December 28, 2005


Da Bears

So I've now seen both Grizzly Man and Project Grizzly, which makes a great themed double feature. The theme, of course, being "kooks with grizzly fixations."

I've got more to say about them both, but it's still simmering; my muse just shoots me a withering glare and tells me to stay the hell out of the kitchen till it's done. But they're both really good flicks in their own way, and, in my head at least, actually mesh together really well, all poetical-like.

Nope, not done yet. Maybe in awhile.

posted by Gar @ 4:37 PM

December 27, 2005


You can call us Aaron Burr from the way we're dropping Hamiltons

Lazy Sunday.

Yeah. Pretty much.

posted by Gar @ 9:12 PM

the evil of the thriller

I watched the original "Manchurian Candidate" flick a couple months back, and really enjoyed it. It was deeply and fundamentally stupid, of course, but more importantly, it was funny and clever in a way that modern films simply tend not to be.

More recently, I saw the remake which comparatively was--to get all high-falutin' film critic vocabulary about it--shit. It was just as deepy and fundamentally stupid, mind you--this is inherent in the "thriller" genre. It's as much an integral part of the laws of reality in thrillers as people behaving grotesquely stupidly is in run-of-the-mill horror, or fiery explosion shockwaves always traveling just slightly slower than protagonist-running speed is in action. Occasional entries in the genre may bend the rules, but they are exceptions, not the norm.

Mind you, I did have to pause the dvd to quietly scream during the portion when dude drops the implant he just dug out of his shoulder down the drain, thus losing the evidence FOREVER! (He later gets its twin back by chewing it out of the other fellow's back, and there's probably a paper there on a strained analogy on racial themes for some aspiring undergrad to write.) But that had less to do with the inherent stupidity of thrillers in general, and more with the fact that it's one of those minor movie moments that really brings home that your average Hollywood script writer has apparently never in his life actually looked underneath a sink. Those magical pipes under there, guys? They have that U bend specifically to catch things like rings and, oh, shoulder implants that get accidentally dropped down the drain. You morons. But I digress.

The aside about the drain thing is simply a sort of idiocy-spike (not quite ice-9 level, unfortunately), but not the problem. Yes, dumbness abounds--at the most abstract level of, if I'm running an evil corporation that intends to have a de facto coup, and I have a highly reliable mind-control technology, the plan as put forth in the film is perhaps among the ten worst I could conceive of. But again, that's not the problem. The problem was that the remake is painfully unfunny. It's all heavy on the angst of "but is my mind my own?" that the original treated much more playfully. And yes, actual mind control would be--will be--a goddamn horror, but merely having Denzel Washington look stricken isn't how to explore that. The thriller in general is not the place to explore that horror because when it actually happens? It won't be soaked in stupidity. Let me rephrase that: it won't be soaked in thriller stupidity. It'll have real life stupidity, thus the horror. The dialogue all has very modern bland stricken quality to it, which I of course immediately compared to the much snappier, frequently nigh-screwball conversations in the Red Scare Candidate version.

What I'm saying is, see the original. It has Frank Sinatra in one of the first kung-fu fights in American film history and the titular Candidate taking up his programmed sniper post through a door prominently labeled NO. And at one point, a drunken conversation that involves a literary reference to Orestes and Clytemnestra. It's a better flick for all of that.

I wish I'd watched them in the opposite order, actually.

posted by Gar @ 11:22 AM

December 23, 2005


Videogame review, X3: Reunion

I'm going to tentatively declare that my earlier predictions that the game would hit what was, practically speaking, version 1.0 after being patched to 1.3, partially correct. Partially because at the time, I figured they'd take until late January to reach 1.3. They got faster!

I ordered the game awhile back when it popped up on one of Gogamer's sale deals. Ordinarily I would have popped for the dvd version because obviously, but a) cheap, and b) I didn't expect it to work till some unspecified later time. (Sure, Egosoft claimed 1.3 before Christmas, but recall they first said 1.3 by mid-November. It's not that I suspected them of being liars, you understand, just, you know, caveat emptor.)

I'll be charitable for this next part, and simply assume that US Enlight is staffed by microcephalic monkeys who are paid in bananas coated in lead-based paint in offices who have a confused view of aromatherapy as meaning that pumping epoxy fumes to a higher percentage of atmosphere than nitrogen increases productivity. Anyway, when's the last time you heard about an actual badly-printed CD? (This is the point where you industry types chime in and say, "Actually it's well known in our circles (you plebian) that the first printing of F.E.A.R. only barely avoided being sent out with a medley of Japanese tentacleschoolgirlscat porn," and I refuse to back down and have a class five forum meltdown--I think I'd like to post a few thousand words in a gibberish I'll claim is Iroquois or something, but I might reconsider when I get there, but I digress). Well, disc #2 of the US cd print had a relatively common run of bad discs--at least common enough that I was able to find five posts on Egosoft's tech support forums within as many minutes of searching--and that's manually searching, mind you, since they don't have actual search search enabled there--all on my exact install problem. Luckily it was only a bad disc as preventing getting at a whopping total of two mp3s, which could be skipped and copied in later. Still, weird to see.

Also, Egosoft claims the reason the manual sucks is because Enlight accidentally was given some month-and-a-half draft version instead of the actual real manual. They were going to figure out how to put up a pdf version of the real final manual. This was over a month ago. Now, a cynical sort might be tempted to claim that seems a little fishy, inasmuch as they could just make a pdf of it and slap it in their downloads section. I'm not a cynical sort, I'm a doe-eyed trusting believer in the innate goodness and honesty of the human spirit, so I'm sure there's some other explanation. So there's that aspect.

Oh, the game! Well thus far compared to a couple hours under 1.2.01 (practically speaking a sort of 0.9beta2, but I think version numbers are different when using the metric system), and now several more with 1.3, 1.3 (metric) is indeed 1.0 (imperial). The interface is, believe it or not, not quite as chilly user-neutral as X2's was. It's still in no way interested in being the user's friend, but it's now sort of in the state of your friend's psycho possibly de-corticated cat who, after many years and visits, will now tolerate your touch instead of randomly trying to fillet your arm--not out of any sort of active hostility, but simply because of a some sort of vestigial brain-stem twitch. Indeed, if you're following my entirely serious and well thought-out analogy here, X2's interface would, after suddenly freaking out, just sort of blink at you wondering what happened. X3's a step up; someone at Egosoft had a eureka moment, exploded out of their bathtub one evening and screamed "Mein Gott! Ze mouse! It can be used IN GAMES!" and actually convinced the other folks that pointing devices could be used to point at more things than the menus in their compilers, even for end-users. I don't know which person on the team had that thought, but I salute him. (Elbow bent hand-to-forehead sort of salute though; I respect their heritage and all, but, you know.)

It's also even prettier than X2. The planets loom most impressively, and I'm okay with all action usually happening in barely-extra-atmospheric altitude.

The cutscenes are still laughably bad thus far, but have lost a certain charm. X2 didn't realize that they actually had no idea of how to animate people, perhaps never having seen any, I don't know, so they motion-captured rotoscoped amateur films of clumsy stop-motion mannequins instead. And they did it with the innocent shameless unawareness of an only barely autistic child. I can respect that--like I said, it has a certain charm.

Sadly, the age of innocence passed at least in that respect, and they seem to have avoided the full-body-lurching film style in favor of more talking-heads while panning about the (again, very pretty) backdrops and models. There's still some charm in the atrocious voice acting, and of course there's some entertainment in the firebrand speeches of Madam President exhorting jihad against the threat of the untamed cock, so not all is lost.

I give it a three and a half out of five.

posted by Gar @ 12:20 AM

December 22, 2005


Yes, Virginia, there is a "Bob"

The Women's Petition Against Coffee

The Men's Answer.

One of those great demonstrations that not only was the past far from sanitized (and that the moral decline you hear so much of these days is more of a slow painful clawing of the way back to Truth, a struggle for liberation that, for the crime of opposing it, our self-appointed moral watchdogs shall perish forever in the sea of fire), it also had some SubGenii in it to carry the torches of Slack ever forward against the darkness of the Dark Ages--which have never ended, simply been reshuffled to new configurations as time goes on.


posted by Gar @ 10:47 PM

December 21, 2005


Fever Benefits

One of the best benefits of a day or so of low-grade fever and general shaky-blehs (that's a medical term) is recognizing the precise moment when the brain shimmies through a phase transition and realizes, hey, that's actual appetite again. It's not quite as cool as the equivalent benefit of a high-grade fever, that being sometimes being able to recognize the exact moment when it breaks, but you take what you can get.

posted by Gar @ 9:11 PM

December 20, 2005


I don't care if it rains or freezes

As conclusions to court decisions go, Kitzmiller vs Dover is a beautiful portrait of a judge gloriously weary of idiots who just spent six weeks wasting his time, yet channeling that weariness into righteousness. Lots of money-shot quote material in that. I liked the bit about the "breathtaking inanity of the Board's decision."

It just adds to the holiday cheeriness that, indeed, the response from the ID folks natter about "activist judge! activist judge!" when the dude was appointed by W. I suspect they won't get much traction there outside their own echo chamber, but you never know.

I mess with the Jesus on a fairly regular basis, to satisfy future contractural requirements should it be determined that I'm the Antichrist as previously explored in this space. But I'm pretty sure he bought Judge Jones a beer after that last session was adjourned.

posted by Gar @ 10:58 AM

December 15, 2005


Diagnosis, Prognosis, and a SubGenius allegory for lack of a better ending.

The Atomic Revolution! Which kicks ass, by the way.

I'm not a huge poetry fan, but have always enjoyed T.S. Eliot's "Four Quartets" a lot. There's a section of "The Dry Salvages" that's stuck with me since the first time:

It seems, as one becomes older,
That the past has another pattern, and ceases to be a mere sequence—
Or even development: the latter a partial fallacy
Encouraged by superficial notions of evolution,
Which becomes, in the popular mind, a means of disowning the past.

...which showed me right there that Eliot may or may not have understood evolution itself--but he sure did understand one of the (deliberate, I suspect, even if not consciously understood as deliberate) misconceptions of it. Namely that it's purpose-driven, that it's upward progress--that now is always, as a given, better than before. Disowning the past.

That nifty comic up yonder brought that sharply back into my head. I came across the link on Metafilter, which is pretty good at throwing up the occasional really neat link (an earlier thing about an unofficial 1900 sequel to War of the Worlds involving Edison kicking Mars's ass with his steampunk genius, same provenance), but like most internet fora with delusions of community, it's packed full of precious twitterpated "personalities" who are just convinced they're very clever. This isn't a Metafilter-specific slam by any means; it's an inherent weakness in online fora in general. Many of the comments are driven by a largely-unstated "isn't that just quaint!" chortling. It's a part of kitsch, part of a past that's mere sequence, a development that we, much more more advanced now, have developed beyond. Disowned.

But there's an attitude in it that somewhere along the line, "the" culture's lost. Not just a clumsy sort of "optimism" that greasy politicians (or rather, their speechwriters, following suggestions from their handlers, the best of which are at least still bipeds) use as part of rhetorical arsenal. A determination that the world was going to be remade because that's what humanity was for--because that's what we can decide to be, decide that that's humanity's story.

"Human hate and ignorance, or human love and knowledge are the masters. The atom will serve either." Decide to be.

Certainly the positive promises of nuclear energy was happily whitewashed--atomic airplanes in particular seem a bit overreaching, and the nastier longer-term side-effects of radiation were a bit slow in coming to general realization. Actual fusion power as opposed to fusion BOOM! never materialized, due to pretty sizable engineering difficulties and also, I suspect, a certain amount of simple losing of the necessary will.

As a confirmed misanthrope, I understand very well the appeal of fatalism--I of course understand better the humanistic variety of it (see Vonnegut's early works, when his muse still had fire instead of ashes) far more than the religious, but I understand it. Matter of fact, I'd say it's the diagnosis; it is what is. Pithy little saying that pops up, I understand, in cancer wards as well as church signs: "Accept the diagnosis. Defy the prognosis." That defiance is the true essence of X-Day, for the Elect who have ears to hear and understand that particular analogy.

We need more defiance of that sort. It needs to stop seeming quaint.

Mind you, we don't necessarily need a fission pile in every back yard; MWOWM stones will serve that purpose better. But the defiance grounded in realism, yes.

posted by Gar @ 2:36 PM

Fondue Fountainhead

List price: $8.99
Price: $9.99 and eligible for Free Super Saver Shipping (click here)

Editorial Reviews
Fondue Fountainhead has become an enduring piece of literature, more popular now than when first published. On the surface, it is a story of one man, Howie Roark, and his struggles as an unconventional fondue set and accessory engineer in the face of a successful rival, Peter Eating, and a newspaper columnist, Hellswort Gooey. But the book addresses a number of universal themes: the strength of the individual, the tug between good and evil, the threat of fascism, and the enduring appeal of cubes of bread and meat dipped into hot oils. The confrontation of those themes, along with the amazing stroke of Ein Brand's writing, combine to give this book its enduring influence.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

***** The Second-Best Book Ever Written!
Reviewer: Brandon J. Galty Galt (Sign of the Dollar, CO, USA) - (see all my reviews)

The best book is of course Ein's Daedalus Cooked, in which the amazing ideas of Fondue Fountainhead found their full flowering. This book changed my life, and can change the lives of anyone prepared to think objectively!

* overinflated selfrighteous evil
Reviewer: Chairman Moone Batt (Berkeley, CA, CA) - (see all my reviews)

This "book" is pure trash, the product of a shrill evil harpy of a woman desperate to justify and rationalize her pattern of adultery, secondhand smoke, and drinking the blood of babies.

posted by Gar @ 12:04 PM

Hey, man, is that NES Rock?

Yeah, man!

Well then TURN IT UP, MAN!"

Originating (of course) by various freaks at Something Awful, who are very much like a living embodiment of that old probability theorem of n monkeys hammering at computer keyboards and occasionally kicking out pieces of brilliant bulldada.

The playlist in question, as covered by the emulated sounds of NES's hardcore sound chip:

1. REM - Losing My Religion
2. Europe - Final Countdown
3. Radiohead - Karma Police
4. Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody
5. Survivor - Eye of the Tiger
6. Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven
7. Lynyrd Skynyrd - Sweet Home Alabama
8. Led Zeppelin - Kashmir
9. Slayer - Angel of Death
10. David Pomeranz - Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now
11. Coldplay - Yellow
12. Rick James - Superfreak
13. Semisonic - Closing Time
14. (Silence)
15. Hidden NESmix Intro
16. Zero Wing (Opening Theme) (4x4 Remix)

posted by Gar @ 11:39 AM

Interesting product names.

So I was at the store the other day, passing through the usual traffic. Bellringers out front in full fireman-getup to add versimillitude to the cold wait for someone to inevitably, somewhere in the country, drop a krugerand into the kettle. The stop-and-stutter human traffic intermittently stopping dead and staring at the aisles, confounded, in that storm's-eye pause before jumping up and down and shrieking at the monolith before being given the gift of murder, space stations, and the Blue Danube (or baked goods, meat, and produce, whichever). An infant staring huge-eyed at the ceiling, clearly anticipating the space station part.

There's a big stand of Fondue Fountains in an open area. That's the product in question here, the Fondue Fountain.

Now, if you're like me--and I realize many aren't, unique and beautiful snowflake that I am--words tend to cause certain images to arise in your consciousness. Furthermore, if you're especially like me, the images that arise involve something spewing a spray of molten magma-like mixture of oil, cheese, and possibly chocolate depending on the exact nature of the fountain's use that night; children screaming in terror as sizzling scalding oily doom spatters over the room, adults clawing at their eyes and screaming, unoriginally (many adults aren't very original), "My eyes! My eyes!"; and family dogs running around in circles and barking while family cats sensibly hide as many rooms away as the house will allow.

What I'm saying here is that Fondue Fountain is not a reassuring product name for me. I acknowledge this may be just me.

posted by Gar @ 9:59 AM

December 14, 2005


Merry War on Christmas!

Stille Nocht, Heilige KRIEG!

Modern American Christmas makes Michael Jackson look positively organic.

Largely because the only time most American Christians get on their knees is to adjust the fucking television set. Sure, you get the occasional God Warrior, but if you ask me? The defenders of Christmas are pussies. Not one stone shall be left unturned, their high places shall be knocked down, and when it's done, the ghosts of the Amalakites will say, "Huh. Yeah, we had it easy. Sure, they dashed our heads on walls, but the walls were soft."

Ah yeah.

Also, the spirit moving within me didn't really have any good suggestions on where to link 2pac Versus Barney, but was adamant that it should be linked anyway. Think of it as a stocking stuffer!

posted by Gar @ 6:51 PM

December 11, 2005


Homeopathic Cancer Remedy

This idea hit me the other night during the course of some discussion or other, and it deserved to be preserved.

Even-handed and level-headed sources such as Fast Food Nation and Supersize Me have been sure to let us know that your average fast food hamburger consists of meat from upwards of a dozen cows, due to the realities of how the mass-meat industry works. They leave out the positive medicinal benefits of this, probably because the conspiracy of the New Inquisition of the AMA shouting down and censoring all opposition to expensive Western medicine. And that is, of course, the homeopathic cancer-preventing properties of including meat from several dozen animals at once.

By sheer probability, it's likely that some of the animals fed through an industrial slaughterhouse have some cancer cells, if not actual growths, somewhere within their bodies. The process of chopping up the carcasses and grinding it serves to dilute that cancer factor many hundreds and thousands of times--until each and every ground-beef patty resulting from the output end of the meat processing plant is, in and of itself, a homeopathic cancer cure.

The fact that the major franchises don't play up this fact is a chilling testament to the fascistic control of opinions that the AMA and Western Doctors enjoy. As a matter of fact, it might be a good idea to mirror this page in case it's "disappeared" for the apostasy of it all.

posted by Gar @ 2:08 PM

December 10, 2005



The truest and deepest cleft in our society must be between those who notice -- and smell something’s too convenient, too suspiciously tidy -- when we see only evidence that makes us feel superior... versus those who never catch or notice this irony. That the universe seems always to confirm just what we want it to. People on one side of this psychological divide are able to say the words that underlie all of science and democracy, as well as true-creativity. The words: I might be wrong. People on the other side -- even very learned and intelligent people -- could read this paragraph a hundred times, without ever truly grasping what it means.

Passages like that are why I've recently discovered David Brin's blog--said fellow being an author whose general output I can both take (Earth, Kiln People) and leave (the Uplift War stuff). The quote's from the latest entry on idealism and pragmatism as being a knowingly false dichotomy, that tend to actually work together for the benefit of those on either "side" to gain, maintain, and increase power. It's not so much a real polarity as it is a stalking horse, a handy package to distract the polis.

Now, of course that interests me because I largely agree with it--the unvierse tends to confirm what we want it to, natch--in that I've suspected for awhile that many of the pat dualities that are so very sound-bite-friendly are simply packaged that way. In holy SubGenius terms, it's part of the perpetuation of The Conspiracy; in a more serious misanthropic framing, the "boundless human stupidity" (a line which singlehandedly redeemed the otherwise simply enjoyably silly deathtrap-themed flick Cube--but unfortunately not its sequels); in Buddhist jargon its the ignorance and nescience, avidya, that drives the engine of suffering and troubles that is the world. (Whoa.)

It also makes skimming his comment sections interesting to me in a more meta sense. The blog obviously attracts a good chunk of those who identify on "the left" because superficially, he spends some sentences speaking badly of "the neocons". (Likewise, it automatically dives away a good chunk of those who identify on "the right" due to conditioned reflexes to roll eyes at every occurrence of the phrase. Echo chambers, like all fortresses, have lots of ways they reinforce themselves in little ways like this.) But once there, a lot of them are clearly baffled, which is already beginning int he first half-dozen or so comments that are there in that idealism-pragmatism entry--people who were right there with you, man...until he starts pointing out the left's got nothing to go on in pursuing its own (recently hilariously badly-managed) packaging of the false dilemma, at which point they're concerned and confused that someone so reasonable could just fly off on a tangent and talk such nonsense, oh my goodness!

I don't think it's a matter of "the" true cleft up yonder--it's a true divide, certainly, and I've yammered here and elsewhere to various degrees of (in)coherence about awareness-vs-nescience being a far more meaningful polarity in human affairs than good-vs-evil or right-vs-left ever shall. For that matter, I'd call it more meaningful than Brin's own past-vs-modernism/future focus--and of course, the universe seems to confirm that I'm right in that more often than not, so there you go.

posted by Gar @ 7:34 AM

December 02, 2005


Dark with an umlaut!

Wacky Russian street-acrobatics. It lacks subtitles for the phone conversation at the end, but I think that's probably for the best, as you can insert funnier lines of your choosing.

Such things of course remind me of the Prince of Persia games. The first two were, of course, classics in their own right, as they were an evolution ofKarateka on supersoldier serum. I never played the third, a stab at a 3-d version, but I'm assured it was forgettable.

Sands of Time was a very good modern version which I played through multiple times--one of those titles I hit a sort of Zen groove with after awhile. A separate dev team under the same publisher then made a sequel, Warrior Within, which was...not so good, inasmuch as they decided the thing that it really needed was a generic faux-heavy metal guitar-rockin' soundtrack, an early-game mini-boss who was an absurdly volutuous hellslut in stainless steel lingerie buttfloss getup, and enemies that included spastic s&m ninja chicks who would exhort you to spank them in the midst of combat. This was to make the title more "dark" and "gritty" you understand.

Now, as game design sins go, those are more silly than anything else; the worse flaw was that it betrayed a simple lack of polish, both in itself and especially compared to Sands. Audio samples that, in addition to being rather stupid ("YOU SHOULD BE HONORED TO DIE BY MY SWORD!!!1one1!" and the like), also didn't really synch up with the action happening at the time. What really defined my brief play experience with it was that the hero would periodically utter manly battle grunts that, while have the plus of not actually being idiotic lines of dialogue ("I AM THE PRINCE OF PERSIA AND THE KING OF BLADES!", I shit you not, some genius, or rather a committee of geniuses, had meetings about that and okayed it, probably enthusiastically), had the highly-polished knack of lasting, oh, two seconds or so. For a basic attack that might only involve a half-second of animation. It was the kind of thing that just oozed a "aw, fuck it, it's good enough" half-assed quality.

"Dark" in games, as in more passive entertainment, can certainly be done well. It's trickiest to do it well played straight-up serious, especially in games--not the fault of the medium itself, but mostly the unfortunate reality that writing in games rarely rises above the early-adolescent level. A grim, humorless early-adolescent level, at that. Still, there are exceptions. Planescape: Torment, for one. And...well, that's about it, really.

The more successful route is doing "dark" but with self-awareness of the silliness of it all. The best examples of that approach I find are the Grand Theft Auto games. Mind you, it's a quality that flies right over the pointy little scowly heads of its more outspoken critics as they whine about the harmful effects of such realistic adult violence. It's a whine that shall always baffle me, because the GTA series' violence is about as "realistic" as Looney Tunes cartoons. As I've stated elsewhere, the big you-versus-the-entire-law-enforcement-world police chases that occur could switch the soundtrack to playing the Benny Hill theme song and it'd fit perfectly--it's part of the charm, really.

Anyway, I've started to hear that the latest Prince of Persia title, Two Thrones or something like that, has recovered from Warrior Within's headlong plunge into Humorlessly Dumb. Here's hoping.

posted by Gar @ 5:39 PM

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