Friday, January 19, 2018

Tidbits

As GM, I don't think I've ever started an RPG session in a tavern. I've tended to use offices and houses, but not taverns.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Once Upon a Time Reactions Part 10: Season 7 Eps 1-3

Season 7! A whole new world, er, book! This one brought with it a lot of changes to the show (notably, the cast) and many long time fans, including myself, were pretty wary. Here's what I thought as the season began. Spoilers!

--

And it starts with a curse and amnesia. OF COURSE IT DOES.

I get that they're making Henry Mills to mirror Emma Swan from season 1, but it's kind of boring.

I like the new actor for Henry. He is a better actor than his predecessor. (Probably a controversial view.)

Why did they choose Cinderella? They already did Cinderella. And not just in season 1 - they further brought her back in season 6. It's not fresh. They teased Moana last season. Why can't we have that?

Alice? Okay, that has my interest piqued. I would've greatly preferred they make her the main focus.

I like the actress they picked for the evil stepmother. Loved her as Fiona in Burn Notice.

Henry's family died in a fire? Harsh. Something tells me there might be a twist there.

This show plays fast and loose with "realms." I really don't think passing to alternate timelines should be quite as easy as it is. That just strikes me as a much bigger leap than going to a different location related to the same timeline (Oz, Wonderland).

Rumple is a dirty cop? Okay...

Now I want a Rumple-Hook buddy cop comedy where they just cruise around Seattle getting into wacky hijinks. That would have been a pretty great show.

--

Second episode is much better than the first.

I do like that the writers are teasing us with what exactly Henry knows and doesn't know. He's acting like it's all in a book. Is that true? Or does he know everything?

The line in episode one where he jokes about calling Roni "mom" could have a very deep meaning.

"You fight like your grandfather." Which one? Obviously they mean Charming, but Rumple isn't half bad at swords, either.

I like the call back to last season with drunken Hook. And I just noticed that wish-realm Hook is basically Jack Sparrow. Ha.

Kudos for giving Hook and Emma a good conclusion to their story. I was worried when they cast Hook again.

I was not expecting Roni to actually be main universe Regina. I thought everyone we met would be an AU of themselves.

Who invites their mom along on an adventure? Seriously.

Current theory: Henry married the AU Cinderella and had Lucy. They died. So he ran away to yet another alternate reality. This Cinderella and Lucy are ghosts of who he lost. That'd be more interesting than "the curse made him forget." Also, have him be the one who did the curse, with Hook and Regina caught up by accident.

I'm also deeply troubled by Rumple's presence. Is he an AU Dark One? There was a Rumpelstiltskin in the wish realm, as well. That could be him. I really hope that's the case and the writers don't royally screw up Rumple and Belle AGAIN. Arrrrgh.

First ep left me meh. This episode actually raises some interesting possible twists. I just hope the writers are brave enough to pick some and give us something unexpected, rather than phone it in.

--

Third episode! More world building and intrigue. This is a good thing.

The roommate is Tiana! Yay! It's about time they brought in Princess and the Frog. Where's Moana, though?

It's amazing how Seattle's underground looks just like mines in Maine. Yeah. (Pretty obvious budget saving move there.)

Wait, Anastasia? Guys, that's Don Bluth, not Disney. Did they forget this?

Henry's wife and kid existed and they're dead. This does support the idea this could be yet another AU - a third reality he escaped to after they were gone. Or, at least, I'm hoping he's the one who did the curse this time in response to his grief.

The Stepmother has someone powerful under her spell. I wonder who it is?

Still no explanation of how Rumple got caught in all this. Really hope the writers don't screw with Belle to get him here.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Tidbits

Writing, reading, creating, inventing, innovating, thinking, drawing, gaming...

The list of verbs a girl can do to catch my eye is is fairly long.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Punching Nazi Argument

"Nazis advocate genocide. Genocide is violence. Therefore, it's okay to punch Nazis in the face."

Let's examine part of this argument.

I can see the appeal in it. We want to hate Nazis. They're bad hombres. Fighting Nazis has a gut reaction of "yeah, this is right" to it. Unfortunately, this is one of those cases where the gut instinct can lead to a very wrong path.

Let's look at the main flaw with step 1: the labeling of someone as a Nazi.

Examples:

1. Someone argued that every Trump voter is a Nazi. He believes they all advocate genocide. So you're a Nazi if you vote for a candidate this guy doesn't like. That's how he, and many like him, define Nazi.

2. A person posted hearsay about the recent ICE raids. They got a reply with a news article that corrected it. For that the person posting the news article was labeled a Nazi and unfriended. So you're a Nazi if you refute rumor with some measure of fact.

3. People have argued against ANTIFA setting fire to Berkley and beating innocent bystanders. (This was the very first Berkley incident - ANTIFA has since committed numerous additional acts of terrorism and violence.) Because people disapproved of ANTIFA's violent actions, they've been labeled Nazis. So if you oppose violence and destruction by masked goons, you're a Nazi.

4. Also, arguing that punching people in the face when they're not threatening you is wrong makes you a Nazi, since you're clearly a sympathizer. So arguing in favor of nonviolence makes you a Nazi. And if you cite Gandhi? Yep, you're a Nazi. Also, Gandhi has been retroactively made a Nazi because he didn't believe in punching people in the face when they opposed him.

These anecdotes all paint a rather grim picture. The label of "Nazi" is horrendously overused, to a degree worse than when Bush and Obama both got Hitler mustaches by various wingnuts. People who claim to only want to punch Nazis in fact want to punch anyone who proves them wrong, disagrees with their actions, or argues an opposing view.

It is not about "ethics in genocide prevention," as the people who argue in favor of face punching say. It's about finding a justification for unwarranted mob violence.

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Great Wall (2017 Film)

I am a huge fan of Zhang Yimou's work, so I was quite eager to see "The Great Wall." Overall assessment: pretty decent, with caveats.

Yimou does 2 major genres: historical dramas and martial arts. His historical dramas are the ones I prefer. They are, without a doubt, some of the best Asian cinema ever made. His martial arts movies tend to emphasize spectacle and symbolism. The Great Wall has this, but, again, with caveats.

I preferred this film to "Curse of the Golden Flower" and "Hero," two of Yimou's other martial arts films. Hero, to me, while visually stunning, had a weak main lead and a message I didn't agree with. Curse of the Golden Flower, while deeper than this film in symbolism, was a lot more depressing. Great Wall is fun, if light on symbolism.

The core message is East-West cooperation against a common foe. That's why Matt Damon is in there. The film is not a "white savior" flick like Last Samurai. Damon's character is there to specifically contrast with the honor and duty of the Chinese. And he grows as a character when he follows their lead. He is the one saved, rather than the one doing the saving.

The lead female, played Jing Tian, is really, really good. If we can get another big Asian actress in America (and we only ever seem to get one at a time), I hope she fills the role. In appearance, the armor design, make up, and hair combined perfectly. They eschewed any romantic subplots and that was a good move. It kept her character from being arm candy and allowed her to take a leadership role (one Damon's character played support to).

Now, caveats. The editing is not normal for Yimou's movies. He is known for amazing establishing shots with gorgeous visuals. We get some of it, but it was clearly cut down for American audiences. Likewise, the edits are quick and jerky between different subplots.

I have the distinct impression they edited this release for America while China got a different (and likely superior) cut. We got all the Damon scenes and stuff with his friend. They probably got characterization of the main generals and more exposition about the kingdom itself. This is a guess, anyway. The movie is not edited to the same maestro level I expect from a Yimou film.

I hope we get an extended edition or international cut of this film down the road. If not, I'll be disappointed. The lack of depth to the other Chinese characters really made the film seem much lighter weight than it should have been.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Tidbits

One of my traits is not to value things that come easily to me, as I see them as cheap. This includes my own abilities: anything I can do well without a struggle can't be very valuable. That means once I begin to get good at something, I begin to devalue it and seek something else.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Tidbits

Teaching my kids to pronounce Satyr correctly. They keep saying "Satire."

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas

Boss had me make Christmas cards for him to give to workers. Everyone got Die Hard Christmas cards. Inside message: "Yippie Ki-Yay Merry Christmas!"

Friday, December 22, 2017

Tidbits

Favorite library so far: the Stacks at Yale. I could set up camp there and retire. 17 stories of books, with some things you can check out casually that come from before 1900. And it's bigger than that since floors are often cut in half to increase the space. Just...amazing. I miss that library.