Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy Last Day of the Year

Not blogging tonight because I'm hanging out with my family, and don't have access to my regular history and favorites and whatnot.

(Hopefully will have a Star Wars post on Friday.)

-Signing off.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Blah Blah Ninja Turtles

Not ashamed to say that I've seen episodes of every Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, including the weird live-action one that crossed over with Power Rangers.



(If you go into it with an open mind and keep in mind it had a really low budget and cornball writing, which is fine because Ninja Turtles has always been silly and will always be silly, it's better than people give it credit for. Not great, mind you, but it is what it is and it's not terrible. Bad yes, awful no.)

I mention this because last night my sister and I finally watched the most recent movie, and actually watched some episodes of said live-action series to palate-cleanse afterwards (we'd had one we hadn't watched sitting around because of reasons). It was... less necessary than we'd worried, probably, anyway, although it definitely was the worst Ninja Turtles movie, and that includes the time-travel one where they wore samurai armor for about a third of their screentime.

(The best Ninja Turtles movie is either the original one or Turtles Forever, depending on whether you're asking me for an objective or subjective opinion.* Because the first Ninja Turtles movie is a surprisingly good movie for something that essentially was just helping boost what started as a quirky indie franchise, and Turtles Forever is for nerdy people who are already into the franchise, and handles cross-dimensional antics, metafictionality, and multiversal crises in a way that's more fun than any other such thing I've ever seen.)

I'll admit to being entertained and annoyed by turns; typifying the movie was the fact that Shredder's cutlery was a big silly exosuit that shot blades and retrieved them with magnets, which is both wonderful and incredibly stupid. Also, boy they made the turtles ridiculously durable. (My sister and I joked about one shot and its remarkable similarity to a scene from One Piece where the character Luffy screams "Bullets can't hurt me!")

Surprisingly enough, for a blatantly dumb action flick, my favorite moment was actually an emotional moment during the climax, where everyone thinks they're going to die and Raphael confesses that the reason he was always so hard on them was because he loved them. My sister and I agreed that this was something that is or should be true of more or less every version of Raphael, even if there's never a chance to visit the story beat.

Also, the changes they made to the origin story? What, man, what. My sister actually compared the changes to an origin story for Spider-Man where Uncle Ben is still alive at the end of it.

*My sister would always say the best one is the first one, I think, but she loves the first three movies unabashedly and unequivocally. She also decided to go ahead and take the plunge to buy DVDs of the newest cartoon, which I'd not have seen otherwise (I was a bit more hesitant, and we don't really have any TV, cable or otherwise, by choice).

-Signing off.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species (#140)

The Massive Index (Posts #1-#100)
The Less Massive Index (Posts #101-#110)
The Second Less Massive Index (Posts #111-#120)
The Third Less Massive Index (Posts #121-#130)

(Skipped unidentified H'relac species because of a spectacularly uninformative entry. And because I actually loaded one more article than I meant to, but that's neither here nor there.)

1391. Unidentified green species. Another member race of the Iskalonian school, these guys look like sad dog/fish people.

Rating: 1/5. While I'm not a fan of the character design, it's not as bad as that other species.

1392. Unidentified green-finned species. It's worth noting that these guys are also green-skinned and thus just as worthy of the appellation "unidentified green species." They also have sufficiently fishy features that one could easily believe that they're amphibious.

While there's nothing particularly noteworthy about this species beyond the fact that they're fish people who often (two out of the three known individuals) have amazingly nice hair, I do kind of like the way they're used in the story they're from, where one of them is a wealthy business owner, another is his discontent trophy wife, and the last is the eco-terrorist pretending to be the wife's skeevy personal trainer having an affair with her.

In other words, they're treated as astoundingly humanlike entities with extremely human concerns. Making characters in a story like that aliens for no reason beyond the fact that one can is nice.

Rating: 2/5.

1393. Unidentified Gryphon species. Apparently a Design-an-Alien contestant, this species has armor plated skin and a single central eye. They look kinda neat.

The sole known individual, Brock Lar, left his homeworld of Gryphon because of constant civil warfare that had killed his son. He would leave his world, eventually finding a sort of peace as an adopted citizen of another world, moving his remaining family there and getting work as the first mate of a freighter.

Unfortunately, the world that had adopted him was Alderaan, and his family was killed when the Death Star wiped the planet out.

So Brock Lar decided that he would wipe out the entirety of Moff Tarkin's bloodline, although he's not specifically known to have succeeded at killing any of the man' relatives.

Rating: 3/5. Y'know, that particular little story humanizes the destruction of Alderaan more than probably any single other thing I've read about it (and I've read a pretty fair amount of Star Wars fiction), and it essentially was a bit of fanfic written by a pair of 18-year-olds.

1394. Unidentified Hijarna species. They built a fortress, apparently as a last line of defense against an invasion of their world.

Then they died.

Bummer.

Rating: 1/5.

1395. Unidentified Hitaka species. They're blue-skinned and very human-looking.

Rating: 1/5.

1396. Unidentified hive-mind insectoid species. Apparently, "individuals" of this species are hive-minds made from a certain number of beings; losing members of the hive-mind is bad for the mind's memory.

I should think so.

Rating: 3/5.

1397. Unidentified Horn Station species. The known individual of the species basically looks like Killer Croc from the Batman comics/cartoons.

Rating: 1/5. It's not a bad look, but it's also not much of an alien.

1398. Unidentified humanoid species (Jedi twins). This species' known members were Jedi and also twins.

Their design was based on unused concept art for a Sith lord, story-wise possibly one in a role that would eventually be taken by Count Dooku.

If one looks at their design, this becomes very funny, at least to me.

Rating: 2/5. Eh, their hair-things are kinda silly.

1399. Unidentified humanoid species (pressure suits). They are believed to live in pressure suits. They are not, however, known to live in pressure suits, so the article name seems presumptuous. (The thing that probably caused people to presume they're wearing pressure suits could be scarves just as easily as air hoses.)

Looking at them, they look kind of like they're really just sharing fashion tastes (and glowing eyes, though they look like they may have four eyes) with Jawas, and that's the main thing you can actually say about them.

Rating: 2/5, because I like how they look even if they're borrowing someone else's look.

1400. Unidentified Hurikane species. So this species is composed of what we would identify as mineral material.

In his youth, Mace Windu was sent to try to obtain some kind of special crystals from them for the sake of building a special lightsaber with them. They were hostile and chased him around until one fell into a crevasse or some such thing.

Mace went back to heal him with the Force, and as a reward for his kindness, the being gave him some crystals... which had come from his own body.

...That's kind of like going, "Oh, you fixed my broken leg! Here, have my kidney!"

They look sorta interesting, anyway.

Rating: 2/5.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Day Like Any Other

...I don't really do holidays anymore.

I mean, I show up to hang out with my family-I joke about being a jerk, but I really do try not to be-but that's the extent of it.

Anyway, not much in the mood to blog, but I'm hoping to have a Star Wars post up at some point on Friday.

-Signing off.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Watch Where You Aim That Thing

So how realistic is Dai-Guard?*



It actually acknowledges that waving a drill around wouldn't work very well as a combat weapon.

*If this post seems random, I don't care. I don't believe in timely blogging or following patterns.

...Anyway, I'm super bad at blogging consistently.


-Signing off.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Not Physics Weirdness, But Brain Weirdness

This is an interesting little thing.



There's actually a tourist attraction (currently closed, as it was part of the same complex as Prehistoric Forest) that is almost certainly a partly artificial (possibly initially accidentally) exploitation of the same effect called Mystery Hill, which, as I've mentioned in the past, is hecka disorienting; my kid brother took an unpleasant fall in the place once when he was little that nearly ruined the trip*.

...Honestly, I think that the long-distance camera shot they use before they reveal the horizon over the water is probably misleading; it'd likely be easier to tell if one was there oneself (I kind of could tell that it must have been a subtle "reversed" gradation from my experience with Mystery Hill).

*My sister was crazy-prepared enough that she had a decent first aid kit in her purse, which helped get the kid calm enough; there's something soothing about having a bandage properly applied, at least among my family. Not that the Mystery Hill section was a big loss; it's just a few minutes spent in a degree of physical discomfort brought on by the sensation that you ought to be falling over. There's also a lame perspective trick that I've never once seen work because the tour group is supposed to have at least two people of the same height, and everyone in my family is of very different heights, so I've never been in a tour group where there's been decent matching. (My mother is of very average height; my sister is on the short side; when my kid brother went with us, he was still tiny because the place closed years ago; and while my dad's nearly as tall as me, that's only a nearly-and he didn't go often anyway** I stand around six foot four. Suffice it to say I've never been in a tour group with someone my own height.

**I suspect Mom actually mostly liked these trips because the place was around when she was a kid-and my uncle on her side, who is incidentally a now-retired Berkeley physicist, seems to have had much the same association-while Dad's family never seems to have had the least interest in such silly pursuits as the rest of us. This might have as much to do with the fact that, while he's in the same age range as the Baby Boomers, Dad's not actually from the same generation as they are because his parents were an older generation, and his upbringing actually reflected that.


-Signing off.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Although "Metal Kaiser" Is Kind of a Generic Name

Filed under "darnit censorship":



Metal Kaiser is a Japanese-produced, Chinese-language tokusatsu series that Tsuburaya Productions, creators of Ultraman, were trying to use to break into the Chinese market.

But because Chinese television apparently has wildly fluctuating censorship against violence (that is, changes happen extremely rapidly and can be harsh), the show was banned before it ever came out, and apparently the ban hurt Tsuburaya's finances rather badly.

Now, I've watched some fair amount of one of China's homegrown tokusatsu series, Armor Heroes, and I can say it's cheesy and hilarious; this already has some bits in it that I also find funny just in this trailer. I don't know how well a story that's apparently essentially "Ultraman powered by ancient Chinese mythology" would work when written for the same audience.

But Ultraman in general (or rather, the formula it follows, especially in the particular context of how it's followed in Ultraman) is one of my ten or so favorite things in all the world, so I can't imagine I wouldn't actually like it.

Especially since the Metal Kaiser costume is one of the most beautiful tokusatsu protagonist costumes ever created.

(Use of the "China is hilarious too" and "Japan is hilarious" tags is primarily for the sake of inter-post continuity.)

-Signing off.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Blah Blah Star Trek Blah Blah Movie

Found myself musing a bit on some things in Star Trek after randomly watching this clip the other day:



1. I know that ST:TMP is generally far inferior to Star Trek IV, regardless of similarities in their overarching plots, or rather, in the Big Dumb Objects that get their plots started. But I've always thought that "V'ger" is far more interesting* and even far more sensical than the "Whale Probe" on basically every level. Why, exactly, would some people who used to talk to the whales send a thing that would destroy the whales' home if it wasn't stopped?** You'd better hope that the thing's receivers never malfunctioned. Also, why did the thing need to be larger than Phobos, exactly? (Picture courtesy of Jeff Russell's Starship Dimensions, which is an excellent website.)



2. Boy, do I dislike the Klingon appearance retcon.*** It's not that I object to the use of enhanced makeup, but the appearance retcon brought so much bizarre and terrible baggage with it. Suddenly, the Klingons weren't metaphorically linked to Cold War tensions anymore, they were space savages, and shortly became the dumbest guys in space (look how dumb their tactics for investigating the BDO are here-"One of our ships will fire a few torpedoes, and then we'll sit and watch for a few minutes!"). Nearly gone are the clever political wranglers of the original series,**** replaced by the kind of guys that they would have been using as dupes.

And I can't help but look at the Klingon guys in that clip and think "oh gosh that looks disturbingly like some kind of racial caricature."

3. Star Trek weaponry doesn't make any sense. Yes, this is an independent point.

4. Admittedly, I like the Klingon cruiser design, and it's kind of neat seeing a higher-detail version of it than the one from the original series. (Actually, I'd say that Klingon ships in general are among the few Star Trek ship designs I don't violently object to if I start thinking about ship design seriously. The Enterprise is way too darned fragile to exist. The Defiant-class ships from Deep Space Nine are actually what all the Federation ships should more or less look like.)

*The idea that an alien civilization rebuilt a Voyager probe (whoops, spoilers!), turning it into something far more advanced than the civilization descended from the civilization that created the Voyager probes, allowing it to actually return, and be so powerful that it somewhat unintentionally threatens the civilization (descended from the civilization) of its birth? That's frankly amazing. Cartoonish, perhaps, but when has Star Trek not been? Also, it looks a heck of a lot cooler.

**Beyond the obvious "Star Trek civilizations are incredibly dumb" answer. I'm sorry if you're a Star Trek fan, it's just kind of true that the Star Trek setting is crammed with monumentally stupid ideas (exploding consoles, for instance). I'm often entertained by Star Trek, but I frequently feel obligated to knock it off the pedestal a lot of people put it on, because not many people who don't hate it do so.

***Gosh, I'm a curmudgeon about Star Trek. This movie is nearly half a decade older than me!

****They do, of course, make a brief comeback during the sixth movie, which has a couple of my favorite Star Trek moments in it, but of course by the time of TNG they're gone forever and ever. ...I should mention that I've never watched much of the Star Trek series other than the original series and the cartoon, so it's possible I'm wrong, but I have my doubts.


-Signing off.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Context-Free Awesomeness

Prepare to have your mind blown. (Note: Clip is from God Mazinger, which had a lot of chicks running around in tiny bikinis for no good reason and also violence... though this clip has less of those things than the other few I've seen.)



In case you're not patient enough to watch the whole thing, the really awesome bit starts at around four minutes.

In all seriousness, though: This features a giant sword-wielding statue/robot (piloted by a kid) fighting a possessed, firebreathing plesiosaur (which may also be a robot-I'm not clear on this, not having watched this particular obscure and untranslated series beyond a couple of clips) which is wearing a collar with a flail attached to it so that it can use said flail.

That's the very best kind of ridiculous.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

It's Just That Stupid

Quick! What was your first reaction to the new lightsaber design from the Episode VII trailer?



If it was "that's stupid," you're on the same wavelength as at least half the people I've shown the trailer.*

Unless the crosspiece is supposed to be some kind of "training saber," that is, a lightsaber blade that doesn't actually cut, I can't imagine it being too safe to handle; for that matter, I can't imagine it being very effective for blocking, either, when somebody can potentially cut the emitters. Did the people who designed it know what crosspieces are for?**

I'm nowhere near as positive about this movie as I was when I'd heard the Toy Story III writer was supposed to be doing the script, because it's got a lot in common with "NuTrek" and every time I hear something new about that I think it sounds even more awful...



...but at least a writer who worked on the original trilogy worked on it too, so...

Also I like the new stormtrooper helmets.

*I showed it to my sister and it was nearly her first reaction to the whole trailer. My mother was more excited and positive about the movie as a whole,*** but the lightsaber was her primary nitpick. It didn't really stick in my craw quite so much, but it's definitely my least favorite alternate lightsaber design.

**They're for blocking sword blades and occasionally helping one's grip.

***A big part of the reason why I'm such a huge nerd is because my mother's always been a big nerd herself; particularly, she's a big fan of both Star Trek and Star Wars. There was a conversation my sister and I had with her at some point where she realized that we'd seen very few episodes of Star Trek and none of the movies besides a chunk of The Wrath of Khan (which had aired as a Saturday afternoon matinee at some point), and her reaction was to take a summer to rent all the movies that had already come out, up to First Contact, which wasn't even part of her Star Trek (that being the original series), because she felt our education had been lacking. She's a wonderful human being.


-Signing off.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Everything Must Be Giant Robots

Okay, I'd seen the product this is advertising (the link is to an English-language review of the piece in question, which has helpful information on the subject), and I knew it was based on a real building made for the 1970 Japanese Expo (I've seen the relevant Gamera movie, after all).

I did not see this advertisement (...until I'd read the above review-I'd seen a previous review on a Japanese site).



Japan, I love you.

-Signing off.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species (#139)

The Massive Index (Posts #1-#100)
The Less Massive Index (Posts #101-#110)
The Second Less Massive Index (Posts #111-#120)
The Third Less Massive Index (Posts #121-#130)

1381. Unidentified diminutive species. These guys are basically angry-looking koalas.

There's something familiar-sounding about that...

Oh, yeah, in Schlock Mercenary one of the most racist and fascist alien species in the galaxy is basically a bunch of koala people. That probably explains why I find these guys kind of familiar.

...Not that I'm accusing these guys of being evil in any way; I'm sure they just kind of look angry.

Rating: 2/5. Because angry koala people are amusing.

1382. Unidentified Dreffon IV species. These people are native to Dreffon IV, and love to eat a fruit apparently also native to Dreffon IV, the plasmaberry. (Which... sounds a bit weird, since plasma generally refers to either a component of blood or the stuff of which stars are composed.)

...All of them? Every single one of them? Even the ones who have severe allergic reactions to plasmaberries?

Because it's not unlikely that there'd be some with allergic reactions to the things, and even something that's widely seen as good can't be loved by everyone (I can't actually stand blueberries, f'r instance, and on the subject of allergies my sister has a fairly nasty allergy to strawberries even though strawberry is one of her favorite flavors).

Rating: 1/5.

1383. Unidentified Eeyyon species. They apparently have pale skin and (SURPRISE) come from the planet Eeyyon, which I have trouble not reading as "Eeyore."

Rating: 1/5.

1384. Unidentified eight-valved species. Okay, this species is ultimately from Monsters and Aliens from George Lucas, which is a non-canonical book that I've largely ignored here, not insignificantly because its content rarely feels like it "fits." Never mind that there's all sorts of things as variable as crazy space gods and Force demons and slug crime lords and carnivorous meat products in the Star Wars galaxy, for some reason these things still mostly feel "off."

But the reason this species is listed is because its existence is inferred from a piece of music.

It apparently has a green, eight-valved heart, and the lyrics suggest that said heart pumps mercury (though this might be part of an idiomatic metaphor, considering that the song states that "the mercury has gone from this eight-valve heart," which definitely sounds metaphorical to me). Other anatomical features apparently include chloroplasts, multiple mouths, and something on which the entity slides. And the being may also be aquatic, based on the fact that the song mentions that "fluorescent plankton filled our cave."

Incidentally, it was a crying song.

Rating: 4/5. I'm laughing.

1385. Unidentified Firro species. They live on Firro, which was brutally subjugated by the Empire.

Apparently, the medical droid 2-1B used to work on the planet, treating civilians, before the new Imperial governor took possession of him for his own use.

Then a Rebel shot the guy in a "scuffle" and 2-1B decided to join the Rebellion of his own volition, because he'd been upset by how the governor had been treating the natives of Firro.

This... is actually really funny, because the magazine Star Wars Insider used to have a column presented as being written by 2-1B, and he was the crankiest, pettiest robot ever to be associated with the Star Wars universe.

Although that's not really here nor there.

Rating: 1/5.

1386. Unidentified Fortnay species. These now-extinct natives of a world called Fortnay apparently once defeated superior oppressors, according to a document they left behind that someone had managed to translate. This translator was actually seeking a way for the Rebellion to topple the Empire by doing historical and archaeological research.

Which is sorta interesting, but one still shakes one's head.

Rating: 1/5.

1387. Unidentified Gap Nine species. They're apparently "reptiloid," and native to Gap Nine, which is only significant to a group I didn't cover (mentioned here).

Rating: 1/5.

1388. Unidentified Garr'lst species. Apparently, they were wiped out by a mercenary group.

Rating: 1/5. Mostly irrelevant: The mercenary force involved was later themselves severely devastated by a weapon called a Death Spiral, which is apparently a stack of circular gun things.

1389. Unidentified googly-eyed species. "Unidentified googly-eyed species?" Seriously? That's what you're going to call them?

Then one learns that they're an extragalactic species which is powerful enough to pull a Star Trek omnipotent aliens plot on inhabitants of the Star Wars galaxy.

Oh.

I'll point out-based on analysis done by various parties, an Imperial Star Destroyer, which is technically sort of a combination patrol and picket ship role-wise (albeit also built for independent engagements, because the Empire doesn't fool around), is also capable of the same job that another setting's "planet killer" performs.

So we're kind of talking about a high-end group here, because subduing a Star Destroyer as easily as they implicitly did without damaging it would take a lot of work.

Rating: 2/5. Because they're apparently "googly-eyed" and apparently absurdly powerful. That makes me crack a smirk, anyway.

1390. Unidentified Gottlegoob species. Apparently, this species suffered from famine.

Also, for some reason the pronoun "they" was capitalized in their article at one point, which strikes me as a bit funny.

Rating: 1/5. I'm so full of empathy. /sarcasm

-Signing off.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

ROCK THE DRAGON

I'm not really a particularly big fan of Dragon Ball Z, but I do have to admit I quite like the dub's theme song.



It's, like, at least half the reason that I used to watch the show when it aired at six in the morning on Saturdays.

-Signing off.

Monday, December 1, 2014

What the Heck, '80s?

These cartoons were made in the same decade, technically by the same industry, ostensibly for the same purpose (advertising products). (I'm well aware that this isn't a remotely fair comparison. Like it matters.)



The above show is apparently about an alien who... either appears when you solve a Rubik's Cube, or simply is a Rubik's cube that sprouts a face and legs when solved.

Contrast it with the following show.



Spiral Zone* is about a futuristic military commando team that goes on expeditions into an artificially induced atmosphere that causes people to become mind-controlled zombies under the villains' control. (I've only seen a few episodes and it was a long darned time ago, but my memories of it suggest it was comparable or superior in quality to the '80s GIJoe cartoon.)

The '80s was kind of a weird time for cartoons, yo.

*It's interesting to note that Spiral Zone was a derivation of a toyline from Japan that amazingly had the same name.

However, I've never seen any indication that there was a Spiral Zone anime, and I know that the cartoon wasn't a dub, because I've looked into Japanese Spiral Zone just enough to know that the toyline had its own distinct storyline over there: Instead of the artificial zombie-creating field of the cartoon, the titular Spiral Zone was an alien ecosystem or something that had invaded Earth (probably heavily inspired by Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind's toxic jungle/sea of decay, though without the twist at the end), at least as far as I can tell from the few available snippets.


-Signing off.

Friday, November 28, 2014

I Do Not Celebrate Black Friday

In honor of Blatantly Trying To Get You To Spend Money Day, here's a commercial sort-of-featuring Skeletor (as an action figure) advertising a much more expensive toy.



That's not the worst Skeletor voice I've ever heard, although it doesn't really compare to Oppenheimer's flawless vocals.



"'Cuz you were a wimp scientist and you could be a wimp villain!"

-Signing off.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sorry, No Kryptonite

And for reasons I've mentioned (dang that's an old post-I actually apologize for mentioning Lovecraft stories*), even that wouldn't make much of a difference if Supes took the gloves off.



Like so.

*Incidentally, H. P. Lovecraft? Was a horrible racist that said horrible things about lots of people. Like, there's apparently a "game" that gives you a quote from Lovecraft and a quote from Hitler, and you're supposed to guess which one said which; usually, from what I've read of it, Lovecraft said all the worst things.

Of course he did. He was an imaginative little slime, and that's why people still talk about him, isn't it?

Incidentally, if we discounted old media based on whether it was created by awful, hateful people, the literary canon would almost completely evaporate, so Lovecraft isn't exactly unusual for having been an awful person. At least he just kind of sat at home and wrote stories people didn't end up paying him much money for, later dying broke.


-Signing off.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Five Things To Love About Filmation He-Man

I've mentioned a few times that I'm a genuine fan of the original Filmation He-Man cartoon (and its literal sister series She-Ra, for that matter).

Having just started a semi-regular rewatch that my sister and I do periodically with our complete collection of the series, I decided I'd catalog some of my favorite things in the series.

5. Our car is a badass.

So He-Man is technically a toy commercial, right? And the toyline is a typical boy's toyline, with figures with silly gimmicks and dopey little vehicles that are often even more ridiculous.

Hypothetically, Attack Trak is an advertisement for a similarly named toy, which was a typical weird little one-man vehicle. The series writers developed the concept-a tracked vehicle that "only He-Man can drive" because it perceives who's trying to operate it-into something completely different, that being the amazing character Attack Trak. (I add the "c" primarily for purposes of distinguishing the two.)

This is Attack Trak, casually ascending a cliff face.



And he doesn't have a driver, because Trak doesn't need a driver.

Imagine if KITT from Knight Rider was a tank that could climb anything and armed with lasers, and was kind of a jerk to boot. Some episodes didn't give him any dialogue or autonomy, but there was also an episode which displayed an entire fleet of Attack Traks; I'm pretty sure, from his ability to handle most of Skeletor's minions by himself, that if they'd just had a fleet of him that Skeletor wouldn't pose any threat at all, so presumably the production version lacked the sapience and for some reason they just didn't use Trak himself sometimes.

One of the last episodes of the series even expanded on the idea of the sentient/sapient vehicle, portraying Skeletor's Land Shark as Trak's bestial rival that he really didn't care for at all; sadly, the Land Shark's only other appearance in the series was as a generic bad guy car.

There are a lot of characters from this cartoon that I really like, but Attack Trak is probably my personal favorite case of a character arising from Filmation deciding to go their own way with the concept.

My biggest regret about Lou Scheimer's He-Ro, Son of He-Man pitch being a thing that never happened was that apparently all the vehicles were going to be large sapient mechanical creatures, a bit more in the vein of the Land Shark, but still enough like Trak that I have to think he was an influence on the idea.

4. How weird can this show get?

There's an episode of He-Man where Castle Greyskull gets pulled into another dimension, and they follow it...



...into a Steve Ditko-drawn issue of Doctor Strange.

There's another episode where He-Man gets thrown into another dimension, and things get even weirder.

Like, he fights what's basically a Captain Planet villain, Plundor, but Plundor is a pink bunny man and the cuddly animals he's threatening are called Schminavits (or something like that) and look like cutesy video game critters.



And the rescue party sent to find him just kind of floats through space on their way there.



They pass through more Ditko space on the way, incidentally. Filmation kind of liked Ditko space.

And Plundor's pollution machines looked like Dr. Seuss drew them.



That's not even getting into episodes featuring other characters from Orko's homeworld of Trolla (or Trolla itself) or Orko's Missing Magic, which involves traveling to another weirdo dimension with weirdo inhabitants who happily flout normal laws of anatomy/physics. Like, do you think a guy built like this...



...should really be able to do this?



I don't know that this show was the first to essentially go with the idea that other dimensions with weird physics can just use cartoon physics, but it is the earliest one I know of that does it.

(It's also interesting to note that the inhabitants of that world, Omiros, actually have distinctly different magic visually from all the other magic-users in the series. A little touch, but a nice one.)

3. Yog.



That is all.



(More generally, Filmation had a lot of great creature designs.)

2. Mom is also a badass.

Okay, so here's a little secret about Filmation's He-Man: Its version of Queen Marlena (Prince Adam's/He-Man's mother) was amazing.

Granted, a lot of writers kind of ignored her, to the point where a lot of people don't even seem to be aware that Marlena's full name is Marlena Glenn and that she was a spacecraft test pilot/explorer from a slightly nebulous future version of Earth. (Probably an explorer in the Star Trek sense; her spaceship had missiles.)

She spends most of her time hanging around being a queen and a mom, but then there's The Rainbow Warrior... where she demonstrates that she's actually still the best combat pilot on Eternia and personally shoots down about half of Skeletor's air fleet.



...Calling her the best pilot on Eternia isn't saying that much, because Eternians seem to be crap at three-dimensional thinking, but still.

1. The Dragon Invasion.

When I was a kid, The Dragon Invasion was one of two episodes of the show that my family owned on VHS since almost before I could remember. (I actually do remember it being purchased at the Wal-Mart that had just moved into town a little while before. It was a strange release for various reasons, but then, a lot of late '80s/early '90s VHS releases were pretty odd.) That means that it's one of two episodes I've watched more than any other.

It's still one of my favorite episodes and is probably among the reasons I get nostalgic about the series. And there's a good reason for that:

Skeletor is awesome in this episode.

Even when he's being written poorly, Skeletor is very entertaining, because he's a bright blue guy with a yellow skull for a face who's in it for the cartoonish Evulz, and his voice actor, Alan Oppenheimer, is a real treasure. (In all seriousness, I rate Oppenheimer higher than Frank Welker and Peter Cullen, probably the most famous voice actors of the era, for the specific purpose of villain voices-in fact, in that specific category he's probably tied with the amazing David Kaye, whose Beast Wars Megatron is probably my favorite cartoon villain of all time. All his villain voices and a goodly number of his not-villain voices are fricking amazing.) But this episode was written by Michael Reaves, who would later write for Batman: TAS and Gargoyles, which I will point out are generally very well-written series.

Skeletor is on his A-game here.

First off, I should establish something about Eternian dragons. Aside from Granamyr (who qualifies for everything I'm about to describe but is also the most powerful wizard on Eternia, and yes, he's much more powerful than Skeletor or the Sorceress-there's an episode where He-Man's solution to a problem, that problem being an evil wizard dragon, is "get Granamyr to notice the problem"*) and his fellow sapient dragons, there's a pretty fair population of unintelligent animal dragons. Among other things, they're capable of flying at speeds comparable to Eternian aircraft, breathe fire of destructive power comparable to Eternian vehicle-mounted weaponry, withstand Eternian artillery fire without apparent injury, demolish buildings with their tails, and have a limited degree of resistance to being controlled by the telepathic powers of Skeletor's minion Beast Man.

Specifically, a mother dragon protecting her eggs can't be controlled by Beast Man, and the episode opens with Skeletor and Beast Man raiding a dragon nest for eggs.



When Beast Man freaks out because he can't stop the mother dragon, Skeletor basically calls him a wimp and sends her plummeting into a nearby abyss. (Presumably, she didn't fly because she was surprised; she also wasn't seriously injured by the fall, because she showed up later.) Then he has the eggs dropped all over Eternia, uses magic to make the dragons grow instantly to adults and has Beast Man force them to rampage, and does all this just to distract He-Man from his real plan, which is using a magic artifact called the Dragon Pearl (he must have been feeling thematic that day) to capture the Sorceress and Castle Greyskull, puts up an impenetrable forcefield around Greyskull, and when the heroes break down the forcefield anyway (ironically with help from the no-longer-manipulated-by-Beast-Man dragons), uses the Dragon Pearl to tap into the captured Sorceress's powers and turn himself into a giant version of himself that's actually strong enough to bring He-Man to his knees.

He still loses, of course; this is He-Man we're talking about.

But The Dragon Invasion is the quintessential He-Man action episode, and probably the purest example of such.

...I'm probably going to talk about She-Ra before too much longer, because this was going to be a bit more general of a post and instead it ended up being just about Filmation's version of He-Man specifically.

*He-Man does this by being a bit of a jerk, by the way: He deliberately crashes his flying car into Granamyr's house.

-Signing off.

Friday, November 21, 2014

I Have No Excuse (Or Context)

I do, however, have (a video of) UNLIMITED DRILL WORKS:



Note that this is footage from a (mostly safe for work, although there are a couple of iffy bits) game that heavily references another game that's pretty much a porn game. (A really strange porn game.)

(The game from which this footage comes is crazy addictive, mostly because of the music, which is a looped section of an anime opening song called Kuusou Rumba. It goes in my head for miles.)

-Signing off.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

This Was A Meme Before Memes

When I discovered the Internet in its vastness years ago, there was one thing that didn't surprise me about it: Memes.

You see, my family independently invented the meme in the early/mid-'90s.

One of the earliest household memes was an "interact-with-the-environment" line from the 1995 LucasArts biker RPG Full Throttle:



For weeks after first playing the demo (we never quite got the full game), almost everyone in the household would repeat this (slightly mutated to "I ain't puttin' my lips on that") to each other at vaguely appropriate (or inappropriate) times.

Of a random piece of food that hit the floor or was ruined by a mischievous cat: "I ain't puttin' my lips on that."

Of something that was merely incidentally unpleasant: "I ain't puttin' my lips on that."

Apropos of nothing whatsoever: "I ain't puttin' my lips on that."

It still came up months and even years later, and even with virtually no context, my sister remembered what Full Throttle was.

That's a sign that a line, even a silly throwaway one, is memorable.

-Signing off.

Monday, November 17, 2014

My 1500th Post (And I Don't Care)

Finally saw How to Train Your Dragon 2 last night (the "finally" is because the DVD had been bought around a week before and was just sitting around, waiting to be watched, not because I didn't see it in theaters), and my biggest non-spoiler comment* on it is:

The Bewilderbeast sure reminded me of my cat.



(Image cropped from an official webpage.)

Granted, a Godzilla-sized version of my cat, but my cat nonetheless.



(I'm shocked that picture turned out at all. Normally every picture I take is super blurry because my hands invisibly vibrate at incredible speeds.)

Said cat, Captain (yes, that's her full name), is probably the fluffiest animal I've ever known, and started life as the tiniest, most pathetic kitten in her litter, with an eye fused shut-we weren't even sure at first if she had an eye on that side. (This is part of where she got the name Captain-she looked a little bit like a pirate with only one eye, and that side of her face is still completely black, so she still looks a little lopsided and like she's wearing an eyepatch.)

Being smaller and weaker, she decided to make up for it with energy and ferocity, and there was a time when none of the other cats in the house would dare to pick a fight with her.

Once she got a little older (she's not yet two), she actually mellowed out rather a lot, and is mostly a very calm animal. She's also much bigger than she looks-all that fluff combined with the way she used to carry herself, it was ages before we realized that she's nearly the same size as my sister's cat (who's nearly too big to hold and also, despite being a much older and generally less-friendly-to-other-animals cat, my cat's best friend).

She's also unusually protective, though, and in ways one wouldn't expect: For one thing, she's actually picked fights with her own mother to protect other cats. Her mother was still bigger than her at the time, and, y'know, had instinctually generated bonds with her. But she didn't care about that.

She also growls like a dog at pedestrians on the sidewalk and the (admittedly creepy) local ice cream truck and actually sometimes completely ignores other cats when they attack** her, which unnerves them to no end. (Though lately she's been scuffling with one of our other cats and getting said cat's claws stuck in her fur, to their mutual confusion.)

Anyway, point is, this big, protective dragon oddly reminded me unusually strongly of my little, protective cat.

Captain is also an uncannily smart cat, but that's a subject for some other post.

*Biggest spoiler comment (followed, of course, by SPOILERS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN THE FILM): Stoick may have been my favorite character, and killing him off felt darned predictable and made me angry rather than sad. I had a good idea he was going to die when people talked about something tragic happening in vague, vague terms, and when I saw something somewhere that mentioned his name and was surrounded by comments along the lines of "Crying! Feels!," it was pretty much confirmed. (Guys, y'need to work harder on not being spoilery.)

When he got hit by that fireball, I was like "no, that can't be it, he just had a line like ten minutes ago about how a little fire wasn't going to finish him off! Wait, that was stupid foreshadowing, wasn't it? Bah, Drago is a dumb villain."

Second biggest spoiler comment: After watching the TV show that was based on the first movie, and getting to be familiar with the characters there, boy but Hiccup felt dumb in this movie. Put down the darned idiot ball, man!

It was a pretty decent movie and had some really good parts to it (I loved how low-key Hiccup and Astrid's relationship was-they pretty much felt exactly like real people) but unlike the first movie, it wasn't perfect.

And the first movie is, in essence, perfect. In honesty, it's one of my favorite movies of all time, with only a couple of others really being competition for it. ...And I just realized how similar it is to one of my other very favorite films, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.

**In case you've never lived with cats, "attack" can mean "aggressively approach with hostile intent," "playfully pounce upon," or "actually savagely attack." Even cats themselves don't always know the difference between the three.


-Signing off.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species (#138)

The Massive Index (Posts #1-#100)
The Less Massive Index (Posts #101-#110)
The Second Less Massive Index (Posts #111-#120)
The Third Less Massive Index (Posts #121-#130)

1371. Unidentified Byrsym species. Apparently, their planet, Byrsym, was sufficiently hot that they preferred to come out at night.

...Wow, that's a lot to go on.

Rating: 1/5.

1372. Unidentified camel-like bounty hunter's species. Okay, I'm looking at the page picture and having serious doubts that it's not actually a human/almost human being drawn slightly abstractly. "Camel-like?" Where the flip did that come from, exactly?

Also I kinda want to remove that guy's smug smirk (not least because apparently he's smirking at a woman who was seduced, betrayed, and then mutilated by horrible burns SERIOUSLY WHAT). Grr.

Rating: 1/5.

1373. Unidentified cantina patron's species. Okay, these guys are just modestly generic blue people such as have been seen a few times already. But they come from a story called "A Stranger in Town" which is well worth mentioning for its own sake. You see, "A Stranger in Town" is the story in which Yoda wanders into a town while carrying a crate the size of a semi cab (ON HIS BACK, NOT WITH THE FORCE THAT WE CAN TELL), buys a quick drink, and then, as a Separatist battalion shows up, opens up the crate to reveal an oversized personal artillery piece, with which he promptly obliterates the entire battalion. And then he leaves.

(All that certainly explains why Yoda walked with a cane when he lived on Dagobah, don't you think?)

That's why there's a planet that's called "Unidentified planet (Yoda's chaingun)" on Wookieepedia, and an article called "Battle of unidentified planet (Yoda's chaingun)."

I know that the old Expanded Universe has its detractors, and not without reason, but it was still a beautiful thing.

Rating: 3/5.

1374. Unidentified Cilpar species. They had a long-gone civilization that conveniently left behind a bunch of big old templed that were well-suited for resistance movements to hide in. They... could actually have been human.

Rating: 1/5. Ever notice how much danger the Rebels put ancient cultural artifacts in? They really liked using old temples as bases, see.

1375. Unidentified Crystan V species. They're apparently little.

And green.

Creative!

Rating: 1/5.

1376. Unidentified dead red moon species. They were long-extinct when their homeworld was visited in a story set a year after A New Hope. They lived on a now-dead red moon, which is a funny description for a place.

Incidentally, their long-dead homeworld was then atomized by an artificial supernova induced by an Imperial traitor trying to destroy both an Imperial fleet and Rebel forces.

...Wow, special.

Rating: 1/5.

1377. Unidentified Delderaan species. Apparently, their northern tribes wove multicolored balls of yarn. Uh?

Rating: 1/5.

1378. Unidentified Dersonn III species. They were rendered nearly extinct, and the survivors were enslaved, by a sociopathic Wookiee bounty hunter.

Oh, nice, the Wookiee's article contains detailed descriptions of how he stalked and murdered his entire tribe and then a group of slavers! Just what I always wanted in an article! /sarcasm

...What was I talking about again? Oh yeah, this completely anonymous victim species!

Rating: 1/5.

1379. Unidentified dianoga-like species. They may actually be related to dianogas (trash compactor monsters), as the known member of the species was apparently native to the dianoga homeworld. And they apparently are an advanced civilization, because they apparently utilize terraforming. Also, said sole known member of the species was a mercenary.

That's awesome.

Rating: 4/5. It would take almost no effort to bump that up to a full 5/5.

1380. Unidentified diminutive pointed-eared species. They have egg-shaped heads with colored spots on top.

Rating: 1/5.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Another Castle, You Say?

Was watching a playthrough for the Game Boy Color version of the 1985 Super Mario Brothers game, and...



Well...



...um...



...you did make sure that the toadstool guy got out before you did that, right, Mario?

Mario?

-Signing off.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Super Robot Profile/Review: Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet (find it online for legal free here or here-though on this occasion, I watched a DVD purchased at Wal-Mart of all places) is a pretty great space opera turned fish out of water slice of life story turned psychological drama turned what the heck am I even saying at this point?

My sister and I were drawn to the series because it had a picture of a robot on the front, honestly; we're suckers for basically any mecha or super robot series that doesn't have "Gundam" in the name. (Nothing personal against Gundam; we just aren't as into it because everything in it starts to look the same after a while.)

For a series whose story significantly comes from a guy whose common English fan nickname includes the word "butcher," big chunks of it are pretty lighthearted and even cute.



Not quite that cute, mind you, although considering that this is part of a sequence (from a chibified net movie thing) explaining that one of the characters has spent his entire life either fighting, in battle simulations to prepare him for fighting, or having hypnotic sleep programming to strengthen his resolve for fighting, this is cute in a disturbing-as-hell way.

Anyways, this is one of those series that's kind of hard to talk about without ruining things (even comparing it to one of the series I'm thinking of comparing it to would probably be a spoiler, for one or the other if you've watched the other or the one-though this series is much lighter-hearted than that one), but I will say that the robot('s AI), Chamber, is way cuter and more lovable than a space death machine has any right to be.

(Also, as with a number of other slightly odder mecha franchises, my instant response upon finishing the series was to wonder how in the world one would try to integrate its plot into a Super Robot Wars game, because that's just a thing I think about a lot. It wouldn't be quite as tricky as Star Driver [which would be really darned tricky and I want to see it so bad], but it'd be quite the task unless there was a lot of time travel/sideways reality hopping.)

There are a lot of offbeat mecha series I've talked about; this one is one of the better ones, and while this might just be a small reference pool thing, it feels fresh and different from a lot of other things I've watched.

Like mecha and/or nautical vessels?

It has 'em.

Like ocean views?

It has 'em.

Like disturbing plot twists that aren't attached to a kill-'em-all series?

It has 'em.

I like this series quite a lot, is what I'm saying.

-Signing off.

Friday, November 7, 2014

That Shouldn't Be Allowed (But It's Kind of Great That It Is)

(I should have done a Star Wars post, but I didn't. I'll get to the next one soonish, I swear.)

It's stupid how funny I find messing with RPG bosses.



Status effects that shouldn't work on such bosses but do are basically the bane of their existence, and can turn stupid-hard fights into cakewalks.

Like, there's a sea serpent you have to fight in the third chapter of Mardek, for instance.

It's a big, mean so'n'so, with enough hitpoints to take forever to kill and a tidal wave attack that's just a pain to deal with.

And it's immune to neither sleep (can't move until a physical attack hits it and wakes it up, or until its relatively low resistance removes it) nor poison (deals damage every time the victim takes a turn, and it's percentage-based).

And it's not that hard to pick up a couple of special bombs that inflict almost all status effects. Using one, or if necessary a couple, to basically skip a boss fight despite their rarity? Totally worth it.

(Pretty sure that the first time I fought that serpent, I was way underleveled* for that fight. It helped that I had several magic-based ways to inflict damage and thus speed things up rather a lot.)

*The thing is, I'm a completely unrepentant level grinder. I've literally cleared tiny areas of enemies thirty or forty times in one gameplay session and I hunt down enemies that summon other enemies for the opportunity to kill their buddies. On the first occasion that the character Corgan from Septerra Core joined my party, due to the experience bleed from the massive amount of grinding I'd done (all characters in Septerra always get full experience regardless of whether you've recruited them, they're in your party, etc.-which actually cuts down on how much grinding you need to do, because you don't need to swap around characters to get the full effects), he already had what was supposed to be a high-level skill available-in a current playthrough where I just felt like rushing around, I've had him for a while and he still doesn't have that skill.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

More Awesome Music Covers

Attack on Titan is a pretty great series, and one of the best things about it is that it's got great music.

But if you've watched it, you know that already, right?

So if you haven't, or even if you have, here's a "metal" cover of the OST song "XL-TT," which stands for "extra-large titan." ...No, I'm not sure why they chose that particular idiosyncratic naming scheme.



Whatever, it's still amazing.

-Signing off.

Monday, November 3, 2014

That's a Patient Cat

Not a fan of Final Fantasy VII or Sephiroth, but I'm a fan of the song, and this is fricking amazing.



The faces (and the bits with the cat) are worth watching the video for by themselves.

-Signing off.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species (#137)

The Massive Index (Posts #1-#100)
The Less Massive Index (Posts #101-#110)
The Second Less Massive Index (Posts #111-#120)
The Third Less Massive Index (Posts #121-#130)

(If I don't bite the bullet and just do this, it'll never happen.

Also, oh joy today we go deep into the "U" section of unidentified species. This wouldn't be a problem in and of itself, but...



...this is what my tab bar looks like right now. I can't tell what I'm looking at. It gets microscopically better when the tab bar is less full, but only by enough for me to see one letter of the next word.

Skipped "unidentified Asmeru species" and technically "Unidentified Alzar species," which I actually covered under "Alzarian" years ago. New tidbit on the Alzarians: Apparently the Stenax killed a bunch of them, which feels like an active effort to pick on a hapless species from a silly story.)

1361. Unidentified alien species (pyramidal starship). These guys use pyramidal starships that more or less did Force-based teleportation. One could take this to mean that there's some kind of link between them and the Aing-Tii, who likewise bopped around the galaxy in Force-teleported starships. However, their sole identified action sounds like a piratical activity, and so I must be inclined to say that they and the Aing-Tii would not get along, seeing as how the Aing-Tii are badass tentacle-worm monk guys who mercilessly slaughter bands of slavers without permission from anyone.

Rating: 2/5, because their existence raises interesting questions.

1362. Unidentified alien woodsmen. Hilariously, the entry makes it sound like this entire species descended on Endor in a swarm to cut down the local trees; near as I can tell, there were only two of them.

They tried to enslave local elephant/dinosaur things to help them.

...So you went to the planet of Ewoks and ticked off a bunch of elephant-things with big heavy tails in addition to their trunks?

If that hadn't been in a kids' comic, nobody would ever have found those guys' bodies.

Anyway, they're just generic green aliens of the sort that are a dime a dozen in science fiction.

Rating: 1/5.

1363. Unidentified alien's species (desert cave). This species might have appeared in A New Hope, but didn't; it did, however, appear in a commercial for the surely delicious and not at all a ripoff of any other cereal Kellogg's C-3PO's cereal!



Inspired by and modeled after the less popular major droid character (because seriously, R2-D2 has no competition)! Get yours three and a half decades ago!

Rating: 1/5.

1364. Unidentified arachnoid species. They apparently are big hairy spider people who have human faces, even human teeth, and creeped the heck out of Han Solo.

Hahahahaha that's awesome.

Rating: 3/5.

1365. Unidentified assassin's associate's species. Well that placeholder name is a mouthful.

Anyway, all we really know about the species is that they're red-skinned and somewhere between draconic and demonic.

Rating: 2/5, because they look kinda neat.

1366. Unidentified Betshish species. There was going to be a colony built on Betshish, but when the colonists arrived, they discovered the survey had missed these guys and that they had to find a new location by some law or another.

Betshish apparently is very swampy, so at least one dude associated with the event was glad to be away from it.

Rating: 1/5.

1367. Unidentified Black Fly species. No idea what's up with that capitalization, I just left it in because I'm not bothering to correct it after the copy/paste operation.

Anyway, a pair of members of this species were students of Luke Skywalker's at his Jedi academy. For one scene of one book, and nothing more.

Rating: 2/5. It actually was fairly common for there to be one-shot mentions of stranger alien Jedi students in the novels, often in small groups of the same species, but we invariably never see more of them later. This is disappointing and probably why they didn't get a slightly higher score.

1368. Unidentified blue-skinned short-legged species. Oh, for-"blue-skinned short-legged?"

Some podracer was a member of this species, which was sometimes red-skinned in concept art.

The only reason it's really worth bringing up, though, is that its page is an awful mess.



I mean, I guess the actual alien design isn't so bad when it's not a crummy low-poly model, but... Ick that page.

Rating: 2/5.

1369. Unidentified blue-skinned species. This species is made up of rather attractive blue-skinned people with what are either tattoos or unusual natural markings on their foreheads.

Their planet was apparently the site of a spaceship crash at some point, and the ship's crew became angry ghosts who eventually were released from their torment by Han Solo and Chewbacca of all people.

Rating: 2/5. I've mentioned before I'm kind of a sucker for attractive blue people.

1370. Unidentified Buoyant species. Resist obvious joke.

Resist obvious joke.

Resist... obvious... joke...

So they're good at floating? HA HA H-Ow.

No, Buoyant is the name of a planet (...huh?), to which this species was native. They apparently did a lot of experimenting and importing machinery and foreign animals to their world, which together with the changes to their planet's rotation that they enacted couldn't have been good for the ecosystem in the slightest.

The planet being a bit dodgy due to their influence is presumably why Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious used the place as a Sith training ground.

Rating: 2/5. Incidentally, they're implicitly extinct. Apparently they weren't good at floating.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Read This Comic I Talk About

(I don't talk about the webcomics I read that often, but I couldn't tell you why.)

I was skimming back into the Bad Machinery/Scary Go Round archives to point out a thing about the character Mr. Knott (who has been an interesting background character for a while now) to my sister, who introduced me to Scary Go Round but then dropped it at some point because of having trouble keeping up with it (irony!), since he's featuring rather prominently in the current Scary Go Round flashbacky story thing, Expecting to Fly. (If you used to read Scary Go Round and for some reason dropped it when/before Bad Machinery came along, you might want to read this story. I loved Scary Go Round, but I don't remember having feelings about the characters; I was reading it because I liked a weird story. And then I read this ARGH THE EMOTIONAL SENSATIONS IN A REALISTIC SETTING WHAT RELATION DOES THIS EVEN HAVE TO SGR. And that's not a bad thing at all.)

Anyway, I saw a name dropped, and thought "Should I know that name?"



So I wiki up the name Bukowski, and-



"Dirty realism? Transgressive fiction?"

Okay, I know that these aren't necessarily as bad they sound (but transgressive fiction? Really? Look at the actual definition that Wikiped chose to represent the genre and tell me that's remotely in the territory you'd recommend to, well, anyone that you 1) didn't know incredibly well, and 2) wasn't between eighteen and thirty years old and very open-minded) and not necessarily representative of his entire body of work, but wow. It's little wonder I never heard of the guy in my fairly lengthy college career.

Mr. Knott is not as staid and crusty as everyone seems to think he is.

-Signing off.

Monday, October 27, 2014

This Show Exists (And It's Kinda Awesome)

Reminder if you knew it already, informational if you didn't: There was a show in the mid-'90s or so about a kid who was a reincarnated pharaoh and his four mummy bodyguards who were basically a team of Power Rangers.



It's kind of funny that the only previous time I brought up mummies (other than a linkback and one time I mentioned a mummy offhandedly in a Nagraj-related article) was in Spider Plus Mummy, which is on a technical level about the relatively short-lived The Mummy tie-in cartoon but is really more about a silly (and awesome) commercial for a single episode of said cartoon.

It's funny because it's another cartoon about Ancient Egyptian-related things that my sister and I used to joke about writing crossover fanfic with Yu-Gi-Oh! for. (Actually, I seem to recall it would have been crossover fanfic for all three series, because they all have varying degrees of themeparkified Egyptian mythology and that's enough for a high concept fanfic if you think about it. Mummies Alive! definitely took this themeparkification process the furthest, as it not only had henshin hero-style transforming warriors, but a magical "horseless chariot" that was actually a laser-shooting hot rod done up like an Egyptian sarcophagus and ostensibly an actual Ancient Egyptian vehicle, although probably not really. ...Yes, the show really was that awesome, why do you ask?)

-Signing off.

Friday, October 24, 2014

If Asura Can Do One Thing Well It's Definitely Punching

There are a lot of games I've never played but like their stories/artwork/other aspects, and Asura's Wrath is a big one in that department.

Mostly, it's because it's more or less the same tone-wise as Gurren Lagann's more serious moments (and I'm pretty sure I'm on the record as a big fan of Gurren Lagann in spite of its over-the-top fanservice) and like Gurren Lagann is a very loose adaptation of the angry, awesome prologue chapters of Journey to the West with a rather different ending. (I'm not going to go on a rant, because I'm well aware I've got... let's call them "loud opinions that nobody needs to hear," but some important precepts of Buddhist philosophy make me angry, angry the way that lapsed Catholics and hard-edged atheists get about Christianity.)

That "basically serious Gurren Lagann" tone just keeps me coming back to watching playthrough videos, over and over, even if I can't understand the dialogue.

Case in point: The below video, which gets simply amazing around 6:21. (I'm sorry I've never figured out YouTube's embed code trick for queuing up a specific part of a video, but honestly I'm not sure the modern embed code even has that option and figuring out the old code is probably kinda hopeless at this point.)



Who really needs to know what they're saying after that?

Also: Is it strange that I find it completely adorable that Asura's basic motivation for going on his epic pantheon-breaking rampage is to punch the guys who made his daughter cry? He makes that guy from that other pantheon-busting game look like a jerk and a pansy.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Count Talks About Skeletons

This is unusually seasonal for me, really.



But then, the Count is one of my favorite Sesame Street characters, so... Eh.

-Signing off.

Monday, October 20, 2014

"Somebody Needed To Shut That Guy Up!"

I'll get back to my big Star Wars posts eventually, my schedule just had some hiccups (and is likely to have a few more in the next couple of weeks because of reasons).

In the meantime: A poorly audio-synced YouTube video featuring everyone's oldest least favorite X-Men villain, Apocalypse!



Most people really just kind of hate Apocalypse. I, for one, don't really hate him... because I find him an extremely stupid kind of funny.

Q: What is the ultimate ancient evil in X-Men stories?
A: Some big doofus with blue clown makeup.

-Signing off.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Game Reviews: Creeper World 3: Abraxis

Creeper World 3: This Subtitle is Irrelevant Unless You're Interested in the Story is yet another of the Creeper World games, and with mild misgivings I think I'm going to pronounce it the best such. (If you haven't read the original reviews or haven't recently, you'll want to; I'm kind of assuming you'll have context, and reading those reviews is probably the quickest way to get it.)



The best part of it is definitely that it takes the most interesting new elements of the second game, anti-Creeper and destroying Creeper emitters, and integrates it into gameplay more similar to the first game (which I concluded after some time clearly had the superior gameplay experience, because I kept going back to it and yet never played the second after my review of it).

It even expands on this theme with "turnable" emitters, which are Creeper emitters that, if you cover them in anti-Creeper, will flip into friendly anti-Creeper emitters. Who knows why.



Early on, I was a bit concerned it would be too easy; as noted in my review of the original game, I often pushed the Creeper back methodically and "capped" emitters by placing cannons next to them. But I've always been more interested in "fun" than "difficulty" in games, so it wasn't really a problem, even if it initially seemed kinda true (behold the following post-battle screenshot as evidence).



They even made an element I'd always found questionable a bit better-balanced (but still usually easy) by making the anti-spore towers a bit less powerful but having the spores fire from clear locations instead of from off the map.



You might notice that in a couple of screenshots, there are glowing circles around some of my structures. This is because, in this game, when you destroy an emitter, it leaves behind a magic building-enhancing spot that augments the building's abilities. Ironically, I'm probably not showing their best use, because it took me a while to realize that other structures have much more impressive bonuses than the collectors do (or indeed, that they got bonuses at all). My favorite bonus is the one for the mortar, which makes it into a rapid-firing artillery cannon on steroids (though it's of questionable usefulness-the reactor's huge energy production bonus is much better in the long run). These bonuses arguably make things even easier; with the further addition of a "shield" building that repulses the Creeper, which feels a bit redundant with the anti-Creeper but is arguably more useful in some scenarios, there's a lot of missions I've played so far that felt like cake, even with the loss of the speed and storage structures (which are eventually replaced with research bonuses, which are usually superior anyway).

The designers have answers to the low difficulty; for instance, there's this sort of weird weedy stuff called Digitalis which functions as a sort of Creeper transmitter. The new tactics one has against the Creeper are basically all useless against the Digitalis; Creeper travels through it like guerrilla warfare tunnels, and it seems that things like the updated drone strikes are pretty useless, plus even one's new tricks aren't that useful; basically you can only shoot the Digitalis with Creeper in it, and that only empties the Creeper out of it rather than damaging the Digitalis itself. And like the Creeper itself, the Digitalis grows if it's connected to appropriate doohickeys (though I'm not clear on what they're called), meaning it can slip uphill and into your base faster than Creeper can.



It turns hunting the Digitalis centers, which can only be destroyed by the same short-ranged means as the emitters, into a slow grind, which is actually just the way I like it-I'd actually contemplated what I might add to the game to make it more interesting, and Digitalis is much like one of the things I'd contemplated.

Further slowing one down is that some maps are divided such that you can't stretch a base across them, and the only ways to overcome this are to have two bases (you can have up to three, but whether you have them depends on the mission) or with "Guppy" transports, which transport the resources of the game to remote locations.



Also resembling one of the things I'd contemplated as possible additions to the game are Runners; they're independent Creeper units that are supposed to do stuff to your buildings. Sadly, they're introduced in a mission where they're trapped on a distant area and pose exactly zero threat.



You might notice that these screenshots have pretty variable appearances; that'd be because the new engine supports zooming, which is good for focusing one's attention. It's also got notably better graphics, which isn't that important but still nice. And the music is great; it reminds me of the classic Total Annihilation soundtrack, still one of the all-time greats.

Then I hit the eighth mission, Experiment.

You have to rescue life pods-



-DID YOU JUST TURN THIS GAME I WAS REALLY ENJOYING INTO A TIME-BASED ESCORT MISSION?!



YOU DID.

Who likes escort missions? I don't get it.

Anyway, except for that one thing, this is a pretty great game.

Frikkin' escort missions.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

This Post Is Short But I Like It

So earlier I had a little thought that amused me, and I figured it would probably amuse other people as well, so I'm going to give it a chance to.

This is a suggestion on a novel way to make a film.

Hire a visual effects director. I'm thinking of Michael Bay, because he's probably the most famous and lucrative visual effects-oriented director out there right now, and with one of the biggest reputations among critics for awful movies. (Guillermo del Toro doesn't count for various reasons, because he makes good movies, and what I'm about to describe is a little bit of a jerk move.)

Just straight up have him make a movie. Full budget and everything, right?

Then, arrange a "b-crew." Give the "b-crew" a smaller budget and limited time. Encourage hiring no-name actors with decent talent.

And give them the movie that the VE director made for use as stock footage, using their own actors to dub over the scenes.

That is how I would make a Power Rangers movie.

You can have this one for free, guys. I just want to see it happen at this point.

-Signing off.

Monday, October 13, 2014

It's Some Video About A Thing I Don't Play

I've posted this before, but that doesn't make it any less interesting and insightful. (Or any less full of swears.)



And it's been two and a half years since I last posted it, so...

(Pretty sure my sister didn't read it when I posted it last time even though 90% of the reason I posted it is because I thought she'd find it interesting. Hint, hint.)

-Signing off.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Other The Star Wars

(Regular Star Wars post put off until a later date because of various reasons conspiring against it, including screwy sleep patterns, an ongoing weird Internet situation, and a trip to visit family for somebody's birthday.

And acquiring RPG Maker. That isn't a help either.)

So this last week, courtesy of my sister's nerdy and genuinely insidious (if unintentionally so, perhaps) ex-boyfriend, I read The Star Wars, a comic based on a rough draft used to pitch the Star Wars films.

It was a bit of a nostalgic experience, to be frank, because in my early days of having an Internet connection I collected a bunch of the early drafts of the first film and read them. (I also read a fanfic that was based on the idea of being a sequel to one of them. ...It was pretty awful. Everyone died.) I also thought that the art direction was pretty great; I loved the alternate stormtrooper armor and the fighter version of the Star Destroyers. Said art direction was also interesting because it was a fusion of concept art from the original ANH production and prequel-era concept design.

On the other hand... well, it had kind of a weird, meandering story that integrated basically everything from the original trilogy in a kind of nonsensical backwards way.

I liked the Obi-Wan Kenobi/Luke Skywalker hybrid character and Annikin Skywalker's dad, though. (Even if the latter was a little too obsessed over the idea that he was more machine, now, than man and died because he gave his life support battery to someone else because they "needed" to keep a kid in suspended animation for the kid's own safety. George Lucas sure loved that one scene, it was in every draft that led to ANH even though it didn't make it into the final films except as that one line from a character who wasn't even the cyborg in question. Even more amazing is that it hopped from character to character as the drafts went on-it went from the Jedi mentor to a mentor that Han Solo had in one draft, because George just wanted it so bad.)

Anyway, decent little thing, even though it has some problems, and the hardcover version's a pretty, well-made book. Wish I could keep the concept art in back.

-Signing off.