The Evil HR Lady has an awesome article in which she comes up with an application for employers. This wouldn’t go very far in real life as-is, but next time I plan on moving on to a new position, I’m going to create one of these. I already have a spreadsheet with important details that I get out of potential employers over the course of the interview process, but this would speed things up.
November 19, 2013
October 24, 2013
Everybody knows, by now, that the original three Star Wars movie range from fantastic (Empire Strikes Back) to pretty tolerable (Return of the Jedi, although I like that one a little more than most). Everybody also knows (not entirely justly) that the prequels are terrible.
I am here to blow your mind: the prequels are not bad movies. They are poorly executed, but not bad. If you ask the average person why they hate the prequels, you will get one response: Jar-Jar.
Jar-Jar was an incredibly stupid idea, and almost single handedly cripples the first movie. Yet he’s barely present in the second and third movie, so that can’t be enough.
Maybe it’s Darth Vader going “Noooooooooooo?” That might kill the third movie, but not the second one.
The second one has a stupid title, but other than that it’s pretty solid.
Here, I’m going to give you the top five reasons the prequels aren’t great (but still very watchable.)
5. Jar-Jar. Goes without saying. Ostensibly created to appeal to kids, yet I don’t even think kids like him. That he’s the one that votes the Emperor into power is almost — almost — enough to redeem him. Almost.
4. The original movies were really awesome. This can’t be overstated: nobody would get so worked up about the prequels if the originals weren’t damn fine movies.
3. The early death of Qui Gon Jinn. I thought about putting Darth Maul here, but we got Christopher Lee as a bad guy for the second movie, which is a serious upgrade. Qui Gon Jinn was almost as awesome, but I really think we should have had a flashback or two in the later movies — they did it with Obi-Wan, why not Qui Gon?
2. Spoiler alert, assholes. If you haven’t seen the original Star Wars movies, the prequels will ruin 90% of the major plot twists. It isn’t subtle, either. For all the problems “Nooooooooo” gets, I have two words that should have definitely been left out of Revenge of the Sith: the names of Padme’s kids. This should absolutely have been left off camera. I, somehow, saw the original movies without having perhaps the single biggest plot twist ruined; if you watch the prequels, I think that scene in Empire Strikes Back is ruined. Not entirely, but weakened.
1. Hayden Christensen. Take a look at his IMDB page. I have seen exactly one other movie on that list: Shattered Glass, which I saw (ironically enough) on the way home from Russia in 2004. It’s an okay movie, and he’s okay in it. Here’s the problem, though: Hayden Christensen got the mother of all roles to launch him to stardom: Anakin Skywalker. Look at the original movies: the only person in the main cast who wasn’t given a hefty boost to their career was Carrie Fisher, mostly because she because of cocaine.
The prequels have a fantastic cast. Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, and Christopher Lee were all superb choices. I still can’t believe Ian McDiamrid wasn’t the Emperor from the first three films. If anybody’s career was launched to the moon from the prequels, it was probably Natalie Portman, who became a household name thanks to these movies. Yet there’s a problem.
The original Star Wars movies were ensemble pictures. Han Solo and Luke Skywalker are the major heroes, obviously, but lots of other characters play critical roles in the story line for brief periods. It’s about the struggle between the Empire and the Rebellion, not just between say, Luke and Vader or Han Solo and authority. To a certain extent, this is true about the first prequel, too. You have several people sharing the main role, including Obi Wan, Qui Gon, Padme, and even Jar-Jar.
However, the second and third movies should, absolutely, have been Anakin Skywalker’s movies, front and center, no doubt about it. He is the single most important character, and for whatever reason, they made a terrible choice. Christensen’s acting feels wooden and forced. Yes, Anakin is a conflicted teenager, but that shouldn’t be literally his only emotion. At no point does he dominate the scene. He has no presence.
It’s worse when he’s paired with people like Christopher Lee, who completely engulfs him. Christopher Lee is that kind of actor — he either raises your game or completely demolishes you. I took Yoda 100x more seriously when he fought Christopher Lee. I took Anakin less seriously.
If the second and third movies are to be fantastic films, Anakin has to be the person worth watching. He isn’t. He’s just… there. His one flash of greatness was when he goes to the Jedi Temple. The purposeful stride, the complete lack of remorse — that was a compelling moment. The moment dies when he reverts to whiny teenager mode again. The battle between Obi Wan and Anakin at the end of the third movie — which should be the highlight of the prequels — isn’t. It isn’t Obi Wan’s fault. It’s Anakin’s.
So, there you are. If I could do one thing to those movies, it would not be erasing Jar-Jar. It would be erasing Anakin.
August 9, 2013
Since I zinged Kevin with a comic earlier, here’s one on me:
I didn’t actually get the joke until I looked it up. (No clicking until you’ve tried to work it out for yourself!)
July 16, 2013
As mentioned, I recently finished Bioshock Infinite. I’ve seen a lot of reviews call either it or the Last of Us the “best game of this generation”, no doubt referring to the PS4/XBone (yes, I’m going there, like everyone else) coming up this holiday season. It’s been seven years and eight years since the PS3 and XBox 360 were released, respectively. Is Bioshock Infinite the very best game in that span?
I’m not sure. There are certainly other games I personally have enjoyed (not the least of which is the original Bioshock). I’ve decided to do a top ten list and, after a break, will discuss why I’ve placed Bioshock Infinite where I have. Console games only; I’m leaving off sports games, even though I play them a lot, simply because they belong in a class of their own.
Honorable mentions: Saints Row 2 (didn’t want two games on the list in the series), Worms, Lemmings (same company, nice HD remakes), God of War series (fun for a few days, but little staying power), Star Wars: Force Unleashed (huge fun, if sometimes frustrating; both are worth picking up), Dead Rising 2 (which I got for free!), Heavy Rain (good for a playthrough or two, but the actual gameplay kind of sucks) the original Bioshock (if I had a top 11, this would be #11)
10. LA: Noire — The first of three Rockstar games. Heavy Rain had a better story, GTA IV had better gameplay, but LA: Noire is a great mix of the two and deserves to go in the middle. Also, my first platinum trophy!
9. GTA IV (plus expansions) — If I’d never played Saints Row, I’d never know what I was missing. Gritty, realistic gunplay, but GTA just takes itself a bit too seriously these days. Niko didn’t connect with me as a character, the way Cole Phelps or John Marsten did.
8. Saints Row 3 — I don’t know if I’ve ever had more fun playing a game, just pure unadulterated fun, than when I’ve played this series. The side missions in 3 were just plain better (Insurance Fraud is a personal favorite, and it’s done better in 3).
7. inFamous/inFamous 2 — Brilliant games, both of them. Gripping story, great gameplay (I’ve personally beaten inFamous some five times). Gameplay is much better in the second, which has a tighter feel.
6. Arkham Asylum/Arkham City — I’d have platinums on both if not for the challenges. You feel like Batman, and there is no way that can possibly be a bad thing. Good use of villains from all over the rogue’s gallery, not just the memorable ones.
5. The Uncharted series — If not for the uber-zombies in the first two games, it’d probably be top three. Great balance of gameplay and story, all the characters are likeable, surprisingly light and funny.
4. The Assassin’s Creed series — As a whole, the Assassin’s Creed series couples a superb storyline, with actual historical research, that spans a long time. It does stealth better than just about any other game apart from the Deus Ex series. (I’d say it’s just ahead of Metal Gear Solid 4 — too many gadgets — and on par with the Thief Series). Combat is fluid and satisfying. A lot of excellent characters and tremendous replay value. As a series, it may be one of the best in gaming, at least to me. Assassin’s Creed III drags down the average a tiny bit, with lots of bugs and a thoroughly unlikeable main character. (On the flipside, it has the best combat in the series). The block puzzles in Revelations were stupid, too.
3. Metal Gear Solid 4 — For a long time, this was my favorite PS3 game ever. The entire Metal Gear Solid series is terrific (note that I’ve not played the most recent one or MGS3, but I have seen the entirety of MGS3 over a spring break with another person playing) and 4 is the best of it. It’s the oldest game on this list, and I sadly don’t have a copy right now, but it was pure genius.
2. Red Dead Redemption (+ Undead Nightmare) — Westerns don’t get a lot of love these days. (The remake of True Grit was superb and a worthy exception.) Only the criminally underrated Gun springs to mind among video games (along with Red Dead Revolver, which I’ve never played). A great central character, awesome supporting cast, breathtaking score. Good balance between being challenging but not impossible. Undead Nightmare was a fun little addition, too, well worth the extra cash.
1. Bioshock Infinite — More after the break, but for now, better in every respect than the original. Elizabeth may be the single most captivating character ever brought to a video game screen. As a single game, Bioshock Infinite is better than any one installment of Assassin’s Creed. If I were to rehash my favorite games of all time (and didn’t have series on it), I’m not sure any Assassin’s Creed would appear apart from possibly Assassin’s Creed II. Bioshock Infinite would. Ultimately, the question I asked was “Greatest Game”, and so I have to make Bioshock Infinite #1.
Warning: Ahead there be spoilers. I’m going to be talking about Bioshock Infinite’s plot, including the ending and how it connects to Bioshock the original. Seriously. Don’t click more if you don’t want to know or don’t already know.
June 3, 2013
April 9, 2013
Anthropogenic global warming is dead. Time for money-grubbing politicians, scientists, and institutes to latch onto a new wacky theory.
February 7, 2013
So it looks like the
global warming climate change hullaboo is petering out. Rent-seeking pseudo-scientists will need a new cause to cling to in the hopes of one day having a house as big as Al Gore’s and selling out to a petro-monarchy.
February 4, 2013
In one city, a man who saved a child from a pack of attacking dogs (by shooting the dogs) may end up going to jail for violating gun laws (though presumably not the same one that David Broder violated). In another part of the country, the sheriff notes that police are not capable of handling all of the problems in a timely manner and wants armed citizens.
Which of these two areas is likely to be safer?
January 28, 2013
January 24, 2013
I’ve joked about doing this before: hire somebody to do my job for 20% of the price and then pocket the rest.
The one part of this which surprised me was the discussion about how clean the guy’s code was. Normally, when you outsource development, the end result is a horrible mish-mash of copy-pasted garbage. So whoever this guy hired apparently did a great job.