Monday, September 30, 2013

League of Extrordinary bloggers: Pet Peeves

So with a Blog named "Nerd Rage against the Machine." Pet Peeves are pretty much my specialty, I rant. That's what I do. And that being said, it's what I want to rant about but here is my pet peeves, so with that in mind I decided to shake this up a bit and come up with 5 major pet Peeves, make this kind of a potpourri of things that piss me off.

5-Celebrities who use Celebrity instead of acting- This happens more often than not, one young actor or actress gets that really meaty role that people love, and then BOOM! that's what he or she is known for. Look at Cillian Murphy, who played the Scarecrow in Batman Begins. Before this he played a sympathetic crossdressing protagonist in the film Breakfast on Pluto. Without a shred of malice or sadism, Murphy played the role with aplomb, but then he did a little movie called Batman Begins. Now? He is the perfect person to play sadists, sociopaths and psychos. Red Eye, his first film after Batman, he was the psycho in the film. He was also the villain in the films In Time, and set up to be the villain in the next Tron film. Why does this bother me? a few reasons, firstly we give these actors a by to play characters that are essentially their schtick rather than growing and cultivating other performances. And worse, films cater to them not the other way around. Take George Clooney, I won't deny the guy is talented, but at the same time rather than him trying to become this noted character, the character was twisted to fit Clooney's style. The importance of what makes Batman an interesting character were scrapped for "we want a George Clooney kind of Batman." The Same can be said for Shaquille O'neil in the film Steel. The character of Steel could have made a decent film but, WE GOT SHAQ!!! Let's make jokes about his inability to make free throws, and ignore the connections to superman that the character had, because IT'S SHAQ!!! Don't believe me? Look at Stalone's Judge Dredd film, which was a vehicle for Stalone, it was a disaster. Meanwhile Dredd, starring Karl Urban who was a hardcore fan of the comic did an amazing job as the megacity lawman, and doctor McCoy, two very different characters both played by the same ACTOR brilliantly. This often effects comic movies where since it's  lot of effects it is a summer blockbuster, and we want some "star power" to draw people in. Why? is a comic that has become a huge phenomenon in one industry not enough reason to explore it in film? So yeah Pet Peeve.

4-Games Workshop- Just like Disney and Microsoft, Games Workshop started out from humble beginnings. A group of british gamers who wanted to import the dungeons and dragons phenomenon to the UK. Eventually branching into miniatures and their own games, such as Talisman, and Dungeonquest, but nothing turned them from a small company to a publicly traded corporation like Warhammer, and it's sister game Warhammer 40,000 rogue trader. Since about the 1990s GW has gone from the small group of dedicated gamers that ran their company in the 1980s to a company beholden to it's shareholders, who have at every turn dicked over fans and the industry at large. From near annual price hikes, to frivolous lawsuits that would make Apple blush with shame, GW has truly become the Microsoft of the industry. Not a trip to the game store goes by that I don't get to hear another grievance planted firmly on GW. They just axed their specialist games line leaving fans of any thing they make that isn't Warhammer, or Warhammer 40,000 or the Hobbit, out in the cold, sorry bloodbowl players. And yet they continue to play. I have heard gamers scream bloody murder, and yet with alternatives in the market what do they do? They continue to give money to and play the GW way. If we had this blind loyalty in the video game industry, Atari would still be the number one brand in video gaming followed closely by Mattel, and Coleco. Two game companies I have begun to really like Warlord, and Mantic are run by Ex GW developers and have made some amazing games and have customer service unparalleled customer friendly activities, and yet fans go GW, this would be like a Beatles fan  refusing to listen to anything John Lennon, or Paul MacCartney do post Beatles, but they will slavisly buy polygram records because they distributed the Beatles records so they must be good. I just don't freaking get it!

3- People who cannot use their goddamn turn signals!- Nothing pisses me off more than some jackass who cuts me off from the left without bothering to use his turn signal, then jumps into the right turn lane and signals he is turning right. Not when it actually would have helped be a safe driver, but once you are in the goddamn THEN you let the world know that not only are you in a lane that only turns right, but you are signaling that you are turning right. There is a special place in hell for people like this. Stuck in a car with a repeating loop of Michael Bolton's greatest hits in a car with a top speed of 15 mph locked in for all eternity while other drivers cut you off every chance they get.  

2- Gamers (as in I own an X-box, so I am such the gamer)- have been a "gamer" since 1984, with red box D&D, Traveller, Champions, etc, and when I caught 50 shades of crap (even being accused of Satan worship, by a classmate who had a hard time wrapping her head around the idea that if I am an atheist, I by definition cannot worship, Satan or otherwise! Now being a hardcore gamer type means you play call of duty, or Halo on your Xbox. wow you guys really paid your dues. I earned the title of gamer, in marathon sessions of Cyberpunk, and Warhammer building terrain, and writing adventures, now you just pick up a wireless controller and play an "RPG" (I am sorry Final Fantasy VII is NOT AN RPG GODDAMN IT! It's just an adventure game with a shitty combat engine!!) damn kids get off my lawn!

1- The Fact that this dung heap is worth millions- Yeah the continued existence of the Australian douchebag who's company killed Firefly, the Tick, The Lone Gunmen, and countless others, and who pumped so much poison into our political discourse in this country is not only still around but worth
millions. The fact that Birthers bitch about our president claiming he's a foreigner take their marching orders from an actual foreigner would be funny if it wasn't so goddamn tragic. between Fox News and Fox screwing around with anything they touch that has an ounce of talent or quality (but you damn well better believe if it's some trash TV that appeals to the lowest common denominator this man will promote the hell out of it!) Suck it Rupert!

Now that I got that of my chest, let's see what pisses off the rest of the league.

Nerd Cantina
Cavalcade of Awesome (So right about the shopping carts!)
GI Jigsaw
Di's treasures
Diary of a Dorkette ( I remember the same problem with the Teen Titans Line (only got half a titan tower DAMN THEM!!))

Sunday, September 22, 2013

To Infinity?, I doubt I will go much beyond...

In 2006, Mattel took it's second foray into videogames. No longer squaring off against the likes of Atari, or Coleco, Mattel was about to take on Playstation 3 and Xbox-360, with their new machine. And while it did not have the HD compatibility, blu-ray internals or hardcore titles Like Halo, or Final Fantasy, they did have one thing an incredible marketing strategy. Using an RFID reader, in conjuntion with a CD-Rom, Mattel's Hyperscan, would allow players to use collectable trading cards to upgrade their games with new characters, powers and other stuff. In short making the customer buy expansions for a game with a physical value. with how hot collectable card games like Yu-Gi-Oh, and Pokemon were this thing could have been Mattel's license to print money. but underpowerd guts, horrible load times, and being placed in the toy aisle, not the electronics aisle prettymuch killed the Hyperscan's bid to put Mattel back in the console business, but perhaps it was a bit ahead of it's time. 

At least that must have been Activision's theory when they created an RFID accessory and figures with RFID tags in their bases for the kids video game Skylanders. again kids will go nuts for toys that will also enhance their gameplay. but as Activision cleverly made it an accessory for all 3 big consoles and sells PVC figures instead of cards, the idea took off like gangbusters. How gangbusters you may ask? Enough so for Disney to decide they want their own piece of that filthy filthy Skylanders cash. 

And that in a Nutshell is the premise behind Disney's Infinity. The game is actually a series of lukewarm sandbox games tied together with a minecraftesque build your own world. The Disney Infinity figures, which are stylized PVC figures possessing no articulation, and the ubiquitous RFID tag base. in short they are selling add on DLC as a physical item, and with a considerable mark up. The average "new character" is about $0.99 which is $12.00 less than the average Infinity figure. Now at first I was actually kind of O.K. with this, my daughter, who is not at the age where she plays video games, seemed to fall in love with the figurines, and as the RFID is sealed in a plastic casing I don't have a large worry about her damaging them. However a few odd things. Firstly, the game's tutorial (because that's how games work nowadays, no one has time to read a manual, so let's give them a tutorial!) goes on and on (at infinitum) about the power of imagination. it's in fact, supposed to be the central theme of the game, a bit like it is in the little big planet game series. However maybe it's the lack of the dulcet tones of Mr. Stephen Fry talking about the power of imagination, but the whole damn thing feels artificial. 

Also within the sandbox games you are forced to keep to a very specific regimen. Only characters from the incredibles can be in the incredibles game and never any others, wanna play Jack Sparrow in Monster University? Too bad. Wanna change characters mid adventure (such as from Violet to Dash in the increedibles) Nope, you play the same character, or start the entire game world over again. Both of these seem like very stifling tactics for a game that espouses the value of imagination. I can understand that Disney wants to protect it's IP, but since all of the elements and the world is all generated by Disney, we aren't going to see any objectionable content by letting Mr. Incredible use his powers in the world of the Lone Ranger, or even change characters between sessions. Sure some are going to be ill- suited for some games/ worlds, the inability to climb may really make any of the Cars characters have a tough time in the incredibles, but this is the kind of organic trial and error thing that players would enjoy, and would allow players to explore possibilities. Now much of this CAN be done in the minecrafteqsue toybox mode, however in a game about imagination and that pushes that word as much as this does it seems to be a questionable decision. Now one other thing on the physical figures, as I mentioned earlier, my daughter loves them. In fact she loves them so much she has been known to pluck the figures off the desk while being used and hide them. So imagine if your favorite game had physical components (beyond just the disk, and controler) that MUST be connected to the console to continue, and f lost you either have to start over or not play. I spent 2 hours looking all over for Mrs Incredible, while reviewing this because my daughter thought she should be set under the couch. and the power disk, still remains MIA. 

Another new thing is the game has ads, (of a sort) littered throughout the game worlds are videos to show off and extol the virtues of the other characters. This takes the game out of the realm of memorabilia into advertising to you paid for by you. they are already pushing characters for upcoming films by showing the videogame characters in promotion during the game. Considering the core game is $75 with 3 character figures and the infinity RFID reader (called the toybox), and the software. then add an additional $13.00 for each individual figure or $30.00-$35.00 for 3 packs or 2 packs with an additional "world icon", you can see how this game can start to get very costly very quickly. This is also more useful for them to pass off than the deluge of cheaply made video games based on new movies, Case in point, why make a Lone Ranger video game that few will play considering the potential unpopularity of the film, but if you already spent for infinity and are a completist, you will spend $35.00 for the Lone Ranger character pack and play the lone ranger missions for the bonuses they may give to the infinity experience as a whole? This is the future of disney interactive, and I can see them pulling in Star Wars and Marvel this way as well, Why not? There is already some ESPN inspired terrain in the game and muppet costumes, why not add these other 2 cash cow properties? 

In the end I am probably not their core demographic, I get that, I am sure my daughter when she comes of age will probably be more into it than I am but in short I got into this both due to colleagues gushing over it, and getting it on discount, but I don't know how far beyond I would want to go with Infinity. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

My comic book dream

As long as I can remember I wanted to be a writer. Comics/movies, TV anything like that. Guess that's why I do this Blog and all, So with that in mind I am going to shop my comic idea at a small con this weekend and wanted to give everyone a quick taste, enjoy...

Even though I really want to write I decided to do a sample of the book rather than script to get a better feel for what the layout and pacing would look like. My plan is to run a small print run to send out to publishers and see if there is any interest,  Now I just have to find a decent artist. Any takers?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


So i try to be less political here than on my facebook page, or in real life, but in this case I am not holding back. Why because this is an issue that just pisses me off like no other. We crowned the first Miss America of Indian Descent, Nina Davuluri, and the response? Well it was a tirade of racist bullshit on twitter. Many calling her muslim, and screaming that as someone not born in America, she cannot be Miss America. Really now we have to birther the person who won the title of Miss America?  First off I am sure we can find her birth certificate, but more to the point what give anyone the right to question wether or not she is American? 

If anything she is a shining example of the traditions this country was founded on, we are supposed to be a great melting pot of cultures and nations. When did that only apply to white people? There was a time in this country when your ancestors were most likely persecuted for not being "real Americans", maybe they had funny accents, or didn't speak english, and yet you spit in the faces of these people's struggles when you try to exclude others from the American dream. and that's what this is. Don't pretend you are concerned because she might be Muslim (actually she is Hindu) but what does this matter? She could be a devout Christian, Athiest, or even a devout worshiper of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and it would not change her qualifications to win this contest.

Beauty, It's a beauty contest right? Not a contest for government office, right? So the judges declared her the winner, and as beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder, you don't have to agree. We all have our type, and if she isn't yours that's fine you are entitled to your opinion.If she is too tall, or short, or you just don't like the whole package that's fine. Case in Point I never thought Pamella Anderson was all that attractive, or Voyager's Jeri Ryan. I do however think that Tina Fey, and Jewel Statie (Kaylee on Firefly) are both very attractive women. Again my opinion, not that either women could make the standards of the Miss American Contest. But there is a severe difference between not agreeing with the judges of a beauty contest and flat out racism. 
Theresa Vail, the tattooed Miss Kansas didn't win and  this is much of what seems to be sticking in these people's craw. She is viewed as a "real American" because she was in the military, like bow hunting, and has a tattoo of the serenity prayer on her side. So here is the deal she had the same chance to wow the judges as any other candidate, and it did not work out. That's life. Get over it, it is no reason to be so hateful toward the girl that did win. 

What's more what, ultimately, will she get out of being Miss America? is she now the ruler of America? No. While equally Assanine, I could understand the concern over Obama being president, if he really is unfit to lead that can be frustrating (I Know, I went through 8 years of that when W was in office!) but this isn't a position of power, it is only one of prestige. She will have to do several parades, and get her foot in the door in hollywood, where she may get into TV, Music, or Movies. Look at Vanessa Williams, and she had her crown revoked for being in Penthouse

Yet this Numbnut (who is also an American of Indian Descent) has actual power, as the governor of Louisiana. and yet no one on the right is grumbling. Why? Well he's pro NRA, pro big oil, anti gay, anti abortion. In short he is towing the republican ideology. To top this off Jindal (who claims to have exorcised demons out of a woman)  has also been floated around as a potential GOP candidate for vice president. Hmm. Methinks there is a bit of hypocrisy here.  Of course the fact that he has become embroiled in a scandal of favors for donations matters as little as his heritage to the repubs and tea partiers, who support him, because he is a real American. So what does Miss Dvuluri have to do to be accepted, claim to be a born again christian, and cheat charities on the Koch brothers behalf, then will you consider her a real American? Seriously this is just do fucking wrong. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Venture Brothers!

Still one of my absolute favorite TV shows. It has everything multiple layers, of story amazing and hilarious characters and plots that just suck you in, what's not to like?


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Poor miss Cassandra Kane, and shame on you DC!

So is it me or is DC really falling so damn low? Cal recently broke a story about the crap they are doing to Harley Quinn, and not soon after we get this. I was initially annoyed with whole new 52 crap that DC put together. From the horrible implementation and inability to keep it's won continuity straight, to the horrible decisions such as trying to steal Marvel's North Star wedding with making green lantern Allen Scott gay, a major character in the most minor of ways. So now there is a new controversy with Batwoman, another gay character. Who their writers have decided would marry her long time love. No big thing, right? No thunder to seal, just an organic part of plot. So how did DC's head honchos handle this? As I said no headlines to grab from Marvel, so no. No same sex wedding for Batwoman. What is the justification for this boneheaded and ultimately homophobic decision? simple, the idea is that heroes shouldn't be happy. Yup, DC's brass stated that allowing Cassandra Kane to marry her love would make her happy, and this would have a negative impact on the character. As heroes should be unhappy and must make sacrifices as part of the heroic journey.

Utter Bullshit.

Sorry to be so blunt but come on! Sure heroes DO have to sacrifice. But that does not mean that she would not be allowed to marry. marriage can be a source of great tragedy. From the obvious hostage the girl trope, to the sheer stress that a double life can have on a relationship. Look at any good cop drama, then remember that donning the suit is not a job, it's optional. She could stop it's not their duty or livelihood. And unlike a cop there are no days when being a superhero is just an office day. Add to that, the fact that her girlfriend is a cop, and you have a perfect recipe for misery and tension. In short. The excuse is a load of crap and DC knows it. The whole staff quit over this, and the only press DC is going to get from this is bad. I think it's time to admit the whole 52 thing was a mistake, and that these tactics simply aren't working.

Tuesday with Nemi.

Nemi is a Norwegian comic by cartoonist Lise Meyers I found this series when researching world comics, and was lucky enough to find all four english collected volumes. Funny stuff.  Enjoy. 

My Top Five issues with the Star Trek Franchise-

So I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I consider myself a pretty hard core Trekkie, and befor you start with the "true fans call themselves trekker!" Crap, let me start with this Roddenbury used the term Trekkies, and when he was called to task for this at a convention he responded, "No, I made you, I get to name you," fair enough in my mind. But I want to declare myself a fan of Star Trek before I continue. What I say I say out of love and respect for the show. It's easy to attack something you hate. My writing a top five what is wrong with the Star Wars prequels would not only be an exceedingly easy former to write, and would most likely be agreed upon by most, but it would also join the millions of Megabytes of clever jar jar sucks rants already on the Internet, and it won't make fans stop and think. Where is the challenge in that? Stating that, I love Trek, but love means looking deep, not just blindly accepting all of it's flaws. And for all the incredible things about Star Trek, it does have it's flaws.  And this is my top five issues with this most venerated of science fiction sagas.

5-One Note Races- Now I put this as number five because it could be worse. Look at Star Wars were certain races aspire to very specific jobs. such as the huts who are almost always mobster, or how Rodians obsess about becoming bounty hunters mainly because the first ones we see on screens held these jobs. Also to be honest, most fantasy races are based on stereotypes of kinds of people we know, tolkien's elves, dwarves and hobbits coral ate to real world people, chances are you know someone who exhibits elven or dwarven characteristics. Trek races work very much on this mentality. This is why we don't have Klingon doctor characters, or  or Vulcan spies, as "vulcans don't lie." And when a race does break the bonds of this cultural stereotype, not only are they radical, but the lean toward becoming more human. Worf, Spock, and Nog become more "human by rejecting some of the notions of their social stereotypes. This makes these races less alien and more variants on the stereotypes of humanity. Compare this to say the Minbari in Babylon-5  whom while are often
seen as spritual and contemplative on the show, can be crass, rude, even downright belligerent, while
they too are more human than truly alien, it is nice to see races where there is no one specific mold where it is not a major story point NOT to act like the main characters.

4- Famous Firsts- Again, this is not a Trek only problem. We see this a lot in many fictions, it's normally a sign of poor writing, especially when it happens to so many characters. This is the notion to try to make a character extra special, The fact that not one man in 1000 could make it into the captain's chair not impressive enough for you? Viola, Kirk is also, the youngest person to ever do it! Being a half breed with an alien species not exotic enough? Poof! Spock is a singularly unique entity never to be seen again! In the pilot episode of Star Trek The Next Generation, Pickard passes another android in engineering, implying a ship having androids is common place, but in less than a season his secret origin reveals that despite the original series running into several tech caches of android technology, enough to make androids common place several decades later, Data is only one of two
unique devices made by dr. Noonian Singh. Worf? Oh, yeah he is the first and to date only Klingon
to join Starfleet. Geordi's visor, common place? NO it's a unique piece of tech, that no othe blind
person gets (which is espeically crappy when you see that if blindness is caused by genetic defect, we can't genetically modify a person to be sighted thanks to Khan......KHAN!!! )  think of some of the big innovators of our world today, and did they have to be the first or only to make an impact. Was Joss Wheadon, the youngest person ever to write for CBS? Was Steve Jobs the only person working on personal computing?  Was MacArthur the youngest general ever? No. And yet these people's stories can still be compelling. I would love to see more of the common crew in Star Trek, a ship that isn't the flagship with the best of the best of the best with honors. This is one of firefly's appeals, the characters aren't supremely awesome people with incredible gifts (o.k River aside that is). But they are ordinary folk in an Extrordinary world. As one Star Trek slogan is "the human adventure is just beginning!" It might help if the humans were, more human.

3- Enlightened, yet frightfully backwards- The last episode of Star Trek, Turnabout intruder, it is clearl and quite stupidly explained that women simply don't have the mental wherewithal to be Starship captains. And most of us turn a blind eye to this turd of an episode, as it was a dumb concept that Roddenbury didn't sign off on, and we all know better. Later in Trek we would see females take command, and yet when it came to Voyager we took a massive step backward. Janeway was not the ideal Starfleet captain, during a mutiny she cried on the shoulder of her  head mutineer, would Kirk have done that if Spock had mutinied? HELL NO! He's have slugged Spock and exclaimed "You never to that on MY ship mister!" Pickard? Sisko? still no! But janeway by sheer merit of chromosomes has to play it super feminine and cries on Tuvok's shoulder. And then there is Q. an ageless timeless and godlike being of no gender, who gets the hots for which captain? Janeway. They went out of their way sometimes to point out she was not a male. It got old, and could have been handled way better, then there is the whole no gay characters in Trek. Why not? in an inclusive environment as trek why are we going to ignore a diverse group based on sexuality? David Gerald's script blood and ire called for a gay couple, and it was ousted from TNG. (though the good folk at Star Trek Phase II, a fan series did it anyway!) I think this is one Roddenbury would have done but the studios were simply scared that their cash cow could offend, obviously missing that it was loved for it's inclusiveness such as a black woman as an officer and the first interracial kiss, and thus stifling what trek could be.

2- Continuity holes you can drive a Galaxy Class Star Ship through-I Know I Know, any show that has had over 40 years of continuity, multiple series, movies, games, comics,novels and cartoons can't hope to have a concise and perfectly written history that never overlaps and never contradicts itself. Too many chefs ruining the stew and all that. But sometimes you just have to try harder. Harder than the Trill who were an unknown race in the federation in TNG had an officer in the federation grooming Sisko, and helping the Klingons but knew nothing of his medical history. Or if the Dominion War was the biggest event in the federation since the Borg, where the hell was the federation's flagship during all this, Putzing around with the Sona, Really? and this wasn't some odd reference in classic trek that we forgot or chosen to ignore like the crap in turnabout intruder, this was stuff that was written in the series that had people working on all of this stuff at the same time dropping the ball. And don't even get me started on the multiple version of "do Klingons without ridges exist and why?" arguements.

1- Space Booze-  This one has always bothered me. So people in the 24th century without need of money will do work to fill a sense of self fulfillment, even crappy jobs most people today won't do for pay. We have eliminated most vices, no porn addicts in the 24th century, no amputees, and certainly no drugs. We as a species have grown out of using chemicals to get "high" and won't be addicted to these kinds of dangerous substances. Well, except booze. For all it's ills, for the countless examples of alcohol destroying lives, impairing judgement, and being a root cause of accidents. It's not only still acceptable in the 24th century, but almost required. But wait, they have a new kind of alcohol, called synthahol that allows you to "shake off" the effects at will. No one thought about cake that doesn't contribute to type 2 diabetes, but as long as we can still go on toquilla binges we are A OK. years ago Harlan Ellison wrote the script City on the Edge of Forever, in which Kirk and Spock would confront a junkie on the enterprise. The fact that there are no druggies in the future, would prompt Gene Roddenbury to rewrite the script. Something that really pissed off Ellison, Well sorry guys alcohol is a drug. You can't have Wesley give a moralistic questioning on how would people allow themselves to be addicted to some chemical, while Guinan is serving fuzzy navels in 10 forward. Funny thing is Roddenbury angered studio execs by banning smoking from the ship, meaning that he cut out the potential for tobacco advertising revenue. Yet this same man allowed all itterations of Trek to drink like Barney Gumbal, because of the weak plot device of new space booze, why? How is it people can evolve out of so much in Trek but not this? Don't get me wrong Star Wars, Babylon-5, Firefly all have booze, and bars, but they also have druggies, alcoholics, and all the real demons that alcohol brings making it a real part of the world for all its ills and allure. This is a good example though of trying too hard to keep one institution you do like while illogically condemning similar institutions you are against. Weak man, really weak.