- May 12, 2017: Cultural Appropriation is Fine
- [Inspired by recent incidents in the Canadian writing community]
Cultural appropriation is a good thing. It means the majority culture is learning to appreciate and is curious about something besides themselves. It means the culture isn't stagnating. It means The Other is good, not bad, and a friend, not an enemy to be suppressed or exterminated. It means The Other is stopping being "Them" and is becoming "Us". We humans love Us; we humans regrettably tend to hate Them. Better for all if they are Us.
The notion that cultural appropriation is bad is one of the more snowflake, dumb-ass and downright poisonous ideas to come out of the left. The logical end-point of "cultural appropriation is bad and you mustn't do it" crowd is cultural segregation and apartheid--everyone is only allowed to write or make art about their own racial and cultural niche, and no one will be exposed to any culture but their own. That would be bad; we learn to tolerate and accept People Not Like Us by getting to know them in person; ditto for cultures.
At worst, badly-done appropriation comes across as crass, rude and insensitive to people of the originating culture. So don't be crass, rude, or insensitive. However, there is not a single damn thing wrong with braiding your hair differently, eating different food, or wearing different clothes than those you grew up with. Don't let anyone force you into a creative or life-style strait-jacket because of what they think is appropriate for you.
- Apr 22, 2017: LJ is dead; long live DW!
- I finally deleted my old livejournal. From the reports of others, the rotting corpse of the former journaling service is allowing lots of porn spammers in the comments; I don't need my name and works being used for that kind of crap.
- Apr 20, 2017: The left's continuing self-immolation
- Nick Cohen, left-wing British writer and essayist, continues to explain better than I ever have, and at more length, what the frack is wrong with you people. I dunno, when I try to explain it in simple words any idiot should understand, I get dismissed and ignored as one of Them. You know, "the Deplorables". The *-ists. The apologists for the *-ists, who the right-thinking apparently shouldn't listen to, just in case it might taint the purity of their perfect thinking or something.
( extended rant here )
- 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.