Moviebob’s Book: Blob by Blob

  Super Mario Bros. 3: Brick by Brick by Bob Chipman, Fangamer, 1st July, 2013

Why would I review a book that is not only out of print but seems to be one the author would mostly want to forget? Well, the main reason is that I’ve reviewed quite a bit of gamma fiction over the years and this is an interesting opportunity to try some gamma non-fiction. Bob Chipman (better known online as “Moviebob”), is one of the most pure living gamma archetypes (along with John Scalzi), that has a public profile. Bob is also unique in that his extreme progressivism has managed not only to alienate a significant portion of his potential audience who don’t share his views but also embarrass people he would (at least like to), consider his friends and allies. He’s really quite a fascinating figure but not for any of the reasons he would like to be.

Another reason is the book is considered notoriously bad in such a way that I was curious to look for myself. It is out of print but easy enough to find online — though I still don’t recommend it. I also state it is something he would “mostly” want to forget because he does still list it on his website as of writing. This along with a number of other books available digitally which are apparently just collections of his blog posts. 

However, after reading most of the book, I would say the main reason I’m writing a review is to make fun of it. Continue reading

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A Gamma’s Midlife Crisis

 

Sideways by Rex Pickett, St Martin’s Griffin, October 1st, 2004

I first learned of the film Sideways through this post on what was (it is now hard to believe), one of the more entertaining websites on the Internet. I remember watching the film around this time too — though I don’t remember exactly when. I don’t think I disliked it but I do remember thinking that the two main characters were pathetic. This was when I was in my early twenties and still at university. About four years ago, I watched the film again — now being long married with children and a regular job. I still thought the two main characters were pathetic but I was better able to understand the film’s appeal. The wine tasting for example, was also something I could relate to but not for good reasons

More recently I found out there was a Japanese remake that changes some details but is generally the same film with the same title rendered as Saidoweizu (サイドウェイズ) in Japanese. I sought it out just recently and watched it. I only now remained curious about the novel that the original film was based on. Interestingly the film was in development before the book was published and released in theatres just months after the novel’s publication.

It might seem odd to be interested in reading a book based on a film that I didn’t really like but this is a film that was both a critical and box office success. It won numerous awards and unlike so many Oscar-bait films, remains well-regarded even twenty years later. The original book has also now had a third sequel Sideways New Zealand: The Road Back release this year so it clearly still has an audience. Continue reading

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Fable Reconsidered

Quite a while back now, I wrote a review of the original Fable, mostly based on the Anniversary version which released around the same time. I had also meant to review both Fable II and Fable III but never got around to either. Both of the latter titles are now only available on Xbox systems as the second game was never ported to PC and the third was removed from digital stores once support ended for Microsoft’s horrid Games for Windows Live service. The series ended with the Kinect-only Fable: The Journey and the canceled Fable Legends on Xbox One. Both of which departed (or at least would have), from the core design of the main series. There were also a few other forgettable spin-offs released here and there that were related mostly in name only.

The disappointing demise of Lionhead Studios didn’t mean the end for the series though and a new Fable is currently in development with British developer Playground Games — who are best known for the Forza Horizon racing series. A teaser trailer was released last year and it frankly looks horrible. Most notably, the ugly female protagonist suggests we’re also in for a lot of the typical identity politics and degeneracy. I should quickly add before someone writes “Actually…” that none of what I expect this game will focus on is necessarily inconsistent with the original series and I shall elaborate below.

 

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Unauthorized Anthropology

Down Among the Wild Men: A narrative journal of fifteen years pursuing the Old Stone Age Aborigines of Australia by John Greenway,
Hutchinson of Australia, January 1st, 1973

This is a book I picked up a while ago very shortly after I found out it existed. I didn’t know what to expect except that it wouldn’t be the feeble and largely false analysis of the Australian Aborigines that is found today. That it would give a picture of them as they were (specifically, the desert tribes) and it certainly did not disappoint. As the books title may suggest, this is not a conventional academic work but the author certainly has all of the credentials that would be demanded of anyone who dared to contradict current wisdom. 

To state the obvious, this book would never, ever be published today and to the best of my knowledge, was only printed once over fifty years ago. As it has copious amounts of information that is not easy to find anymore, this post will quote very heavily from the book and include my commentary. So while my purpose is certainly to review it, I also want to make sure that many of the parts I found most interesting are available online. This is then somewhat similar to my review of Stalin’s War by Sean McMeekin in August, 2022.

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Conan the Adventurer

I didn’t have the pleasure of discovering Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Cimmerian through creased and sun damaged paperbacks from the 1970s as I’m sure many did. As I mentioned in my first post on Conan, I’m not sure whether it was the movie or the short-lived cartoon series that is the subject of this post. I know I would eagerly watch anything with Arnold Schwarzenegger and most other action stars growing up but at the same time, my parents wouldn’t let me watch just anything so I don’t recall what year I would have been allowed to watch that film.

Whatever the truth is, Conan the Adventurer was certainly one of my earliest introductions to Robert E. Howard’s most popular character. The show originally broadcast in late 1992 and had a longer second and final season in late 1993 but I don’t believe I watched it until a year or two after the original run. I learned in preparing for this review that it was followed by an even more short-lived successor titled Conan and the Young Warriors as well. It was produced by Sunbow Productions which is the same company behind G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, The Transformers and other cartoons that doubled as toy commercials — Conan the Adventurer was no exception here either. While having no knowledge of the source material, it was one of the more memorable cartoons of my childhood though admittedly less fondly remembered than the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series and both the X-Men and Spider-Man animated series’ which all ran around the same time. 

I had originally planned to watch the entire series in preparation for this post but it hasn’t aged so well that I would be willing to sit through more than twenty hours of it. I did however watch through the first season which is only thirteen episodes long. I also watched the final episodes and along with my vague childhood memories, this should be more than enough to judge what is a typically formulaic children’s cartoon. I don’t merely want to spout off factual information which can be obtained more easily by reading its Wikipedia entry but instead share my thoughts and compare it to the source material.

Jezmin, Snagg, Greywolf and Zula

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PC Building & Humility

This is admittedly a weird title but it is to make a wider point. I’ve probably watched the below video about twelve times through. It cuts together a bunch of reaction videos from many PC/Tech channels to a PC Building Guide put out by The Verge back in 2018. The Verge is a tech website owned by Vox Media so it was simply baffling that they could publish something so obviously incompetent with the resources they have available. The original video was quickly removed so cuts like this and reuploads elsewhere are all that is left of its existence. The Verge‘s initial reaction to the negative feedback was to double down which only drew more eyes to it. It came a few years after similarly incompetent coverage of video games where journalists showed themselves barely able to play them. Naturally, things have only got worse since.

I have come back to thinking about this recently as I recently began a new PC build myself and discovered there was a heartening follow-up to all this a few years later that I wasn’t aware of. 

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Monkeys playing in Ruins

“The monkeys called the place their city, and pretended to despise the Jungle-People because they lived in the forest. And yet they never knew what the buildings were made for nor how to use them. They would sit in circles on the hall of the king’s council chamber, and scratch for fleas and pretend to be men; or they would run in and out of the roofless houses and collect pieces of plaster and old bricks in a corner, and forget where they had hidden them, and fight and cry in scuffling crowds, and then break off to play up and down the terraces of the king’s garden, where they would shake the rose trees and the oranges in sport to see the fruit and flowers fall. They explored all the passages and dark tunnels in the palace and the hundreds of little dark rooms, but they never remembered what they had seen and what they had not; and so drifted about in ones and twos or crowds telling each other that they were doing as men did. They drank at the tanks and made the water all muddy, and then they fought over it, and then they would all rush together in mobs and shout: “There is no one in the jungle so wise and good and clever and strong and gentle as the Bandar-log.” Then all would begin again till they grew tired of the city and went back to the tree-tops, hoping the Jungle-People would notice them.”

Kaa’s Hunting, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

Growing up somewhere famous for wine, I went on a few wine tours as a young adult. Neither myself nor any of the people I was with really knew anything about wine or wine tasting and the staff at the various wineries we visited seemed quite accustomed to this among their clientele. Essentially, we were getting driven around in a minivan as we slowly got drunk and perhaps bought a bottle or two that took our fancy. This was a lot of fun but I had some sense at the time — and certainly do now — that I was a phony. I had little appreciation for the wine outside its power to inebriate and I now look back at my young self as something like a savage trying to use a knife and fork for the first time.

I think the connection between the Bandar-log in Kipling’s beloved story and my own aping of the pass times of more sophisticated people must be obvious. I wanted to start with an anecdote about myself as I will be having a go at almost everyone and I don’t want to pretend I’m an exception — though I certainly try to be. This is also similar in theme to a post from last year around the same time. As I write, it is the evening of Ash Wednesday so it is unsurprising I had similar thoughts to these during Lent last year. Continue reading

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Excellence in a Sea of Mediocrity

It is no secret that Hollywood puts out an awful lot of terrible films and things have gotten considerably worse in the last few years. Even studios like Pixar (that once consistently put out great films), have had a string of disasters in recent years. What is amazing about this is that much of it is quite deliberate. With this in mind, one must be reminded that very little of what Hollywood puts out at any time is very good. Most film releases in any given year are quickly forgotten — as indeed are most new novels and video games. This includes many films that are financially and/or critically successful and even a lot of multi-award winners. 

Occasionally there is a film that only makes a minor splash on release but later comes to be much better appreciated. Peter Weir’s Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World from 2003, is one such film.

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The Games of 2023

The Games of 2022 were so mediocre that I found it necessary to write about two older games I played that year so I could fill out the post. One might point out that I didn’t play many new games in 2022 but I would respond simply that very few appealed to me. Just recently, I finally got to the one other game I mentioned from that post that I didn’t play: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge. It was good! Great pixel art, an excellent soundtrack from Tee Lopes who also composed the amazing Sonic Mania soundtrack. It also really captured the feel of the golden age of brawlers while including some thoughtful innovations. It was probably the best overall game I played that saw release in 2022 which was still a very disappointing year overall. I could also mention Sonic Frontiers which released in 2022 but I didn’t play until last year. The linked review discusses the game at length and in short, it was far from what it could have been.

2023 however was something else entirely and is comparable to 2017  in terms of the quality and even quantity of releases. I can say this despite not having played a number of critically acclaimed releases including Baldur’s Gate 3 which seemed to be the general favourite overall — even the Game Awards got it right! The below games are all ones released in 2023 which I played then or shortly before publishing this post this month. As 2023 was also a big year for remakes and remasters, I have separated these from the genuinely new releases.

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The Quick Expiry of Transgression

This post will be somewhat similar in theme to two earlier posts I’ve made concerning music. One was from 2021 where I briefly commented on how entirely hollow the “rebellious” image of many bands are. The two examples were Twisted Sister and Rage Against the Machine, both of whom readily licked the proverbial boot when it was put forward and yet both fostered an image of youthful rebellion and rejection of social and political order. More recently you can add Green Day to the list for believing they are fighting “the man” by rejecting the most prominent public movement in opposition to him. All three members of this band are now in their 50s but still dress like they’re in their early 20s. They really look more like middle-aged lesbians than men at this point. At least Rage Against the Machine have had the good sense to break-up this month — hopefully permanently. The other more recent post was just a rant on how terrible I think boomer music is and I have nothing to add to that.

The subject of this post concerns just how fast what is considered transgressive can change with some examples from music popular when I was a teenager and young adult. Continue reading

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