Saturday, December 31, 2011

Some Funny Games

Technically I want to write about the Chinese movie I’ve been going on about, but I forgot the name again so we will put that on the back burner and instead focus on Funny Games and possibly Into the Void. We’ll see how I am doing for time once I finish up with Funny Games. Anyway I didn’t see the original yet which is weird for me. I always wanted to see it but that was back when I was buying everything instead of downloading it so you know it kinda fell by the wayside in favor of other offerings. Last night I decided I wanted to watch the remake first. Why? I am not entirely certain but from what little I remember about the original they are pretty similar in that they are pretty bog standard until the twist happens.

I just checked and the twist is pretty much the same in both movies. Now I am going to come out and say it, I greatly enjoyed the remake. I’m sure I’d enjoy the original too but it will be a long series of months before I get around to seeing it so whatever. The main thing I like is the way the main antagonist talks directly to the audience. I love movies that do that. If you are going to just sit around and tell us something them you know you might as well actually have someone look directly at the audience and let us know. When used effectively it can create some incredibly memorable moments, like Fight Club for example. With a boundary pushing movie like this one it is tempting to take everything and over use it. Instead there first time the antagonist talks to the audience I almost missed it. It was quick and subtle and I wasn’t sure if I had actually seen it or if it was some sort of horrible after affect of Into the Void which threatened to split my head in two. The second time it happened it was more deliberate. I liked that.

See there are movies like this one which are much more violent and horrible and they pretty much follow the same trajectory. Last House on the Left actually is a perfect example, and Funny Games doesn’t have an agonizingly long rape scene to establish that the antagonists are bad peoples. What Funny Games does is that it basically asks your permission going forwards. It also asks the question do we watch these movies hoping that the family will escape or do we watch them for the villains. To put it another way who is more interesting batman or the joker? I mean if we didn’t want to see the family get hurt any more we could just turn the movie off. It is easy go do something else, read a book, draw, call an old friend on the phone, or better yet your parents. Parents love to hear from children. Instead we watch these people torture this family. The movie is cold and has no real reason for excisting other than to point out the fact that you sat through the whole thing didn’t you? And why would you do that? Why did you watch this movie? Would the deaths of the antagonists have made you feel better? Would you have cheered? Well did you? One did die after all shortly before the movie was rewound. For those of us who watched to the end why did we? Why didn’t we just turn it off?

See I go and I poke around the dark side of cinema a lot. I do it for fun and because it interests me. I also find myself asking these same questions though. I mean I’d like to reread a Tale of Two Cities and maybe David Copperfield so why am I watching Funny Games instead. The cold ugly truth of the matter is because I simply like the antagonists a heck of a lot better than the protagonists. I usually do. When I watched House of 1000 Coprses I wanted everyone to fucking die because I didn’t care about them. When I watched A Serbian Film this aspect of me was tested and I got kicked in the nuts for it and rolled for my pocket change and that’s alright too. I am still interested in those people who make those movies. It is kind of a scary thing to admit but that is the thing about Funny Games. It makes you realize who side you are on and all you had to do to save that family is to turn off the TV. You let them die by watching. I like that. This will be my last blog post for the year. What a strange note to roll out the year on.

Well That Was Decembertastic

December has happned! And there was a great victory to be had. Hello there sunshine and welcome to the first of, hopefully many installments to the wall. I came up with the idea for the wall at the start of November. For my NANOWRIMO novel I hung some wrapping paper on the wall next to my bed and put all the character names, plot points, themes, and other stuff onto it. This way at any given time I could glance up and see where I stood in terms of what I was doing and what I needed to do. It was a damn good stradgey. For December I put up some writing goals, and three colums, things watched, things read, things played. This way as the month ticks on I could, again, look up and at a glance I could see how I am spending my time and hopefully to spend my time a little more wisely.

December was a rough month let me tell you. I need new glasses so I have been getting frequent eye strain headaches. Not to worry though come the first I will have eyeball insurance and that will let me get my new glasses without breaking my bank. Happiness all around! I was also crippled for a whole week by depression. That was a little bit more serious L. Still I persevered and I am all better now. Still it is a bloody waste of time.

As for my writing goals I did pretty good. I set off to write 2 Asylum game sessions and 2 Paranoia game sessions. What I ended up with is a bundle of Asylum setting elements which are arguably more useful than actual game sessions and a game session.

I also ended up with 1.5 paranoia game sessions. I would have been more but I have been terribly blocked up when it comes to Paranoia and I think I am going to move onto something else and come back to it. I need to be in a pretty special mood to write for paranoia. Otherwise it just feels forced and ungainly.

I also had some trouble demarcating when my weeks begin and end. I am writing this on Friday the 30th when I technically have a couple more days left in the month. The reason being is that I roll the thing over on Wensdays. Ergo everything I did yesterday will go on the new month and hell yes for starting the new month strong.

The wall also does a poor job representing my magazine and rpg reading that I’ve been doing. The RPG book reading I am willing to write off but not representing Forgein Affairs and Harpers seems like I am missing something. Still it will be something I’ll have to figure out later. I most certainly am not writing down the name of every god damned article I read. It would take forever. Anyway on with the lists:


Lost S2 E1 thru 23 -I really enjoyed season 2
House of Sand and Fog- This movie is heartbreaking on a fundamental level and I know so many people like the girl
The Muppet Movie- Holy shit this movie is more fun than anything ever.
Lost S3 E1 thru 16- I am still enjoying the show very much, the episode with the diamonds is my favorite so far
Catch .44- Tarantino wannabi movie. It does a good job of it though, lots of fun but I wish it ended a little differently.
We need to Talk About Kevin- Cold, mysterious, and I feel that the movie is far more complex than anyone is giving it credit for.
Sherlock Holms and the Shadow Kingdom- A jolly good romping fun. It has all the substance of a pastery puff but holy shit I like pasteries. The slow mo got in the way at times but all in all I liked it.
Young Adult- So many people focus on the girl and rightly so. But seriously, that guy she is hounding after is also a total looser. His wife is to good for him.
Martyrs- The first half of this movie is one of the best horror films I’ve ever seen. The ending then ruins it with pointless mind numbing torture porn. Whatever.
Cold Sweat- Now this movie is hella fun! Holy shit I loved just about every minute of it. It is tense, exciting and hilarious.
Elite Squad Enemy Within- Man it is weird when they make a reffrence to Carilandu cause I’ve seen a movie based on those events. The movie as a whole is a fantastic police proceedural. Go see it.
Hudson Hawk- A rated R slapstick comedy with Bruce Willace? The movie is to weird to excist and it does and I love it.
MI4- Half of the theater gasped at one point. I loved the sandstorm chase scene and a lot of other things about the movie. Pitch perfect action film. Grimdark people take note! This is how you really do it.
BoardWalk Empire S2 E1-7 Everything about this show is the best.

Games Played!
Tower of Babel 4 times
Super Dungeon Explore 2 times
Lord of the Rings 2 times
Game of Thrones 6 times
Dominion 9 times
D&D Wrath of Ashardlon once
Heroclix 3 Times

Things Read!
FF Vol 1-3 - J Hickman’s run is a thing a sheer sci fi beauty and wonderment. One of my all time favorite authors
Blue Estate - I hate the fact that I read this because now I have to wait until the next trade to find out what happens. This comic is fantastic.
Red Mass for Mars- J Hickman’s super hero epic with all original super heroes and mediations on utopia what isn’t to love.
Morning Glories Vol 1- This is the best new comic I read this month.
Crimina Bad Night & Last of the Innocents- Last of the Inncoents is so so so good. I don’t even know how to describe it really I LOVE when comics use their visual aspect to the fullest.
Batman Return of Bruce Wayne- Pulled it off the shelf for a nice little reread through
Batman Kightfall- I wanted to know what it was all about. Now I do, and I am good thanks.
Road to Flashpoint- I actually really like the new flash books. I think he is fascinating and the scale he can work on is kinda mindboggling.
Flashpoint- DC loves their alternate universes. The idea of Bruce being shot, his dad becoming batman, and his mom becoming the joker is one of the most spectacular ideas I have ever seen.

That’s my month. It doesn’t show my time playing Glitch, Dwarf Fortress, or Dungeon Fighters but hey I don’t think they should be included. It is a pretty impressive month all things considered. 4 movies in the theaters and a decent pile of comics. This new month is already off to a pretty good start and lets hope I can keep it up.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2 Things and Other things

It is 2:20 am and this it is my favorite time of the night. Normally I'd be writing this on my baby laptop across the room in my comfortable bed, but I am already sitting up here and blogger was open cause I was looking something up and now here we are. Kinda like starting an addiction back up. Hey it is better than stalking my ex-girlfriends or something equally uninteresting.

The two things mentioned in the title is that I can never seem to finish a can of sunkist while I am at home, and I can't seem to get comfortable writing here. The novel worked alright, I needed focus. But for my rpg like writing I really need to do that at a table with the book spread out in front of me and other stuff. Even if I don't look at, or use the book I like it to be there. It is comforting. It is kinda like how I lug my 65,000 pound backpack everywhere. Just in case I need that I'd like it to be there. So I am kinda back to where I was. Whataburger is gonna end up becoming my new home but I'll need to pay to sit there and that kinda upsets me. That and shooing away homeless people but that's its own thing. I really wish they had a dollar menu, that would make this a lot easier. I like Whataburger because the tables are nice and big, and the booths are comfortable as hell, unlike Wafflehouse, or SteakandShake. Ultimately the best answer is to find a bar that I can slide into an hopefully go unobserved in terms of not drinking. This is all I've typed so far, mostly because I am having a conversation on Facebook at the same time and we are looking at upcoming movies for 2012. YAY!

Good stuff coming our way too. People often times ask me what period of time would I rather live in. Inveriably I answer, "this one". Sure I can't find a vest to save my life, and this age isn't perfect but I have the cinema of the world at my finger tips, games like you wouldn't believe, and more music than you can shake a stick at. Also the fact that I get most of it for free is pretty nice too. I mean man there are mediums of art that didn't exist 100 or even 50 years ago and so much more of it is available to me even without the internet we just have such a massively wonderful exposure to everything how could I want to live in any other time? People are strange.

I should be typing up the content of my wall since I've been rolling the week over on wensday evenings. I'll do it tomorrow though I gotta decide how I wanna do it and I want to be less distracted. On that note I am going to bed because games will be played tomarrow and my A game will be brought.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I have things I want to write. However, I think my rage about Martyrs has run its course so I don't think it will be about that. I might briefly touch on my views of horror, what it can be, and why it isn't that most of the time but maybe later. Its sad because there was once a time where the greatest film makers believed that the camera could be used to make people see anything, not to see the truth. Sometimes I wonder about that. However, the basic schizophraina of movie lore is one of the things that pleases me to no end and to loose that lack of focus would be to loose something basic, and precious about movies. If that means there will be yet another Transformers movie so be it. It isn't like I've seen any of them after the first one. Not even pirated.

Piracy. Now there is a topic. I am at work and someone restarted the anti fun wall thingy so I can't go link up the story for you but and the makers of torchlight have gone on a sueing spree the like of which haven't been seen since 2008. Ugh. These were largely considered the good guys. They didn't include any drm in their games and they both provided some pretty badass services. The sudden sueing spree is sudden and in every country that isn't the US these sorts of things are frowned upon. So why is it happening? Yeah who knows. The weird thing about the situation is that everyone is wrong. Piracy is wrong. That doesn't stop me from doing it of course, and I've never once felt bad while comminting my various acts but I don't candy coat my actions with phrases like, "Post scarcity society", "freedom of information", and "Down with the corporate overloads". Though in the case of the movie companies I firmly believe that. No I do it because when I want something, I want it, and since I can get it for free why not. Also it isn't like it is actually stealing. To use the tired old "you wouldn't download a car" analogy, of course I would download a car because I would just be making a 1:1 copy of your car, often times I wouldn't even need to go into your driveway or use any of your resources to do so. It would leave your car fully functional and it would come as no cost to you.

This doesn't make it right, or even justified. But it does put things into perspective. So when a company is all like "blargus this one game u priated you owe us all the monies you make for all your life" it is idiotic on the face of it. At most I cost the company 100 bucks more than the wholesale price of the game. But whatever. They need a better legal resource to deal with us. A good way to look at it is, if they really gave a shit they would call the cops on us and have us thrown in jail instead of doing the scary lawsuit thing.

On a different but related topic I don't get people who defend corporations or multimillion dollar banking firms. They don't make sense to me. I am not just talking about internet ass hats but like the fox news guys who were looking for socialist messages in the muppet movies. I mean are the oil companies in danger? Would some bad press cripple them? I mean it isn't like BP just folded up its tents and went home after making life even shittier in New Orleans. So what the fuck? They don't need you, your support, nor do they care about your opinion one way or another. I was reading an article in Time about how lots of people are growing dissatisfied with their banks and moving to different institutions. However, the article pointed out that if all you have going with the bank is a checking account and a low yield savings account then the bank doesn't really give a shit if you come and go because the money you are giving to them isn't paticularly useful. That's kind of scary. Oh well I'd like to move on.

Fellowship of the Ring came out ten years ago today maybe? Around this time that's for sure. I remember being a freshmen in college back home and miserable on my christmas break. I remember getting to see it a day before everyone else because I knew a girl who worked at a local theater who decided to screen the movie early for the employees and one guest. That was a good time. I'm glad I'm still around. A great deal has changed since then. It is kind of amazing when I look back on it. I don't feel like going into it now, but it something worth realizing. I've become a lot more bad ass in the last ten years and I am okay with that.

I think I should be the slender man.

I am still enjoying Lost. I am midway through season 3 and man some of those episodes are absolutely outstanding. I miss Eko though.

I really really really want to run Eclipse Phase. Starting next month I think I am going to start generating source material for it. That way when the opportunity does arrive to run it I'll have plenty of things to do and stuff to work with. There is just so much about the game world that I absolutely love and the system isn't something that drives me insane, though I do wish they used normalized stats. Trying to remember which one you use for strength checks is annoying. I don't often times call for strength checks but I know that as soon as I wouldn't be able to it would come up like every god damned game session. Mostly because the players would be all like, "well there is no strengh stat so I'm gonna carry this building around". Then again that doesn't happen in Fiasco. Then again Fiasco kind of encourages you to behave. It is weird. I also wanna try running Exalted again. It is kind of a nightmare to run but far less of a nightmare than Shadowrun or Mutants and Masterminds. Man I love so much about M&M except the system which just plain old irritates me. Like I say about 3.5 playing it is a blast. Running it can be a pain when you are using human opponents. So it can be tough to give the players an appropriate challenge. Exalted isn't so bad, because there is a more limited tool set, but jesus the ammount of bullshit you can do in M&M is a little bit out of control.

Campaign based games are out for the moment though. Everyone's schedules are a little bit to much all over the place. I could try to put a brand new group together but that leaves me with just after work because my Thursdays are taken and I like having one of my days off being completely to myself. Afterwork is fine by me I am good until 2am, but most other people start fading away after about midnight, I don't know why. Even in Fiasco which is always high energy and overly exciting. I dunno.

Where can you go to buy a new briefcase other than the thrift store? I can find them cheaply on ebay but the minimum shipping is ten bucks which means I should just be able to go to a store and get one for about the same price.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Elephant vs. We Need To Talk About Kevin

It is my lunch time and I have roughly 30 minutes to kick some thoughts around. The current thing I am investigating in my head is the weird sort of corralation between the movie Elephant and the movie We Need to Talk About Kevin. Elephant is a movie I haven't seen or thought of in quite awhile but since Kevin I am having a hard time getting it out my head became the movies talk to each other in a pretty profound way, also Coloumbine was a major turning point of my life and the way I was treated both by my school and my parents. So I tend to be pretty sensitive about it. Moving fowards.

There are a couple of observations that apply with Elephant to the this conversation. One young people, when seeing this movie, have two reactions and they are extremely polerized. One is my high school is nothing like that the other is my high school is exactly like that. I once had two people from the same school get into an argument about Elephant's representation of school and their relative experiences to it. For the purposes of this conversation it is just important for you to understand that it mirrored people's experiences of highschool sometimes almost exactly. For me it distilled into an essanace everything I hated about highschool then it murdered it but the murder wasn't cathartic or pleasing. It was tragic. No matter how bad things were they all didn't deserve to die.

The other observation about Elephant that needs to be spelled out is that it is very much a story told from the bottom. We had that photography kid who wandered the halls taking pictures, the unatractive girl who felt awkward about changing into her gym uniform, the meeting of the gay straight alliance, and of course the killers themselves. The stars, or even the represenative crowd wasn't the sports people, or the normal kids, or the popular kids. They were present but they were in no way centeral to the movie. There was no school bully present or any other thing that indicated that the shooters act was a responce to repeated physical danger. The movie itself goes through and pretty much sysmematically deconstructs the reasons behind the shooters actions from the world's most boring video game, to not having any friends, to sexual/social isolation. We are left with a puzzle that we can mostly put together but we definitly don't have all the pieces.

On the other hand we have We Need To Talk About Kevin who very specifically gives us an answer to this question. Kevin is an evil little fuck. One of the weird things about the movie is that it seems to do the whole nature versus nurture argument, coming firmly down on the side of nurture BUT I think that is a gross simplification of a very complex and compelling movie. First and foremost Kevin is presented to us as an emotional vacuum this is something that is prevelant all throughout his childhood. From when his mother broke his arm because he wouldn't stop crapping his pants, to Kevin lying to everyone about how his arm got broken, to using his scar as a way to guilt his mother, even at the age of we'll say 7 we can see that his concept of correct behaviour is compleatly over ridden by his feelings towards his mother. Note I didn't use the word hatred toward's his mother. The word is appropriate most certainly but again it is more complex than that. When Kevin got sick they came close to bonding, when they were getting ready for Kevin's little sister they bonded again, and when she got caught looking through Kevin's room. The bonding between them isn't one that I would call love, as Kevin would never allow for that amount of emotion to be shared between them. Instead it is more of a respect, and an absolute sort of honesty that is almost terrifying to behold. Kevin is the ultimate isolationist yet at the same time his mother is the only person who really knows him. He don't have a little buddy that he shoots up the school with, he does it all on his own. He does it, and we think we know why, right up until the very ending which is both powerful and haunting.

Both movies involve a fantastic amount of pointless violence towards people who don't deserve it. In Elephant it feels like they are lashing out against an institution that didn't for them or about them. In Kevin it feels almost, like he is lashing out against himself and the world he is being forced to live in. Oh well lunch is over.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Punisher’s Peculiar Predicament

While they were featured in LA Confidential, clippings from Hush Hush were much more prominent in it’s sequel White Jazz. It was these clippings that made me fall in love with the book and its associated writter. When I found out later that he adopts an entirely fictitious persona for when he talks about the book I decided I loved him more. James Ellroy you are one crazy bastard. Salute. Hush Hush articles were filled with alliteration and it was delicious. Every single god damned word.

That is not what this post is about, but they are tangential. This post is about the Punisher. The Punisher is weird. I mean since the day of his arrival on the stands there isn’t anything else quite like him. Well to be more specific there isn’t anything like him with that sort of endurance. At one time Marvel had 3 Punisher titles all running at the same time. They have had 2 “end of days” Punisher specials. He even made an appearance in the 2099 books, which weren’t half bad actually. As of recently he had two concurrently running books, and he even took center stage during the major marvel event Civil War. He also played a decently major part in the Atlantis Attacks series which was a mega event on a scale that makes the current marvel event cycle look limp and pale. Oh he also has the dubious honor of being the subject of the most Marvel live action movies which is also its own thing. Yet, the Punisher is, at his core, a maniac with a gun who has decided to take a bite out of crime using fancy military training and rage. I mean come on his entire back story is that his family is gunned down by mobsters and so he amasses an arsenal that would make most third world dictators blush and sets about killing as many criminals as he possibly can before the law puts him down like the mad dog he is. His first appearance was in a spiderman book, he was a villian and rightly so.

So what we have here is an utterly two dimensional character with little personality or life. Yet he has been around for almost thirty years, often times he is supporting anywhere from one to three books. How does this happen? Even more troubling, why are so many of his runs really good?

When I say really good I don’t mean in the fun heehaw sort of way, but rather in the, “This is some of the best work the author has done” sort of way. Garth Ennis and Jason Aaron have both produced amazing books featuring this 2 dimensional amoral shell of a man and I think that it is interesting. It is also sad because while I just spent all this time talking about endurance and what not the Punisher Max book Jason Aaron has been working on is canceled. I am not sure if the main marvel universe still has a book for him or not. I stopped paying atension after the Dark Reign ended. I liked that era of Marvel and if more people would take their heads out of their asses they’d like it too. But that is for another day.

The punisher is what got me into comics. And even if it didn’t Preacher got me back into comics which means I would have been picking up his run on the Punisher anyway. He is sort of like this inevitable force that draws me in and won’t allow me to escape. Again and what troubles me is that many of his books are actually very very good. To me I found his books to be a welcome breath of fresh air from things like X-men, Spiderman, and the Fantastic 4. These books focus more on the interpersonal relationships that the characters have with each other more than, well you know super heroics. This is especially true with Spiderman who can barely step foot in costume without having some sort of family/work/relationship based angst going on in the background. There would be times where I would dread spending my hard earned allowance money on these books because you never knew if something interesting was going to happen. You knew that there would be some wandering around, so tension building, and maybe a fight or two, but then there would be pages of blah blah blah. Marvel has some terrible writers just look at the x-men line and you’ll find them. ANYWAY. With the punisher you’d have no such worries about that. It wouldn’t be long before he is either killing someone or planning to kill someone. He doesn’t wax poetic about the nature of what he is or what he does. He doesn’t concern himself with the nature of mankind. He doesn’t piss and moan about his family. The Punisher has one friend. His name is MicroChip. He’s been killed three times in two different time lines. Once in the main line, once in the max line, and again in the main line because the hood brought him back from the dead and so the punisher put him back where he belonged. It was good stuff.

Purity of purpose. You buy a punisher book and for the most part you are gonna get what you asked for. He is grim, gritty, anachronistic, and while his actions are insane he very clearly is not. Well most of the time. Writers do get bored with the property and look to spice things up a bit. These always fail. The avacado project is the least worst of these attempts, Franken Castle is the worst but there are many others. Yet when we go back to Jason Aaron’s run on the Punisher instead of using lasers, or big titty Russian men, or the Punisher going after real villians, he instead rewrote a large portion of the Punisher’s origin story. Not the bit about the family. But rather his war on organized crime which allowed for the rise of the Kingpin and the arrival of Bullseye. He took a story featuring a 2 dimensional madman, that has been told at least twice before and made it all shiny and new without any real gimmicks or annoying things. You’d think a man with Frank’s backstory wouldn’t have anything to add. I mean how many Crack dealers can you shoot down in various ghettos before you just don’t become interesting anymore? The answer seems to be, “An aweful lot of them” which is pretty cool and now it is over. Arron is off the book and while I don’t know what is currently going on in the Marvel universe I do know it is a mess.

Oh well. Something tells me that the Punisher will be back though. He never stays away for long, and who knows maybe we will get lucky and Brubaker will take a swing at him. Now there is something that would make my fucking day.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Getting Lost with Lost

So I have just finished the second season of Lost and I have to say that thus far I am enjoying it very much. I like the various mysteries that are being introduced one by one and thus far the majority of the main characters are engaging unlike some shows where when two characters wander onto the screen you pick up a book or something and entertain yourself until they are finished like True Blood. I kick it because I love it. Dating me is hard.

Anyway so far my three favorite characters are Locke, Jin, and French Chick cause who wouldn’t love her? I know I do.

There are a few things that I would like to point out. Okay ordinarily flashbacks are boring. Very boring. Why bother with a flashback when it doesn’t advance the present right? However, Lost uses its flashbacks effectively. The flashback provide a wide variety uses and there isn’t a single cast member that I roll my eyes at when it is their turn for a flashback. In fact there has been some pleasant suprises like Desmond’s and Rose’s flashbacks. It is nice to know more about these characters and I hope that we get see some more glimpses of side character’s lives before they are killed off, like in the case of Libby.

Another thing that makes me want to grab the show and give it a big old sloppy kiss is how it handles Charlie’s addiction. Addiction stories bore me. If I want to watch one and feel bad I own Requium for a Dream. If I want to laugh I have Spun. If I want to be pleasenly puzzled I have Naked Lunch which remindes me I really want to see that again. The point is that I have many pieces of media which handle addction much better and in a far more interesting way than watching Charlie replase into an addict. But they didn’t. They tempeted him. They make you wonder. But in the end he keeps his big boy pants on and throws several virgin mary statues into the sea. Good for him and thank you for not making the show worse. I was worried about it too because there is no way I wanted to sit through watching Charlie relapse into drug use.

There is the hatch. That was cool. Though I am assuming that after the events of the second season the hatch is well and proper fucked. I am okay with that though because, well I mean whatever it served its purpose for the most part and it isn’t like there aren’t others if they really need it. Though I am slightly anxious to see what happened to Locke because I like him. He is a very diverse, complex, highly interesting character to me and while he has had a variety of flashback episodes none of them have explained why he is in a wheel chair, amongst other things. So that’s interesting.

Michael has more or less proven that people named Michael suck. Seriously what the fuck? Okay sure Anna Lucia annoyed me and I wasn’t sad to see her go but I liked Libby and now I have to watch Hugo be sad. I don’t want to see that. Hugo is one of the rare voices of reason on the show, like how come no one mentions the smoke demon or worries about it, or what is up with the polar bears. Nope everyone just goes on with their merry little lives.

Jack is an asshole. I don’t really like his character but at the same time I do. I mean Sawyer is a tool. He is like that big kid on the playground in 8th grade pushing people around and thinking he is a big deal. Ultimatly Sawyer is harmless, just annoying. Jack however has a real nasty streak to him that is ten miles wide. Not just the having Sawyer tortured but also the way he gets the guns back and several other things he does to the man over the course of the first two seasons. Sawyer shows himself to be not such a bad guy, he tries to save Michael’s kid, and there are a couple of people he cares for, I dunno. I do know that if I had to choose between the two I’d hang out on a dessert island with Sawyer over Jack, setting aside Jack’s medical expertise.

The smoke demon is around. We get our first good look at it this season and it is a smoke monster just like everyone said it would be. What’s it’s deal? Who knows. I’m sure that will be explained by the 5th season or so. Right after Lost ended I watched a you tube video where a pleasant man with a brittish accent explained the ending of Lost using post-it notes. I don’t remember much except that the smoke demon is important and something about Hurly becoming the gaurdian. I bet it is because of those numbers. The EVIL numbers. Funniest flashback ever btw.

It looks like the 3rd season is going to give us a good look at the OTHERS and I am pretty excited about that. I’d like to know why they are so damn convinced that they are the good guys and what not. I am sure they have an interesting reason, if not a good one.

Oh hey what was up with the Hieroglyphs? That seems like a strange thing to have on there as a “your fucked” sort of thing. Then again there is a giant magnetic wall that Locke really really pissed off so whatever. Something tells me that won’t be explored till a little later in the show. I know there is an episode called THE INSIDENT so hopefully I’ll get some illumination there.

It is winter time and my house isn’t heated so I end up watching a lot of TV. I also tend to get depressed this time of year which is what I am right now. So far Lost has been a good companion beating out several other movies I’d like to see. Right now this post is being written in a vain attempt to not start the third season of lost but instead to do something productive. Oh well looks like we know how this is going to end TA!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Unexpected Conversations

They are nice. I was going to spend my lunch reading Foreign Affairs and a little bit of Time, and then maybe dicking around with some of the game session stuff I am writting but instead I ended up talking to my little buddy Ashley. Ashley is one of those people who despite having nothing in common with me we always end up talking pleasently for extended periods of time. Carla is another girl like that as is Chad.

I like people like that. I like lots of people. Things are nice. I suppose I should be sitting in a park somewhere protesting corporate inequality but whatever. I am not sure how that is going to work out. Speaking of that. Forrign Affairs is an amazing journal. Despite the fact that it comes out bi-monthly each article very much sets the tone of political discussion for those entire two months. Not in actual news articles but you'll see the issues they bring up in commentary colums, editorials, in essays in Harpers, all over the place. It is increadibly satisfying to me to see someone reffrence Forgeign Affairs in an article and then I can go back and check it out to see what exactly they are going on about. There are other journals but none seem to have the same impact as Foreign Affairs. I think it is neat that in a world with a 24 hour news cycle our commentary is still dominated by a bi-monthly publication. I also think it is a testitment to the quality of the articles that you can find in the magazine. I've read the scholarly works of Tony Blair and Hiliary Clinton and I remain convinced that she would of made a better president, especially when you look at the work she has been doing with the current administration.

I say all this because the cover story is a an article about the nature of America's Inequality and Social Decline. I have never read such a furiously scathing article before in my life. Most of the articles in FA can only charitably be called boring. They are dry, stuffy, acedemic affairs that are meant for a specialized audience and not mass consumption. I like reading them but they definityl lack the vim and verve of some of the things you'll read in Harpers. This article though, holy shit. It is still stuffy and kinda boring but it is fueled by this sort of slow burning fury that makes you wanna go put a brick through a window.

It doesn't talk so much about the actual mechanic of the unfairness or blah blah blah. Okay we get it executives are makeing 400 times more than their lowest paid employees. Instead he talks about the changes in culture that have happened that make this sort of behaviour permissable. Back in the 70s things weren't great. Lets not get all nostalgic here things pretty much sucked, especially if you were a women or black. BUT this sort of behaviour didn't happen in upper level buisness. Why? Because it wasn't something you did. It was taboo. Simple as that. There didn't need to be laws and regulations because these people saw their power and possition as a responcibility not a right.

I found the whole thing to be very interesting and for me it hit this increadibly chord. So many of the older generation have this radically different view of corporations that seem to be quite frankly removed from reality. It is because they weren't like that then. They are now though. Oh well my lunch has come to an end and I don't really want to get into it on this topic. I am not sure why though. I'll ponder it a little bit. I definitily think it has something to do with me being in gaming writing mode which is a very different frame of mind. FOr example this post was supposed to be about persistant background elements in gaming as a new way to do random encounters. Not this. Funny how that happens eh?

Sunday, December 4, 2011


It is new! I own it! And it is a fantastic little game. Or at least I think so after one play through. Maybe by the second play through I'll decide I hate it and I'll end up trading it for the new dominion expansion. Or I might become addicted to coke and trade it for a hit. Right now though I am so very much in love with the game that both of these posiblities seem very remote to me. I also spent about a half hour last night patrolling the internet looking for the limited edtion Candy and Cola preorder bonus figure. Miniature Market had it and I was frantically trying to purchase it they ran out of stock. Sad panda is a sad sad panda. So yeah the game is great.

Someone who I was discussing the game with on a forum commented that while the session itself lasted two hours the game plays really quickly. It is a weird thought but she is absolutely right. Heroes are able to butcher a depressing number of monsters every turn and the consul is able to spawn a delightful number of monsters every turn. Put the two of them together along with a loot system, treasure system, and mini boss spawning system all based around violence and you got yourself more than a few reasons to commit regular acts of violence. In fact there is never really a reason to not kill things every turn which is something I very much appreciate.

I've been wanting a game in this genra for a long time now. Tyson purchased Descent which is basically the Twilight Imperium version of Super Dungeon Explore and everyone ended up hating it. This saddens me and I was never really able to coax everyone into giving it another shot. I think it would of gone better if people were willing to try it one more time and if the person playing the monsters was well versed in the errata. To me these games are the natural extension of the first edition of D&D where it very much is the GM versus the players in a contest of wits that is mediated by a set of rules. I don't mind playing these sorts of games but I feel very strongly that role playing games can be so much more dangerous dungeon crawls. That isn't to say that I don't like dungeon crawls or that dungeon crawls are a bad thing but I prefer to do them in a more limited context where the rules are more transparent and my limitations are more clearly defined than in the open set of possibilities in which roleplaying offers.

The other advantage these games have is that playing the monster master is only nominally more difficult than playing the players. This is not true in role playing. The other advantage is that you can really cut loose and be as vicious of a bastard as possible while you are playing the as the consul. It was weird at first because when we first started the game we were all floundering around trying to get our footing. Then they destroyed one of my monster spawners. Then it was on. It took awhile for it to get it through everyone's head that the monsters we not controlled by AI and they would do things like charge past the fighter to mug the druid before he could cast backlash. Or that I would use a mini boss to block line of sight to the boss and use the boss to hose down the remaining heroes with fire. Or that I will lure the heroes into killing a bunch of people only to put them in range of my flingers. Flingers are awesome seriously they are the second best unit the kobalds have.

Having a player control the monsters is the main reason why I chose this game over one of the D&D family of board games. They were tempting for black friday both Castle Ravenloft and Wrath of Ashcalon were half off which means together they were about the price of SDE, but the main problem I have with these two games is that the monsters are controlled by AI. So it isn't so much you beating the monsters but you beating an ai controleld monster and to me there is just something somewhere lacking in all of that.

However, there is the lack of senarios and that is a thing worth bringing up. Senarios help to keep the game fresh and interesting once the new game smell wears off of the minatures. SDE has no such thing. All it has is the DM gets a certain number of spawn points, the heroes get characters and it is GO TIME! This doesn't mean that we couldn't come up with some senarios. Quite the contrary I think the game has all sorts of potential for tweeks and changes. HOWEVER, the game also has all sorts of potential. I could see just from the way we were playing that there are all sorts of interesting subleties and mechanics that we weren't even really messing around with. It took us nearly half the game to get the rhythm down. We also had the misfortune of having a player who didn't really want to play. Once I killed his character he was gone for good yay! But he took our happy fun guy along with him BOO! Oh well. I am excited to give it some more play throughs and I fortunatly have enough games so that there will be an expansion out long before we get tired of it. YAY!