December 9, 2011


I had a day off! What did I do with that time?

Uh, I watched way too much Yu-Gi-Oh GX.

Look, it’s not my fault, okay? (It’s totally my fault.) I just realized that they have every single episode of every single Yu-Gi-Oh series on Hulu. What else was I supposed to do? Play good video games? Nap? Enjoy my free time? I mean, come on.

But yeah, I mean, I watched a lot of this show in my youth, more than I care to admit, and going back to it, man, it is way worse than even I remembered. And I remembered it being really quite bad! Even if it is absolutely flawless.

I just can’t get over the voice actors on this show. When fans who aren’t getting paid but are making fun of your show do more acting, put more emotion, and just generally give more of a shit than your voice actors, you have a problem. I mean, so many lines just seem like the people reading them had no direction at all. They didn’t know if there were other characters around, or what they were saying right beforehand, or anything. This is especially true for anyone who is not a main character, who could be reading a grocery list for how much energy they put into their lines. I mean, I get it. This show is STUPID. But the characters think what’s going on is important, and fuck it, you’re getting paid to pretend, you can at least pretend, you know?

In addition, the choices the translators are making are just… what? What? I remember an episode where they replaced Sake and drinking with “Hot Sauce.” That makes sense, even if it’s stupid. Don’t want kids knowing about drinking, I guess. But I recently watched a dumb episode. It was called something like “Curry Worry.” But during the episode itself, they never say curry. They say “pot roast.” What the fuck? That clearly is not a pot roast on the screen! Plus, I mean, kids today very well COULD know what curry is! Or if they don’t, maybe you can expand their pallet a little bit by making them want to try it. It’s not like curry is some vice or something. What the hell?

Finally, the way the game treats its own rules is just really annoying. Sometimes the rule where destroying a creature in defense mode doesn’t deal damage works, but sometimes it doesn’t. I swear a lot of the time the main characters are just pulling extra cards out of nowhere that they don’t have, which is weird, because they do try to cover refilling people’s hands by having them play Pot of Greed and Graceful Charity quite often. At least, unlike in the original Yu-gi-oh, there’s much less of “card has an ability that makes no goddamn sense and would never exist” a la the Catapult Turtle Gambit. They’re just playing cards that very well could exist, but are so situational as to make a normal, sane player of this game never run them. But of course, Yu-Gi-Oh characters can pull whatever card they want out of their deck at will, so those cards then become very powerful. But whatever. At least I could see an actual, physical playing card having that rules text more often than not.

All that said, I watched like 4 and a half hours of it today, and will probably continue to watch it for awhile. I am such a sucker to a world where things are resolved through card games. Even when everything is fucking terrible about it.

October 10, 2011

Internet Television…!

I know you all were scared, but you didn’t have to worry. I remembered what I wanted to talk about. The Roku!

I bought my parents a Roku a long time ago because I thought it would be a simple thing they could use to stream Netflix, and that my mom might like that. She used it a bit, certainly, and watched some TV shows. It was nice. Fast forward to the Netflix price hike, though, and my parents just totally killed their Netflix all together. Thus, the Roku was unused. So I basically stole it. Then I hooked it up in my room just because.

Roku is awesome.

It took me like 2 minutes to download the Giant Bomb channel and start streaming Whiskey Media stuff onto my TV. Somehow this damn thing streams better than my iPad does when I hook up a direct feed. It’s awesome. It’s magical. It’s exactly what I’d rather be watching in bed anyway!

In a few more minutes of fiddling, I had Tested on there, and Crunchyroll if I am desperate for an anime, and what’s best, Amazon Prime Video Streaming. I knew I had Prime Video Streaming, since I have and love Prime, but I never used it. However, damn, Roku makes it easy and a fun idea. I watched some Next Gen with little effort. Huzzah!

The only thing that’s been a complete disappointment so far is They say they have a Roku channel, and frankly, that would be great. How awesome would it be to be able to easily stream, I dunno, the latest Chip and Ironicus Let’s Play? Super awesome. That’s how awesome. But instead all you can watch is their “official” shows. I watch a TON of shit on, but nothing I watch is one of their “official” titles, so I can’t stream it. Obscenely stupid.

Really, the entire experience is just polished. It could be better with a keyboard, or a search in the channel store, or a slightly faster processor and/or RAM to get in and out of menus quickly. It also could really use a way for me to stream stuff from my PC: if I can get a 3 dollar app that does that to my iPad flawlessly, there has to be a way for me to do it on a Roku that isn’t a pain. That’s just about it, though. It’s just a damn good little device. It was totally worth what I paid for it. I now wonder if I’m going to have to buy a SECOND one for my house, so I can have one in the living room and one in the bedroom. I suppose we’ll see how much I use it. But I am enjoying it for now! Buy a fucking Roku and stream some shit too, hm?

September 15, 2011

In Which I (Badly) Complain About Doctor Who And River Song For Awhile

River Song is a waste of a good idea.

I dunno, I just have to say this, because it frustrates me. So much of Dr. Who is so much better now that Russel T. Davies is gone, but at the same time, they’ve done so much shit. The show is so great, but they just tend to forget where the line is for creating entertaining cheesyness and real, terrible cheesyness. They do great work, and then cross the line and ruin the work they’ve done.

River Song is just such a great example of this. Current season spoilers coming, of course, so, you know, if you’re not caught up, don’t read.

When River first appeared, she was a great idea for a character. Being from the Doctor’s future, she was the first character who truly had something up on him, and could put the Doctor off=guard. You could see the Doctor react to that. It bothered the shit out of him, which was perfect. He was threatened in a whole different way. It was the sort of thing that you could get some character development out of the Doctor from, which is hard to do with a character like the Doctor. I was down.

Then she came back for another episode, which was fine. Sure! Why not? More Angels and shit. She’s still mysterious and a problem for the Doctor. I can dig it.
Then she came back again.
And again.

At this point, the mystery of her was wore out. She was just this person that the Doctor was supposed to be in love with. But there were no sparks between them. That was kind of a problem. Still, I was okay with it. Then there was this pirate episode that disgusted me so much I kind of gave up on the season.

Coming back, I got caught up with what had happened. And what had happened was bullshit. Apparently River Song is Rory and Amy’s daughter for no reason, and she’s also part Time Lord for no reason, and she’s also an assassin for no reason. I watched the episode “Let’s Kill Hitler” and I shook my head. They were flushing her character, and all the good she brought to the show, down the toilet for some really, really stupid plot twists out of nowhere.

I see it again and again from the show, and it frustrates me. It’s like they don’t know what they’re doing. I think the problem is a George Lucas kind of problem, where they worry that they need to make a show that kids will like, instead of just worrying about making something good that kids can watch. Whatever it is, I wish they’d stop it. They’re obviously capable of making some super-fun, super-interesting television. I wish they’d just do it.

August 17, 2011

Completely Normal, But Of Course.

I never watch television, but sometimes something comes into my field of vision and then I watch it. All the nice IRC people who originally got me to take the Pony Plunge and really fall in love with Friendship is Magic pulled me into another viewing party the other night, and showed me something called Regular Show. I had vaguely heard of this, but I knew nothing about it. However, just watching a few episodes with them made me fall in love. I watched basically everything else there was. It’s a pretty fantastic show.

Here, experience it for yourself.

Nothing about it is particularly like… laugh out loud hilarious? But there’s just a level of insanity that somehow is completely logical in the setting, and a pushing of what you can show in a TV PG show, that just makes it quite enjoyable. I mean, just take a look at the first episode. There’s absolutely no explanation of anything, really. This episode could appear anywhere in the show’s run. Yet you never really feel like you don’t have a grasp of what’s going on. The characters are so realistic to how people act, but yet they’re in a world that’s just fucked up. That’s pretty cool to me.

The show is very formulaic in a way. Something completely mundane or not sensible happens, and eventually some sort of supernatural or otherwise thing is born from this scenario, and the cast has to stop it. I can see the formula, but at the same time, it’s still surprising each time. Because everything is so disconnected from the logic of our reality, you’re never sure exactly what kind of monster they’re going to be facing. Yet, again, somehow it all makes some sort of sense. It’s pretty amazing.

I also just like how much it pushes the boundaries. The characters are obviously getting drunk fairly often, and there’s pretty clear sexual references, though just not explicitly. It just feels like a show that, if you added a few more cuss words to it, would probably stand up just fine on Adult Swim. It’s cool. Give it a watch.

July 14, 2011

Also, His Face Is Photoshopped Onto Every Protagonist

I have been watching Game Center CX a lot with Brer recently. It’s been fun times. However, it did get me thinking a little bit about why I’m willing to watch what’s basically a Let’s Play in Japanese about games I don’t care about when there’s so much quality Let’s Play entertainment out on the internet right now.

Earlier today, though, I feel like I finally figured it out.

You see, your normal let’s plays fall into some categories. You have people who are Let’s Playing things because that’s what you do, and those are awful and terrible and you shouldn’t watch them. You have people who are using Let’s Playing as a medium for humor, jokes, and entertainment. Those are the ones you should watch.

Game Center CX is none of those things. It doesn’t feel scripted, of course, but it also doesn’t feel forced. Arino is fucking genuine in everything he does. He is not great at games, but you can tell he has a passion for them. When he does things like read the dialog that’s on the screen out loud, it really feels like he’d probably be doing that, even if the cameras weren’t running. He’s a nice guy playing hard games. You want him to succeed.

It’s this genuine nature around Arino that makes it different than any other LP I’ve watched. Let’s Plays where people are dying over and over again and cussing games out and whatnot are kind of boring, and one-trick ponies. You don’t give a shit about the suffering, you know? (Unless, I dunno, it’s a dude I like like Brickroad dying all the time on Bomb-omb Battlefield.) With Arino, you do. You want him to win. You know he’s a nice guy who deserves to win. I mean, he’s willing to sit there and try for hours and hours for this show. He wants to enjoy and finish these games. He’s so charming, you feel for him.

That’s really the difference, I think. Whether that happens through solid show editing (which is possible) or just with Arino being awesome, I’m not sure. But it’s certainly a different experience, and one that I enjoy having.

June 1, 2011

None of My Word Processors Say “Couponing” Is A Word.

Going to try to write a blog post here in pages while I wait for my appointment. This, in some circles, is called “multitasking” or “making efficient use of your time.” We’ll see, I suppose.

During a family get together type situation, I was exposed to a show called Extreme Couponing. This show seriously follows people who do nothing but clip coupons and stockpile grocery items. Each episode follows two of these people as they go on a normal shopping trip for them. It is just flat-out crazy.

One of the bumpers for this show had a woman claiming that “my stockpile is almost as beautiful as my family” without a hint of irony in her voice. Another woman claimed that her gift for finding and using coupons was sent from God. She believed this was her one god-given talent. Another woman, who shopped at my local grocery store that I go to daily, bought 92 packages of croutons just because she had enough coupons to make them all free. I couldn’t look away from this sort of thing.

It’s also just amazing how the producers and editors of this show manage to insert drama into is ridiculous premise. They are putting dramatic music stings under things like a cashier forgetting to scan one coupon, or the store’s coupon policy only allowing the use of 250 coupons per transition. Oh no! It’s the stupidest shit, but sadly, it totally works, and pulling a 600 dollar grocery bill down to like 8 dollars is pretty insane to watch. You just stare with disbelief that these people would spend upwards of 30 hours a week couponing (which the iPad autocorrected to “coupling” at first, something I could better understand) and in even more disbelief that it works, and stores let this shit happen.

I guess this sort of stuff is how reality shows gain and keep an audience. I’m not about to spontaneously become a tv viewer or avid watcher of this show, but I salute TLC for making a show about a ridiculous premise that was fun for me to watch for a few hours.

April 4, 2011

I Spent My Entire Weekend Watching My Little Pony

And I loved it.

I’m not all the way through it yet, but I am really enjoying My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. It is not a show I am going to recommend to you unless you have a child in the appropriate age range for a show like this. Then goodness, get them in front of it. They should enjoy it, and you can rest assured that it’s better than a lot of the garbage out there for kids.
But man, I just love stuff for kids when it’s done with a level of respect for the audience. It makes me happy. It makes me grin.

I know I’ve talked about it before. I tried to find some reference posts about how I love childish things that are taken seriously, and I found this one, but I feel like I’ve written a lot more. I just love the formula. I can see right through it, of course. I’m versed enough in plots to know, within two minutes of an episode of Friendship is Magic, exactly what is going to happen throughout the episode, and I’m always right. It’s following a formula, for sure. But it’s a safe and relaxing formula. Horrible things can happen, but you know that they’ll be wrapped up by the end of the episode, friendships will be strengthened, and everything will move on. I like that formula when it’s done right. The problem is, to do it right, you have to have characters with at least a little depth to them, and that’s often where shows fall flat. The characters are empty placeholders because the people who make these shows assume that children don’t understand how people work, and don’t have even the most rudimentary level of empathy and ability to follow more complex plots and ideas.
I’m not going to attempt to pretend that the character of Twilight Sparkle is some genius invention of art, but she is a very well-rounded character. She demands a level of organization of people around her, but is very sloppy in her own research methods. She’s happy to have friends, but many of her passions involve alone time and solitude, and so she not only has trouble finding a balance between the two, but also figuring out how to actually interact with those around her in an effective way. These are all character traits that are relatable and realistic.
She’s also a fucking wizard, so that’s cool too.
Throughout the season as I have viewed it, every one of the main ponies has had their personalities fleshed out in this way. Even Pinkie Pie, who really seems like one-note comic relief on first glance, is actually fairly fleshed out. None of them is just always right. They bicker, they’re always flawed, and it’s only by working together do they come to a solution to issues that isn’t a huge problem. It’s a mostly ensemble cast, though Twilight Sparkle is obviously the focus, and it makes it so that no one character is the “win” button. So often in shows like this you have a situation where side characters fight, and sigh, it’s time for main character, or “God” or “parent” character who is always right, to come in and fix everything. That isn’t the case here. They come to their own conclusions, and work things out themselves. It’s nice.

People were going insane for this show. I ended up reading this article by the main person behind it due to a twitter post, and I really liked her approach and her frank discussion of how she wanted to make a show worth watching, and not just a toy commercial. Still, it wasn’t until I saw the love put into the animation through the silly music video Val linked me that I decided to check out the first episode and see if what Lauren Faust had said was actually reflected in the show itself. I’m 17 episodes in now, after being unable to stop loading up “one more,” and I feel like she, for the most part, succeeded in her goals and made a really fantastic children’s show.

I’ve been thinking about the character relationships, and the general workings of the entire world of Equestria all weekend. As a person who is trained via lit crit to read too much into everything, I’ve certainly found some interesting things about the general world that I keep trying to figure out in my head. For example, all ponies have something called a “cutie mark” (which is a terrible name and I hope was dictated to the creative team by the toy department) which they develop as they grow older and which reveals their special talent and passion. In some ways, this mirrors the normal process of going up, but in another, it’s something that really speaks to a level of fate being ingrained in Pony society. What marks you is the one thing you can do well, and thus should do. You shouldn’t aspire to do other things, because those aren’t your special talent. Applejack is marked with apples, and thus should work on the apple orchard. That’s it. This sits potentially wrong with me, but says something interesting about the world. Similarly, Pegasus are in charge of changing the weather in this society. Seasons don’t change on their own, but only change via hard work, and those with wings are responsible for quite a lot of making sure nature is functional. They’re expected to bend the natural order to their will, but at the same time, Fluttershy is a pegasus who is totally focused on being in harmony with nature. Is she actively fighting against her place in the world? Or does her mark exempt her from that, because she is obviously supposed to deal with nature? Also, the prestigious ponies up in the capital of Canterlot simply use magic to change the weather and seasons, while those in Ponyville must resort to days and days of hard work to make nature happen. Does Princess Celestia not care about the plight of the working pony in the fields?

Also, Magic is Science, but Magic is also Friendship. Is Science actually Friendship? IS IT?

This is the kind of bullshit I think about, and will continue to think about as I load the next episode to watch while I eat. At least I am in good company, and am not the only one thinking about this kind of ridiculous stuff for fun.

July 22, 2010

Bowties are cool.

I finally caught up with the Doctor and the latest season of Doctor Who.

It was, on the whole, excellent.

First off, there were lots of people, before the season started, who were really worried about Matt Smith. I wasn’t worried, perse. I didn’t know what to think. But man, he just nails it. His Doctor is wearing the Doctor’s issues on his sleeves. He’s willing to tell people to shut up, because adults are talking, and things of that nature, but he’s also still got some of the fun side of the Doctor. He’s really fantastic. I didn’t worry, and I had no reason to.

However, I was kind of worried about Amy Pond. Every picture of her I saw before I actually watched the series was “Look at me, I’m sexy.” I didn’t want a companion who was just there for her looks, especially after they fucked over Donna Noble so much. (Seriously, don’t get me talking about Doctor Who or I will talk about how much I adore Donna Noble. She is a fantastic character who really, really got the shaft. Fuck you, Russel T. Davies.) I was convinced she wasn’t going to be deep and interesting.
I had nothing to worry about on that front, either.
I mean, I wasn’t completely wrong. She is there to add sex appeal, and that works. (Well, judging from Cole’s descriptions of her relative hotness, I suppose.) But she’s also a complete person. The fact that, say, she nearly rapes the Doctor (Okay, it sounds bad when I write it like that, but…) is not only completely accurate to her character but also completely awesome. I mean, look at Martha. Look at Rose. If only they had had the guts to just flat out say that. The Doctor has all kinds of power, and is a great guy. He is attractive. If you’re on this incredible fantasy trip with him, of course, go ahead and fuck him! Why not! There’s a level of consequences you aren’t going to have from this trip, and once the Doctor is gone, he’ll be gone. Best try while you can. So yeah, that moment, in particular, endeared me to her. But she’s also a very independent person and character, willing to do what she feels is right even when the Doctor tells her to do something else, much like how Donna was willing to tell the Doctor when she thinks he’s wrong. That’s nice. I also think her relationship with Rory is very realistic and well-developed. She loves Rory, but with all this fantastic in front of her, isn’t sure whether stable Rory is the sort that she should stick with, even though she wants to. There’s always a struggle between the possible adventure of being unattached and the benefits of being attached, you know? I thought that was handled in a decent way, too.

The plots themselves are some of the best the Doctor has had in awhile. Thank goodness they got rid of Russel T. Davies (Seriously, Mr. Davies, thank you for bringing Doctor Who back and getting me interesting in the show, but you just are not a good writer.) and stuck Steven Moffat at the helm. He knows how to write a good Doctor Who episode. There are a couple weaker episodes, of course. “The Lodger,” or “We spent our budget on other episodes but we need to make one more” isn’t really all that great, though I’ll take it any day over bullshit like “Daleks in Manhattan.” There also isn’t any episode that really stands out in my mind, like “Blink” did, as being mind-blowingly fantastic. Every episode, though, was fun. None of them made me want to punch someone. They were all really solid.

I hope they can keep this up for the next season. I am looking forward to it, completely. Maybe I won’t wait months to watch that season, too. Who knows.

Also, Bowties are cool.

February 9, 2010

There has to be screen-writers out there with more skill.

I kind of completely hate Russel T. Davies. I mean, okay. The man brought back Doctor Who, and then I fell in love with the new Doctor Who, but goodness, he just cannot write to save his life.

I caught up with the new series, after missing out on a year of specials. I had thought that the fourth season, where he kind of screwed over my favorite character, was going to be the last thing he did with Doctor Who, especially since he went so stupidly far out of his way to wrap up plots that didn’t need to be dealt with. But you know what? After so many awful, awful season finales by him, I was willing to give him one more, and then have him get out of the way. I let his one little thing pass. “Just a little indulgence,” I said.

But apparently he wasn’t done, because oh crap, The End of Time was like… the very worst thing. Ever.
Let me count the ways.
1) He gives fanfiction-style closure to every single thing he added to the series. Literally every single one. Even ones he already wrapped up at the end of season 4. He goes for them AGAIN. It’s ridiculous and ruins any drama the end of the episode may have.
2) The two-parter spends an entire episode just to set up one of the worst jokes I have heard in a long time. They even have people dye their hair for no clear reason JUST TO MAKE THE JOKE MORE EFFECTIVE. It is mind-boggling.
3) It explains things that would better be left unexplained. By the end of it, characters that were cool are not, thanks to over-explanation. Way to be.
4) It ties up plot points from the history of the series, seemingly just so whoever comes after him can’t use them, and it doesn’t do it in any interesting way.

I’m trying to be spoiler-free, here, as I know Brer still hasn’t seen the episodes, if nobody else. But every bit of it just seemed to have Mr. Davies going “LOOK HOW CLEVER I AM I AM SO AWESOME” all over it. And it wasn’t. It was selfish, and way out of the reach of good taste.

I hope the new Who is better without him about writing really awful overall plots and stuff. But I just feel like he’ll be back. He won’t be able to actually stay away. Ugh.

And that’s how I feel about the last season of Doctor Who, the end.

January 22, 2009

Propane as well as Propane Accessories

So, since they’ve played Family Guy completely and utterly to death and they lost Futurama, adult swim was on the prowl for new shows to be able to show ad nauseam. First, I saw them pick up Clerks: The Animated Series. A good choice, and a funny show, but there’s only six episodes. However, on New Years, they picked up King of the Hill and immediately started playing hours of that a night. Thus, I’ve started to see hours of the show that I never saw previously. Because I never watched the show before. You know.

All I really knew about it going in was, you know, the premise, and that Essner once told me he thought my Dad sold Propane and Propane Accessories like Hank Hill. Which isn’t true. So… that’s what I had.

What I got was a pretty entertaining show! But not a funny show.
Seriously, there is nothing about King of the Hill that makes me laugh. It has jokes, I suppose. It’s, you know, doing that. But it’s not actually funny. I don’t laugh, and I rarely think what the show is doing is clever.
At the same time, the show is very entertaining. I’m never wanting to turn it off or anything. Watching it is a very pleasant experience. It’s certainly a good show, and certainly a completely great alternative from watching the same episode of Family Guy for the 400th time.

It’s just odd how that works, I guess. I mean, the characters are interesting enough, but this is certainly no drama. It’s not that kind of show. It’s obviously trying to be a comedy. And it’s obviously doing something right, because I want to watch it. But humor… no. I don’t really see the humor in it.
I do wish I could pinpoint why it’s so entertaining, though. Mostly because that would make a great ending to this blog. But I have no idea. I guess I’ll just have to keep watching and figure it out, perhaps… yep.