Dual Who Review: Flatline and Forest

October 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

Finally.

Flatline

This season has been all about regime change. Direction change. A change in Doctors and the attitude that was permeating the show in the previous three seasons. I think Flatline is kind of what this season is all about. It was dark and creepy and somewhat different in a way where I couldn’t have pictured it taking place with any other Doctor or in any other season.

It takes something we know well (the TARDIS) and know the limitations to and puts it in an unexpected kind of peril. It also used some real science there for a minute. It’s entirely possible that there’s things in the second dimension that can’t interact with us properly and that when you touch their dimensional plane all they see is the flat part of your molecules interacting with their world. To them everything is two-dee and they can only view the world in two-dee. So what happens when they start to try and learn about our universe?

The episode never really seemed to answer that. Kind of like the episode “Listen” we never really get the concrete reason behind what the things are doing and we don’t need to. It’s not important to the episode. In the case of Listen it didn’t matter because the episode didn’t need it. In this case it was just scary to not know and have the assumption be made that since they were hurting people they must be meaning to do it.

There’s a part near the middle of the episode where the humans are speculating about what the aliens are doing by calling out the numbers of people they’ve taken and it has that sort of “Midnight” fear mentality to it. The Doctor is on the phone trying to calm them down, telling them not to make assumptions, but they’re gripped by fear and rightfully so.

The two dimensional beings are sucking people into their dimension and killing them in the process and the Doctor is trapped within his TARDIS leaving Clara to run things. It seems that one of the staples of this season is Clara being left to her own devices or to follow the Doctor’s orders and handle a problem in his absence. We’ve seen a lot of the two of them separated and her with other humans and just interacting. She’s placed in danger often and it seems to be different for her than other companions because she’s not got the safety net. I get the feeling the Doctor is trying to distance himself more and more from her.

A bit of the drama that started in Kill the Moon seems to be going strong and I’m glad they didn’t just abandon the plot thread and act like it never happened.

And I just have to comment on the effects for the creatures in this episode. If there’s one thing that keeps getting better on the show it’s the look of the aliens and monsters. Where as in season five we had moments of horrible CGI with Prisoner Zero, we’ve got really solid effects here with these strange looking shifter creatures. I’ve heard some people claim that rubber suits add charm to the show and the bad effects were a staple. That’s bullshit and you’re simply wrong. Realistic just looks better, sorry we don’t grade things by hipster standards.

In the Forest of the Night

Another big part of this season seems to be the Doctor having to do “nothing” to fix the issue of the episode. It seems like there is a lot more moments of helplessness and a lot less ass pulling. I kind of saw the twist ending coming, but I enjoyed this for the children and their sparse use of the different kids for little beats.

I really enjoyed the Doctor interacting with the kids.

Probably my biggest issue with this season has been that we’re getting much more of the Earth episodes than in the past three seasons. I think that one of the strengths of the show is the ability to go anywhere and do anything and I think we’re better off avoiding Earth as often as possible.

That having been said this was a pretty interesting episode and it didn’t just end up being another romp of “let’s watch Cardiff pretend to be London”. The forest was generally scary, the fairytales thing was well placed with the references to Little Red Ridding Hood and Hansel and Gretel and I think that we’re seeing a good kind of deconstruction of myths associated with things or at least a special way Doctor Who has of dealing with the things that we accept as truth or that we have ingrained in our culture. We saw that earlier this season with the nightmares about someone grabbing our foot and the myth of Robin Hood. We have seen these themes a lot in Moffat episodes with enemies like the Silence, the Vashta Nerada, the Angels and moving statues and other things like that.

I really don’t mind these cultural parallels. It allows the show to use the familiar to be scary without there needing to be blood and gore. 

Sorry about the long wait, I will be back sooner with a review of the next episode.

Gamer Culture

October 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

They were discussing how many trophies they had earned in the new Super Smash Bros. game for the 3DS. Four hundred and eight, one said. Another chimed in with the rather robust number of six hundred and nineteen. Not sure how many I have over here…I don’t really remember where to go to find out, but I know it’s probably in the double digits. It’s not like these people have had it longer than me, I got it the first day it came out.

I really haven’t looked at my trophy count in the game and it seems like I go days at a time without playing. Don’t get me wrong, the game is perfect other than being on a very hard to hold and control system. I love it, really.

But I just don’t play games like I used to. I don’t feel like sitting down with the game for hours on end and even when I do it’s because there’s a story there and I have gotten really invested in it. My play through of Bioshock: Infinite kind of brought that out in me as did Last of Us. But these games are different than the kind of thing where you’re just in direct competition or you’re just running around on senseless missions.

I don’t think I’ve self identified as a gamer in years. I play games, sure. But I don’t really hang onto the whole medium the way others that I know do. When we started to see what is largely seen as gamer subculture arise with it’s own clothing, music and food I stayed away from that stuff. I’ve never been that enamored with Mountain Dew and besides mc chris nerdcore kind of wore on me. I just…never wanted to be seen as that person because I didn’t really identify with the other people that I saw in that group. Hell, I’ve never been one to identify with most groups.

And if you’re in the group that’s okay. I feel like at one point I was in there too…it’s just that I don’t fit anymore and what all of this means has changed.

#GamerGate And Why It Isn’t Scoring You Any Points (with anyone that matters)

October 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

1409767571-GamerGateGamer Gate is the kind of thing I would usually talk about, but frankly I find the whole thing bizarre in that it’s taken on this kind of life where some people are so sure that it’s all about integrity in game journalism. At the same time there is an overwhelmingly vocal portion of the supporters of the movement that are very, very sexist and misogynistic.

The movement is basically the equivalent of a group of people on a rooftop masturbating so that the sound carries through megaphones down to a crowd of horrified onlookers. Meanwhile a second, possibly larger, group who is self-blindfolded tries to convince the crowd that they’re not masturbating and that’s the important thing all while ignoring the fact someone is beating off and that the beating off is exactly what triggered everyone looking to see who was doing all the beating off in the first place.

As someone who was raised on video games and came up in the late 1980s I feel like I have a need to comment, if not an obligation. Video games have changed tremendously in my life time and they have gone from indiscernible groupings of pixels that vaguely represent the idea of something to near-life-like representations of characters we love and care about that have personality, complex backstories and histories to rival that of other fictional characters and even some real ones. 

Do I think gaming is important? Well, yeah it’s as important as any of the other things that people do for pleasure. It’s a different form of entertainment, one that you experience in a way that you don’t get through reading or television and movies.

But I think part of what’s causing gaming not to grow is stuff like what’s happening in this whole Gamer Gate scandal. I mean what’s really happening. We have a group of people being non-inclusive. They want women harassed for speaking up or having opinions, they want women threatened with rape and other horrible stuff and then they turn around and wonder why their artistic medium isn’t taken seriously.

Really, I feel like the whole subject is tiring and the fact that it’s been given this much attention by the community says something really bad about gamers over all. Do you think journalistic integrity is that great anywhere? Especially when it comes to reviews. Read any number of reviews for an iPhone and compare them with Android phones with the exact same features. The connotation of the words changes and what’s a negative for one phone isn’t mentioned for the other. People who review technology like phones are often given free phones to try out before the public gets them. They can keep the phone. People were whining about the same thing in game journalism as if they want these people who barely make enough money to live already should go completely into debt by buying a shit ton of games just to tell a horde of ungrateful assholes if they’re good or not. Movie reviewers also get free tickets or screener copies of movies.

My point is that the things that the game community are so upset about are normal. People are upset that reviewers are getting to know developers. Of course they are. They got into this business because they love games and some of these people they get to meet are their heroes. You don’t think that these people are going to date each other or that they’re going to be friends or hang out? Do you think that no one who covers real news has ever made friends with a politician that they had to cover (because you would be wrong. Jon Stewart was friends with Anthony Weiner and covered what happened with his political career like he would have anyone else. Connections don’t make people suddenly lose integrity in all cases).

This is why I find it so hard to side with either side of the Gamer Gate cause spectrum, at best it’s people who are upset about something that is happening across the board with media and at worse it’s people upset that women dare to speak. One of those things I feel like would be better served if people focused their attention on the problem with media at large and the other I feel like is a fundamental problem with the culture of the average gamer and gaming at large.

This video pretty much sums up my entire thought process on this thing. This comment from the video comment section is a favorite of mine:

“The comment section today seems pretty anti-feminist in defense of GamerGate. That this video is somehow feminist because he’d like women not to be harassed? And yet people claim GamerGate isn’t anti-feminist, even though the video is being described as feminist as something bad. that says a lot.”—Mia Mulder (Not related to Fox Mulder)

Fox-Mulder-fox-mulder-21116483-1024-768

One more thing: stop using the term social justice warriors like it’s some kind of awful racial slur. I don’t get when it became bad to stand up for gays, women, and other races. But hint, it’s not.

A Very Late Doctor Who Review

October 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

mummy_on_the_orient_expressIt’s been a busy few days for me. I haven’t been feeling super well and my mood has been crap to say the least. But I’m coping and I’ve learned to do this without having to bring others around me down.

This isn’t to do with the Doctor Who episode from last Saturday. That was fantastic. That might be setting season eight up to be one of the best seasons of New-Who. The mummy angle was brilliant and offered a real mystery, but the drama with the Doctor and Clara was the real meat and potatoes of the episode. I think her reaction is the first time in the new show we’ve seen someone really react realistically to the Doctor changing. Before we had Rose who really only cared for a single episode and when we were introduced to Eleven he was meeting a new companion and Amy didn’t have a reason to react.

A man you’ve just been traveling with for months has suddenly turned into an entirely different person with different moods and a changed temperament. Clara isn’t handling that well and nor should she be expected to, but we’re getting to see that the Doctor cares about her underneath it all and that really is what she needed to know. This seems like an honest mistake (I mean the tickets were free. Free!).

I don’t really have much to say about this episode and my head is cluttered right now. But it was solid and I think this bodes well for this season and this Doctor. Capaldi is shaping up to be my second favorite and he’s bringing fans back to the show.

I suspect that some of the people who didn’t like the show with Matt Smith really just didn’t like Smith, which I don’t get. Then again I have a less than favorable opinion of Tennant, so to each their own I guess.

Batgirl #35 Review

October 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

Going to try to keep this short. I know I say that a lot, but I rarely do it. I picked up the fresh off the presses Batgril #35, the issue that I blogged about being the big change over in the tone of the series, and let me just say did they keep that promise. comics

The art is more light hearted and brighter and Batgirl is moved out of the dreary downtown section of Gotham to live in trendy, upbeat Burnside. the transition might be jarring. The new team goes fast like their ripping off a band-aid, but I think it’s time to stop pandering to comic book readers as if there’s only one type of reader reading these things.

Yes, there’s a girly tone to the book now. But it’s odd to see that leveled as criticism when roughly half of the planet is girls and some of those girls will more than likely like girly stuff. And some of the guys won’t mind something in that tone if it’s well written (and drawn).

I’m not sure how far in advance these things are written, but the story seems ripped from the headlines of the iCloud hacking scandal. Someone in Gotham is stealing phones and collecting the data on them to expose the secret lives of others. That’s the villain for this book. I liked it and it didn’t have that depressing tone so many other comics seem to need to have (what’s with DC and not wanting people to have fun?).

Also the art is nice. Babs Tarr has a real stand out style.

babs

If you’re worn thin on brooding superheroes I would give this one a try.

No Country For Toons

October 7, 2014 § Leave a comment

logoI’ve been seeing this thing around the internet for the last few days about the end of the era of cartoons on Saturday morning. My only reaction was “meh”. In a world where you can turn on one of half a dozen cable channels geared specifically towards kids, a few channels showing stuff early on one morning doesn’t mean as much.

The best cartoons have been on cable for almost a decade now and a few networks limped along fighting because they saw a reason to. But it doesn’t really change my life or my world around me. It won’t change anything going on around most of us, so why are people so mopey and sad in the comments?

It feels like there’s not really genuine emotion anymore coming from people. At least not when it’s appropriate. These people who sit there talking about how greatly the cartoons they’re not watching Saturday mornings will be missed are the same people who will scoff at the victims of Ebola, turn a blind eye to the victims of atrocities overseas and here and the same people that don’t generally give a shit about upcoming elections or even know that there is one.

“How can I tell that these people don’t watch cartoons in that time slot” you might be asking. Because if all the people complaining about this great loss did watch them, then they wouldn’t be going off. People are so ready to be distraught over nostalgia and want to hold anything old in high esteem. Yes, most of us liked cartoons growing up. But get over it. Times change, things go away and die and we move on. This isn’t a big deal, it won’t affect 90% of you (or more). People need to stop pausing to cry over these things and make a big deal out of them because it obviously wasn’t a big enough deal for you to care before.

Affleck’s Defense of Islam

October 7, 2014 § 2 Comments

1412470439154_wps_20_Ben_Affleck_vs_Bill_MaherThis has been blowing up the internet for the last few days and while I didn’t want to make my whole post today about it, because I felt that everything that’s been said already is all that can be said, I do want to point out that to anyone with ears who is willing to control their emotions it’s obvious Ben Affleck wasn’t fucking listening.

It’s also obvious that Bill Maher’s reputation isn’t that well known. The guy bashes religion week after week. He talks about Catholics and other Christians all of the time and to some extent he talks about the Jews. My issue with this is that when he does that no one ever gets up in arms. No one comes to complain or makes a big stink online about him bashing these other religions, but when he calls Islam out everyone loses their minds.

giphy

And it proves Maher’s point entirely. White, liberal America doesn’t want to talk about the problems in Islam. Even though there are valid complaints about all religions you can bring up and there are radical forms of most of the large religions, the one most exempt from criticism with them is the oddly always Islam.

Someone will probably call me a racist the same way they tried to call Maher racist, but despite my dislike of Maher I have to respect him because he’s one of the most no-bullshit commentators out there for politics, issues of race and religion.

People have to learn to give and take criticism about things like this. That’s why it’s scary that people in the United States want a theocracy. That number was widely reported when it came out and really it kind of makes me think less of my own country. I mean, sure that’s not a majority, thirty four percent, but we should be past wanting that sort of thing because it doesn’t work.  Then you hear about the sixty-four percent of people in Pakistan and Egypt that support death as a punishment for leaving Islam and you wonder how anyone can defend something like that.

We have to stop worrying about the things that went on in the past between the West and the Near and Middle East. It seems that people are perfectly alright with bitching about the Catholic Church during the Crusades, but they shy away from this number—which is really a Crusade era type of thought.

I don’t always like Maher, but I feel the need to stand up with him because he seems to speak to what’s really going on more often than not, even if it’s in a blunt sometimes rude way. And with people unable to wake up and see what’s happening around them most of the time we need that.

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