A certain website asks How Many Books Will You Read Before You Die? It estimates your lifetime total by using a life expectancy calculator and 3 different levels of reading consumption: 12 books per year for average readers, 50 for the voracious, and 80 for the super-readers. The website says I have something like slightly over a 1000 books left in me.
This exercise made me realize I haven’t been reading much lately in 2021. After counting up the physical and electronic books I’ve borrowed from my library and the webnovels I’ve read so far (I’ve bought zero books), I think I’m only at like 9 or 10 books this year. I’m not counting all the manga issues I’ve read because that would easily push my total into the hundreds.
Anyway, I’m really surprised at my 2021 total since like 10 years ago I specifically counted how much media I consumed annually and it came to something like 80 books for that year (after checking it was actually 83). I think it’s because back in the old days I would read during my subway commute and in the lounge during lunch, whereas now that I’m at home I’d probably be washing dishes or something. I suppose I should really pick up my pace if I want to race against the grim reaper and finish more of the books in my various to-read lists.
I don’t know why but I’m watching Martian Successor Nadesico and Outlaw Star. I guess maybe it’s because both series came out back when you could have more than 13 episodes in a season and could actually spend time with the characters, but not like in the 80s when you’d have 300 episodes where nothing at all happened in each one. I like Outlaw Star more because it’s better at the cliffhanger ending which makes me want to keep watching, but both series are pleasantly unchallenging to watch.
City Guesser is a pretty fun website, it gives you a walking around video of a random city and you have to guess where it is. It’s superior to Google Street View for exploring someplace because you can hear the crazy homeless people shouting in a back alley you pass by, so it’s almost like you’re really there. I recommend putting headphones on for full immersion.
It’s got trophies and multiplayer mode and stuff but I’m honestly just using it to remember what it was like to walk on a crowded street so I don’t care about the points or whatever it is.
Although I think the radio ads are automatically streamed according to your location, otherwise it’s weird that a Canadian online casino is being advertised on Cambodian radio. And yes, I was looking for Vietnamese radio stations so I could make a Good Morning, Vietnam joke but I guess none are streaming online.
As a young time traveler, you receive the opportunity to meet the greatest dictator of all time — Stalin. And then what? Everything’s up to you! Speak with Joseph, reveal his most hidden secrets, give him advice, and help the vozhd come to world domination! Or… show him what true love is!
Sex With Stalin, a newly released game by the independent Russian developer Georgiy Kukhtenkov, is incredibly boring. That’s too bad, because traveling back in time to seduce Joseph Stalin is a truly depraved idea. It promises subversive heterodoxy and cutting satire. Even just taking him for a spin through rooms that are most remarkable for their leather accessories promised at least some sort of excitement. But, though the game holds itself out as a transgressive thrill, what you get instead is a PowerPoint presentation inviting you to invest in the game creator’s incoherent ideological timeshare.
Well, I think we can all trust Foreign Policy magazine’s opinion on video games.
Anyway, if I was a time traveller who wanted to have sex with Stalin, I’d obviously go for the younger and hotter version.
Cyberpunk 2077 just came out and I’m not playing it. After reading about its iffy politics and the awful working conditions of the people who made the game, I may never end up playing it.
That’s fine. There are other games. But I’ve also never been fully comfortable with cyberpunk as a genre. Besides the orientalism and the generalized ham-handed handling of race, there’s just something about cyberpunk that never fully clicked with me.
After reading this article, though, I think I’m getting a better handle on my discomfort. I’m not into cyberpunk because it’s basically just the politics of the 1980s rehashed over and over. It’s a paleofuture: a vision of what is to come that has already been superseded by what has already come. It’s the past’s fantasy of the future and it’s as dissociated from our real lives as Buck Rogers serials with ray guns and rocket ships.
Anyway, that’s how I’m feeling this December 2020.
So Pathfinder: Kingmaker is actually pretty fun. I know that there were a bunch of bugs when it launched, but it’s been two years since then and I haven’t really noticed any so far. I think I may actually like computer role-playing game more than the classic Baldur’s Gate series (minus #3, which if I ever do get, will be years down the line).
The first reason I prefer this game to both Baldur’s Gate games is that I don’t need to install mods just to get it to look decent on current generation computers. I can read the text, I can zoom all the way in and see my characters clearly. I can actually see what they’re wearing instead of kind of squinting, and I can see the difference in clothes instead of the armour just looking like a slightly different shade. This is important to me since I like playing dress-up on these kind of games.
Second is that I understand the rules right off the bat. I’ve never played the 2nd edition of Dungeons & Dragons, which is what Baldur’s Gate is based on, so I had to do a bunch of research to find out what stuff like To Hit Armor Class 0 was, and even when I did find out it was usually needlessly arcane and over-complicated. But the Pathfinder roleplaying ruleset is basically D&D 3.75 edition, so a bunch of stuff has been improved in the intervening 20-something years.
I’ve played a bunch of tabletop Pathfinder games, which also helps, but the game itself simplified the rules even more. It doesn’t have a million different types of Knowledge skills, all physical skills such as acrobatics and swimming have been subsumed under Athletics, and so on. I think all the options available can still be a tad overwhelming to a rank newbie but that’s more on the Pathfinder system itself needing, in my opinion, a really drastic streamlining and reconfiguration (note that there’s a 2nd edition of the Pathfinder system which may have done this already but I haven’t tried it out yet).
Third is the turn-based combat. I initially stuck to real-time battles because that was how it was in Baldur’s Gate, but after trying out the turn-based fighting I’m not going back. Pathfinder in real life is obviously turn-based – six people rolling dice at the same time would get chaotic – and the CRPG just works a lot better when you follow this format as well.
Fourth is that I get to try out a campaign that I’ve been interested in for a while. Kingmaker is an adventure path in the tabletop RPG that I’ve wanted to play but haven’t found a group to do it with. This way I get to actually experience it for myself. Plus Wrath of the Righteous is already being worked on and that’s another campaign that I’d also like to try out.
I’d like to note that in Kingmaker you actually build a kingdom – you get advisors, build infrastructure like windmills and watchtowers, slay monsters threatening your land, and so on. However, I’ve yet to reach that part in the game and am just directing a party of adventurers as we explore the countryside. So I can’t comment on the kingdom-building mechanics yet, but the classic RPG party thing is already pretty good.
Anyway, I’ve got a Chaotic Neutral tiefling Inquisitor of Calistria leading a party consisting of an undead elf Inquisitor of Urgathoa, a halfling bard, a barbarian from the Realm of the Mammoth Lords, a half-elf Wizard Rogue, and a half-orc Magus. There are a bunch more party members I benched pending their full recovery from being brought back from the dead or just plain because I don’t like them, but I think I like having a party where almost everyone is a magician of some kind. This is a pretty fun party to play and I like what I’ve seen of this game so far.
I saw the Shane Black movieThe Predator. It was a competently made movie that never rose above being mediocre. It can’t even dream of being as good as Predator 2, let alone the first movie.
I’m going to spoil the story because the movie isn’t good enough for anyone to care about being spoiled, but stop reading if this matters to you anyway.
So, in the movies the Predators are alien trophy hunters bagging human kills, right? And in this film, they’re stepping up their hunting trips because climate change will render Earth unlivable, so they’re taking the chance to harvest valuable human spines before the last of their cherished prey dies out.
One Predator wants to help humanity so it escapes to our planet with lifesaving technology to give us. It’s hunted by the other aliens as a traitor, hapless American soldiers get caught in the the middle, there’s lots of pro-military propaganda, a big shootout, and all the other cliches are as you would expect. So, in the denouement our heroes open the thingy the alien traitor was going to give us and what do they find? A high-tech cyber suit built for killing Predators.
So that was it? That’s what the Predator died to give humanity? It thought what our species needed the most in the face of mass extinction from anthropogenic climate change was a shitload of guns?
I mean, Jesus Christ but how many people does one of the Predators kill when they come by? A few dozen? Maybe a hundred? Is that even enough for insurance companies to adjust their rates to compensate for the increased mortality rates? I had thought we were going to get like cold fusion or something like that, but nope, the Predator solution to climate change was shooting it a lot.
Anyway, that’s it, that’s my main takeaway from the movie.
Oh man, someone edited The Fellowship of the Ring so that every time Sam takes a step toward Mordor, he remarks that it’s the farthest from home he’s ever been. The edit is 9 hours and 18 minutes long. Again, this is only the first movie, and for the first 37:39 minutes it’s exactly what you’ve seen before.
But then we reach the scene where Sam leaves the Shire at 37:39 and the whole thing just takes off. It’s so stupid but I almost hurt myself laughing at how it took almost 6 minutes for Sam to take like 4 steps because at every step he pointed out that it’s the furthest he’s ever been from home.
Helpful Youtube commenter Mr. Wallet posted the highlights:
I finished watching the whole thing at 1x speed, so I want to share some of my favorite timestamps for people who don’t want to sit through the entire meme:
As others have noted, the meme starts at 37:39
58:11 and 59:32 Sam is asked questions and can’t stay on topic
1:03:40 Sam is about to be attacked with a scythe and stops to contemplate his distance from home
1:51:55 Sam interrupts a rescue attempt
2:55:15 Sam did want to see the Elves, more than anything, it’s just… This is it.
3:10:30 The entire Council of Elrond scene goes uninterrupted, and then 1 minute after that timestamp Samwise just shouts HEH and busts out of hiding to tell Frodo that this is the farthest he’s ever been
3:15:32 is the start of over an hour of nonstop repeats of the meme. If you get from the start of this video to about 4:30:00 then you will be able make it through the whole thing. I mention it because after 40 minutes of nonstop Sam talking about taking one more step punctuated by half-seconds of blaring music, there’s finally a break at 3:55:14 but it only lasts 10 seconds and then the moment a sliver of Sam’s head comes into frame, he goes right back to it for 20 minutes. If you actually sit through all that misery, it’s a funny moment.
5:19:09 Gimli starts having an emotional breakdown and Sam interrupts to tell Frodo that This Is It
5:32:10 Sam urgently has to tell a dying Frodo that This Is It
6:13:40 the balrog is introduced
6:38:34 Sam is fine with being thrown by Aragorn to escape certain death but first real quick he needs to tell Frodo something
7:14:25 Everyone is in shock over what happens with the balrog (spoiler, don’t watch if that’s a problem) then Sam eventually decides to make it about himself
7:48:37 the fellowship is told to come because someone is waiting and Sam doesn’t care at all that someone is waiting
8:07:15 Frodo sees a vision of the Shire burning, Sam is being marched in chains but the orcs permit him to stop and tell real-Frodo how far he is going to be from home
8:33:40 – 8:48:04 the cathartic climax of the film (probably another spoiler) is mostly ruined by the meme. In particular good moments are 8:40:05, 8:41:50, and 8:42:45
EDIT: Forgot one… 9:10:30 a fitting end to a fitting meme
I watched Fire and Ice this past weekend. I thought I’d seen it before but I remembered nothing except the two seconds in the climax where the guy with the ax kills the evil wizard. Possibly my older brother rented it at some point in the 90s and I saw it then?
Animation-wise, the movie is fine. It uses that Ralph Bakshi rotoscoping technique so if you find it off-putting, I do not recommend watching this. And speaking of Frank Frazetta, I hope you like his fixation on scantily-clad thicc women and equally scantily-clad large-muscled men. Actually, I hope you really like scantily-clad large-muscled men since I reckon 90 percent of the camera’s gaze is lovingly focused on their powerful bodies in action. But that 10 percent focused on scantily-clad thicc women is, uh, pretty misogynistic. If you’re not clear on what “male gaze” means I would suggest watching all the scenes with female characters in this movie. Thighs, asses, nipples poking through bikini tops – the gaze of the unseen male watcher savagely wanking behind the camera is suffocatingly present.
In fact, aesthetically and politically, Fire and Ice reminds me of 300. I remember walking out after the end of 300 and remarking, “Boy, that was a really fascist movie”. Both movies are about perfect Aryan specimens defending their proud and noble people against hordes of dark-skinned degenerates. Women exist to be leered at but not have sex with while evil men exist to be killed and to be tempted into having sex with thanks to strong homoerotic undertones. It’s really hard for me to imagine how you could make a Nazi sword and sorcery film without essentially making this movie.
Anyway, the movie is an interesting look at what was considered politically acceptable to depict forty years ago.