Monday, February 23, 2015

What I'm Playing

So, in case you didn't know, I play video games. I've been playing since as long as I can remember. The very first game I played was Super Mario Bros. on the old NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) and I've been a Nintendo fan ever since.

I know the popular trend and genre these days are shooting games that look like Hollywood movies, but that's not why I play them. I prefer old school games called "platformers" (games where traversing obstacles are the main goal) that center mainly on jumping. Yeah, well, I've never been known to be cool or trendy.

I'm still a Nintendo fan now and they're still hitting it out of the park with their platformers and adventure games in the three decades since they first started releasing them over here. Currently I'm playing Donkey Kong Country Returns on my Nintendo 3DS. The goal is, you guessed it, to fight your way through treacherous jungles and crazy obstacles in order to retrieve your stolen banana hoard. That's all there is to it and that's why I like video games.

Wacky worlds, adventure, cartoony humor, all are still alive in Nintendo's games. And I'll probably always be a fan of these games.

Of course you always get people who think I only enjoy these sorts of games for nostalgic purposes, but that's not really the case. I enjoy other genres like adventure games and classic first person shooters (like DOOM-- how can you argue with shooting demons on Mars?) as well as other niche games, but platformers are my favorite games. Nothing beats the thrill after finally jumping your way through a particularly nasty obstacle course after so many lives wasted. Fun is fun.

Anyway, I'm replaying my copy of DKCR as it has been a while since I went through it last and I have to say, it holds up. Up next, I'll be going through the sequel, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, on my Wii U system. That game is even better.

Here's to Nintendo for helping to kickstart an entire industry and here's hoping they continue for many years to come.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Show Us Your List

Erin McCole Cupp over at Will Write For Tomato Pie has had enough of everyone going on about a certain terrible movie made from a certain terrible book. She has started a campaign for positivity and to show there are good alternatives against the garbage. Check out her list and links to others as well for good examples.

I would join in myself except that I am not the most knowledgeable on this genre and I already posted a few suggestions in my previous post. Nonetheless, it doesn't mean I can't link to someone who can offer more.

So take a look and find better examples for your time than to watch terribly disguised pornography on the movie screen. I'm sure you can find something better than what the mainstream culture is currently offering us.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Why waste your time?

So, there's this awful movie based on this awful book coming out this weekend. Instead of wasting your time (and rotting your soul with garbage) why not instead spend your time doing something else?

You could watch romance movies that mean something for instance. There are decades of worth of good ones to see with your significant other. And if you're a dude like me, you might instead by drawn to something like Romancing the Stone or the like-- something with adventure to watch with your special lady. Whatever. The point is, you could be watching better movies that are better written, have some sense of morality, and will actually entertain you.

Heck, you could read something better, too. Even guys like Jane Eyre for good reason. You've got this intelligent woman, though plain-looking she might be, discovering the true meaning of loving another through bad decisions and sacrifice. I'm fairly certain no one learns to love being beaten, either. Or pick up a Georgette Heyer novel. I've heard those are always fun, and I've got some on my list to read, too.

Point being, there are much better alternatives this weekend both for you and your significant other. Why not engage in them instead of supporting garbage? You'll be better off.

I promise.

Monday, February 9, 2015

We're All Citizens

I recently just finished up a book I had never read before. This one was Citizen of the Galaxy by Robert Heinlein. I have to say, it was a real treat.

Young boy, Thorby, is rescued by an old beggar named Baslim from a slave trade, and slowly learns not only his place in the world he currently lives in, but eventually his place in the world. What we have here is a good old fashioned coming of age story, only in space. Thorby starts the book as a boy and ends the book as a young man ready to take on the world and more aware of his place in it.

There's a lot of story here, especially since this is considered one of his "juveniles", and many characters that come and go from the story at any time-- much like life. Mr. Heinlein creates a vibrant galaxy of planets and social systems from traders to slavers to the world of the bureaucrats and yet more than that. This is why one reads science fiction (Yes, I'm calling it that, elitists) for the imagination and wonder, and this book is absolutely chock full of it.

Without going so far as to spoil it, I would just say that everything in this story is connected to each other and all combines together to make Thorby the man he becomes. It's not unlike Starship Troopers in that case, but this book succeeds even better by covering a much wider time-frame and having many more interesting characters peppering the galaxy. Where Citizen succeeds the most is in making Thorby both relate-able in that you root for him and frustrating in how he is a kid who makes mistakes-- but by the end of the journey you feel relief that this boy who was once nothing more than a slave becomes a true citizen of the galaxy.

I haven't read a lot of Heinlein (Both a personal failing and that his seniles churn my stomach) but this book is a sign that I surely should. If you are a fan of science fiction, or haven't read a whole lot, or enjoy coming of age stories, then this is definitely a must read. Citizen of the Galaxy is more than worth your time.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Battle of Far Too Many Armies

I saw the final Hobbit movie on Friday. I guess I can cross that off my list. You know, seeing all the Tolkien movies in theater. But, uh, it wasn't all too great.

Now, I've seen the Lord of the Rings movies a lot. I own the extended editions. They are great fantasy movies bolstered by Tolkien's sharp sensibilities and classic myth making. Even though the movies are not perfect (Faramir, Galadriel, and certain other themes are missed), they do work as a whole. I still enjoy them now.

The Hobbit movies, however, are almost all Peter Jackson and as a result, markedly inferior. When the movies center on Bilbo, they're usually enjoyable. As well they should since Bilbo is the title character and protagonist. So when you have a whole movie that he's barely in, well, you've got a problem. Which is a shame because Martin Freeman is a perfect Bilbo Baggins.

The first movie was sluggishly paced, and missing much of the whimsical charm of the books. The second movie crams most of the book into one movie, destroys a core scene in the story to make it an action sequence out of a theme park and ends at a bad location. The third movie, well, the third movie was not a movie I was all too excited to see, and my fears were not disproved upon seeing it. It just continues with my problems.

I like the cast, the acting is well done, and the lines taken from the book are just too good. The problem is that almost nothing in this final film is in the book.

The first twenty minutes is basically the climax of the last movie (where it should have been placed) and the rest is little more than the conclusion of a very hackneyed love story and fight scene after fight scene. Bilbo's journey back to the Shire isn't even in the film version, it is simply cut to after the end of another fight scene.

I'm under the impression that someone could make a decent (decent, not great) Hobbit film here by cutting the dead weight and editing it to around a comfortable four to five hours, but it certainly isn't Peter Jackson who is up to the task. He extended a 300 page novel into three 3 hour movies, one of which has almost nothing in common with the book. Meanwhile, he extended a 1500 page novel into 3 near four hour movies. It doesn't take much to realize which one was the better idea.

As it is, I'm glad the films were made so no one has to wonder "what might have been", but I don't see myself re-watching them any time soon.

Stick to the books.