Glory Load

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Ok, Glory Road is ultimately kind of garbage. I don’t often quit reading books once I’ve begun, but if I do it’s usually within the first chapter or two. This thing strung me along to within 50 pages of finishing. But alas, I can take no more.

And you know, if Heinlein had possessed the humility or sense not to keep writing once the adventure was done, or if his editor had possessed the cajones to rein him in, it would have been a middling, serviceable scifi story.

But nope. Instead we get more Stranger in a Strange Land Heinlein, who can’t stop himself from writing about free love and weird sex. The adventure is over, so here’s a few chapters of exposition about some weird imperial sex culture stuff.

Oh well.

As Kaiju tweeted some days ago:  Heinlein died after writing Starship Troopers.

The end.

-Bushi

bushi

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A Glut of Content

Last month I wrote about Netflix and how I’d like to drop it (maybe someday!). Recently I find that I’m not even watching Amazon Prime Video all that much, aside from an occasional episode of Baylon 5. Of course adding endlessly to my Watch List remains a great pleasure.

I touched upon this the other day, but the amount of content out there now is just amazing. Now that time has gone from valuable commodity to luxury item, I find myself mostly looking for two things in my video entertainment –

1. Value for cost

2. Chunkability

By value for cost, I mean that I am willing to pay for something if I really want to watch it (like Criterion Collection J movies on sale at Barnes and Noble this month!). But with so much free, decent-quality content available out there plus the two subscription video services I’m already paying for, I’m not going to shell out to watch Premium YouTube or Hulu AllStars or HBO Mega. It’s gotta really be worth it.

This can be taken even further when you consider the free trials available out there. After the baby was born, I did the Hulu one-month free trial so I could rewatch Last Man Standing and Adventure Time. When I get more time, I’d like to try out Film Struck, as well…

Chunkability is my way of saying I can watch it in short, easily digestible pieces and put it down constantly without losing too much. This is a huge benefit of video over video games right now, actually. Watch a 20-minute episode of something; chunk and chip 15 minute-increments out of a 45-minute episode. Movies are doable, but shows with shortish episodes are best.

If I had to enumerate to 3, I’d say I crave entertainment untainted by politics and the culture war. Unless I’m watching a Crowder video, I’d rather be enjoying art or movies or comics or scifi for itself and not struggling to look past its wokeness. I work in a DC liberal bubble – I don’t need to be reminded that conservatives are Nazis and that we are literally living in a Handmaiden’s Tale.

 

So what kind of stuff do I watch? Well here are a few flavors I like to lick:

PA TV

The Penny Arcade guys don’t just do comics. I used to watch an occasional First 15 (where the dudes just play the first 15 minutes of a random video game and comment as they go). Surprise – Jerry and Mike are funny and interesting guys.

Well, the gate is open now. I recently finished watching PA: The Series, and I am working my way through Strip Search now. I’m generally not a big fan of reality TV, but the PA flavor combined with the novel theme of “comic artistry” scratches an itch I didn’t know I had.

Cinemassacre

I’ve been watching The Angry Video Game Nerd for years. Yes, it’s gimmicky. But the guy’s love of video games and cinema is contagious, and the low budget special effects he peppers in have grown on me.

Red Letter Media

Come for Mr. Plinkett’s renowned Star Wars reviews, stay for Scientist Man.

I didn’t used to care much for Half in the Bag (the team’s regular movie review show), but I’ve come to appreciate these guys. I don’t always agree with them, but they’re good critics and just funny dudes.

Other

There’s plenty of great stuff out there – from Eric Rap Battles of History to Legolambs’ musicals to Jordan Schlansky videos, depending on your tastes. Go out and discover!

So I’ve got plenty to tide me over while I wait for my old samurai movies to arrive…

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-Bushi

bushi

Switch: Has-Been Heroes

 

My PlayStation 4 lies fallow, and my gaming PC gathers dust. But this was foreseen and expected. Someday I will lay down my plow and once again take up the sword. For now, though, this whole rearing a little person thing doesn’t allow me much room.

I do sometimes get to play a bit at night or in the small hours of the morning – times reserved for sleep or frivolity. For the first several weeks of my son’s life, I vacillated between my 3DS and my Switch (which I resisted for quite some time, but has grown on me). Nowadays the Switch is my go-to. When you need to be able to run to the kitchen for your spouse or pop a pacifier in your infant’s mouth with all due haste, the ability to pause your gaming on the fly is a necessity. The ability to play the same game in bed or in a lounging position on any couch or other mostly flat surface is also highly desirable.

I’ve been playing Has-Been Heroes. There are other games on my radar, but right now I’ve got to stretch what I’ve got, and it isn’t really that much of a challenge (putting aside my compulsion to hoard and stockpile both books and games to consume “eventually”).

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This game starts off simple. “Oh, you just move these guys between lanes and cast spells when they’re off cooldown. This may get old fast.” Then you begin to discover the way the different elements interact. Water + fire creates steam, which slows enemies. Wet enemies buffeted with wind spells will freeze. And this is just scratching the surface.

Then you start to unlock new characters, items, spells, map nodes, enemies. And there are tons of these unlockables.

Suffice it to say this game’s got a lot of potential mileage, if you’ve got the stomach for it. I can’t accurately approximate the importance of luck vs skill, but both are necessary to complete runs as the game progresses. Sometimes you just get shit spells or can’t find enough battles to fill your coffers. Other times may be described as “serendipitous.” The worst is when you squeeze a treasure goblin or two and are sitting on 1,000 gold right before dying to some bullshit. Ah, what could have been!

I often need to put the Switch down for a while at the end of a run owing to my “this is bullshit!” reflex, but before long I crave another potato chip and I’ve started it up again.

If you are curious what this game is about, here’s some low-context nonsense:

Fucking guy. Can’t even say he got lucky – that combination of spells looks absolutely mediocre to me. Maybe I just need to git more gud.

And yeah, that’s a luchador.

-Bushi

bushi

Forget Quidditch! Hussade: A Real Man’s Imaginary Sport

As you may be aware, “real” quidditch has become a thing.

Weep for humanity.

To be fair, I thought quidditch was a pretty cool sport in the Harry Potter universe. But that’s mostly because the players were flying around dodging magical murder balls while one guy tried to catch a little golden orb with wings.

But as far as the real-life version, I think I’m going to have to go with little big boye from YouTube.

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For my money, the fake fantasy sport I’d like to see as a real thing is hussade, from Jack Vance’s Trullion: Alastor 2262. Or if we’re talking about after the impending Great Collapse, maybe I’d vote for The Game.

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Hussade is described as follows:

The hussade field is a gridiron of ‘runs’ (also called ‘ways’) and ‘laterals’ above a tank of water four feet deep. The runs are nine feet apart, the laterals twelve feet. Trapezes permit the players to swing sideways from run to run, but not from lateral to lateral. The central moat is eight feet wide and can be passed at either end, at the center, or jumped if the player is sufficiently agile. The ‘home’ tanks at either end of the field flank the platform on which stands the sheirl.

Players buff or body-block opposing players into the tanks, but may not use their hands to push, pull, hold, or tackle. The captain of each team carries the ‘hange’ – a bulb on a three-foot pedestal. When the light glows the captain may not be attacked, nor may he attack. When he moves six feet from the hange, or when he lifts the hange to shift his position, the light goes dead; he may then attack and be attacked. An extremely strong captain may almost ignore his hange; a captain less able stations himself on a key junction, which he is then able to protect by virtue of his impregnability within the area of the live hange.

The sheirl stands on her platform at the end of the field between the home tanks. She wears a white gown with a gold ring at the front. The enemy players seek to lay hold of this gold ring; a single pull denudes the sheirl. The dignity of the sheirl may be ransomed by her captain for five hundred ozols, a thousand, two thousand, or higher, in accordance with a prearranged schedule.

So essentially you’ve got a bunch of dudes with padded sticks swinging between platforms and knocking each other into a pool while they try to get to the other end of the field to denude the other team’s virgin cheerleader. The successful players get a bunch of cash.

Tell me that doesn’t sound awesome. Oh, apparently some Star Trek fan fiction has, ahem, borrowed hussade.

-Bushi

bushi

Netflix is part of the Apparatus

This post is probably going to sound a little more crankish than you get from me, but now that I have a flesh and blood son who’s rapidly growing up, I find myself thinking about certain things a lot more often and critically. Specifically, how will he be educated? What shows and movies will he watch? And what values will be passively hammered into his impressionable young mind?

I’m not a big conspiracy theorist, but I think it’s clear enough, if you stay abreast of the news and have baseline observation skills, that Education and Entertainment have been the domains of the Left for some time now. It may not have happened in any kind of concerted way beyond people hiring those with views similar to their own, but here we are.

I think the pendulum will eventually swing back the other way, though how and when is anyone’s guess. There’s a glimmer of hope to be found in the Indie Spring that new technology has allowed in recent years.

Amazon and YouTube are not safe havens for creators. YouTube has been quietly demonetizing unfavored affiliates for a while. But still, there’s a lot more content out there now that the TV broadcasters and movie studios aren’t the only ones with access to large audiences.

This is a very good thing, in light of the direction companies like Netflix have been taking their business.

I won’t hold Netflix’s push for big-government Net Neutrality against it too much; after all, it would benefit them greatly, and they are ultimately a business.

Earlier this year, though, Netflix hired Susan Rice to its board of directors. Rice, of course, is a controversy-embroiled former member of the Obama administration. You may remember her as the one who told Face the Nation that the Benghazi attack was the result of a spontaneous protest sparked by a YouTube video.

Sounds like someone I’d want helping to steer the ship of my online streaming video business, and not at all like some kind of politically motivated hiring.

Shortly after, Netflix announced deals with…Barrack and Michelle Obama. To produce films and series. Right.

Let’s not forget that a decent chunk (not all) of the original content that Netflix has been putting out over the years has been postmodernist, “progressive” (that is, dismissive or hostile to traditional values), and/or openly Leftist.

Yes, Netflix scrambles to pick up talent like Amy Schumer and the Obamas. And yet when Last Man Standing, ABC’s second most watched comedy was inexplicably (or politically) canceled, and viewers were wondering if another network would pick it up, Netflix…did nothing. Fox recently announced that it had snapped up the series, but it makes you wonder. If Netflix were really interested in diversity of programming, you’d think it would have jumped at the chance to pick up a more conservative-leaning, popular TV show. So why didn’t it?

Netflix does have neutral content and a smattering of conservative-friendly stuff, but the real answer is that the company has got one foot in the liberal, California tech world and another in the liberal, California entertainment world. And now it’s bringing on Democrat politicians, as well. Diversity, to these people, does not include differing ideas or philosophies. It means non-white, non-Christian, non-heterosexual, non-male.

The company may see itself as a plucky upstart challenging Entertainment’s Big Players and striving to provide something for everyone, but the reality is that Netflix has become a Big Player. It’s become part of the Apparatus.

Conservatives don’t tend to boycott as much as liberals do, and I think most average folk probably don’t recognize what’s going on. I mean, as much as I could get by fine with just Amazon Prime, I’ve got a wife who wants to watch A Series of Unfortunate Events and Lost in Space: the Gritty Reboot. So Netflix will keep doing its thing and people will (for now) keep watching.

But one day the pendulum is going to swing. And it won’t be just for Netflix.

In the meantime, we have to be vigilant. As a parent, you can’t completely insulate your children, and you can’t control everything they’re exposed to. Nor, arguably, should you. But at least during their formative years, you’ve got to be responsible for their education and make sure if they’re exposed to modern dreck that they’re also provided context and truth.

And when it is under your control (a little TV before nap time!), you’ve got to know what your kids are watching and make sure it’s something wholesome. For which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?

-Bushi

bushi

Something Alien

I’ve never read anything by Robert Silverberg, but you can only hang with the serious scifi/fantasy for so long before you begin to see his name crop up.

At some point in the past few months, I acquired a copy of Downward to the Earth, a scifi story presumably about alien elephants or some such.

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It’s not a terribly long book, so on a whim I added it to my commute bag. Now I’m a little more than halfway through, and I’m not yet sure what I think of it.

This morning I reached a chilling scene. I think the story has been growing on me, and stuff like this can stick:

Reminiscent of Alien, no? Written almost a decade earlier, though. Of course I’m sure this must be an older idea, inspired by horrible creatures that exist in our own reality. But still, pretty compelling.

-Bushi

bushi

 

A secret Hobbit song

HP’s Summer of Tolkien has got me hankering for some Hobbit!

I’ve got very fond memories of the old Rankin and Bass production that HP recently reviewed. I saw it before having read the book, and no doubt it contributed (along with the other Rankin and Bass films, David the Gnome, Eureeka’s Castle, and the like) to the strange brew that fostered my strong and lasting love of fantasy and scifi.

Perhaps needless to say, the songs from the Hobbit cartoon poke me in the nostalgia bone.

The other day I was killing some time with my son, who’s just starting to notice shapes and colors and reach for things with his hands, and I decided to play “The Greatest Adventure” for him. Conveniently, I found a whole playlist of the OST!

And…what’s this? Track 3: Old Fat Spider.

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Quite interesting. I don’t know if the Mirkwood scene involving Bilbo’s fight with the spiders was originally slated to run longer, but this song didn’t make it to the final cut.

So if you’re a fan of the animation, check it out. A nice little secret tune.

-Bushi

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