The New Year – 2016

 

Blog Segment - Peeking Through The Window copyYou know, typically, I’m not big on the whole New Year’s Resolutions thing. It has always felt a little bit weird to me to have a specific time of the year to say “Things are going to be different, now!” when that’s generally the sort of thing that I would assume we should be ready to do, and be serious about, on any given day. If anything, having a national holiday (kinda) for it makes me realize all the more how bad I am at keeping “resolutions.” Despite this, I find myself here about to write down a little bit of a wrap up for last year, and a look ahead to this one, with a little of resolve for solutions thrown in the mix. So let’s get started.

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Rango and John Marston Save the West while SWAU takes Illegal Pictures of Floridian Farms

It’s been a while since I’ve done a simple catch-all blog post. My more recent posts have been narrowed down to a topic or two. That’s great and all, but it also means I haven’t been able to talk about other things I enjoy, so today is going to be a classic run through the gauntlet. Tally-ho!

Onward!


First things first… SWAU… there is something of a situation on campus, as the student body is splitting over (and mostly against) the Administration. Now, I’m not as plugged into Facebook or campus life as a lot of other people, so my exposure to the issues has been mostly tangential. But, since it’s come to my attention, I’ve been trying to grab reliable information, and this is the scenario I’ve pieced together thus far: Over the past few months or more, really going as far back as the crass and disgusting treatment of Dr. Anavitarte, the Administration has been taking certain actions that have been poorly received by the student body at large (including myself).

This is primarily based around the firing of a number of personnel. A secretary was fired allegedly because the Administration blames her for lowering enrollment (how that’s supposed to work, have no idea), and a proffesor was fired because he attended a non-denominational church on a Saturday (also a base and foolish reason to get rid of a likeable and skilled professional). There have been other firings that I am less familiar with as well. All of this comes to a head as Dean Knight was not hired on after the end of this semester. From what I gather, he fomented some hard feelings among others over this decision, which lead the Administration to fire him.

The student body has now come to a boil over what they see as an elimination of one of the last staff members they see as truly fighting for them, and being “on their side” as it were. However false or true this sentiment may be, the point is that a large number of students have been protesting these actions and demanding answers from the administration. An assembly took place earlier which I was unable to attend, that was supposedly going to answer some of these questions. I do not know how this has turned out just yet. I find it unlikely that Dr. Anderson will find anything to say that will satiate the student body.

I don’t know where this is all headed, but I do know that, if the reasons for the firings are as I have heard, something is rotten in SWAU. I don’t know if it is Dr. Anderson, or the Board, or some other force behind the scenes, but ever since Dr. Anavitarte, SWAU has been dealing shadily and backhandedly with important, honest and sincere members of its body. It hasn’t been living up to the values it supposedly upholds as an institution of Christ, and has instead fallen into the trap of so many religious institutions. Yes, this has long been a problem. Yes, I have had serious issues with the way things are done at SWAU for some time. But this seems to be a drastic step further in the wrong direction.

I’m waiting to see what new information comes to light in these matters. I have only really heard one side of the story, and so this entire scenario might have dimensions I am not aware of. Perhaps the reasons given for the firings were ways of letting these people off the hook gently for some greater and unseen reason. Perhaps Dean Knight was undercutting Dr. Anderson’s authority in some way (I don’t like the way Dean Knight acted in Dr. Anavitarte’s case). Perhaps. But unlikely.

One thing is unquestionably clear: Even if the Administration has good reasons for what they’ve done, they’ve done a piss-poor job of selling it to the community. Enrollment doesn’t suffer over a single secretary. It suffers over the perception that SWAU is a place where spirituality is corrupted, where politics is more important than friendliness and where people aren’t treated with the dignity and respect Christ’s message calls us to.

In other silly news, apparently a Florida Senator, Jim Norman, wants to introduce a bill to make it a felony to take pictures of Floridian farms.

'Don't sue me! Pleeeeeeeaaaase!'

I won’t spend long on the topic, because I think it’s ridiculous, but what exactly does this guy think he’s going to accomplish? Have all those people who’ve been taking photos of farms been just robbing those poor farmers of what’s rightfully theirs? If the very sight of a farm is just that important to protect, why don’t we just build walls around each farm and charge a couple bucks per minutes of viewing time through little peep windows, eh? Foolishness. This would give legal grounds for enterprising farmers to start suing people over almost anything (not to disparage the intent of most honest Floridian farmers, mind you). We’re talking about adding a substantial burden in litigation upon the people involved and the taxpayers who pay for the bureaucracy of it all. It’s un-needed, unwarranted, and adds to the so-called “big government” that senators like this are supposedly so against.

Moving on to greener pastures, and less ranting and so forth, here is a fascinating article by Men’s Journal about a blind man who taught himself to see via echolocation. Yeah, he’s essentially a real-world Matt Murdock.

That, my friends, is a blind man riding a bike.

I sincerely hope that his techniques can be used to revolutionize the treatment of the Blind. Most interesting to me is the project he’s been trying to put into motion to build artificial echolocation devices to make it even easier and more accurate for Blind people. It sounds really promising (though I wonder if two Blind people can operate in the same space with their devices?) but the project is looking to cost at least 15 million dollars. That’s a lot of money to just throw together for the research and development. Maybe somebody should tell him about the Kickstarter program.

In the entertainment side of life, I recently wrote a review of Rango (spoilers: I loved it), which I highly recommend you all go and read. Rango was a surprise and a real treat. That is something that is becoming all too rare in the film industry, where brand names are the new hottness instead of innovation and creativity. To that end, here’s a wonderfully thought out article on the state of the film industry, and while it isn’t a heartwarming piece, it’s very clear and rings of truth. The road out of this mess is unclear.

Of course this has left a gaping hole for a new medium to fill. That medium is Video Games. While it is true that Video Games have their own brands and cash-in sequel and prequel showers, there is also a ton of innovation and new concepts. It’s where the money is. It is where societal entertainment in headed, and hopefully that won’t be a bad thing. If the film industry can pick itself back up, the mediums can complement each other by their differences, much as books and television also fill certain niches. But for now, Video Games seem on a solitary rise to stardom.

Video Games are also where old genres find new life. Now, westerns are doing some new business again in Hollywood with True Grit and Rango, but for recent portrayals of the Old West, I’d put my money on Red Dead Redemption as being more important to the survival of the genre. I don’t have a load of time to spend playing video games, what between work, school and other media and responsibilities, but I do occasionally get a chance to sit down with Red Dead as I work my way slowly through the campaign and side missions. It truly is a marvel, and I feel like I’m really out in the old west riding around, gun-slinging and so forth. For an open-world game, it can be pretty darn gorgeous at times, which is a testament to the artistry of Rockstar Games. I look forward to my next trek in John Marston’s boots.

Oh, and briefly while I’m still thinking about video games… Katie kicks the snot out of me at Marvel vs. Capcom 3. It I both a pain and a joy to have so enthusiastic a gamer fiance. At least I could still pwn her in a strategy game… you know… if she played them much… and stuff…

…. onward!

Speaking of Katie, she and I recently made a deal to where she would read the first three books of The Chronicles of Narnia if I would read A Clockwork Orange. She beat me to the punch. I was only 2 pages in, being busy with other stuff and somewhat put off by the need, at first, to use a vocabulary list to understand what everybody was saying, while she had already finished all three books and was into the fourth. Well, I finally got around to it again and polished it up in essentially two more sit-downs with the book. It helped to more or less ignore the vocabulary list, and just try to absorb the slang terms over time. It was a real horrorshow story, though Alex and his droogs really rubbed me the wrong way (as they should pretty much anyone, what with the ultra-violence and rapes and all). The brainwashing was pretty disturbing, though I didn’t have much sympathy for the victim. All in all, I enjoyed the book quite a lot. The ending has me for a loop, however, as I’m not sure if the author meant to say that sociopathy and an ultra-violent life-style is something that people just grow out of, or if he was making another statement about how people are programmed. In any case, it’s something to think on. I’m looking forward to watching the Kubrick film with Katie when it arrives in the mail.

Now that I’m done with A Clockwork Orange, I’m moving on to The Wise Man’s Fear, which is the eagerly anticipated follow up to Patrick Rothfuss’s first novel, The Name of the Wind. I loved the first book, and so I’m glad to be starting the second. Assuming I have enough time to just sit down and read, I don’t expect it to take me too long to finish, though it is a good deal longer than A Clockwork Orange. After that I’ll be moving over to The Light of Other Days, a sci-fi novel by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter that I’m borrowing from Dr. Robinson.

Well, I think I’m just about ready to wrap this blog post up and put a bow on it. But before I bid adieu to you and you and you, here’s a hilarious website called DamnYouAutoCorrect.com It’s a terrific little site that has a massive collection of images of conversations where the iPhone auto correct has changed harmless words into inappropriate ones. I think all us iPhone users know how that is, yes?

Well, until later, Adios!

– Edward L. Cheever II

2011 Oscar Predictions


I pondered writing about a variety of topics for this post, but I decided to go simple and just talk Oscars. Before we get into the meat of the post, if you need a handy guide to who has been nominated this year for each category, feel free to go to this link. I won’t be listing all of them off, so I thought you should have the list available. So let’s get started!


BEST PICTURE
“Black Swan”
“The Fighter”
“Inception”
“The Kids Are All Right ”
“The King’s Speech”
“127 Hours”
“The Social Network”
“Toy Story 3″
“True Grit”
“Winter’s Bone”

I’m not the first, nor the last, to say that any film who’s director wasn’t also nominated has a steep hill to climb. That’s merely historical precedent talking. So most of the films on here don’t have a chance, including Winter’s Bone, 127 Hours, The Kids Are All Right, Toy Story 3 and Inception (which is a major snub if I may say so! Christopher Nolan deserved a nomination at least!)

I think The Fighter doesn’t really have a shot here. It simply wasn’t big enough among the contenders. True Grit is a western done right, by all accounts, and Hollywood hasn’t seen that in a long time not to mention the genre is in its wheelhouse. But it’s a re-done John Wayne movie, which is blasphemy to some, not to mention a Cohen Brothers film not too unlike their previous film, so I think they’ll skip it this year. Black Swan is an outside contender who might dance its way past the heavier hitters if the vote is split enough ways, but it is a strange film. I don’t see it going all the way.

That leaves The King’s Speech and The Social Network. Both films are opposite of one another. The Social Network is relevant as a snapshot of today’s culture, not to mention extremely well done in all respects. The King’s Speech is also supposedly well done and is receiving a sort of warm ground-swell of support, not to mention it is more in line with the Academy’s tastes historically. This is the fight to watch.

Who will win: The Social Network. The Academy wants to stay relevant itself, and a good way to start doing it is to start evolving to the times. Awarding this film will do that, at least in their own eyes.

Who Should Win: The Social Network. It is true that as a snapshot of modern culture, only Scott Pilgrim was anywhere near the modern cultural relevance and pathos of The Social Network. The appropriateness of the film for today’s audience is impeccable.

Who I want to win: Inception. I can’t help it, I’m a nerd. I’ve already said why I liked it in My Review. My second pick would have probably been Scott Pilgrim (which isn’t on the list for obvious reasons) or Toy Story 3. That trio make up my favorite films of the year.

David Fincher


BEST DIRECTOR
Darren Aronofsky for “Black Swan”
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen for “True Grit”
David Fincher for “The Social Network”
Tom Hooper for “The King’s Speech”
David O. Russell for “The Fighter”

I feel that the list of directors is going to fall in almost the same fashion as my prediction for the Best Film category. Aronofsky is skilled but too out-there. The Cohen Brothers have already won for this type of thing, and Russell doesn’t really have a shot amongst the big hitters. Hooper made a great film with The King’s Speech, but in the end his obscurity and the Academy’s likely pick of The Social Network will give this to Fincher.

I think it is an utter shame that Nolan didn’t get nominated in this category. I really believe that he was pick number 6, and just got squeezed out by directors the Academy thought were a little more “classy” or what have you. I would have replaced either Russell or the Cohen Brothers, and of the two I’d definitely drop Russell.

Who will win: Fincher

Who should win: Fincher

Who I want to win: Christopher Nolan (dagnabbit!)


BEST ACTOR
Javier Bardem in “Biutiful”
Jeff Bridges in “True Grit”
Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network”
James Franco in “127 Hours”
Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech”

Both Eisenberg and Franco are not anywhere near the real running. Franco is a nod to 127 Hours, which won’t get an award otherwise, and Eisenberg is here because you can’t have a Best Film of the year without nominating those involved in other categories (right? Oh, wait… sorry Nolan). Still, neither one have a real shot. Bridges got the award last year, and as much as I think the Academy will give True Grit a nod with an award somewhere, it isn’t here. Bardem might have a shot, but I don’t think it is half a chance in the face of Colin Firth’s performance. Besides, awarding Firth here is a perfect way to award The King’s Speech which won’t win Best Film.

Who will win: Firth

Who should win: Firth

Who I want to win: Bridges. – Hey, man, he was the best actor in Tron: Legacy by a long shot. Everything I hear about him in True Grit movie says he deserves it too.


BEST ACTRESS
Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right”
Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole”
Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter’s Bone”
Natalie Portman in “Black Swan”
Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine”

I really don’t see how this could be anyone other than Portman. It’s an easy way to award Black Swan and she’s the darling of Hollywood for the moment. And you know, she kinda deserves it too..

Who will win: Portman

Who should win: Portman

Who I want to win: Olivia Wilde-I’M KIDDING! (Katie I’m really kidding!) I didn’t see any of these movies, so I’d give it to Mary Elizabeth Winstead for her role in Scott Pilgrim (Hey, I loved that film, alright? Though she might be more supporting than lead in that film. Yeah. Okay then, no opinion.)

Christian Bale's Method acting; He creepified himself for the role.


SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christian Bale in “The Fighter”
John Hawkes in “Winter’s Bone”
Jeremy Renner in “The Town”
Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right”
Geoffrey Rush in “The King’s Speech”
While this could easily go to Rush, I think it’s a tad more likely that it’s going to Bale; Partially because he’s a great actor and probably did a great job, but also because the Academy will want to give a nod to The Fighter somewhere.


SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams in “The Fighter”
Helena Bonham Carter in “The King’s Speech”
Melissa Leo in “The Fighter”
Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit”
Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom”

I have little to go on in this category, but I’d say that any votes that go to the ladies from The Fighter will be split amongst themselves, and that’s if the Academy didn’t give the award to Bale for best supporting actor (which they will.) I think this is going to Steinfeld, partially because from what I hear her “supporting” role was practically a leading role and because the Academy wants to give True Grit some love somewhere.

Who will win: Steinfeld

Who should win: Steinfeld

Who I want to win: Truly? No opinion. If you say Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a supporting actress in Scott Pilgrim, then her, otherwise I have no idea.

Okay, now that the big awards are out of the way let’s do a quick rundown of the rest of them.

Foreign Language Film: No Idea, but if Bardem can make it into the Best Actor category, I’d say that Biutiful has the best shot.
Best film Editing: The Social Network.
Best Documentary: Even less of an idea than Foreign Language, so I’ll just say… Waste Land.

Best Animated Feature Film: Though I have a soft spot in my heart for How to Train Your Dragon, it has to be Toy Story 3.
Best Visual Effects: Inception.
Best Original Song: “Coming Home”

Best Original Score: Inception (Though, from what I hear The Social Network has a fantastic score)
Best Cinematography: Inception (It had better win for the hallway fight alone).

Best Sound Mixing: Inception
Best Sound Editing: Inception
Best Costume Design: Alice in Wonderland
Best Art Direction: Alice in Wonderland (It should be Harry Potter, dagnabbit. I like where they’ve taken the series’ visual feel.)

Best Makeup: The Wolfman (I only say this because I actually liked the film and would like to see it recognized for something.)
Short Film (Animated): The Lost Thing (Again, this is me being a fan-boy rooting for the nerd-team.)
Short Film: No Idea. Uh…. Na Wewe?
Writing (Adapted Screenplay): The Social Network (Though you might see 127 Hours squeak out a victory here.)
Writing (Original Screenplay): Inception

That’s all I’m taking about today, folks. I might get around to talking about my opinions on Handheld gaming, now that Sony’s revealed its “Next Generation Portable” but if I do, it’ll be in a few days at least. I’ve also got to consider the possibilities of adding some new players to D&D nights, as two people have expressed interest. We shall see, eh?

I’m out!

– Edward L. Cheever II

Harry Potter Plays D&D in a Haunted Tower Without Sharon Angle

I’ve got a massive backlog of news stories and such that I’ve been saving for blogs, but… well… some of it’s outdated (what with the elections over, thank the Lord that Sharron Angle lost!) some of it is boring, and some of it is minor yim-yam.

*deletes*

Feel the Power of Deletion!

I’ll see what I can do about commentary in the future, but really, it’s so time-based and continuously cynically sarcastic that I get sick of it. I don’t care to be a moderate version of Rush Limbaugh, or some other equally militaristic commentator, so I’m shunting that to the side for now.

Don’t worry, I’ll still have strong opinions at times, but I’m not going to be overtly looking for fights for a while.

‘Tis not the season.

Anywho, I thought I’d talk about some happier things…

Like how awesome Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1) was.

I really like this image, for some reason.

This isn’t a review, though there might be one in the pipe for later, but I am going to be quite frank, if brief.

This film is gorgeous. Easily some of the best cinematography in the series, and a great example for films period. The music is subtle, the sound effects effective (har har), and the special effects top-notch.

The acting is so drastically improved from Phoenix it’s shocking. Subtlety and realism is now actually a part of their repertoire. The emotions in the scenes seemed true and not some forced facade, and I’m now confident that, if they so desire, they could move into other films competently.

My favorite thing about the movie, however, is its focus on subtlety and character. This is infused in every part of the film. For a blockbuster, this is one low-key and contemplative bit of cinema. Shots linger on faces and scenery, giving a sense of place, weight and context so many modern films lack. This means that when the action does break out at times, mostly near the beginning and end of the film, the sharp cuts and shaking cameras are actually meaningful and impacting. The effect was novel with the Borne Identity, but it was heavily overused. It wore out its welcome some time ago, but I’m glad to see someone use it well.

The film has a definite "Empire Strike Back" feel.


Some people find the camping scenes boring, and cite them often as the worst parts of the book, and they do stretch out the middle of the film, but I loved these scenes. I didn’t need a film that jumped from one event to the next. The series has had plenty of that. We’re heading into the final stretch of the story, and this calm before the storm (so to speak) is necessary. I almost think it’s inevitable that the final film just can’t live up to the skillful implementation of all the parts of this movie. This is the best made Potter film, and probably will remain so even if it is overshadowed by the wow effect of the action in the finale.

On a final note, this film managed to completely confuse my opinion of the director. He was behind the worst film in the series (Order of the Phoenix) and now the best in the series (Deathly Hallows, P1). How that is possible, I’ll never know.

Moving on…

My D&D game is going fantastically. It helps that we have two different campaigns running at the same time, one with Adrian DMing and one with me DMing. The thing I’m most proud of is how well I feel I’m able to infuse the world with story and history. I could do better with encounter structure, I think, and I’m working on that, as well as filling out the world with better minor NPCs alongside the more detailed major characters. I really need to make a back log of NPCs that I can throw in at a moments notice if they’re needed.

Of course what has me most happy is how my game went, despite me still being sick and sore-throated (I couldn’t talk the next day. Ow pain.)

I dropped a number of hints through NPCS for the heroes that there was a tower on there way to Ferron that was rumored to have treasure in it. They eagerly stopped by when the top of the tower appeared over the treetops along the side of the road, only to find themselves locked inside.

Of course, it was a haunted tower. They found a magical ledger that, when asked the proper questions, revealed that the tower was an old high-security prison during the time of the previous kingdom. Each floor of the five story tower above the first was a cell for a single, very important inmate. They were able to call up the profiles of these inmates with detailed notes on their psychology and why they were imprisoned there. These profiles held valuable clues for how to defeat the ghosts on each floor, with each floor essentially being a massive and often quite deadly puzzle.

The second floor was the home of a mass-murderer/painter with ties to an important family of a neighboring kingdom. He had particular ways he had killed his different kinds of victims. There were paintings all around the room of the man’s victims, and every two turns four facsimiles of those painted victims would crawl out of their paintings. One of the facsimiles did not match up with the murderer’s MO, and if the heroes recognized it, they could attack it and not get damaged when they would be suddenly attacked two turns later. If they hit the wrong facsimile, they would get automatically attacked by the fake victim.

To beat the room they had to find the inmate’s self-portrait amongst the other paintings and destroy it. The paintings shifted positions every round.

The third floor had a trap designer who had gone made after one of his traps had killed his fiance. Sufficed to say, there was more to the back story than that, but that’s the gist of it. Five of his lover’s items were located in his chambers, and four of them had traps associated with them. The heroes had to find the correct item (a simple wedding ring) and throw it into the ghostly version of the trap that killed the man’s fiance. The man would run after the ring and get sucked into his own trap and die the way she did.

The fourth floor had a wizard who had tied the souls of children to dolls and then let other children play with those dolls as well as a variety of knives, pins, etc. In other words, he had the other children do the murdering for him unwittingly (for his vicarious pleasure).
Each hero was transported to an alternate version of the same room. In the room were eight marionettes hovering in midair and a table with knives, pins and scissors, as well as a portion of a riddle. The riddle, when complete, indicates that none of the puppets were the right target. The heroes had to destroy the rods that would be used to control the puppets. If they attacked or otherwise damaged the puppets, they would hurt a random friend. I made them go out of the room and take turns at the table with me to keep the effect of being separated more real.

As each hero figured it out, one more pair of lines in the riddle was revealed, as well as two alphabetical letters of the victor’s choosing. I especially loved how well that particular puzzle went. It went perfectly. They did lots of damage to one another while experimenting, and it was fascinating to watch each one figure it out in their own way.

The final floor was the home of a leader of a rebellion against the king. Near the center of the room was a crown on a stone pedestal and instructions carved in the stone telling the heroes to crown the “true King.” When they picked up the crown, eight figures appeared around them around the room. One was the True King, one was the rebellious leader as he presented himself, and one was the rebellious leader as he truly saw himself. All of the others were various levels of convincing fakes. If they figured out they were supposed to crown the real king, and not the rebellion leader at all, then they would face a battle against a weakened version of the rebellious leader. If they crowned the leader as he presented himself, or one of the fakes, they would fight a battle against a middling-powered version, and if they crowned the leader as he saw himself, he would be super powered against them.

They almost figured out that they were supposed to crown the real king, but ended up crowning the rebellious leader the way he saw himself. A vicious battle ensued, but they managed to defeat him anyway.

On each floor they received a haunted item of various uses.

They then proceeded back down to the bottom floor where they found themselves still trapped in the tower. However, the names of the inmates were written in glowing letters on a back wall, and crossed out, with cracks running all throughout the wall. They broke through to find the ghost of the Warden who had gone mad when the other guards left during the last great war. Fearful of the outside world, and fearful of the inmates, he walled himself in his room causing himself and all the inmates to starve to death. The ghost of the warden was promptly torn apart by the ghosts of the inmates, and the tower was haunted no more, leaving the group in possession of a magical key to the tower.

I loved how well the puzzles on each floor worked out, being just complicated enough, yet with just enough hints and clues for the group to figure it out after some wracking of their brains and experimentation.

But MAN was that all hard to come up with! Still, it’s easily my proudest creation. Katie was still thinking over everything that had happened several days later. That, to me, is the sign of an effective session of gaming.

Of course now the challenge becomes keeping the level of quality up while changing back to a more normal paced campaign. I’m contemplating making the town they’re about to visit one giant mystery case, but that’s going to involve some careful planing. I’ll be getting to work on that after I’m done here.

Now on one final note, we played on me and Katie’s brand new table that we bought specifically for our gaming sessions (20 bucks at a thrift store was never better spent.) Let me tell you, playing in Katie’s duplex on that sweet, sweet hardwood table was so much better than our cramped and rickety setting and table in the gameroom at my house. Things keep looking up!

That’s all for today, folks!

– Edward L. Cheever II

Gears of War Breaks Communism’s Computer, Ticking Off the Director of Prince of Persia

I feel… freed. Loosey goosey. All that jazz. You see, I’ve just finished (for the moment) helping out a friend with his writing. It feels good to have given another writer a helping hand. That’s something I think I will need myself, when I’m done with my first draft of Jaine.

That reminds me, I’m going to try and re-focus on Jaine again. My writing has been fairly random and herky-jerky so far, covering a variety of topics and areas. I’ve been meaning to get down to business again on Jaine for some time. Still, it’s going to be something of a challenge. I know the ending, and I know a few of the pieces of the pie, but I’m still not sure how to get the characters from where they are to where they should be and make it interesting.

So far, the story has been one massive chase sequence split into two phases. First, the main characters are doing the chasing, and second the main characters are being chased. Now I’ve reached a point where the main characters are in hiding. I think I’ve effectively chased them up the tree and thrown some rocks at them. I might have even shaken the branch they’re sitting on a little.

Now I’m trying to figure out how to ratchet up the tension again while introducing even heavier stakes, and yet I need my characters to be on the proverbial offensive again and it’s proving… difficult. Anyway, that’s an issue for me to consider later.

There are a few other things I want to yammer about for a minute.

First of all is the bizarre word that the director of the Prince of Persia movie doesn’t like video games. You can read that little tid-bit HERE.

Face it, dude. The Video Game was way better.

It frankly blows my mind that anyone who doesn’t like video games would then actively go on to create a film based on a video game property. I don’t know if he did it for the money (which they didn’t make, in the end) or for.. I don’t know what. All I know is that I don’t want people making video game based films who don’t care for the video games said films are based on. That would be like a writer writing a book based on Star Wars except that he can’t stand Star Wars.

That probably explains why the Prince of Persia film ended up being light fun, but largely soulless. It’s a shame. We need some real artists who care about these films before they’re going to ever take off.

In related Video Game Film news, the Gears of War movie is looking to Scale Back its budget to a level more consistent with District 9.

Aaaaaand That's a Wrap! Now, pony up, this camera cost me like, $50 bucks, man!

Now, I’ve never been one to judge a movie solely by its budget (goodness knows that District 9 was proof positive that sci-fi could be done on a budget!) but I also know when a franchise calls for a large budget solely due to its subject matter. Gears of War is such a blockbuster title, with such an intricately designed world (yes it is – the story may not be all that, but the design is great) that I can’t see them making a Gears of War movie and do the title justice.

Goodness knows they could prove me wrong. I would never have thought a District 9 possible until I saw it myself. But District 9 had an excellent and financially minded Director at its helm, and a story that was largely set in easily filmable areas. Not to mention a documentary-like style that let them fudge in certain effects areas. Gears of War has thousands of soldiers and monsters ranging from skittering creatures the size of dogs to worms the size of cities. And the cities themselves are well designed too. The idea behind Gears of War’s initial design was decayed beauty, and any film needs to keep that aesthetic. The game does not take place in our world.

Anyways, here’s hoping they will still manage, somehow.

Meanwhile, Katie is playing through Mass Effect right now and I think she likes it.

Saren was a great villain.

I say “think” because she’s having a tough time in spots and I’m a horrible back-seat driver in RPG games that I’ve already played. I just have this urge to dispense advise… She has been anything but appreciative (I’ve been very nearly chased from the room once or twice.) So I try to studiously do my own thing and avoid looking at the screen too often. It’s not that she’s ever doing this wrong, per se. It’s just that she’s not doing things my way, which is apparently a mortal sin to some degenerate part of my mind. A hangover from my more philosophically combative days on the forums, perhaps?

Nevertheless, this means that I’m still not done with God of War III. I’m convinced I’ll have it finished in another good sitting (I’ve just beaten the Scorpion boss, for those of you in the know.) I should have a review out not too long after that. So far everything technical about the game is great, but the story is just “meh” and what connection I had to Kratos as character in the last two games is shrinking. Here’s hoping for a fitting end, whether Grecian tragedy or comedy. Time will tell.

Unless Kratos kills Time too.

Kratos Know How To Kill Time Better Than Anybody.


Goodness.

In other gaming news, Amazon still hasn’t shipped my copy of Starcraft 2 yet, which has me all a fluster. I would be even worse off if I was already done with God of War III. What still has me concerned once I do get it, however, is how it will run. Thankfully, according to Blizzard’s Official System Requirements Page, my rig should run it at optimal settings. At least once I’ve fixed their stupidly simple and face-palm worthy Overheating Bug. Why didn’t they catch something that crazy in Beta? Oh, right. Because everybody in Beta probably had a crazy rig too, I getcha.

You Know This Computer Is Already Plotting The Downfall of Man


But what really has me bummed is that I will probably have to send in my RAM for replacements soon. It’s something I should have done some time ago. See, when my computer is really chugging away, sometimes it will go all blue-screen of death and restart.

Yes, Plz?

Luckily it doesn’t happen often, but it happens too often. Especially when I’m playing games. Even Civilization IV can do it, which makes me worried for Starcraft II. That’s it. I’m calling somebody for help. I just hope they have some RAM lying around that they could lend me until I get mine back.

Man, I LOVE carriers!


And finally, in what I can’t help but feel is just plain weird news, John Woo has signed on to be part of the cast for a big budget Chinese propaganda film about the rise of the Communist Party. Every time I think about it I just get all kinds of weird twitches and shivers. Not, strictly speaking out of repulsion. No, this is more like fascination. It’s being struck by the Not-My-Culture stick. The idea of a blatantly propaganda laden film being produced at Blockbuster levels with a star studded cast is… well its baffling to my Western mind. But there you have it.

I know that a lot of people would argue to me that America has had its share of propaganda films in its time. I’d say, sure it has. But I can’t think of one that was taken particularly seriously that didn’t also critique the ideas behind certain American actions. Maybe The Patriot, but find me somebody who didn’t watch it for mindless American Revolutionary War entertainment and instead for America Worship. Okay, maybe you could find somebody, I don’t know. I just know that this sets off my weird sensors.

Now This Is A Movie That TOTALLY Has to Happen!


Oh. I’m going to watch it. Let’s hope it’s at least entertaining. You think Mao will still have the top of his hair? *munches popcorn*

That’s it for today, folks! Hope you have a great day!

– Edward L. Cheever II~

The Avengers Assemble At Comic Con With The Green Lantern To Review Final Fantasy XIII

Today’s Blog post is going to be a little bit of a geek fest due to stuff coming out of Comic Con in San Diego, so sorry to all of you who prefer my political commentary. But first, a quick note on Video Game stuff. I’ve finished Final Fantasy XIII recently and you can read my review of the game HERE. Even though a part of me wants to keep playing FFXIII and complete all the missions and get all the upgrades (etc.) I’m already moving on to God of War III, so I can finally finish the trilogy. You’ll be able to look forward to a review o that game after I’m finished with it as well. So far the game’s visuals and smooth gameplay are as superb as ever, but the storytelling is leaving me wanting and I’m not sure how I’ll feel about Kratos’ tale by the end of this. So… on to movies! First and foremost, let me get a little geeky for a moment… AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!

Earth's Mightiest Heroes

I’m such a nerd. Anyways, Marvel’s presence at Comic-Con is undeniable as they trot out little glorious tidbits about their upcoming movie slate. They had props from their films on display in cases, ready to get those fan boys a salivating, which I’ll talk about individually in a moment. The biggest wow moment, and the one I keep on geeking out about every so often is how they brought out the full cast for the Avengers on stage along with the announced Director Joss Whedon of Serenity, Firefly, Buffy: The Vampire slayer and Angel fame. I hear-tell that the audience went absolutely nuts with glee. I wish I could have been there to see it. Until the films come out, I guess I’m just stuff with a pic from the event.

The Full Cast

Joss Whedon is most likely an excellent pick for Director. There are a number of reasons for this. First of all, he’s great with ensemble casts, making each feel distinct and important. Second, he’s good at bringing three-dimensions to characters he oversees despite their fun, action or camp natures. Third, he has a lot of background a a comic book writer for Marvel. Fourth, he’s a perfect pick for the fan boy set which should keep them on board for the project. And Fifth, if This Article Is To Be Believed, he has his finger on the pulse of what makes he Avengers work so well.

At Least We Know Joss Has A Vision For The Film

All of these reasons make me very hopeful that all will turn out well. I’m not overflowing with joy, however, because there are some worrisome elements to picking Joss as well. He is very headstrong when it comes to his artistic vision for what he wants. This might make working with headstrong actors like Robert Downey Jr. difficult. He has also locked horns with the brass at Marvel before, which makes one feel like creative conflict in the upper branches of the project almost inevitable. The question will be if they can resolve these issues without Joss walking away from the project. On top of that, Joss only really has Serenity to his directorial name in the film industry and while it was a great film in its own right, does it give him enough experience outside of his TV background? We shall see, I suppose. Still, there’s lots of room for hope on this gravy train. When it comes to the individual movies of the Avenger’s cast, it also looks to be shaping up into something special. Captain America’s film is sounding better all the time. Early word from Comic-Con is that the plot of the film is not unlike Saving Private Ryan through the lens of Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark. That kind of mixture sounds like buckets of fun to me, and I adore the fact that Captain America’s first film will be a period piece like it should be.

I Don't Think It's Going To Be This, But Still...

Beyond that, I’ve also heard that they’ve nailed the costume and Cap’s shield. The costume in the film Con-goers saw was just a test costume, but everyone seems to be coming away positive. Just as awesome, of course, is the look of the official shield that will be in the movie.

Look At That Sweet, Sweet Shine!

Thor is also shaping up to be a great film, and word is that the still shots don’t do it justice. This is great to hear, especially since I thought some of the stills look pretty good already. The costumes look good, Asgard seems to be shaping up into a neat fantasy world, and again, word out of the Con seems to be really good so far. My favorite bits right now, though, are the helmets. Thor’s helmet retains the feathered design which eschewing actual feathers for metal ones. The end result, as you can see, is a helmet that I could believe a Norse warrior god wearing. To top it off, Loki’s helmet is even better. I say this because his was the one I was most worried about translating to the big screen. His curved horn pieces always seemed ridiculous. Again, the prop guys working for Marvel did a fantastic job of making it realistic and yet highly faithful to the comic books. Beyond that, this little tid-bit you see above is called the Infinity Gauntlet, one of the most powerful objects in the Marvel Universe. It not only looks great, but it is set to appear in the Thor movie. There’s no telling if it’s just a cameo item that’s being held for later movies (like the Avengers, maybe?) or if it will play a central role in Thor. Marvel sure isn’t pulling their punches in the realm of super-powerful objects. Apparently part of the clips shown for Captain America show the Red Skull searching for the Cosmic Cube, and object with similar powers to the Infinity Gauntlet.

Look at the armor. That's pretty awesome.

Detouring from Marvel, DC was also present at Comic-Con, though they didn’t leave as thorough an impression in the minds of the masses. Their one really big film they have coming up is the Green Lantern film staring Ryan Reynolds.

Sometimes it is kinda easy, being green.

I still don’t know what to think of the costume on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, but the potential is definitely there for an amazing movie. Ryan Reynolds is a great actor who’s been in need of some great material, so I’m hoping this is his film to shine.

I Think He'll Fill The Role Well.

Unfortunately, DC is seriously lagging behind Marvel in the way it builds hype, and while the clip shown at Comic-Con sounds cool, it also wasn’t enough, and it is being thoroughly overshadowed by Marvel’s offering. At least, that’s if the reports from Comic-con are to be believed. Considering that everything is generally positive, I really hope it’s all trustworthy material. After all, X-men Origins: Wolverine was a big hit at the Con when it debuted clips, and it turned out to be mediocre. This is the part of the blog where I would talk about the Green Hornet, but I honestly know next to nothing about this film. I saw the trailer, though, and it looks fun. Here’s hoping Seth Rogen makes a better super hero than saying “Seth Rogen is a super hero” out loud makes it sound. That’s all for today, folks. I nearly went into discussing Inception here at the end, but this post is long enough, and it might be good material for later. Tell me if there’s anything you want me to give my opinion on in the comments section! Sayonara, – Edward L. Cheever II

Despicable Me Teams Up With Leon To Give The Young Padawan A Beating

And so begins my daily blog. Kinda off to a rough start, considering that today is actually Wednesday and not Tuesday. That’s what I get for staying up so late, I guess.

At any rate, let’s get this experiment started!

So I’ve wanted a kitten of my own for some time now. The last cat I claimed as mine was Kenpachi and he was killed by a dog. That left me with no cat of my own. Now, we’ve got lots of cats around the place: Kieta, Kyo, Boots and Ozzy. Kimberly has Crookshanks and Slushy, and Katie has Leon. They’re all nice and sweet, and I love to pet them, but none of them are “mine.” So I’ve wanted one of my own.

Anyways, Kimberly recently acquired a kitten which she promptly named “Padawan.”

Isn't She Cute!


I think the little gal is adorable, and so does Katie. I’d love to keep her. And so, after petitioning Kimberly and my mom, that is the plan at the moment. If everything goes well, I can keep her. Unfortunately there are some pretty big ifs here.

First of all, Mom is tired of indoor cats (which Padawan must be if she’s to one day move with me to an apartment closer to traffic and cityscape and whatnot) so Padawan is staying indoors on my mother’s good graces. This will be severely tested should she turn out to be half the scoundrel Crookshanks or Slushy are. Unfortunately, she’s proving to have all the energy, curiosity and penchant for attacking things that those two have, not to mention how she’s already pooped and peed on my bed. Not exactly a good sign for staying on my mom’s good side.

Don't Let Her Innocent Face Fool You, She's a Scamp!


Of course, she’ll only have to stay here for so long. Now that Katie has a job, she’ll be looking for an apartment. Once she has that, the idea is that she will keep Padawan until we get married and move in together. Sounds simple enough. However there is one teensy itsy-bitsy miniscule and very Orange and White problem.

This Guy


Leon is an only child. Not technically, mind. In plain facts he’s Boot’s younger brother and the more mischievous of the two. But he is very much a mental and emotional only child. Not only does this mean he is not used to dealing with other felines in any socially constructive way, it also means he hasn’t the slightest idea what to do with a Kitten. He’s never seen one. But even that, in my opinion isn’t the worst of it. You see, he is terribly attached to his mommy. He adores Katie. And so when he sees a site like this:

The Horror!


Well, you can imagine. Today is Padawan and Leon’s first day spending time together. We’re trying to get Leon to finally except the existence of another cat in his mommy and daddy’s lives (at least he seems to have accepted me by now…) But my word, the yowling, mewing, fit throwing, hissing and spitting. For a while there I was certain that Leon was going to seriously attack the poor thing.

Ah! Don't Eat The Kitteh!


Having seen them spend time together I am at least convinced that Leon poses no real threat to Paddy’s well-being. He’s trying to bully and intimidate the little kitten, probably in some misguided attempt to drive her away for good. While I am thankful that his wrath upon Padawan isn’t serious in nature, that doesn’t mean I’m not upset about it.

In a more peaceful moment, Leon is absolutely loveable in his own right.


Not only has Leon’s severe aversion to the kitten provided a lot of head pounding stress, but it hasn’t let up at all either. If he doesn’t learn to coexist on the bare minimum of cease-fire terms with Paddy withing the next month of so, I may have to give up on Paddy becoming my kitten. I would rather let Paddy stay here and learn to be an outdoor kitty than take her with me and split up a loving master and pet relationship that already exists. Leon is higher up on the totem pole by a long shot. If Leon can’t get used to Paddy, then she can’t stay with us. I’m keeping myself detached enough from Paddy so that I won’t be torn up over it if we can’t keep her, but I really hope things work out.

On a side note, Katie and I saw Despicable Me today.

The Little Yellow Guys Are Pretty Funny.

It was a pretty good movie. It’s not fantastic or anything, though. It certainly doesn’t hold a candle to How to Train Your Dragon or Toy Story 3. No, it was merely good. Worth seeing with a number of genuine laughs, cute moments, great graphics and heart. Unfortunately, poor pacing in parts, a strange set-up and a plot that doesn’t exactly resonate with you, not to mention fart jokes and silly moments that have little to do with real clever humor and everything to do with playing solely to the younger audience mar the experience a bit.

Still, if you have a free moment, it is a good use of your time. Totally worth a matinee, and while grown ups will groan in places, kids will love it through and through.

Well, that’s it for my first mini-blog. Hope you liked it!

– Edward L. Cheever II