Monday, December 31, 2012

The Top 5 Best and Worst of 2012

It may be apparent from this list that the top 5 worst things from 2012 will be from a human society perspective, and the top 5 good things will largely be from a personal perspective.  Why?  Well, because I think there was not a whole lot of good for human society as a whole this year.  Feel free to correct me if you think I'm wrong.  These are all in ascending emphatic order.

The Top 5 Worst Things of 2012

5.  The End of the Twilight Saga:  Anyone who says that the Twilight Saga is "good cinema," is a teenage girl and/or a moron.  I have mixed feelings about this one because on one hand it's absolutely wonderful that this stain on artistic quality is finally over, but it's terrible because there had to be another movie in order for it to end.  I've long smashed the Twilight movie series for two reasons.  One: it's the worst writing coupled with the worst actors in recent memory.  Two: it was wildly successful at the box office.  It's a sad commentary on American society that such a horrific spectacle--a complete artistic failure on every level--did so well at the box office.

4.  NYC Nazis:  This one blows my mind because of how many people were actually supportive of it.  New York City Mayor Bloomberg championed the cause not of a curb in violence or better education for city kids . . . but of making sure that New Yorkers couldn't have too much soda when they go out to eat.  This is an affront to personal liberty on so many levels it makes my head hurt.  First of all, how the hell can the government tell a private business how big their serving cups can be?  Secondly, this just goes to prove that many government officials are tyrranical asshats that believe they have the power to make your decisions for you.  As if that wasn't enough, Bloomberg also thinks that new moms in NYC should be forced to breast feed because, you know, that's totally his business.

3.  The Aurora, CO Shooting:  Aside from the fact that it made me a little nervous to take my son with me to see The Dark Knight Rises on opening night, this was a complete nightmare for all involved, and for American society as a whole.  James Holmes killed 12ish people I think, one of whom was a child around 8 years old.  Of course, this raised the perennial question of "how could this have been prevented," and anyone with a brain answered "it can't."  James Holmes was a neuroscience PhD student with no history of mental illness, aggression, or violence.  For whatever reason, he snapped.  And of course, society snapped along with him.  Because of this, a movie-theater shoot-out scene was removed from the movie Gangbusters, because apparently it's too insensitve.  I'll leave you to ponder just how deeply idiotic and hypocritical that sounds coming from Hollywood.

What's funny is that Democrats think they
are the "winners."
2.  The Presidential Election:  It's not just the fact that Obama won that makes this close to the top: it's the fact that we were screwed no matter who won.  Romney or Obama: it's like choosing between a .357 revolver and a .45 USP to commit suicide with: either way, your brains are getting splattered on the wall behind you.  Aside from the fact that the Democrats are going to spend us into oblivion, the Republican Party was equally as terrible.  The RNC did everything in its power to stifle debate within the party.  They defrauded the Maine primary to screw over Ron Paul, they flat out changed the delegate rules so they could hand-pick delegates, and then they thought it'd be a great idea to adopt "pro-life without exception" as their official abortion platform.  Here's the problem with Democrats and Republicans: they're both becoming increasingly extreme.  Get.  A.  Clue.

1.  Sandyhook Elementary:  For me, this is easily the worst thing that happened this year.  An entire first-grade class was mercilessly slaughtered by psychopath Adam Lanza, who of course took his own life before he could be apprehended.  This event really crippled the soul of America.  Not only did it make a lot of parents feel uneasy about how safe their small children can be in such a horrifying world, but it re-ignited the gun control debate with a fiery ferocity.  This shooting is making the nation as crazy as Lanza.  To suggest that a complete psychopath is indicative of a larger societal problem is pretty ridiculous.  "Society is sick," so many people said.  No: the 1% of American population suffering from violent mental illness is sick.  I'm not sick.  Chances are that my readers are not sick.  But, in typical American fashion, since justice cannot be done upon Adam Lanza, we have to find an effigy to burn, a scapegoat to slaughter.  Gun ownership will take the fall for the crazies, the morons, and the criminals that make up a sliver of American society.

The Top 5 Best Things of 2012

My Great Library and Museum
5.  Minecraft:  Minecraft is a game that allows players to harvest 3 dimensional blocks and use them to build stuff.  It's been around for a lot longer than 2012, but it has been a great Minecraft year for me.  I play on a multiplayer server with some friends of mine, and many times over, I have successfully made their creative efforts look like the rambling iterations of small children.  "Go big or go home," is my motto.  It was a great time sink and the results were fairly breath-taking in my opinion.

4.  The Hobbit:  It's received mixed reviews from critics, but that's because they're morons.  A big complaint is that it "lacks the seriousness of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy."  Well, that's a "no shit Sherlock," moment right there, because the story of The Hobbit is not about the end times.  It's about a guy who is in way over his head, and he finds the courage to make the best of it.  It's also telling that most critics said that the first hour of the movie is "slow" and would be hard for children to sit through (facepalm if you get the irony of that).  I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, and I'm glad that the world of film criticism has been exposed for what it really is.  Those idiots are not concerned with judging a film for what it is, but rather they judge it on what they want it to be.

3.  The Avengers:  What an achievement.  Marvel Studios made it happen: they had four iconic comic book characters have their time in the sun with their own individual full-length feature films, and then brought them all together--big-name actors and all--for one epic film.  The movie is a lot of fun with thrilling action and amazing chemistry between the characters.  The best part is that Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man will have more sequels and there will be another Avengers film.  To those who scoff at this sort of thing, I cordially invite you to pull the stick out of your ass and allow yourself to have a bit of fun.  Super Hero worship isn't just for Philistines, and a "good movie" doesn't have to be about the boring, hum-drum every day of "real people."  Hipsters are terrible.

2.  The Dark Knight Rises:  I'm sure by now you're noticing a theme.  2012 has been a great year for entertainment.  It's about the only thing good about 2012.  This brings me to the movie that I thought was superior to The Avengers, the final chapter in Christopher Nolan's Batman series.  The acting was superb--even Tom Hardy's Bane.  A lot of people said that he was forgettable because we could only see his eyes through the movie, but his eyes told a rich story.  The film was huge, every actor fit perfectly into their role (especially Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle aka Catwoman) and the film ended the series on a grand note.  Can there be revolution in our time, or are the only revolutionaries that exist anymore just terrorists?  Despite Bane's brutality and violence against humanity, he was right about the corruption and the sickness of society.  In his final installment, Noaln continued to encapsulate the angst and the moral ambiguity swirling in the minds of Americans.  Also, it was a lot of fun!

1.  Anne Hathaway:  She was amazing as Catwoman--stole the show, in my opinion--but she was even more amazing as Fantine in the screen adaptation of the Broadway production of Les Miserables.  I will admit it to the world: I shed a man-tear at her rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream."  It was visceral, it was real, and it was gut wrenching.  Why is this the best thing of 2012?  Because Anne Hathaway proved that amongst the dung-heap of Hollywood and the deteriorating collective creative and artistic mind of American society, there can still be a performance truly worthy of the adjective "beautiful."  While we're told to believe that movies like Avatar  and the whole Twilight saga are somehow "great films," we still have actors who are willing to give their heart and soul to show us what real talent and a magnificent performance really are.  Pitting Anne Hathaway and Kristin Stewart against each other would be like taking a watermelon to a Gallagher routine.  Thank you, Anne Hathaway, for proving that the world is not totally hopeless.

So there you have it.  Please feel free to give me your own top 5 best and worst stuff of 2012 in the comments.  Happy "One Year Closer to Dying"!  Let's hope 2013 is not as bleak as 2012.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

NSFJ: Merry Christmas!!!

And what better way to celebrate than with God's greatest gift to man . . .


 
Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

'Tis the Reason for the Season, but not for Me

Despite what many detractors may say, Christmas is about Jesus.  It makes little difference that the date many associate with the birth of Christ is completely arbitrary and is likely not even close to his actual birthday.  It also makes little difference that December 25th was traditionally a Pagan holiday.

None of that matters, because ultimately, dates are meaningless until there is some meaning attatched to it.  So the atheists should just let Christians have their day and go on doing whatever.  Besides, how many atheists don't celebrate Christmas?  Who wants to be that guy who doesn't buy presents for his children and what not?

Be that as it may, Christmas has taken on some different meaning and nuance over time.  Yes, at its core it's about Jesus' birth.  But 2,000 years ago, December 25th was just December 25th (relatively speaking, since it took quite some time to shift from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar).  And today, December 25th is a time for people to praise their savior, but also a time for giving and togetherness.

I was in the shower this morning, contemplating how I will spend my day today.  Divorced, I usually don't have the kids on Christmas Eve.  I generally don't like hanging out with my family all that often, so I skip the Christmas Eve festivities, saving all of my holly, jolly spirit for Christmas Day.  Then a thought occurred to me: perhaps I should do the whole mass thing.  An image of sitting in the pews of my parish filled my thoughts, breathing in that "church smell" that you get whenever you walk into any Catholic church (the protestant ones smell differently, I've noticed).

And then as those things swirled around in my brain, another faint thought came to me that helped me to decide why I would not go.  It was not a thought that I forced--in fact, I sort of don't even consider it to be a thought because it just sort of happened.

It would be silly for me to go because, I thought, "I don't believe in God."

I'm not an atheist.  I can't say that I know, definitively, that God does not exist.  I suppose I could be called agnostic, but the term seems silly and pointless to me.  I truly hope that there is a God, really I do.  I hope against hope that there is something beyond this bleak, mortal coil.  In fact, I think there's a high probability that God exists.  How else did existence come into existence if there was not some impetus, some originating force that brought it all into being?  But none of those things necessitate "belief."  None of them give me any faith whatesoever.

For as long as I can remember, even back to my early adolescence, I've always had that nagging feeling in the back of my brain.  My dad's side of the family are all Protestant.  Some Presbyterians, many Baptists.  Along with my Catholic upbringing, I was exposed to the "other side" of Christianity.  I always found the Baptists to be fairly silly.  Putting their hands up in the air, shouting "praise Jesus," and of course the stereotypical, "can I get an amen?!"

"AMEN," they all shouted in unison, joy and elation on their faces.  It was somewhat similar to Catholics, who all uttered the same phrases in unison, but the difference was that the Baptists actually meant it.  You could see it on their faces--that stubborn faith that could never be shaken by science or trauma.  Of course, their fixation is not so much on God, but on Jesus: because he is their savior.  Somehow, God is extremely petty and required a sacrifice for us to enter into heaven.

What's funny about it all is that their faith in Jesus is so strong, that God himself could reveal himself to the world and tell everyone that Jesus was not the savior, but most Christians wouldn't believe it.  They would believe that it's some sort of Satan-trickery.

That's a faith and a conviction that I will never have.  As I watched them all being happy and content that someday they'd all be sitting on clouds chillin' with their bro Jesus, I knew in my own heart that I'd never feel that way.  Ever.  I figured this out when I was a teenager, probably about 16 or so.  To this day, I still don't feel it.

But I still celebrate Christmas, because it's a time of giving and togetherness.  I'm not a bad person because I don't believe in God.  In fact, I'm willing to bet that I am a far more compassionate and moral person than most Christians.  I just don't feel it.  I just don't believe it.  I'd rather go through life not kidding myself, or forcing myself to ignore the doubt.

But I hope to those that do believe that you have a wonderful time celebrating the birth of your savior (and I mean that).  You are lucky because you will have a spiritual fulfillment that I never will. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Political Realities: Gun Control Perspectives

Check me out on Political Realities today.  I figured that I should stop being such a slap-ass and actually contribute something worthwhile to Larry Jackson's wonderful piece of internet space.

In the article, I talk about how the word "defeatist" is being thrown around to describe me and others who feel the same as I do.

I think it's worth a read!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"Cultural Ptomaine" by AHB

We're a sick people.  I think that's the gist.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So yeah, another lap of tragedies, another call for "real" gun control discussions, another round of dodging the real issue. The real issue is of course, the toxic elements in our culture. Pro-Gun, Anti-gun, undecided, I think we can all agree that guns are just a means to an end, and that people can be killed in large quantities very easily if one wished to do so. Keep the following in mind- if someone is willing to die to do harm to you, or others around you... the only recourse you have is to kill or fatally disable this person before they do whatever it is they set out to do. This goes for a gun, a knife, a sunday new-york times, an olive fork, some asshole with a bomb, whatever.

Let's focus on the mindset of someone who wishes to take a few down with themselves on their way out. Whatever it is that has driven someone to this point is 100% irreconcilable emotionally. This person is willing to destroy themselves to achieve something. No amount of talking, or negotiation, or bribes, or roadblocks that doesn't kill them, will stop them. Something as trivial as stealing a gun is ethical peanuts to pulling the trigger on children, innocents, or loved ones. There are many who claim that guns "make it easy" to kill people, and I agree.

A gun is an excellent machine to hurt people with if that is your intention. So is an atomic bomb. The difference between the gun and the atomic bomb is one is rather simplistic the other is very complicated. Someone going on a murder spree with a gun or guns is not a sophisticated or even rational person.

If the guns were a problem, why haven't I, as a owner of several firearms and access to hundreds, gone on a murderous rampage through the city? I mean, I have guns, and their sole purpose as machines is to spit metal at high velocities, my only motivation for having guns surely must be because I am stockpiling for my rampage.

What separates me from these madmen is not the tools, but the intentions. Power is nothing without the will and perception to use it. I have no intention of killing innocent people for any reason, now I do have an intention of keeping myself protected, and should the need arise that gun is going to give me a fighting chance of fulfilling my intention of staying alive, be that to kill game animals, or bipedal predators. I can assure you however, if I wanted to kill innocent people, the last resort would be my guns.

Now for the part no one wants to discuss: People are the problem. Sick, demented, tortured people are the problem, and our culture is having a nasty tendency of producing these people. You don't have to be out and about in America long to see that there are some stone cold assholes roaming our fair nation. Donald Trump defined Ethics as "what people think they can get away with" and it is true.

If someone wants to get over on you, and they believe they can get away with it, they typically have no second thought as to the right and wrong, they have already decided. Some lunatic who would go in and blow away his mother and little children has already made his decision as well. Take the gun out of the picture, and think of all the other ways, most of them MORE deadly, that he could have accomplished his intentions.

What if the asshole knifed his mother, and then waited for recess or the end of the school day and decided he was going to take a leisurely drive with his car through the sidewalks. What would prevent him from just offing a school bus driver and taking his newfound wards for a swim in the river? What if this guy was a schemer, and he waited until he had a job at the school where he could set up some elaborate plot and set it into motion?

Pointing the finger at the machine, the tool... is pointing the finger at something that has power, but no will or perception to act.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012

America 2043: Not White

According to a prediction from the census people, non-hispanic whites will no longer constitute the majority of the American population by 2043.  I've got a lot of thoughts about this, so I'm going to try to compartmentalize them rather than create a sweeping narrative.

1.  Who really gives a shit?  I certainly don't.  It makes absolutely zero difference to me to know that I'm not the "majority" anymore.  I'm not racist, so it really doesn't bother me at all.  Now, I know that some people will be bothered by this, yet they don't consider themselves racists.  They might simply be afraid that they'll be repressed like people of color were before the Civil Rights movement (and still are in many ways today).  Perhaps not systematically repressed as they once were, but let's face facts: racism is not a "white" phenomenon.

Don't believe me?  I've heard plenty of hispanics drop the N-bomb when referring to black people.  I've heard many, many black people refer to Mexicans as "wet backs."  Not to mention, there are plenty of people of color (we'll abbreviate that to PoC) who absolutely despise white people.  That might have been justifiable 40 years ago, but why should they hate on me?  I've never done anything to ruin their lives or oppress them.  Hell, I worked with inner-city kids during the summers in college--most of whom were black.

So I can see how some white people might be afraid that they'll be discriminated against.  Actually, wouldn't it be sort of funny if a PoC in law enforcement racially profiled a white guy?  It'd be interesting to see how something like that would play out.

2.  White people will still be the majority.  "Jack, what the hell are you talking about?  You just said that white people won't be the majority anymore!"  I would like to point out the absolute ridiculous perception that somehow humanity is divided into colored and not-colored.  If you're not white, then you're somehow grouped into the larged category of People of Color.

Yes, I realized I used the term myself, but that was because I was speaking within the confines of the context of asshats.  It's a mind game.  You're either white, or you're not.  Somehow, blacks, asians, hispanics, and whatever the hell else there is, get lumped into one big category.  Nevermind the fact that they are all distinct racial groups (with the exception of hispanics, because they are technically caucasian--race is determined by facial structure, not skin color).

And nevermind the fact that there are some 31 flavors of Asians.  Asia is like a freaking Baskin Robins when you think of the fact that Indians, Arabs, Persians, ethnic Jews, Russians, Chinese, Mongolians, Koreans, Laotians, Japanese, Vietnamese, Pacific Islanders, are all technically Asians.  The point is that despite this wild diversity, society is still trying to operate on an "us vs. them" level.  As I said, you'r either white or you're not.

So sure, if we're morons and group every single non-white race into its own category then whites won't be the majority come 2043.  But, if we apply a little common sense and realize that these different racial and ethnic groups should not and cannot be lumped together, then you'll see that white caucasian will still comprise the majority of the American population.

More of this?  Yes please!!!

3.  This means more sexy exotic chicks.  I once told a friend of mine that I don't really have a "type" when it comes to women.  He retorted "of course you have a type.  It's anything-not-white."  I have a thing for exotic women.  It's not that I dislike or do not appreciate a beautiful white woman, but it's kind of just run-of-the-mill, you know?  This may sound chauvenistic and juvenile to some of my readers, but really we men benefit from this sort of thing.

I would probably give up one of my toes just to sleep with Beyonce, or Lucy Liu, or--God help me--Penelope Cruz.  I know I'm not the only white dude who feels that way about these women, so why not just look on the bright side of things?  If you're into non-white chicks, then this is a great thing.  This is like only having chicken noodle soup for 40 years, and then suddenly clam chowder (Manhattan and New England), vegetable soup, potato soup, and lobster bisque are made widely available.

So don't fret.  It won't make any damn bit of difference to anyone, anywhere that it won't be white people vs. the world anymore.  It's an antiquated mode of thinking that society needs to leave behind.  Maybe with more PoC, everyone will suddenly realize that there's a difference between a black guy and an Arab.

I'm not holding my breath on that one, though.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Roll Out the Gun (Control) Nuts

A guy shoots up a mall in Oregon.  How do we stop this from ever happening again?  Ban gun ownership in America, of course!

But let's consider a few things before we start talking out of our asses about banning guns.  Let's say that tomorrow, owning and buying a gun is illegal.  Now, me being Mr. Law-Abiding-Citizen would probably just obey the law and not buy a gun.

But how about a guy like the mall shooting nut job?  Or the guy who went on a rampage at the theater in Colorodo?  Do we really think the law is going to stop them from buying a gun?  Probably not.  If you think about it, the law wasn't even enough to keep these guys from murdering human beings in cold blood.  Knowing that they don't even have a shred of regard for human life, what makes you think that they have any regard for less horrifying offenses like owning contraband?

Here's the answer: they will not give a shit.  They already don't give a shit.  "Owning a gun makes you more likely to use it."  Okay, just like owning a knife makes you more likely to use it?  How about a hammer?  How about some ammonia bleach and aluminum foil?  Just about anything can be used as a weapon, and it can be wielded easily.

"It's harder to kill with a knife than a gun."  Oh really?  Last I checked, a knife is more easily concealable.  It's quieter, so you could potentially kill a lot of people before anyone is even alerted to your misdeeds.  Think a knife is less threatening than a gun?  Well, just a few dudes with some knives were able to keep a bunch of plane passengers at bay (the 9/11 terrorists were only armed with knives).

So should we ban all knives as well?  That's the answer!  No more steak knives in America!

Hell, let's even look at the War on Drugs.  It's illegal to own crack cocaine in America, yet it's still here.  Mary Jane is illegal in 49 of 50 states, yet it's ubiquitous.  Manufacturing, distributing, and owning hard drugs all carry hefty penalties--production and distribution carry prison sentences--yet it still happens.  A lot.

The sad truth is that the law can only do so much.  You can ban every gun and bullet outside the police and military in America, and you will STILL see these crazy shootings happening.  In fact, it'd probably be worse because in this scenario, all firearms and ammo would go underground, and we wouldn't even be able to TRACK the sale of firearms and ammunition.  You wouldn't need to go through a background check or anything: you just have to know a guy who knows a guy and save up a little more money.

Ever hear the phrase "locks only stop honest men?"  Well, it's the same with the law: it only stops those who have some sensibility about them.

So to the Gun Control Nuts (see what I did there?): dream on.  You can control guns as much as you want, hell you can even ban them altogether.  It won't make a damn bit of difference, and if you think it will then you're living in a fantasy world.

Pro-tip: if only it was against the law for that guy to bring a gun into a mall, so many people could have been saved!  Oh wait . . . it IS against the law to bring a gun into a mall.

***By the way, I DO NOT own a gun.***

Sunday, December 9, 2012

"The Long Con" by the Anonymous Howard Beale


As usual, my personal friend whom I've dubbed the Anonymous Howard Beale (AHB) has some excellent commentary to make about American society.  (And, he has enabled me to be lazy by not writing my own material.

Enjoy!

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Have you ever wondered why we are divided as a society yet united as a people? From my perspective it really is a confidence game. You see you have our country which is dominated and controlled by the corporations and the wealthy, yet they actively tell people to hate corporations and the like. It is in their best interests to support democratic and left-wing ideologies in the media and in entertainment because it gives that side of the field traction and stability they otherwise would never have. The majority of people are either a Neo-Con nazi, or a bleeding heart Liberal... either way they got ya striker, and they are gonna get ya down, and down safe.

You may be thinking "Howie, if what you say is true, how can you claim that it is in the corporate interests to support the left?" It is really simple: Unless you work for yourself or have absolute control over what you earn and are valued at, you are a slave. You may not think you are a slave, but you are indeed a slave in a loose translation of the term, admittedly. Value of your dollars is determined by the market, and they control the market. So in essence you are playing a game of football where the refs are all paid off. Clearly that was a holding, clearly that was roughing the passer, clearly that was pass interference, clearly we need to reset the playclock to 2 minutes 1 second.

When people say "Quit sending jobs overseas" they don't realize that our way of life is dependent on the cheap labor of the 2nd and 3rd world. China in particular has paid a considerable amount of our debt. When the occupy hipsters had their cool Ipads, smartphones, and other gadgets they were slamming our government from, I got the sense their heart couldn't really have been in it, after all that ipad that costs 500 bucks by today's money would be more like 5,000 if it was made in this country. Don't believe me? look back to the 80s when a loaded IBM or Laser 386 cost 10,000 without breaking a sweat and was obsoleted within 18 months. First world labor, First world prices.

Also, when people bring up canada and their healthcare system, I start to get sleepy. Canada has the luxury of being the wife of the United States, if some misguided country dared to attack Canada they would get smacked so hard by the hammer of doom. Don't believe me again? Look no further than NORAD. NORAD's 2nd in command is always Canadian. So essentially your tax dollars go to protect Canada too. I bet if we didn't waste so much money on war, and instead focused on healthcare, we could do what Canada does no problem... but then how would we keep our fighting force fit and ready? Fighting wars and having an enemy is only boosting the military power of the United States, the more we fight, the stronger we get.

What can you do against this two-faced tyranny? Educate yourself. Educate yourself about the world. Take whatever bias you have and throw it away at the threshold of the door, then open your eyes to logic and reality. One of the easiest ways to get a true perspective of the world is get a shortwave radio, and listen to what people in Russia, Germany, France, Brazil, Iraq, etc really think about the united states. You might be surprised.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Art Is Not a Circle Jerk

I regularly read reviews of TV shows, games, and movies.  I often visit www.ign.com to see what they have to say about the media I like.

What I've been noticing--and with a lot of reviewers, not just at IGN--is that there are fewer and fewer reviewers these days who actually review a work of TV or film based on the actual work itself.  Many of them seem to review it based on what they thought it should have been.

They don't really review the meaning of the piece, they usually just trash it by saying that so-and-so character should have done X instead of Y.  Or that they wish the show would have gone in a completely different direction.  I read a little blurb about the movie Prometheus that said the movie was a giant let-down because it "left too many questions unanswered."

And so, because the work of art did not fully meet their expectations, the reviewers say that it was all "disappointing."  For example, I'm really into a show called Dexter.  It's about a forensic analyst who happens to be a serial killer.  He generaly kills criminals who slip through the cracks of the justice system.

**SPOILER ALERT**

Dexter is an adopted child, and it turns out that his "sister" discovers that she has romantic feelings for him.  A reviewer at IGN has been harping on this for the past year now, and how disgusting he thinks it is.  He goes on and on about how he hopes that the whole notion gets dropped, like it should never have happened in the first place.

Sure, it's okay to think that it's gross (even though they're not related by blood, at all), but to say that it should be dropped simply because it's disgusting and makes him feel uncomfortable?  Oh, so sorry that a TV show irked your fragile sensibilities.  The best part is that it's a show about a ruthless serial killer.  He's okay with the fact that the protagonist, Dexter, is a sociopath with a heart of gold, but his adoptive sister falling for him?  Outrageous!

**END SPOILER ALERT**

The asshats at IGN do the same thing with another show I love called Homeland.  The guy constantly trashes the show saying "Brody (the protagonist) should have done this," or "OMG the writers are so stupid for going in this direction!"

It's indicative of a larger problem in society.  People have grown so accustomed to having their every want and need met that they simply can't handle it when someone gives them anything less than their hearts' desire.

Newsflash assholes: The Rolling Stones were right, because you can't always get what you want.  Instead of wishing that a show turned out differently, how about we just ponder the implications of what actually happened.  If it turns out that a plot divice is total shit, then so be it.  But the key is to not judge something total shit simply because you think it should have been something else.

The problem is that we've been fed this horse-shit message that we're supposed to expect nothing less than all of our needs being met.  What we should be teaching people is that instead of being spoiled brats whenever we don't get everything we wanted for Christmas, perhaps we should find value in what we are given, regardless of whether or not we wanted it.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: art is not meant to be entertainment.  The purpose of art is not, and should not, be to make you feel satisfied.  It's actually supposed to be the opposite of fulfillment.  It's supposed to leave you craving more, but not in the sense that you were disappointed and still lay in wait for your needs to be met.  It's supposed to give the much needed spark to your tinder, to energize your brain and to push you to explore untreaded territory.

Isn't that a novel idea?  Appreciating what we have instead of spurning it for not being what we expected?  I suspect that is a notion that will become fossilized in about twenty years.  People like me will fondly remember the good old days where we were challenged to think and remember that there is an entire world outside the narrow confines of our selfish desires.

Appreciate art for what it is, not for what you want it to be.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Dumabss Idea of the Week: Hitman Absolution Review

Hot assassin chicks dressed up as dominatrix nuns?
Yes, please!
For those of you who don't know, Hitman is a PC game series that puts you in the shoes of, you guessed it, a Hitman.  His name is "Agent 47," and he's supposed to be the epitome of a human weapon.  He's strong, he's agile, and with you the player at the helm, he's incredibly cunning in the ways that he devises to kill his targets.

Before Hitman: Absolution came out a couple of weeks ago, the last entry in the series was Hitman: Bloodmoney.  It was a metric crap ton of fun.  Not only did they fix the game mechanics so you could blend in with the crowds more effectively by using disguises and the like, but the game actually gave you more ways to kill your target.  Sure, you could just use the traditional fiber wire approach, or just put a bullet in his brain.  But it was much more fun to stage an accident.

For example, there's a mission in which you have to kill an opera singer.  The opera singer is apparently into little boys and girls.  Anyway, the singer is rehearsing a scene in which his character is executed with a WWII mauser pistol.  Of course, the pistol has blanks but you can actually replace that pistol with a real WWII mauser with real rounds.  You can actually make the executioner unwittingly kill your target.

Or, you can replace the executioner guy yourself, walk up on stage in his full costume, and blow your target away while everyone is none the wiser.  By the time they figure out something is wrong, you're already walking out the door.

Or, you can simply snipe your target from the balcony and walk out.  You can actually complete that mission in under 5 minutes.

This is not entirely the case with Hitman: Absolution.  There are maybe two or three open world missions in which all you do is stalk your targets and rub 'em out.  Other than that, most of the missions focus on tactical stealth, avoiding your enemies in an action scenario.  That's not what Hitman is supposed to be.  I read something the other day that said that Hitman has always been about blending in with the world around you, rather than evading it altogether.

It just doesn't have that same, unique feel that made Hitman different from all the rest.  My guess is that the problem we're facing is that younger gamers these days are all about the action.  I don't think a whole lot of people have the patience required to tackle games like Hitman.  The key is trial and error.  It took me probably 30 attempts to pull off that opera singer hit in Hitman: Bloodmoney.  The same can be said for Absolution.  I played it on purist mode, which is the hardest setting, and I probably attempted each mission 30 times before I was able to successfully complete it.

Other than that, it's not a bad game.  The graphics are so intensive that with the settings at their highest, I was only able to get about 30 fps.  My PC is not exactly a punk rig.  I'm running a core i& 920, 6 gigs of OCZ Gold, and a GTX 570 for my GPU.  But with the settings on medium, I was getting a solid 55-60 fps the whole game, and it still looked pretty amazing.

The mechanics are improved from previous installments.  For example, if you are spotted or attack someone outright, the entire world won't become aware of your actions so long as you take care of the person before he is able to call for help.  This broke down a couple of times during my play, but it wasn't terribly egregious.

The only other thing that bothered me was the disguise system in general.  If you're wearing the same clothing as some other NPC, such as a police uniform, they'll notice that there's something off about you because they don't recognize you.  This is pretty ridiculous because you sit and wonder to yourself how one Chicago cop would somehow be so familiar with every single cop in Chicago that he'd be able to point you out as an impostor.

Also, there's a mission in which all your enemies are wearing masks.  I thought to myself, "thank God, I can mask myself and walk around unaccosted."  Wrong.  47 dons every part of the disguise EXCEPT the mask.  Somehow, we're supposed to believe that the greatest assassin ever wouldn't think to wear a mask to avoid detection--and we're not supposed to believe that such a decision was made on the part of the developers simply to make the mission more difficult.

Other than those gripes, the game was pretty okay.  This counts as the dumbass idea of the week because I sort of feel like I wasted a lot of my time failing every mission 40 times.  Is it a good game?  Yes.  Is it worth $60?  No.

I'd say it's worth about $40.00.  The graphics are great, and they fixed a lot of silly mechanics from previous installments.  But the $20.00 comes off when you consider that they also added some broken mechanics which counteract the ones they fixed, and I feel they made way too many concessions on mission design and overall game theme, likely to pander to the asshat kids these days who simply have to have all action, all the time.