Jurassic World… yeah.

This film had one job, and that was to be better than The Lost World and Jurassic Park 3. It achieved this feat, but that isn’t the most challenging thing to do. I certainly wasn’t expecting the film to be better than Jurassic Park, and why people thought it would be or used that as a measuring stick makes zero sense to me.

The only way for Jurassic World would have been better than Jurassic Park is if you invented a time machine and released that film first; and even then I wonder.

Was Jurassic World a bad film? No, it was fun. Was it a good film? No, it was not, and it isn’t because of the plot or the super 2-D characters or the fact that Claire is the fall guy whom the audience doesn’t care at all about; my beef with this movie is one thing:

The references

It’s fun when a sequel or a remake does this, the nod to the previous entry or the first film, but when you nod so much that we begin to worry that you’re having a seizure, that’s when it’s a problem. We get the Mr. DNA, great, that’s something everyone wanted. Then you get the guy wearing the t-shirt from the original park design and getting called out for it, even though it’s the same design that’s plastered everywhere in the park. Okay, that’s funnyish, but kinda hypocritical.

Then you get the t-rex feeding scene from the first film, a goat on a chain, and a flare, and it all goes downhill from there.

This movie was pointing and shouting so hard at the first film to make sure we understood that it is not trying to be the previous two entries in the franchise that it began to resemble a five year-old child throwing a fit. It even took us to the original visitors center that had working goggles and Jeeps! We get it! You are not the other films, can we please move on?

When your movie is constantly doing this sort of thing it’s relying on the past nostalgia of the returning audience of the previous three films to go, “Oh yeah, I loved the flare thing!” and make the new comers go, “This must be important so how, but why? Better go watch the other movies.” The film isn’t standing on it’s own at this point, it’s leaning heavily on the foundation of the original film. Yes, The Lost World and JP3 did it too, but it was the singular nod, the one you’re used to seeing in a franchise film series because it is neat to revisit the places that blew your mind the first time.

This becomes an issue when the filmmakers don’t try to make new mind blowing scenes in the sequels.

Think about it like this, the riveting part in JPW is when the Indo-rex, t-rex, and velociraptor are duking it out, but even then it doesn’t stick with us after the fight is over. Why? Because the human characters are not really threatened here, they move around the fight, but t-rex is their friend here and is defending their honor.

JP3, the parasailing part was neat, but it’s a chase scene and it didn’t have a point of focus for the audience to grab on to and remember.

TLW had the velociraptors and they were being all velociraptoriee, hiding in the tall grass, pouncing, but the memorable scene in the compound on the island ninja-ruled these guys. They were laughable, which isn’t something you want associated with your monster.

None of these scenes stick with us because we are not allowed to be held in wonder, we are told that this is the exciting part!

Then you go to Jurassic Park, the power goes down, the tour stops in front of the t-rex cage, power will come back on surely? Then you get the rumble, then you see water move, then you begin to doubt. Then comes the flare and the potty humor and everything else we remember about that scene. It sticks with us because of the build up, even later on in the kitchen with the velociraptors, the build up matters; and this isn’t a build up of action but rather a build of tension. The action is the release of the tension, and for some reason filmmakers have forgotten that this is the case. Action can build up but it needs to go somewhere else for the audience, to a pause, to a moment, but instead we are drowned in meh-action. There used to be a moment in a movie when the action was over and you felt relieved, like you had just chewed the most refreshing gum ever, but I haven’t had that feeling in a long time.

I never truly felt that spearmint feeling in Jurassic World. This movie was throwing so much action at the screen, but none of it registered because there was no build up, there weren’t any stakes. As soon as the first ethnic guy and fat guy were eaten, I knew none of the main characters were in danger, unless they were ethnic. That lack of fear is a killer in an action film, even though we know most of the time the heroes won’t die, we still need a holy shit moment with them in order to make us care a little.

This isn’t to say that it is all doom and gloom here. The hidden gem, the treasure of this film, was one man:

BD Wong Jurassic World1

 

B.D. Wong saved this movie for me because of his spot on performance as Val Kilmer. This isn’t a knock in any way, shape, or form; his mannerisms, the way he talked, it was eerie! If you think I am being a dick, I am not, and if you think I am talking crazy then re-watch his scenes and tell me you are not seeing 90’s Kilmer!

Overall, it was fun, but I found the experience to be a little hollow. Of course, it’s made over 200 million, so who the hell am I, right? I recommend you check it out because I want you to form your own opinion, and it can be in direct conflict with mine here, that’s your call.

But, I think we can all agree that B.D. Wong needs more feature films.

Controlled chaos

When it comes to writing you’ll find that it’s much like a science experiment. You try to get a certain result, but you will probably wind up with something else all together awesome; like Silly Putty.

You have to play around with words. Try them in a certain order, fashion, or style. Writing is playing, but it isn’t like going outside and playing on the swings, it’s more like sitting in a dank basement with a really dull blade and a grinding wheel. No, there isn’t a Gimp in a box nearby or anything (of course I can’t vouch for your mind basement to confirm this), and while that may sound like a terrible place to work, it’s probably the best environment for myself.

This is something you’ll hear from every writer out there: Writing is hard work. There are reasons why we are the most creative procrastinators out there and that’s because we like to do other things, but we must write. I know for myself if I haven’t written in a week I become very pedantic, like a madman wandering a manor overlooking a lake, I ponder my existence with a glass of brandy in a room full of mounted heads.

It is a controlled chaos, a mild form of insanity that is treated when we plug our asses to the chair and inject our fingers into the keys to form the words you are now reading.

To sum this up, I’m back, I have a schedule, and you will have something to read, hear, and sometimes watch.

Stay tuned!

Writing tips: Blogging in chunks

When you start to write a blog, don’t try to do it in chunks, try to get it done in a single day. Blogs are not like a book where you can take multiple turns at it. You have to attack it and get it done or else you wind up losing steam, losing thoughts, and eventually you can’t remember why you were so intent on writing that piece titled: How you are being judged constantly by strangers you’ll never meet.

Which is why this blog is so short.

Swords suck

Now, before you get your tights in a bunch, this article is based 100% off of my opinions and contains facts to back up what I am saying.

So suck it.

You see, swords are very hard to make, even today they are difficult to actually pull off correctly. They take time to make, which brings me to my first point.

Swords are a time sink

A blacksmith makes money from the objects they make. This is a shocking revelation, I know, so if you can make two double headed axes and three single headed axes in the same time it would take you to make a single sword, which would you pour your time into?

It’s simple economics. A sword is built for a single purpose and that’s to kill people. You don’t go hunting with it, dig ditches with it or cut down tress. Thing is though, you can kill someone with a bow, axe or shovel in the same manner as a sword and you will have save a bunch of money. Which leads us to…

Swords were (and still are) expensive

A sword today costs around $120 and up per pop for the ones that are worth a damn. You have your job, that hopefully pays around $15/hr, and you think that is expensive, but try seeing that price point and make around $.06/day. Now that looks freaking impossible, right?

Well, that’s about on par with how people back in the days before guns felt about swords. They were reserved for the elite fighter in a military or for those of a high caste. Point is this, you either knew how to use the damn thing or you were a inbred douche. Even if you were in the military back in those days, you didn’t get a sword most of the time, you usually just got a pointy stick.

Yeah, swords were made primarily for assholes. Which leads me to my last point…

They are high maintenance, like the people who own them

Swords require a finicky mother’s worth of attention in order to keep them looking and working correctly. Guns today, even the cheapest ones, require less maintenance. If you don’t keep a sword oiled it will rust, not just a light rust mind you, but like an avocado level of rust where it is fine one moment but then suddenly becomes a squishy mound of crap.

This rust can happen from just touching the blade. Yeah, super cool.

Most likely you won’t actually see these swords in this condition because the people who own them usually take good care of them. They maintain these pieces in a room, filled with enough swords and sharp pointy objects that even Clive Barker would go, “Whoa!”

But don’t you point out their obsession to them and how it has destroyed the last three relationships they’ve had or the fact that their hair is longer than your sisters. Don’t point this out to them, because they will get offended, they will storm off, and they will polish their sword collection with a fiery rage.

Wait, I take that back, tell them everything.

To sum it up

Swords have a long and proud tradition in the history of the world. They have contests today built specifically for fencing, and my personal favorite, claymore/double handed sword fighting; which has recently made a comeback from 800 years of being out of the spotlight.

Swords suck simply because they are overused, cliché, and frankly I’m tried of people going nuts or on and on about them in books or in real life. What I said above is true, maybe with a bit of an exaggeration toward the last part of point 3. In all seriousness, stop having every character use these damn things in the stories you write as if everyone had one back in the time of typhoid.

First Line Stories

The opening lines of a book are always the most important, but what if that’s all there was?

During lunch at work, I had a thought, a dangerous game to play, but I wondered what would happen if I strung together a bunch of first sentences? Could I make a story out them?

Here is the first batch, if people enjoy this, I am going to be tempted to make more.

 

Title: The Flames Of Our Love

Author: Chris Hanson

First line: “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. It was a pleasure to burn. It was love at first sight.”

Analysis: I think what Mr. Hanson is trying to do here is encapsulate the forbidden love he’s always held in his heart. For whom, we’ll never know.

 

Title: My Life, My, Words… My Story.

Author: Christopher Walken

First line: “Call me Ishmael. I am a sick man… I am a spiteful man. In a sense, I am Jacob Horner.”

Analysis: I… don’t know what Mr. Walken was trying to say here, but he writes with such conviction that I just can’t look away.

 

That’s about it for now! If you enjoyed this, I will do more, but please tell me so over Twitter!

Citations

-Lolita, Fahrenheit 451, Catch-22

-Moby Dick, Notes From Underground, The End Of The Road

Rocket Bikes & Shooting E.T.- Destiny

I have a freaking hover bike, it’s called a Sparrow, and I can do wicked cool jumps in it. I ride this vehicle across the surface of Venus and find a pack of Fallen soldiers, aliens that look like an evil Jiminy Cricket. I take out my scout rifle, throw a grenade, and attack the group after leaping off of my Sparrow. Among them is a floating eye ball that is pimp purple, I shoot it, destroy it, and retake the ancient library.

Killer Robot , the 3rd
Lord Killer Robot , the 3rd

Destiny is fun, pure and simple. Sure, it has it’s problems, the grind can be a bit tedious, the story is thin, and enemy variety is a bit low as well. None of these complaints override the fact that this game is just fun to play and none of them touch the best part of Destiny; and that’s the lore of its world.

In the fantasy future that is Destiny, the solar system is screwed and only the guardians, powered by The Traveler, can take back what was destroyed. You find as you play that there is something larger than yourself at play here, the snippets of the story just grazing past you reinforce this notion, but that is done in order to show you that while you are important you are not the savior of the universe. Master Chief type singular heroes are something that gamers have gotten used to, and that isn’t the case here.

In Destiny, you are a part of a legion of guardians who are honing their skills to take on The Darkness. Of course you are not going to feel special, you’re not supposed to as there are millions of players out there doing the same stuff as you.

The problem with most MMO’s is that the storyline tries so hard to make you feel like the hero of the story and it’s really not needed because it feels contrived over time since everyone is this same savior for the same village. When you do something in Destiny, it feels like a footnote in a much grander story. You are a grunt doing grunt work and that’s the long and the short of it for now.

If there is one thing I have noticed with the bitching surrounding this game its that it didn’t live up to the potential of the marketing. I will say that the marketing really was too much for this title as it built it up too much in the minds of the players. What should have been used is the idea of lore, legend, and forging forward. If the marketing was more intimate, it would have made the game feel much larger when the players finally logged in for the first time.

Although, I did enjoy this one.
Although, I did enjoy this one.

 

If you can’t deal with the game for whatever reason, then don’t play it. If there is one thing I hate it’s those who preach ‘The End is Nigh’ on launch day. Giving games time to improve is something that is seen as a weakness, and this is a title that was built from the ground up to be upgraded over time, rather than be a single experience that is buggy as hell.

This title on the other hand...
This title on the other hand…

 

This game will last 10 years, and it is ripe for some awesome experiences and change over the course of that time. I look forward to playing with my friends in this place and seeing where my rocket bike will take me. If you want to come along for the ride, do so, but if you’re going to bellyache from the sidelines then please just shut up about it.

TLDR; Haters gonna hate, but I don’t give a damn because I have a rocket bike!

Counter-Strike- An Anthropological Observation

Counter-Strike- Ritutals

 

I have been playing Counter-Strike since it was in beta.

I’ll never forget playing match after match during Thanksgiving when I was a kid, sneaking time on the PC between meals, and I am amazed that I am still playing it today. It’s a strange game because in the world of the “modern” FPS (First Person Shooter) it’s a bit of an old-timey thing. You don’t have regenerative health, you have to buy your weapons every round (If you don’t die), and the weapons are completely the same for everyone (minus their looks that now include stickers, making your AK-47 into the adult version of a Trapper Keeper).

It’s weird to say it, because most gaming websites and web comics have made fun of it so much, but it’s a very skill based game. At it’s core, you have to be good at CS or else you just get stomped. Sure, there are auto-win guns *cough AWP/Auto cough* but even these take a bit of skill to use and they can be countered easily; and there is nothing like outfoxing an AWPer. Sitting there, waiting, mentally stroking their ego as they compare themselves to Tom Berenger’s character from the Sniper movies, only to be blind sided during the climax by a load of buckshot to the face.

There will be rage, in chat or in voice, but you have won. You did this. You two met in a digital space and you won, be it blind luck or skill, regardless, you are the victor. There isn’t any additional gameplay mechanics helping you. There isn’t anything but yourself and your ping between victory or defeat.

If any of you have wondered why this game has been around for fifteen years, it’s because of that fact.

At one point I got sick of CS and stopped playing. I even joined the boat of haters for a bit. Then a friend got me back into it and I haven’t regretted a minute since. Yes, this game has the nut-jobs, the twitchy-overly-racist 10 year-olds, but it also has some of the best game mechanics out there by not giving a lot of help to the player. In a world filled with hand-holding games, this isn’t one of them, and it’s a trial by fire, love-it-or-hate-it, kind of game.

Counter-Strike is a strange place, filled with strange people, some terrible, some hilarious, and it’s because of this bizarre mixture that is continues to thrive. It’s a game that is both beloved and reviled for the same reason: If you suck, it’s just you being terrible, so stop it. Not many people can deal with the starkness of that statement in real life, and in gaming this goes doubly so.

To conclude, I’m not saying it’s the best game ever, but it certainly has it’s merits; and if you hate it because of whatever reason I have one thing to say. Stop being bad.

Why Doughnuts Are Awesome

I had this very clever article and I wrote it three times and I said, “You know what, this sucks, and I am going to talk about doughnuts instead because I am an adult and I fucking love doughnuts.”

Is there anything that is more precisely perfect than a well made doughnut? The answer is no, there isn’t. Not your children, not your relationships, nothing is as perfect as a well made doughnut… if it was made by Jesus, then it would truly be perfect.

Then one must ask themselves if Jesus is any good at making them? I mean he is really good at making wine and fish and bread and coming back from the dead, but doughnuts are more finicky. If you make them too light they are like bags of air, too dense, and they sit like a brick in your stomach. We all have our different tastes but we all can agree that they are awesome. Even with this universal agreement the question must be asked: Why are they awesome?

It is a question that philosophers and scientists have pondered upon for eons. To try to apply any form of logic to the awesome that is the doughnut is to try to put a face to God, it just doesn’t work out. I mean look at the paintings in which God featured, he always looks just a bit off, like he’s annoyed for the fact that he’s always wearing a beard.

I am going to attempt to answer this very question.

Doughnuts are awesome because they contain the most peaceful substance in the universe: Joy. Doughnuts are made of pure joy. That isn’t to say the person making them is filled with pure joy as they are usually filled with two cups of coffee and a slug of gin at 3 AM, but what they are making is going to bring joy to the world. How do you prove that joy exists inside of these fried pieces of dough?

I support my hypothesis with evidence.

Just watch someone open a box of doughnuts and watch a grin, smirk, smile, and a flash of happiness appear on their face. It takes them back to another place, another time, and it allows them that moment of escape in their mind. No one frowns at the sight of a doughnut box and if they do frown then clearly they are insane and shouldn’t be spoken to at all; for fear that they will steal your soul.

Doughnuts should be dropped on to war zones instead of pamphlets. Peace in the Middle East, (which is it really the Middle of the East?) just bring a dozen doughnuts to the table and state that no one can have one until they agree to terms.

Peace, boom, done, and all because of doughnuts.

No one can resist the joy that emanates off of a doughnut; no one except for vegans and those who cannot digest gluten and lactose intolerant people and the Amish.

Why are doughnuts awesome? They just are and if you take the last sprinkle I will cut you.