Well-Timed Cinematic Villanelles

interstelartravelIf there’s one movie people seemed convinced will be a success this Fall, it’s probably Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. Rumors bounce around over how much of the original -crazy-ass- story (related to Spielberg) made it into the actual Nolan product. More rumors bounce around saying it’s an epic sci-fi flick that crosses unworldly -see: Interstellar- distances. This is all click-baity crap based on speculation, not evidence. I think the movie is really about time travel. Continue reading

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Catching Up

reachyou

I feel bad for not updating here recently, because a lot of cool stuff has been going on, but, I really didn’t have a choice.

The lack of new content here has been due to:
- an abscess in a molar where I had a root canal years ago
- an allergic -eczema-related- reaction to antibiotics and ibuprofen
- very boring recovery time spent after tooth extraction
- a couple nights in the ER getting meds that only made my condition worse

Even so, I’m BACK, and brushes with modern medical science really can make one want to write.

So, keep watch. I’ve got a couple posts planned.

-MT

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Divergence

ImageI’ve been occupied with a bunch of miscellany since my last post about the Interstellar trailer. I built a new -awesome- desktop with an i5 and -finally- a legitimate copy of Microsoft’s Windows 8-1. MS won me over with their promise of seamless integration via OneDrive. All I need now is a Windows phone, but that likely won’t happen, because I’ve spent so much time on customizing my Android phone, and I use my phone (with an unlimited data plan) for Internet access.

Aside from the new desktop, I got myself set up with a Raspberry Pi. It’s been somewhat of a g.d-send. It has given me a rather oblique way to pursue programming. While I wish I was writing poetry instead of code, it helps that there is a free Pi version of MineCraft. So, I have been trying to punch trees with code.

The next part is more of a mimetic exercise, but doing this stuff does help me focus more. Thanks, Sarah, for directing me to the OP.

1) What are you working on?
I’m trying to learn Python, a coding language. But I still have designs for my hybrid novel Fabrications.

2) How does your work differ from others’ work in the same genre?
Fabrications is a cyberpunk story; a lot of it has been solidified via various tropes. The story differs in that it uses -serious- neuroscience to inform consciousness. This is a difficult matter to deal with, considering I don’t have, for example, a PET machine readily available…

3) Why do you write?
I write poetry and fiction, because, simply, I need the exercise. It gives me space; it gives me freedom. I need those things for any activity, but writing stands out because it is strictly driven by rules. Without the rules, I’d be lost.

4) How does your writing process work?
My writing process is too sporadic to distill into a process, but I think there are some trends I follow. When I write, I break it down. I always give myself an objective to my writing, then consider what formal constraints I wish to apply for that idea.

BTW: the above image is from Steins;Gate, a brilliant franchise from Japan that has enraptured me with both an anime and visual novel (one I am still working through).

-MT

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Ghost in the Shell: Arise – an Innocent Origin Story at Best

innocenceProps go out, in part, to the SF Meetup group that helped make seeing the first two episodes of GITS:Arise last week possible via TUGG. Overall, it was worth seeing, but, hardly comparable to what I’ve seen from the franchise in the past, well before crowd-funding sites. I mean, I saw Innocence for a CLASS at Vanderbilt in 2004. And that took no funding, just us showing up to see it at the local Nashville indie theater. Not so much luck in SF, I guess?

That stuff aside, Arise wasn’t terrible. It had the fantastic animation I’ve come to expect from the studio, and the translation (when I could READ IT) was good. But, it isn’t a spoiler to say I expected more. GITS has wowed me with films and mind-bending tv series, but Arise felt forcefully convoluted. I followed it fine, but it was more tropey than not, and not in a good-tropey way. It didn’t really innovate. It used what was safe, lodging character consciousnesses into other consciousnesses in some maze that seems philosophical, but, really, hardly could be called a Garden of Forking Paths.

Even so, it was amazing seeing an origin story for Motoko. She’s such a strong character, and I can excuse SOME narrative issues because I like her. However, I didn’t like how she ran around for large portions of screen time in her underwear, as those segments did nothing to help the narrative, which, to me, was pretty sparse to begin with. But, I’m sure people seeing Arise had no such complaints.

Arise is great, but only if it’s approached as being longish tv episodes. It is not Innocence, by any means, and it’s not good enough to stand on its own, in my opinion. If you’re a GITS fan, you’ll get it, but not otherwise.

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Interstellar – It Will Happen

INTERSTELLAR

I was sick last Friday, which left me absent from seeing the latest Kaiju film, Godzilla, and while I’ve been told from co-workers it is quite good, I would have just been satisfied to see the accompanying Interstellar trailer in a theater. I’ve probably re-watched it over two-dozen times since it was released, and I’m totally willing to fall for Nolan’s Interstellar marketing techniques.

After seeing the first Interstellar trailer, I decided to compare it to the first Inception trailer; I wasn’t surprised at the coy way Nolan unveils things to his potential audience. The first Inception trailer suffices on ideas of “a single idea” and “theft” while being juxtaposed with revolutionary imagery. The ONLY hint we have to the true nature of Inception is when Ellie/Ellen Page screams “‘WAKE ME UP!'” With Interstellar, it’s mostly similar in the approach.
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Giraffes, Water Slides, & Trading Cards – A Recipe for Mobile Games

Hey readers. As the month of March comes to a close, I thought I’d do a round-up of games I played this month, with a bit of commentary aimed at exploring gameplay elements that make particular games sticky. This is far from exhaustive, as gamers differ in taste, but maybe there is a recipe in all this that can help devs. I dunno.

None of these games are staggeringly new; I got bored of Threes before the other rip-offs arrived. These are long-lasters for me, which is Kind-of-a-Big-Deal. I wrote Best Apps Market Reviews for all but the last one, which, being Guild Wars 2, I decided to review in the style we do at BAM.
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Seattle: cool. AWP: meh.

“Is it the sea you hear in me,
Its dissatisfactions?”
-Plath, Elm.

No. Sure, AWP was very disappointing, but Seattle was perfectly fine, and I enjoyed my time there. Maybe I am dissatisfied about AWP. Maybe I am hesitant to say that all the AWP presenters I saw gave content that I already knew plenty about, and that I ended up hearing authors with more money, better book deals, talking about stuff I already knew.

While I don’t mind that, I wanted to show them stories they’d never seen, because, well, they’re sheltered authors, and some of us actually did screw up, and have stories that might not sell a ton, but will entertain. Besides, I figure AWP isn’t interested in anything but their brand of writing, so, it makes sense for me to say that writing serves purposes aside from their stale RHETORIC.

For future reference:
If  you know something about writing but have no connections, AWP is a waste of money. Networking is a joke and you have to smash people’s faces into tables in order to convince them you don’t care about Journal X. You also have to pay money to listen to authors that write trash that explains how they made that trash, which is marginally useful, but you’d be better off exploring the city you’re in, because AWP is a stale bureaucracy that will die out sooner or later, and, as someone working at a startup, I welcome it, because I’m going to do something for them that is better than they could even imagine.

So, please, just die.

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Deep Down Ingrained Sexism, Games, and Whining

I Flipped through an article on February 17 by Brenna Hillier that had a catchy title, but decided to relegate it to my “stuff to address later” project. Here’s where I try to unpack Ms. Hillier’s arguments, then comment on them. For tl;dr readers: Hillier’s complaints overlook the fact that games are entertainment, which should never be -reasonably- sanctioned.
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Why EA’s Mobile Dungeon Keeper Ironically Succeeds

Last week, after a protracted time of testing, Electronic Arts opened the flood-gates and let the rest of the world play a mobile rendition of a franchise they bought from properties created by Peter Molyneux called Dungeon Keeper. As it happened, on 01-30-14, I did my job and played, rated and reviewed the game for the Fetch app-discovery app, saying:
 
Recruit minions and carve out a sinister underground empire by harvesting resources and laying devious dungeon traps to painfully foil your enemies! EA did a great job bringing a PC classic to mobile devices.

I rated the game 9/10 (4.5), so imagine my surprise when I see a bunch of posts from other reviewers of games critically saying Dungeon Keeper is an example of everything wrong with mobile games, and that EA essentially raped the franchise because purchasing virtual currency is practically required to enjoy the game.

Well, I thought about refining my review to reflect recent trends, but instead opted to respond–I want to provide background to my reviewing processes and metrics, and, why EA was able to pull a well-planned fast-one that pissed off everyone. Essentially: EA orchestrated this as a blow to free-to-play, and it might be a good thing for mobile games…

I sat tapping through the tutorial of Dungeon Keeper with little surprise. I figured EA would turn Dungeon Keeper into a free-to-play game the second I saw it soft-released. As expected, the demonic guide talked down to me and encouraged me to pursue tasks that would take gems to complete quickly, like, surprise, Clash of Clans, or any other derivative. I tolerated it and took it in stride.

The tutorial was annoying, but compared to other games I’d played on Android, above-average, so I kept tapping through things until I found the point where I could break the MANDATORY tutorial. I assessed what I saw and rated everything in the game accordingly. I then un-installed Dungeon Keeper because I was disgusted, which, in retrospect, I think was intentional. EA did this to show the ridiculous nature of profiting in the mobile gaming sphere, and I’m forced to agree with them: you can’t adopt new payment methods to emulate traditional gameplay mechanics for mobile without pissing people off.

I stand behind my rating and review because the Dungeon Keeper gameplay exists, but is behind a pay-wall for those that want immediate gratification. EA engineered this to TRAP the media and with the hope that that would benefit them in the long run, because they’ve just used a cult game to make people find reason to hate freemium mobile games even more.

As a mobile games review editor, I don’t like what EA has done. EA has taken a wonderful PC game and commodified it to fit current mobile gaming trends. But, I don’t disapprove of their tactics either.

All that being said, when I rated the game, I figured Dungeon Keeper’s score in light of what you’d either be willing to pay or wait for, and not how upset you’d be at either junction. So, take that as you will.

-MT

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Shia LeBeouf’s Unsurprising Logical Fallacy

“The ‘copy’ is the scapegoat for the immense and apparently unsolvable problems that mimesis, as a basic constituent of our position, poses for us.”…“No doubt, it is symptomatic of the decadence of contemporary society, where the ability to produce a certain appearance situationally is more valuable than the slow development of substantive skills.”
-In Praise of Copying, Marcus Boon, 2010.

I really tried to not give attention to the -at times amusing- LaBeouf morass. I really did. Seeing the web explode, then continue to feed a fire was so entertaining, was reason enough for me not to say anything until I stumbled upon a 01/20/14 article titled “#stopcreating” that was authored by SHIA LABEOUF on the Hi-Lo-Brow site I have nothing against, “The New Inquiry.” Given the thrust of his article, I can’t excuse LaBeouf from anything, and I wouldn’t want to, because he’s wrong, and here’s why.

I opened this entry with a reference to Marcus Boon’s In Praise of Copying for good reason, one which Mr. LeBeouf, who’s supposedly a professor, doesn’t once mention in his laborious defense of, bluntly, ripping-off someone else’s story, and profiting as a result.

LaBeouf speaks of an explosion of writers employing strategies of copying and appropriation over the past few years, with the computer encouraging writers to mimic its workings. He equates this, then, as being “integral” “to the writing process;” that it would be mad to imagine that writers wouldn’t exploit these functions in extreme ways that weren’t intended by their creators.

I expected more from a “professor,” than what could be easily excused as a fallacy of “exclusive premises,” but, that’s all he opens his article with, and spends the rest of his time trying to say copying is okay by not citing the people he needed to be citing, like, oh, David Shields or Marcus Boon. Instead, he cites popular NYC media artists and whines about being chastised by a poet of a prominent university for being, frankly, a dick, and then saying something potentially-insightful: that we are in the same boat as to how we form our own meaning in the context of new questions concerning authorship. Hardly insightful. Clearly LaBeouf doesn’t like “academia,” whatever that means.

Mr. LaBeouf, you’re not helping anyone with your “writing,” because you basically used your status to make copying seem okay, like, you were re-framing something, but, really, your mimesis is not something I want to follow, considering you encourage us with logical fallacies.

People, keep doing your own thing, but, please, attribute. It seems like that is the only way some of us will manage.

I’m a poet, so I am not worried about people taking my writing…well, not yet. And when I say “taking my writing,” I really want to be able to see how things that I write might change over time.

LaBeouf thinks machines, or, the creators of those machines (engineers I deeply respect), might best me, or, poets, in the near future…but his whole article was an imploding attempt at seeming critical that failed to mention even the most common authors that a graduate student might find in an MFA program.

I don’t know why his writing was both accepted and acknowledged by The New Inquiry, because it doesn’t drive the kind of traffic TNI purports to curate; there are few resources to explore the argument. But, the internet is rife with back-patting and more egregious kinds of mutual satisfaction than I care to worry about.

I just hope that TNI, will, in the future, use editors that really care about what is posted on their site, because, frankly, they failed this time, by letting something so stupid as LaBeouf’s garbage get any exposure beyond his utter social media failure.

-MT

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