Logical Failure. It's a Math Problem.

This is the only way to share Facebook video.  Have I mentioned I hate Facebook video? Recently?



Apparently there was a miscommunication somewhere in my past. I never got the memo that I was supposed to humor the idiocy. My apologies to any idiots I've offended.

Here is the larger work this snippet came out of.



It is at approx 48:30 in the video if you just want to skip to it. This hour-long segment is part of an even larger audio/video work known as The Trialogues which appears to be available in full from Rupert Sheldrake's website. Expand your mind. 

September 11, not 9-11

This is adapted and expanded from previous articles.  I intend to keep updating and reposting a version of this article annually until the US collectively demonstrates learning something from history, or I pass from existence. Given prior evidence, I'm betting on the latter.


My dad was born on September 11, 1938.  On his sixty-third birthday terrorists destroyed two American icons and shattered forever the illusion that we were beyond the reach of the people intent on doing us harm. There are many lessons to be learned from gaining that insight, but it doesn't appear that the US has learned anything in the intervening years.  We re-live the events of 9-11 over and over again on each anniversary; wallowing in our collective angst, while repeating the same mistakes that lead to that day, that sprung from that day.
Every year on this day we bathe in the blood of that day yet again. We watch the towers fall over and over. It's been 15 goddamned years, but we just can't get enough. We've just got to watch it again and again. -Jim Wright, Renegade 9-11
Every year.  Every goddamn year.

My father did his time in the military.  I was born overseas because of the Cold War, and my parents answering the call to serve.  Dad didn't like military life very much, and left the service after 4 years to return home to Kansas and his family there.  As a teenager I foolishly contemplated joining the military myself, and mentioned it to him to see what he thought. "You like taking orders?" he said.  I didn't, I replied. "Well, then you don't want to join the military." That was his thinking on the subject, in a nutshell. He never elaborated more, but that view has stuck with me ever since.

Every year after 2001, he complained that the terrorists had stolen his birthday.  Every year until he died, the day that he had looked forward to through childhood had become something terrifying and repugnant.  It annoyed him that his day had been the day they picked. I can understand that.  It is captured in this sentiment;
This new generation has lived under the shadow of those falling towers every single minute of every single day since the moment they were born. -Jim Wright, 9-11 Thirteen Years On
I'm reclaiming today and every September 11th after this one for my father.

Happy birthday dad, wherever you are.

I am reclaiming it for my father and for all the young Americans born since that day. People who deserve more than to be dragged into battles that have been going on since before they were born. I promise to spend more time thinking of him and of them than of the other events that make this day stand out for average Americans.  Because really, why remember if we aren't going to learn anything from it?

This is not the Warcraft it Used to be.

A week into the Legion expansion and I can tell I'm on the outs with Blizzard already.  The backing image on my Battle.net launcher has been changed to the Burning Crusade packaging image from the image that adorned the packaging of the Warlords of Draenor.



You may well ask "Why Burning Crusade?" at this point. Burning Crusade is the first expansion of World of Warcraft, not the vanilla version, the original version.

The answer to that is both simple and complex.  The simple answer is that Blizzard has dropped the myth that Burning Crusade is a separate expansion (even though you can buy packaged versions of it and later expansions from Amazon) and back in the days of Mists of Pandaria they bundled the two together, creating a default image for WoW that was different from the vanilla version of the original game.

With the current expansion they have dropped the pretense that any of the previous expansions were actually expansions to the original game in the online store. So why are they sticking to the Burning Crusade image? Because changing it would take work, and they are on a budget from Activision. It is either that or perhaps there is truth in advertising. Burning Crusade is what the current WoW experience seems most like. Burning Crusade is where the new class was the enemy of choice. Burning Crusade is where the Burning Legion was first assaulted directly.  Legion is a rehash of Burning Crusade in much the same way that Warlords of Draenor was a rehash of story content first introduced in Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal.

In the online store you can't get any of the previous expansions. You can only purchase World of Warcraft and Legion. There is a problem with this, and that is where the story really gets complex. It gets complex because there really isn't two versions of the game.

Blizzard will tell you that there are two versions. There is the version of the game which includes preserved content from previous iterations of the game.  Then there is the version with the additional content that they want to charge you almost three times as much to play, as well as the cost of a monthly subscription.

Never mind that the content represents the smallest expansion of World of Warcraft to date. The problem is that what they are calling World of Warcraft isn't World of Warcraft. What you are purchasing is a disabled version of the accumulated base programming that Blizzard has put into their World of Warcraft project. You are being asked to pay for what the programmers who first put together Blizzard gave away for free. A shareware version of content to whet your appetite for what Legion has to offer. That is because there really isn't a version of WoW other than Legion.

Having played every version of the game since and including Burning Crusade, I can tell you the differences between each expansion it pretty gory detail. I won't bore non-players with too many of these details.

It is worth noting that major sections of each expansion have been lopped out of the current game structure.  The legendary quest lines for Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor have been removed. It may not seem like much, but those quest chains marked the actual progress through the game as it was played when it was the current version of the game. If you are playing the game today and you wonder why certain factions, structures and islands still appear in the game, what you are seeing are the remnants of endgame content that has been bypassed and pruned.

This is aside from the fact that playstyles of the various classes have also been changed and simplified. If I was purchasing and playing the first game called World of Warcraft, I would have to have extra space in my bags for soul shards while playing a Warlock. Brew poisons as a Rogue. I would have to have arrows or bullets for my weapons. There would be no professions of inscription, jewelcrafting or archeology.  There would be no Pandarens, no Blood Elves, no Draenei. No playable versions of Goblins or Worgen. There would be no Death Knights or Monks. You would have to be in a particular faction to play Paladin or Shaman. I would not see a disabled option for creating and playing a Demon Hunter.

In short, it would be a different game if it was really World of Warcraft.  This is the bigger problem for Blizzard. Last year Blizzard shut down the fan-run server Nostalrius.  Fan run servers do present a threat to Blizzard's intellectual property, and they had every right to shut that server down; but the existence of the site and others like it present the problem and question that Blizzard wants to go away.

Players want to play the games they purchased, and those games don't exist anymore.

There really is no place to play the games that I have faithfully purchased from Blizzard over the years. I cannot play Wrath of the Lich King. I cannot participate in the battle at the wrathgate and then storm the Undercity in retaliation, facing off against the opposing faction in the throne room of Sylvanas herself.  That pivotal moment in the game is lost.  The Kor'Kron and the rise of Garrosh? Also lost.  Orcs no longer guard Undercity watching the forsaken, guarding against another attempt to turn all of the living into puddles of goo.

If you click one of the many links above (aside from the battle.net links) and purchase one of those products right now, you cannot play the game that is pictured on the outside of the box.  You will be forced to play the disabled version of Legion, the version now called World of Warcraft. There are no servers which run the historic versions of the server software, software needed to play the games historically sold under the World of Warcraft banner.

A consumer should be able to be assured that their purchases can be used in the fashion advertised. This is business 101.  That none of the expansions exist to be played in the fashion the game was intended to run at the time of publication and purchase presents a problem to Blizzard, specifically because they make noises about this being one of the longest running games in the history of computer gaming. Because they are still making money off the franchise they have created.  Because they have a lot of disgruntled fans out in the hinterlands who have previously purchased games they'd like to play but are prevented from playing them because Blizzard does not maintain a copy of previous integral parts of the game's programming.

If this is one of the longest running Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games Blizzard, why can't the fans of previous versions still log on and play the game they played then?  I really wish someone at Blizzard would take the time to answer that question.

Abramanations Multiply

This is my current review for Star Trek: Into Darkness on the Rotten Tomatoes website;
It doesn't matter if it premieres the resurrected Great Bird of the Galaxy himself, I won't be going to see this film in a theater. This will be the first film in Star Trek history that I'm actually hostile about before I've even seen it, and one of three that I loathe ever having been created (FYI, it's the last three) I cannot express the level of revulsion that I feel when I contemplate what kind of depraved acts will be enacted on the corpse of one my most cherished memories from another time. Better to just pretend it isn't happening, I guess. 
I did catch a "edited for television" version recently.  It was every bit as bad as I imagined it would be, and then some.  Somehow the internet haters really failed to communicate just how ridiculous this farce of a film was.  I'm not sure how this is possible, but it is.  Magic blood.  A Khan that isn't South Asian. Starfleet officers engaging in conspiracies, taking the lives of their own people when they fail to submit to aggression.   
That Khan failed to pervert the crew of the Enterprise in the TOS episode "Space Seed" because future man is no longer susceptible to terroristic threats of this kind is a philosophical achievement lost on the creators of nutrek and the Abramanator himself.
The number of violations of Gene Roddenberry's vision of the future are almost uncountable.  They will remain uncounted by me.  It was enough for me simply to confirm that the film was bad and not just bad Trek. 
My apologies to the ghost of Gene Roddenberry for having witnessed this narrative of depravity. 
The film rates half a star on the 5 star system. I can't rate it lower than that or I would.

Having failed to keep up my end of the bargain and actually never watch the film, I felt I had to come clean and admit to my transgression.  This article isn't just about Star Trek: Into Darkness.  I haven't been a Trek fan for quite a few years.  I quit following the show or hanging around with fans of Nutrek ages ago, not long after declaring Star Trek dead in 2009. I have no interest in being an internet hater.  I have even less interest in spending time in the presence of people who like things that I think are unforgivable violations of the intellectual property of a long-dead inspiration.

I am quite happy sitting here alone in my office.

I am forced to revisit this subject because the abramanations continue, and the general movie-going population remains vacuously enamored of J.J. Abrams' tripe.

I sat down and watched Star Wars VII a few weeks ago with the Wife. We had planned on watching that film on the big screen and we missed it because it left theaters within a month of coming out, quicker than any other Star Wars film in history. I distinctly remember saying;
Given what George Lucas has done to Star Wars, I can hardly imagine how Abrams could fuck it up more than he has.
When it was first announced that J.J. Abrams would direct that film. Having watched the film I feel I now owe George Lucas an apology.

I owe George Lucas an apology because Star Wars VII is just Star Wars IV told even more poorly as a story, while millions upon millions more are spent on meaningless effects sequences.  It is a marvel to watch from an effects standpoint (much like Mad Max 4) while being almost incomprehensible from a plot and story perspective (also like Mad Max 4) And since George Lucas filmed Star Wars IV with less money and with no example to script by, I have to conclude that his is the superior intellect when contrasted with the abramanator.

It is nice to be proven wrong on occasion, even when the proof takes a few hours out of my life and a few yards out of my intestines due to the indigestion caused by stress.  Stress caused by having to watch bad filmmaking being rewarded so lavishly.

I blame LOST.

I never did do a post series write-up on that show, even though (as the link illustrates) I was quite the fan, following all the crumbs and clues and waiting for the next episode and the next season with breathless anticipation.  Until the story stopped making any sense at all, sometime during season four. I doggedly continued to catch every episode even then, and bought the DVD collections for each season, trusting that somehow it would all make sense in the end.

Except it really never did.  LOST is singularly the worst written story arc ever to be completed in a television show. It is the only show that, having gotten to the end, I really wanted all my invested time back. Not only does the story not make any sense, but the finale attempts to make every possible fan prediction about what the island was, and how the characters survived, be true simultaneously.  It is the series that best manifests the truism trying to make everyone happy is the surest way to piss everyone off.

Every season following the third season became harder and harder to watch.  Far from being the finale that ruined the show for me, it was the reliance on tropes and heuristics to 'sort of' move the show along to the conclusion that most of us saw coming years before the confirmatory finale; the finale which so deflated everyone's expectations about the meaning of it all.

Why season three?  Remember the season three cliff-hanger ending? (I despise cliff-hanger season endings. Loathe them. What happens if the stars die or back out of their contracts? Just pretend the viewers weren't left hanging?) Charlie's big sacrifice? Didn't mean anything.  It might have meant something if the Oceanic 6 hadn't then gone on to... What? Go home, become helpless invalids? Fail to raise children and then return to the island? Return to the island in the past (a past that the smart guy in their midst says can't be changed) Return to the island and be blown up by a nuclear explosion (an event that historically didn't happen) which traps them in a time bubble. For all eternity. With people they hate as well as the friends they love.

I hate to break it to this guy, but if you have to explain what the ending meant in order for people to get it, then it really wasn't closure of any kind, much less a good ending for a series.  The only reason people still talk about LOST is because the J.J. Abrams is Hollywood gold for some inexplicable reason, and so people feel obliged to say nice things about the series that launched him to success.

I watched in disbelieving horror when Damon Lindelof was paraded out a few years back on The Nerdist, which was airing on BBC America at the time.  Held up as some kind of authority on time travel stories, taking apart what turned out to be better, more interesting stories that used the story-telling vehicle in question.

Damon Lindelof. An authority.

An authority on stories about things which most scientists will tell you are theoretically implausible, which is about as close to impossible as you can get a scientist to go.

Let me put it this way. My reading of time travel stories and watching time travel movies, being obsessed with the concept of time travel for as long as I can remember. My discovery of Doctor Who in 1972 on a hotel television screen in Denver colorado (on a channel called PBS that I'd never heard of) makes my left testicle more of an authority on time travel than Damon Lindelof or J.J. Abrams himself.  They so screwed up time travel as a story vehicle in every episode of LOST and in the Abramanation, making the story vehicle a distraction from rather than the method of telling the story that I can't even begin to explain how they might fix it other than to tell them to go talk to actual speculative fiction writers about what they did wrong.

Which brings me to the real reason I started this post. I ran across a clip on Youtube (see, I said it was bad news) advertising an HBO series that riffs off of another movie and story that I grew up on. That would be Westworld.

This is one of those rare films I was allowed to go see as a child. What is most interesting to me looking back at it; this film and the Andromeda Strain mark the beginnings of my exposure to Michael Crichton, which ended with his death in 2008 and the novel State of Fear, which many people mistake for non-fiction. In the middle was Jurassic Park as a high note and the poorly adapted Congo as a low note (the novel was much better than the film) it seems that his imagination has served as punctuation marks along my journey through science and speculative fiction.

I liked the original film. It is quite campy now and probably barely watchable. I don't know for sure.  What I do know is that the J.J. Abrams is highly touted as having a hand in the HBO series.


Which spells doom for the series from the outset, if you want to take my word for it.  I doubt that most people will, since most people think that Star Wars VII is a good film, so I'll try to put it another way.
The watchability of this series will be in direct inverse correlation to how much actual control Abrams has over it. 
It could be a good series, I won't be holding my breath.  I won't be able to watch it anyway until it hits Netflix or some other third party site since I don't pay for HBO any longer.  That is one fine trailer though. Gunshots and partial nudity. Deep bass vibrations in the music to amp up the fear. Lots of famous actor cameos. Hits all the marks that advertising executives require. Just like the trailer for Star Trek: Beyond. Haven't seen that Star Trek either, but I might watch it. I might even pay to watch it. Someone else wrote and directed it, so it might be OK as an experience.  Remember, an inverse relationship to Abramanator control. The Star Trek trailer sports the Bad Robot logo, though. Not a good sign.

HBO is riding the crest of a wave that they hadn't expected to be on.  Who would have thought that George R.R. Martin would hit it big on television, with HBO as a backer creating the adaptation of his long running A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series which only people who live in caves without the internet won't recognize as Game of Thrones.

I am now obliged to offer an apology to George R.R. Martin as well as George Lucas. Not just because I've first mentioned him in this article about the dreaded Abramanations; but also because, unlike the rest of the family and probably the rest of Austin if not the entire US has seen, read or listened to his stories and I still can't name one title of his I've read even though I distinctly remember sharing a table with him at an Armadillocon somewhere in the murky past.  For that, and for mentioning you here, I truly am sorry.

But HBO is the channel riding the wave now, as AMC was riding the wave of popularity following Breaking Bad and the first few season of The Walking Dead. We'll just have to see if AMC continues to ride the wave with the next seasons of The Walking Dead and Better Call Saul (which I like more than Breaking Bad, but my liking things is usually bad for their continued existence. Just a word of caution) After the lackluster reception for the cliffhanger ending season 6 of The Walking Dead, they'll just have to keep their fingers crossed.

Since Westworld isn't likely to include nuclear weapons or time travel, it is probably a safe bet to watch it. A safe bet for HBO to back it. I'd be on the lookout for the Abramanator to find some way to include those devices in the show, if I had money on the line. If he does, take your money, run and don't look back.  You'll thank me for it later.

What the Hell Did That Mean?

I need to stay away from Youtube. That's what I'm learning.  Just FYI, 100% of this is !spoilers! if you haven't watched the films in question.  Consider this fair warning.



I disagree with Verhoeven and quibble with most of the other answers given here. I hated Lost in Translation.  I was Lost. In Translation. Actually I was lost in the crypt keeper having a fling with a high school student and it supposedly being romantic. But that is beside the point. I really don't care what was whispered to the young girl at the end.  I just wanted the old guy to leave her alone. I love you Bill Murray.  This is not directed at you specifically.  I had the same reaction watching Havana. Old men and young women.  Yuck.

Verhoeven may think he knows what the ending to Total Recall means, but there really is no answer within the content of the film.  The light comes from the sun in the film, not the blade of a knife. Like most of these explanations, if the film doesn't contain it, the interpretation is open to question no matter what the director intended. In the same vein, Donnie Darko ends with him killing himself in much the same way that the director's cut of Butterfly Effect ends with a very bad ending that is supposed to be interpreted as good for everyone except the protagonist. Too bad that the suits at corporate headquarters were right and made the director change the ending.  It is a much better film that way.

Star Trek 2009 is not Star Trek, nor do NuSpock's notions of logic or ethics actually equate to anything Gene Roddenberry filmed or wrote about Vulcans.  Nothing about that film made sense to anyone aside from the Abramanator.  Same with the second film.

If you really have unanswered questions about obscure films, blame the director. The art, the film, should contain all the relevant information needed to understand it in itself. If miscommunication happens it is the artist's fault, not the fault of the viewer.

Better than blaming the director; if this frequently happens to you, take someone with you to walk you through the film afterwards.  Audience makes all the difference.  Most comedies are targeted to a specific audience.  Take a member of that group with you to watch the film, preferably with an audience the film is targeted at.  The comedy might actually be funny that way rather than just striking you as stupid or cringe-worthy. 

Happy Birthday

This is usually where I type HBD into Facebook. It's my annual, typical 'sup? To my online friends.

But you just said you dread birthdays.  I read it. It meant something to me.

I frequently dread birthdays. Birthdays when I was a kid meant the end of freedom. The beginning of torment. School starting. The incomprehensible social jockeying for status.

As I grew older the dread festered. Now I expected myself to have a good time. Everyone around me was so anxious that I enjoy the parties they threw. I just wanted to be alone. By myself, where I wouldn't have to try to figure out what was expected of me.

These days I toe the line of social norms. I type HBD on Facebook as I used to scrawl a spartan "happy birthday" on company cards, lacking any real connection to the birthday person in question.

I wonder.

I wonder if your dread is my dread? Are you adrift in social events? Lacking any clue as to what the faces around you mean? Terror at being the center of attention? An unbelievably bad liar because communication itself is a challenge?

The internet is a blessed wall that obscures the faces I cannot read.  The gestures that have meanings that I do not know. The words mean what I want them to mean and nothing more. I can say "happy birthday" here and no one doubts that it is sincere. Strangers can ask "how are you doing?" and you know they really do care because they took the time to type it. I can shelve my canned response of "fair to middling" because I know that I can be honest with the inquirer if I want to be.

Oversharing is a chronic problem on the internet for me. For many people. The false familiarity leads to contempt for foreign ideas. Commenters whom you disagree with are driven from the field in a hail of ridicule. Your stream of information becomes a self-deluding stream of misinformation. Of comfortable lies you'd rather believe than truths you find hard to stomach. Unless.

Unless.

Unless you take the time to understand the other. One on one. Pick apart the ideas. Discover the meanings of the words we all think we know for ourselves, but really aren't the same meanings assigned to the words by others.

So I type HBD on friend's Facebook walls once a year. SMS the real friends whose phone numbers I still possess. Friends I can disagree with and still stay friends. Hopefully stay friends, anyway. Yes I really mean it, especially if it comes with an exclamation point and a cake emoji.  Do I care if you reciprocate? Not really. Consider it an invitation to open a dialog.  What does a happy birthday mean to you? Maybe I'll figure out what it means to me in the process.

Top Ten Science Fiction Movies. Can't Do It.

This is going to be a bit like stream of consciousness to the reader. My apologies in advance for this if you find it impossible to follow.
I clicked a Youtube video link not realizing I was going on a journey that would take all day.


This kind of slapstick comes across as too funny. Too funny as in 90 minutes of this would kill me with stupid. I might watch it. I might not. I can't say. It is billed as featuring 40 previous iconic “Star Trek” actors so I might have to see it. But then that is what the filmmakers are counting on when they make these kinds of movies.

While I'm sitting there contemplating whether to hazard my diminishing quantities of brain cells watching so much stupid at one time (like a Marx Brothers film) the dreaded Youtube autoplay kicked in. First it was this short.



Camera motion, blood effects. Chopping one's own arm off. Yeah, I can see walking out of all of these (I haven't watched any American Horror Story. It's just not my style. I am surprised the wife hasn't wanted to watch it) which is why I haven't seen some of them. Infrasound would explain a lot of things about certain horror films and my reactions to them.

Crap. Autoplay kicked in again while contemplating Tree of Life (Should I, shouldn't I? Have I already? Is this me thinking?) What the hell will be next is anybody's guess.



I've seen all but three of these (those three are now in my Netflix queue)  Two or three of them are on my "must see" list when someone asks me what to watch next (hint; I have a soft spot for Bruce DernRoy Scheider and Sam Rockwell) For the inquiring minds, Heavy Metal was a movie about an adult comic book which apparently nobody ever admits to reading, not about the rock music which may or may not have been either inspired by or the inspiration for the magazine.  The artwork in the movie is drawn directly from the various illustration styles in the magazine. Yes, I will admit to reading a few copies in my youth. Regrettably I don't own any of them anymore.

Had Pitch Black made it on their list, it would have been four movies. I am once again victimized by autoplay.



Not sure all of these films are worth watching, much less being best films you should watch but haven't. Foreign language films are not for everyone, so I don't generally recommend them to people I know who won't be up for reading subtitles, even if I might watch them myself.

I would personally recommend A Boy and His DogThis is where the list starts to go sideways for me. This and the list that follows this one. It starts with the still image that introduces the list.

Don't get me wrong, I think 2001 is a fine film. I think you should watch that and 2010 back to back. But 2001 is a snooze-fest. It is glacially slow as a movie.  I don't think a lot of people watch that movie over and over. They remember watching it as a child, but haven't tried to watch it recently. I have, several times.  Like the 60's it was created in, it takes the right kinds of drugs to appreciate this film properly.

Don't get me wrong, I love Stanley Kubrick.  He has three films at least that I would put in the category of Best Science Fiction Films. Not just 2001 but also A Clockwork Orange and Doctor Strangelove.  Most film critics will speak highly of Stanley Kubrick and his films. He is an auteur, his films bear the indelible mark of his authorship.  But few of his films are light or fun to watch.  You don't just pop in A Clockwork Orange for a bit of light afternoon entertainment.

If they can recommend Strange Days without a caution (and I wouldn't do that. Be prepared for murder and rape scenes conducted in the first person) then A Clockwork Orange is a walk in the park to watch.



No top ten list of Science Fiction is complete without Metropolis and Forbidden Planet.  You cannot be a science fiction film fanatic without having seen those two films and recommending those two films. They can't be on a list of films you haven't seen; and if they are, your fan credentials will be subject to revocation.

Metropolis is arguably the mother of all modern Science Fiction, a film that has been revisited and reimagined in nearly every tale of dystopia, every film that questions who we really are, any film that posits the difference between man and machine.  In the same vein Forbidden Planet is the forebear of Star Trek, Star Wars, etc.  Those two films have to be on the top ten list or the list is invalid, in my opinion.

Especially any list that credits The Empire Strikes Back as the best science fiction film of all time. I doubt very much that anyone who wasn't raised on Star Wars will think that Empire Strikes Back (much less any other Star Wars film aside from the original) should be on the list, much less topping it.  Well, perhaps the original Star Wars; not the now-titled Episode 4, but the film which aired back in 1977, the film that may single-handedly require my maintenance of a functioning laserdisc player in my home.  You remember, the movie where Han is the only person to fire a blaster in the famous bar scene? That film goes on a top ten list, if I could ever settle for ten.

I'm lying by the way. I won't maintain the laserdisc player just for Star Wars. I will do it for the making of disc for The Abyss, for Tron, for the pressing of Highlander 2 Renegade cut and the copy of 1776 with the bits Jack Warner personally cut out of the film spliced back in and the splice marks still visible. I can link the version of 1776 that says "director's cut" but there isn't any way to watch the version I like other than on laserdisc. Same for the making of the Abyss which goes into the ordeal of constructing a set inside of and then flooding an abandoned nuclear reactor vessel so that real underwater shots could be pulled off with that deep water feel. The Abyss (special edition only) is one of the many, many films I would have to include in any list of Science Fiction films worth compiling.

There are a lot of good films included in their list, but I disagree with most of the films in the top five. I like them but they are all modern films. Derivative works of derivative works, unless you are talking about the Matrix or the Terminator (Not Terminator II. It's good and a decent rewatch, just not as good as the first movie which it is derived from) both of which should be way up the list, higher than the Matrix actually appears.

Ten through six are all good solid films. I need to rewatch the War of The Worlds. I haven't seen it since the 70's on broadcast TV.  I have the box set of all the original Planet of the Apes films. They all rewatch well aside from the last one.

Children of Men was a heart-wrenching film to watch, but I have little doubt it will survive as a cautionary tale of meddling with mother nature. The original version of The Day the Earth Stood Still was almost unique in its time period with the portrayal of aliens as not being hellbent on destroying us (a fact that the equally good but not as memorable remake decided to change) which lends it the credibility to withstand time. Children of Men is actually one among many films which portray humans as our own worst enemy.

Jurassic Park is showing signs of age, despite their insistence that it isn't. Maybe it is the weight of the miserable sequels that colors my impression of it. Can't tell yet. But Aliens? Really, Aliens but not Alien? I agree the sequels that follow are best forgotten, but how do you watch Aliens without first watching Alien? Can't be done.

Which is the problem with derivative works and especially sequels.  Without context the film is divorced from most of its meaning and has to survive on its own merit alone.  This is why The Empire Strikes Back will not be remembered as the best science fiction film ever. Because without the first film (1977 Star Wars) you don't know who the Empire is. Why the villain being Luke's dad is a problem. Who the hell Luke is in the first place.

If we're just going to recommend sequels, movies that you have to have watched the previous versions to be able to appreciate, I'd like to put in a shameless plug for Terminator Genisys (deja vu if you've read my last post carefully) As I've noted when recommending previously, the first 10 to 20 minutes of the film (after the first time jump) is a shot for shot tribute to the original film. It is the most beautifully made and scripted film that I've seen for awhile now, and it builds on established previous entries into the film canon, builds on them then knocks them all down, in ways that the viewer will not see coming. If you want to watch a good sequel, this is one for you to enjoy.

If I was going to make a list of ten films you probably haven't seen recently (if ever) but speak highly of, 2001 is going to be top of that list. In fact, most of the Top 10 list that WatchMojo put together are films that I guarantee the compilers have not rewatched recently.

If you surf over to the WatchMojo website you will notice that they do an awful lot of top ten lists.  Way, way more of them than is healthy, quite frankly. In fact, I can't even find the films-by-decade lists that are mentioned in the Top Ten list just to see if the films I think are relevant are on those lists. I think that creating these endless list films that they produce keeps them from taking the time to enjoy the life that they rate in top ten increments several times a day.

I appear to have stumbled upon the kind of site that internet surfers loathe.  The dreaded clickbait. The site that sucks up all your life and time, without giving you much in return. This explains why their films list is mostly modern films, or films recently remade with modern versions, like War of the Worlds and The Day the Earth Stood Still. Not an in depth analysis of any real kind at all. And I've written how much on this subject now? Several pages, at least.

So what about a real Top Ten List? The ten best SF (Science Fiction) films ever made? I don't think I can create a list of only 10 of them. I tried to create one of those kinds of lists ages ago on Flixster. I soon found out that limiting the list to ten films requires that I eliminate films that are essential to understanding the artform.  Films like Metropolis and Forbidden Planet.

The profile link for my list says I have 15 films on it. I can't see them because their website enters an error when I go to click on my own created content.  The web 2.0, more broken than the web 1.0 and now featuring more advertising. Luckily I copied a version of it off and posted it to this blog. I have no idea if it is the last one or not, but here is at least one of my lists.

Avatar should be in the top five. We can start with that. A lot of people love to hate on Avatar, but it is the film that inspired the resurgence of 3D and it wasn't the 3D in the film that was remarkable. It is the fact that you cannot tell the animation from the real images in the film that makes it so remarkable. That you can have such a realistically animated film and not cross the uncanny valley in the process.  It is an amazing film, soon to be a series of 4 films.

Top Ten worthy films produced since Avatar? I can offer a few.

Ex Machina. Highly rated and very watchable, it explores the boundaries of what is or isn't human better than any film I've seen on the subject.  A film worth mentioning that is also in the vein of Ex Machina is Transcendence, one of those poorly received for no good reason films, consequently not a film that would make a top ten list.

Because commercial success figures into the calculation of what is or isn't good, what is or isn't preserved, what is or isn't watchable by people who pick up the material to watch later.  It was highly rated and it made a lot of money, it is also still a valuable experience to have, even though I don't know who Luke is (figuratively, from the future) if you want to make lists that don't make you sound like an idiot, you have to take all of those metrics into account. And since future prediction is something we humans suck at, most of our lists will be utterly worthless.

Take, for instance, Gravity. This is a fine film. Highly rated. Made lots of money. Probably won't be remembered (my apologies to Sandra Bullock) because it deals with current technology and doesn't do that really well, even though the cinematography is excellent an the acting is nearly faultless.

In the same vein the mainstays of current cinema, the sequel, the franchise, none of those films survive without the other films in the series, like the Saturday morning serials of old.  Consequently no Star Wars, no Star Trek, no Mad Max, no Alien will go down in history as worthy of mention, unless the first in the series merits it, or there is established a place for serial media (like television) to be consumed in the order it was produced.  This gives it context, gives it meaning it doesn't contain by itself.

That is why Alien appears at number five in my old list, and Aliens at number 10, and those are the only sequelized films on the list. Because films that are part of another genre, that can't hold their own alone, will not be remembered. This means most of the comic book movies will also not be on any lists, if we can call those Science Fiction and not Fantasy. That is an open question, so don't dismiss it.  If we're talking fantasy films, that is a whole other ball of wax.

Blade Runner would also have to be on the list. It is iconic. Worth mentioning is Dark City a twisted little film with the same feel and a completely different storyline. Both of those border on fantasy, so I could see how they would be excluded from a hard SF list.  That is, if anyone actually knew what hard SF was, could meet others who thought they knew and that group could then agree on what the term meant.  I consider that likely to be a fantasy in and of itself.

As I go down that old list, I can discard several films as being temporarily relevant. Films like Serenity. I still love it, but I am reconciled with the show never returning now. I keep hoping the Firefly online game will release, but I'm beginning to suspect that is also not going to happen.

Vanilla Sky and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind really are hard to rewatch. The Truman Show is still watchable, but really not surprising in the current age of reality TV. You can easily see someone pretending not to be on camera, deluding themselves into thinking the illusion is real. Sadly, it is all too believable now. Truman not knowing he was on camera? That is hard to believe.

I think A.I. should still be on the list, but it may fall off soon. We are just now getting to the point where robots are real things, much less making them capable of passing for human. The singularity that futurists are still fascinated with is portrayed loosely in that film, making it still relevant. Once the robots are among us, there is no telling what will happen next.

The last film that I've seen that should probably be included in any top 10 list is The Martian. Worlds better than Red Planet or Mission to Mars (Hollywood is so incestuous) both of which I paid money to see (Red Planet is good fun, just not good science fiction) The Martian holds up to the most intense scrutiny of scientists (other than the storm at the beginning) making it the most solidly science based fiction film since 2001.

Worthy of mention is Interstellar. Almost a time travel story (almost!) it mixes science and fantasy and comes up with a decent little film exploring the near future and what we might be facing soon if we aren't careful.

Which brings me to the last great film that Robin Williams was in before he died, the movie The Final Cut; the story of a man afraid to live his own life, so instead spends his time authoring the stories of other people's lives.

The actual current list? I'm still working on that.

After Legion is Irrelevant

Top of my feed this morning Breakfast Topic: What comes after Legion?

I honestly find myself wondering how World of Warcraft could possibly top Legion. I mean, where do we go from here? A full-scale invasion of the Burning Legion a scant sixteen or so years after the last one. Considering it took them ten thousand years to return after their first attempt, it feels like the intervals are getting shorter 
Because they are. 
So I’m wondering what happens this time. If we beat back the Legion, it’ll have to be a pretty decisive win, wouldn’t it? Not just shutting down the portal they’re using to invade, we’ll also have to eradicate every last trace of them: every cultist and every demon that’s currently on Azeroth. That’s a mammoth undertaking. But if we don’t do it, when will the next invasion come? 
So what do we do after we accomplish it? Is it finally time for us to go to Argus? Take the fight to the Legion’s doorstep? 
I find myself wondering how many worlds are left out there. Are there allies for us to find? Is there a grateful cosmos waiting to be delivered from the Legion or are we one of a few ragtag holdouts, enduring in spite of the Fallen Titan and his army of annihilation? What else is there for us to do once we stop the Legion this time? 
What do you all think? What’s next, after Legion?
There are so many problems with this question, it pretty much requires that I wax literal in my attempt to unpack it.  Oh, you'd like me to do that? Here goes.

A quote from Terminator Genisys
Time doesn't exist in the sense that Matthew Rossi at Blizzardwatch suggests, especially in fantasy worlds. Time isn't a set interval marching in unmalleable increments down to the end of time.  Time is more gas than fluid or concrete. It can be compressed or expanded to fill whatever boundaries we place on it.

But we can set that aside because we aren't talking about reality, but rather fantasy.  It has already been established that the Legion lives outside of time and space. They don't see time as temporal creatures (like humans) see time.  Consequently the interval can be ten thousand years or next week, it is the same difference to them.

Blizzard can literally have every expansion after this one be The Burning Legion Returns and it can be factually defended from within established World of Warcraft canon.

So what comes after the current expansion is pretty much irrelevant, from a story perspective. It's already been established we can travel to parallel universes and port to any world within the current universe of Azeroth. The Burning Legion can be there, mucking up the world. Or not be there, if the developers decide not to include them. Mists of Pandaria added the only part of Warcraft III that I felt was left out of World of Warcraft,  so I can't suggest any new content just right off the top of my head.

The real question is, will the next expansion be something the player base will want to play? That is quite literally the multi-million dollar, multi-million playerbase debate.

Since I've still not bought Legion (#noflynobuy) I think they've already gone there. They've been headed that way for quite some time. The first hint of their direction was in Mists of Pandaria. In MOP  flight was an endgame-only perk. You had to be at top level in the game to be able to fly. Contrary to what the naysayers insist, this was a retrenchment from both Cataclysm and Wrath of the Lich King, where flight was incorporated from the beginning of the expansion, and a return to the old ways of Burning Crusade. With Warlords of Draenor the world of the original game, where no flight was possible, was reintroduced.

This is, to put it bluntly, going backwards.

I get it, the new owners (Activision) have a gameplan that requires Blizzard to milk every dollar out of the playerbase that they can get their hands on, while simultaneously devoting as little programming time to the game as they can get away with. This means simplifying the game in ways that are less noticeable if the players cannot simply fly over obstacles.

Here is an example.  The world of Outland is physically bigger than the old world of Draenor. I have proven this to myself by flying across regions of the game map in both areas. This fact is the reverse of established game lore, that Outland is smaller than Draenor because of the destruction wrought by the Burning Legion. The world can be smaller because in Draenor you were expected to fight across the ground for every inch of territory you wanted to traverse. Constraining the players in this way allows the developers and programmers to skip creating the larger worlds that Warcraft is known for, making it possible for them to economize on programming time.

The Broken Isles of Legion are demonstrably smaller than every single expansion that has come before in World of Warcraft. Why are we limited to just the Broken Isles? Why isn't the invasion everywhere on Azeroth simultaneously? This is the Burning Legion, they have uncounted demons at their beck and call.  They could easily be in every city on Azeroth simultaneously.

But that would be one whole hell of a lot of programming.  It would equal the amount of programming that went into creating the first game.

Which is my overarching point here. The Legion expansion is the smallest addition to the game that has ever been introduced, and it comes at the cost of a complete reworking and simplification of every system in the game outside of redrawing maps for the game itself.  It is a lot easier to program simplified playstyles and constrain players to small sections of ground-based maps than it is to create new worlds with new areas to explore, complex and challenging playstyles to master.

Playstyles that include flight.

But it isn't just flight.  I was disgusted at the garrison copout in the last expansion. Sending followers out to play the game you couldn't take time to play.  Building ships that you never sailed on.  The one thing that might have saved Warlords of Draenor for me would have been allowing me to build ships I could sail where I wanted to go. But that too would have required an exponential investment in programming time, something Activision doesn't want to spend money on.

Having all of Azeroth be under siege would also make the garrisons we've spent two years building have a use beyond becoming just another game hub no one goes to anymore. It would do something unprecedented in WoW, not abandon former content as being that old game we used to play. The garrisons have their own separate hearthstone. Draenor has been protected through our actions from invasion by the Burning Legion lurking out in infinity.  Why would we not stage our last defense of Azeroth in the one place we know the Burning Legion can never return to. Draenor of the past.

So it comes down to this for me. Until and unless they revise their development strategies, I can't see them doing anything I will want to play.  I could be wrong, but I'm betting I'm not. Waiting and seeing is something I do well.