All that is wrong with the world…

September 26, 2010

A few reasons why Smallville sucks

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , — allthatiswrong @ 8:00 pm

I started watching Smallville in Season 5 a few years ago, when a friend gave it to me after I had nothing else to watch. The early monster of the week seasons never really appealed to me, and I thought season 5 was entertaining enough. By that point Superman had a lot of his powers, and everything had already been established and moved away from the high school drama.

I really liked the series as it progressed from then on. I thought the whole Veritas subplot was a bit stupid, but it worked well enough within the show. I especially liked Michael Rosenbaum’s portrayal of Lex Luthor and think it is possibly the best on screen portrayal so far.

After Season 8 however… the show went downhill in a big way. So very amazingly downhill to the point where I didn’t think it possible that anyone could defend the show as good. Yet, somehow, the show has been renewed for a 10th season and fans are defending the last few seasons as the best ever. Wow.

What follows is a list of the reasons Smallville started to suck, badly. The vast majority of these are post season 7, but one or two have plagued the series throughout.

  • Chloe’s hacking speak. Where do the writers get this dialog? Quotes such as “All I am is a halfway decent hacker who took a wrong turn down the information superhighway”. No one talks like this. Ever. It is truly cringeworthy. Her crazy ability to hack into the FBI in 2 minutes is a bit much as well, but such an ability is hardly unique to Smallville.
  • Jor-El’s near omnipotence. I have no problem with an AI with Jor-El’s personality and knowledge, indeed as advanced a civilization as Krypton seemed it’s perfectly fine. The problem is how could such an AI have such abilities? We have seen The Jor-EL AI stop and reverse time, predict the future, take away and transfer powers, reprogram people’s minds and read them…basically anything. Why would an AI have this much power and how? The other thing I wonder about is when humans get Kryptonian powers…do they become Kryptonian?
  • The excessive slow motion. Bullet time can still be cool if it’s done correctly, but it seems every single fight on Smallville in the later seasons used it. Not just for a few points of the fight…but the whole fight. I guess its easier to fill an episode if it takes 20 seconds for each fist to swing in fight scenes.
  • Clark still can’t fly. It’s been 10 years(well, he may have flew in the season 10 premiere) and the guy can’t fly. He is surrounded by people developing his powers without a problem…why is it taking so long? The main problem with this is not that he doesn’t fly on the show, but that they don’t even try to explain it.
  • The glasses. Something that always kind of bugged me…why have Clark without glasses? If it was in school and he moved on and left everyone old behind..fine. I can’t see parents convince their superkid to wear glasses at a young age, but it also seems that when Superman is finally revealed, all it will take is someone from Smallville to recognize him.
  • The hideous reuse of sets. It seems the only street anyone ever conglomerates on is that one street in Smallville that the Talon is on, which seems eerily similar to the streets of Metropolis. Can they really not afford to film on a street that looks like a street and not a set? It gets worse when characters always meet in the same places, like Clark’s barn. Why are characters who have never been to the barn before meeting in the barn to discuss things? How does that make sense?
  • Dramatic staredowns. This is getting a bit much, but I guess the writers have to do something what with the pathetic lack of budget. All too often several times an episode characters will meet and stare and threaten each other while trying to be intimidating while finding out information. What takes five minutes should take 30 seconds. Annoying.
  • Green Arrow’s training period. In the comics, Green Arrow was stuck on a desert island for years developing his ability to he could have food to live off. On Smallville it only took him two months. It’s kind of a big difference. I mean, could anyone be Green Arrow if they just took a semester archery course?
  • Introducing Jimmy Olsen…not. Why introduce a character with the same name and iconic traits as a well known character, develop him and have him fall in love, only to reveal upon his death that he was not the character we thought he was…that his younger brother who happens to share his name is indeed that character. Idiotic, and actually worse than the Julia Robert’s twist in Oceans 12.
  • Emo Blur. I actually liked the idea of the blur. I thought it was a well thought out predecessor to Superman. Still red and blue colors and a good work around the no flying rule. A nice transitional stage to Superman. Then came Emo Blur. Why in the hell would Clark start dressing in all black? In a neo-punk trenchcoat? It’s just so lame…
  • The whole Doomsday plot. Doomsday was a pretty cool villain. A genetically engineered being designed to fight Superman, who reincarnates each time being impervious to what killed it previously. On Smallville Doomsday was portrayed as a creepy EMT who had trouble with his emotions and started stalking Chloe, leading up to the final battle of what was very clearly a guy in a cheap rubber suit. Aye.
  • The cloned Kandorians. I watched all of season 9, but I didn’t really get this plot. They certainly were not stuck in a bottle. Let’s clone prominent Kryptonians and have them be a new challenge for Clark…except it wasn’t. There was just something about the whole are that seemed lazy and uninteresting, and none of it really seemed to make a lot of sense.
  • We had Doomsday in season 8, the Kandorians in Season 9, and now it seems that Lex is back in Season 10. Hopefully only briefly, as I know the real big bad is meant to be Darkseid…but why bring him back at all? It was bad enough they let him go in the first place. Bring him him back with an obviously different actor and then never showing us his face and hoping we wouldn’t notice was worse. Now bringing back various clone versions of lex? Sigh. Besides, why would the clones be bald?

I guess the show stands for itself, but it will be interesting to see just how bad Season 10 is, and just how the fans defend it as amazing.

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September 22, 2010

Two months in Vegas

Filed under: Travel — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 6:28 pm

So, a lot of interesting stuff has happened in the last two months or so. It’s been a very interesting year what with Central America, personal relationships, traveling and such, and now I plan to write about it. I don’t know how many people will care to read this, but it’s interesting for me to have an outlet which can serve as a record.

I have my laptop back!

So, I got my laptop about a week and a half ago. It was pretty damaged, and now everything has been replaced with brand new parts and it works beautifully. I’ve been without it since the end of May, just a few days before I left for Costa Rica and Nicaragua for two months.

It was such a nice feeling to have it back. I’ve felt quite lost without it. While traveling, it is my primary source of communication, entertainment and work. There has been so much I have wanted to do and write, and have been unable to without it. Well, now I can, so I can finish the 20 or so articles I have been planning – hopefully before the end of the year.

I honestly thought I was going to need $300 or so to repair it.., what with spilling Dr Pepper over it, breaking several seals when cleaning it and finally shorting it out due to forgetting it was still plugged in. Add to this the fact that it was purchased overseas and no longer had a serial number or proof of purchase with it. $300 isn’t much…, but at the moment without income and limited savings, it is a significant amount. It’s kind of sad, but getting it back for free was definitely the best thing that happened to me this month.

The only difference now is that I have a US keyboard. This doesn’t matter and I’m quite used to it, although I had gotten used to having access to pound and euro symbols, not to mention a lot of now wasted effort to get my Alt+Gr key working properly under Linux.

One thing I was worried about was that my trial of Windows Server 2008 R2 had finished, and Windows was now reporting it as not genuine. I would not even consider paying the $700 or so for a license, and the last crack I tried, ChewWGA ended up leaving me with an endless reboot loop. That may not have been ChewWGA’s fault, but I couldn’t find out what the cause was. This time, I tried RemoveWAT which I had used successfully on installs of Windows 7. I am happy to say it worked perfectly, and I now have a fully functional install of R2.

Recently when trying to access one of my external hard drives…it failed. Having a hard drive on top of everything else in a suitcase and having it fall forward…the full weight of a suitcase pushing it to the ground, is not a good thing. I was somewhat dismayed, as despite making sure to copy my lists of movies and all my comics across all of my hard drives, I apparently never bothered to backup my photos, the one thing not replaceable. I had thought they were gone for good, but this was OK as I thought it was only my Europe and USA photos that were on there, which I had copies of somewhere. However, when trying my hard drive again a bit later…it works! Not great, but well enough for me to copy 8 GB of photos from a clicking sorry sounding hard drive with robocopy.

It’s actually a nice surprise, as I forgot all about my photos from Egypt, Brazil, and other places that I definitely did not have copies of anywhere. I can’t believe how well that worked out. Now to send it back under the awesome 5 year warranty, and start downloading all those classic TV shows yet again. What was also interesting was my collection of music videos I had on there. All 232 of them. I remember how nice it was to have all the latest singles that I could play whenever I liked, back in 2002/3 or so. I completely forgot about them as YouTube has made them completely irrelevant, something I thought was interesting.

Post DEFCON

With that out of the way, I’m going to write about what has happened in the last month and a half, because I think it has been interesting, as my life so often is. After DEFCON finished, I literally had nothing to do. I didn’t have my laptop so couldn’t really write stuff, I was still waiting for some bank stuff to be sorted out so didn’t have any money, and didn’t really know anyone here. I was staying with a cool girl I met, which was a burden of my mind that I didn’t have to worry about accommodation.

It was nice to just chill out for a few days, trying to work out what I will do next. I spent quite a lot of time playing counterstrike 1.6 with my friend’s friend’s son. It was nice to play what is now a ‘classic’ game with one the next generation. Spending my days talking philosophy and politics had to come to an end however, as my friend was going overseas at the end of the week and I had to find somewhere else to stay.

I managed to find a couple to stay with, which was a relief. They were a small family, and pretty chilled out. Again I didn’t really have anything to do, and didn’t have my laptop, so spent most of my time reading or watching movies or just finding a way to procrastinate somehow. I talked a lot with one of my hosts, who I shall refer to as Mary. Mary was a very hospitable host, very kind and generous, but I found that I couldn’t talk to her for too long. The reason being was that her beliefs were basically completely ignorant. Beliefs such as raw milk can cure cancer and such are bad enough, but then trying to tell me that quantum physics is defined as the ability to alter reality based on will alone? Fail.

The thing with these types of people is that explaining why/how they are wrong will do absolutely nothing. Its one thing to believe that you can alter reality based on will alone…fine – but to label this quantum physics when quantum physics is well defined as something completely different and scientific is just…dumb. It’s impossible to help those who are not willing to help themselves. Which is truly sad…what is left of the optimist in me believes there must be some way as I can’t understand why people would bury themselves in ignorance to that extent.

The other interesting thing I noticed was Mary’s kids. Mary’s kids had absolutely no discipline. This is not a criticism of Mary or her husband by any means, but it seems all the parents I meet of kids these days refuse to discipline them in any way. Of course it is better if you can reason with your kids and not have to resort to some sort of punishment, but there is nothing inherently wrong with punishment either. While it is completely anecdotal, I think it is interesting that all of these kids who grow up without discipline assert themselves over their parents, and do what they want to do. Since the parents won’t use discipline, they don’t seem to have any way of actually stopping them from misbehaving.

I started looking for someone else to stay with, as I didn’t want to feel like I was imposing on a small family’s residence. I started looking frantically for someone to stay with as my money was still tied up, and no one seemed to be responding. I managed to find someone to stay with eventually, just out of dedication to basically messaging what seemed like everyone.

A few nights before I switched hosts, I went with Mary and her husband to a poker night. I couldn’t play, as I was unwilling to gamble even $5 from what I had left, instead I just watched and talked to people. This is where I ended up meeting CT. CT was an interesting guy, very charming and generous and promised to put me in touch with investors I could show my business plan to, as well as hook me up with some acting gigs.

This was awesome news, as I am always looking for investors I can show my plan to. I’m extremely interested in getting into acting as well, so hookups in both of these areas would have been amazing. Unfortunately it seemed the guy was full of shit. I tried contacted him after that night, and when he finally replied he insulted me for not knowing who I am, and then said he had no time to be my agent. What a shame.

My new residence

A few days later I changed hosts to stay with a guy I’ll call Zane. Zane is a very interesting guy. It is nice to meet someone interested in arguing who can actually do so properly and support their points or admit when they are wrong. The first night I came over Zane and a friend were smoking a hookah, which I joined in. The last time I smoked a hookah was in Tokyo back in 2005, which made it easy to drift back to then.

Zane’s roommates were interesting. A gay couple who stayed to themselves in one of the bedrooms, and who I didn’t really talk to. A girl we can call Tori was by herself in another of the bedrooms. Tori was very interesting. She was about three months pregnant and still agonizing over whether or not to have an abortion. This seemed pretty wrong to me. I’m for abortion, but not when it’s kicking and clearly a human being. She then went on to profess how the moon landing was clearly a fake and talk about just how stupid the rest of humanity was, equating them closer to dogs. Amazing. Lastly, there was Frank, who lived on the couch. Frank seemed cool enough, but as I would find out later there was a lot of drama going on in the house.

The next few nights were interesting as I settled in and met Zane’s friends and roommates. One of the most interesting things was the whole communal nature of the apartment. Anyone was welcome to take anything from the fridge or pantry.., it really didn’t matter who it belong to. It was a share and share alike culture. This really wasn’t working out too well for Zane, as instead of the communal environment that Zane had wanted, it was more the case of everyone taking advantage of Zane’s generosity. The main reason for this was that his other roommates were on average 10 years younger than him and just expected things handed to them.

One of the main things about Zane’s apartment…is that it is/was a party zone. There were always people over and drinking and games and much fun. Despite having a computer to use and internet for the last six weeks, I’ve barely written anything. By the time I wake up each day and check email and read gossip, maybe watch an episode, it’s time to start drinking again. I’ve basically secluded myself after getting my laptop back, which is the only reason I have been able to write anything. Since I don’t like the new roommates, it makes it easier.

Ahh yes, the new roommates. The whole thing with the old roommates getting kicked out was quite a bit of drama. First to go was Tori, who no one seemed to really like. Zane and she had some sort of argument, and he basically told her to get out immediately, although ended up giving her a few hours. What I found interesting was that both Zane and the manager of the apartment complex were positive that he could kick her out immediately and take control of her belongings simply because her name is not on the lease. Either they were both wrong, or Nevada law fucking sucks. If you are paying rent for a room then you are a tenant, and failure to remove your belongs by a certain time does not imply abandonment of those belongs. At least under any sane law system.

Then the Frank situation got interesting. Frank was a cool enough guy, but apparently had a history of alcoholism and being less than respectful. The guy was staying on the couch for free and not paying bills, yet demanded certain things like the AC stay on all the time or that he be allowed to have sex on the couch. Quite a nerve and I wasn’t surprised when he was forced to leave. It’s a shame because he was a smart guy, but was just making some really dumb choices.

So, then came the new roommates. First there was Ruddy, who picked up and left the east coast without any money or plans. AT just 20, he was very much a kid and acted like it. His only source of income was a credit card that he somehow got approved to and had no intention of paying back. I quite enjoyed him treating me and everyone else to whatever we liked. If he wants’ to be stupid, he has to learn one way or another.

Then came Bob. Bob was just 19, and one of the more annoying people I have met recently. He has an opinion on everything, and is totally convinced he is right. The only way to shut him up on stuff when is clearly so very wrong is to bet money, which he backs out of embarrassed. Everything he says is literally “that shit is tight dog, I’m not gonna lie” or “nah dude, you trippin”. I have never met anyone who actually speaks like that constantly before. The kid is like a living cartoon.

Lastly there was Rowan, a pretty cool guy. Very friendly and engaging, but has one very annoying characteristic. I don’t know if it is because the guy is studying acting or not, but he wants to act out everything. Instead of just having a conversation, he sets up a scenario and acts it out as different characters, for even the most trivial of things. This shit is annoying. He also has a habit of touching people….hands on shoulders and such. A very annoying person, yet at the same time very generous. Aye.

Now, while not anew roommate, Bob has some friends. Bob’s friends are idiots. Bob isn’t an idiot as such, but Bob’s friends certainly are. One big guy just 18 called CK is so very annoying. He walks in and acts like he owns the place. If you’re playing Xbox against a friend he just expects you to give him the controller so he can take over. When playing a game he just arranges the rules or whatever best suits him. I guess it was just another example of the lack of discipline in children these days, but it’s aggravating. The roommate situation went from having two guys who stay in their room all the time, to a semi cool guy on the couch and a lot of friends coming over; to barely twenty year olds who think they know everything. Gah.

One of the more annoying things was how often they ask me to buy them alcohol. I don’t really mind doing this, as Ruddy was paying for food and Dr.Pepper and basically whatever I wanted for near a month, so it seemed a fair tradeoff. Of course, now that his card has run out I can’t really be persuaded to go these days. They really shouldn’t be drinking anyway. They can be high all the time as they are without having to be drunk as well, I mean, they need to save some money for Doritos.

One night out in Vegas

One night I got bored of hanging with the kids at the apartment, and decided to go to the strip. I was hoping something interesting might happen…meet some random girls, win large amounts of money…, meet some random supermodels. Something not unlike any episode of any TV show where someone would go to the strip themselves and have amazing things happen. Unfortunately, nothing like that happened at all. The first mistake I made was going too far on the bus. I guess I kept seeing the strip ahead out the window, and when we got to it took me a while before I realize it wasn’t ahead anymore, and realized it was behind me. Lame.

A bit more walking and then catching the bus again, to at Las Vegas Blvd. Which, only technically is the strip. I was too poor at this time to take the Deuce bus, which is a rip-off as it is. It took me about 20 minutes to walk to the stratosphere and then another 30 to walk to the area around Caesars’ Palace. There were many hot girls around, but none easily approachable simply walking the strip. I went through a few casinos, until I ended up in Caesars after walking past Pure and not wanting to pay the $30 or so cover. I put my only $20 in a slot machine, and watched it go down to nothing before getting back up to $26, a win of $6! I decided to leave, as I now had enough for at least one beer, somewhere.

After some more walking around and trying to figure out what there is to do being over 21 and by myself on the strip, I ended up in the Mirage, where I again played a slot machine. This particular slot machine ended up taking the rest of my night, and I believe I played it for over two hours. The thing with this machine was, I became obsessed with getting the free spins. 300 free spins were possible apparently, although the most I got out of this was 20. With 4 out of the 5 free spin bars, it was still only 20. During my quest for the free spins…I got as high as $70, back down to $20 or so, then as high as $96…then back down to…0. Nothing. Just enough money to tip for a free drink and catch the bus home. So very lame. Although as the $20 came from Ruddy, I managed to stop myself from feeling too bad. I ended up catching the bus home and walking through the sun, and so ended my attempt at a night out in Vegas.

Not feeling too well

I’ve been really quite depressed for the last month. Well, longer than that, probably this entire year. Things worsened at the end of May as I felt I had to end my friendship with the only person I considered to be my real friend. Part of that reason was finding out that a lot of what I thought was true in the friendship was false, and worse that my friend did not want the same thing as I did out of the friendship. Despite telling me that they did for two years, and me moving to a different country to try and work on things. Lame. I’ve been thinking about them a lot..we have not been in each other’s live for a few months now, and I can’t help but wonder what they are up to, and if they wonder about me at all. Missing someone can be consuming at times, and its lame. Very lame.

At the same time, I was struggling with whether or not I should return home. I have not been home in basically four years, and since it was quite possible my sister was going to die, was thinking about it. I’m glad I didn’t end up going as she was fine, but I was actually considering not going anyway…what kind of a person does that make me? I’m not close to my family, even so, I surely would have regretted not going back had something happened. Yet.., I wanted to focus on setting up my business, getting investors and my visa and such. A lot of what I can do I can from anywhere, but it’s important for me to return to New York as that’s where I want to have things set up….having to return home would have been such a setback, having to raise the money to come back to the US and everything. I guess a part of me wanted to avoid having to go home at any cost, to face the fact I’m not close to anyone there.

I really don’t have many friends at all. It’s a side effect from always being on the move, and at some low level the entire reason I travel so much is probably based on the fact that it stops me from being attached to anyone. I don’t talk to my family, and don’t have any friends I really stay in contact with or can rely on. It puts a dampener on things. Then for the rest of the year my money has been tied up for most of the time, making it near impossible to even go out and meet people. Even being at home all the time and having a lot of free time, I have not had the motivation to write as much as I want to. It took me almost two weeks to write this article, when it should have taken two days.

Suffice to say…dealing with such loneliness and other feelings of depression is hard. It is quite the burden. It gets to the point sometimes where I can’t help but think of suicide. While it isn’t something I think myself capable, I still think about it. I feel like telling people, but I don’t want to worry them for no reason, as I know it isn’t something I would do. It seems to be a way for me to better examine how I feel by exaggerating things.

When going out grocery shopping one night for alcohol and various foods, I decided to take a free blood pressure test at the grocery store. Not for any reason and expecting it to report me healthy as they generally do. Alas, this time it reported I have stage 1 hypertension. Not good…not good at all. Considering I live off fast food and drink copious amounts of Dr Pepper, probably inevitable. The interesting thing is how this has affected me. I basically have no motivation to do anything about it. While I could never commit suicide, letting my body deteriorate until it takes care of itself seems like the solution. I am consciously aware this isn’t a healthy train of thought, and despite having no motivation to do so will go to a doctor and get some advice when I can.

During all this time, since the end of DEFCON, I had resolved to try and quit smoking. As I get older the risk to my health just gets worse. It’s an unnecessary expense which didn’t really worry me, but saving money is a plus. I still expect I will smoke socially, as it is one of the easiest ways to meet people. Traveling around the world by myself, that’s a useful thing. For whatever reason, I don’t think my body develops much of an addiction. I went from smoking a pack a day of cigarettes with 1.6 mg’s of nicotine to maybe one a week to none for the last month…with no noticeable difference except the odd craving. I certainly don’t notice everything tasting better as many people stated was the case. Having said that though, I’ve been smoking hookahs every few days each week since moving in with Zane…

Trying to make some new friends

I liked meeting a lot of Zane’s friends. They tended to be a bit younger, but it was fun to hang out and drink and play beer pong….it was somewhat similar to a frat house experience I imagine. There was one girl in particular, Aimee, who was somewhat odd. She would call everyone an affectionate nickname, and tended to jump to conclusions. After being alerted to the fact that she liked me I made an effort to talk to her one night, and some secrets were shared and such. It was a few weeks later I found out she somewhat complained about what we were talking about. Why would you carryon on a conversation if it made you uncomfortable? Sigh. I’ve been away from adults for far too long.

It was also the first time that I have heard Americans say that a different accent is incorrect. I mean, seriously? Some of these kids are the same people who thought Australia was in Europe. I just can’t get my head around that. If they went to the UK or somewhere would they still think everyone around them was pronouncing everything incorrectly? That level of arrogance and ignorance boggles my mind. I don’t know which is worse, thinking other accents are wrong, or thinking Americans don’t have accents. Aye.

About a week ago some friends came over, Max and Rachel. They are a pretty sweet couple, and I could sense a lot of genuine feelings for each other. Unfortunately, Max is just too damn stubborn and believing the worse. He became convinced that Rachel was cheating on him because of stupid shit like a friend leaving her a voice message saying let’s get fucked up or her sleeping platonically next to a friend. It made me sad to see a relationship end for no good reason. I honestly hope that they work it out, and Max learns to trust Rachel. It’s kind of necessary for any relationship to work.

That whole dating thing

I met up a few weeks into staying with Zane with Lisa for what turned out to be a date. This was one of the most interesting dates I have ever been on. I thought it would be just two friends meeting up briefly…, but it ended up being a date. What was interesting about this…was the amount of offending things being said which were not meant to be offensive, resulting in awkwardness. Lisa is a great girl, but I honestly don’t understand why she wants to date me. We have no common interests, quite opposite personalities and possibly get on each other’s nerves. I think it’s nice to try and make new friends, but I don’t really understand it unless you instantly like the person…

When I was in Costa Rica, I really hit it off with this girl, let’s call her Nancy. We talked for a few hours and seemed to have a good chemistry, and this then progressed to kissing. We added each other on Facebook after she left the next day, and I thought at the last I made a new friend. Apparently though she felt guilty about the whole thing, may have been seeing someone back home, and ended up disappearing completely from Facebook. This disturbed me, as I really hit it off with this girl. I couldn’t find her on the internet at all, and messaging her friends to get her to contact me didn’t work. Knowing a paper she published, and her university managing to have a predictable pattern for student email addresses I managed to find her after many hours on Google. She basically said she went through a bad time and removed everyone as a friend, and politely denied my request to be friends with her. I find this sad, as I think we would have been amazing friends, but I guess there isn’t much you can do in such situations.

Of course, Nancy was not the only girl I wanted more to do with. Aside from many anonymous online dating girls, there was Marsha, who I met in Nicaragua. We really hit it off, and I know I made her laugh all the time, and she seemed attracted to me. We were talking late one night and she even said she just prefers occasional casual sex instead of relationships, like me. So, I couldn’t help but be…miffed, when I couldn’t get her into bed. I blame it all on me being depressed, us being in a hostel, and her being with her friend. Lame. Even so, I really did have a fun time talking to her…and would possibly like her as a friend, but have to make the effort. Random Facebook chatting is not the best way to get to know someone. Still, I will see where it goes.

As I knew I was heading to LA soon, I tried arranging to meet up with some of the girls I met in La Fortuna in Costa Rica. They were young, but obviously old enough to travel around Central America by themselves. Of course, I got knocked back which was kind of annoying. All of these people I met while traveling and I can’t stay in contact with any of them…it’s always my problem. Of course, that isn’t quite true.

I’m still in contact with Megan, an amazing girl I met en route to Nicaragua. There was a lot of flirting and a lot of intellectual arguing, and just chemistry in general. We really hit it off, and I plan to visit her in November. We’ve been talking sometimes online, which is nice. Even so…, I feel such an urge to try and build friendships with these other girls. I don’t know why…perhaps because it’s a challenge and something to fill the void…it’s a strange feeling. I guess also that having more people couldn’t not hurt…at the moment I have like 3, and I’m not that close to any of them, so building more seems to just make sense, if not only as a contingency plan.

Feeling lonely as I was and with my complete lack of money, I thought I might try some online dating sites. This really didn’t work out so well. I filled out my profile all thoroughly and with photos, and a got a great many views and winks or whatever. However, it didn’t matter how many girls I started talking to…the conversations never really went anywhere. I just don’t know how to keep a conversation going days apart.

I went out on another date with Lisa a few days ago…; we went to see a movie, Scott Pilgrim Vs the World. I persuaded her she would like it as I had heard nothing but good things about it, and had wanted to see it myself. In any event, it certainly beat the alternative to Lisa’s pick, Cats and Dog’s 3D. It was interesting hanging out, and making jokes of the awkwardness. I mean…, its one thing when someone’s knowledge is based entirely on stereotypes and you can’t shake them from it, but it’s another when that person is somewhat condescending and insulting without meaning to be. I don’t mind hanging out with her but…It’s just strange. At the same time here is someone making time and effort to see me and I can’t see the positive things here. I am aware of that, and not really sure how to change my outlook, or if I want to. If people annoy me, they annoy me…anything else would seem to be burying that annoyance for the sake of…what exactly?

What next

I just found out yesterday that all my money has come through. I now have a few thousand dollars to secure me for the next few months, hopefully until next year as I find some work and settle on setting up my business. Good news and a huge weight off my chest. Who knows, perhaps my blood pressure has gone down as a result.

I’ve also been trying to work on my business plan for a long time now. I have a pretty awesome idea and solid plan. However, I know almost nothing about business plans, accounting, financial projections etc. I’ve read a lot on it, but there is a lot of conflicting stuff. So, back in 2007 or so, I decided to hire someone to help me. Well, I got fucked over, as all I got sent was automatic output from the Business Plan Pro software, which is extremely useless. Two years later my business plan is still a horrible hodgepodge, with horrible redundancy and inaccurate information and a confusing structure. Even with a computer to use, I haven’t had the motivation to deal with it, and the person I hired this time round to help me has not really gotten back to me. I may not succeed with my business, but I have to try. There won’t be much worse than seeing my idea in common place and knowing I could have been the one to cash in on it and make it a reality.

My time so far in Vegas was not the sex crazed topless pool constantly drunk crazy adventure I had secretly hoped for, but it was interesting in and of itself. I met cool people and had a place to stay and feel secure while I worked out my money issues, and get in touch with people and try and come to grips with stuff. One of the more interesting aspects that I could have been anywhere. Las Vegas is like anywhere else, except for the strip, and I only went there during DEFCON and my failed night out. Somehow I feel like things would be different back in NYC even though they probably wouldn’t be, and there is just as much chance for random adventures and encounters. Even so, it’s been an interesting two months and I’m ready to make my way up to Canada, and see what adventures I will encounter on the way.

September 21, 2010

Thoughts on Inception

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 9:38 pm

So, I got to see inception about a month ago. For free no less – having a friend who works at a movie theater is a beautiful thing. I honestly had not been paying much attention to the hype surrounding this move for various reasons, so came in completely fresh. I was pleasantly surprised…, it is easily my favorite movie of this year, and definitely in the top 5 of the last 5 years. Oh, and spoiler warning.

Despite being late and missing the first few minutes, and being the designated drink refiller for my friends, I still managed to catch everything ( I think) and enjoy it thoroughly. The film is not in anyway revolutionary, but it is amazing. It doesn’t make use of any fancy new CGI, and the story itself is fairly simple – indeed, it could have been written 50 or 100 years ago. There is nothing explicitly modern about it.

The sole thing that stands out about this film is just how well it has been crafted, with meticulous attention to detail. The characters are real and fleshed out, the story is engaging and extremely consistent. Everything is thought off and explained, and there is a good reason for everything. Some people were annoyed at the level of exposition in the film, but I never had a problem with it. It never once felt like talking to the audience, unlike say an episode from the 5th season of Angel. It’s possible that it would be annoying upon multiple viewings, but after an initial viewing I thought it was perfect.

One thing I missed during the film (no doubt while on one of my many drink refill runs) was why Saito was part of the film. I understood that the start of the movie had him hiring Cobb and his team as a test, but what was his motivation for joining the team? The Wikipedia summary simply says he insisted, which may be all it was, but it seemed kind of strange.

Something I didn’t understand upon later reflection was where the train/tram came into things. When they enter the first dream to kidnap Fischer and come under attack from the subconscious projections, I don’t entirely understand how this works. Ariadne likely designed the dream, and Yusuf would not have been attacking the team.., so how was Fischer able to assert such control in someone else’s dream, even subconsciously? A minor point and easily solved by accepting that it is simply possible, but I think it would be interesting to expand on the level of control you can have in someone else’s dreams. Could you subconsciously train an army of projections that could dominate and occupy someone’s untrained subconscious?

I noticed that people have been criticizing Inception for not going further than they could have when playing with dreams and showing them on screen. Well, that isn’t the point of the movie at all. Inception is at heart a heist story with a heart that happens to use the whole dream invading premise as a very cool setting. It’s true that all but a few of the dream sequences we see in Inception are very realistic, and could very well take place in reality, however I don’t think that this takes away from the film at all. Besides, as it is stated in the film, the dreams need to be as ordinary or believable as possible to as not to make the target realize they are in a dream. A very plausible reason for why things don’t get more surreal.

Considering just how realistic the dreams are, I think inception does an amazing job of selling the fact that you are in a dream and not in reality, and that things are different with their own rules and risks. Having said that, it could have been interesting if some of the more common dream clichés were explored that are still in the realms of reality, such as teeth falling out, or falling. The dreams we saw in Inception seemed like those very detailed dreams you sometimes have based in reality, but can’t remember fully. It was somewhat like watching one of those dreams in crystal clear detail, which is interesting.

I’m actually happy that Inception didn’t decide to get all surreal and happy, as I think that would have taken away from the film, and put the focus on the dreams themselves. That may not have been a bad thing, but it would have resulted in a radically different movie. Having said that, considering how amazing the reality based dreams were, I would love to see what Christopher Nolan’s portrayal of actual crazy dream dreams would be like on screen. It would be interesting to see if there are any laws or constraints in a dream, and if they can be broken or not. We didn’t see anything like bullettime, but would that be possible? Can we alter physics and the flow of time as we require? Could we summon up fantastical creatures with just a thought?

One of the things people have been discussing about Inception is the ending, which some consider ambiguous. Personally, I don’t think the ending was ambiguous at all, nor do I think it was intended to be. The spinning top very clearly topples, indicating that we are back in reality, or in someone else’s dream. That theory requires a set of extra assumptions that we have no reason to even suspect, let alone consider likely. There was certainly nothing shown on screen to indicate that Cobb is in someone else’s dream and not reality. Considering Cobb to have been in a dream is equivalent to saying that Cole in the sixth sense was also dead or Neo in the Matrix was a robot. There is nothing to support any of these theories.

The one interesting point I did see brought up in response to the ending however was that the spinning top was not Cobb’s to begin with but his wife’s. This is interesting because the film makes the point that only the owner of the totem can be allowed to know what it feels like or how it acts, otherwise it defeats the purpose. It is an interesting argument as to why Cobb’s totem may not be an accurate indicator of his being in a dream or not…however I think it is safe to assume the only other person who would be aware of it was his wife, so the top is not compromised in its capacity as a totem.

On the other hand, it is certainly interesting to consider all the different interpretations if you view it is a dream. One of the more interesting analysis’s of the film I have read was over at CHUD, which gives a very interesting interpretation of the film being a metaphor for filmmaking, comparing it in some ways to Fellini’s 8½. Very interesting.

Much like the “don’t think about elephants” example used in the film, if the spinning top had not been in the ending we would not have been questioning the possibility that he was not in reality at the end. Honestly, it seems like a cheap trick, and there was no need for it. Cobb returning to his children and being able to go back home in reality is a happy ending and perfect closure for the film. When I watch the end of the film, I consider it is clear that the top starts to topple. Given that people are arguing about it, it would have made more sense to show this more clearly, rather than resorting to a cheap trick ending.

One of the interesting points raised in argument of the entire movie being a dream is the flashback to Marion’s suicide. When Cobb comes home Marion is standing on the ledge of the opposite building, not their own building which is far more likely. I actually didn’t even think about or notice that during the film at all. It is very surreal, considering she would have had to gain access to the other building, which may have required renting out another room or breaking into an office, and waiting for him to get home. Even so, I find that far more likely than Cobb being a dream, and think it serves the film to show just how terrifying limbo can be and the effect it can have on a person.

I found Inception’s concept of limbo as interesting as I did horrifying, but only wish it was expanded on more. The idea of being by yourself in an entire world for what would seem like a literal lifetime would be agonizing, enough to make a person go mad. Waking up from such a thing, would you really be able to just shrug it off? If I had to say the film had a weak point, this would be it. Everything that is horrible about limbo, everything that is meant to be terrifying ends up being implied. We see Cobb and Marion in Limbo and we see the effect it has on her. We see Saito as an old man in Limbo, implied to have suffered horribly. The problem is, we never actually see anything bad going on in Limbo. While Cobb and Marion are in Limbo, they appear to have built a nice world and be happy enough. We don’t actually see Saito suffering in Limbo, we just see the result of his suffering.

On the other hand, why would Limbo be so bad? If you could make and shape the world as you see fit, couldn’t you make a paradise? Surely you could make a fine way to spend 70 years or so. The presence of Marion in Cobb’s limbo implies it must be possible to have projections with you, and if they were created from memories then they could be realistic enough so that you wouldn’t know the difference. It wouldn’t be ideal, but would it really be the hell the film implies it is? It also seems that Limbo is easy enough to escape, just kill yourself and wake up in reality. Why wouldn’t people just do this? I feel like I have forgotten something, and it is possibly explained in a throwaway line somewhere, but still. If you were all alone in a world that depress, it’s possible you would commit suicide anyway, just to escape.

Something I really liked was the revelation that Cobb was the cause of his Wife’s death. I didn’t expect this, and it suddenly explained all the angst Cobb had bottled up and the horrible guilt he must feel. It was easy to emphasize with him, as many people would probably do the same thing having good intentions, and yet what a horrible tragic price to pay.

Inception is in no way groundbreaking or revolutionary such as The Matrix(which for some reason I kept comparing it to) or Terminator 2 were and as I thought it may be. It didn’t set any new territory and didn’t revolutionize anything as those films did. What it did do was make amazing use of our current technology…not even the latest and greatest, just the everyday stuff. It used nothing more than standard filmmaking and excellent writing to make a superb film that captivates the audience for the entire length of the film. I honestly can’t remember the last film that had me hooked and enjoying it so much…possibly The Departed, but even that wasn’t to the same extent. It is so very refreshing to see such an amazing movie made that relies purely on ideas and writing.

Another thing I was thinking about in the film, is just how detailed some of the dreamworlds are. For example, how can there be completely function complex computer systems in the dream of someone who has no idea about computers at all? Is this where the architect comes in? If something that complicated and complex was invading someone’s subconscious, would that not have an effect on the person? How is that dealt with? For that matter how does the architect place their designs in the minds of the subjects? It would have been interesting to see these sorts of questions explored. That’s right….more exposition.

I don’t think Inception needs a sequel at all. It is a perfect movie on its own, especially if you consider the top toppled at the end of the film. Even so, a sequel would be welcome. Inception was very much about Cobb and his last mission, and with getting back to the US his story finished with a happy ending. I’m not sure where he would fit into a sequel as such, but it would be interesting to see a sequel purely to explore the world. To explore what the rules and such of dreams are, to explore how the technology has affected society in reality and how it is regulated. Even to expand on the fact that there are apparently corporations on the level of governments, and how that came to be.

I have to point out that I do not understand Harry Knowle’s review over on AICN at all. Is this guy just going against the grain as he often does? He makes some absurd claims in his very short review. First he states that he has no sense of Cobb and Marion as a couple. They shared a lifetime together in a world they created, and after she has passed away he literally can’t let go of her. That must give some sense of a relationship…it isn’t too many couples who get to have such an experience. In any event, Inception was a story about Cobb facing his demons and achieving a goal, not a love story.

He then seemed to criticize the need for an architect, despite it being explained very clearly in the movie. Dreams have a shifting architecture, and so the architect must create something stable and realistic suited to extracting information. The whole point is to make the dreams seem real so the inception will take place. Criticizing the architect for not creating surreal dreamscapes is completely missing the point of the movie.

His main complaint seems to be with the ski sequence, which I do not get. It’s true that the ski sequence may not have been incredible and out of this world, but it didn’t have to be. This one the dream of one guy, presumably designed by the architect for a specific purpose. The ski shootout is just a distraction, and at that point there is so much going on at once that it is just all part of the puzzle. If you were mostly paying attention to the ski shootout, then you were probably missing most of what was going on. I was going to say having an extraordinary ski sequence would blow the cover as someone would realize it wasn’t a dream, but at the stage everyone was aware they were in a dream. Well, at least one.

He then complains there is nothing at stake. Really? If you get attached to Cobb, you care if he succeeds on a personal note, because if he doesn’t he will never get to see his kids again. If he doesn’t succeed then one company will have a monopoly on the global energy market, which can only be a bad thing. Then of course there is the whole threat of Limbo, being doomed to spend a lifetime alone slowly going mad. How you can watch the movie and say there is nothing at stake is beyond me. Harry, watch the film again, and watch it properly.

Anyway.

All in all, an absolutely amazing film. Captivating and entertaining the entire length of almost three hours, and provides plenty of material for discussion. It’s been a while since there was such a movie as well written and crafted as Inception, and it’s on a Hollywood budget no less. Those 10 years writing the screenplay seemed to have paid off. Kudos Mr. Nolan.

Update 2 – December 16th 2010

All the nonsense talk of the ambiguous ending is really annoying me. The ending of Inception, over whether the top topples or not is no more ambiguous than if the chess piece moved at the end of X-men 3. I was actually going to grab the DVD rip and take some frame captures to show exactly this, but I came across this post. That one picture at the top of that post is sufficient in my opinion, and the post is good reading in itself.

September 18, 2010

Railwhoring

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , — allthatiswrong @ 10:54 am

What is railwhoring? Railwhoring is a term which refers to a type of behavior when playing QuakeLive (or the older series of Quake games for that matter). Railwhoring is defined by using the railgun as the exclusive weapon while staying as far away from the action as possible. If confronted, the person railwhoring will typically run away instead of fight. You may have guessed that railwhoring is a negative thing, what with the word whoring being part of the term and all. You would be correct.

Why is railwhoring a bad thing? It is as annoying as fuck. When playing team based matches, railwhores as they are known don’t help the team in any way. Take CTF for example. I’ve played several CTF matches where the railwhore had a chance to protect our flag had he been using basically any weapon except rail, but instead chose to run away or insist on using rail, making our team lose a point.

I understand it is an easy way to rack up kills….but it can hardly be said to be playing the game. The only reason railwhores get kills is because everyone else is actually playing the game. Most players know how to try and avoid getting railed….but when it’s a frantic match with everyone trying to take the flag and railing isn’t a typical feature of the map…then it’s just fucking annoying. Anyone can do it, but if everyone did do it, then the game would not be fun and no one would play it. It is the same as AWP whores back in the day of CS, but at least when they were taken out they didn’t respawn instantly.

It used to be easy enough to deal with railwhores. As soon as the map is changing, continually vote them off(binding it to a key works best) and get the vote to reach the server before anyone joins so it will be automatically approved. ID put a stop to this making sure that one command can’t be sent in excess…, so switch it up, alternate between a vote to change map and kick the player until the player is kicked.

Personally, I just don’t understand what motivation these kids have to railwhore in the first place. Play the game properly and get better, so you can gain skill and not run everytime someone confronts you, or join a match where railing is the whole point. Silently racking up easy kills isn’t an achievement, and just makes people dislike you.

September 8, 2010

Thoughts on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , — allthatiswrong @ 12:38 pm

While traveling in Central America in June and July staying at various hostels, I came across many people reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. After learning what it was about and hearing how good it was, I became interested in getting a copy to read. Even more so than normal due to being without my laptop. This became harder than I realized…at every hostel I met someone who had just started it, or was about to finish but didn’t want to swap for one of my books, or someone who had just swapped it at the last hostel. I finally found it by chance…I saw someone leaving my hostels book exchange with it, and was able to convince them to give it to me. I had been checking that book exchange each day, yet somehow missed it.

I started reading it, and it certainly seemed well written and interesting, although not terribly captivating. I had no trouble putting the book down, and taking a few days between reading chapters. I did start to feel a strong affinity for the lead character, Kalle Blomkvist. His dissatisfaction with the people in general and the industry he works with is something I can identify with, as well as his strong criticisms of peoples lack of critical thinking skills. One of the most disappointing things I’ve encountered while traveling and meeting many people is just how many people are literally incapable of critical thinking, and it was nice to see that point being hammered in.

It wasn’t until between a third and halfway through that the book got really interesting, with much of the first part setting p characters and situations. This isn’t a bad thing, and pays off in the end. Even so, the climax was seemed somewhat unfulfilling…, while it was entertaining and fit, I was expecting a lot more. However, this was due to people hyping it as opposed to the book failing to deliver.

It seems trivial to compare The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to The Da Vinci Code…a surprise bestseller that came out of nowhere that everyone is talking about and reading, and shortly after a movie is being made. The difference here is that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is actually a good story with interesting characters, not ridiculous twist after cliffhanger after twist. Both books seem to be cheap entertainment, which makes it interesting just how advanced Swedish cheap entertainment is compared to western offerings.

One of the most interesting aspects of the book is the title character, Lisbeth Salander. Someone more intelligent than most of those around her; someone who has been badly hurt and is extremely guarded as a result. To have people trying to get close to you and showing that they care about you but being unable to let your guard down or reciprocate. Honestly, I identified a lot with this character. There are a lot of people like this out in the world, and it is rare to see them developed as main characters in a book or movie.

Something that did annoy me was just how many people took it as fact that the character must suffer from Asperger’s or some other condition. This is briefly suggested by Blomkvist in the book, yet people have taken it a fact. I think this is sad…I see it as an example of people needing to assign a label to something they can’t understand or don’t want to. For someone like Lisbeth to have been what she has been through, her personality and view of the world is normal…there is no need to jump to accusations of mental disorders.

The one main criticism I have of the book is the rape subplot. It seemed completely unnecessary. Why put the character through such torment? Just to flesh her out? I don’t have a problem with the rape itself…, it’s just that it didn’t seem to serve any purpose. It didn’t really reveal anything knew about the character, and seemed to be there just for shock value. I don’t know if I can elaborate any more than that – it just seemed out of place. I am curious if the scene will be in the Hollywood version, or if it is in the Swedish film version which I have yet to see.

Lastly, the hacking subplot was annoying and resorted to tired clichés. Those magical Hollywood hackers, seem to have even infiltrated Swedish literature. One of the main problems here is the use of Apple products. Is a hacker in the sense that Lisbeth Salander is portrayed going to want a system that locks you in and limits your control, while also being horrendously insecure? Unlikely. Not to mention the ridiculous device that send bits of a program along with every webpage, and automatically assembles and executes on the target after downloading has completed. Riiiiiight.

For the most part The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was very entertaining and well written if a tad overhyped. I’m really looking forward to reading the sequels, as well as watching both film versions. I also aim to learn more about Steig Larson who seems to have had many interesting thoughts and ideas, only very few of which are present in his book. Recommended.

Anarchy seems to be all fail

Filed under: Issues...the world...etc.. — Tags: , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 9:55 am

About a month ago I went along to the meeting of an anarchy advocacy group here in Las Vegas. It was interesting, but ended up pretty much reinforcing my views. I am very, very interested in having a different system of government. Democracy is a pretty shitty solution, and it saddens me how many people blindly revere and advocate it.

Given this though, I have never given an anarchic government due consideration. Why? I don’t see there being any way it could be a viable solution. I should note I have not done a lot of reading up on Anarchy, not even the comprehensive Wikipedia article, so my views (as always) should be taken with a grain of salt.

One of the main reasons I don’t consider anarchy to be a possible solution is that it seems damned from the start. It doesn’t matter if a nice group of people figure out how to get along nicely and coexist without needing a state, as it creates a power vacuum. Whenever there is a power vacuum, some enterprising individual or group will come along to fill it, by force if necessary.

That’s the fundamental problem with Anarchy, it relies on a romanticized version of human nature. There is a reason there has never been a lasting anarchic government throughout human history. In every culture at every point in time, people have looked to leaders. There has always been some form of government, whether it were a simple chieftain and tribal leaders, or any of the current governments.

One of the examples anarchists like to use to show that an anarchic government can work is the Free Territory. Yes, it’s true that for a point in time there was a successful anarchic government in place, and then what happened? The people with power inevitable moved in and asserted themselves to fill the vacuum. It’s just how it goes.

There are numerous other problems with anarchy as a system of government in my opinion. For example, how do you have any kind of judicial system? Surely you need an objective authority to administer penalties in a consistent manner? Any alternative is close to mob rule or vigilantism, which have to be the worst solutions for judicial systems there are.

What about other things, like health care or market regulation? At the meeting I went to, there were people who didn’t see why it would be a bad thing if people were allowed to sell vegetables or raw milk out of their backyard. In theory people should have the freedom to do this. However, we need a way to ensure that people purchasing such products will not unknowingly suffer. That’s where regulation comes in…, making sure the cows or plants or whatever are healthy.

I wonder what the people who complain that they can’t do whatever they want out of their own backyards without regulation would do, when people started coming back being upset that they caught some disease or got sick or whatever. In an anarchical society, there possibly wouldn’t be decent health care, so the problem might just go away. Otherwise, they could come back, and without a system of law or justice to hold them back could take revenge in a manner they felt was fair.

When challenged on some of the issues I mentioned above, they admit there may be a need for a judicial system or regulation or such…, so is that anarchy, or a minimalistic government – a different thing entirely? That in a whole seems to be the issue with people advocating anarchy. They have not put too much thought into it. It’s is an undeveloped system of government for people who have not bothered to develop their thoughts or argument for a better system of government. Of course, I would love to hear arguments in favor of anarchy or referrals to such.

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