Y'all $#*%ers Need Talos

November 7th, 2016

So, the Skyrim Special Edition is out.  PC players have long had access to graphical upgrades and community mods, but the SE brings those to console players.

Some of the graphics updates are subtle, while others are still quite noticeable.  While the frame rate is still locked at 30fps, load times are drastically reduced.  That said, this is still Skyrim, so some of the character models are janky, and many of the glitches are still there.  Expect to see the occasional mammoth falling out of the sky and such.

The mods are an inexhaustible supply of novelty, though.  The unofficial patch fixes …

Weekend in the Commonwealth

December 26th, 2015

I've been playing Fallout 4 obsessively over the Christmas layover. Of course, there's really no other way to play it, but I digress. Anyhow, here are a few screenshots I took during my stroll through the ruins of 23rd Century Boston.

Star Wars: JJ Abrams Gets It

December 18th, 2015

I just watched The Force Awakens, and I'm going to get my thoughts out while it's fresh on my mind.

First off, it's good.  Not "good," as in, "well, maybe it wasn't a total trainwreck."  No, it's "good" as in, "tons of kids are going to emulate the new characters like my generation did with Luke and Han" good.

The visuals are impeccable.  Abrams doesn't feel the need to clutter every inch of screen real estate, so the creature and building designs really stand out.  The dogfight sequences are kinetic and exhilarating.  Poe Dameron is absolutely the man.

Which brings us to the dialogue.  The earliest comedic beat in the movie comes from his back-and-forth with Finn (actually, "FN-2187").  It the kind of dialogue at which Joss Whedon excels, and a minute worth of witty banter sets up their characters perfectly.

The humor?  There are no fart jokes or awkward mascot characters.  This is old-school Star Wars humor, and it comes off naturally.  The only real "cute" character is the droid BB-8, and she comes across as charming rather than slapstick.

John Williams' score continues to be an integral part of the films.  If you never noticed, every character has their own theme.  Rey's theme is a meditative one that feels like Ralph Vaughan Williams, while Kylo Ren's theme has an undercurrent of Wagnerian violence with just a touch of the Imperial March in the brass.  There was one spot in the climax (something big blows up) when the music felt a bit generic, but it's otherwise spot on.

The characters returning from the original trilogy all have good plot reasons for being there, and the Leia/Han dynamic…well, it's heartbreaking.  How much so?  Well, I'm going to spoil it from here.

Bloom County Is Back

July 19th, 2015

Bloom County was a comic strip that ran in newspapers through most of the 1980's.  If you don't know what those things are, I pity you.

It was both a product of the times and a commentary on them.  Our culture was refracted through the lens of a vomiting Garfield parody, an incompetent scoundrel of a lawyer, a boy whose anxieties literally lived in his closet (the purple snorkelwacker!), and a neurotic penguin (actually, puffin) named Opus.

It touched on politics, but it wasn't an overt political cartoon.  What's more, it had a huge heart and endearing characters.  It was a tremendous …

New Star Wars Trailer

April 16th, 2015

So, we have an actual trailer for the Force Awakens.  It looks like JJ Abrams has the feel of the original trilogy figured out.

I'm not even going to warn you that there are spoilers ahead.  Well, I guess I just did.  With my obligation thus fulfilled, let's get to it.

destroyer_desert

That's a Star Destroyer crashed in the desert, with a dead X-Wing in the foreground.  Notice the rounded turbines:  that's an old-school model, not one of the new ones.  The battle must have taken place during the original trilogy….

On Double Standards

January 17th, 2014

Harvey Weinstein and Meryl Streep have announced their intentions to make a feature film bashing the NRA. Weinstein is the founder of Miramax, a company known for producing wholesome family films that teach nonviolent solutions to life's problems. Pulp Fiction, Death Proof, Sin City, Django Unchained, and Inglourious Basterds are just a few of the heartwarming movies he's bankrolled and produced.

There's no small irony in the fact that he's a big fan of gun control. I can't fathom what philosophical justification he has for condemning the instrument while celebrating the act of violence to the extent …

Angry Birds: Birdemic 2

April 29th, 2013

Birdemic wasn't the worst movie ever made. The technical execution was slightly better than Manos: the Hands of Fate, but not by much. It wasn't as misanthropic as Coleman Francis' work, nor was it as utterly incomprehensible as Monster a Go-Go. It was simply a bad movie that didn't take itself too seriously.

To recap: two hopelessly inept and wooden actors enter into an awkward romance. Halfway through the movie, badly-animated birds start attacking. The birds divebomb gas stations and explode. Some urinate acid on people. We're treated to long, expository dialogue about global warming. People die. The birds fly off. End of movie.

The movie became a cult classic. Director James Nguyen seems to be a good guy who just doesn't mind the criticism, and he felt his movie needed a sequel. Was he right? I'll let you decide.

Weird Science: Planetary #27

November 18th, 2009

Almost three years since the last issue, Warren Ellis has delivered the final book of Planetary.  It's an odd and problematic epilogue, but a welcome one nonetheless.

The premise seemed simple enough on the surface.  All that stuff in the superhero comics?  It really happened.  Four scientists did venture into space and return with supernatural powers.  A dying planet did send its last son to earth.  Sherlock Holmes was real, and there's an island off the coast of Japan where giant monsters live.

Of course, none of it happened the way we've been led to believe.  Spoilers ahead.

Flower

October 2nd, 2009

Flower

I can see why some folks wouldn't care for this game. You can't dual-wield weapons, the team deathmatch mode is sorely lacking, and the final boss is a pushover.

If that last sentence meant nothing to you, then you'll likely enjoy it.

The Road: One must always pretend something among the dying.

February 7th, 2009

I'm probably reading far too much into this book, but it seems to invite such scrutiny. Its emotional impact is blunt, yet strangely reassuring. At its heart, this is a story of a man's love for his son, but McCarthy has chosen the most adversarial setting possible.

Mixed in through the text are odd words and turns of phrase, some of which seem random or invented. The one that stands out most, however, is "salitter."

I knew I'd heard it before, but I couldn't place it. Turns out, it was used by Jakob Böhme in his 1612 book Aurora to describe the "substance of God."

Don't mess wit da Stillers

February 2nd, 2009

So, it's 27-23. Bookies are losing millions on that tiny spread tonight.

Of course, this was a game of slim margins and surprise upsets. The Cardinals started well by scoring early, but like the Steelers, their defense was sorely lacking.

Did-that-just-happen moments included Harrison's 100-yard interception (the longest in NFL history, if I'm not mistaken) and Santonio Holmes' just-by-inches touchdown, which yanked Arizona's lead in the last three minutes.

The Shield: Life goes on

November 26th, 2008

It's been seven years, and well, the finale wasn't what I expected.

Of course, I'd be disappointed if it was.

That said, it was phenomenal.  Loose ends were tied up, while many threads were left open, presumably to imply that, after all that has happened tonight, life in Farmington will still be going on tomorrow.

I suppose the most jarring aspect of this episode was the amount of space and silence employed.  It's rare for this show to breathe, but there were several moments of that here.  In fact, there are several minutes of it.

For a show like this, a minute is an eternity.

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