A Pretentious Pedant on the Prequels

I recently finished reading Which Lie Did I Tell? by the now deceased (but still celebrated), screenwriter and author William Goldman and I am now an expert on the art and language of film. Actually, I wouldn’t claim to be after reading ten such books and really came away thinking even less of the film industry than I did before. The book was mostly not about the art and language of film but about screenwriting interspersed with showbiz gossip and either catty or complimentary comments about other figures in the industry. The writing was described on the cover as “funny” and “brilliant” but was generally “crass” and “shallow” and Goldman is the mind behind the generally wholesome The Princess Bride. While his work is not considered high-brow or avant-garde, he was behind very little of the muck Hollywood has wiped on our screens over the last fifty years. It was an interesting read if nothing else and despite all I’ve said, he knows the industry well and was a proven performer with a long career.

What it did remind me of was a video I watched some months ago critiquing reviews of the prequel Star Wars trilogy by RedLetterMedia and Chris Stuckmann in particular. This was by one Rick Worley (not sure if this is a pseudonym), and I have linked to below. He is considerably less popular than the channels he is critiquing which is not directly relevant to his critique but is not irrelevant either. Much like Goldman, he certainly seems to know filmmaking so none of what follows should be read as me doubting this and as with most topics on this blog — I claim no expertise myself!

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Jagged Alliance 3 Review

It has been over twenty four years since Jagged Alliance 2 released on PC which was the last major game in the series though a stand-alone expansion Jagged Alliance 2: Unfinished Business was released in 2000 — a few years before the demise of Sir-Tech which had been better known for the Wizardry series which also saw its eighth and final release in 2001. It wasn’t too long after that the series rights were picked up by Strategy First that Jagged Alliance 3 was announced. It was supposedly in development by different studios in the following years but ultimately never came to be. The series continued in name only with the most notable releases being re-workings of Jagged Alliance 2 including a remake that departed significantly from the gameplay that made the series so popular. During this time of sporadic and disappointing releases there was one hopeful announcement in 2013 when Dutch developer Full Control successfully crowdfunded Jagged Alliance Flashback on Kickstarter. This released the following year and I bought it but it was quickly apparent that they had neither the resources or the budget to create a worthy sequel to the series but they did at least try. That game was unfinished, abandoned and forgotten though it can amazingly still be purchased. Jagged Alliance: Rage followed some years later which was by all accounts even worse. This video which was published after this review does a decent job covering some of this history though with a few mistakes along the way.

The series has been in a sad limbo ever since Sir-Tech’s closure. It never fully died but passed on to different developers and publishers for years with a number of disappointing releases. There have probably been multiple different versions of Jagged Alliance 3 started and stopped during this time. So when I first heard the latest announcement for Jagged Alliance 3 in 2021, I didn’t expect much to come of it. There were reasons to be hopeful though as it had an experienced developer Haemimont Games with demonstrated competence and the much needed backing of the publisher THQ Nordic. The most significant news came when one of the original series’ designers Ian Currie was brought on board. Currie and his wife Linda along with Shaun Lyng were the biggest names behind the original series. Even with this,  I still took little notice of the game until just a few months before it released and only purchased it when the initial reviews were positive. After so long it was easy to be skeptical but my low expectations were thankfully mistaken.

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Down the Pedo Hole

Late last year I picked up a book that collects Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass, poetry and a biography of the author Lewis Carroll written by his nephew. I vaguely remember my mother reading the original Alice story and maybe once seeing the original Disney version but this was never a favourite of mine growing up. I did however want to read these books as an adult as references to them are so ubiquitous in literature as well as other mediums and I wanted a better appreciation of the source material. After finishing both recently, I can’t say I really enjoyed them but they both had their moments. I was amused by playful language and the general silliness but I don’t have a high opinion of them and I’m now somewhat baffled by their continued popularity.

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There and Back Again: A Female SSH Tale

This originally began as an attempt to make a female version of the Socio-Sexual Hierarchy (SSH), that was originally developed by Vox Day. If you’re unfamiliar with the SSH then this video is the best basic overview of the original idea and I have referred to it in a number of posts including this one. I began writing this over a year ago under the optimistic title “Towards a Female SSH” and quickly came to the conclusion that it just doesn’t work for females — as Vox himself has stated. This is simply because women and men are not the same. Obvious I know, but something that has to be stated directly and repeatedly if  it has any hope of getting through to people.

Women and men are different. What applies to men doesn’t necessarily apply to women no matter how offended they get. What follows instead is something that I hope better explains why as well as my attempt at the end to give examples of females personality types as an alternative. I will caution readers that these types are not female versions of the male categories but completely different observations about different types of women that I shall explain. I also invite criticism (except from gammas) and suggestions that could improve what follows. Continue reading

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More Hyborian Thoughts

This is a return to a post I wrote three years ago this month after first reading the original Conan stories by Robert E. Howard. I have since re-read all of them and want to write in more depth than I did last time and some of this will likely overlap with what I wrote previously. That original post came soon after my introduction to Howard’s writing and I have since read a great deal of his work beyond Conan and even looked into authors like Fritz Leiber who coined the term ‘sword and sorcery’ to describe this subgenre of fantasy that Howard created and he admirably continued. What follows will also contain a series of direct quotes from various stories which I thought best show the appeal of both the character and setting.

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Army of Darkness: So Good, It’s Bad!

There was a time back during my university years when I was quite obsessed with Army of Darkness and its star Bruce Campbell. At the height of all this I owned four different versions of the film including one with an alternate ending. I had read Campbell’s biography If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of A B Movie Actor and his exceedingly average follow-up novel Make Love! the Bruce Campbell Way. I would visit his website, search out and view his copious films and television appearances — no matter how small. I played a number of the video games based on Evil Dead and other games he appeared in such as the tie-in games to the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films. Then around about fifteen years ago, I all but lost interest as I did with quite a number preoccupations (both harmful and harmless), when I got married and started a family. 

Since this time, I wouldn’t say I grew to dislike the film or the lead actor but did see this period of my life as an extended and wasteful adolescence that unfortunately is not uncommon among those of my generation. In fact, considering there are still plenty of men my age now who have retained these obsessions, I arguably grew up relatively fast in comparison. 

With all this said, I still retain a fondness for this film which is now thirty years old and what follows is my attempt to explain its continued appeal. 

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Authority & Individualism

It has been something of a topic on this blog to discuss assumptions I previously held that I have come now to question. These are usually the values our society holds to be special or important. Most such values have become increasingly incoherent for various reasons including stretching the very concept from a legal or social point-of-view to the realms of absurdity. I need not go over examples as many can be found on this blog under the same categories this will be included in. 

One that doesn’t get questioned very much is the idea of individualism itself. This has become fundamental on a level that is hard to appreciate. I don’t want to get into this on a philosophical level with definitions (as I’m not well-informed enough to do), but I can at least consider it the average person would. This would be with the basic assumption that your own opinion matters. That what you think or how you feel about what ever topic is relevant, valuable and important. 

And speaking for myself at least, I really don’t think mine does.

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Four Notable Australian Games

Australia isn’t well known for video game development but it has a respectable history in the industry despite being (population wise), quite small. I could point the curious to this list on Wikipedia but it would only cause confusion. Many of the listed titles could mean simply ports to other consoles or games that were co-developed by an Australian studio. There are a number of well-known games that I could list though including, Dark Reign, Fallout: Tactics, L.A. Noir, Ty the Tasmanian Tiger. Sonic Mania (co-developed) and the Castle of Illusion remake. I could go even further than this. There are plenty of independent titles too including Dragon’s Wake which I reviewed some years ago. 

The focus here will be four games that have been released in the last six years by Australian developers that were not only well-received both critically and commercially but also clever and unique for their respective genres.

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New Light on a Delicate Subject

The World of the Shining Prince: Court Life in Ancient Japan by Ivan Morris
Vintage (Reprint), May 21st, 2013 (Originally published in 1964)

This began as a post related to a previous post on The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu and my commentary on the Michael Crichton novel Rising Sun. When I began writing however, I have more to add and so am classifying this as a review. As I believe I’ve said before, I do not pretend to be an expert on Japan. I am not fluent in the language and certainly can’t claim an academic credentials in any aspect of the countries language, culture or history. I just share observations as someone who has lived among the Japanese and read reasonably widely of their literature and history — though never in a rigorous way. Ivan Morris (whose work I have covered before), was an expert and so his opinion carries a lot more weight. This should be kept in mind for what follows.

As a short general review, The World of the Shining Prince is an absolute and unqualified recommendation to anyone who is studying or has enjoyed reading The Tale of Genji. It is only limited by being written when the only full translation* that existed was Arthur Waley’s and there are now three additional English translations not discussed in this work. That the edition above was published just a few years before the fourth English translation and almost fifty years later demonstrates its continued relevance despite this. I do recommend you skip the introduction by Barbara Ruch though which is less about the subject than it is herself.

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The Full Degeneracy

As I’ve mentioned before, I have become increasingly conscious of just how inappropriate much media is. This usually happens when I re-watch something I saw when I was young and notice a lot of things I thankfully didn’t notice as a child. Two good recent examples are Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Back to the Future. The former I found shockingly crude and completely inappropriate for children but that is exactly who it was marketed to. The latter wasn’t necessarily marketed to children but it is generally considered a family film and includes coarse (and blasphemous) language as well as sexual innuendo. The interactions between Marty and his teenage mother in particular should be considered more disturbing than they generally are.

There is an increasing collective consciousness of just how degenerate the world has become. This is often mistaken for the immediate present as if all this has only suddenly happened. Some people act as if sodomy and especially transvestitism only began getting heavily promoted a decade ago. In reality, it has been in front of us for a long time as I noted with the 1990s comedy Mrs. Doubtfire. The absurd comic premise covers the darker intentions of the filmmakers — and they absolutely knew what they were doing. Even then, there were far more obvious films such as The Crying Game (which I’ve not seen and never will), and Boys Don’t Cry which were far more explicit in their intentions.

The subject of this post is The Full Monty a British film from 1997 which is many degrees worse than the examples I’ve already mentioned. So much so that it is amazing to me now that adults of the time so easily overlooked all this. I did see this film multiple times when I was a teenager but even if I hadn’t, it was advertised on prime time television and the premise was not hard to guess for the casual viewer.  

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