never read as much as I should Still, I don't know why "Hardcore Game of Thrones" is so compulsively listenable. It's an audio history tour of Westeros by Alex Berg... played entirely straight. Like a WWI documentary.

I submit that the histories are all the rough drafts Martin went through before settling on the time period so interesting that I bought 2 months of HBO Now to binge it. Because the history tells a damn good story. No better application of writing = re-writing that I can think of.