Friday, October 25, 2013

In Defense of George Lucas or, Amy Farrah Fowler is full of crap.

I'll be straight with you, I have given up on the Big Bang Theory some time ago. Mostly because of the change in the show's dynamic. Once we brought on Amy and Bernadette the show has gone from Penny being the outsider looking in, and being accepted into the group on some kind of equal footing, to Penny being queen bee of her own group, and rolling her eyes at how big of dorks the men in her life are. This has really changed the show from a Frasier like feel of justifying but laughing with us to the TV equivalent of "let's laugh at the nerds!" So when I first heard the "incredible story" of how the character of Amy Farrah Fowler (played by former Blossom star Mayim Bialik) had rendered Raiders of the Lost Ark pointless naturally I was curious. Supposedly ruining one of the greatest action movies of my generation, with supposedly incredible and clever logic upset quite a few Indiana Jones fans!) It took me a while to see the episode. and To all those folks who wear Bazinga T-shirts, and think the show is some kind of Gospel. I can easily point out that despite her genius level I.Q., she is in fact so very and wholly without a doubt incorrect.

Her theory goes as follows, that without Indiana Jones' interferrence the events of the film would have played out the same. Belloq would still die along with a whole group of Nazis after stealing the Ark of the Covenant from it's resting place in the Well of Souls. "Oh no she didn't!" right? Sure Belloq pretty much signed his death warrant by throwing in with the third reich, but one small problem with her theory.

The flaw in the theory is this she implies that the wrath of God/Nazi slaughterfest that happened at the end of the movie was the whole point. all them dead German soldiers and officers would have dide regardless of Jones being there or not. but where did they take the Ark? Simple, they took it to the other side of an Island with a German submarine base on it. Now I highly doubt that opening the Ark, here to assure the Fuhrer's Prize would be confirmed before it's trip to Berlin was so important as to abandon a working shipyard in a time of war. In short not every soldier on the Island went to the opening of the arc more than half probably stayed at base to continue fueling, repair and monitoring for allied threats during the opening of the Ark. What's more any basic millitary protocol would have required some form of check in, after some amount of time, after they failed to check in,a search party would have been sent to report on the missing group. No Indiana Jones to hightail the Ark of the Island after the opening killed Toht, Deitrich, Belloq, means that once the German patrol came up on this scene of grizzly carnage caused by the wrath of God on the Nazis still would have left the Relic in the hands of the German millitary, and it may have been bombed, crated back to Berlin, or even dropped into the ocean. But due to Doctor Jones being present, he and Marion put it into the hands of US military intelligence. Where "top men" would study and pack it in a warehouse. Had it been left on the island we honestly have no Idea what the German army or Hitler would have done with the golden chest containing the fragments of the ten commandments. Thus while Indiana Jones may not have gotten the Ark for the University to study. his actions and his involvement with the  search for the Ark does indeed matter. His involvement did indeed change the outcome of events.

Look I am not the genius that Sheldon or Amy are supposed to be, but apparently I know a bit more about basic military protocol.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Top Ten disappointing video games

So just to be clear, this is not a list of the top ten worst video games, As that list is going to have a lot of familiar complaints (such as attacking E.T. on the Atari, or Cheetahmen on the NES) This list is games that  disappointed me. It's a pretty subjective list but it you may notice some obvious titles missing such as Duke Nukem for Xbox360/PS3. It didn't disappoint simply because I had no expectations of this game being worth a damn and only played the demo. But again these are games I felt the need to complain about some may have good points but all fell flat in some way.

10- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 (X-Box 360) While the game itself is actually pretty good, especially the demo level where you are escaping Vader's fortress, it is also painfully short. I mean really short. I beat this one in less than a weekend, with time to do all sorts of other things. by comparison part 1 took me like 3 weeks. This game should have been an add on pack instead of a full game.

9- Kengo Legend of the Nine (X-Box 360) In my opinion, the best fighting game bar none is a little title released by square called Bushido Blade. Any company rereleasing this with updated graphics on an current gen console will indeed bet my money! It is an almost simulation of sword fighting, with pl;ayers choosing different weapons, and each character having expertise in some more than other. but it didn't stop there. You could kill a man in one good swing, no life bars, no whiz bang special moves, and damage affects you correctly. You get an arm hit, the limb is far less useful. So when Kengo, a samurai era fighting game from the developers of Bushido Blade came out, yeah I jumped. and then I played it. In short it has all the earmarks of a typical fighter with the theme of Bushido Blade kinda in there somewhere. Serious letdown. Just do me a favor. take the original game update it to PS3/4/Xbox 1 style graphics and you have a sale otherwise don't waste my time.

8- Heavy Rain (PS3) I knew going in that this wasn't supposed to be Halo, or Uncharted. It was meant from the get go to be an interactive movie. However, the best movies draw your players in the first 10 minutes. This game lets you simulate waking up in the morning in a way that makes the Sims seem like an FPS. Snooze fest. What little I got out of this title was please no more.

7- Circus Maximus (X-Box) This game actually prompted me to buy an X-box, the idea of historical chariot racing and combat was appealing enough to make me think this is the kind of games I would love to try Bought this and Halo the same time, and well I finished Halo, and forgot the name of this stinking turd until i started researching this article too much going on for one player but 2 player is boring as watching paint peel.

6- The Adventures of Willy Beamish (Sega CD) Before Heavy Rain pushed the interactive movie idea, Dynamix did so for Sega's Sega CD taking advantage of the new audio and video technology to make a new kind of interactive adventure. Crippling load times and less than rewarding game play make me really regret spending actual money on this. 

5- Red Steel (Wii) So the Wii will let me aim a controller like a gun? WOW! and that should make FPS games more real right? Meh, after an hour my arms were tired and I was bored of this so so attempt to make a hard edged FPS for the Wii.

4- Final Fantasy Dissidia (PSP) So since Square made Bushido Blade another fighter from the same company might be worth it right? but I better download the demo just to be sure. So far not bad it seems like a fluid but very different fighting game. Hey look there is the full game, let's pick it up. And then let's drop it like a hot rock for being almost nothing like the demo.

3- X-Men (NES) Back in the day a friend of mine found this game in an arcade the cartridge just sitting there, so he swiped it. He invited me to try it. Maybe he said he swiped it to hide the shame of paying actual real currency for this game which has as much to do with X-men style drama and action as A documentary on Stephen Hawking's life will have hardcore martial arts action. PASS!

2- Grand Theft Auto III A lot has been said of this sandbox game and for the most part popular games are popular for a reason. I felt like i was playing a crazed autistic who would beat upon anyone he met, and then hide from the cops. My experience with this game was poor enough to sour me on sandbox games for some time the Godfather was a much better game.

1- Gladius (X-Box) As game companies go, Lucas Arts has always had a great reputation. While most games based on movies suck, X-wing, Tie Fighter StarWars Battlefront all amazing. and then there are the non star wars games, Loom, Curse of Monkey Island, Maniac Mansion,and Grim Fandango all instant classics. So a combat game of gladitorial combat, how could they screw this up? apparently supremely easily. the game used RPG style combat ala Final Fantasy and long ass cutscenes. why in a game where visceral combat was the whole point would you go to some bullshit JRPG combat scheme? It boggles the damned mind! Recently Lucas Arts folded after several disappointing games and being bought by Disney. After this game I am less saddened by this news.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The League of Extraordinary Bloggers: Halloween

So the theme this week is Halloween, that being said it's time to try something new, so with that in mind, Nerd Rage Against the machine presents- The Best and Worst of Halloween!


The Lion Bar- Maybe it's the fact that finding this awesome British candy bar here in the states requires me to order on line or an 8 hour trip to St Louis, but damn they are the kind of candy that if I found in my Trick or Treat bag (or my daughters) I would indeed be in heaven. Chocolate, caramel wafer and rice crisps make this damned delectable, with only the much vaunted Reece's peanut butter cup taking a close second.

The Root Beer Barrel-I am not kidding when I say I would rather get a toothbrush in my bag than these horrible tasting solid sugar lumps of doom. they taste more like the nastiest licorice I can imagine than they do any actual root beer I have ever had, and to be honest I enjoy a nice root beer. But I would imagine vinyl siding to taste better than these horrid lumps, at least the toothbrush would be useful. 


Shadow of the Vampire- This film NAILS IT! it is a fictional retelling of the filming of FW Murnow's Nosferatu. with John Malcovitch as Murnow, and the ever creepy Willem Defoe as Max Schreck. Incredible performances the vampire is an actual monster, not just someone tarted up who moans on about a beast I am lest a beast I become bullshit. This is an incredible film, from the talent to the story to and to the setting. 


Twilight (series)- Yes I realize that hating on twilight is more obvious than hating on the Star Wars Prequels but that won't stop me from doing it. I did try to sit through the first one, I went throught 4 years of film school, and watched a lot of dreck, so how bad could it be? Bad. It was less of a vampire film and more about a group of people with super powers that seemed to emulate the powers of vampires. The dead eyed stares of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart were hardly any help here. The only plus is that Edward was smoother with the ladies than Anican Skywalker, but only by a little. 


Evil Dead-2- This is a no brainer, take a horror script, add Bruce Campbell, and shoot the whole damn thing like a 3 stooges film on acid. The Result? This is why Bruce Campbell is a cult film hero, right here. a man who can deliver exact comic timing and still go insane enough to cut off his own hand with a chainsaw making it both creepy and funny at the same time. The sequel (Army of Darkness) Is also verymuch worth seeing. 


Scary Movie (series)- I sat through Scary Movie 2 with a friend of mine who thought I would like it because in his words I like "dumb comedy" you know like Monty Python, or the Venture Brothers. I sat through this 2 hour cinematic bowel movement stone faced. Not one scrap of celluloid inducing so much as a smile, and yes I was willing to give it a try. The jokes (if you can call them that) seem like the kind of crap high school kids would come up with for a pep rally. Mostly consisting of "remember this piece of obvious pop culture" gags using the most obvious toilet humor to play them to their conclusions. and no movie from the creators of has proven to be one iota better. I could fill this blog with my loathing for this piece of garbage but why bother? 


Hotel Transylvania- I know some of you out there are crying foul right about now. "what? Not Nightmare before Christmas?" "How dare you?" "Tim Burton's Masterpiece is a work of Genius!" Well, I disagree. Tim Burton is a highly derivative director who took 90% of his visual cues from Robert Weine. Don't believe me? Watch the Cabinet of Doctor Caligari, and compare the look of Burton's films. The architecture? Check, The characters? Check (doesn't Edward Scissorhands look just  like Cesare?) Yes it has some very catchy tunes but it's not the greatest film ever made. And I will admit this is also true of my choice, but as a father to a beautiful baby girl, it strikes a chord. The gags are cute, the film flows well and is written with adults in mind with many jokes, and the whole thing was directed by Gennedy Tartikofski (Dexter's Lab/ Samurai Jack) what's not to like? 


Elvira, Mistress of the Dark- O.K. Not a horrible film, but definitely a poor choice if you have small kids around. I'm Jus sayin'

The Zombie- Look, I get it zombies are a great stand in for an overwhelming tide of humanity infecting what is pure in humanity. Romero's Night of the Living Dead could have been an analogy for  the communist threat. Now a day it could be a stand in for consumer culture or a culture to inwardly obsessed with the digital world to make a mark in the real one. But they are also a great monster because they have almost no sympathetic side in their purest form. It's not racist or evil to hate or want to riddle zombies with more lead than a Chinese toy factory. They are a survivalist's wet dream for an enemy. A real communist, may have a point or even be able to rationalize with you. But not Zombies they are solely here to make you one of them and eat your brains. but Aliens, Vampires, and Lycanthopes can all be sympathized with, even loved. This is why there are so many games and movies about zombies, kill em' no one will mind. 

Mankind- Lets be fair until we find real monsters, Man is the template for all of our made up ones. We have a history of being unwaveringly cruel, evil and vile. and this makes for some of the scariest stories. from the Shining, to Psycho, to even Tod Browning's freaks where the menagerie of deformed folk were not at all evil and the most twisted foul beasts in the film were the so called normal and beautiful people. In short we really can be the true face of evil. 

Now let's see what trick and treats the rest of the league has to offer! 
The Monster Cafe
Nerd Out With Me
Goodwill Hunting 4 Geeks
the 30ish Year old Boy
Team Hellions
Diary of a Dorkette
Cool and Collected

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Top 5 Reasons we should respect the French.

I noticed that my blog has a surprising amount of French readership, It's actually in spitting distance of 1000 views. Which I think is pretty cool, but as an American I have heard a lot of cracks on the French as a whole. And why? How many Americans (many of whom have not left the country) can have such an opinion of people that they have gleaned most of their information about from rumor, conjecture, and Pepe Le Pew cartoons. The big joke is about France being invaded during the 2nd world war. Really? The fact that they were invaded was mostly about location had Britain or the USA had been geographically easier to attack. but with the English channel, and the Atlantic ocean being a bit of an impediment, France was simply a more convenient target for the German war machine. Let's stop using geography to validate arguments of supposed cowardice okay? As for refusing to fight in the current war, this was smart, not cowardly. The invasion of Iraq cost the US far too much for too little, I wouldn't have voted to go to war, and neither would have congress if they had to go into the actual combat zones. Yet we hear the stupid jokes again and again, about a culture we as a people no very little about. So here is 5 things that are very cool about the French that we should respect our French brothers and sisters for.

5- Religion (or lack there of!) So while most of the world lets the "Church" of Scientology opperate like any other church, including enjoying tax exempt status here in the states, in France L Ron Hubbards pet money making cult has been labeled just that a dangerous cult. In fact, Hubbard was tried in absentia and fined 35,000 french franks and a 4 year prison sentence. And as I for one have little to no respect for the pseudo religion that is scientology, I think this is awesome. Scientology has been exposed many times, from Harlan Ellison's talks about the origins of his sci-fi writer colleague talking about the money involved in a religion, to South Park's episode about the creation myth of Scientology. Incidentally, The written origins of Scientology (the Xenu story) are explained by the church that you must be at least a certain level of "clear" before hearing the story or it would kill you to comprehend. yet after Star Wars' release Hubbard shopped a script around Hollywood called "Revolt in the Stars" which is the story of Xenu and the basis of Scientology. So why shop a script around of the story that can kill you if you are not ready to hear? There are only 2 possible options, First that Hubbard was trying to destroy a great swath of humanity with a Ring Like movie premier which makes him a cartoon super villain, or he was looking for some of that sweet sweet Star Wars money, and he is in fact, a fraud.

4- Comics Don't get me wrong America has some amazing comics from Batman and Green Lantern to books like Transmetropolitan, and Bone, Hell just look at what the Avengers grossed last year! But the interresting thing about our current love affair with comics is the way we treat the actual comics. I know many people who will excitedly go see the Avengers: Age of Ultron in the theatres first night, but will never read a single comic book, why "Those are for kids!" they will cry. citing both laziness and ignorance, as well as missing the point of what comics today. The same can be said about animation for that matter. Adults will pay top dollar to watch GI Joe, Transformers, or Green Lantern, as long as they are mostly live action and have 'splosions and celebrities. Heck the last animated GI Joe movie (Resolute) was far deeper both in plot and in adult content, than both live action GI Joe movies combined! In France, comics, or bande dessinee, as they are known are referred to as the ninth art. That's right they are considered as valid an art form as cinema, poetry, painting, music and sculpture. In fact the comic Heavy Metal, is a french import. Unlike US comics French comics are a bit more like Japanese Manga, they cover a much broader range of topics, less traditional US Superhero types, and more Stories like novellas, such as Okko, (Pictured above) who is a demon hunting ronin who's party roams the mythical island of Pajan. And yeah there are plenty of French comics that are "for kid" take Asterix for one!

But even here there is a lot of depth for a kids book. Set during the Roman Empire, Asterix is the Story of the one gaul village the Empire could not conquer. This is mostly due to a magic potion that their druid Getafix concocts that gives the villagers Superhuman strength. Appearing in Pilote in 1959 Asterix as a comic icon is second to the Disney pantheon of known characters world wide. and has spawned several movies (live action and animated) and yet is a virtual unknown here in the states.

3-Movies I have a degree in film (A BA to be precise)  and I will say yeah there are some boring pretentious French films, just like there are some boring pretentious German films, some boring pretentious British films and of course some boring pretentious American films. But this is no reason to discount French cinema as a whole. John Paul Juenet's films such as Delicatessen City of Lost Children are trippy and insanely awesome films, Juenet is also the director behind Alien: Resurection, which was written by Joss Wheadon, and features a prototype version of the crew of the Serenity in the crew of the Betty, this alone is a reason to give the film a second look. That is to say nothing of films by Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, the Professional) or Christophe Ganz (Brotherhood of the Wolf) Also The likes of George Lucas, Francis Ford Copella and Brian Depalma, are often referred to as the American new wave, taking their inspiration and film making style from the French new wave. So yeah the French help George Lucas become inspired to make Star Wars, not bad eh?

2- Games While the miniatures gamer in me would like to rant on about AT-43, and Confrontation, which is still one of my all time favorite fantasy miniatures games, video games are being developed pretty heavily in france from classics like Out of This World, and Flashback, to newer titles such as Heavy Rain, and Bioshock 2. Atari currently is been purchased by a french outfit and therea re several other big studios in France making games, including Ubisoft, and Titus. Hey a good game is a work of art and the French are known for their artistry.

1-Governmental Courage Yeah, I am about to get pretty political here. After the attack on 9-11, France became a dirty word especially among those who supported George W Bush. Citing cowardice in WWII, and now in coming to our aid against Iraq, which was not the perpetrators of the attack on the world trade center. But this did not stop small minded folk from jumping the gun, and on changing french fries to "freedom fries", or even insisting that Kerry would make a lousy president because he "looks French" but seriously It takes guts to stand up to an ally and tell them you want no part of their cockamamie schemes. This war has hurt our economy as a whole, and we still have people fighting and occupying the area some 14 years after the attack. Quite frankly as a country we would have done better to focus on the real enemy and not throw stupid tantrums because not all of our allies will join in the hunt in the wrong place. Sorry folks, courage is more than pulling a gun, and name calling is simply arrogant and ignorant of us.

Look every country has it's jerks, it's rude people and it's problems, but I for one can't see the point in heaping all of this on perceived opinions of a country that you may not have ever been in personally.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The League of Extrodinary Bloggers- Waddaya Want?

Thinking immediately about Babylon-5, I have to reply "Do not ask this question again!" but seriously, I don't do a ton of garage sales, mostly because i am disappointed in the ones I have gone to recently. However dreams chance and all, I would love to walk into a garage sale, or thrift shop and find this-
The play make SDF-1 playset, it was a cardboard monstrosity that spans 5' in length and designed to serve as a toybox as well as a massive anime themed playset. I had one but it was destroyed in the move of 1991, and honestly I think finding another one would be slightly harder than brokering peace in the middle east, and stopping the government shutdown simultaneously. This want is only exacerbated by paladium's release of Robotech RPG tactics, a miniatures game set in the Robotech world. This would be an amazing piece of terrain to use with the 1.5 inch mecha of that game. Imagine it, swarming with advancing Zentraedi battlepods, and the Veritechs desperately defending their adopted home. god it makes me want to cry.

But there is no point crying over spilled milk, or lost massive space battle cruisers. Of course there are other things I would happy to find as well, such as many of these beauties.

 Starcom was a line of toys by Coleco, maker of the Cabage patch kid, and of course the Coleco Vision. The line was more or less a group of slightly smaller than M.A.S.K. sized astronaut figures with very cool vehicles. Besides some amazing designs, including vehicles designed for modular deployment, many vehicles had movement actions using wind up motors to simulate slow openings or movements like a space vehicle, why no one before or since has employed this is a mystery. The Starmax bomber, one of the coolest vehicles in the line is pictured above, but there are quite a few very cool vehicles, they also sported metal panels and the figures had magnetic feet. This allowed them to look like they were doing space walks and the like, very cool. but also very overpriced on Ebay, so...

So that's my quick list. Here's what the rest of the league wants-

The Garage Sale of Awesome hunts the deadly NES (the most Dangerous game!) 
The Thirtyish year old boy pines about Star Wars figures
Jamie looks for Hannah Swanson books
The Nerd Cantina want's everything...
The Nerd Nook is in it for the nostalgia. 
The Nerd out of time is on the hunt for legos (and Snozzberries!)
Goodwill Hunting for Geeks, looks for a lot including Madballs 
Kal doesn't want to rebuild him despite having the technology. 
My Vintage Toybox is on the hunt for Shogun Warriors, Battle Beasts and Jem!