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Trailer Thoughts

Been a busy week punctuated by perhaps one of the most exciting trailers in recent memory. Guess we’ll start with the Bantha in the room.

How can you not be excited? The trailer kicks enough ass to give 80’s Arnold Schwarzenegger a run for his money. Not to mention it serves notice that yes, Star Wars is back – JJ Abrams was born for this shit. Judging from the massive Twitter storm (and even a market response to Disney stock) I’m more stoked than I should be based on a two-minute trailer. It’s damned hard not to be even though we all risk the specter of an epic disappointment (unlikely, but still possible).

One of the more interesting things I noticed is Luke’s voice over seems to have a strange echo effect. If you listen closely, the echo sounds similar to the voice first teaser trailer – it’s totally possible I could be imagining things. However, given the dichotomy between the Dark and Light in this universe, it wouldn’t be surprising if there was an unexpected connection between Luke and his supposed counterpart on the Dark side.

Speaking of darkness, the Batman v Superman trailer leaked then released officially shortly thereafter.

My immediate thoughts after seeing it:

The contrast with the previous day’s joy and happiness with the Star Wars trailer was replaced with confusion and depression. Of course, there are strong hints of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. BatArmorSuitMKII makes an appearance along with this eagle-eyed catch by @neontaster:

My concerns are manifold: The Joker, Robin, and Commissioner Gordon were central figures in Miller’s comic. To the best of my knowledge they are not in this movie. On the flip side Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Lex Luthor were not present in TDKR. Can Snyder and company make a new compelling story only partially based on a classic comic? I have my doubts.

Secondly the tone of the trailer (and one would assume the movie) is dark and gritty. At least that seems the mantra of DC movies as of late. Don’t get me wrong, dark dramas are excellent if executed properly, however we are talking about comic book movies. God Forbid we have fun and escape our normal lives watching heroes triumph. Even The Dark Knight Returns is punctuated by levity – provided in no small amount by Robin who is not present in this movie.

Lastly, Zack Snyder is directing this movie. I really don’t have that much faith in him this time around given his recent track record. Despite the Sonny Bunch’s of the world, Sucker Punch was terrible and Man of Steel was a muddled mess. Let me know when Suicide Squad is around the corner, because that’s much more compelling than a raft of Snyder Justice League movies.

I’ll probably end up seeing Batman v Superman in theaters, just to witness the spectacle. Maybe it’ll surprise me and be half-way decent.

Is it Christmas yet? It’s still Spring you say? Damn.

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Just Some Randomness

I guess the word “random” takes on a whole new meaning now the left has gotten it’s grubby little hands on it. In any case, take a moment and laugh at Vox, because it’ll keep the doctor away or something:

Status: Beat and tired. A 12 hour shift tends to exhaust, but what can you do in the Great Kentuckian Snowpocalypse of 2015? Good news is it will be negative 20 degrees soon. Negative. 20. Degrees. Joy.

I’d say we all should be frightened by the lack of competence our betters display to both Americans and our enemies, but that would be redundant. We should just focus on Christian extremism and the Crusades because that’s what’s necessary and proper these days. Perish the thought we actually pay attention, much less assign blame, to the murderous barbarians currently setting the world on fire.

Lastly, I wasn’t sold on Battlefield Hardline at first, but it eventually grew on me during the open BETA. If you are a Battlefield series veteran I would strongly encourage you to consider a purchase.

The Science of Great Science Fiction

Interstellar Builds Upon Excellent Sci-Fi

(Spoilers Ahead)

Full disclosure: Christopher Nolan had me hooked ever since I laid eyes upon Memento. Aside from a couple of stumbles, his work is some of the most compelling cinema of this decade. Interstellar continues Nolan’s track record of breathtaking experiences, however I believe it represents something far greater than his previous efforts. Simply put, he reminds all of us what great science fiction can be.

davebowmanlights

A Space Odyssey

It’s quite obvious 2001 was a great inspiration to Interstellar, with Nolan admitting as much before the movie was released. In the interview he fears getting too close to 2001, but I believe he pays great homage to Kubrick both stylistically and thematically – stylistically with Monolith turned HAL 9000 as TARS, gravity-generating spinning spaceships, and magnificent vistas in the vastness of space. Thematically he pays homage via the notion of paradigm shifts. The Monolith grants our simian ancestors technology and civilization. Interstellar presents a similarly immense shift with Nolan’s version of a Monolith (the Black Hole) granting us civilization in the stars en masse. Being bound to this generation, it’s almost impossible to imagine our entire world leaping into outer space. But that is what great science fiction does: it bridges that gulf between what we know to be possible, and what seems impossible. Indeed my initial reaction to the last act of Interstellar was incredulity, but if I were to tell my ancestors of the future we live in, they would be equally incredulous.

startrek

The Motion Picture

Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a seriously underrated movie. Not just in the pantheon of Trek, but in science fiction as a whole. Another work touched by 2001, Roddenberry brought his vision to the silver screen in spectacular fashion. Instead of merely focusing on “planet of the week” like so much of the television series, The Motion Picture instead tried to explore the greatest mystery: What is the meaning of life? V’Ger presented this question as an unstoppable force, consuming everything in its path. The blight is Interstellar’s version of an unstoppable force and brings into question our purpose as a species. Nolan answers this question by declaring that our destiny is beyond Earth. McConaughey’s character, Cooper, is a representation of that ideal. Exploration consumes him and not even his family can stop him from seeing what’s out there. The primal need to travel beyond the next horizon gives us a hint as to our existence.

star-trek-tng-all-good-thingsAll Good Things…

You just don’t get it, do you Jean-Luc? The Trial never ends. We wanted to see if you had the ability to expand your mind and your horizons. And for one brief moment, you did.

When I realized the paradox?

Exactly – for that one fraction of second, you were open to options you had never considered. That is the exploration that awaits you. Not mapping stars and studying nebulae, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence.

For me, Q’s last conversation with Picard is one of the greatest scenes in the entirety of Star Trek, not just The Next Generation. Aside from Picard (finally!) acknowledging Q as mentor instead of dangerous nuisance, it encapsulates the best of what Star Trek can be – not just exploring strange new worlds and boldly going where no one has gone before, but expanding our understanding of existence. The final act of Interstellar does exactly this. After exploring a wormhole and the worlds beyond, Coop gains insight to an aspect of our reality never before seen. Inside the Black Hole, he finally sees the the time paradox he created by sending messages to his past self. By realizing the paradox and the relationship between gravity and time he gleans enough new insight save humanity. The kicker is confirmation that humanity will continue to explore these aspects of reality and eventually master singularities. As Coop puts it, “It was us all along.” It’s this kind of exploration – charting the unknown possibilities of existence, present and future – that lies at the heart of both science and great science fiction.

Interstellar-6

Because our destiny lies above us.

Too much of modern science fiction cinema (with some exceptions) focuses mainly on action and adventure/horror with outer space as the backdrop. As great as the Star Trek reboot was, it fell into the same action/adventure cliche. Speaking of which – you bet your ass I have a deep love for Star Wars (original trilogy and hopefully the new ones won’t suck), Battlestar Galactica (new series), Firefly and etcetera and etcetera…

Sometimes though you want your science fiction to tickle your brain. These are the works which challenge our preconceived notions, makes us lust for that next horizon, and brings up immense questions about the existence we find ourselves in. Like the giants that came before it, Interstellar satisfies these deeper cravings while providing an amazing spectacle for film aficionados. While it’s not a perfect movie per se, it certainly is a contender for one of the greatest science fiction movies of all-time.

Science is for nerds!

If you want to dive deep into the questions of our reality and perhaps gain some understanding behind the entire Black Hole sequence, I cannot recommend highly enough Brian Greene’s The Hidden RealityEven though I’ve read it many times, I keep coming back to it for the mind-fuckery. Our universe is a very weird place, and it might not be the only one.

#Gamergate Is Winning

Today has been an interesting day for #Gamergate. Both MSNBC and CNN had segments about the issue. Of course they were anti-GG (despite Fredrick “Hotwheels” Brennan making Brianna Wu look like a fool) but I think we’re finally reaching a turning point.

Professional victims like Wu and Sarkeesian are now being introduced to a much wider audience. While they think this kind of exposure will help them to monetize their faux victimhood status even more, we’re already seeing signs of it backfiring.

You can count on one hand the times when the left and right agree on anything, especially these days. That makes it even more impressive that everyone is starting to see through the anti-gamergate bullshit. They’ve shit the bed and public opinion is slowly turning against them. In other words, when the left and right are against you there’s not much hope left for your cause.

I believe this newfound unity arises from the disgusting tactics used against the #Gamergate crowd. They are the same tactics that have been used in the gaming industry for far too long. When these people are challenged they immediately move to silence debate and launch attacks against anyone not on their side. Most reasonable-minded people hate being denied a voice – they especially hate it when you call them names for speaking out.

At it’s core, this virulent strain of professional victimhood is about ruining people’s lives for profit. The perpetrators have sad, unfulfilled lives and need to take out their frustrations on others. I eagerly await the day when these types of people return to the margins of society instead of being taken seriously. Luckily for everyone, it appears that day will be here sooner rather than later.

In summation:

“You’re such a bad person – like all the way through to your core!”

Random Thoughts

It’s Been A Good Day

Finally got back into the gym where I racketed some racquetball and lived to tell about it. Now time to unwind physically as well as mentally.

So Twitchy is pretty awesome and decided to post a bit of my snark from Twitter. You can find it right over hereTubular Dude.

I also hear Piers Morgan no longer works for CNN. That’s ok, because most of England still rocks your socks:

 

The schadenfreude is almost too much to bear.

There Are Still Plenty of Terrible People

Yes, Amanda Marcotte is still a ghoul.

And Harry Reid is still an alleged pederast.

Now to get some rest. Good night and sleep tight.

Burn the Witch

Burn to Ash & Bone

I find this particular QotSA song appropriate for today as it deals with lynch mobs, superstition, and ritual sacrifice.

If you don’t know what the latest hubbub is all about, I suggest you head over the Ace of Spades HQ and take a look for yourself. I never heard of Justine Sacco before yesterday so I don’t really care about what off-color joke she tweeted out. The subsequent fallout, replete with modern day P. T. Barnums and internet hate mobs is much more troublesome.

Fan the Flames, With a Little Lie

Buzzfeed has accumulated clout on the internet by playing on people’s baser instincts. But why is Buzzfeed so popular? Well as P. T. Barnum famously said – there’s a sucker born every minute. Why yes, I would love to see 24 pictured reasons why Cats love catnip. 15 hot celebrities without makeup? I’m all in. It’s easy, dumb entertainment that plays on our instant gratification culture. Not to mention that Buzzfeed’s entire business model is suspect at best. Don’t believe me? Well maybe you’ll listen to the The Best Page in the Universe in which Maddox expertly took down Buzzfeed for the fraud of a website it is.

“Anthony, you’re blowing this way out of proportion. Buzzfeed is just some dumb fun on the internet!” That may be but Buzzfeed is also incredibly powerful as we’ve witnessed over the past 24 hours. One story from them was enough to blow up a tweet of no consequence and completely ruin the life of one person. That’s the problem with unearned power. The results of wielding such power without restraint inevitably leads to suffering. (See also: Barack Hussein Obama) Also Ian Malcolm might have something to say about unearned power…

The Mob It Cries for Blood

Apparently blood sport is still alive and well in America. As someone once famously said, “What difference does it make?” (Not to act like Buzzfeed, but I can’t remember who said that quote and cannot attribute it to someone.) Who cares that a random person told a bad joke on twitter? Will it affect anyone at all other than the professional offended class? Do we really need to cheer on the ruination of someone’s life? Revel in it? As someone else said “Personal attacks do not feed the hungry.” (Sorry, forgot who said that one too.)

Sure, we may enjoy the schadenfreude when our political enemies fail on their own accord, but the vitriol coming from the internet Offended class are on another level entirely. The mob mentality incited by Buzzfeed’s terribleness should give any rational person pause. For all of the progress we celebrate as a species, perhaps we are all not that different from our ancestors. Warfare these days is carried out via words and destruction of careers instead of bloody mortal combat – but the tribal battles continues. True back then as it is today; when a member betrays the tribe, they must face expulsion or worse.

The Children Cross Their Hearts & Hope to Die

Speaking of being a progressive species, weren’t we supposed to give up on superstition long ago? I’m not talking about religion which the left loves to mock. I speak of our obsession with garden variety superstitions you find in passing or the much more malicious political variant that continues to wreak havoc on our society. We have Sky gods of climate change, the Equality gods of wealth redistribution and obviously the Race gods of perceived offense. We continually pray to these gods as a cure to our ails much like our primitive selves did with absolutely no positive results. We even had ourselves an ol’ fashioned ritual sacrifice of Ms. Sacco to appease the Race gods. Of course, no greater good will come of her sacrifice other than the smug satisfaction of those who called for her head.

Nobody questions why we continue to hold these superstitions in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Maybe it’s because math and science are hard to understand. Maybe we would rather go bury our heads in the sand and laugh at Buzzfeed listicles all day instead of searching for the truth. Perhaps we haven’t actually changed that much from our primitive selves, acting on instinct and emotion. I’m reminded of those in American history that called this kind of behavior long ago and gave us the tools to better ourselves. If only I remembered the attribution.

Beyond the questions of this fiasco chilling free speech there is a larger issue at hand – Will our species actually progress past our primitive, ancestral selves?