Saturday, April 26, 2008

Ah... 4 hour YouTube romp.

So I just spent close to 4 hours on YouTube. After some simple stuff I stumbled on this, as usual, several months old phenomenom of 2 Girls 1 Cup Reactions. Fortunately I saw enough reactions to save myself from the horror of the actual video, for instance this one which clearly instructs you to never under any circumstances watch the video. At the same time it gives you enough of an idea so that your curiosity shouldn't get the better of you.

After that I was in YouTube mode, and what YouTube mode is is the state in which you start to look up clips to things you never would have thought of looking up under normal circumstances. For instance, after I was done with ^that^ I moved on to Star Wars where I watched old auditions by Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. There was also one with Kurt Russel who would not have made a bad Han Solo. However THE most interesting part was that they were using old scripts that were a lot different from the final scripts, so you had the ravaging of Organa Prime where "What little is left is totally contaminated with radiation." and the fact that "The royal family has mind control" You also got a much better feeling, I thought, of the whole rebellion against the Empire side of it. As a kid I was definitely too entranced by the Sci-Fi to stop and think about what was actually going on and ended up thinking "Okay, there's a side called 'Rebels' and a side called 'Empire'." without really connecting "Oh, they're actually rebels against a galactic Empire, its not like a group name or something." and the old script seemed much more emphasizing that "Hey, there's an oppressive empire and we need these plans to succeed." (By the way, thats what Episode IV is actually about in case you may have missed that.) Also, Leia didn't seem as tomboyish and aggressive. After fiddling around with that for a while....

I moved on to anime, specifically looking to see if there were any AMVs (Anime Music Videos), or MAD Movies as they were originally called in Japan (See, you learn stuff on my blog... Useless, useless stuff), for a particular anime called Kanon, specifically the 2006 release since the 2002 version was, well, not as good. Anyway, of course they eixisted, as though I should doubt for a minute. This led, of course, to looking up AMVs to a similar series called Clannad with similar concept and the same director, Tatsuya Ishihara (Also directed Air, which is also excellent.). And OF COURSE this led to me looking up video clips of the original PC and PS2 games which both series are based on. I really wish those games were localized, because as good as the series is, the game is better. Anyway, after I looked up the deeply emotional heart rending end scenes from the multiple ending game I thought "Hey, wasn't I looking up AMVs and MADs?" so I continued with that, discovering that MADs are generally superior to AMVs, probably because they've been around longer. THEN came the fruition of my journies, I came upon that which can only exist in the online anime culture.... Fear it: and and (Which is basically the difference between an AMV, in the case of the second, and an MAD in the case of the third). In case you want to read an explaination before watching, basically the first one is the second opening to the Death Note anime which is pretty notoriously over the top, psycho, crazy... Yeah. But instead of the soul shattering hard core death rock it normally has they play the upbeat intro to Lucky Star, which, aside from Evangelion, Elfen Lied and Nadesico, probably has the best intro ever, and I might be willing to move Nadesico down a slot to give it a top 3 spot. The next two are adaptations of the Lucky Star Intro animation to the music from the Death Note Intro music.... Yes, and if you've now watched them, good for you. While I was writing this I actually watched several other parodies of the Lucky Star theme including one in which someone actually made original animation of Kingdom Hearts 2 characters and put them in a custom variation of the opening, it was rather impressive.

Anyway, I've geeked your brains to new levels I'm sure, or at least new directions. To help you recover I provide this final, semi-classic video which I hope makes you Feel Great.

Monday, April 21, 2008

So... You wanna go in John's hatch?

If the joke for the first season was "Would you help Jack off the island?" the second season jokes involve anything with the term "John's Hatch" or "Locke's Hatch". If you don't get those, you obviously haven't been watching Lost, which I just recently finished season 2 of. Honestly, I'm not sure how people watch this week to week instead of altogether on a disc, it must be maddening. People come up with all these theories, I'm sure, because they can't just put in the next disc and find out. By the way, I'll probably be discussing some


So, y'know, don't read this if you haven't watched Season 2 yet.

Honestly, I thought the two coolest things in season 2 were the first time you saw the timer run out and the tiles started flipping red and black with heiroglyphics and you're like "Holy crap, that is not good." and the black light blast door wall message... Which, by the way, you only see once! I wanna know what was written on it!

Now then... Having reached the end and realizing that we did learn a good bit about Dharma and seemingly what they do here, clues at least, at the same time I realized "Oh, there are sort of several issues that were kinda cast aside for this season." Like, oh right, that freaky black smoke that didn't attack Echo? I'm personally going with a theory that its some sort of physical manifestation of the pent up anger and psychosis from many of the cast and island inhabitants. An island spirit brought on by the islanders if you will. Thats why it killed the pilot, there was some sort of subconcious animosity towards the screw up who crashed the flight. Recently its not going after anyone because there's equal animosity on both sides, and not for a particular person.Also, I did some research into "108". Besides the obvious fact that the other numbers add up to it, its also linked to a lot of the Far Eastern religions... Like, pretty much all of them except ancient Shinto (Since modern incarnations borrow some from Buddhism). It is, in fact, linked to Dharma, and the "Dharmic Wheel" (As a friend called it) which is uses as its symbol. Basically, 108 in the far east is kind of like 12 over here, its a number that you would probably pretty quickly link to having significance. HOWEVER! I think its entirely a distraction. Why? Because Evangelion did the exact same thing! They stuck in a bunch of Western religious symbolism that ended up not being anything but cool cultural aesthetic. In other words, the story behind the 108 is simply that the creators of Dharma were like "Oh, Dharma is linked to 108, so will set it up so its every 108 minutes." Thats all there is to the number 108... The other numbers? Probably, again, just there to throw you off. 42 is important to Hitchhikers Guide fans. 23 could be linked to Psalm 23 which is quoted by Echo and Charlie. The others I don't know because I honestly feel they are too general and too slosely related to each to be a specific thing, but I'm sure they'll work them into the series mythology. Anyway, ultimately I don't think the numbers mean anything except that events linked to the island will continue to have those numbers pop up, because the producers know people will be distracted by them.... Distracted from the truth. The truth is my friends that I've already figured it all out! I compared the distractions to Evangelion earlier, and that is the truth in itself. The island secretly houses a geo-front beneath the soil where there are giant mecha that need CHILDREN to pilot them, hence why they kidnapped the children! However the mecha (Which there are 108 of, again, to throw you off) are not going to save the world: the Dharma initiative is going to use them to enslave the world! They aren't the good guys... They're the very bad guys. Yes this is the truth of the series, and it shall be until it is utterly shattered by Season 3.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Hide under Kindling

So, I started watching Season 2 of Lost. So far I'm liking it a lot more since the plot is actually a lot more about the island and what the crap is going on, and less about introducing the 15+ characters, who have a tendency to die once you learn all about them. People still need to lighten up, but y'know, I'm wondering if that will ever happen and am thinking "No, not really." But anyway, thats not why I'm writing...

I was watching Lewis Black's "Black on Broadway" show and reaffirmed that he is a rather wise but very angry man. He shared some deep insights like the fact that, 10 years ago, you would safely think, even on your worst day, "Y'know, todays gonna suck. But at least I'm not gonna get smallpox!" I'm not saying its something people should worry about, but back then nobody would have even considered a smallpox bio-weapon a threat (And by "nobody" I mean everyone outside of that guy they kept on staff "just in case" and the conspiracy theorists). He also shared his thoughts on freakin' disgustingly rich people at the top of corporations who just buy stuff they don't use or need and how incredibly stupid they are. Do you know why everyone knows who Richard Branson is (Head of Virgin for those outside of everyone)? Because he does crazy and weird stuff with his money, like doing a "fake" April Fools Day Mars Mission application with Google. He's so crazy, he might actually do it someday. He threw water on Stephen Colbert in an interview. Mr. Black's idea was to have someone constantly attending to cleaning his balls. Crude yes, but he said y'know: pay this person very well, great pension, health insurance and all, and their only job is to make sure his family jewels stay sparkly. And the reason was this "As you're walking along the other CEOs say 'why, who is that?' and you say 'Who is that? Why, my personal ball cleaner. What'd you buy, another car? HAHAHAHA!!!'" I guess my take away was that the world would be a better, or at least more interesting place, with more eccentric billionaires. And by eccentric, I don't mean the guy who bought a $16,000 patio umbrella holder. Thats not eccentric, thats just stupid. My new Ford Focus cost less than that! Well, its about 6 months old now, but its new. He spoke on a number of other issues like nutrition facts on water, and where was the water with fat in it? Why is our terror system color coded? And the age old question of how a little wooden desk was supposed to protect school children from a giant nuclear fireball, and the added question of "What the crap are they suposed to do after surviving, go out and melt on the jungle gym?" Yes, yes, .....yes. I'm done with that now.

The final thing is, I'm starting to get tired of the incredibly, astoundingly stupid and unpredictable AI in the Call of Cthulhu game. I'm starting to remember why I stopped playing it.... But I'm gonna try and get through it this time, at least get out of Innsmouth. Oh, just so you can share in my astonishment at the enemies stupidity... I snuck up behind two Dagonites and shot one in the head with my very loud six-shooter and the other... I, I can't properly recall.... He either did nothing or turned a little and gurgled "Wha was that?" Its hard to remember. The other frustrating thing is that the game tells you "Y'know, generally the best way through a combat situation is to sneak by it." but it very rarely gives you that oppurtunity! Its either a situation where you HAVE to sneak past or you'll die a hail of gunfire or you HAVE to shoot your way through and run like the wind cause your aim sucks. Ugh, give me Arkham Horror any day.

Blarg, and now I have to get up in 5 hours for church, not that I'm even tired right now... Oh well.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Little Lost

So I watched all of Season 1 of Lost (I know, I'm finally catching up right?) and, while good, there are some major gripes I have.

1. Too many characters are emotional powder kegs. I realize these people just met a month-ish ago, but they find something out or do some little thing and its all storming up to them and either instant fist fight, or hardcore tongue lashing. Especially Michael whose character description is "Angry Black Father with Engineering skills" the guy is NEVER mellow. Not that Dr. Jack is much better with his constant "I'm the hero, I have to save everyone and can't rest!" attitude. Seriously, I'm not sure when the last time is that I called characters in a show overly emotional idiots so often. Though maybe thats because my personality tends towards stoicism.

2. While realistic I suppose, I found some of the mundane personal problems kind of tedious. Not all, but just the fact that EVERYONE has them and they constantly come up, so some of them stick out as annoying.

3. Too many things are suspect. You get to the point where if ANYTHING happens you start guessing at its meaning and generally one of your ideas (sometimes your only) is right. I guess towards the end of the season, I got tired of being able to predict when something was going to go wrong. I'd share my insights, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it but is going to... Even if they will probably be able to guess what's going to happen.

Hmmm, those are the big ones. I guess basically I'd say I like Battlestar Galactica a good deal more. For instance, I'm planning on watching the rest of Lost, but I'd never buy it, whereas I plan on eventually buying all of BSG.

So now that I'm done with the first season I guess I'll be trying to borrow the second, in the meantime though I plan to get some missed game playing done.

Oh, something fun I discovered tonight at B&N, they have Neon Genesis Evangelion soundtracks on the little listner thingies (aka RedDot System to those in the know). There's something very interesting about standing in the empty music department listening to 30 second clips of "Cruel Angel's Thesis" and other tacks from the show. Sadly not many other series share its privelaged status.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Battlestar Galactica (Or BSG for those in the know)

What?! Who said they don't know Roman Numerals? What an uncultured society we live in. Speaking of uncultured, a lady today inadvertantly said that she felt the B-52's were in some way contributing to the violent youth of today. I was so stunned by her blatently ignorant and narrow-minded sentiments (As nice as she may have been) that I could do little but hand her her bag of merchandise as she left. I was totally unprepared for such a statement.... Just like I was totally unprepared for this. Oh B-movies.... Were you spawned from Grindhouse? Yes, yes you were. Anyway, onto more cultured topics.

Battlestar Galactica, how did you manage to go from a quirky cliched 70's cult classic Sci-Fi show to become a frakking masterpiece of dramatic storytelling? Is it the "documentary style" camera work with space battles appearing to be shot by a real camera rather than being viewed by an omnipresent eye? Is it the incredible plot twists around every bend? Is it the times when you ask the questions that can only be asked by Science Fiction and Philosophers (My favorite always being "What is the line between man and machine?")? Maybe your amazing cast? Perhaps your amazing musical scores starting with the sorrowful tone of your opening followed with the primal rage kind of energy that is poured into the preview scenes that follow it? Your vast realistically flawed character roster? Gaius Baltar? Bill Adama? Starbuck? Carrying over the term "frak" from the original? Hmmm, I'm going to go with a combination of all of these.

Honestly the only reasons I can think to not like the show are: 1. You absolutely hate sci-fi, like as a religious conviction. 2. You hate good television. 3. You can't stomach violence, sex, and faux profanity.

Further info:

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core

I have just finished Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core. I honestly am not sure what someone who is not a die hard fan of FFVII would think of this game... Pretty cinematics, interesting story, weird/simplistic gameplay maybe? Even someone who just played through the first game once and thought it was pretty good. Oh, for those reading this but are not "In the know" as it were, Final Fantasy VII was released back in 1997, Crisis Core is part of a project called the "Final Fantasy VII Compilation" which, it seems, primarily is releasing a series of games and other products to fill in the questions people have about Final Fantasy VII. The movie, FFVII: Advent Children, was the first entry and expanded on the story in the game by showing the world as it stands two years later (And shooting down the odd theory that humanity was destroyed at the end of VII) while also telling a rather good story. Of course, the funny thing about it is, as the director himself admits "I'm not sure what someone who never played FFVII would think of it." I think they would be impressed with the visuals and find the characters cool, I'm not sure how well they'd follow the story outside of "Okay, he's the bad guy, he's the good guy, and the good guy has some sort of inner struggle that he's dealing with." The movie does come with a digest version of the Final Fantasy VII game's story told through a series of short clips of dialogue and cinematic sequences, which could catch you up to speed, but playing the game is the best way to know. The other aspect of the compilation to be released stateside is Dirge of Cerberus, an action title focusing on ex-Turk, Vincent Valentine. A very cool character, and it introduced us to Genesis (If you collected all the G Reports that is) who is prominent in Crisis Core. Sadly the actual game part of Dirge of Cerberus was found somewhat lacking, which even I will admit. It was entertaining for a while, but I reached certain points where the level design was so utterly dull and the shooting so repetitive that I just wanted to skip to the next story point (Which were generally good or interesting). Ah, but Crisis Core, Crisis Core is a wonder to the fan such as I. Firstly, it reveals the story of Zack Fair, a character who is scarcely mentioned in the original Final Fantasy VII, but is actually nearly essential to understanding the story entirely (I'm guessing portions about him were cut due to space issues). So playing this game fills in SO many gaps. At the same time it introduces new questions, primarily these two "When is the Playstation 3 full blown Final Fantasy VII remake coming out?" and "When is the sequel where you have to face Sephiroth and Genesis coming out?" So, maybe they aren't so much about the story, but they are important questions. OH, huge question answered as to "What is Aeris looking at at the very beginning of the game?" Not a fountain as we have previously thought, actually a leaking Mako power system!... Okay, maybe not so important to you, casual reader, but this was a profound revelation for me. There were many other things that were very interesting: The "Loveless" play is mentioned more indepth, the nature of Sephiroth's origins are further unveiled, Aeris' relationship with Zack is fully fleshed out so you no longer have the Tifa-Cloud-Aeris love triangle question (So much fanart now irrelevent... Well, except its still fun!). Also, just seeing old scenes from Final Fantasy VII told with realistic characters, and they adequetly recaptured camera angles to reflect the old 2D shots in a number of cases, it was great. And if you're playing, don't think the game ends after Nibelheim, oh no, its a good 3-4 hours of gameplay after that. Hmm, I guess one serious question I have is whether the creators had all this in mind at the beginning, like all these story elements. The part that has always felt added on to me has been Genesis because he isn't mentioned AT ALL in the original game, like not even hinted at. I understand why he's in the story as it stands now, but I just wonder if he was originally planned to be in there.

As to elements other than the story, the combat is pretty fun, though you can fairly quickly get to a point where you overpower the enemies in the normal play mode. However, there are a goodly number of side missions with challenges that are quite difficult, some especially if you lack Death protection (And by that I mean immunity to the instant kill spell "Death"). Some end up more of a filler chore, while others are an interesting challenge, yield a useful item, or are somewhat humorous, such as run-ins with a young Yuffie. Also you'll want to do some of them at least, because otherwise you'll be stuck with two accessory slots, and you'll really want all four. Another interesting aspect is the Materia Fusion system. Materia is a type of crystal that grants magical powers or other nifty enhancements. The Materia Fusion system allows you to Fuse any two materia into a new materia (Though it may be exactly the same as one of the old ones, so be careful). I need to find out how to fuse some really cool stuff and see if Ultima is doable.... Anyway, the final gameplay innovation is the DMW, or Digital Mind Wave (I think Digital Memory Wave would be more accurate personally). The way it works is that, as long as you have SP (Which is nigh unlimited) these three slots keep on turning slot machine style. They stop and re-start and have a number and picture on each slot. As its slowing down, if the two images of the sides match, it'll pause the action and pull in close on the DMW. Then you hit the X button and it'll either stop on the matching picture, or it won't. I don' think you really have to much control as to whether it does or doesn't. If it does match, then you will deploy an associated special attack called a "Limit Break" (Yes, they returneth). Of note are Aeris's Healing Wave, Cloud's Meteor Shot, and Sephiroth's Octaslash (Thats why he loses you see, shy of Omnislash). Sometimes it'll switch over to a Summon set or Fun character set. The summon set will unleash one of 5 summons, as you collect them, in awesome cinematic form (Ifrit, Bahamut, and Odin are pretty faithfully recreated aside from being more awesome). Fun characters are like Chocobo, Cait Sith, Tonberry, etc. Oh, nice thing about the summons? You can opt to skip their animation after you've seen it. They be shiney the first time you see them, but the same one five time in an hour can get old.

Ah.... I guess thats it for now. I'll put up some Final Fantasy related pictures soon I think.