Monthly Archives: October 2016

Happy Halloween

As I mentioned yesterday, the US election is a horror story in its own right. But there are many others to spook you this year.

  • The continuing rise of ISIS
  • The threat of another Cold War (see also US election)
  • The neverending farce which is the Tory government
  • The piling up celebrity deaths, many completely unexpected
  • Global warming (see also every year since the 1960s)

And finally…

  • Niantic customer services
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How sad it is

That we live in a world where the biggest superpower is being exposed as corrupt to the core on a daily basis yet its own mainstream media refuses to report on it.

The United States, long considered the “land of the free and home of the brave” is actually the “land of restrictions and home of the cowardly”. There is mounting evidence that the ruling party rigged the primary elections in favour of their preferred candidate and not the one gaining momentum, especially amongst millenials and progressives. We have seen evidence that Hillary’s campaign, in collusion with the Democrats, sought to engage in attacks on Bernie, including those on his Jewish heritage. I should emphatically state that the Democrats are supposed to be the left-wing party and here they are attacking a candidate because he’s Jewish. How 1941 of them. And the mainstream media is quiet as a mouse, instead reporting on things we already knew about Trump- that he’s a racist, sexist bigot. That’s hardly news compared to something that in any other free country would bring down the ruling party.

And you know what? This will lead to a Trump victory. The Democrats should have let the people vote for Bernie instead of rigging it for Hillary as far back as the day Obama was sworn into the White House. Hillary, as we all know, was the second-placed candidate in the 2008 election. Assuming Trump wins, the Democrats probably won’t prop Bernie up in 2020 because 1. he’d be 78, turning 79 during the presidential race proper, and 2. he doesn’t share their vision of centre-with-a-capital-CENTRE liberalism. No matter who wins on the 8th, the entire world will suffer.

Happy Halloween from the United States of America!

 

 

Saturday night at the wall

Oh Saturday, where are you, day of youth?

Oh Saturday, where are you?

The football crowds turn into hoardes of flies, landing on my face, looking for a taste.

I sit and watch the paint dry

Wondering why

Wondering why

And then it hits me.

Life is a movie, and this is the filler 25 minutes in.

Do not impinge on the writer

It is my belief that writers should write what they want, how they want.

There is a misconception prevailing in some circles that, for example, a writer who writes a racist character must be racist themselves. They twist our works into manifestations of subconscious bias. And I find this ludicrous coming from a background of literary criticism.

Firstly, they fail to realise that writing is by and far a left-wing profession. I have yet to meet a writer who is openly on the right. The left wing almost always depicts the racists, the sexists, the homophobes, the general bigots, as the bad guys. That’s most likely what they’re doing here.

Secondly, to suggest that a writer is bigoted for writing a bigoted character is a baseless attack on their integrity intended to pigeonhole them into writing “acceptable” characters. Let’s say a protagonist is a reformed racist skinhead who spent twenty years in jail for murdering a black man. The character struggles with his new life and trying to expunge racist thoughts from his head. This is a fantastic, gritty, realistic character but  they’d still think that the author is racist for writing about his battle. The very best characters have layers of good upon bad upon good upon bad, skeletons either in or out of the closet. If these people had their way, we’d only be writing characters who wouldn’t seem out of place in a 14 year old’s Undertale fanfiction*.

So don’t let anyone shame you for what you write. There should be no limits to the greatest gift of them all- the imagination.

 

*This is not a dig at fanfiction, a hobby I strongly support in order to help the creative mind blossom. In fact, I have an old essay on the subject in which I argue this very point.

 

Red Dwarf XI episode 6: Can of Worms

Everyone loves a Cat episode. Danny John-Jules’ character doesn’t get as many episodes centering around him as Lister, Rimmer and even Kryten, which is a shame because he is a great character brought to life by one of the few actors who could pull it off.

 

A larger-than-life character needs a larger-than-life plot, and this had it. Cat finds another felis sapiens and becomes PREGNANT! Yes, he was the one who was pregnant. For you see, this “felis sapiens”- who clearly took her design cues from Purple Rain-era Prince- turns out to be a polymorph in heat, looking to plant her eggs into a willing host. They do the deed and the rest of the crew rush our protagonist of the day into the medibay for an emergency Caesarian, which he thinks comes with croutons as standard. The unborn polymorphs then turn into tumours in a bid to save themselves. These could kill Cat if extracted, so the only other option was to wait for him to give birth “naturally”.
I had not only one, or two, but THREE problems with this scene:

1. My understanding is that tumour removal is a basic operation, even a day case if minor. So unless there’s some kind of feline-exclusive health issue playing into it, a tumectomy would not kill him. Typical me, griping over a medical oversight in an episode where a MALE CAT-TURNED-HUMAN BECOMES PREGNANT.

2. This is the second extended medibay scene this series. The producers were able to conjure up a number of unique planetary settings but felt the need to recycle an area that had hardly been visited across eleven series. While a medibay scene would understandably fit in a plot like this;

3. This turned out to be unnecessary as Cat doesn’t even need an operation. It would have been best to cut it and have Kryten analyse his insides through other means.

 

The birth scene was not as funny as I’d hoped. Yes, the polymorphs were being born out of where you’d expect, but it was just two minutes of Cat being filmed from the front as the crew fish the constantly-transforming creatures (taking the forms of false teeth, a pumpkin and a lucky cat amongst others) from the birthing pool. Cat did raise a smile by wearing a bright pink lounge suit as he prepared for the big day though.

 

We move onto the final bit where I have to praise Naylor for his characterisation of the polymorph larvae. Just as they are to be dumped from Red Dwarf, they transform into a number of cute animals. Nobody would want to jettison kittens, a pig with a bow on its head or a baby hedgehog in a mini shopping trolley, would they? The crew quickly realise their tactic and get away while Cat spends some time saying goodbye to “his children”. Unfortunately, he keeps them and they grow by sucking on his affections. At the beginning of the episode, we are introduced to a machine that can change one’s personality or even delete it altogether. Lister volunteers for the task of being rendered emotionless to confront the polymorphs headon. This turns out to be successful at first with him recognising the two that had morphed into Cat, but Kryten and Rimmer realise that they’ve turned him into a potential killing machine and draw their guns.
In a parody of The Thing, Lister, Rimmer and Kryten circle around each other ready to shoot, only to bump into two sets of polymorphs duplicating them entirely. This understandably confuses them and find themselves in a catch-22. They talk to the real Cat briefly before going up in an lift, with Cat shooting the rest of the polymorphs without harming his friends. Lister (I believe) asks how he was able to tell them apart from them, and he replies that a parent always knows their kids.

This raises another question: why didn’t he just shoot them in the bay when he turned up? He probably knew his kids by then, after all they grow up so fast ;).

 

Now for the more general gripes- in addition to the birth scene, this episode wasn’t as funny as one would expect. This was disappointing as this was not only a Cat episode but had a decent-enough storyline and a plotline ripe for jokes. There were no real laugh-out-loud moments. Early in the episode, it was mentioned that the tribe of the planet they were due to land on were rumoured to feast on the blood of virgins. That could have made for an EXCELLENT episode provided they didn’t mess up as they did here, and the length of the scene made it look like it was going there, but the only time things that come up there are alluded to again is at the very end where Cat beds down with “two lady cats from Z deck” the viewer was convinced he had made up in his panic to prove his lack of virginity.

 

So all in all this was an underwhelming finale to a mediocre series. If I was the controller of Dave I’d tell Naylor to either get it together or say goodbye to any hope of XII airing on my channel. The plots had more holes than Swiss cheese and many loose ends remained untied. This was clearly a series that had been rushed into filming and the quality seemed to deteriorate as it went on.

 

POSTSCRIPT: In the future I plan to review every episode of Red Dwarf, including those of XI that I have watched but haven’t yet written reviews for. In an ideal world the task would be completed before XII premieres but it probably won’t. My organisation is diabolical. How many episodes should I watch a week? Should I post two or maybe even more reviews in one day (my OCD probably won’t like that one) during a binge? Should I just put the kibosh on the plan before I find myself doing it? I always feel a sense of failure when I fail to do things like these.

Rekodenz self Q&A

In the name of fun…

Do Rekodenzians grow facial hair, being unigender and all?

Yes, all Rekodenzians are capable of growing facial hair. In Rema, the place of greatest human influence, it is considered proper to shave although facial hair does have waves of popularity.

 

Is is acceptable to refer to all Rekodenzians as “Rekodenzians”?

Of course! Every planetary citizen- fullblood, halfblood or human- is a Rekodenzian! Some non-Remans do have a problem with Earthers using the term to refer exclusively to Remans, considering it to be making their status as such invisible.

 

How long does it take to get from Rekodenz to Earth, and vice versa?

By teleport, the most common mode, it takes no time. The original human voyage to the planet took two hundred and eighteen years, almost constantly travelling at the speed of light. Now travel can take less than a week by ship due to the teleport gates, located behind planetary moons to enable astronomical observation.

 

How do Rekodenzians go to the toilet?

*sigh* I hate half term…

 

Do you have any more questions about Rekodenz? Drop me a line.

Interactive fiction and the pitfalls therein

Today a thought popped into my head telling me to create my own text RPG. So I took a quick trip to the Googletorium to see what was on offer and downloaded something called ADRIFT. I got it set up and had some teething problems (this is meant to be for BEGINNERS but still decided not to work. I thought I was following the instructions to the letter but either I wasn’t or there’s a bug). The internet threw up no solution, which is unusual due to it being quite popular, so I gave up.

I might give it another try tomorrow. TRPG/interactive fiction is a wonderful genre that has existed for decades and is highly versatile. I’ve also been wanting to make a Rekodenz game for a while and not knowing my BASIC from my COBOL (although I’ve been wanting to learn a programming language), I figured a TRPG would be the best way to go. ADRIFT also supports VA and graphics, so one could make quite an advanced game using the tools on offer.

Does anyone here have any experience of ADRIFT?