Thursday, June 15, 2017

Transgressing the standards

I watched Wonder Woman last night and it was okay. There were moments in it that I enjoyed and there were moments that I didn't and, yet, I cannot help feeling a cynical distaste that they were merely check-boxes on an imaginary build list on how to make a relatively competent movie.

Now, as you may already know, I've got a selective taste. One where upside down is despised, Frequencies is appreciated and Bucky Larson is adored. To which, most of you would probably respond with, huh? How is it that Bucky Larson gets a thumbs up while being, quite clearly, a terrible film? I'm not sure ...  I would like to think that this video from Vox goes a long way to explaining this: 

But, now, back to why I was indifferent about Wonder Woman. I think the main issues I had were that Gal Gadot was miscast in the lead role. Her acting ability is very limited and she was unable to create a character which was either charismatic or interesting. Yes, she looked very striking in her vogue cover girl make-up but that's not enough to sustain my interest over the course of a 2+ hour movie. The funny part is that the younger versions of her earlier in the movie conveyed a lot more character and personality than the final product. Make no mistake: Wonder Woman (and every other franchise) are merely products designed to separate you from your money. As the producers / owners of this movie, they would like to try and point out that little girls finally have a strong female role-model to look up to - but that is just silly. I'll give you just a small list of present-day strong female leads/heroes/ass-kickers: Black Widow, Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider/Salt/Wanted, Gamora (from Guardians of the Galaxy), Lucy, Super Girl,  Hit-Girl (from Kick-ass) ... and plenty more. From my vantage point, it seems pretty clear that strong female leads are pretty well-catered for - it's just that marketeers like to try and confuse us with statements to the contrary. Could it be that I'm simply being sexist because I didn't love the movie? Scientist man says otherwise.

I guess the problem I have with most big films today is that the plots are actually approached very scientifically. I will now divulge the blockbuster hero formula:

  • If it's the first in the blockbuster film series, it will *always* be an origin film and spoon-fed to the audience so they're not too confused while sipping their gallon of coke
  • There will always be an unexplained element of the origin story which will always be resolved by the end of the film
  • If the protagonist is from another country/world/time, there will be classic fish-out-of-water humor inserted
  • Whatever the main protagonists' main character traits are, there will be contrasting side-characters there to counter-balance those traits (e.g. naive vs worldly wise, rambunctious vs cautious etc.)
  • There will always be humorous side-kicks to distract the audience from the boring / limited acting range of the main character
  • There will be a 'you had the power inside you all along' moment
  • The arch-nemesis will always be one-dimensional and driven to do bad things ... because reasons
  • Slow motion is your friend
  • The End of the world plot is your friend
  • The final 10 minutes will be a CGI excrement-fest, with smoke, wind, lightning and random explosions that will frighten small children
Notable examples: both Guardians of the galaxy films, Wonder Woman, Thor, Hulk, Avengers, Black Panther (one would presume), Green Lantern, Brave, Captain America, Iron Man 2, The Force Awakens.

In all honesty, I did extract some enjoyment from Wonder Woman ... but it feels like I was forced down that path through subversive mentalist techniques. It's getting to a point where it feels like we're moving towards mass-brainwashing; where the intended agenda is prefaced years in advance so that finally, upon its release, the only possible assessment you could ever settle upon is that of complete adulation and acceptance. I can't be the only one, can I?

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Cover reveal and release date!

Things are looking good for my next book. So good, in fact that I can now do a cover and book title reveal!

So, the official title for the next book is
Zed: Walking the Dead
and the current release date is tentatively set at 
March 11th

Let me know what you think of the cover for my new novel in the comments section. I am very happy and very excited to see what you make of this novel. I feel it is my best and hopefully you will too.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Harrison Ford has lived too long

For any original Star Wars fan, they will be undoubtedly aware of Carrie Fisher's (nee Princess Leia) passing. Unfortunately this was not enough to thwart the release of The Force Awakens but, at least, we won't be having her cameo in any future films, will we? 

Image result for rogue one princess leia
Computer graphics have yet to surpass the Uncanny Valley
I stand corrected. Unfortunately I can categorically declare that Harrison has lived too long. We have been subjected to a rehash of his role in Indiana Jones (the horror), The Force Awakens (such pretty horror) and apparently we will soon be subjected to a disappointing rendition of an aging blade-runner attempting to interact coherently alongside the talented Ryan Gosling's antics. One would expect Gosling to play out the role as an emotionless rendition of a blade-runner from Brooklyn. 

Trey Parker is a goddamn soothsayer by this point. It's not that I don't want to have Harrison Ford acting - I just don't want him raping the good will of the films that had made him successful in the first place. Apparently I am in the minority on this as I haven't yet noted the expected droves of people shrieking in horror at the announcement / release of these films. Even if I have the tiniest of inclinations to see these abortive cash-ins, I cannot rightly support this. We are all dumber for wanting to watch or, dare I say it, enjoy them. I watched The Force Awakens (for free) recently and even with a steady stream of Rum flowing through my veins I was unable to extract any enjoyment from the experience. The film was a hollow facsimile of A New Hope with a story which held no gravitas or emotional weight. At this point I liken Star Wars to the abusive husband who promises not to hit you but still does.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I am over-franchised

Do you tire of seeing your favourite stars wearing their underpants on the outside? Have you tired of lense flares and played-out death-to-the-known-universe scenarios? Have your eyes bored at the next PG-rated infinite unobtainiumed star-destroying pile of money-grubbing merchandised-to-the-hilt pile of crap? If so, welcome to the club. You may have just reached a point where you are looking for something a little less soul-suckingly uninspired.

Is it just me or is it really irritating when every enemy/bum/love interest/arch nemesis is somehow related to everyone in a disturbing 2 degrees of Kevin Bacon. That just smacks of lazy writing and a general complacency to dumb things down for the ADD generation. Hey, at least they're not catering for the Pepsi Generation (whatever that means).

There are exceptions, of course. Movies like Deadpool did their best to eschew the standard fare while riding the coat tails of a well-trodden path. It was at its best when it was breaking the fourth wall and noting all the stupid things that it and other movies were doing - even if it's a little too easy to follow the wink-wink path. I think I became a real fan of Ryan Reynolds after he did an interview/roasts with himself after receiving the GQ Man of the Year award.

Maybe I'm just tired of the nefarious higher-ups focussing solely on maximising potential ROI rather than introspectively asking themselves: what would truly entertain/distract the drones to enough-of-a-degree that they will not thwart my plans to take over the world? Maybe the visage is slipping to a point where I am able to see past the curtain to the actual underworkings of Hollywood. Or maybe I just need a few more 'splosions and 'member berries to keep me from waking up. Speaking of which: 'member when movies were good?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Knowing when to fold em

As the delicious Kenny Rogers already knows, you need to know when to fold 'em. And, naturally, I cannot help thinking that we might be nearing the very zenith of this movement. In what, you may ask? Well, mostly the unshakable urge to get away from civilisation to some place well above sea level and then follow a self-sustaining lifestyle. Now, before you think I'm too much of a nut, I'll try and explain my madness. 

The first thing I realise is that it seems awfully self-indulgent to think that the world would end during my lifetime. But, naturally, I also don't just want to just sit back and see what happens; nor do I want to be one of those crack-pots who walks around with a banner around his neck yelling out 'The end is nigh!' But we're at a point where we're past just thinking it mere coincidence that we're wearing board shorts during winter. As XKCD defined so eloquently, we're on the path to our own destruction. And this can be corroborated by more than one smart person.

With populations projected to reach 10.5 billion by 2050 and a lot of the third-world countries becoming more advanced (RE:polluting/consuming), the only thing that might save us is if we have ourselves a good old-fashioned world war to thin out the herds or, alternatively, why not the Twelve Monkeys solution? On seconds thoughts: no. I'm pretty sure no one wants to relive seeing Brad Pitt play a crack pot again.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

We believe you, Jen

Apparently Jennifer Aniston suffers from dry and itchy eyes so much so that she is spruiking the virtues of eyelove. Her endorsement could obviously have nothing to do with her favourite past time, could it? As can be clearly noted, the effects of weed can ravage your health, beauty and ability to be successful.

That is not to say that it doesn't have any side-effects. The main one relates to the inability to do anything other than, like, chill. Many musicians ascribe to the benefits of inspiring them but that doesn't mean the quality of their latest opus could not be skewed as a result. I guess Jennifer said it best when she stated 'There is nothing wrong with that. Everything in moderation.' and that is probably accurate of most things.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

I am not a hipster

Kids these days; with their bouffant beards, rolled-up jeans, sock-less shoes, appreciation of non-franchise establishments and all things retro, they seem to be pretty happy with themselves. But I am not that happy as, by proxy, the things I appreciate somehow disturbingly coincide with the hipsters of today.

"I was doing it before it was cool"

I would cry out ... but people would just nod and then mutter under their breaths: goddamn hipster. Which brings me to today's point: I built myself a retro console that is not only cool and nostalgic but also fun. The things I needed were:

This micro-device plays most classic consoles: Atari, ZX Spectrum, NES, SNES, Master System, Megadrive, N64 ... and even the PS1! Naturally, with such an under-powered machine, the higher-fidelity games (RE: newer) will chug a little but that's not what this is about. I would have thought that with the base software system ( being at 3.8, most of the bugs would be sorted out. This was not the case. I had a devil's own job getting the bluetooth controllers to get hooked up and exiting the emulator correctly (press select+start) but I persevered. The steps were:
  1. Install baseline image
  2. Boot up raspberry pi
  3. Plug in controller via USB cable
  4. Set up wifi
  5. Update retropie setup script (upgrades settings so they're usable)
  6. Manually register bluetooth devices via bluetooth settings
  7. Change bluetooth auto-connect settings to poll
  8. Disable overscan
  9. Reboot
  10. Open retroarch settings UI
  11. Bind keys for each bluetooth joystick and save
  12. Press F4 and then traverse to /opt/retropie/configs/all/retroarch-joypads
  13. Modify hotkey/exit button mapping stored under configurations
There was a bit of mapping confusion under /opt/retropie/configs/all/retroarch-joypads which necessitated me removing all the config files under that path and redoing it cleanly. Naturally most this was not documented at all. I had to glean direction from various sources and my own desires to get 'r done. The end result is pretty nice. I can do all things retro and it all works pretty well. Yes, I spent a little more than buying a stock/pre-made console but the end result is better. However, this is not recommended unless you enjoy masochism (or you know someone really cool) although you cannot deny the results.