This is so geeky but I had to share it. Blizzard entertainment made their own hour long version of the yule log but with all the Christmas carols sung by Murlocs. So funny.
Someone couldn’t keep JK Rowling away from her Microsoft Word.
I’m not going to rag on the woman anymore than I already have on this blog and my defunct fandom blog.
Truthfully I hope she gathers stricter editors around herself at Little Brown. People who will help her direct her good qualities over the bad. But I don’t really have that much confidence in that respect. Rowling is a cash cow and no one will raise a finger to tame the inner raging calvinist crazy inside her.
C’est La Vie.
Right now, I’m kind of sick of Star Wars. The whole kit and caboodle not just the films. I’m really tired of fans screeching about how horrible the prequels were and that the original films should be taken out of Lucas’ custody. I can’t wait to see what a train wreck the new MMO coming out on Christmas turns out to be.
You know, I used to be one of those people bitching about Phantom Menace and company. Then, like Lucas, I stopped caring.
Its very easy to understand what happened once you gain some distance and clarity. And it all has to do with what Mediabastard calls MIPS (Media Induced Psychosis).
Take it back more than 40 years ago, before there was a Star Wars. There was a geeky kid who was really into old sci-fi flicks and adventure serials. And I mean they were old because these were the originals from the cheesy days of film it and throw it on the screen studio days. The days when it was thought that filmgoers needed some bubble headed fluff to get them in a festive mood for the main feature. You know, a short serial to go to the bathroom by or get some snacks for the kids without worrying that you were missing important story information from the main feature. Even in those hoary old days, film was beginning the MIPS problem. In which it was taught to audiences that moving images were visceral but were ultimately throwaway, temporary trash. And they were, because absolutely no one really held those old Flash Gordon serials dear to their hearts except for George Lucas and fellow nerds.
I goddamn guarantee you that your parents never even heard of nor watched Flash Fucking Gordon in their halcyon 1950s/1960s youth. Not unless they were misfits like George.
Lets move forward to the days when Lucas was just getting his feet wet in the business. He made a very personal film that melded his admiration for the sci-fi genre and his respect for dystopic literature of Orwell and Philip Dick. It was THX1138. It was extremely intellectual, art driven, and emotional. Of course, it failed. It was a film that was well ahead of the culture, and the images in the film were definitely not throwaway trash. They were intrinsic to the story. I believe it even edges out Blade Runner because ultimately what people really love about Blade Runner is that huge billboard of the Geisha eating sushi while floating cars speed by it. Blade Runner gains its relevance over time because Ridley Scott keeps rehashing it and telling people that it means more than just cool imagery. Scott is picking over it’s carcass yet again with a remake, rehash of the story. Talk about MIPS!
By the time Lucas made Star Wars, his version of Sci-fi was already trashed and forgotten by audiences. So instead of trying to push the THX1138 style again, he took refuge in those old serials of Flash Gordon, which again I remind you, were forgotten by 1970’s audiences. And he decided to create his own take on those cheesy shorts by giving some weight to the story with mythological motifs picked from various sources. He also decided to take it seriously….to a certain extent, by not giving in to the urge to ham it all up. That feeling was definitely not shared by the actors in the film who definitely did ham it up and did not really take it seriously (take a look at all of Ford’s comments about the film). Lucas never took umbrage at these pot shots because I think he knew that this material, no matter how much of a classy sheen he tried to give it was basically still based on silly films.
And of course the amnesiac audiences ate it up, loved it and hailed it as something groundbreaking. Simply because WE THE AUDIENCE did not remember our own cultural and film heritage. WE did not recognize that we were given regurgitated pap that was just meant to be amusing and forgettable just like the originals they were based upon.
Can you imagine what that mega-success did to a fairly young George Lucas? To have something he really considered fluff launch him into hyper fame? I think he had something akin to a nervous breakdown even at that early stage, because he refused to become involved in the Star Wars sequels except as a kind of watchful impresario.
And the Star Wars monster grew and grew until it turned into something that it wasn’t, even when it had it’s first success. It became this kind of quasi-religious experience to culture starved, image obsessed troglodytes who barely had their long term memories intact. During this time there was a story about Alec Guinness advising an addled Star Wars fan to never watch the films again. Of course, he was demonized for it. Truthfully, I think George Lucas was secretly relieved that one of his stars took a stance against the craziness surrounding these films and how they caused people to act. Guinness had memories of what these films were based upon and he took the right view of them. Sorry folks, Alec Guinness was right about Star Wars.
So now we come to the Prequels. And so disgruntled fans, take a gander at this trailer for the old Flash Gordon.
Does it look familiar? Does it ring any bells?
George Lucas took the prequels back to the source material. He quoted them, practically scene for scene this time. And we hated it. Why? For exactly the same reasons, we mistakenly loved the first films. Because we did not remember our own film heritage. FULL STOP.
Lucas took us to MONGO fools! Eat it up.
I don’t believe George Lucas has anything to apologize for these films. If anything we should be apologizing to him. We were the ones who were wrong. That is why Lucas keeps trying to ham up the first ones in order to make us see the connection. But we are only seeing the films through our own faulty memories. Not the same thing at all.
Are any of them good films? Well, I believe The Empire Strikes Back, still tops them all. But I just look at all of them as different variations on the Flash Gordon originals. In Star Wars, we have a Riefenstahl-esque bombastic Fascistic Flash Gordon. In Empire, we have a Gone with the Wind romance Flash Gordon. And in ROTJ and the prequels, we got the real deal. What they were all meant to really be. End of story.
Ending Note: I sometimes wonder what the film world would be like today if Lucas was launched to mega-success by THX1138 instead of Star Wars. Its a shame really that the filmmaker who created that first film was killed by Star Wars. Even now, Lucas has more respect for THX1138 than he does for that mega-monster. The only changes he made to his love child were to give more scope to the sets and add more acting extras. The sex machine and mutated animals are debatable but truthfully don’t change the film’s tone. The Star Wars changes are all about changing the tone.
Well, it is what it is.
In truth, the minute this writer crowed that she would write no more Potter books, I felt it would eventually be proved otherwise.
The eventual is here.
Now, I was a part of this fandom after the crazy release of “Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix”. I watched the fandom, engaged in the debates and watched in horror as the author herself behaved less than diplomatically to parts of her fan base. Unfortunately I do feel that the fandom surrounding this publishing phenomena did have a part in the disaster that was the last two books of the series. Reading those last two books did not feel like the climax of the series but more like axes to grind. As if the author had a check list of which features some of the fans liked (such as a possible romance between Harry and Hermione) that she did not favor and decided to strangle them in the most heinous way possible. Hence the last two books felt tired, straitjacketed and downright ungenerous. Not at all the same spirit in which the series began.
Some in the fandom felt that Rowling had reached a dead end after OOTP and was also exhausted by the nonstop publicity. Which very well could have lead to the blowout in the last books. But I won’t let the author so far off the hook as that.
I think what really disappointed me regarding the series, and turned me off on the whole, was the part in which Harry Potter, the god of love himself, almost murdered another human being, Draco Malfoy and it was treated as no big deal in the books (The Half Blood Prince). There was another part in which Harry was praised as being noble when he engaged in torture. Which frankly flabbergasted me. But, it turned out, those were not the only strangely barbaric world views that this series supported. On hindsight going back into the series there were dozens of these tone deaf, unsympathetic notes in the books. I felt ridiculous for even admiring the series. I remembered once arguing with a book friend that the HP series was special. She dismissed it as a bunch of incoherent silliness. Well, she was right.
The last book was released in the midst of my participation in a mob murder trial. The release of the book was the one bright spot in an otherwise terrible time for me. Fandom was at it’s height and the speculation was white hot. And someone got their hands on a pre-release copy. The writing was so bad, most in fandom refused to believe that this was the real book. I refused to believe that it was as well.
When I received the book from UPS, I opened the box, then opened the book. Low and behold the spoilers had been correct. I just laughed, closed the book and it sat for many months before I even read it. By the time I did, I was quite a different person. I was someone who knew the nastier parts of humanity. And the last book was just puerile, written by a person who was coddled and incapable of understanding the finer motives of the human animal.
I left fandom soon after and never returned.
Now I don’t wish failure on Rowling. Truthfully I hope she has grown as a writer. But I have a feeling the series will be about character assassinations. She was always at her best tearing apart former enemies in print.
One of the jokes in any fandom, is that the reason fans love certain films, books etc is because they are really terrible. There are plot holes, bad acting, bad writing and so forth. The work itself leaves so many gaps in it’s own storyline, that it allows fans to project their own interpretations on to them and in essence, expand on it. I count Carpenter’s The Fog among one of my dubious fandoms.
While the film is not absolutely horrible, it seems lacking in some areas. And yet it is considered an early horror classic. It has bigger intentions at heart, rather than just be a slasher it longs to be a ghost story. While it never reaches the heights of “The Haunting”, it is a nice mesh between late 70’s slasher films and classic ghost stories. The recent remake never even touched the same vein. It was just plain awful.
Since fandom conflates what isn’t there, I’ve done that quite a bit with this film.
First, none of the scenes seems to relate well to one another. The interpersonal connections between the characters seem distant and infused with passive aggression. It is the female characters who are the most angry. The hitchhiker who has that story about being the poor little rich girl runaway, the overly industrious town philanthropist (trying to either avoid her husband or fill in the hours while he avoids her) and her miserable assistant, and finally the DJ who runs her own radio station in an isolated lighthouse. The men stand in as appendages. They have no personal power over the lives of these women. They are used as temporary lovers, sullen spouses, ignored suitors or emasculated clergymen. It is interesting that in this film, it is basically only the men who are attacked by the fog. Up to the end, only a few women are endangered and it is interesting to point out just who those women are….
I believe the film lies in the imagination of one little boy. The film begins with him and his friends camping on the beach. They are listening to the local fisherman/story teller in the person of John Houseman, telling them a ghost story. The elements of all that proceeds is in the fisherman’s story of the lost ship at sea during a fog and how it was doomed by a malicious camp fire. We never hear the end of that story, in fact Houseman’s character pauses for effect then the film cuts away to the opening credits. What was the end? Perhaps a variation of the events in the film.
The young boy is the son of that DJ. While none of their family background is revealed there is a small pan shot of their family photos. They show a happy growing family, then all of sudden there is a shot of the DJ, alone, in front of her new lighthouse radio station. This change feels as if a huge loss has occurred in the lives of Stevie and her son. I don’t think it was a divorce, I had the notion that the husband died. And now the mother and son have decamped to an isolated spot to get over their grief and rest in a place that is not surrounded by memories of the missing father figure. It is within this relationship that reveals all the ambivalent feelings toward the female characters and the men who are menaced by the fog.
The boy is basically alone all the time. While he has friends, he seems to enjoy wandering the beach, near his waterhouse, alone. And when he isn’t picking up driftwood and other lost sea treasures, he is desperately angling for this mother’s attention. When Stevie tells him half jokingly/half exasperatedly that he is a pain, the boy blithely ignores it. So intent he is on having any kind of discussion with her even if it means waking her up early knowing she works the late shift. This is probably the only time he gets to make an impression on her. This is where that distance takes shape in the presence of the feminine. The boy is around 11 years old, not really a child anymore but not yet a teenager. He is probably just coming into awareness of girls and realizes his mother is one as well. And she, like the other females in his life, is a mystery. But she is a figure of authority who seems more absent then present in his world and he feels her loss as aggression. This spreads to the other female characters who seem to have this frenzied handle on life, while their menfolk stand back and watch them longingly. In fact the women don’t need the men in the way the men need the women.
The DJ has a suitor who she keeps fobbing off. I wonder if he was mentioned at all to the boy. Enough that it caused him mental anguish. The mysterious hitchhiker, who I take as a projection of the boy and his longing to escape, picks up with a local precisely because he seems fine with her flighty lifestyle. The philanthropist and her assistant are a rather self contained unit. But the assistant seems to be a stand in for the husband and she is just as annoyed by the philanthropist’s bossiness as the actual husband.
As I mentioned before, the film deviates from the standard horror film convention in that it is the men who are attacked. Which seems to stem from the helplessness of the boy and his fears of abandonment. The first to meet their doom is the husband of the philanthropist and another suitor of the boy’s mother. This man mentions that his younger brother goes to school with the boy, so he is not a stranger. And his crush on the boy’s mother was rather obvious. The philanthropist’s husband also mentions that he likes the boy’s mother. So it is no surprise that their demise is lingered over when the fog arrives. It is also not insignificant that at the same time these murders occur, the boy’s mother can see the fog.
The men who are menaced the least are the two who need women the least. That is local who takes up with the hitchhiker and the town pastor. However, the pastor has a large drinking problem and the local man works long isolated hours as a truck driver. But most importantly, neither of them have an interest in the boy’s mother hence their relative safety throughout the film. These two male characters are almost equal status of the females and have a part in solving the mystery of the fog.
Not so the most determined suitor of Stevie. He meets his end while she is on the phone with him. Again driving home the point that the boy’s Mom is bad luck or off limits. This man seems to have the most in common with the boy. In that the only relationship they have with Stevie is through her phone calls. She is always a disembodied presence to them. The only way for either of them to be near her is to listen to her radio show. Which is strictly a one way medium. Her radio show is filled with sexy banter and jazzy music. This arouses the interest of the weatherman suitor, the boy’s reaction to these shows is not shown.
When we see the boy listen to the radio show, he is always under the care of his elderly babysitter. A jovial woman who acts as a mother stand in and rather too fussy over him. The boy shows a vague annoyance over this by acting distant. The film’s ultimate set piece is when the fog finally comes for him.
The fog surrounds the house, while the mother seeing the fog in the vicinity of her house, screams for anyone to help her son. However she never leaves her post at the radio station which is rather sinister. Instead of the mother being taken by the fog, her stand-in (babysitter), is attacked. The film doesn’t dwell on her death only showing her being pulled into the fog. The boy hides in his bedroom while the ghosts of the fog pull down the door to get to him. He is saved by the truck-driver who is the only good man of the film. Later the boy listens to his mother tell him through the radio that she could not leave her post to save him. I wonder if the sinister element of the mother not protecting her child was symbolized by the driftwood fire. In that scene, the boy’s gift of the driftwood proves to be haunted. It catches fire, while a nearby tape recorder spews out a ghostly voice screaming about a “millstone”. Does the boy believe that he is the millstone around his mother’s neck?
The mythology of the fog ghosts take root from the fisherman’s story. They are haunts from that lost ship who are determined to find the people who led them to their deaths with that false campfire. Again the boy’s mother has another symbol attached to her in that she owns a lighthouse and represents something of a false fire to her many suitors. She plays at being radio coquette but due to her personal loss is really not that interested in the men around her. She is leading them on.
As the film reaches the last attack of the ghosts, they finally reach their destination at the “false fire”, Stevie’s lighthouse. The film spends a lot of time on Stevie being terrorized by the ghosts outside her door but she cannot keep them out. She takes refuge at the pinnacle, the roof of her isolated haven. Only to be horrifically stabbed by one of the ghosts. However unlike the past victims, Stevie really fights back. She pulls the hook she was stabbed with, out of the hands of one of the ghosts and attacks her attackers.
She is only saved when the two male “heroes”, discover the real cause of the fog hauntings. They were after the gold that was stolen from them and the original 6 conspirators who murdered them with that false fire. But again, the victims of the film were not related to the original 6, with the exception of the Pastor, so the ghosts only required 6 random townspeople. We never find out if other people were attacked during this ghostly siege. The film only focuses on the people closest to the boy.
Which only indicates to me that this is all the fevered dream of a boy who listened to too many campfire ghost stories. In this dream, he dealt with his ambivalent feelings toward his mother and her many admirers including himself.
Gnomes gone insane! Honestly, they are so high-strung in the game, I could see them flipping out in this fashion.
Sl has been slowing down for me. I’ve explored, shopped and meticulously tweaked my avatar. I’ve gotten the controls in order. All that is left for me to do is learn how to create items. But I haven’t attended the free classes available.
So I decided to try Warcraft. It immediately hooked into my obsessive traits. Which is bad and good. Bad in that I definitely have to restrict my play time with it. Good in that I’ve enjoyed it immensely, both the gameplay and the graphics. The graphics are far better rendered than SL. Where SL excels in avatar creation, WoW excels in world detail. What is even better is that I already know someone in the game, so it makes the learning curve easier. In SL, I was on my own.
Unlike SL, creating a character is easy in WoW. You only have a few character features to choose from in the initial setup. The avatars are standard fantasy fare in that you can play as human, orc, gnome, dwarf, Undead, Elf, Tauren (kind of like the Minotaur), Dranei (WoW creation) and troll. The game is separated into factions, the Alliance and the Horde. The Horde are the bad guys, simply put. Horde characters are Blood Elf, Orc, Undead, Tauren and Troll. The Alliance are Human, Gnome, Night Elf, Dwarf and Dranei.
The hardest part of the deal is finding a name. Due to the sheer size of this game, it is guaranteed that some other player has already used the name you want. However all is not lost. The game exists on a number of servers. So if you have your heart set on one name, you can try creating your character on another server. The name should be available on one of them. I don’t suggest any names from LOTR. Don’t even try. If you have friends on WoW, you must get the name of the server they play on. If you don’t, your character will not be able to team with your friend’s character. The next thing to consider with servers is what type of game that you want to play. WoW encourages group play no matter what server you pick whether it is “Player Vs. Player” or Player Vs. Environment”. In PvP servers, you are open to attack from other players almost from the get go. Normal or PvE servers give you some protection (Normal is always protected but it can trick you into PvP for a few minutes).
Group play is encouraged and really required on many quests. So if you are shy, tough luck. You have to start teaming with other players once you reach at least level 7 and beyond. The quests in higher levels are set up so that you are attacked by teams of enemies. They can’t be completed without help. It is possible, but you would have to spend a lot of time leveling up your character with kills or exploring new territory so that he/she is stronger than the enemies. But I think it would still be easier to fight with friends.
The most frustrating part of the game I find so far is that there is never enough money. Your armor takes a lot of beating. It constantly needs repair. So running out of money is always a concern. Although since now I’m learning trades it isn’t so bad. But if you have nothing in the wallet, it makes the game harder.
Those are the basics, which I’m still learning. I haven’t even attempted anything else advanced as of yet. I play strictly Horde characters. No alliance for me. ;P
One of the best discoveries I made when entering fandom were fanvids, music videos created by fans. This one is very lovely.
And the original Coppola film clip.