Nostromo

January 20, 2013

“Hockey is back” but so far it’s slop

Filed under: Hockey —— will @ 12:44 am

While I admit I did not catch every game on during Super Saturday, I did watch two of my favorite teams.  Being in the DC area, I got the local feed of the Caps game and thanks to Bettman and the owners’ greed, I got to see the Wings game during my free NHL Center Ice preview. I will spend most of this post discussing the Caps game since that was the game I watched in full (I wanted to watch the Wings game but my girlfriend has final say).  First I, like everyone else who loves this game, am thrilled to have hockey back.  The game has grown in leaps and bounds since I began watching it back when the left wing lock was king and the Red Wings had a line of all –ov names. With that growth came recognition and with recognition came legitimacy.  Then it all almost came to a grinding halt with the lock out. I wont spend time going back and forth about that – I think everything that could be said about that debacle has been voiced by smarter people than myself.  I will say that another full season lock out would have doomed this sport.  All of that is dirt under the rug now because on this day, January 19th, hockey returned.  I had been excited about this all day.  Since the teams I cared about did not play until late, my girlfriend and I went to see Zero Dark Thirty to kill time until our teams played.  What a better way to get fired up for a Canadian national sport than seeing a movie about America and its hunt for Bin Laden good stuff.  Well after that we picked up everything to make a great dinner and celebrate the return of the sport we are both passionate about.  Dinner made, HD channel on, beer and wine flowing and puck drop! And cue the slop fest.  The first period of the Caps game was not how we envisioned the evening or the return of hockey.  While I know if anyone reads this, your first thought is going to be who the fuck is this guy – just let me throw some stuff out there to back up my point.  First, the lack of any sustained zone pressure by any of the teams I watched.  There was no cycle game or regroup or anything of that nature.  It was as if I was watching a beer league where most offense opportunities were just rush after rush after rush.  I thought “okay, maybe this is just these two teams.” Then I switch to the Wings-Blues game and what do I witness but the same thing.  This point hit home during this moment because if the Wings are known for anything it is there puck possession and cycle game.  Not happening.  Not taking anything away from the Blues, but 4 of their 6 goals game from breakaways.  Not from hard, meat-grinding cycles in the corners or nice movement around the points but breakaways.  Which brings me to point number two about slop fest day and that is the board play.  I do not think in all of my years watching hockey have I seen the forwards continually slip down the boards without the defensemen closing them off or at least making the forward battle through the body.  At least three times during the Caps game I watched the winger go in the zone and blow by the defense along the boards.  It was not the return to form that I was hoping for.  I know that these guys only got a week of training game with no preseason games and that certain things are going to take some time to come back but these are things that should be second nature.  Cycling for forwards is one of the first things you learn and the same goes for defensemen and board play.  How did these two things just evaporate?  I know it is only the first game of the season but I’m worried that this season may be a wash because if the basics are gone I do not have high hopes that these things will just magically fall into place soon.

November 28, 2011

House of the Scorpion

Filed under: Sci-Fi —— will @ 11:49 pm

The first big difference I noticed with this novel is how much it lacks typical sci-fi motifs.  There is no significant advancement of technology or any alien encounters.  The world is not in absolute disaster as people struggle to cope with how much the world has changed. There is especially a lack of weird sex as well as sexual themes that seems to dominate most of the books we have read.  That was definitely a nice change of pace since, according to some of the books we have read, sex in the future is either in a weird alien three way or with jacked in prostitutes or robot sex dolls. I don’t know about everyone else but if I don’t have to see an alien drawing with two veiny bastards in my face when discussing this book then that’s definitely a win. I would guess that that sci-fi part is the fact that Matt is a clone and that is the significant advancement in this novel. Well and also the fact that the clones are birthed from cows but they are not robot cows or any crazy shit like that but appear to be mostly normal cows. While human cloning is still a ways off in our world today, it is still possible since people have successfully cloned animals and such in our current time. So the idea of making a perfect human clone is not that much of stretch to modern day people.  The other books we have read have contained things such as actually jacking in to the internet or interstellar travel both of which are concepts that are still a long ways off from actually being possible.

The other significant thing I noticed and it may not be a big deal but still one I thought about was how this book eases the reader into the story.  Most of the recent novels we have read all have just dropped the reader into a situation with very little back ground or even explanation for what is happening in the novel.  Books such as “Neuromancer” and “Blindsight” just started the story off and seemed to tell us “hey here is the world now catch up” which can be very confusing and somewhat off putting at times.  This novel was a nice break from that style and allowed for an easier transition into the story.  While the previous books were still engaging, it is sometimes nice not to have to need constantly flip back and forth in the book trying to make sure you’re keeping up with what is going on in the story.  For me, sometimes it is refreshing to just sit back and not have to overload my brain with trying to process all the crazy jargon and technical speak that an author is throwing at me.

November 22, 2011

A Different Perspective

Filed under: Sci-Fi —— will @ 2:11 pm

Caught…I cannot believe we were caught.  All by that stupid net gun thing they had when they boarded our ship.  Why had we got so close to them when we should have just backed away down the corridor Stupid, Stupid, Stupid.  Now we are up shit creek without a paddle and if these beings, humans, I guess we call them that, are constantly invading our ship.  Cutting holes to enter, bring weird machines that fire at anything that moves.  It is so ridiculous when thought about logically.  We had clearly warned them not to come on board.  All we wanted to do was to be left alone for a while so we could learn more and maybe even evolve beyond this weird mass that is are current state.  No matter now events have been set in motion and there is no turning back for either side.  They have doomed us all just like they will eventually doom the rest of their planet.  We never meant any harm all we wanted to do was observe and become our own beings the same way they had done millions of years ago.  Now that hope is gone and they only options left for both sides is war. I wonder what will happen to us when we return to their ship.  I’m sure it won’t be pleasant for anyone involved and now all we can do is hope that the death that awaits both sides is quick.

Some sort of cell, no way out.  I have moved all over this room and found no possible way to escape.  They have been studying us for days now.  A constant barrage of mind tests and questions that take both me and my companion no time to figure out at all.  If only we could speak their language then maybe, just maybe we might be able to bridge the gap between our two species.  It is hopeless however not matter how hard either side tries we just cannot get though to one another.  They have begun torturing as now as well.  Fire, electricity, and a host of other sadistic things and for what reasons I do not know.  It is very painful and anything they are gaining from this cannot be all that useful.  My companion just stays balled up in the corner hoping that will keep him safe or maybe even hidden.  It is no use of course they see us clear as rain and love to watch as squirm.  I try to stay spread out showing as much of myself as possible in my own mind defying to bend to their will or show that I fear them.  I loathe them now for what they have done to my and the other and it is only a matter of time before our friends, our brother fight back.  They will not last an hour and the only outcome is the absolution destruction of them and their ship.  For their ignorance, they will burn out here millions of miles away from their loved ones and for what?

I decided to re-write a few scenes doing it from the alien’s point of view.  I found it interesting that this book is at it cores an alien encounter scenario but the aliens never talk.  In almost all other alien encounter films or novels, the aliens either talk or make some sort of noises to indicate they understand the people they are dealing with.  So, it just seemed like it would be fun to try and imagine what the aliens where thinking the whole time they were being studied as well as captured. Especially interesting for me because throughout the first half of the novel the aliens never seemed aggressive in any way.  If the people in the novel had just played it a little smarter, they could have learned about them without putting themselves and the aliens at risk.  It appeared stupid to constantly board the ship after all the crazy shit that would happen to them on there as well as then capture two aliens only to turn around and torture them.  Also, the capture scene was where the humans sealed their own fate since the alien ship only attacks to free their brethren who had been captured.  So I went ahead and worked some dialogue out for the aliens and that it would be fun to try and give an imagined insight from their point of view and though process.

November 16, 2011

BlindSight

Filed under: Sci-Fi —— will @ 11:41 pm

“We can be utterly useless, or we can try and compete against the vampires and the constructs and the AIs. And perhaps you can tell me how to do that without turning into a-an utter freak.” pg. 252

I found this part of BlindSight compelling because it got me thinking about what choices these characters have in this world.  It was interesting and scary to think that if one wants to survive in this world they either have two choices put themselves into “heaven” or be rewired in order to keep up with more advanced intelligent entities.  It is striking that Siri stills try to hold onto the idea that anyone has a choice anymore.  There is no way for any regular person to compete let alone survive unless they choose to augment themselves to keep up with the vampires or the AI.  It is scary to think that this world has evolved to the point where just being human has become obsolete.  That the next phase of evolution is to make yourself smarter or to have upgrades to your extremities done by technology.  Evolving to survive has always been a natural process that occurs over the right length of time and for the benefit of any given species.  To think that one is forced to evolve because science has made things that are making true humans obsolete really drastically cuts down on the choices one would have.  It appears unfair that without becoming an “utter freak” there would be no chance at all for survival in this world.  There really are no choices for the people involved and they can either choose to sacrifice the things that make us human or just be put into a false heaven.  There really is no way for people to survive anymore without going through some sort of manipulation of their mind and or body and that to me is a compelling aspect of this novel.

October 31, 2011

A letter

Filed under: Sci-Fi —— will @ 10:51 pm

Dear Akin,

It seems like only yesterday that I was awakened into a world that I did not know.  I was afraid, confused, angry, and a whole other gambit of emotions.  It took me some time but eventually I became accustomed to this new world around me.  Before I knew it, I was awakening other humans and preparing to return to Earth.  After many years of learning and rebuilding, I was blessed with you.  You are to be the first male construct and I am more than excited and a little nervous.  I’m excited to see what you become and what talents and abilities will grow with you.  I hope that you will be able to live peacefully with both Humans and Oankali and that no harm will come to you.  My biggest hope is that you will be in appearance as close to human as possible.  This is not because I will not love you unconditionally but because I fear those who have resisted.  I consistently play this over in my head and in an effort to prepare you if I’m not around, I want to pass it on to you, Akin.  Always remember humans fear anything that is different.  What they cannot understand seems more dangerous to them than any of the animals that now walk the earth.  That’s why some have chosen to resist the Oankali and strike out on their own, free from our co-habitants on this new Earth.  Most of the resisters just choose to live peacefully but some are much more dangerous.  This is why I pray for you to be as human in appearance as possible for fear the resisters will take you.  I do not want to give them any reason to take you, my dear son, away from me and your Oankali family.  You must remember to always keep what I have said in mind and if the worst happens to not give any outsiders a reason to think that you are not 100 percent human.  They are not bad people but just frightened and scared like we all were at some point during the process of rebuilding our species.  I do not want this letter to frighten you but to prepare you for the worst because it is when you are not prepared that the worst happens.  I hope that this situation will never be an issue and that we will live and learn together as a family. I love you Akin and, while I’m afraid, I’m more excited to see they type of man you grow up to be.  I feel you are destined for great things and that you will be beginning of new and wonderful things.  Always remember Mom loves you and I will always be with you.

Love,

Lilith

October 25, 2011

Lilith’s Brood

Filed under: Sci-Fi —— will @ 10:55 pm

When it comes to the question of agency in “Lilith’s Brood,” the one example that I think of is the part about Lilith wanting paper and writing utensils.  She is not allowed to have either since the aliens have decided that this is not allowed.  This for me brings up the question of how much Lilith can make choices and have those choices impact her new world.  The ability to write is for us such a basic right.  Every day we can choose to write something or draw something or choose to do something else.  To not have what to me seems to be a very basic choice causes me to question if the aliens really know what is better for Lilith than she.  She says that it is the best way for her to learn new things but that is just brushed off and she is just flat out denied her request.  The aliens tell her that she will remember and learn using their method and not the way that she is conditioned to learn and remember.  This then leads down a whole new avenue as she is pretty much being forced to merge her genetics with the aliens.  She will not be able to remember without writing things down and since that option is off the table her only other option is the one forced upon her.  So she is now in quite the pickle since she is expected to learn and teach but not allowed to do it any other way than merging herself with the aliens.  Her consent to this is one out of necessity and not out of free choice.  It’s either their way or the highway and that does not to me feel like she has any agency at all in her new world.  Sure she can choose not to merge but then her learning curve is going to be impeded.  This causes a false sense of agency since her choices in this world are more or less forced upon her.  Any choice that she makes does not appear as if it will have any impact on the world around her.  If her choices are already determined for her, how can she impact the future in her own way when the aliens have already decided how they want the world to be?  Lilith is handcuffed into pretty much doing exactly as the aliens say even if they coerce her more complexly than just a simple “We say, you do.  Period.”  Any time she does question the way, it seems their only other offer is to kill her.  I guess if your option is to fall in line or die most will choose life.

October 17, 2011

WE3

Filed under: Sci-Fi —— will @ 11:07 pm

The page that really struck me in WE3 was page 27.  I think this page struck a chord with me because of just watching Blade Runner and the question that arises from that of what it means to be human.  I believe that one of the reasons people tend to view animals as unintelligent is because humans think that animals do not have a language.  Since we can not communicate with them, they automatically become viewed as a lower life form.  Having the animals speak to an extent, adds humanity to them and when you read on, at least for me, you begin to see the animals as more than just a dog, a cat, and a rabbit.  It became easier for me to see relatable characters in those battle suits instead of animals.  I was now dealing with a being with a capacity for speech and from the speech the ability of that being to express feelings and thoughts.  I think if the animals would have been silent characters, the work would not have been as effective.  For me, it would have been harder to not view the characters as animals if they just acted like animals in bad ass suits.

The other part of the page that struck me was panel 2 when 1 asks “?R. U. 2”.  It is not the question that struck me but the way that 1 is drawn in that panel.  The look of inquisitiveness and having his head turned to the side were very powerful for me.  He asks a question that a person would ask as well as tilting his head in a way people do sometimes.  Along with the capacity for speech, the curious nature of 1’s demeanor makes him more human like.  I have had people give me that same look a lot of times in my life, usually with more of what the hell are you talking about look but still a look of inquisitiveness. The page helps set up the rest of the story for me because both the capacity for speech and the human reactions of the 1 told me I was going to be dealing with animals that have the capacity for abstract thought.  The animals were going to be much more than beings mostly running on instinct.  They were now going to have to ability to rationally think and plan as well as communicate not only with other people but to each other as well.  It took the characters beyond the realm of animals and into a realm where these were now human beings.  They were going to think rationally like human beings and not just run off their instincts.  This page for me really helped to set up the rest of the novel and helped me to see these characters as more than just animals.

September 28, 2011

Wait…What Just Happened?

Filed under: Sci-Fi —— will @ 10:33 pm

“Neuromancer” is definitely bad ass but I do not think I have done so much re-reading in a long time.  For every page I read, I have to flip back three just to make sure I’m on board with what’s happening in this book.  So I guess naturally I have some questions to just throw out into the old blog-space.  Please know that I confess myself not to be the brightest bulb in the box, so if these questions are dumb, please bear with me.  My first question is what is Riviera’s “power” if that is the right word to use?  At first, when Case and Molly catch him in the alley in Istanbul, I thought he was some sort of genetic mutation or a shape shifter which is a stretch but shit they can upgrade everything else in this book why not be able to give someone the ability to change shape as well?  Of course as that scene went on, it turns out he is just a man but I’m not one hundred percent sure of his abilities exactly.  Is he able to project into minds so that he can manipulate what he wants others to see? I also thought that maybe he has some sort of hologram power, but if I’m remembering correctly, one guy lost his finger in the alley fight so are these holograms that can harm you or did I miss how the guy ended up losing his finger?  I’m not really sure what Riviera’s “mods” or augmentations are and any insight would be much appreciated.

The other part that confused me was where all the team went to in outer space.  I did not get the feeling it was another planet, but I feel like I missed something as to where they actually went.  Was it a space port of some kind or some sort of self-contained space city just floating around out there that people can access via space shuttle?  I did think it was some sort of elite resort possibly but that could be totally wrong.  I imagined it as something out of “Futurama” or the floating resort ship in the movie “The Fifth Element” but I got the feeling at the beginning of Ch. 10 it was on a grander scale than some sort of space luxury cruise.  That could be totally wrong so if I’m way off base or have my head up my ass as I read this book, help me out because as cool as this book is turning out to be I’m also confused about some parts here and there and I don’t want to be talking out of my butt when it comes to “Neuromancer”.

September 20, 2011

Fishing for some knowledge

Filed under: Sci-Fi —— will @ 3:08 am

After reading “The Comet”, all I could think about were the numerous disaster films that start off the same way.  Guy gets lucky enough to be somewhere safe before the comet/asteroid hits, destroys humanity, and now it is a struggle for survival in a decimated world.  It is a story that has been told numerous times in literature and film.  The one thing that I was not able to recall was how many of these stories have a black man as the hero. Even in a time when all races are considered equal there are not a lot of black heroes represented in film or television.  I looked around on the internet and according to one website, http://www.pajiba.com/seriously_random_lists/fear-of-a-black-planet-black-presidents-in-film-and-television.php, even the president has only been black 7 (technically 8 according to the site i found) times in film.  That is a ridiculously low number when you think about all the films that are churned out year after year.  So, I started thinking if that is how it plays out in our current time, how well did this story go over in 1920?  I tried to look for some info but came up short, so if anyone can help, please hook me up with some knowledge because I find it hard to believe that this story was accepted during its time.  I’m just curious to find out how people would react at that time when civil rights were just evolving.  Even in the story, after New York City is totally decimated the characters were still noticing the color of the hero’s skin.  I would think that after the total annihilation of the city that appearance would not come close to making the list of things that should cause concern.  So if anyone has any info about the initial reactions to this story I would love to hear about it because it must have been rough at the time this story was published.

September 14, 2011

Sympathy for Victor?

Filed under: Sci-Fi —— will @ 10:05 pm

The general public typically have a hard time sympathizing with Victor.  In class we had a discussion about sympathizing with the Monster or Victor and I spent some time thinking about that notion after class. For me, I tend to sympathize with Victor as well as the Monster.  I won’t spend time talking about the Monster since that has been covered in class but I did find it strange that I also sympathized with Victor.  From the book, it should not be hard to see Victor as a villain.  He has done everything in his power to let the audience know that what he has done is abominable. I believe that his real motivation was the death of his mother and while not the most acceptable reason it is understandable that he would want to conquer death after the loss of his mother. He was a scientist making a discovery that would change human history.  It would change the whole concept of death and, if used correctly, could be put to good use. It’s hard not to see that Victor would not understand how far he had gone until he had actually completed the experiment.  I keep thinking about the atomic bomb as I mull this over in my mind.  The scientists working on the atomic bomb didn’t realize the extent of what they had done until they actually saw it in action.  I’m sure they had their reservations but also realized what good could come out of this scientific discovery.  I’m not an expert in this area and please correct me if I’m wrong, but the splitting of the atom was rooted more in the discovery of nuclear fusion than in weaponizing it.  This would mean great things would come to benefit all of humanity if they saw this experiment through to the end.  So, I guess my question would be are the scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project just as bad as Victor? Do we demonize them the same way we do Victor because of what they ultimately created?  Or do we sympathize with them because their intentions were good but the result was more devastating than they could imagine?  I think J. Robert Oppenheimer said it best in this clip watch?v=f94j9WIWPQQ.

Not to make this post extremely long but I just wanted to respond to a comment real quick about my last post.  I was posed the question of how would Hollywood make a movie that was a more literal adaptation of the book.  To respond to that there was a film version of Frankenstein that tried t0 do just that.  It came out in 1994 and was called “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” and was directed and starred in by Kenneth Branagh.  It also has Robert De Niro as the monster and Helena Bonham Carter as Elizabeth.  Now, this movie is far from being a direct adaption of the book, but it does try its best to be more similar to the book than the  1930’s version of Frankenstein.  The creation scene, while very, very stylized, does end the same way it does in the book with Victor abandoning the monster. The clip I found online does not show enough of the scene but if anyone is interested in watching this version I can lend the DVD to you. The 1994 version also uses a unique approach that I wanted to mention real quick.  We have discussed that the creation of the monster is in a way touching on man’s inability to give birth.  I mention this because in the movie Victor uses embryonic fluid to conduct the electricity involved in the creation of the monster.  The monster in this version is literally “birthed” after it comes to life as the tank dumps over full of this fluid.  The overall tone of the movie is still true to the tone of the book, so I think it is possible for Hollywood to try to make true adaptations of the sources but it ultimately boils down to who is directing.  If you have a director willing to make quality cinema, then you will get a film or T.V. show that does its best to stay true to its source material.  I tried to think of some other examples like Game of Thrones that are able to stay true to its source material.  It is true that there are not many but I was able to think of some films and T.V. shows.   The first season of Dexter is pretty much exactly the same as the first book Darkly Dreaming Dexter, the mini-series Generation Kill follows the book by the same name to a T.  As far as movies go, The Godfather is pretty spot on to the book,  The Watchmen is just a shot for shot remake of the graphic novel, and Carrie is also the book, just in movie form.  So I do think it’s possible to make film and T.V. that stay as true as they can be to the source material. I like this quote from the T.V. show Extras just to throw it in: “You want to be a world-famous movie star or do you want to be the tortured genius creating great art? Look — do you want fame and fortune, or do you want integrity and respect”?

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