We don't always like being nonplussed

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Rockman 2 Part 1: I Still Suck at This Game.

Poor AngeliqueDaemon.

We've all had this happen, and it sucks like, well... Exhibit A up there.

So now begins Isstvan82's playthrough of Rockman 2! (Did you know?: there is no "Normal" difficulty level in this version of the game. It's got one speed: Difficult.)

Final Fantasy IV Part 65 Rage building...

Friday, May 4, 2012

5 People You Should Be Thanking For Star Wars (Other Than George Lucas)

So Star Wars Day is an actual thing? It can't really be an actual thing, can it?

...really. Okay, then let's talk Star Wars some more.

One of the problems with Auteur theory, along with any theory or philosophy that glorifies someone's One True Vision, is that the idea that any person singlehandedly did it all or that what you see on a movie screen is a single authoritative voice, is silly as all hell. No man is an island unto himself and no idea forms from whole cloth, unaffected and unshaped by prior ideas absorbed by the mind that spawns it. This is especially true of Star Wars, which is a work inspired by the works of Akira Kurosawa, Flash Gordon, E. E. "Doc" Smith, Jack Kirby, and many, many others. While the person who comes up with an idea should neither be sold short, it takes a lot of people to bring it to life and they should be remembered and celebrated as well. Here are some whose contributions should not be understated.

5. Mark Hamill

Mark Hamill has said that he took a look at the sides at his audition, saw that the jargon was near incomprehensible, and decided that the only way to play that was to be "earnest." It works. But besides everyone not quite grasping what a great actor he was until he played a much flashier character, Mark Hamill made Star Wars work in a way others can't because he's a geek. He'd ingested a lot of the same comics and pulp and film that inspired George Lucas in the first place. He knew the language Lucas was speaking and the source material spoke to him in the same way, so he knew how to bring it to life. If there are any real geeks in the newer Star Wars, I don't know of them. There are a lot of talented people in there and many of them just don't get the material, in my opinion. Which is not to excuse Lucas' weaknesses as a writer- they are myriad, and well-documented -but to say that with Mark Hamill, who was on the same wavelength as to the kind of adventure the director wanted to make, Lucas struck gold.

4. Marcia Lucas

George's ex-wife Marcia, an incredibly talented film editor, basically saved George's ass on Star Wars, able to ask (and answer) difficult questions about the pacing and point out when the human angle wasn't there. They divorced about the time of Return of the Jedi's release, so naturally she didn't work on the prequels at all. It shows, I think, in both pacing and humanity.

3. John Williams

Boris Karloff used to complain bitterly of scores for films telling you what you should be feeling, and in his esteemed opinion that was an actor's job to convey. But that's more difficult when you're dealing with an entirely alien landscape. Lucas wanted the music to be very familiar, the emotional anchor to the real world for the audience, and Williams delivered. People who Lucas screened Star Wars for with a temporary soundtrack had a much different, far more negative response than those who would see it in theaters in May of 1977. It's probably the finest work Williams ever did; I generally like his work but he has repeated himself in his scores of later years, both intentionally and unintentionally.

2. Ralph McQuarrie

 More important than the sound of Star Wars even was the look. It is a universe unto itself, with its own rules and aesthetic and feel. And the man who created the bulk of that look was the late, great Ralph McQuarrie. He was not the only architect of Star Wars' look, but the ships, the interior design, and the iconic Darth Vader and Stormtrooper armors all hail from McQuarrie's paintings just to name a few. The paintings George Lucas commissioned sold the studio on Star Wars, and the designs sold the public on Star Wars. Darth Vader was in fact intended originally to be one of many Dark Lords of the Sith, but his striking armor (McQuarrie's idea, since the script called for flowing black robes and a "breath mask" like the one Han Solo wore in Empire Strikes Back) made him the symbol of Star Wars. Vader's popularity, coupled with the last person on our list, spawned an entire franchise...

1. Sir Alec Guinness

A lot of damage to Lucas the creator has been done with the generation of Lucas the legend. That was made by a combination of marketing, and by the natural vulnerability of creators leading to the formation of a protective persona, and also of learned, dare I say overeducated people trying to justify their like for Star Wars. The whole Joseph Campbell Hero's Journey talking point is a cover for critics and George alike for the fact that Star Wars is pulp, in exactly the same way that Indiana Jones is pulp. Campbell's work was there, but his contribution is overstated. The foundations of Star Wars are in forms of culture most literary minds would view as throwaway, therefore they have to build up Star Wars to keep the false high/low art dichotomy alive and justify their tastes (and expensive degrees).

Furthermore, there was no Master Plan in the making of Star Wars. The myth of divine inspiration striking in 1973 not only does Lucas' creative process a disservice, but it does a disservice to anyone inspired by Star Wars, waiting and hoping for that One Big Idea to strike them out of the blue instead of going out and building it.

Star Wars was not all laid out from beginning to end; there were bits and pieces of story that Lucas wanted to tell and he shifted them back and forth until they made sense and flowed well. When he decided that Darth Vader was to be Luke Skywalker's father, it all hinged on contradicting a single, very important scene spoken by Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars. If you look at the scene devoid of later context, Ben is trying to break some very difficult news to Luke. He's talking about the betrayal of a friend and the deaths of every other Jedi Knight in the galaxy. Things that hurt him, and might hurt Luke, but that Luke needed to know. And so it's a heavy scene, one played very carefully because it has to have weight, because it inform's Luke's motivations and character for the rest of the movie.

If it weren't for Sir Alec Guiness' strength and skill as an actor, and that scene had fallen flat, Star Wars itself would not work very well. In fact almost all of the solid information about the Star Wars world we get in the original movie comes from Obi-Wan, and Guinness makes us believe it as only a great actor can, but this scene is key, especially when viewed in the full context of Star Wars as a series. Not only did the scene work for Star Wars, it was strong enough a scene and his acting layered enough that Lucas could go back and put another layer on top of it, that the words were chosen so deliberately because Obi-Wan had something devastatingly important to hide.

And as good as Mark Hamill is, as good as Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher are, only Alec Guinness could carry six movies in a single paragraph.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Ogre Battle 54: Sects and the City

Hanna the priest got her city. And knocked a lot of heads in getting it. ...in a very pious and Priestly manner, of course.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Ogre Battle 53: Unexpected Success

So our current goal is to liberate stuff until hopefully we find the trigger for getting the magic Bell. Meantime, that Vultan heads more or less in the direction of our base...

...`course if he goes there he gets Warren, so I'm not terribly concerned.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Ogre Battle 52: I Thought it Said "Baltimorean Ruins." I Live in Those.

Durandal, the sword of Figaro, gives +12 to STR, which  is decent enough. Debonair didn't have a sword before, so it's his by right of conquest.

 Today we're off to the Balmoran Ruins. We've got a character to pick up here with Strongth welling. In his body. But it's a bit tricky.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Ogre Battle 51: The Road to Mastery

I select Landis for the all-important job of taking the town nearest the enemy base. He's done pretty well so far, and I think at least one of his Valkyries will hit Freija/Muse soon if all goes well.

Aisha finally loses a battle against that annoying Cleric/Golem combo, leaving lowly Lv. 9 Gilbert to mop up... good thing Gilbert can do some serious damage to Golems. He takes one of them out, and he's now slightly less lowly Lv. 10 Gilbert!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Final Fantasy IV Part 64 Filthy orphans!

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/i6OWGSvNPik" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>