flail doyou ?

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Here's the article. Via How Appealing
If this is true, then not only sodomy, but also fornication, adultery (e.g., spouse swapping, "swinging"), polygamy, group sex, prostitution, adult brother-sister or parent-child incest, and (depending on one's views about the rights of animals and their capacity to consent) bestiality are protected as specifications of the constitutional right of privacy. All of these acts and practices are, or can be, consensual. If consent provides the standard of inclusion within the right of privacy, they must all be admitted.

Yes. That sounds perfect. The "animals and their capacity to consent" bit is just a red herring; if there were no question of an animal's ability to consent, who are we to stand in their way? We don't arrest a dog for humping our leg, a cat, a pillow, or any other form of miscegenation they can imagine. It's meaningless to say "If you allow any consensual act, you must allow bestiality, because you might think animals can consent." It begs the question - if an earthworm can consent, why can't a 3-year-old? I was under the impression that the reason it was illegal to have sex with a 3-year-old is that a 3-year-old cannot consent. Which leads to a really, really good metric - if someone can form a contract, they can form a legitimate sexual relationship. I'm perfectly prepared to accept that the state does not have an interest in controlling parent-child incest when both members are adults. Prostitution is a special case - the state does not have an interest in controlling what food I eat, but it certainly has an interest in controlling what food I can buy. Notice how the two most odious examples, by most standards, aren't actually compelled by George's arguments.

Advocates of sexual liberation will say, of course, that retaining marriage as the criterion of constitutional protection is unfair since persons of the same sex cannot legally marry each other. But this objection reveals their ultimate goal: the destruction of marriage as it has been understood in Western law and culture and the substitution of a new concept in line with sexual-liberationist ideology.

Yes. That is their precise goal. Much as a similar group once undertook to destroy the concept of segregation as it has been understood in Western law. How many times has the Western understanding of marriage been destroyed? How many states still allow suits for alienation of affection?

Monday, May 26, 2003

I still maintain this is the funniest thing Lloyd Wood has ever written.
Tom Tomorrow already covered this, but I just want to keep this bit from the New York Times Magazine around:

Mike Boland, by contrast, is like many of today's young right-wingers. Determinedly middle class (his dad is an X-ray technician, his mom a teacher's aide), Boland can afford Bucknell's $35,000 in tuition and fees only with the help of financial aid. Studious and abstemious, he works hard to keep up a 3.9 G.P.A. For Boland, the effort that has taken him from a modest background to the top ranks of an elite university bolsters his conservative beliefs on self-reliance. ''If you don't earn it,'' he says, ''you don't appreciate it.''

Sunday, May 25, 2003

So, months ago, Bryant wrote:
...I wandered over to IMDB to look at their list of the top movies of 2002 by popular vote. It's just weird.

I am not surprised that some movie fans decided to push their favorite flick to the top of the charts. Duh; it's an online vote. That's what happens. But from all appearances, we have a bunch of separate groups all pushing frantically without any hint of trying to pull down someone else.

I thought about that then. And now I'm thinking about it again; I was looking at the Amazon ratings for Atlas Shrugged. (Geez, I hope that link works.) There are 940 reviews of Atlas Shrugged on Amazon. Atlas Shrugged is something of a unique phenomenon, obviously - some people feel it's a masterpiece, others think it's dross. No one thinks it's merely alright - and no one in the one camp can see how someone could be in the other camp after reading the book. (In the interest of full disclosure, I come down on the "dross" side, and some of her shorter books remain among my favorites, particularly Anthem. I'm somewhat convinced that no one who claims to like Atlas Shrugged even made it the 500 pages deep I managed.) But if you scroll through the first 20 or so reviews, you'll notice that no matter WHAT someone has to say about it, no matter how well-written, there's a lot of people out there who didn't find the review helpful. I'll confess, I managed to nitpick one of the 5 star reviews to the point where I could claim to have found it unhelpful.

Now. IMDB and to a much greater extent The Red Meat Construction Set illustrate conclusively that if you give 10 people who all feel the same way about a work the chance to rate it from 1 to 10, absent any objective guidelines, you're pretty likely to end up with at least 5 different votes. The only exceptions are for works that are truly superlative. (The RMCS allows each user to rate strips from 1 to 10, but the actual effect on the comic's score is determined by the deviation from the average vote by that user. Thus, someone who votes a 1 on every strip in the archive except 1, which he gives a 3, will actually give that strip a higher score than someone who votes a 10 on strips he likes and 1 on strips he doesn't will give to the 10 strips. The calculated vote is referred to as the Z-score. When I rate a comic 6: Passably Good, I give it .26 points. Another voter gives the same comic a 6, but because he votes higher than I do, on average, he is actually taking away .14 points. This comic is a great example of the spread of averages - 1 votes range from -2.49 to -6.21.) People don't handle scales from 1 to 10 very well. I don't think they deal much better with 5 stars - it's not that 10 is too much to pick from, it's that people just don't think that way. I've seen some people try to use a 5 star scale and never give out 1 star - others reserve their 5s.

I think it would be very interesting to test a rating system where ratings occur through comments and ratings of the comments. Boil down the Amazon reviews to 160 characters or less (and allow users to submit more than one comment - I might write for Atlas Shrugged "Writing style is straightforward to the point that it insults the reader", "Characters are one-dimensional", and "Moral of the story is obvious from page 1 and never forgotten") and let people vote on the reviews. Perhaps even let people vote on the comments on RMCS. This won't get you closer to a "true rating" - I think the Z-score is the best way to do that. Combined with the rating for standard deviation, that really tells you how people in general feel about it. Epinions and Amazon both try to pretend people aren't voting on the comments: "Was this helpful?" Not "Do you agree?" I think "Do you agree?" : "I agree" / "I disagree" / "It doesn't matter whether I agree or not - there's no good reason to say something like that" would let you build a very information-dense review - not "This is how people rated Atlas Shrugged" but "This is what people think about Atlas Shrugged.
Wish 48: Money, Money, Money
The price and availability of miniatures goes up as more companies leave the market. Wood costs lead to extended paper costs, and supplements and gaming systems are becoming a serious financial investment. Is this affecting your gaming any?

Miniatures have never been affordable enough that I could justify buying them in quantity. If they're getting more expensive, that means I'll never go through with my plans to turn the living room into an elaborate diorama, but it won't affect my gaming. Books, though... I've never felt like I could afford supplements, beyond the one or two that are so useful they should have been part of the main system. I bought a lot of hardbacks I couldn't really afford back in the 1st edition AD&D days, and that parade of underwhelming pretty much broke me of the habit. I've splurged on a couple since, and then never really used them. The systems themselves - I've stopped feeling like I can even afford them. The turning point was In Nomine. I wanted it bad, but I just couldn't bring myself to cough up the money for it.

Hey, this post is back from the dead! Guess I'll go ahead and save it off.

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Well. Bruce Almighty was just lame. Stephen Notley put more thought into his review than I care to devote to the movie, and I agree with everything he said. I just have two things to add. It felt as though Jim Carrey woke up one morning and said "Oh no! I missed the era of zany '80s comedies whose plots hinge entirely on one dumb gimmick entirely! I've got to do one while I'm still lovable!" it also felt as though, every time Jim Carrey came up with a routine or facial tic or line that didn't make sense in whatever movie he was working on at the time, he wrote it down on a 3"x5" card and stuck it in a recipe box labeled "The God Movie." It seemed as though more than half his antics were total non sequiturs.

It was entertaining - nothing i'd have turned off if it came on cable. But it was still a really bad movie.

Friday, May 23, 2003

One thing I think some people are overlooking in answering the question, "Is The Matrix Reloaded deep?" is the fact that we learn very little first-hand in Reloaded. How much exposition doesn't come from lectures delivered by characters of unknown pedigree? I've still only seen the movie once, but here's my recollection of some facts as presented. These are major spoilers, obviously.

The following characters demonstrate powers we had not previously witnessed: Agent Smith (replication), Neo (some sort of digital CPR, precognition, affecting probes in an unknown manner), the twins (ethereality), the Keymaker (saves keys to open doors), the Merovingian (claims to have programmed a cake).
Some doors lead to different locations when opened under different circumstances.
The Oracle claims to be a program, and claims that other characters are also programs. Some of these characters seem to support this notion.
Agent Smith admits to having been destroyed in some fashion, and claims to no longer be connected to whatever he was once connected with in the same fashion.
I don't recall the Merovingian providing much exposition, I'll pay attention to that when I see it again.
The Architect claims that he designed the Matrix with the Oracle's help, and that the two of them have colluded to bring Neo to his current place. The Architect offers a great deal of background, and sits in a room full of video displays which show Neo taking different actions. The Architect implies that these might be past incarnations of Neo.
The Architect and the Oracle know that probes are on their way to destroy Zion.

I know one criticism of Reloaded that's floating around a bit is "It's just like Back to the Future II! If I wanted to see half a movie, I'd have walked out in the middle, like I should have!" So it baffles me that, with that criticism out in the open, people are talking as if everything that has been explained to them in Reloaded - explained to Neo, actually, by characters who either have an apparent motive for lying to him, or have lied to him in the past - is truth. It's possible that it is, in which case, yes, maybe it's not that 'deep' a movie. I didn't think Frailty was a very deep movie 80 minutes in, either.

UPDATE: There are some points in the comments for this post that I really agree with. That's the post that got me started thinking about this. Here's one excerpt: "If you do see the film and you take Morpheus' (Laurence Fishburne's) explanation for what human beings are to the machines at face value, the whole thing can become comfortingly silly." That's a good point, and it reminds me of what I always saw as the fatal flaw of the first movie: of course it makes no sense for machines to use humans as power sources, what with the laws of thermodynamics and such. But the only people we know with any certainty believe that human beings provide electrical power are the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar. The Architect seems to agree with this, but the dialogue is so brief, it's possible he's either talking about something else entirely or merely perpetuating the myth.

It's interesting, really, to think about where Morpheus's version of history comes from. I imagine the Oracle has a lot to do with it.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Monday, May 19, 2003

Friday, May 16, 2003

Wish 47: Learning Your Lesson
Name one lesson you learned in gaming that you will (hopefully) never have to learn again.

Looking back on my least pleasant gaming experiences, the main lesson's I've taken away seem to be of the format "Avoid games involving this player, this player, this supplement, or any circumstance that might prompt a player to alter the 'gender' field on their character sheet in any way." Considering only experiences that weren't doomed before character creation, though, I think I have a lesson of more general utility. It's one that I learned in a fairly benign fashion, which makes me all the more eager not to repeat it now that I know how badly it could have gone.
GMs and players should make an effort well in advance of play to discover, establish, and respect content boundaries.

I learned this by running an overly creepy Werewolf campaign. One of the players, although relatively experienced, wasn't prepared for the level of disorientation, pursuit and gore involved in a session, and the campaign came to an abrupt halt. As I said, it could have been significantly worse - I can easily imagine having lost a player or a friend instead of just the campaign, especially if she had kept quiet about being disturbed through a few more sessions. I think this is probably less a problem with some genres - I think the only question I'd ask players before a dungeon crawl is "Are you going to throw a hissy fit if your character dies?" If I were ever to run a horror-oriented campaign again, I'd definitely make a sincere effort to find out more about what squicks my players. It's easy for someone like me who reads Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and Lovecraft to lose sight of the fact that some people don't have iron stomachs when it comes to some issues. I took it even more for granted in that particular case because I saw Werewolf/Vampire as horror-oriented games - it turns out that more people than I would have expected don't play them that way.

I'm not sure what good strategies are for outlining boundaries are, though, when the GM and players aren't fairly close friends already. I think if something like rape or a particularly malicious/gruesome death are likely to come up in a game, the GM should probably just be up-front about that. Maybe straightforward discussion is necessary for issues that don't bother as great a percentage of people, too, I don't know. I'm likely to err on the side of caution in the future - because if something bothers someone, it's going to bother them even more if they're surprised by it.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

How not to review a movie.

Another bad way to review a movie.

Kurtz spends 10 paragraphs explaining that The Matrix Reloaded was horrible, and doesn't bother to enumerate one bad thing about the movie. Apparently, EVERYTHING about the movie was bad - music, foley, make-up, costumes, directing, acting, special effects, choreography, cinematography, set design, titles, catering, assistant to Mr. Reeves, EVERYTHING. Ok, I agreed with him on the titles. Seriously, though - if you can't find one concrete thing to say, why take 10 paragraphs not saying it?

Maybe Kurtz is trying to get away from that other curse of movie reviewers - recapping the plot until the first twist, and Walters does. I still don't understand why reviewers feel compelled to do this if they're not going to focus any of their commentary on the plot they recap. At least he actually reviews the movie afterward, so I shouldn't really complain too much.

There are lots of other bad reviews out there, including mine. This just illustrates why movie criticism isn't suited for amateurs. But we all feel the need to get it off our chests, and these days we have the means.

UPDATE: Kurtz backed up his criticism, making this fairly irrelevant.
Got my glowing review up at Epinions. Not much there I didn't say here.
Well, we saw The Matrix Reloaded, tonight. It was impressive. As we were leaving, the girl behind us was complaining that it was a movie written by twelve-year-old boys. She found the "gratuitous sex scene" particularly inexcusable. Oddly, she seemed to think The Matrix was fantastic - curious, considering how reviled The Matrix was when it first came out for its lack of depth and consistency. I don't think a lot of people remember The Matrix that way, but I know a lot of people who felt that way the first time they saw it.

The big difference between The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded, apart from the budget, is that Matrix is a kung fu movie in a sci-fi setting, while Reloaded is a sci-fi movie with lots of kung fu. (I hope the spoiler in the previous sentence is buried deeply enough that it won't offend my reader.) I'll revisit that when I feel like it's safe to make spoilish comments.

Reloaded had a much stronger sense of humor. Between intentional humor, unintentional humor, and things that were only funny after wathcing "Computer Boy," I was actually laughing through a good deal of the movie.

I loved the fight scenes and most of the effects. All very tight. One shift I noticed - there was very little of the multiple-exposure moves-really-fast stuff. I feel like that makes sense for Neo - when you can see the future, you can be in the right place ahead of time. It was kind of weird that the agents laid off it, though.

Some of the shots of Zion were really well-realized, and some of them seemed like matte paintings of Xanadu.

All in all, I'll probably die having seen The Matrix more times than I see Reloaded, but I'll definitely see it once or twice more before it even leaves the theatres.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Already reported on Slashdot, but...

Start reading here.

Read all the way to the bottom, hit "Next Section," and don't stop until you see Lord Sainsbury of Turville offer to consider at a later date if he can "think of a name for the enormous amount of unsolicited ordinary mail [Lord Mackie of Benshie, et al.] receive."

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Hey, I'm full of opinions today. From reading the lengthy Times article on Jayson Blair, it sounds like he's exactly the sort of person best suited to pulling this sort of thing off. Charismatic, outgoing, and willing to engage in behavior outrageous enough to go undetected and unchallenged. He found a niche, an opportunity, and he was willing to exploit it. He was promoted because of his affability and because he exploited the system. These are things that happen to privileged white males every day. Anyone who claims that Blair is a product of a system that encourages diversity is claiming that privileges extended to white males should not be extended to others.

Here's a Washington Post article that cites other examples of audacious, lying (white) journalists coddled by the system.
The problem with using a browser that isn't IE:
"Coming soon" sites tend to look exactly like "broken under anything but IE" sites.

UPDATE: It occurs to me that it's not going to stay a "Coming soon" site forever. Here's a relevant excerpt:
<td ALIGN="CENTER" VALIGN="MIDDLE"><img SRC="logo.gif" ALT="Coming Soon" WIDTH="184" HEIGHT="118"></td>

Monday, May 12, 2003

Oh my.

Rosa Parks is suing OutKast over the title of the song Rosa Parks. One of the questions raised in the case is whether the song actually has anything to do with Rosa Parks. The opinion contains the following:
Parks contends that a cursory review of the Rosa Parks title and the lyrics demonstrates that there is no artistic connection between them. Parks also submits two articles in which members of OutKast are purported to have admitted that the song was not about her. As further evidence, she offers a "translation" of the lyrics of the song Rosa Parks, derived from various electronic "dictionaries" of the "rap" vernacular to demonstrate that the song truly has nothing to do with Parks herself. The "translation" of the chorus reads as follows:
"Be quiet and stop the commotion. OutKast is coming back out [with new music] so all other MCs [mic checkers, rappers, Master of Ceremonies] step aside. Do you want to ride and hang out with us? OutKast is the type of group to make the clubs get hyped-up/excited."

For the sake of comparison, the actual lyrics are:
Ah ha, hush that fuss
Everybody move to the back of the bus
Do you wanna bump and slump with us
We the type of people make the club get crunk

At least, I think those are the corresponding lyrics; the "translation" seems to be taking some serious liberties with the second line.

The image of Rosa Parks consulting "various electronic 'dictionaries' of the 'rap' vernacular" in order to translate "crunk" is priceless.

(via How Appealing.)

UPDATE: Hey, it gets better.
The lyrics' sole message is that OutKast's competitors are of lesser quality and, therefore, must "move to the back of the bus," or in other words, "take a back seat."
Discussing the Pledge of Allegiance, Rep. Jim Ryun, R-Kan. says:

While our servicemen and women are putting their lives on the line, fighting under our flag, I believe the nation's schoolchildren should be able to recite, `one nation under God' under our nation's flag...

The connection couldn't possibly be more clear.

(via How Appealing)
A lot of people seem to be failing to grasp how Google works, and how blogs influence it. I know I don't understand these things fully, but I think some things that are being said are plainly false.

"Removing weblogs from the main search results" is an unclear phrase. Weblogs interact with search results in two ways - they can be returned as results, or they can help Google identify results. Meaningful phrases would be "Removing weblogs from the PageRank algorithm" and "Not returning hits on weblogs as search results."

One of Orlowski's complaints about blogs is that they represent a small percentage of the pages indexed by Google, and are disproportionately represented because of their incestuous linking habits. I think the problem is that when Google began, PageRank corresponded very closely to quality, and it was easy to confuse the two. The correlation has been broken by many forces, primarily the increase of commerce on the web and the
increased ease of publishing to the web. That's the other problem, really - the web is a medium, not a source. Indexing the web is somewhat like indexing lab journals. There's a lot of good research written in lab journals, but for every discovery of the molecular structure of DNA there are thousands upon thousands of "My First Titration"s.

I think the biggest problem, though, remains the interpretation of Google results, and a lack of appreciation for what heuristics are and are not capable of doing. This is promoted somewhat by Google's term "PageRank." Google doesn't sort pages according to relevance, it sorts pages according to a metric, and attempts to weight its metric to correspond to relevance. Even under charitable assumptions, one would not assume that the ten pages out of one hundred that best match the metric correspond to the ten pages that best match the characteristic. The realistic assumption is that, as a group, the average relevance of the top ten is higher than the average relevance of the group as a whole. All that said - yes, there is a problem. But if you foam at the mouth every time the most relevant page in your opinion doesn't reach the front page of results, it damages your case.

Again - there are two problems. One is that there are lots of similar pages that aren't useful for our particular search and Google doesn't do a good job filtering these results. The other is that Google's metric allows certain networks of web pages to be far more significant than some users would like. My solution for the first (and I think that retail sites are much worse offenders than blogs in this case) would be to provide different background colors for sites of different character - blogs, retail, review sites and message boards should all be immediately distinguishable without reading the text. That way, if I'm looking for information I KNOW will not be coming from a reseller, I know what to avoid.

Link soup about Google and blogs:
Bryant has some brief thoughts without any misinformation
He links to Phil Ringnalda, who similarly doesn't say much and thereby manages to avoid being stupid
Both reference the Register story which as far as I can tell is just stupid, and is being reported as if it were a primary source by slashdot
The real primary source is this Reuters story
And here's some odd ranting on a messageboard, featuring some valid thoughts mixed in with unwashed craziness.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

I finally saw X2 tonight. I saw it at the IMAX, which meant I didn't get to see the Hulk trailer. I did get to see the Matrix Reloaded trailer, though. That was nifty. In fact, overall, the first 10 minutes were the best - Matrix Reloaded, followed by Nightcrawler kicking ass. X2 was a movie about mutants, and there sure were a lot of them. They were all really interesting, as much as we got to see of them. Well, the kid with the blue tongue from the preview was pretty boring. I kept trying to figure out if I was supposed to know him.

I think I wanted to see a movie about one or two mutants, maybe three if there was some sort of love triangle action going on. I really didn't want to see a collection of "character development" snapshots. I had a feeling from the preview that's what I was in for, and boy was I right. I'll admit I agree with Scott Kurtz - the snapshots were handled pretty skillfully for a comic book action movie. They were still just brief vignettes. In terms of comic book pacing, I'd say each bit of character development lasted at most two pages - and then we were done with it, unless we revisited it later in the movie to confirm what we suspected the first time around. I really wanted them to take one character-based issue (apart from the plot itself) and really crack it open.

The most disappointing character, really, was Xavier. I guess he just wasn't important, this time around. Nightcrawler was a lot of fun. Storm was pretty boring - didn't she have an accent, last time around? Rogue and Jean Gray were both surprisingly unsexy, but Mystique filled in the gap. Cyclops continues to disturb me with his kinetic eye-beams. I guess I never paid enough attention to the comics, I didn't realise they were basically giant red fists. It's really hard to swallow when you see them in motion. Magneto dazzled, as always, and probably had the least heavy-handed character development of anyone. Logan just wasn't a superhero in this movie - he did more healing than anything.

All in all, I'll watch it again, and I'll enjoy it, but I'll always be sad about how much better it could have been.

Friday, May 09, 2003

Wish 46: Plot, Plot, Plot
How do you define the word "plot" in a roleplaying game? What is plot and how does it come about? What is the GM's role in developing plot? What is the players' role? Are the answers different for different genres?

I suppose I think of "plot" as the sequence of events in a game, generally viewed from a high level. It's what's left of the story when everyone gets done talking about how cool it was when Protagonist tried stop Enemy from escaping on horseback by punching the horse in the head - just "And then Enemy escaped yet again."

I group games into three categories respecting plot.

Entire plot scripted in advance
The GM writes up a choose-your-own-adventure book and lets the players explore it. A degenerate case exists where the GM simply writes up a plot and expects/hopes that the players will conform to it. In essence, the GM has written a number of plots, and the players/dice make selections about which plot will be carried out. (The Enemy will steal the McGuffin. If the players go here to look for the McGuffin, his Agents will attempt to defeat them. If the players find the Enemy's spurned Relation, she will help them if they overcome her distrust.)

Fixed obstacles written in advance
The GM writes up the obstacles in his scenario, but does not explicitly construct a plot surrounding them. This can include when the GM authors one central obstacle, and improvises further obstacles as the players attempt to deal with the prime threat. (The players need to recover the McGuffin from the Enemy. The Enemy has Agents here and here. The Enemy's spurned Relation is here, and can help, but distrusts the players.)

Only the world is described
The GM acquires a detailed level of familiarity with the world the game will take place in, but does not script events in any way. All occurrences are an impromptu response to the actions of the players, apart perhaps from a GM-provided kick that gets everything moving. (The Enemy has always wanted the McGuffin, and has Agents and a spurned Relation. The McGuffin is being transported with very light security for some reason.)

Obviously, the first and second examples detail nearly the same situation - I wrote them in parallel to highlight the similarity. It's easy to describe a plot in terms of "obstacles" (An oracle told Oedipus that he would kill his father and marry his mother. Oedipus doesn't know that his true father and mother are not who he believes them to be.) but it's easy to see that if the player takes any action which will /avoid/ the obstacle, the GM will be forced to move the obstacle into the player's path. It's the difference between setting an elaborate trap and writing a story about someone falling into an elaborate trap.

So, in the first method, the GM's role is to write the plot, and either force the players to stay within its boundaries, or rewrite it as they escape them. The players may feel as though they are exploring the story the GM has written, or they may feel as though they are being beaten whenever they stray from the GM's intended path. In the second method, the GM's role is to create scenarios that will lead to interesting plots, and allow the players to struggle towards their goals within those scenarios. The plot just happens as the two strive. In the third method, the players bear much more of the role in driving the plot. I don't know how you could get Oedipus or Romeo and Juliet from this method - but Hamlet is entirely plausible. (I think you'd have to start before King Hamlet's death, though, and Claudius and Hamlet would both be PCs.) In fact, that's almost important enough to move out of parentheses - it seems to me, on initial reflection, that when trying to reverse engineer a style from a plot, I always end up starting sooner with the "describe the whole world" method. That's just an off-the-cuff reflection, though.

I'm at a loss for how different genres would affect this, except to say that if the players necessarily take adversarial roles, dictating a plot would be insane.

One other thing that occurs to me, on reflection - a "plot" isn't necessarily one-to-one with an "episode." Taking a step back, there's generally a larger plot which emerges. The same analysis can be applied at this level, and here I think most GMs develop plot at a much more impromptu level. It seems rare to start out one episode with a solid idea of what will happen twenty sessions hence. at least at the level of granularity the players have the ability to impact.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Monday, May 05, 2003

Friday, May 02, 2003

Ugh. High, high on my list of comics that I love dearly and NEVER want to see made into movies (or in this case, TV series) is Strikeforce: Morituri. There's just no way to make it work. But there is a way to make it MUCH MUCH WORSE: "Writers Matt Holloway and Art Marcum will write A Thousand Days, which deals with a group of super soldiers who die 1,000 days after being engineered to fight evil." [emphasis added] I'm hoping that's just a horrible, horrible mistake, and they really mean "...who die less than 1,000 days after..." Putting it at a fixed time just totally eliminates the tension. Ugh, again.

And apparently, "the show will focus on Earth-bound villains."

The sad part is, I'm going to watch every freaking episode just so I can complain about how they've ruined my entire childhood.
Wow. This is just fun to watch - it's Gabe inking a piece of a strip in PhotoShop. Interesting to see that he zooms way in, and varies his zoom level - 400%, 500%, 600%.
I was going to give X2 the benefit of the doubt until I saw it, but Stephen Notley reviewed it and confirmed my fears. I'll still go watch the movie, but without even having seen it, I'm willing to ramble at length about what's wrong with it. I don't think anyone can find room for a plot while trying to get all those characters on-screen. I think the fundamental problem is that the best comic book stories would last at least 90 minutes in movie form - and the best comic book stories are really, at their heart, stories about two or three characters. So, basically, if you want to make a comic book movie about lots of characters, you have to either make it 180 minutes long, or use a bad story or three. Well, I guess another option would be to have fight scenes that don't go on for 5 minutes, but who wants to see that?

The reason The Watchmen, Lord of the Rings, and some stretches of ensemble comics like X-Men are successful, I think, is that they take several stories, each of which has only one or two main characters, and put them all together into something that could never fit in a single summer blockbuster. I think there are three things those responsible for the X-Men license can do. They can say, "Screw it - we're going to take 300 minutes to tell this story, and milk you for $20 to see it over the course of 3 years." Or they can say, "Screw it. Sure, you can SEE your favorite character, but they're only going to get 3 minutes of screentime. We're going to tell a story about Colossus this year." Or they can say, "Screw it. We could slap this license on 'Waterworld' and make a mint. Next year, we're just going to release the Marvel Encyclopedia: X-Men as a movie."

Thursday, May 01, 2003

U.S. says Canada cares too much about liberties
It should read "U.S. State Department says..." to be more accurate. And of course they're twisting the meaning somewhat - it appears the U.S. simply said they have too many liberties; they don't actually care what they think about them, just whether they have them. But the fact that such a statement can be made, and even have a grain of truth to it... I just want to cry.

(via This Modern World.)
copyright 2003

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