Saturday, July 4, 2015

Independence 2015

     How do I feel about being an American...

     I don't feel ashamed. We do some dumbass stuff, but so does everyone. There is not a country on this planet that doesn't screw up from time to time, just sometimes in a better accent.

     I guess I feel that we are always a work in progress. But this country was founded on the greatest ideals ever conceived- Life, Liberty, The Pursuit of Happiness. Not guaranteed, just the opportunity, the right to pursue your personal happiness, without infringing too much on anyone else. Freedom of expression, but try not to be 100% a dick about it.

     Last post I talked about the stars and bars, the rebel battle flag. I believe people should have the right to express themselves with the rebel battle flag, Old Glory, their state flag, a flag with the T.A.R.D.I.S. on it, the rebel flag from Star Wars OR the Imperial insignia, A rainbow flag or whatever best expresses them as an individual. The trick here, is that it's about personal freedom and personal responsibility. This nation, this grand country, this amazing experiment has room for Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Buddhist, Every-ist-you-can-imagine, and it has room for those people to dialogue and hold discourse on what makes them different, what makes them the same, and what makes us all great.Whether we were lucky enough to be born here, or lucky enough to immigrate legally, or lucky enough to sneak across the border in the dead of a moonless night, what we owe America is this: Be the best you can be. Help those you can help to be the best they can be. They call America the land of opportunity, and it is. Here, you can believe it, and be it. Just remember to give back to everyone else, and don't tread on them. Remember that every right you have as an American comes with a matching responsibility. Free speech, don't be a dick with it. Second amendment...learn how to aim. And so forth.

     Go out this holiday, and every day, and just be the best American you can be. Wherever you happen to live, whatever state, or whatever country. Bring whatever is best about your country and come to the melting pot.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Flags of our Failures

      I have spent some time this week thinking about the confederate flag and the perfect storm of controversy it sits at the center of. On the one side, you have those who want every symbol of the civil war era south banned, so we never have to look at another stars-and-bars again. On the other side there are the folks buying those flags off the shelves, and the folks raising the prices on the same. There is even talk of wanting to ban gone with the wind, although that whiffs of troll to me. And a lot of this came to a head because of the tragic shootings in south Carolina. 

      Now I don't have any stronger attachment to that particular symbol than seeing it emblazoned upon the roof of a 1969 dodge charger, and it's not used there as a symbol of hate, so much as a symbol of a lifestyle and culture. And I have a stronger attachment to Daisy's short shorts, than to the flag on the General's roof.

      But banning the confederate flag doesn't do the right thing. It doesn't do enough.

      To start, we need to ban all things that remind us of that era. Movies, books, we need to stop acknowledging there was ever an Abraham Lincoln, and stop teaching this stuff in school because someone might be offended, or some whack-a-do might go shoot people.

       But for the love of all of us, we can't stop there. We need to ban cowboy movies, western hats, boots, and shoot all the horses so we can bleach the western expansion out of our history, because it's insensitive to indians.

      And then? Obviously Schindlers List, the Indiana Jones movies, and anything with Nazis, because no one wants to see effing Nazis. Sound of music, too. Full of Nazis, chock full.

       And then we remove the monster movies, because those are insensitive to monsters. They make giant lizards out to be soulless city-killers, and vampires out to be sparkly bookselling freaks (that was supposed to be bloodsucking, but I am NOT correcting it)(sometimes autocorrect is just correct)

      In case my sarcasm has not been absolutely transparent, let me make my point plainer. I don't think anything in history had ever been made better by ignoring or hiding it. If you hide the symbols from view, get will just fester in people's minds and erupt in New, unexpected directions.

      You ever see those fish on the backs of cars, and wonder..." why a fish??"

      Well, early Christians were persecuted, fed to lions, stuff that made a cross an unwise fashion choice. But they could use a fish symbol, the ichthys, to communicate. Hiding a symbol doesn't kill a belief. If anything, persecution strengthens beliefs.

      And before you get bent out of shape that I am comparing Christians to slave owners, just SHAME ON YOU. Stop reacting, start thinking, consider the parallelism

      Oh, and we need to ban the cross, too. And anything else that makes us think of the atrocities committed by Mel Gibson. I'm not buying passion of the Christ until he releases the alternate ending.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Jurassic Meditation

By now we all know by processby now we on my process. Revenge on what came before oh wow yeah that's not good looks like I'm going to need to type this one out

     Ok. The above was interesting but I either need to speak more clearer to my tablet or be prepared for something... erratic to emerge. Lets start again.

     By now you know my process. When I plan to see a sequel/remake/related item, I immerse myself, I binge. This week I went to the park three times before I went out to see the world.

     First and foremost, the first Jurassic Park was a miracle of effects for it's time, and in my estimation, is still awesome. The only telling issue is that you can look at it and see it's not the digital quality film we expect now. It looks grainy, not a big deal. The original magic, horror, and suspense is still intact, like a perfect, unhatched dinosaur egg, filled with potential to be anything.  And dinosaurs get loose, eat the park staff. But they Spared no expense

      The Lost World gave us Isla Sorno, more dinosaurs, and a young, skinny, action-hero Vince Vaughn. John Hammond, the originator of the park has lost control of most of InGen, and is trying to garner public support to keep site B out of the hands of his nephew(who wants to plunder it). He manipulates Ian Malcolm to lead a mission there. And T-Rex gets loose, eats Los Angeles. And compys eat Peter Stormare as a Smörgåsbord

     Jurassic Park III is back on Isla Sorno, this time with Alan Grant, manipulated into helping to search for a missing boy. For most of us, this was the first time we ever saw 3d printing, as they have a model of a velociraptor voice box that saves the day.

     I'm gonna pause to say that if velociraptors, as the movie posits, have sophisticated communication skills, Alan using the model to make noises at them is the equivalent of me "cawing" back at a crow, or running up to you and screaming random words as they occur to me. Confusing, not very enlightening. The Raptors were looking at each other like "did he really just say 'cowardly-jumpy-size-ruthless-thrill'??" they take back their eggs, and are careful not to make eye contact with the crazy thing screaming out gibberish

Anyway, pterodactyls get loose, fly off to make more pterodactyls. And Ellie Sattler sends in the Marines

I'm not going to spoiler Jurassic World. It was lots of fun, well worth seeing. From it I learned velociraptors can be click trained. And 3 inch heels are fit jungle wear.

     I guess what all the movies leave deliberately vague, or for you to decide, is...

     Are these really dinosaurs, or are they mutated birds?

It's clear from movie one that gaps in the DNA were filled in with frog DNA. And that the DNA was inserted into ostrich embryos to grow dinosaurs. It's further brought out that they are made to look how people want them to, to boost attendance.

     So at the very bottom, any behavior we see could be instinctive to the dinosaurs genetic template, OR it could be from the bird embryo it's mixed in with, or mix&match the above.

     I'm inclined to believe that the traits that made dinosaurs successful(with a track record of millions of years) are the traits that make birds successful now. Nurturing their young, adaptability, intelligence, pragmatism, curiosity, cooperation. These are among the traits that made these last dinosaurs last.

"Dr. Ian Malcolm: God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs...

Dr. Ellie Sattler: Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth... "

And for fun

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Ultra Magnificent

     Way back in the good old days of December 2013, I said this about TFPrime Beast Hunters Ultra Magnus:

"Almost every toy of Ultra Magnus has been a re-mold
or a repaint of Optimus Prime, but this one is by far my favorite (until he gets a good
mold of his own)"

     That time has come: But since I can't do anything the simple way, I'm going to give a little timeline first. Major points(in my estimation) only

  • 1986: Hasbro releases Ultra Magnus in his G1 incarnation. He is a white Optimus Prime cab with a car carrier style trailer that turns into his battle armor. it is fairly innovative, and cool, for the time. Gallery courtesy of Seibertron
  • 2005: Takara/Hasbro releases Masterpiece Ultra Magnus. He is a white Optimus Prime, no trailer, and shows what happens if you wash your masterpiece transformers on non-prime-safe bleach. Thanks again, Seibertron
  • 2007: A two pack is released under the name Battle for Autobot City which contains Skywarp and Ultra Magnus; Ultra Magnus is a white repaint of Classics Optimus Prime. Gallery via Seibertron
  • 2007: Titanium Ultra Magnus is released and has a transformation that does not include a "robots disguised as Optimus Prime" feature. Again, Seibertron
  • 2008: Transformers Animated Ultra Magnus is a unique mold, a heavy tactical truck who wields a war-hammer in Robot mode. Seibertron, with another gallery
  • 2012: TF Prime gave us Voyager Ultra Magnus- a unique mold with some big issues: it was mainly an upscale of the cyberverse version, so they took a little figure and upsized it. it cam out with an innovative transformation, but really weak and floppy shoulder joints
More pics here

More pics here
  • 2013: TF Prime Beast hunters went back to the tradition of recoloring Optimus into Magnus, but they did do some remolding as well. I have talked about him before, and he is above with the original one
  • 2013: TF Prime also gave us Platinum Ultra Magnus, a remold/recolor of Weaponizer Optimus Prime. he is built around a big gimmick and the transformation suffers Back to you, Seibertron
  • 2013: big year for Magnus, I know- we got Fall of Cybertron Ultra Magnus in the generations line. he was a recolor/remold of Optimus, and both figures suffered from the same issue: they were too damn small: both in deluxe size, and just sad against what these leaders should have been

  • 2014: Takara releases Masterpiece Ultra Magnus, Based off the MP10 Optimus Prime, but with a One Piece transformation, not a Prime-in-a-Box battle suit. Very tempting, but I passed on it in favor of the next- Gallery again by Seibertron
  • 2015: Hasbro releases Combiner Wars Ultra Magnus. he is two things- Minimus Ambus at his core, Pure Ultra Magnus on the outside- he Homages the IDW comics version of the character

here are some Size Comparisons- Tango wonders why he is being used as an example