The title track off of a damn good album. I especially love the drums in the beginning and the build into the song. Good stuff. Next week, I’ll see if I can find some funeral doom.
After watching a couple of episodes of Parking Wars, it’s obvious why most people think so lowly of public servants. The ones on the show come off as douchebags obsessed with their own petty power. The one line that really struck me was, “you don’t get a ticket unless you did something wrong.” Thus implying some sort of ethical/moral purpose behind their petty actions instead of a simple bureaucratic one. There also seems to be some ridiculous parking laws in Detroit, which is probably why no one wants to live in Detroit.
Instead of putting up “No Parking 6:00 – 8:00” signs, they read “no standing.” I guess “standing” refers to someone leaving their car to go into a shop for a few minutes. Most of humanity calls this “parking,” the city of Detroit refers to it as “standing.” If they don’t want people to park there to keep traffic moving then a “no parking” sign would be prudent. Most people who see the sign won’t park there. Period. Of course that would be good for traffic but bad for city revenue. So put up a “no standing” sign designed to confuse people so the traffic police can write tickets to their heart’s desire.
The one thing I kept thinking as I watched the show was that I never, ever want to go to Detroit. The parking laws just seem too insane from the perception the show gave me. Like St. Louis, Detroit is a dying city. This is not the kind of foot it wants to put forward to attract new businesses and residents. “Come to Detroit, home of the bullshit parking tickets.”
There were a few instances where the person being ticketed was clearly in the right from a logical/common sense point of view. But if there is something that the cancerous, black mass of foul contempt we call bureaucracy hates, its reason, logic and common sense. Funny how a stupid show on A&E can do to bring out the libertarian rage.
The first track off of Epicus Doomicus Metallicus. For those who do not speak fake Latin, it translates to “Happy Children Playing in a Field with Puppies and Kittens.”
This is one of my all time favorite Candlemass tracks and one hell of an epic song.
I would say “may God have mercy on your soul,” but it’s clear that you don’t have one. Whatever Satanic, dark lord that you serve, it must be very pleased with your efforts.
I really didn’t have much to say about Mass Effect 3’s ending other than it sucked big time. In terms of bad endings I would put it up there with Haute Tension and Signs in terms of nonsensical horseshit that destroyed what came before it. Haute Tension in particular seems to be an apt comparison. The majority of Haute Tension is a brilliant, white knuckle horror film. While I sat in the theater watching it, I felt that this film was going to revitalize the sagging horror genre during the mid-2000’s. It was a four star classic and was on its way to get on my short list for greatest horror films ever made. That was until the ending.
To call Haute Tension’s ending nonsensical would be a understatement. The filmmakers, for whatever reason decided that the ending needed a twist. The twist made the preceding events impossible and shot holes throughout the whole film. The last bite of a story should never leave a bitter taste in the viewer’s mouth. I’m not saying that stories should have a bad or downer ending, but can we reasonably demand that they at least be logical? Hamlet is one of my favorite works of all time and most of the major players are dead in the final moments of the play. But it is the logical conclusion based on the events that preceded it. The characters have trapped themselves in a web of violence and corruption, and the brutal logic of how events unfold is what makes Hamlet such a satisfying conclusion. One man stands at the end of Hamlet, and his words somehow encapsulate the entire four hour production into a final thought of regret. Mass Effect 3 does no such thing.
We look back at Hamlet as a masterpiece, a great artistic achievement. But in truth, Hamlet was a commercial work. All of Shakespeare’s plays were. He made his living as a playwright and an actor. The success of his plays determined how well he could eat and live. He was dependent on the audience returning to the Globe for more of his plays. Their entertainment directly determining his own living situation. If an audience rebelled and scorned an ending or play they did not like, you could be sure Shakespeare learned from those mistakes.
Take for an example one of the greatest film directors that had ever lived, Alfred Hitchcock and his 1936 film Sabotage. Hitchcock considered the film one of the greatest mistakes of his career. Hitchcock later said that if you work up an audience’s nerves to a certain degree that the bomb should never go off, or the audience will turn on the film and you. White knuckle suspense will suddenly turn to bitter resentment. In Sabotage the bomb went off. It was a mistake that Hitchcock never made again as he entered the prime of his career, the 1940’s and 50’s. In 1937, he may have wished he could go back and fix that mistake, but it was too late at that point. So he used that lesson to make him a better filmmaker, going to create the masterpieces of his career. None of which were artistic endeavors, all were commercial films made for general consumption.
The Lord of the Rings is an artistic endeavor. J.R.R. Tolkien had no intention to commercial success. His livelihood did not depend on the success or failure of the Lord of the Rings. He was already well employed as a professor of linguistics when he wrote the book. His intention was purely artistic, even if the publisher’s was commercial. So if the publisher demanded a new ending so that it will sell better, Tolkien could very well make an argument for artistic integrity. Becoming a best seller was not his intention, developing an alternate mythology for England was. Tolkien would have pulled the book from publication if he thought the demands of change were too much.
Mass Effect 3 is a commercial work. Bioware’s success is dependent on the entertainment of its audience. Bioware has little right to claim artistic vision or integrity, especially since video game development is such a collective effort. Everyone has different artistic visions, and sometimes those visions have to be compromised for the betterment of the entire project.
I thought the ending of Mass Effect 3 was nonsensical garbage, but I was not among those who called for a new one. I would have preferred that Bioware would just come out and say, “we understand your disappointment. We will look into the issues brought up by our dedicated fans and learn from the mistakes and this entire ordeal, so that they will not be repeated in our future games.”
But that’s not what happened. Bioware chose to hide behind “artistic vision” because they think so little of the consumers who dropped sixty dollars on their commercial work. Mass Effect 3 was an entertainment designed and intended for commercial profit. There is nothing wrong with that at all. Many masterpieces have been created for similar purposes through out history. Michelangelo hated painting, sculpting was his true artistic passion. But painting brought him money. He painted the Sistine Chapel because the church paid him incredibly well to do it. If the pope had demanded that God should be wearing a hat, Michelangelo would have painted a hat on God. He painted the Sistine Chapel to finance his true artistic vision, sculpting and created an awe-inspiring masterpiece while doing so.
What inspires my ire most from of all this is not the ending itself. It was a garbage ending thrown onto a great game. So what, I’ll get over it. What really bothers me is the pompous condescension from the media journalists and Bioware itself. Fan backlash isn’t new. DC fans hated Jason Todd as Robin so much, that they literally would rather see him beaten to death with a crowbar than suffer through another comic with him in it. So DC gave the fans a new Robin as far from the Jason Todd character as they could. Unsurprisingly, Tim Drake became one of the most beloved characters in both the DCU and Batman family. Hitchcock took the mild negative reaction to Sabotage to heart and used it to make stronger, more fulfilling films.
What is so maddening is that Bioware has learned nothing from this whole ordeal. They have instead chosen to stick their head up their own ass and call it “artistic integrity.” Bioware is developing an alarming habit of claiming to care about the concerns of their customers while at the same time, brushing them off completely. Bioware has spent years creating a reputation for quality in video gaming. Now they are completely happy with whoring that reputation and destroying it forever to sell a few bits of DLC. For a producer of quality commercial entertainment, that just doesn’t make much business sense in the long view.
I have more to get into about this subject, mostly about the Extended Cut DLC and what a horrible idea that is and why it’s not going to work.
If you like your excessive violence and gratuitous nudity served with a small side of cheese then there is no better viewing than the Spartacus series on Stars. Or Starz. Whatever. The violence is fun, the nudity is fantastic and the bit of cheese it is served with is delicious. Then again, having grown up in the 80’s, I do love a little cheese in my entertainment.
A fusion of Gladiator, Rome and 300, Spartacus Blood and Sand rockets to a climax that is an orgy of raging violence. The final episode is apocalyptic in both its emotional resonance and brutality. What makes it all the better is that the series actually makes you care about the characters and their ultimate fate, whatever that may be. As mush as I can lavish praise on the show, it does suffer from the same problem that HBO’s Deadwood and Rome both did. Historical accuracy.
Game of Thrones is the big thing right now, and it should be. George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire offers everything that HBO could love. Costumes, morally ambiguous characters, nudity, perversion and of course the key to every entertainment’s success, Sean Bean dying horribly. If aliens started studying our pop culture, they’ll probably wonder just what our society has against that man. Unless you have read the books, the best part of Game of Thrones on HBO is that the end hasn’t been spoiled by your eleventh grade teacher. Rome and Deadwood were locked into a certain conclusion by history, Game of Thrones is not. The possibilities are wide open.
This the problem about the Spartacus series. They have to eventually move on from what makes the show so fucking awesome. This magnificent bastard right here.
Batiatus is Spartacus’ owner in the series. If you’ve seen the Kirk Douglas movie or are a fan of Wikipedia, then you know how things turn out for him. The character is played with such charisma by John Hannah that he completely steals the series from the title character. I ended up rooting more for Batiatus than I did for Spartacus. Him and his wife Lucretia (played by Lucy Lawless) outshine the rest of the cast. It’s been a long problem in fiction that the villains are often more interesting than the heroes. The Phantom of the Opera is one of the best examples of this. The Phantom himself is mysterious and fascinating while Christine and Raoul are dull twits. Take this quote from Roger Ebert’s review of the 1925 Lon Chaney film version of Phantom of the Opera.
The characters of Christine and Raoul, played by Mary Philbin and Norman Kerry, essentially function as puppets of the plot. But the Phantom is invested by the intense and inventive Lon Chaney with a horror and poignancy that is almost entirely created with body language.
Spartacus in Blood and Sand on the other hand, is a fully formed and tragic character who has the sympathy of the viewer. He’s an handsome ass kicker, filled with righteous anger who first works to reunite with his wife and then settles on blood soaked vengeance. You couldn’t ask for a better hero in a piece of entertainment. One hopes that a hero of equal depth and purpose eventually finds their way into video games. Yet, for all of his manly brooding, shouting and stabbing the character of Spartacus falls under the shadow of the magnificent bastard trope.
When first watching Blood and Sand, I found myself wishing they had just dropped the Spartacus name and went rogue on history’s ass. I wanted more of Batiatus’ and Lucretia’s political skulduggery. Blood and Sand ended with the slave revolt as history dictates but at a heavy cost. The most fascinating character in the show had to be sacrificed. Thankfully, his comeuppance is epic and dramatic. It was a bittersweet endeavor. His demise was viscerally and emotionally fulfilling, but a bit of a shame as well. It would be the last we would see of Batiatus in the series. Then came Gods of the Arena, a prequel to Blood and Sand.
It was six episodes that revolved mostly around Batiatus and Lucretia. As far as prequels go, with all the problems and short comings associated with them, Gods of the Arena truly delivered. Back stories and motivations were expanded upon of familiar characters, leading to a much richer Blood and Sand. Gods of the Arena came out of a tragic necessity, but the opportunity was seized upon by the series.
I haven’t watched any of Spartacus: Vengeance yet, but I look forward to it. There is still one, truly hate worthy villain who still needs a sword shoved through his throat. It’s a shame that we have to move on from Batiatus, but Gods of the Arena gave us six more episodes of his magnificent bastardry(not a real word, but should be). With that added, the time spent with him feels like just enough and I am ready to move on to Vengeance.
I rate both Spartacus: Blood and Sand and Gods of the Arena as highly recommended for some magnificent bastardry(still not a real word) and Lucy Lawless’ breasts. Honorable mention goes to people getting their shit ruined with swords and tridents, which is great but nothing compared to Lucy Lawless’ breasts.