28 March 2011

The english language needs a word for “Shit we love even though it’s shit”. In fact, I’m going to make a word for it right now: Unikeft. I can say, unequivocally, that Zack Snyder’s work is normally unikeft. 300? I loved that movie. I wouldn’t recommend it to my worst enemy on their best day, but I loved it. I had thought that Sucker Punch would be a fairly mundane bit of unikeft as well. It has all the markers of proper unikeft: Slow motion action sequences, highly stilted unreal CG, exploitative outfits and unconvincing declarations of “empowerment” rattled off by a white male director.

I knew, from the moment I saw the trailer, that Sucker Punch would be a bad film. I just thought it’d be decent unikeft as well. Unfortunately… it just isn’t. You have to have the movie basically spoiled to understand why, but I think it’s worth knowing the ending if you plan to watch it. So you should check out Annalee Newitz’s review at IO9. She’s about the only person on the planet (aside from my immediate family and my significant other) who’s allowed to spoil movies for me.

And it’s quite the spoiler. It really does spoil the movie. Sucker Punch isn’t Unikeft, it’s just plain bad. It convinces itself that it has depth and meaning, which it then uses as an excuse to ruin a perfectly undecent bit of cinema into unwatchability.

Damn you Annalee Newitz why must you tread on my dreams? I just wanted to see a girl kill a gatling-gun-weilding-giant-samurai with a sword in slow motion. Is that so wrong?

Now THAT is unikeft. I love this image. I cannot defend it on any intellectual level, but I love it all the same. I wanted a movie of this, but for such a movie to be at least unikeft, it’d have to give the girl in this image some semblance of agency, growth, and personality. In other words, she needs to be a character. Sucker Punch doesn’t merely miss the mark in this department, it actively works against it.

Squandering that much cash and not at least giving us something unikeft in exchange, shouldn’t that be some kind of crime?

AN ADDENDUM – To better illustrate my point. I found the poster for the movie I wanted Sucker Punch to be:

Now that is a film I would’ve paid money to see… then flatly denied watching after the fact.

PA, what happened to you man? You used to be cool.

24 March 2011

Okay okay. Given the more balanced news post, I’m somewhat inclined to give this one a free ride. As is often the case with PA, their position gains nuance once Tycho starts talking. They’re not condoning the new Duke Nukem, and they’re unquestionably correct about Duke Nukem 3D’s indelible impact on the industry.

Still, as is often the case with PA, the deans of video game fandom have decided to discuss the gaming industry at length, while dismissing the crushing sexism of our fandom/industry as something beneath notice.

I was tempted to explain this at length. Then I realized something: No one reads what I say anyways. So, here’s my thoughts on PA’s “counter-argument”, brought to you by the power of Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V, and protected from legal action by the copyright exceptions for parody and transformative works*:

Thank you very much, good night.


P.S. – As I find I must ALWAYS say when I post about something serious: I welcome debate. If you disagree, please comment. However, while I welcome debate; Trolling and rambling bullshit are beneath my notice. Stay on topic. Debate me on the point I’m making, or I’ll delete your post. If you’re upset by this, you’re welcome to post whatever you want to post on your own blog.

* – Oh and see what I did there? The DMCA can take a long walk off a short pier.


9 March 2011

I’m shutting off twitter tools, because I can’t make it do what I want it to do. I’m tired of it clogging up Sunkenlibrary, and I’m clearly having trouble keeping up with the tweets and turning them into rational posts.

If you’re keen on keeping up with me on Twitter, you can follow me over at: http://twitter.com/#!/longwing

I tend towards photo-blogging, so some actually neat stuff winds up over there. Sometime later, I’ll try to make a more graceful integration.


The New York Times owes someone an apology

9 March 2011

Oh hey, look at that, a real post for once.

So, first off, regardless of your background, this post is going to make you a little bit sick to the stomach. If your background includes certain varieties of ptsd, it’ll definitely include absolutely enormous triggers regarding rape. So if that’s a problem, just saying, this isn’t a light and fluffy thing I’m talking about today.

Earlier today, the New York Times reported on an extremely horrific crime in a small Texas community. The crime in question? The gang rape of an 11 year old girl by 18 boys/men. Here’s the actual article, behind one of their charming registration walls of course.

The article tries for a neutral tone, and to be totally honest, I don’t know if it’s going for neutrality-as-a-smokescreen or neutrality-out-of-soul-killing-naivete, either way, reading that article will treat you to an entire page of quotes and insinuations about how it’s the 11 year old’s fault (because of how she dressed, and because she hung out with teenagers), or about how it’s her mother’s fault (for not knowing where she was, and not knowing who she was hanging out with).

An 11 year old girl. Raped by 18 men. Who’s to blame here?

Look, that question on the previous line was a trick question. It’s a troll trap. Who’s to blame here? THE RAPISTS. I MEAN COME ON. DUH. But what does the NYT focus on? Pull quotes about how those poor boys will have to live with it for the rest of their lives. Who gives a shit what they have to live with? They gang raped an 11 year old girl.

Seriously. You can’t make this shit up. They raped her. They filmed it on fucking cellphone cameras. THEY BRAGGED ABOUT IT AT SCHOOL (the age range of the RAPISTS was middleschool up to 27 years old).

Rape is always rape. There aren’t “Degrees” of rape. There are no small rapes, no harmless rapes. I try to explain that to people, but you get a lot of resistance. Still, I thought THIS kind of crime was at least a little bit cut-and-dry. Sort of an easy case, you know? Not complicated?

If you feel, as I do, that the New York Times owes the victim of this crime an apology, please sign the petition from Change.org.


Thanks to Maco for pointing this one out. Or thanks-ish. I’m glad I can say something about it, but miserable that it’s necessary.

An archival post about dickwolves.

1 February 2011

This post exists because I don’t believe in deleting or retracting things I’ve said online. This is the original “Dickwolves” post from my blog. No, comments are not allowed on this post. If you’d like to comment, please visit this post instead.

Honestly, I will read your comment, however I must insist that you actually read that second post. If you ignore the rules I lay out there, I’ll ignore your comment. The discussion has moved on from here. Some of the points I make here are unclear, and I’d rather you went to the new post. My core point is made quite succinctly (That means it’s short).

Now, if you want to know what I SAID instead of what I am SAYING, you can read it all below. Because arguing an old issue is always a good idea. Remember, bring this up without reading the rules in the real discussion post and I will ignore your comment. Honest, you can just skip forward. (more…)

The dreaded H word

24 January 2011

Okay, now for the real explanation. Obviously, there’s no bugs in the Smithsonian basement, and they’re not fumigating. I, on the other hand, am moving.

You’ve probably noticed that the past month of updates has gotten a bit unreliable? I’ve missed days, or forgotten to add in the text. A bunch of them are still missing transcripts, that sort of thing. The reason? All my free time has been taken up by cardboard boxes and packing tape.

So now I’ve come up against a hard cutoff point. I have no more photographs, and all my props are boxed. My tripod is in a bag somewhere and I don’t even know what happened to my camera charger. I simply don’t have Artifact 3 ready to go. This means, loathe though I am to say it, that the Darkened Heart project has to go on… ugh… Hiatus.

I hate that word. It’s a loaded word in the webcomic community. It symbolizes abandoned projects. All of them swear that they’ll only be gone a month, or X many weeks, and hardly any of them ever come back.

I wish I could prove that this one will be different, but what kind of assurance can I offer that’d be stronger or better than the ones offered by all those abandoned projects?

I’m moving on Saturday/Sunday. It’ll probably be a week or two before I’m unpacked. Once that’s done? I can’t promise that all the prep work for the next artifact will be ready in less than a month, but I’ll at least try.

Keep track of the RSS. The moment something new comes up, you’ll see it there.

Be well,

Darkened Heart Discussion post for December

1 December 2010

The monthly Darkened Heart discussions will stay at the top of the page. New posts appear below this post.



29 November 2010

On one world, I found a cave complex I named Many Rivers. The cave entrance exists near the seaside, and I know that those near-endless caverns extend well beyond the coast and into the oceans themselves. I often wonder if they connect to other islands, other continents…

At the center of the cavern, three subterranean rivers converge in a swirling vortex of water, it plunges through a sheer pit into a vast pool of lava, cooling the center into an island of obsidian glass. One day, I know I will mine that glass, and use it’s unusual properties to carve a hole from this world to the next.

I dug a base for myself from a pocket of stone not far from the grotto where the three rivers converge. There’s more than a few paths from the Fortress of Many Rivers to the surface. I took to mapping the trails with the glowing red powder I discovered in isolated pockets of loose stone near the lava.

I need to return to the surface and craft myself some signs.  With an armload of wooden planks, I could label the individual passages and paths. Perhaps with an accurate enough map, I could determine the last patches of dark beneath the ground, from whence the dead rise and horrible creatures walk. Wood is certainly more common than the red dust I’ve used thus far.

I’m not in a hurry though, I have all the time in the world on this isolated strip of land. I sometimes consider hiking the interior, or hewing out a boat from the trees and traveling onwards to the horizon. Maybe there are others here somewhere, maybe I’m not completely alone, building in silence within the depths.

This is Minecraft, and this is the only way I can think to explain it to someone who hasn’t played it. The game has no narrative, no story to connect it to our lives and give it meaning. Despite this, it’s an extremely compelling and addictive game. Like the homes and mines we carve from the randomly-generated terrain, the game itself invites us to carve a narrative out of the void it leaves behind.

The hunt for meaning in a meaningless world is an existentialist quandary. The plight posed by the blocky and cartoonish game-world reminds me of my long past trip through the Nevada dessert.

In the nevada wastes, I witnessed entire communities from the window of a greyhound bus. These tiny villages had carved out a living from what (too me) seemed to be nothing more than empty patches of dirt; A meaningless waste, generated at random by the harsh realities of the desert.

Here, in what I would consider the middle of nowhere, you still have people, humans who create community from land, cinderblocks, and cement. They brought meaning with them. It didn’t exist before they arrived, and it will disappear should their tiny community ever succumb to the ugly truths of rural life.

If you believe, as existentialists do, that the universe is a random and careless place, it can be easy to mistake such a truth as an invitation to depression. If the world you walk through has no grand plan for you, then what’s the point?

The deeper truth of existentialist philosophy lies in the answer to that question. What’s the point of a meaningless world? You are. If there is no grand plan, no detailed roadmap laid out by the hand of god, then every action you take is the grandest of plans, every plan you lay out becomes a plan from god’s own hand.

You create meaning, both in the game and in the world.

I spent the end of April on a train

22 October 2010

In April, a good friend of mine from High-school got married, thus knocking off one more obstacle in my brilliant master plan to become a withered old spinster. If I can get two or three more old friends married off, I’ll be all set; a lone unmarried bachelor amidst an army of newlyweds. That’s step one (Step three is always profit).

To celebrate my ascendancy (or her marriage, whatever) I needed to take a trip to Vermont. I decided (at the suggestion of my brilliant sister) to take Amtrak instead of flying. While on the trip, I took the time to log my observations. Here they are, in no particular order:

  • Embarking was scary mundane. There was only one bit of freaky security; a TSA cop with a sub-machine gun and a board looking big-black-dog, a Labrador? Looked kinda Labradorean.
  • No scanners, no metal detectors, no bag searches. I almost thought I was in the wrong place.
  • The ride out of Union Station in DC was a bit rougher than I expected, like riding near the couplers on a Metro car (I favor the mid-car wheel wells for a smoother commute). Makes things slightly shaky, motion-sickness could be a problem. I haven’t been motion sick in years. I wonder if I could sleep on a train. It doesn’t seem likely with this much rattling.
  • Seats, even in coach, are decently roomy. I would’ve had plenty of legroom save for my bag shoved against my shins. Better than an airplane, though not as nice as a car, or first class.
  • I am such a sodding pack-rat, incidentally. I wish I could pack lighter, at least half the crap I brought got used or dropped off during the trip, but I still wish I could manage a smaller travel profile. I need to learn to let some of this crap go. I’m learning, but it’s slow progress.
  • Mild headache from a combination of sun, hauling bags, lack of sleep, dehydration, and lack of caffeine. I brought portable tea-making supplies with me, but I suspect I’ll not be using them until the longer branch of the trip. For those who’ve wondered why I ever buy mana potions, this right here, this is why.
  • I should’ve brought a bottle of water with me. Dunno why I didn’t. Not only am I a pack-rat, but I’m an ineffective pack-rat.
  • I brought two books, one I’m reading, one I’ve read, but if I get board, I have the whole internet waiting for me.
  • Trains are like planes I can stand up in. That makes me happier than it should.
  • No weird continuous thrumming in my bones from the vibration of a jet engine… I’ve traded it for constant mild turbulence! Whee!
  • I’ve heard that watching the world outside a train window is beautiful. Thus far, I’ve seen some beautiful ditches, graffiti, trash piles, and shelled out neighborhoods (Actually, the graffiti really was beautiful).
  • How many Penn stations are there? This is getting a little silly. Penn station, Baltimore, Delaware, New Jersey… It’s like the train’s not really moving, just going in a big loop. They change around the platform while we’re out so we don’t notice when we get back.
  • Just passed a wifi node labeled “Funkadelic” in nyc, available for all of 5 seconds, locked with wep. It leaves me oddly curious about its owner.
  • I picked business class for part of my trip. Business class is train-talk for first class, which is odd because it didn’t cost all that much. I thought I might want the sleeper configuration (the chairs turn into beds). I think this is the most room I’ve ever had while in motion from one place to another.
  • Business class passengers all get free copies of the New York Times. Judging by my fellow passengers, this is very important to them.
  • The train emptied out at Albany. There’s four other passengers, and the crew. It’s odd. Even late night flights usually have a decent number of people aboard. I feel like I slept through closing, and I’m in an empty business. The noncommittal lit-but-dark lighting helps the effect. I feel like one of Eric Burns’ characters, newly transferred out of psychopomp station.
  • 9:18, it’s now too dark to see outside. Nearing the end of my trip. Internet? I no can has. At least Clockwork Cabaret is cached and transmitting.
  • I foolishly assumed I could rent a car when I got to Vermont. Fat chance. The businesses were all shuttered. I wound up hauling my pack-ratted bags to the motel on foot. The trip looked shorter on google maps, but I was clearly fooling myself. Uncertainty didn’t help either, so it was quite a relief to haul myself in front of the night desk at the incredibly ratty hotel where we were all staying. Nice enough employees, but it needed new carpet more than I need social skills.
  • I collapsed into the dubiously clean bed, uncertain of my choice of sleeping space, but quite certain of something else: I’ve got to take the train more.

This is awesome – a better dickwolves response

20 October 2010

So, you might have heard that some folks are angry about Penny Arcade’s Dickwolves shirt. I ranted about it at length a little while ago. Speaking up on these kinds of issues is important, but let’s be honest here, my response isn’t particularly helpful. It’s a rant. I draw a tiny bit of attention to the issue, but really that’s all.

Kirbybits came up with a much better response, a counter-tshirt. It’s awesome:

A phoenix rising from the ashes of embarrasing levels of fail.

It works on so many different levels. In my initial rant on this issue, I tried (sometimes succeeded, but mostly just tried) to explain how the Dickwolves shirt makes women feel unwelcome at cons. Kirbybits’ shirt works a perfect mirror effect. It makes people wearing the Dickwolves shirt feel uncomfortable, and it does so by being funny.

Dammit, why didn’t I think of that?

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