The wife and I spent the past 4 days at war, and it was absolutely awesome! I know that may sound a bit odd, but hear me out here. When I say war, I don’t mean we were in the middle east fighting for
the pillaging of resources and assimilation of the indigenous population freedom and democracy, I mean we were at fucking Pennsic!
For those who don’t know what Pennsic is, I’ll sum it up as a layman. The SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) runs a war between 2 kingdoms. Roughly 10 thousand people go to a large campground outside of Pittsburgh, dressed in the clothing of the period (600BC-1600AD), and spend 2 weeks having an awesome time. Some people dress in armor and fight, some people help out the war effort by filling supporting roles, and some go to hang out in an awesome environment and party. For right now, we are the latter, though I wouldn’t be surprised if that changed someday. This is basically all the great stuff about going to a good Renaissance fair, without the commercialism and overacting. Don’t get me wrong, people get heavy into character here as well, but it’s not done to entertain the visitors, it’s done to have a good time.
Now, some people think SCA stuff and LARPing is the same thing. Well, in short, they aren’t. LARP is more fantasy stuff, like trolls and magic and shit like that. SCA stuff is more like civil war re-enactment, just with sword and shield tech. At least that’s how I see it. That’s a very broad analogy, but should be enough to get my point across.
This was our second Pennsic. Our first outing was a weekend of drunken debauchery and awesome, but it was also 6 years ago. We didn’t have kids yet, and were still in full on party mode. We didn’t bring the kids this time, and probably won’t until they are grown, simply because we view this as an awesome adult vacation. This time around, we once again camped with our good friend Honig (the names have been changed to protect the innocent…and because they may want to run for office someday). We camped with a household called Serpentius, which appears to be a fighting household. A bunch of the men in camp, and some of the ladies, fight in the war. The head of the household, Omega, has actually been king a few times, a position that is gained by being the best fighter. Politics does also factor pretty heavily into it as well, but if you can’t fight for shit, you’re S.O.L., or so I’m told.
The group of people in the camp were awesome. We were strangers, since the only people we knew were Honig and her man, and another couple we went with. Oddly enough, there was no awkwardness with anyone. Hell, Omega used the Green Lantern symbol as his symbol on his armor, which was freaking awesome. It seemed we were all similar enough that it just added to the awesome, which fucking rocked. It was great being able to be ourselves, especially for me, since I have the great tendency of pissing people off and offending them due to my lack of a humor boundary and abundance of sarcasm. This, thankfully, was not a problem. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t act like I do around my bandmates, since I’d have ended up in traction or evicted, but I only held back out of respect, since they were nice enough to let us camp there and were extremely welcoming. Needless to say, said respect was easily given. Hell, at one point, one of them locked me in a portable toilet with a piece of wire. It wasn’t difficult to get out, but it made me feel welcomed. I know, I have issues…
So we ended up spending our extended weekend dressed up in garb, sleeping in tents, making fire, watching people in armor beat the crap out of each other, and getting drunk….along with a few thousand others doing pretty much the same shit. There are also vendors there for all sorts of stuff, and classes you can take on everything from weaving to making armor to period board and card games. I MAY have spent some time in the gaming tent….maybe. Overall, it was a truly great time, with really great people. I got to visit another old friend of mine who I don’t see very often, and spent a night at his bar in his camp, getting absolutely polluted off 2 different everclear drinks. For me, this event is full of just about everything I love. Camping, fire, period clothes, drinking, games, etc.. Pennsic is a place where I can dress like this around other people who all do the same and not get weird looks….well, not for my clothing. I still get the “beware of the creepy ginger” looks, and when I was wearing a fully open shirt I probably got those “good lord, cover that shit up! Think of the poor children!” looks, but I’ll always get those. In all seriousness, though, it’s somewhere that I can let go and be myself. I can enjoy the things I love most, and be surrounded by like minded people doing the same. I can get drunk to the point that I start talking with a horrendous accent that is basically a combination of every accent I’ve ever heard. I try to not do that very often, as it usually results in me getting drunk alone….Still, twas a great time, and I learned a valuable bit of information from someone there. It isn’t rape if you yell surprise!!!
The other day, I decided to do some work on one of my pinball machines. I had to rebuild the mechanics of both flippers, and while it’s not technically difficult to do, it can be time consuming. I wasn’t feeling in the mood for music; I wanted to listen to an audiobook. I didn’t want to put on the current one I’m listening to, which is World War Z. I wanted something I knew well, well enough that I could tune it out for a few minutes if need be, and not worry about missing something. For this task, I chose probably my favorite audiobook, and maybe even my favorite book period. Ready Player One.
I’ve mentioned this book before, once when I first discovered it, and again when the real life contest was announced. I’ve probably listened to it half a dozen times at this point, and it doesn’t get old for me. Whenever I finish it, I have to resist the urge to start from the beginning again.
Anyways, I was listening to it in my basement, while working on a pinball machine and surrounded by arcade games. That in and of itself had an awesomely synergistic effect. After all, arcade games are featured very heavily in the book. I had to resist the urge to quit what I was doing and go play Joust or Black Tiger. Also, I came to the realization of why else I really loved the book. It causes me to think about my childhood. My mind gets flooded with the memories of the summers I spent where I grew up, riding bikes, playing manhunt, hanging out and playing video games with other kids in the neighborhood. I remember the sounds of summer, the feeling of being outdoors all the time, and the carefree attitude I had. It’s almost as if the sun was brighter then, the colors surrounding me more vibrant than they are today. Maybe it’s just me romanticizing the good ol’ days a little too much, or maybe it’s how my young inexperienced mind processed the information at the time. Either way, it fills me with a complex combination of emotions. The joy of having great times with my neighborhood friends, the thrill of going to scout camp and doing all sorts of awesome shit, and the sadness that those days are far behind. It really did seem much simpler then, much more beautiful.
The world today just seems so overdone, so overly industrialized, so paranoid and locked down. I’d have to worry about my kids playing manhunt across other people’s yards, because they might get overly paranoid and either attack them or call the police to report me as an unfit parent. And if I tried doing this stuff with friends at MY age, I’d either get sued, locked up, or shot. I’m not entirely sure where it all went wrong, and I’m sad that it got to this point, mainly because my children won’t be able to have the same experiences. Sure, they’ll grow up in the technology age, with insane access to just about everything, but I don’t see that as a good thing. I think we’ve hit the point of excess, where we all have so much available to us that is totally devalues things. People now buy computers every 3 or 4 years. Most don’t fix them; when they break, a new one is purchased. So many consumer products are now designed to be disposable, and can’t be repaired. Geeks like me have access to literally thousands of video games, all at our fingertips, yet we often have difficulty choosing what to play. I’ve gone through this many times recently. There’s so much available to do, that it almost saddens me to think about it. I’m guessing that this is a reason why rich people and materialistic people tend to be a little miserable; from what I have experienced, the excess in material leads to a shortage in its value to us.
Nowadays, we hang out in groups, and most of the time it devolves into us all staring at our phones, showing each other funny pictures we found online, or Facebooking each other while we sit in the same room. It’s actually a serious addiction, in my opinion, one that has awful effects. It always makes me feel disconnected from the other people in the room, even though we are technically hanging out in the real work, and still interacting. Still, I have difficulty not doing it, hence the addiction aspect. Just another reason why I think our technology is a severely double-edged sword. It enables me to communicate and keep in touch with lots more people, but when I let myself delve too deep into its addictive nature, I lose an aspect of social interaction whose absence feels like a small singularity in my chest.
I’m not sure if that will even make sense to anyone reading this, since we all know I’m not exactly a good writer. It’s just how I feel about the way things are these days. I miss the bliss of childhood sometimes, but only really the good parts. I’m not naïve of the fact that a large portion of my childhood was incredibly fucked up and horrible, both at home and with my peers. Still, I’d rather filter out the bullshit and focus on the good.
It’s because of all this that I’m beyond happy right now. We’re sending our son to summer camp, where he spends the whole day outside. He swims, plays sports, interacts with others, goes boating, and has a blissful time. He comes home every day filthy, exhausted, and happy. Still, it DOES cost a small fortune to send a kid to camp, but it’s worth it when I think that he’ll end up with the awesome memories like I do, and maybe someday he’ll remember them when he’s locked in a cubicle at a miserable job. Then, he can blog about it, and hopefully he’ll link this post so I actually get more than 12 hits in a day….hey, a guy can dream…
Last time, I told you all about the first movie played during the double feature at the drive-in I went to a few weeks ago. After that shitstorm, I was ready for something awesome, and what could be more awesome than Superman?! The answer….a lot, apparently.
I’m gonna try and not stress any issues with the usual Superman canon, since all that does is make comic book nerds agitated. They assault me with random factoids from certain short-lived side series and reboots of said comic, forcing me to give up to avoid strapping them to the underside of my car and grinding them on speed bumps. Instead, I’ll just look at some of the normal stupid shit in the movie, stuff that I thought was either aggravating, or just plain retarded.
First, I should say that I REALLY wanted to like this movie. I got so excited when Superman Returns came out, and it let me down horribly. It was like being able to have sex with Olivia Wilde, only to find out she was a total cold fish…with narcolepsy….and a penis….and incontinent….I’m sure you get the point. So, I really had high hopes for this one. Problem was, it kept smacking me over the head with dumb ass shit until I just wanted it to end. I still had hope until about 3/4 of the way through, but had to finally give in to my growing irritation…
Enough procrastinating. Let’s get down to it, shall we?
My biggest issue with this movie is the pacing. The majority of the movie goes from present day to flashbacks over and over again. This made the entire narrative disjointed, jarring, and devoid of any flow. It also made character development take forever, and left me having to look back at most of the movie once it was done to see what the character was actually doing. Basically, waiting to explain shit via flashback kills any emotional impact of the scene, forcing that impact to happen after the fact. This disconnects the viewer from the character, emotionally. I’m guessing this was done for some artistic reason, but it definitely didn’t work.
SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!! If you don’t want this movie ruined, stop reading.
Next up, the tornado scene, Clark’s dad runs into the path of a tornado to save the family dog from a car. Basically, his father would rather save the family dog and abandon his wife and kid, than let Clark use his powers to save the dog (while staying safe) and help his super son grow into a moral person who makes smart decisions. First of all, if Clark just ran very quickly, not even super speed quick, he’d likely have made it. If he did have to use his speed to escape, he could have easily blamed it on the high winds of the tornado. Apart from that, my issue is this. Dad won’t let him use his powers to save someone, cuz he doesn’t want him to be revealed as an alien, and dad’s death supposedly solidifies this in him. He reacts by….wandering around from job to job, saving people with his powers….riiiiiight. Perfectly logical!
Now for my gripe about stupid movie decisions. First, the banishment of Zod. Basically, they convict him and his cronies and put them in the only place that would be saved from the obvious destruction of their race. Don’t go telling me that they didn’t realize their planet was about to blow up. If OUR planet was about to blow up, our scientists would know that shit, and compared to the scientists of Krypton, our greatest minds and just one step above window lickers. That whole part was just stupid and insulting. They have insane technology, but don’t realize that the planet is about to blow up. Come on, dude.
Another big issue, which was also shared by pretty much everyone else I know who saw it, was the shake-n-bake fight scenes. Basically, they took Zod and Cal, put them in a big ass ziplock bag with some buildings and shit, and shook the crap out of it. They filmed this, and presented it to us as “the epic superman fight scene”. The CGI for this looked more like the game “Injustice: Gods Among Us” than anything else. That wasn’t a compliment. This basically left us not knowing WTF was happening, who hit who, or who was winning, until someone got thrown out and they did their 3 second stand off before getting back in the bag for another shake. That’s not a fight scene, that’s a cop out. I don’t care that if the fight really happened, that’s how it would look to a human. Guess what? No human would have even witnessed this, because any humans in the area were all most likely dead already.
And WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT STUPID AMORPHOUS THING HE FOUGHT?! That had to be one of the best WTF moments I’ve seen on film in years!!! Made no sense!
Lots of people got all uppity because the movie ends with Superman killing Zod. The whole point of the outrage being that Superman doesn’t kill. It’s part of his code, it’s part of his being, part of his soul. Well, to those people, I say this: Tell that to the countless people whose deaths he’s responsible for during his fight with Zod. You mean to tell me he couldn’t draw Zod out to a more remote area? The gravity/terraforming thing was broken at that point, so Zod would totally have given chase. He also caused a few billion dollars in property damage, but hey, who cares. What’re they gonna do, sue him?
How about a few quickies?
If the ship in the ice had been there for thousands of years, how did it already have the superman suit in it?
Why the hell was Lois taken by Zod aboard his ship? He had no idea that she meant anything to Cal.
Are you really trying to tell me that our atmosphere gave them super powers, and none of them ever figured that shit out before while on Krypton?!
Seriously, WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT AMORPHOUS THING?!?!?!
Anyways, I could go on and on about this shit. The point I’m getting at is that this movie COULD have been so awesome, and it just wasn’t. The action scenes were decent, except for the fighting, and some of the special effects were cool. If the story and script were cleaned up, it could have been awesome. Hell, even the love story part between Lois and Clark felt incredibly rushed and forced (though still a better love story than Twilight). Zod was ok, but I think his two lieutenants should have had more of a role. It seemed like Zod was constantly overacting. The chick was pretty good though. All in all, I’ll leave it like this. If it was on television, I’d probably leave it on for a few minutes before changing the channel.
A few weeks ago, while on vacation, the wife and I got to see our first drive-in movie. It was a double feature, and only about 9 bucks each, which was fucking awesome. The drive-in experience was great. The movies, on the other hand, were not. Let’s look at the first one, shall we?
A bunch of years ago, I read this awesome book called “The Zombie Survival Guide”. Written by Max Brooks, son of Mel Brooks and Ann Bankroft, this is an awesome read for those interested in zombie apocalypse stuff. He followed it up with an incredible book called “World War Z”, which was basically a collection of individual accounts from different parts of the zombie war, brought together as a sort of anthology of short stories. It is an awesome narrative, detailing the struggles of a sudden and violent war with the undead, and the global, political, social, and personal obstacles we’d have to overcome.
Then you have this fucking Brad Pitt movie. The movie is named after the WWZ book, and there is all of ONE thing from the book in the movie, apart from the bad guys being zombies. I’m not exaggerating either. The Oatmeal did a great comic on this, and if you aren’t familiar with his work, the WTF are you waiting for?! Anyways, this isn’t just the raping of an awesome work of fiction, this is far worse. If people see this movie without reading the book, they aren’t gonna want to read the book. The movie, on its own, isn’t good. It’s a straight up zombie flick, pretty generic, with one minor plot gimmick that is the equivalent to having “Deep Woods Off: Zombies” and spraying it on yourself. It’s insulting to Mr. Brooks to name this movie World War Z, and sully the name of such a great book by making such a stupid, insulting, and shitty movie.
I’m not saying this movie is the worst out there, it’s eye candy and entertaining enough, so long as you don’t think about anything while watching it. Overall, I feel that someone probably had an idea for a zombie movie, most likely inspired by Brooks’ work, and could only get it made by piggy backing on the name of something established and awesome. This movie, on its own, would have been a briefly entertaining, and wholly forgettable movie. Instead, it shit all over a great book, and caused many of us who loved the book to waste our money. These fucks should be ashamed of themselves.
So I just returned from my vacation at Lake George, which is where I’ve been the past 2 weeks. I would apologize for the big gap between posts, but it’s not exactly unheard of for me. That being said, I have a few things to write about, which will be coming down the pipe this week. Just to foreshadow, I experienced a bar filled with very young people (18-25ish), went to my first drive-in movie, and saw both Man of Steel and World War Z. To say I was disappointed in both is an understatement, but I’ll save my ranting for later. To be continued…