- Mar 22, 2017: Looks like Octane's flight crew...
- For readers of my Transformers fanfiction: This lovely picture is almost exactly how I envisioned Octane's "Beyt'al-Ocatane" crew (Talifeyah and the rest), years ago.
The only difference is that Al-Octane's crew uniform is a white hijab with sky-blue uniform tunic and trousers. But don't they look like they could be sitting in Skyfire's cockpit?
All congratulations to Royal Brunei Airlines and their first all-female crew.
- Mar 5, 2017: Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith
- We finally finished semi-binge watch of The Clone Wars, and then re-watched Revenge of the Sith as the finale and bookend to the series.
In general, Clone Wars (CW) was much better than Revenge of the Sith (RotS). The contrast between the quality of acting in the one vs the other was shocking and dramatic--the CW voice actors were quite good; with the exception of Palpatine's film actor (Ian McDiarmid), the RotS acting was terrible!
Matt Lanter, Anakin Skywalker's CW voice actor, did a much better job of sounding resentful, rebellious and dangerously angry than Hayden Christiansen did. Christiansen's performance made Anakin sound like a whiny, emo, entitled brat instead of a powerful young Jedi sliding inexorably towards the Dark Side. He simply did not sell Anakin as Sith Apprentice Darth Vader. Most of the time he sounded like he was stoned and phoning his performance in.
I blame inexperienced actors in the hands of a lousy director. Natalie Portman is supposed to be a decent actress, but her performance as Padmé was lackluster, to say the least. She also came across as phoning it in. Ewan MacGregor's performance as Obi-Wan Kenobi was better, but he still had a lot of scenes that should have been redone to actually show emotion. James Arnold Taylor, the CW VA, delivered a much better and more consistent performance as Obi-Wan. Samuel L. Jackson's performance was hampered by terrible dialogue (don't let Lucas write dialogue. Just don't!), but he delivered his lines well enough. Even so, Jackson's performance in RotS wasn't anywhere near the quality of his performance as Jules in Pulp Fiction or Nick Fury in the MCU movies. I wonder how much better RotS would have been if Tarantino were directing it?
The one stand-out was Ian McDiarmid's performance as Chancellor Palpatine. I thought his performance was better than Ian Abercrombie's in Clone Wars. I suspect he was an experienced enough actor that he could deliver a good performance even without a good director. He did a very good job of portraying Darth Sidious being, well, insidious and manipulative: showing Chancellor Palpatine acting like Anakin's apparent good friend and mentor, all the while slyly planting seeds of discontent and mistrust.
I can't say much about Chris Lee as Dooku in this movie, as his part was so short and a lot of his screen time was taken up by his stunt double. Corey Burton, Dooku's CW VA, did a damn good Chris Lee impression as Count Dooku, and was delightfully menancing. Of course he was--this is the guy who played TFA Megatron! (He's also Cad Bane, another convincingly scary character. Looking at his credits at IMDB, it's somehow appropriate that Burton plays Dracula in a lot of cartoons--a part that Chris Lee was famous for in his younger days).
Another thought I had is that the RotS actors are film actors, and had to do a lot of green-screen work in this movie, where they wouldn't have seen the special effects that are going on around them in the movie. The worst performances seemed to be in scenes where the actor would have just been sitting in a chair in front of a green-screen, imagining they were reading those lines in a ship that was on fire, crashing and exploding. A good director could still have coaxed a good performance out of them. Conversely, in Clone Wars, the actors were mostly experienced voice actors, used to bringing characters to life when they can't see anything but a microphone and maybe some of the other actors reading their parts. Note that Ian McDiarmid was lucky enough that almost all of his lines were delivered in a more traditional film acting situation: to other actors on the same stage with him. That probably helped. Also, Clone Wars was NOT directed by George Lucas, unlike RotS. That probably helped Clone Wars.
The fight choreography also seemed a bit lacking compared to either Clone Wars or any MCU movie. Only the final fight scene between Obi-Wan and Anakin, and Palpatine's massacre of the Jedi sent to arrest him conveyed the sheer viciousness of Sith vs. Jedi lightsaber battles that I saw all through Clone Wars. The rest of lightsaber battles looked like a couple guys sparring (badly), to the point where Dooku suddenly losing both hands was almost Pythonesque in its absurdity. There was no energy to those battles. I would chalk it up to the limitations of film vs. CGI, except that (a) the lightsabers are CGI, and (b) any fight in the MCU movies involving Captain America was done ten times better. Or, for examples with sword, any sword fight in an Errol Flynn movie, or the incredible fight choreography in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Tellingly, I cannot find credits for a choreographer for RotS.
However, I found this interesting tidbit on IMDB:
George Lucas allowed his friend Steven Spielberg to help design some sequences during pre-production. This was partly because Spielberg wanted the experience of using the 'pre-visualisation' techniques pioneered by ILM as he was going to use them for War of the Worlds (2005). It was also because Lucas felt that his roles as Writer, Director, Executive Producer and Financier were taking up too much of his time and he needed another director to bounce ideas off. Spielberg's main contribution was in the climactic lightsaber duel between Obi-wan and Anakin.
I want Obi-Wan's varactyl as a mount in WoW.
- Feb 7, 2017: Netflix did what?
- I hear Netflix is going to be discontinuing streaming "Clone Wars" in March. Guess what I'll be binge-watching? I'm already halfway through season 3, so it's not that far to go to finish it.
On WoW, I got Bedewyr (my warrior) to level 10 (woo-hoo!), found the bank in Stormwind, and finally unloaded all those crafting ingredients into storage. Not enough bags, captain! I also learned the sad news that WoW does not have shared banking slots. WTF? How are you supposed to trade gear between alts? Later, Becky told me that you use mail to send stuff to your alts. That's all well and good, except where it isn't: one, as a trial player, I don't have access to mail; two, I tend to use shared slots as a central depot that all my alts can come pick over for supplies. I don't see how to use mail for that. So, when it comes to altoholic friendliness, WoW is not so friendly as EQ2 or EQ1.
I also started my Tauren druid, Finvarien. Gee, I see why Becky said the human zones suck--the Tauren starting zones are so pretty! Even the hideous Thornsnarl area appears to be a shout-out to a certain Disney movie. Even if the mixed fantasy native American aesthetic of the Tauren is wildly anachronistic, it's a refreshing change from pseudo-medieval European everything (also usually wildly anachronistic).
I figured out how to reset the tutorials, so I would get the explanations again. Yay me! Low-level stuff is still very handholdy--I have yet to be in serious danger from anything. Even with Bedewyr, the only time he took enough damage for me to bother eating some food was after fighting 5 wolves without pause (3 at once during the fight). Does it get tougher at higher levels, or is this a sign I should be pushing on to tougher stuff?
ETA: Craftwise, Bedewyr is a Blacksmith/Miner, and Finvarien is a Leatherworker/Skinner. No doubt I'll have others.
- Feb 5, 2017: Superbowl
- No post about today, because I'm still reeling from the game. Wow, that was one hell of a Superbowl! Free football, records broken, edge-of-the-seat nail-biter game. The Pats won, but I don't feel too bad about that, because they earned their victory. It was an incredible game between two very good teams, and the Patriots showed why they are champions. Atlanta did pretty well too, with an impressive early lead, but I think they got complacent with the lead they had going into the second half, and the Pats showed them why that was a mistake.
Just, wow! Awesome, incredible game!
- Feb 4, 2017: Somewhat annoying Saturday
- Everquest2 is having login issues. For long stretches of the day, it wouldn't let us log in, which squelched a lot of our plans for the day. No Sammie & Deanne, no guild run. Bleh. Steve ended up installing WoW to try out, though we finally did manage to log in to EQ2.
Instead, I did a major grocery run and we cut down more bamboo in the back yard, which exhausted us both. Steve was shocked by how low his blood sugar was after all that work; fortunately, I'd picked up plenty of sugary snacks. I dug out the TV antenna and hooked it back up in preparation for tomorrow--I do love me some Superbowl commercials. The game might be mildly interesting, if only to boo the Patriots. I loathe cheaters, and always want to see them lose.
At least the bamboo cutting gave Elsa something to do outside with us; she had been frustrated all morning because Steve wouldn't take her for a walk, because it was so cold this morning. It got to the point where she was all but standing in his lap trying to get his attention for the walk she wanted. I finally took her for a short walk, which made her very happy, before I went on the grocery run.
Worked on some of my baby characters instead of the big guys. Mallard got a bunch of tradeskill quests caught up, and Natashae finally made 75. Okay, she's one of my big guys in the crafting department. Made some improvised stir-fry for dinner, and concluded that stir-fry needs some kind of sauce to keep from being incredibly bland. The vegetables themselves aren't strongly flavored, nor is chicken, my usual meat of choice. I noticed that most actual Chinese stir-fry recipes have some kind of sauce, so I need to figure out what I'm going to do for my generic improv stir-fry.
One of these days I need to stop staring blankly at my RP tags and actually respond to them. I've noticed that people RP with me more if I actually respond to them. Weird coincidence, that...
- Feb 3, 2017: It's Friday!
- I see I forgot to post yesterday. Well, I don't post about work, but I will say that yesterday I took some time in the middle of the day to attend a lovely retirement luncheon for a co-worker--specifically, our office manager and de facto "office mom". As far as I can tell, everyone in the local office turned up for the luncheon, including some of our retired guys, which was held at a nice beachfront bar & grill. It was a perfect day--beautiful, sunny, not too hot and not cold, and the sun just glittered off the water. Just lovely. Everyone was nice, it was a wonderful and moving get-together, (her out-of-state kids who couldn't be there sent videos) and we'll all miss her. Seriously, she was one of those wonderful "office moms" who hold things together and helps everyone find their shit when they've lost it. I don't know what we'll do without her.
As her husband tells it, it was originally supposed to be a temporary gig, just 3 months. Over 20 years later, she's retiring from that "temporary" job. So, you never know...
I crashed early last night, after all that. I'm still under the weather a bit, and seem to run out of energy easily. Going to finally take my doctor's advice and see a specialist about these recurring, chronic sinus infections; I'm getting tired of being debilitated and tired all the time.
I ran one of my EQ2 dudes through a bunch of tradeskill quests he'd fallen behind on, and yet again mused on all the decorating I want to do when I have the time. After being inspired by DW20's Let's Play series yet again, I built a Buildcraft Filler, and used it to clear the ground for my giant stable wherein I will move the sheep to. I also used to lay the foundations; it's a serious labor-saver. I built a Malisis' Carriage Door for the stable entrance, and will build the rest of it sometime soon. It's visible on the map. I need to find some spruce so I can make medieval castle doors for the main entrance of my lair, though.
I've been reading some old mystery novels I found in a used booksale, or possibly inherited. This time it's George Simeon's Inspector Maigret. It'll be interesting to compare and contrast with the other stories in the omnibus, all published in 1958. Simeon is French; I'm pretty sure the other authors are not. Cultural differences are always interesting; for example, the French justice/legal system is quite different from the American or the British one.