Thursday, September 18, 2014

The ego has landed

Ego is a funny thing. For a lot of people, they don't actually have enough, constantly living under the shadow of their own sub-conscious' perceived lack of self-worth. In the select few, they have the opposite problem. Their ego rules their sub-conscious to such a degree that anything that doesn't fit within the view of their perceived superiority is automatically discarded whilst only their successes are acknowledged and reaffirmed into their assumed reality. Kanye West is a prime example. A great producer (no one should deny that), who has good fashion sense (more than likely from a stylist), is an average-to-bad rapper and has appalling taste in women. Now, of course, he won't let something like being married to a woman with the personality of a pretzel get in the way of being a genius. Or naming his son North ... because North West is such a clever name.

Of course, Kanye is not averse to riling up those around him. From claiming he's God, to stating that the (former) President doesn't care about black people, to interrupting (another) vapid woman at the MTV Awards, to attempting to demand a guy in a wheelchair stand up at his concert, he has an ego that very much rules his world. I think there is definitely a little media victimizing around him, though, but he doesn't make his life easy by being as candid as he is. Hey, I even like his music - at least he tries to move R'nB forward a little. But this brings me to my topic of the day:

M. Night Shyamalan

After being the darling of the circuit with his pretty good film, The Sixth Sense, he follows it up with Unbreakable ... or Unbearable, as I like to call it. Yes, the first film was slow-paced and had lots of staring off into the distance, but Unbreakable was simply horrendous. I'm pretty sure about at least two-thirds of the film is related to his son staring at his dad (Bruce Willis) or vice-versa. Yes, I liked the premise but hated the way it was implemented. The basic premise is: what would a super hero look like in real life whilst still (partially) obeying the principles of physics etc.? It was a cool concept and that was the reason I wanted to see the film. But what I got was a staring contest, a ridiculous hair piece (for Samuel L Jackson) and the world's most boring action sequences. And, of course, there was a twist, albeit, an easily identifiable one. I am guessing his ego got the better of him and, after the success of his prior film, he got 'final cut' privileges on the film; all 107 minutes (it honestly felt like 5+ hours). It is horrible when a Director becomes all-powerful. I'm looking at you, Tarantino, with your self-flagellating Kill Bill which could have quite easily not required volumes to tell. Again, you seem to think your every prose is worthy of us witnessing. I do not agree. Even if your dialog is better than most, your film should be for your audience's benefit and not for your narcissistic desires (well, unless it's art house). Your film will always be worse for your lack of self-control. 

Yes, Unbreakable could actually have been a good film but was hampered by ego. I guess that lesson could extend to hackneyed music producers too ... or even us. You should never get to the point in your life where your ego rules your being - there should always a liberal smattering of humility to bring you back to reality. I am sure you would agree, no one would want another Unbreakable to be brought into existence.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Do Republicans dream of vindicated policies?

Yes, this might be a contentious topic for some but I'll soldier on ...

I have to wonder what is going through the average Republican's mind when they knee-jerk reject every good/new/alien policy put forward by a non-Republican. Maybe Obama's ability to appeal to the general public doesn't work as well on his main opposition but you would think that good policies would also be accepted if they made sense

Now, I should preface that I don't vote for any party (I can't legally) and have no real issue with a policy from any camp ... as long as its aim is to serve the general public. The purpose of this post today is to discuss the Affordable Healthcare Act (or Obamacare) as put forward by Obama/The Democratic Party. You would think that a policy that makes healthcare, well, affordable, competitively priced and reduces the impact on your tax dollars would be appreciated by everyone. You would think that, wouldn't you? Well, apparently the answer is obviously no. I'm not sure why but the Republican party is doing their darnedest to destroy/demolish/implode any remnants of Obamacare (hey, it's easier to say). Maybe they're happy if something like one-third of the US population doesn't have health care and there is no competitive motivation for private healthcare providers to provide an affordable payment option. Maybe I don't see the bad things that are apparently the result of allowing people to fix their broken leg, poor eyesight or skew teeth without having to take out a mortgage. I don't know. Maybe it's just one step closer until the communists take over but I would think you would want to help your fellow man ... especially if they cannot help themselves.

I can't be the only one that sees this Republican movement as a little childish, surely? All I would like is for them to help the general public rather than fighting a battle that no one wants them to win (outside of private health care). Apparently premiums would go up by 75% if they're able to get Obamacare kicked out through a single-sentence legal loophole. It defies logic. Maybe I'm missing something; maybe I don't understand the big picture; I don't know. The wonders of progress, eh?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Being accepted by the herd

The human race are a funny lot. On one hand, they promote acceptance (or, dare I say it, tolerance) of every race or creed but, on the other, there is an invisible language that every person perceives and conforms to with the hope of being accepted by society's unwritten laws.

Here I am sitting in a cafe watching an 'informal' interview process where a woman feigns interest and has obviously modified her diction and appearance to suit her possible employer's expectations.  It amuses me that we have to go through this masquerade for a few short hours just to revert back to our old selves. That's not to say that you can't remain professional; just that the interviewer doesn't really get a true sense of who you are - unless they are able to look past the slick facade before them. Wouldn't it be nice if you were chosen on what you bring to the table rather than how you choose to convey yourself?

I could almost say the same thing when it comes to buying cars. I've recently been on the hunt for a manual (that is, 'stick shift') mode of transport and was amused that the main factor that governs the price of used vehicles is mileage. Yes, it is true that vehicles that have covered large numbers of miles are probably going to break down a little more regularly than a less-travelled version of the same car but surely that's not all that should be taken into account. A car that has been maintained and driven nicely (and is from a solid manufacturer) will fare far better than a car with half the miles that has been thrashed or is from an unreliable manufacturer. The car I finally decided to purchase was neither the prettiest car nor the one with the fewest miles. It was dirty, had a healthy collection of dust ... and yet started first time, the transmission worked great and it ran perfectly. When I came by for final settlement - I had a fairy-tale moment - for what once had been merely perfunctory, had now turned into a (relatively) beautiful swan after some detailing and minor touch-ups. I honestly did a double-take when I first saw it ... and yet it was still the same car under all that new-found prettiness. What I saw now simply solidified my view that I had made the right choice all along - not that it might still prove to be a lemon in the near future; but I digress ...

And so, as with most things, not everything can be measured by looking at the cold hard numbers, so don't just rely upon the facts presented before you to measure your future employee's worth ...  or your possible mode of transport.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Banging the drum

Hi there fellow readers and writers. For all those that have not had a chance to read my book, you will soon have your chance! Zed will be going on sale in June 2nd for one week and will be less than a dollar on Amazon (which works out to be a 66% saving and also puts my sanity very much into question). Of course, if  you are still having troubles quantifying the expense, I will put it in terms that make it easier for you to take the plunge.

The purchase of my book is less than:
  • one-third of a Starbucks coffee
  • one-tenth of a movie ticket
  • one-sixtyth of a new-release computer game
  • one-three hundredth of a rescue pet (I know this very well :))

And , with the generosity of your purchase, you will also receive:
  • My eternal gratitude that you have had the chance to read my book
  • The possibility of losing yourself in a world that I created
  • The possibility of enjoying the lighter side of a zombie apocalypse
  • The chance to realise not all zombies are bad ... and many can be quite useful
  • The chance to realise that not all little girls are annoying (well, at least from Zed's perspective)
  • The chance to possibly even learn something along the way (you never know ...)
What a bargain :) Also, if you are feeling extra generous, feel free to spread the word on my book (or blog).

One final note: if you are still reticent to sperlunk 99c on my book, leave a comment below with some form of email address (spammers are evil, ya know) and I'll gift you my book - make sure you tell me what ebook format you want. I would much rather you have the opportunity to experience my story than not. Money is not my objective; readers are so spread the word on that too (if you so wish). Happy reading and all the best to you.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Bringing the payne

Ah Max Payne, you are a troublesome mistress, aren't you? You spurn my advances of flowers and prose, while preferring the company of akimbo pistols and high-octane drinks. And all would be fine in this world if this were still the case. For, in your ever Rorschach-morphing desires, you turn to hair clippers, facial hair and South-American settings to satiate your downward-spiralling demise. As pictures are worth a thousand words, turn your eyes towards exhibit A:

'How the mighty have fallen ...
Even if you now have an impressive beard, you have seemingly lost yourself in the process. Prior to your latest adventure, I was looking forward to experiencing your next adventure in cello-themed sufferance and was even going to overlook your derelicte faux pas if your essence remained true - and that was where the problems began. First off, your new adventure only hints at the cello theme and has mostly been replaced by rhythmic sound overlays which, while adding to the tension, do not retain the original tone. You still managed to retain your narration, pessimistic views on life and unfortunate ability to attract enemies with very large guns but, somehow, you lost your way. You lost what was great about the dour-drenched drudgery, dark, rain-saturated and lost slums of New York City streets. Instead you choose to wear shades and a Hawaiian shirt. Yes, you wore a Hawaiian shirt. In public. For shame; for SHAME! I know the original you would have shot anyone daring to wear that shirt in your presence ...

Anyway, your abilities to dole out justice still works well but the level of luck/repetition required to head-shot 15 enemies within a 5-second akimbo dive would, even for you, border on the nigh impossible. Fortunately you are not unfamiliar with the Groundhog Day effect and so can repeat (ad infinitum) the present scenario until the roll of the dice finally falls in your favour. It kind of sullies the experience when it is not your dexterity that determines your ability to survive (or find cover) but, rather, the variability of the sniper-honed AI to miss and for you to dive while managing to avoid colliding against the various household furniture that quickly cease your slow-motion balletic movements.

And so, in conclusion, I did still enjoy your experience but was disappointed by a greater desire to relish in gore and violence rather than simply dole out large doses of justice while continuing to defy the odds. Yes, I know your past experiences were dour and far from flowers and bunny rabbits, but I still wanted to retain some of 'the purity' of your original adventures while possibly enhancing the bullet time of your past. Also, you lost the John Woo slow-mo ballet-like reload animation that I enjoyed so much in your second adventure. What happened? Did you throw yourself down one-too-many stairs, perchance? You might want to see a chiro about that ...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

So hot right now

Happiness is the new black. Because, if you haven't already noticed, almost every company is aligning themselves in some way to happiness. I find it amusing that apparently a prescription medication store would feel somehow feel compelled to associate themselves with happiness ... unless, of course, they're giving out the good stuff like in Colorado and Washington State.

For example, apparently you can find Walgreens at the corner of happy and healthy - no matter the state... which sounds all parts silly. Oh, so is that also close to the intersection of chronic addiction, hypochondria and STD's? Also, you're apparently no longer opening and drinking a carbonated high-fructose corn syrup beverage that promotes childhood obesity; you're actually opening happiness. Thank you Coca Cola - now I know the actual ingredients to happiness. Apparently Golden Corral believes that chocolate stream-covered bacon stuffed with cheese cake is the path to happiness - I think might get seconds if that's the case.  Of course, McDonald's started all of this off with a Happy Meal. Also, the charts are currently being dominated by Happy by Pharrell Williams (or was that Will Ferrell?). I wouldn't have minded as much if it were this happy song, though ...

In conclusion, I honestly don't mind these companies attempting to associate themselves with happiness. I just find it funny that this 'subversive technique' could possibly persuade the general public to be more vested in their products. I honestly can't think of a time when I've had a coke to make myself happy ... I can't be the only one, can I?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Hell hath frozen over

So I watched the new Disney animation film called Frozen recently ... and it was actually fun - not that it was that much of a surprise as I had read Movie Bob's review prior. I have to say the visuals were incredible, with super sexy (yes, I said sexy) effects associated with every snow animation. Heck, they even created snow physics for the movie which looks mighty realistic. Needless to say the resulting visuals are brilliant. I think artists have finally mastered 3D with a greater degree of fidelity than 2D could ever offer.

However, with the usual lack of imagination, Disney turns to a 200-year-old story by Hans Christian Anderson for the inspiration for this story. Although I truly wonder why they even bother. If you ever read the synopsis of The Snow Queen, outside of a few circumstantial similarities, there is little resemblance to the original story. I guess that's a point for Disney for creating a movie that is inspired by a book but has almost nothing in common. Of course, in Disney's elaboration, it falls into its usual trap of sprouting sappy concepts of family, love conquers all and having a big bad with almost no discernible purpose. So that's one ragged mark against for their unrelenting adherence to formula. But then the film redeems itself with a nicely juxtaposed sister relationship and a hilariously funny coming of that age under-current that makes every Snow Queen moment unintentionally amusing. For those who have not clicked on Bob's review, I'll spell it out: The Snow Queen's uncontrollable 'magic' and pent up frustrations serve as a duality to her migration into adulthood with the associated sexual needs and secret woman's stuff. The point where the Snow Queen's womb-like ice palace takes on a reddish hue and ice crystals pierce inwards toward the vulnerable Elsa made me laugh out loud. No, I will never understand the discomfort, but, yes, I applaud the audacity that Disney would dedicate a metaphoric moment to the crimson tide.

The expression on Gene's face is priceless
There are also songs too. Of course, none of the promotional material for this film ever makes mention that there's singing, so I would say it's a little cheeky of them to sneak it in. Off topic: If they are so embarrassed to advertise the musical quotient of the film, why would they bother including them in the first place? Fortunately for me, they are actually quite listenable and I'm pretty sure I didn't look at my watch once (a rarity), so a begrudging point in the film's favour. Now, if you've got this far into the review, you might be wondering why I actually enjoyed this film. It is around this point that we are introduced to Olaf, ever-escalating clever dialogue and cute little rock trolls, weighted animation (i.e. not zippy for comedic affect) and many fun moments. The funny thing was, I was actually dreading the introduction of Olaf (the animated snow man) but he somehow escapes his stale comedic side-kick role to provide genuine laughs and a child-like innocence. Even the main protagonists had believable and weighted character progression. Yes, this film is still following The Formula but it somehow surpasses it with excellent animation, strong direction, some catchy songs and hilarious woman's stuff metaphors.