Archive for the 'The Geekatorium' Category

06
Jun
12

The Kessel Run argument

It started innocently enough. It involved a dress … an Ewok/Wookie dress, to be specific.

The headline about it read, “This Dual-Action Dress Flips from Wookie to Ewok in Under 12 Parsecs”.

If you’re unsure about what this means, chances are you are not a Star Wars fan and would have no interest in checking out that dress anyhow. But if you are familiar with it, you remember that after Obi Wan asks Han if his ship is fast, Han says something like, “Fast ship? You never heard of it? It made the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs!”

A simple enough line … one that should not cause any kind of debate. Except a parsec is a measure of distance, so it was kind of laughed at by the casual fan.

But then there are the Lucas apologists who say “NO! HAN WAS RIGHT TO SAY IT LIKE THAT!”, and offer an explanation. And as a twitter friend pointed out, there are numerous sources and wikis and such that support this view, because it’s “what Lucas intended.”

I have a word for that: “Bullshit.”

“This whole argument is a pointless trap!”

OK, I’ll admit it: For a Star Wars fan, I’m not really all that hardcore. Sure, I will absolutely own you in Star Wars trivial pursuit. I have framed movie posters. I have my original action figures. But I have never read the books, never heard any of the writers or Lucas talk about “intent,” nor will I. Here’s why:

1. Intent is bullshit. Long long ago, in a state far, far away, I was sitting in on a friend’s creative writing class. A guy was feeling kind of nervous about the poem he wrote, and before he read it, he started explaining it. “Well, see, you have to understand … I was trying to envision this man trying to describe this beautiful woman and …” Me, being the jerk that I am, interrupted him. “I don’t want to be rude, but don’t explain it. Read it, and let the piece speak for itself.”

And that’s the way I feel about any movie. When someone says, “Well, you have to read the book” about a movie, or refer to an interview that the director gave, then the movie has failed. I don’t want footnotes to explain the shit that made no sense in order to cover a flub. So, when I’m talking about Star Wars, I’m talking about the movie as it stands as a piece of work. I refuse to take footnotes into consideration.

Side note: I think Lucas said he never intended for Han to shoot first.

2. Admit it, Lucas Fucked Up. Let’s take a look at the dialogue. I’ll even go so far as to look it up.

Obi Wan: “Is it a fast ship?”

Han: “You’ve never heard of the Millennium Falcon? … It’s the ship that made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs.”*

According to the apologists, here’s what’s what’s going on according to the writers and Lucas’ intent: While making the Kessel Run, Han flew close to the event horizon of a black hole, which shortened the distance he actually had to fly, which makes “less than 12 parsecs” accurate, and shows how much of a kick-ass pilot Han is for pulling it off.

But without that knowledge, let’s look at what’s going on. Obi Wan is clearly asking about SPEED, the logic being that if the ship is really fast, they’ll make it to Alderaan in less time (t = d/r). Han responds that the ship made a specific run in terms of DISTANCE (d = rt), not in TIME or RATE.

So, if we apply this conversation to our daily, non-space traveling lives, it goes like this:

Me: “Is your car a fast car?”

Han: “Fast car? You’ve never heard of the Chevy Nova? I made it from Cleveland to Pittsburgh in 134 miles.”

Me: “Yeah, so I have I. HOW LONG DID THE TRIP TAKE?”

Han: “134 miles.”

Me: “You’re an idiot. NEXT.”

Now sure, the apologists can argue all day long that space travel isn’t the same as travel on earth. I get that. But it still reflects piss-poor writing. For example, if doing the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs is such a big accomplishment, shouldn’t Obi Wan be asking “In how many parsecs will it take you to get to Aldaraan?” (distance) instead of asking about how fast it is (rate)?

Also, the “kick-ass pilot” logic that the apologists bring up isn’t reflected in Han’s answer. He didn’t say, “With me flying, we made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.” He talks specifically about the ship (again, a “rate” issue), not how his flying skills saved the day.

Later on, Han talks about how he “outran those Imperial slugs.” Again, he’s talking speed (or rate), not distance.

So, clearly, Lucas and the writers fucked up, and the conversation is horribly flawed.

Conclusion: 

*And yes, I know this isn’t fully accurate. Refer to above picture.

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26
Dec
11

Unikornz

A lot of people probably don’t know this — but I do, in fact, like to help out my fellow human beings when I get a chance.

So, when a friend of mine told me she needed a new computer, I offered to build her one.

Now, I enjoy doing things like this, mainly because I frickin’ hate the retail computers. They just load them up with crap software, and Lord knows I hate crap software. I mean, you already have enough that comes with your operating system (assuming you’re not going with some Linux build) … you don’t need more that essentially does what your machine already has software to do. If you want something different, you can add it on later. But the programs they put on these things … they are maddening, useless, and really, most people don’t even want all that extra shit on their machines anyhow.

She gave me a budget, and I worked with what we had. I would inform her about sales from NewEgg, and she would buy the pieces as she could. In the end, I put together a spiffy little i5 with 8g of RAM and a 1T drive. Loaded MS Office Pro (her request) on to it, some solid (free and good) antivirus programs, and bam, she was good to go.

What she didn’t expect was the desktop that I chose for her.

The DM I got from her on Twitter simply stated: “Thank you very much for the desktop. I fucking love unicorns.”

OK, so maybe I’m not the nicest guy in the world after all.

I can accept that.

I am, however, still laughing.

21
Dec
11

Star Wars: Return of the MMO

It was inevitable. After ending my MMO career months ago, I have returned with the release of Bioware’s “Star Wars: The Old Republic.”

Being the ginormous Star Wars geek that I am, this should come as no surprise to anyone.

In fact, my first MMO was Sony’s Star Wars Galaxies … a game I loved and hated. It had so many good points that I’ve never seen done in any other game … and then Sony managed to screw everything up, and Warcraft came out … and that ended that. My Warcraft career lasted entirely too long … don’t get me wrong, I loved it … but I’m just not that into the sword/sorcery genre, so after awhile, meh. The only game I tried after other than Warcraft was Age of Conan, which sucked so hard that Crom should have come out of his mountain and killed everyone who had a part in that game.

So, when I heard Bioware was coming out with this game, I was excited. Really, it could have been a game where you make Wookies poop, and I would have been excited. So, naturally, I pre-ordered, and have been hooked ever since.

Now, I have to admit, it took me a bit to get used to things. First of all, I HATE HATE HATE games that “channel” you through a story. My PS3 was the Metal Gear Solid edition, and that game made me want to punch babies. I couldn’t do anything I wanted to do. I wanted to outflank the enemy or snipe bad guys, and it would bark at me that I wasn’t doing things the way it was designed to work. Fuck that. I ended it after playing it on and off for about a week.

And Star Wars is *similar* to this. Each class has it’s own story. The first time you hear it, it’s interesting. Start a character of the same class because you want to do something differently, and it’s all BLAH BLAH BLAH after that. You hit the spacebar to get through, but it’s super annoying. I liked WoW’s “click and accept” quest system, which if you’re playing catch up (like I always do), you didn’t have to waste an assload of time waiting for the movies to load. Age of Conan was similar to this, and it drove me nuts.

Speaking of Age of Conan, the graphics in SWTOR reminded me A TON of Conan. The kinda herky jerky movement. The way the avatar ran on the roads. This probably has more to do with my current machine, which *barely* can play the game. But, I’m putting together a new system (just waiting on the motherboard), and we’ll see if I still think the same way after I get it all going.

But after getting more used to the game, I’m actually beginning to absolutely love it. It has its bugs, but I’ve never played a game that didn’t.

The thing that really has me hooked is the Light Side/Dark Side aspect of the game. Here’s what struck me the other day — playing a good guy is super easy. Rescue the children, help the people, get the girl, accept their praise and thanks and rewards. Bingo bango bongo. Done and done. Don’t even have to think.

But the Dark Side … the Dark Side is tough. My Trooper is going Dark Side, just cause. I’ve threatened to shoot a child in front of a woman. I’ve been called a monster. Cruel. Callous. If you have a conscious at all, the game makes you feel bad about being a bad guy. And that’s awesome.

You can stay neutral and just be more of a mercenary, but I haven’t tried that route yet. In fact, there’s a lot to this game that I haven’t tried yet. Being held back by an old computer stinks. (Let me phrase it this way: If I walk into an enclosed area, my FPS drops to like 12, and it’ll take me 10 minutes to get out the bunker or single room house. And forget trying to play a melee class, or in a group. The complex at Menett Point took me probably an hour to get through what is likely a 15 minute quest.)

However, I can tell you that I probably will be hooked playing this game for the next 6 months (at least), and this could be the beginning of a brand new addition.

Thank you Bioware.

I think.

14
Apr
11

IT Guy’s prayer

Conan the IT Guy

“ROM! I’ve never prayed to you before, as I don’t know your e-mail or IM addy. No one, not even you, will remember if we were good techs or bad, or whether we liked Apple or Windows or Linux. No… all that matters is that one supported many. That is what is important. Networking pleases you, ROM. So grant me one request: Grant me stable servers! And if you do not listen … then log off!”

06
Apr
11

Snobbery

It’s recently come to my attention that I am, indeed, a snob.

Not that I think I’m better than anyone else … I don’t … but I realize that I do have my moments.

One came the other day, when the following conversation appeared on my Facebook feed:

 

Screw you and the Ewoks you brought with you in your Landspeeder.

Yes, a friend tries to join in my love of Star Wars, and what happens? I chastise her for liking Ewoks. I mean, just cause there is no redeeming value in Ewoks doesn’t mean it’s wrong to like them.

So, I feel as though I must repent, since it is the repenting season.

Behold the Raid Night video. I lived this. And scarily enough, it makes me want to raid in Warcraft again.

Yes, go ahead and laugh.

Assuming you even get it. Stupid normie.

I never learn, do I?

30
Jan
11

lessons learned

Today I decided to go on an epically bad movie watching binge. Usually when I do this, it’s a theme … like zombies, or vampires, or British … you get the idea.

Today’s theme was “Mega.” This came about after hearing some friends talk about how glorious SyFy’s “Mega Python” movie was (which I didn’t get to see, but it’s on my list). So, on the docket: “Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus”, “Mega Piranha”, “Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus”, and lastly, “Sharktopus.”

And here’s some valuable lessons that I learned:

  1. Jump Jump: Prehistoric sharks have tremendous jumping ability. I mean, they are like the Evel Kenievel of the animal world. They jump navy ships with ease, and even jump up to eat commercial jets. Simply amazing for such an obviously heavy animal.
  2. Location, Location, Location: Giant monster animals travel via wormholes to anywhere on the planet. You can tell this because they can go from New Foundland to Tokyo in a matter of seconds. Actually, no one follows the laws of physics and locations … a ship goes down off Africa, guy washes up on shore in a Latin American country. Giant Croc attacks Miami, and then hits Orlando in a matter of minutes. Who knows how this all works?
  3. Beaches = Danger: If you are anywhere near the shoreline, anything could happen. Mega Piranha could fly out and eat you whole … tentacles from Sharktopus could drag you in to the water, a prehistoric croc could come out of nowhere and eat you. But luckily they tend to go after dudebros, bikini bimbos and dumb reporters, so the vast majority of us are safe. I’m sure the Jersey Shore is their prime hunting ground.
  4. Mad Ninja Skills: Monster creatures often sneak up on people. We’re talking you turn around, and BAM, 19,000 ton prehistoric croc is RIGHT. THERE. They can disappear from sonar and radar and satellite at will.
  5. Tactics: When going after killer fish, the best way to go about it is via helicopter.  And from there, machine guns and missiles. If for some reason that doesn’t work, use nukes. If the nukes don’t work, then obviously you have to send in the SEAL teams with the orders to “shoot for the eyes.”
  6. Take your best shot: Navy gunners have no idea of how to shoot at giant monsters. They often man WWII era anti-aircraft guns instead of going for newer, non-manually cranked, surface-targeting weapons.
  7. Science!: Biologists are often the same as chemists are the same as climatologists. And you know you are found success when the mixture starts to glow.
  8. Decisions: When it comes down to it, I think you have to take Debbie Gibson over Tiffany for your monster movie actress. But of course I think I’m basing my decision on the fact that Tiffany looks an awful lot like my dad’s third (now ex) wife. Plus Debbie puts out, Tiffany doesn’t.
  9. Wait, what?: Sometimes bullets don’t work at keeping a monster at bay, but poking it with a large, wet stick will.
  10. Money shot: Syfy will give you plenty of opportunities for senseless, gratuitous nudity, and yet won’t give you any. And that’s just a damned shame.
08
Nov
10

It all makes sense now

Recently, I ditched my HD cable feed. I know that this is shocking to some who know how much I loved having it … but when looking at the cost of it and how little I actually watch TV, I decided it was something that could go.

In its place, I got rabbit ears to bring in the broadcast HD for Steelers games, and I subscribed to Netflix.

Now, Netflix has brought me a ton of enjoyment. The instant streaming to my PS3 and on to my HDTV is pure awesomeness. Tons of old TV shows that I loved are accessible. Tons of new ones that I missed are there, too. That’s on top of all those movies that I’ve been meaning to see but never got around to it.

One of the shows I stumbled across is the wonderfully awful and cheesy “Buck Rogers” from 1979-80. Now, Buck Rogers is one of the shows I really remember from my childhood. I mean, sure, I watched shows like “Space 1999” and the original “BattleStar Galactica,” but neither of them stuck like Buck Rogers did. Twiki, Dr. Theopolis, Erin Gray, Hawk, the various ships … I remember drawing huge space battles between the Draconian fighters and the Earth Defense Force ones (and I could always draw the Draconian ships better). I had models for both, and in the epic battles in the living room of my grandma’s house, the Draconians always seemed to win. For the time, I’m sure the effects were staggeringly good (despite occasionally using footage of the wrong ships), and I must admit, I’m totally enthralled again with the show.

Metal bikini AND grand poo-bah hat!

But this time, I’m watching it as an adult.

And all I can say is, “Holy. Balls.”

Now I get why this show lasted as long as it did. It wasn’t the cheesy writing. Not the gripping special effects. It wasn’t Mel Blanc being the voice of Twiki.

No doubt about it: it was the space girls.

I mean, yeah, part of sci-fi’s draw is hot space chicks. Princess Leia as Jabba’s slave was hot, no doubt about it. But the Buck Rogers girls put her to shame, no matter how iconic she is. Buck Rogers didn’t need no metal bikinis …

OK, maybe one. Or two.

(And you can’t deny Princess Ardala’s hotness despite the ridiculousness of her get up. Metal bikini, horned hat … cape … the dance scene that this picture is from is hilarious.)

But I mean, Erin Gray certainly didn’t need the metal bikini. She wore skin tight uniforms all the time. And I know that made an impression on all of us boys at the time, because any time you bring up Buck Rogers, the first thing most geeks my age will say is, “Erin Gray is fucking HOT.”

Imagine her running in this outfit, cause she does it. A lot.

And don’t forget guest stars.

Now, see, I didn’t remember any guest stars, because why would I? I was all about epic space fights, Hawk’s ship having claws and wondering why I couldn’t stop staring at Erin Gray.

There’s just so many faces I recognize. Roddy McDowell. Jack Palance. Apparently, even Gary Coleman makes an appearance later on. Part of the fun of watching these again is seeing these actors making appearances, and just sitting back and laughing.

But then, imagine my surprise yesterday when I see Markie Post’s name in the opening credits in Episodes 4 and 5.

Again, all I can say: Holy. Balls.

Buck, how the hell you pawned her off on Twiki is beyond me. I mean, yeah, New Chicago was in trouble and 10 million people were going to die, but still … look at her! If she doesn’t warm you up after being frozen for 500 years, I don’t know what will!

So not only do I finally understand how this show was so popular … but I also get why I loved it (and sci-fi in general) so much.

Not only did shows like this spark my dreams of traveling through space, having a laser pistol and visiting cool new species in my space fighter … but I think it also sparked my interest in girls, and gave me the idea that maybe there was some sort of use for them after all.




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