29 November 2006

Just one of those Lunar Destruction Days (LDD's)

Trip trap, tip, tap. Just a few minutes before class.

So it's one of those days.

Do you realize you can say "one of those days" and people will automatically pretend like they understand? "Oh one of those days..." Like it's universal even though it's so generic as to make no real communicative sense at all. In fact, people saying this are either looking for a segue into a long dissertation on what today actually is, or simply being deflective without saying "I don't want to talk to you."

Regardless, I find that whenever I feel down (or afraid, I just whistle a happy tune. Or think of my favorite things. Which incidentally have nothing to do with schnitzel and noodle) it helps to throw myself into the business of things - see people, be productive, etc. This perhaps is the largest contributing factor to making myself feel better, though instinct tells me it's big-ticket shopping. Unfortunately I don't have the money for that right now, so I'll settle for trying to make a semblence of my shambled drive and work ethic.

It also stands to reason that if that will make me feel better, it's the last thing on earth I want to do. And for the record, why is it some mornings you just wake up wondering why you suddenly feel as though the moon is eminantly going to crash into the earth and destroy life as we know it. This feeling is then met by your brain who reminds you, not so kindly since it's probably groggy and anticipating a cup o' joe or some such, no, you won't be so lucky as to have all your problems sovled by a interplanetary object collision. No, you'll have to get up and feel pathetic, annoyed and generally frustrated with everyone else, despite (or especially) because it's really your own issue with yourself.

I don't know why.

But today marks another day in the infrequent concern for the survival of your ability to reason and reckon with life. It may be like loosing the debate if you think of it like that. The constant argument between you and fate as to who is in control of your life.
"I am," you say firmly, intent on holding your ground.
"Really?" says fate, who then starts throwing things at you. Eventally you recover and balance yourself once more and declare yourself completely stable.
"You have to admire the determination," sighs fate who then begins throwing things at you... again.

And so goes life. We're never really prepared for what gets thrown at us and no matter how hard we try to get to a certain point, we'll always realize there's more to be done, to become, and to understand.

It is the curse of living. The insatiable emptiness that drives us constantly forward looking for things which will make us happy and whole. The sad rationality is that its insatiable and if we ever became static, happy and whole, we probably wouldn't be happy. Irony abounds.

So today I turn my attention to being productive and busy. And to friends - having lunch or phone conversations with positive people who remind me that, oh yes, I am doing alright and that fate can't keep me down for long...

Oh fuck - it looks like he's reloading.

28 November 2006

Whoring Lady Horror

Today I'm feeling the horror thing. I was actually going to say "the pop culture thing," but horror came out unbidden instead. Perhaps I mean the Asian pop culture thing, which embodies some serious violence, animation, horror and, of course, creepy little girls without souls. Japanese horror films are extremely... ubiquitous, these days. I can't say it's because they came up with the original horror film and sparked the genre. That honor, arguably, belongs to "Le Manoir du Diable" from France in 1896.

I can say with some sense of assurity that whatever we (we being the westerners) come up with, the Japanese do better. This goes for cars, horror (and for that matter, revenge) flicks, even organized crime. Alas, I am not as adept at Japanese horror as I would like to be, but I can say with relative confidence that a great deal of it is better than ours.

Why? Because American horror has lost something.

It wasn't so long ago that I didn't enjoy scary movies. At least, I thought I didn't. As a young child films like Pinocchio and E.T scarred me. Neither of which is a horror film, but as my parents wouldn't let me see any such movies, I came to understand that if I hated these films so much, something designed to be scary would destroy my young unstable psyche.

This has resulted in my late-blooming horror interest. As such, some movies held in high esteem by others are so underwhelming to me as to be pathetic. It, for example, has instilled anyone who saw it as a child with an irrational fear of clowns. I find the movie laughable - watching the woman in the library flinch as the "invisible balloons o' blood" are bursting is kind of amusing.

But on the flip side, I have a deep interest in why the horror genre exists. Horror navigates the moral latitudes and longitudes of our culture. Romero uses zombies to create a vicious social commentary. Characters in slasher films disobey a moral code, which will get them murdered. This is not to say that all horror films are good, by any means. I'm not even a great fan of the slasher films, seeing as they all seem to have the same plotline and one can only take so many sequels. Still, horror done well can be very unsettling, disturbing and more importantly, challenging to ideas and beliefs. And it's something that other countries do better than us.

But despite that, if you go to the video store and start looking through the horror films, there are caseloads upon caseloads! Most of them are sub-par, and most of them small release without ever seeing a theater. I have two theories on why this may be.

First, it's just plain fun to make the gore effects, and the whole thing, usually in one location can be shot for relatively cheap.

Second, the horror genre has it's own built in character motivation which makes it easier for the writer and filmmaker. It's not like a drama, where you have to really know the characters, and give them reasons for mental breakdowns, lapses in judgment or alcoholism. No, in horror our characters generally have one motivation: to make it out alive. Most of them will fail miserably at this too, but we relate to that need. We imagine our selves in the same situation, and (most of us) don't have a death wish. There's no need to explain why Mary is scared and running away from the one-eyed man with an ice pick. We get that.

It's funny then, for a genre whose players driving forces are so obvious, that the plot and script writing is often just plain terrible. To fledgling filmmakers, and even veterans, horror seems like an easy choice; some jump-out-of-your-seat surprises, lots of gore, a bit of nudity, and the suspense of who will survive is all you need. Some people believe it's ALL you need, and the muddled plots filled with logical flaws and irrational otherworld beings leave a lot to be desired.

As example, I direct you to the U.S. version of Pulse. If you've seen it, you'll understand my displeasure of being raped $7.50 for that experience. Plot holes abound, such as when our main character takes a nap on the side of the road and the ghosts wait until she wakes up, hears the radio broadcast about ghosts traveling through cell phones, checks her cell phone, realizes she has coverage, and looks at the window. Oh the brilliant timing. This whole situation was somehow was sparked by a computer virus; who knew the dead were so adept at computer programming? Or that they can walk through walls, but driving recklessly at high speeds will shake them off your car. Remember these tips kids; your life in a technology-free compound may someday depend on it.


The ghosts themselves are completely ridiculous, doing things that make no sense for their goal: to steal human life since they don't have their own. If these beings are simply the dead trying to take life back from the living (which doesn't accomplish anything but provide the director with the chance for gratuitous deaths of a stupid and inexplicable nature) why do they spend their time trying to scare the audience? And let's face it, when the ghost in the dryer started throwing laundry out, it just became asinine.

For all the motivation of the characters trying to survive, the major flaw (and there are many, many others) here lies in the creatures having no real understandable reasoning. If we want to be scared and hope for our characters, we have to believe there is something they can do about it. Slashers are generally human, and there's the hope of escape or killing him, regardless of whether our hero(ine) does or not. Zombies are re-animated dead who feast off the living for sustenance. Vampires drink blood to survive or increase their ranks. Etc. Etc.

Horror is one of the most overdone genres because it's cheap, and seemingly easy. But it's also the easiest to do poorly. The sad part is that we don't learn from our mistakes it seems. So what is missing in American horror films? Intelligence. The scare can't be "the all." Don't insult audiences with atrocious plotlines and hope to make up for it with moody lighting and splattering blood. Gore has become a trend that is a sad imitation of scare appeal. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against gore and it can be used effectively in a film. But blood and guts = revulsion, not fear. Still there are plenty of directors who seem to equate their fascination with human mutilation as frightening stuff. I'm going to attribute this to the MPAA and the desensitizing of violence to the public in the U.S. of A.
If you're going for sick and twisted, then by all means! It's not the same. There are those, I know who will argue with me that horror encompasses both, and that's probably true. But personally I enjoy going to a scary film to be frightened silly.

Thus it is refreshing to see somebody making films that are both intelligent and frightening. When was the last time the Hollywood studios or even American independent filmmakers put out something really decent and scary? I saw The Descent last August and have no other descriptive term than the film was truly horrific. And in the best possible way. There was indeed gore and surprises, but incorporated into the film most excellently. The audience was uncomfortable in anticipation throughout the whole movie and made for a noisy theater as people tried to talk or whisper to quell their nervousness. It even delivered one thing I haven't seen very often in horror: a look at some of the psychological ramifications of going through such an experience.

Of course this film is British, and just goes to show you that we need a jumpstart in the subject of national horror. There are excellent films being made out there, it's just been a long while since we've seen them come from home. Even The Ring, based on the Japanese version Ringu, while somewhat scary was a rarity and could do to lose the sequel. Filmmakers need to learn that while some things are a given, don't take the genre or film for granted. It's never that easy and the best films are the ones that manage to give us insight into the character and the monster, provide thrills and chills, and wind it all up with an intelligent plot that leaves us contemplating ourselves and our world.

I guess I'm just picky because now that I've discovered the genre, I have high expectations for it. High expectations, which, I believe, are entirely possible.

It Does Make Sense...

I discovered this quiz and now I have to put it here, even though it's not a blog. It's just because I don't want to put it on my main page. At least, not right now. Maybe later. This blog is already turning into a hodgepodge of scrapbook-style whack. Whack can be a noun. At least, I'd like to think so. What do you, the viewer think?

And now the stunning result. Actually, this is quite reassuring, since I do have the outfit already...

Who are You in Silent Hill?

You are Pyramid Head! A footsoldier and executioner for the dark god Samael, your purpose is to punish and generally scare the crap out of all those who come across you. Your sexual exploits with fellow monsters is only a perk of the job.
Take this quiz!

27 November 2006

Where My Ladies At?

An Ode to the Women of My Life
(by P-yo)

Oh Bathsheba Jaqueline J...!
Why do you taunt me so, with promises, and broken english?
Do you not know the temptation you prove to be?
I can only imagine what you'd open up to be, you hOrNeYsLuT, you!

And guinevere Charmane Loi...
How coy you play it!
With your seductive offers to increase my membrsze
or send me nasty++photos...

But ladies, sometimes, I suspect,
you don't know who i am anymore (or ever did)
when you mis-spell my name
or drop generic invites or tell me your bust measurements.

But it's all a game to you-
i'm just one of the many you try to seduce
and i won't be just one more on your list.
No! I hate you, WHORES! Hate the things you are!

Oh ladies, I can imagine what you would do to me,
(you always have an attachment)
but women like you have a dark side.
No doubt you'll make me freeze and destroy all my files.

And so it is with deep regret that i must delete
all of your heartfelt messages of RoLeXwAtChEs4cheep!!
and file them as spam.
You decievers of the heart!

Play with me no more.
You're simply not my type.

21 November 2006

Anima, I Choose You!

Am I the biggest Final Fantasy Fan out there?

Am I?

I lay awake on sleepless nights contemplating this puzzle. After all, it seems sometimes that I could be in the running. I'd been called obessed by family and friends at times. After hearing something enough, I suppose we even start to believe it ourselves. I mean, sure I pre-order the special edition of FFXII and wait in line at midnight to recieve it. Yes, I dragged everyone through the Square Enix booth at Comic Con. Absolutely do I own the soundtracks and can name the main contributers. And maybe, just maybe, I even dream about (literal dream that is, not aspire to...) going to work in Judge Master Gabranth's armor.

To some of you, this means nothing, no doubt. And if not, it certainly means i'm a bigger fan that you. But is this all there is? Am I doomed to the life of a sad and despondant fan-boy who has a Star Wars quote for any given situation or topic, including puberty? Am I really becoming a subject of geekdom, the like of one who may not know his way around a nightclub but could direct you to the nearest toilet on the Starship Enterprise? Will I grow out my hair, take archery lessons, try to "speak to the wood" and attend renaissance festivals? Will I shoot people to get my hands on the newest gaming platform?

Maybe. But not anytime soon. Still, this query bothered me. Being a crazy gamer isn't all bad, as long as you're playing vogue games like Halo (which is out of vogue, by the way, from what I hear it's all about Gears of War, at least until Halo 3 makes it's debut) or FIFA. Final Fantasy has long been a staple name, however, despite the stigma of RPG's and it can't be all bad. New York City declared October 11, 2006 as FFXII day. Seriously. I mean, if NYC likes iit, how can it possibly be bad?

I decided to discover just for myself if I was the biggest fan out there. And after some in depth research (according to google it took 0.14 seconds) I found an overwhelming result.


No. I'm not the biggest final fantasy fan.

In fact i'm not even close to it. Sure, I like costumes as much as the next person (see my facebook profile). But until the day in which I either spawn enough little ones or can convincingly argue enough of my friends and family to (haphazardly) dress up like the entire cast of a game, then I'm not a big enough fan.

And if that wasn't enough, you've not seen excitement until you see "A Live Action Final Fantasy." Yes this gem is a real life example of why the battle system isn't very good in the actual world, and why most (or all) game-to-movie adaptations fail. Check it out, how can you resist anything that is part tutorial, part bad filmmaking, part rehashed video game? And it even features a summon... just you wait and see.

See more funny videos at CollegeHumor

So again, no, I'm not the biggest fan. Besides some random girl named "Ultimate Fish Warrior" posted on a site that she was "like the biggest fan in the world" of the series. Personally, I don't see how you can be with a name like that. Maybe "Ultimate Ronso Warrior" or even "Ultima Fish Warrior" but still...

So in conclusion, I am happy to report that no, I don't need therapy and that I will continue to play my final fantasy games with pride. Thanks Square Enix, you make the make-believe worlds a little brighter for us all. Especially those who live in them perpetually. Ahem.