Monthly Archives: January 2013

One Million Time Bombs

I’m taking a break from the usual stuff I do here on The Non-Gamer’s Gamer’s Blog today to reply to something Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander said today. You probably know what’s coming because it’s been all over the news.

“I think video games is (sic) a bigger problem than guns. Because video games affect people. But the First Amendment limits what we can do about video games and the Second Amendment limits what we can do about guns.” He said these words in a discussion, on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown,” laying the blame of recent school shootings on guns and video games, but noting that video games were a bigger societal threat than guns.

My reply is simple. You, Senator Alexander, are ignorant and misinformed, and should learn to think before speaking. If you are right however, we have a huge problem in this country, and the entire world.

The video game industry is gigantic. Certainly not as big as the gun lobby or the tobacco lobby, but still very big. Their profits range into the billions yearly. Do you know what that means? Somebody is buying a lot of video games. Millions, tens of millions, buy and play video games every single day, for hours and hours at a time. Many of them could be considered obsessed with their chosen hobby. I’m not judging, I’m just saying.

If video games truly do affect people, and cause them to go on shooting rampages at schools, we as I said, have a huge problem. If even a fraction of these people as affected as the Senator says, there are at least a million time bombs out there. Ready to blow at any minute.

But that’s not true. After all, what were the violent video games that Hitler played? Or Caligula? Was Al Capone a big Call of Duty player? It’s not true at all.

The NRA used to have a slogan they were proud of – “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” it’s partially true. Guns help, but it is people who kill people. And let’s face it, if you give a psychopath a butter knife, somebody might die. Do we outlaw butter knives? No. But there are better ways.

I grew up around guns, hunting specifically. I had to take a course before I could use a gun. In my father’s home the guns and ammo were stored separately, and locked away. And I grew up as not a gun guy, but I’m educated, and have ideas how we could make this better.

First, get over yourselves, you don’t need automatic weapons to hunt. And guns should not be available at gun shows or Wal-Mart. If you want to collect guns, you’re not allowed to own ammo. You’re just a collector, remember? If you want to own a gun, take a three week gun safety course, that’s what I had to do. Also I would take a hint from Chris Rock, and tax ammunition. A lot. If one bullet cost $100, you will think before you shoot. Have the money go to victims of shootings.

And Senator Alexander, get off of video games, they are not to blame. And please start thinking before you open your mouth, because if you’re right… I would guess you’re surrounded by Halo players, who are also potential time bombs…

The Following: Chapter Two

Okay, the hype is over, for the moment at least, and now “The Following” has to sink or swim as a series as opposed to an event. I had expressed in my review of the pilot that I didn’t think it had the legs to be a series. I guess this is where we find out. It has the bad potential to become a freak of the week show like early “Smallville” or “X-Files,” and I hope that’s not where we’re headed.

In the pilot, or rather the setup, multi-flawed FBI agent Hardy (Kevin Bacon) is pulled out of retirement to deal with the escaped serial killer Carroll (James Purefoy) that he had put away. He’s recaptured, but it turns out he’s built a cult of serial killers through social media, and they’ll do whatever he wants. This cult has kidnapped Carroll’s son to lure Hardy into a game of cat and mouse with the baddies.

Again written by creator Kevin Williamson, the subtext is very literate, and I am enjoying the writing theme and the Poe obsession. But I’m a writer. I wonder if other folks are digging this particular vibe or not. It works this way – Carroll was a writer, his crimes made Hardy a writer, and now this whole crazy game is built on the idea of a new book – one written by the followers in which Hardy and Carroll are the protagonist and antagonist.

Bacon and Purefoy continue to dominate the small screen whenever they are on it. Waste of an amazing cast, as I said last time. I just wish that the two of them would give us something edgier than the Clarice/Hannibal and/or Batman/Joker dynamic. I want more Shawn Ashmore, Billy Brown, and especially Li Jun Li.

Much of the episode is taken up by the good guys playing catch up to Carroll’s cultish followers and their shenanigans. I smell the stink of “Alcatraz,” “Revolution,” and “Flash Forward” on this one, as if we’re being played with like a fish on a hook. All we want is the confrontation(s) between Bacon and Purefoy, and the boy found, but you know we’ll only get dribs and drabs, while each episode has its own little underling serial killer story. Just give us what we want.

I honestly don’t know if I’ll be around next time. I think I can see the future, and I’m not sure it has enough fuel to entice me further. We’ll see.

French Fry Diary 460: Two Amish Farm Markets

Arrow: Trust But Verify

I have to say, I am starting to like the episode titles with dual meanings. They never quite mean what we think they mean, and revelation doesn’t come until the very end. Nice.

Weird. This is the first episode where Oliver and Tommy actually act like they are, or once were, best friends. It was nice. I guess the employer/employee dynamic suits them.

The plot of the week has armored truck robbers using tactics from the Afghan War. Turns out the guy behind it is not only Diggle’s old mentor, but he’s also on ‘the list.’ Diggle didn’t know that last part. I was surprised. I thought Oliver trusted Diggle. It’s been quite a while now – you mean in all that time Diggle’s never seen ‘the list’? I find that implausible.

Nice shout out for the Arrowcave, and also an interesting name for the baddies’ security firm – Blackhawk. The Arrowcave is a call back to the Golden Age and Silver Age of comics where Green Arrow was simply a Robin Hood knock-off of Batman, essentially Batman with a bow. He was a millionaire with a ward sidekick, he had the Arrowplane (which doubled as the Arrowcar), and of course, his headquarters was the Arrowcave – honestly not much different from his current basement below the nightclub.

The Blackhawks were an international team of pilots during World War II who fought against the Axis under the command of the man called Blackhawk. Later they became soldiers of fortune, adventurers, superheroes, and mercenaries. I love the Blackhawks, you can read more about that, and them here. However, on “Arrow,” the Blackhawks are just armored truck robbers. Sigh. These are bad days for the name Blackhawk.

Speaking of DC Comics characters, it’s always nice to see Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak, and sad to see she’s become a nerd girl with glasses and a crush on our hero. What a waste. So much potential, so little effort.

I’m starting to zone out on the soap opera aspects of the show. I don’t care about Thea worrying Mom is having an affair, or if Tommy makes up with Daddy Merlyn. This kind of crap is why I stayed away from “Smallville” for so long. I don’t know about you folks, but I watch superhero shows for the superheroes, not the soap.

The episode ends in disappointment, and a tempting cliffhanger. Where last time Oliver needed to do something and was robbed if his chance, this time it’s Diggle’s turn. Two weeks in a row of this and I’m about to throw in the towel. The cliffhanger keeps me though. Not only is Yao Fei not who we thought he was, but there’s a drug in The Glades called Vertigo… could it be…? Finally Count Vertigo?

Random Tater Pic of the Day #86

Superman Vs. The Elite

Superman Vs. The Elite ~ In the spirit of full disclosure, I need to say I did not like the Joe Kelly and Doug Mahnke story this is based on, “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way” from Action Comics #775, but then I didn’t think much of that run, nor of the characters Manchester Black and The Elite either. Sorry, when it comes to Superman, I’m pretty much a traditionalist, although the story did raise a few salient points. I remain unconvinced.

I definitely dug the punk rock pop culture Warhol-ization of the Filmation cartoons from the 1960s mashed up with Curt Swan art of the 1970s for the opening credits sequence. A nice touch. I loved the cartoon at the beginning, the interaction between Lois and Clark, and loved the battle between Superman and the Atomic Skull too, someone really wants me to like this movie. The animation style is a bit odd in places however, Lois most notably stands out as small and sometimes cross-eyed in a bad anime way. That and Superman’s ridiculously huge chin, I mean, he’s not the Tick, ya know?

The gist of the story is Superman is old-fashioned and passé in our world. Why simply capture and imprison a murderous destructive criminal like the Atomic Skull when Superman could so easily rid the world of him. We need a proactive hero, not a reactive hero. Manchester Black and The Elite exploit this when they stop escalating war in Bialya while Superman watches and acts futilely.

Later, after a team-up between our ‘heroes,’ the Elite declare war on the baddies, promising punishment and zero tolerance. Superman is starting to look bad, and in his investigation of his competitors, they are not looking great either, he just can’t prove it. At this point, Lois begins to get annoying. She is less the Margo Lane equal partner and more the Doiby Dickles comic relief. Not cool for this Lois fan.

Speaking of comic relief, I liked the Rush Limbaugh clone doing a Aaron Sorkin style soapbox rant as Superman races to stop the Elite from killing more soldiers in the Bialyan conflict. Superman gets his butt handed to him, when saved by the Elite, and given medical attention at their headquarters, there is even more Sorkin preachiness. On the other hand, I like the preaching provided by Pa Kent. Like Lois should be, his parents are Superman’s rock.

A second battle with the Atomic Skull, this time against both Superman and The Elite, completely turns the tide toward Black against the man of steel. As The Bride would be wont to say, “Is it time for the good guys to win yet?” I liked the movie less and less the more I watched. This was just too much morality play in my comic books for me.

French Fry Diary 459: Steamables

Sally Starr RIP

The Initiation of Sarah 2006

The Initiation of Sarah ~ The original came at the tail end of the great ABC telemovies of the 1970s. In it, Kay Lenz, who I always mixed up with Susan Dey, plays the Carrie part in this Carrie rip-off. Morgan Fairchild is chief tormentor and Shelley Winters the witchy housemother mentor. There were a few of these Carrie wannabes in the 1970s, The Spell with Susan Meyers from “James at 15” was another, that aped the mousy scapegoat girl, who also happens to have telekinetic powers, flipping out in her tormentors. Sarah took place at a college sorority as opposed to high school.

The 2006 version is a re-imagining of the 1978 movie of the week done for, believe it or not, the ABC Family Channel. Well, at least they’re keeping it in the ‘family.’ Yeah, I know, sorry. Here, Morgan Fairchild returns as the snooty mom of two girls about to enter college, and join her old exclusive sorority. Lindsay, played by a post-“Firefly” Summer Glau and mousey cutter Sarah played by Mika Boorem of Blue Crush, are, as one would expect, polar opposites.

It is essentially the same story, with a decidedly non-fun Jennifer Tilly in the Shelley Winters role, but it has become unnecessarily complicated, almost as if someone was watching nothing but “Buffy” and old soap operas for a couple weeks straight. The warring sororities are the guardians of good and evil, people pretend to be other people to sleep with them, and it gets worse from there.

I wanted to like this one, I really did. It could have been the good old campy fun the original was but just took itself too seriously, and too much ABC Family as well, adding a crapload of teenage melodrama to the mix. Avoid and look for the original.

French Fry Diary 458: Freaky Eaters II