Monday, September 27, 2010

Missed Connection

You: The driver of a dirty white car (not sure of the make and model) that had a very distinct “Vet Tech” sticker on the back. There was also another decal featuring some kind of dog.

Me: The exhausted-looking brunette in the passenger seat of the champagne coloured Suzuki Aerio you decided to play bitch with.

It was a partly cloudy Monday afternoon and we were both traveling on Willows Road, just outside of Kirkland. My husband began to merge into your lane, as ours was ending, but since the road totally belonged to you, you tried to speed up to not let us in. My husband accelerated our vehicle and got in front of you anyway, but you, still upset that we violated your road, decided to tailgate the living shit out of our car. Eventually we ended up in front of you by several cars; we quickly forgot about you and your misguided attempt to keep us from reaching our destination. My kids were happy (and maybe a little fussy) and all was well. That is, until you suddenly came out of nowhere, cutting us off from the left and then abruptly hitting your brakes at about 40mph so that we could get a good look at your middle finger being held high outside of your window. I flipped you two birds as you immediately changed lanes once more and sped off.

Vet Tech, I am going to assume that you are female, as not too many men drive around with cute stickers proclaiming their professions on their cars. I don’t know if you are aware of this, but you are a cunt. You decided to act like an asshole and do some very dangerous things on the road… while my kids were in the car. Even though I was confident that my family and I were not in any danger  (hubby is an excellent driver, as I’m sure you noticed), you should be aware that I hold grudges, Vet Tech. Regardless of how awesome my guy is behind the wheel, your actions still put my children in harms way, and that is something that I can’t seem to get past. I have memorized your car, your sticker, and even some minor details about your hairless arm. It’s also convenient that we work in the same field – so finding out who you are won’t be too difficult. You better believe that if our paths should somehow cross, I will make sure that Karma comes around to fuck your shit up. 

See you on the road.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Final Final Fantasy?

I have a confession to make: I’m a chick and I am a gamer.

This statement does not have the same impact it would have had say, 10 – 15 years ago now that gaming has become more of a mainstream form of entertainment. Not to mention that chicks like Olivia Munn, Jessica Chobot, and even Morgan Webb have totally stolen my thunder. Though, I have to admit that I question whether or not Webb is a real chick every time I see her ghoulish visage on G4, but that’s a different matter entirely. Anyway, I picked up my first controller when I was about 3 or 4; my (asshole) brother had been given a NES while I got a stupid Cabbage Patch Kid that is probably still in my mom’s house somewhere. That’s right -- my love of gaming started back in the 8-bit era, before riveting cinematics and baby-butt-smooth controls were central to a game’s success. In my day, it was all about bleeps, blips, and hella pixelated blobs running around on simple backdrops doing simple things.
This was all we had, son!
Even though Mario and Link were pretty damn cool, it wasn’t until the days of the SNES that I really started getting into this shit. My (asshole) brother got Final Fantasy IV (which had then been released as Final Fantasy II here in the States) and, holy fuck, dude. I was totally blown away by the visuals (16-bit!!), the music, and most importantly, the story. Fucking Cecil! And Kain! Rosa! Love Triangle! And Airships! Leviathan! Tellah’s classic line about Edward being a “spoony bard!” These are all things that stuck with me, as you can see. When Final Fantasy VI was released (as FFIII in the States due to some release discrepancies and overall wackiness) my head damn near exploded. Out of every game I have ever played, man… FFVI is, to this day, my favourite of all time. It has been re-released several times for the younger generation to check out (with CG cutscenes and slightly remastered sound added because n00bs are spoiled) and I have played and beaten (the shit out of) every single one of those re-releases, despite knowing the game’s story, characters (LOCKE!!!), and battle system inside and out. Sure, the visuals are remarkably dated, and up until recently, the translation had left a lot to be desired (“Son of a submariner”? …the fuck?) but it is still one of the most amazing games that I will ever play.

Heart this guy!
So, now that you have sufficient background info, I can move on to the present… when I played Final Fantasy XIII for the first time. Cue downtrodden music, and maybe some bitter tears.

Okay, I lied; we’re going to go back to 1997 for second, when Final Fantasy VII was released on the Sony PlayStation, setting a new precedent for the franchise. Not so much with the narrative (although the rabid fanboys and girls of the world will vehemently disagree with me there), but with the visuals. A new character designer (the then unknown but now totally annoying Tetsuya Nomura) brought us some of the most recognizable characters in all of gaming: the spiky-haired protagonist  Cloud Strife, and his totally sinister (but only about a five or a six on the scale of overall evil) arch-enemy Sephiroth. The CG cutscenes brought a never before seen cinematic element to Final Fantasy, providing the masses with eye-candy that would only become more and more delicious with each new installment in the series. 

Estuans interius ira vehementi...

Now let's come back to today... in a second.

The last FF game I have played through, from start to finish, was FFX on the PlayStation2. Shame on me – I know. Even though my husband played and reviewed FFX-2, XI, and XII during his days with, I never really got the chance to sit down and REALLY get into any of them (Actually, I take that back -- I watched every moment of X-2.). When I learned that XIII was in development it wasn’t as exciting (for me) as it should have been. Yes, it is the first Final Fantasy to hit the current-gen consoles. Yes, it is prettier than all previous iterations combined. But there was something about it that kept me from being all, “FUCK YEAH!” about its impending release. Maybe it was the fact that Nobuo Uematsu, the composer for every game up until X (with a guest-spot here and there on XI and XII) was gone for good. Or maybe it was the fact that FF-alums Yoshinori Kitase and Hironobu Sakaguchi were off of the project as well. Or maybe -- just maybe -- it had something to do with Tetsuya Nomura’s too-cool-for-school character designs, which have gone from being contemporary and imaginative to contemporary hipster with lots of zippers and furs EVERYWHERE. Also, a bazillion spin-offs were announced before the initial product was ever released; it came across as really, really excessive. (I probably sound crazy right now, especially to any non-gamers reading this, but whatever; Google is your friend.) 

Mickey Mouse from Kingdom Hearts 2. See all those zippers and buckles??
So, yeah… I had seen and heard things here and there, creating a definite prejudice toward this title. Even the names of the characters had me turned off. (Lightning? You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.) I decided to check it out for myself, just a little bit, and I honestly don’t know if I could ever enjoy it because it was so bad! I don’t even know where to begin! 

Is it pretty? Yes, it is pretty as fuck. But pretty doesn’t mean enjoyable. I think I spent more time watching this game than playing it, as the whole cinematic element that has been more and more prominent in games these days was just out of control here. No, really. It wasn’t until about 20 minutes in that I finally had control of a single character in any capacity. And that control was limited only to using my directional pad to either select things or adjust the camera, and a single button during battle to execute my commands. 

A. Single. Button.
To make matters worse, even though I had up to three annoying assholes in my party, I was only ever allowed to control one. Then the game tutorial told me that if that one asshole died, it would be game over, even if my AI allies were at full health. I experienced this little slice of bullshit first-hand and I wanted to punch somebody in the face. Moving on, I will admit that the story had me a little intrigued, but it was a bit hard to get into; not because of any sort of complexity, but because of the predictable angles (stoic, mysterious ex-soldier going after something big… some kid ‘s mom dies not five minutes after saying “Moms are tough”… you know, that sort of shit.) and the aggravating people it all centered around. The characters I dealt with had some of the most ridiculous apparel and mannerisms I have ever seen. What the fuck with the boy wearing GIANT headphones… in the middle of a war zone? Why does hipster tattoo chick not have any pants on? When did the hipster culture pervade my beloved JRPGs to begin with?! Why in the hell did Nomura find it necessary to give Lightning spiky hair?! Does every protagonist have to have styling wax on hand now? Why am I controlling somebody named “Lightning” in the first place?? Why couldn’t she be called something classy, like Emma, or Cordelia, or something? Here we go with the names again, but it’s sort of a big deal. Poorly named characters can fuck your shit up – especially if said names come across as goofy and pretentious.
Case in point: this chap is called Snow.
It goes without saying that I can’t judge this entire game after spending only a little over an hour with it, but goddamn, was I annoyed. Hell, there are things about it that annoy me that I haven’t even seen yet. When did the Eidolons (creatures that you can summon via magic) become Transformers?! Why can’t I explore any towns? 

Eugh. I’m at such a loss right now that I can’t even think of an intelligent way to end this entry. Fuck it.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fuck Twilight!

It was only a matter of time before I would tackle the Twilight series in my blog.

I mean, come on! It’s a book that features celibate, fangless vampires that sparkle! How can I NOT write about this bizarre phenomenon?? (Like it or not, ravenous fans who found this shit via Google, celibate fangless vampires that sparkle are bizarre. Period.)

Anyway, so, I was first introduced to the Twilight series back in 2008 when a good friend of mine offered to let me borrow the first book. Me, being a hopeless romantic, and a HUGE Buffy/Angel shipper, was like “Human falls in love with a vampire? Bring that shit over!” and my life was changed. But not in the positive “Joss Whedon is an awesome writer and I look forward to seeing/reading his future projects” sort of deal, but more of a “What the fuck with the sparkling and the baseball??” sort of a deal.

Whatever, Spike.

Flash forward to now. I have read all four Twilight books. I have even read those little extras that Stephenie Meyer put up on her website (e.g. New Moon’s Edward is living off of rats and has a headache vignette), and I even started Midnight Sun while I still thought that it might be intriguing. I know the Twilight Saga inside and out… and I cannot, cannot, cannot, for the LIFE of me , can NOT understand what all of the mass-hysteria is about!! To quote Eric Cartman, “What’s the big fucking deal, bitch?”

I mean…  I can sum it up until I am blue in the face, but places like The Oatmeal and Cracked have done such bang up jobs respectively that I need not bother with the painstaking process of telling any  readers about the series. ...But, if for some reason, you can’t/won’t follow links, here are some of my disjointed keywords regarding the Twilight Saga: Human. Vampire. Werewolf. Generic love triangle. Glitter. Creepy hybrid baby (Renesmee). Creepy old ladies getting tattoos of Edward Cullen’s name and/or face somewhere on their person. Creepy fanclubs devoted to how “sexy” Edward Cullen is. Creepy fanclubs devoted to how “hot” Jacob Black is. Creepy adult toys that sparkle and maintain room temperature (that are probably owned by every person in the creepy Edward fanclub).

Honestly, Twilight didn’t start off BAD. It was sort of intriguing. The setting was neat, the two protagonists shared some genuinely cute scenes together (“How long have you been seventeen?”), and it was a love story! Yay for young love! But then… it just sort of fell to pieces. And fast. That whole sparkling in the meadow thing seriously killed it for me. I tried to understand it, I really did. I welcome different takes on things that are as universal and rehashed as vampires – it keeps them interesting. But getting all glittery in the sunlight is just bloody ridiculous! One of the biggest things that makes a vampire a vampire (aside from that whole drinking blood thing) is the inability to go out into sunlight. Not because they will look as pretty as a jar of Martha Stewart glitter (have you seen that shit? It’s fucking amazing!) but because the sun’s light is one of the few things actually capable of killing them. 

So. Goddamn. Pretty!!! (No sunlight needed.)

So, the vampires in the Twilight Universe don’t burn up when the sun hits them, they don’t have fangs, they do not sleep during the day (in fact, they don’t sleep at all), and they are venomous. (That’s right – if a Twilight vamp wishes to sire somebody, all they have to do is bite them a few times and wait until the venom slowly transforms them into a “vamp”.) With that being said, I’m thinking that the term “un-vampire” might be a more accurate descriptor for the Cullens and their glittery brethren.

One more aspect of these un-vamps that puzzles me is that all of them have a gift that is unique to them. Edward is a mind-reader; Alice a seer, and so on… but is that really necessary? This lot has enhanced senses, super-strength and speed, and can’t die. I was onboard with Ed and Alice being “special” even among the special; after all, there was that one line where Edward refers to the two of them as being freaks, which is why they get on so well. But then, by the time the fourth book rolled around, EVERY vamp – sorry,un-vamp -- seemed to carry the X-gene, therefore throwing all of the pre-established mythos out the window.

As for the werewolves, well… you can’t really fuck up a werewolf, so I have no qualms with the lupine lackies of La Push. Except for their onscreen absurdity. They don’t look hot, they don’t look intimidating, and their brushed on abs are just sad (especially if you keep in mind that, with the exception of Taylor Lautner AKA Jacob, all the other wolves are looking pretty doughy in Eclipse). If I want a veritable beefcake overdose, I will turn to Zack Snyder’s 300. Because not only is it a better flick than all three of the Twilight movies put together, but those motherfuckers are CUT. And they’re like, killing shit with finesse every 20 seconds. Or, I can just ask my husband to take off his shirt because it’s like, the same thing – sans the killing shit.

But, I digress.

A huge part of Twilight’s smoldering demise for me has always been Bella fucking Swan. This chick… Ach! Where do I even begin?? Once again, she started off alright. I was able to relate to her staggering clumsiness. As somebody who kicks her own ass on a daily basis, I was cool with that. But, what else is there to say about Bella? She never evolves beyond being some clumsy average Jane -- she is a void. Without Edward, there is nothing. This character will literally die without him, as seen in New Moon, when she curls up into a ball in the middle of the forest (behind her house) and stays there after Eddie dumps her lame ass.

This is not cool. As somebody with some MAD co-dependency issues, I can seriously say that this is fucked up. Yes, Bella is a silly high school girl, and yes, when silly high school girls experience strong emotions (such as love) their whole world tends to turn upside down. I get that. I’ve been through that! Yes, if something disastrous happens, it feels like you’re going to die! But you don’t actually die! You brood for awhile, you get back up and you get depressed and you oversleep and you binge eat and you get a little drunk (if you’re old enough) and you lean on your friends and family a little bit to help you through a tough time! But Bella never does that! She never does anything other than lead Jacob on whenever she wants something from him, and talk about how beautiful Edward is. She has no redeeming qualities as a person! She is not strong, she is not intelligent (sorry, but reading Wuthering Heights in your spare time and listening to Bach does not automatically make you smart), and she’s not interesting. She’s just some stupid bitch who has no identity outside of her boyfriend. It goes without saying that she is absolute poison for the legions of young girls who are reading this shit and thinking that Bella is what they should grow to be. (I’m not even going to get into this though; many others already have.)

Cold, metallic EVE is more human than Bella.
Despite the strange re-tooling of one of the world’s most beloved monsters, a heroine who is little more than a lawn ornament with arms, and a downright unhealthy viewpoint on what love should look like, even older women are being taken by the Twilight Saga and doing things that are just weird: like pining after an eternally underage un-vampire (or the way underage werewolf) and showing their devotion by getting tattoos or decorating entire rooms in his honor. Like, if I was a dude, and my girlfriend, wife, fiance, lady-friend, whatever, came home with a tattoo of some other dude’s name somewhere on her, I would be pissed! It just strikes me as insulting. (And definitely disturbing.) That’s like happily married me going out and getting a tattoo that says Jack Shephard, or Locke Cole, or Alcide Herveaux. Sure, none of the aforementioned names belong to anybody that’s real, but I think my husband would still be all, “What the hell is THIS?" Hell, I think that even my toddler daughters would be like, “Ummm... what the HELL, mom?” (How does one explain that to their significant other anyway? Having the name and or face of some dude tattooed on their stomach or leg, or wherever? Anybody want to take this one?)
Think before you ink.

I understand that the Twilight Saga is a fantasy; a lot of women out there long to be swept off their feet by some uber-handsome man who will protect them when shit gets real and love them until the end of time. I totally get that. But let’s face facts, okay? Edward and Bella’s relationship is sort of disturbing. I mean, the guy watches her sleep, for crying out loud. If I woke up to find my HUSBAND watching me sleep I would be freaked the fuck out. And that’s the guy who I’ve been with for over 10 years, the father of my children! If he had done that shit when we were first dating, I would not have found it romantic or endearing at all – it would have been stalker territory, and our budding romance would have derailed. Another fact to face is that if a vampire and a werewolf were to ever throw down, there would be total (bloody) chaos.

Vampire teeth were made for tearing shit up.

So, those are just some of my thoughts regarding Twilight. I don’t think I will ever understand why people are so into it. It’s just not in my DNA to swoon over this -- I must be defective! If somebody can explain it to me, by all means, go ahead and try. But if you think for a second that I don’t understand it because of a lack of  love in my life, you are an idiot and I don’t want to hear from you -- I experience love every day. So put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Oh, and on the subject of RPatz as Edward Cullen? One of my homies (the same one who lent me the books, actually...) said it best: “He looks like an ugly, broken foot.”

Well said, dude.