The Real Neat Blog Award, round 2

And here’s part 2 of my Real Neat Blog Award posts, this time courtesy of Red Metal of Extra Life.  Red Metal writes in-depth analyses of games and films.  If you have any interest at all in either of those, you should absolutely check out Extra Life.

Once again, the rules are that I have to answer his questions (the game says there are supposed to be seven of them, but Red Metal asked 11 — I’m up for it, though) and then ask seven questions of my own and nominate seven other bloggers to answer them.  Not very different at all from the Sunshine Blogger Award that I’ve taken on a few times already.  Anyway, here are Red Metal’s questions:

1. Have you ever watched a film in theaters that featured an intermission?

Back in the day when an Arab actor could play a Russian character and a British actor could play an Arab character and nobody would complain

If I have, I don’t remember it.  I know I watched a few films on VHS as a kid that included an intermission screen in the middle with a musical score playing over it like Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, but I missed out on the actual moviegoing experience in those cases.  It’s really too bad we don’t have intermissions anymore.  I guess studios don’t generally release movies as long as those old epics now.  Though they could have easily released the extended cuts of the Lord of the Rings movies and added intermission breaks.  I like the idea of giving the audience time to get up, get more popcorn or booze or whatever they’re refreshing themselves with, and go to the bathroom without missing any of the action.

2. What is the most expensive ticket you’ve ever purchased?

Unless we’re talking about plane tickets, it was probably a pass to Otakon back when it was held in Baltimore.  That con was a god damn mess; insanely crowded and too expensive.  I spent most of it drinking with friends, as I’ve done at every con I’ve ever been to, so it was fine in the end.  I never went to Otakon again, though.  Hopefully the DC location is able to handle the crowds better.

3. If you had to trade in fluency of your first language for another, which one would you choose?

Well, this is an easy one.  I already admitted to attending anime cons above, and everyone reading this knows I’m a massive weeb, so it’s Japanese without a doubt.  The prospect of playing a bunch of games that will probably never be translated is just too good to pass on.  On the other hand, it would be extremely annoying to have to relearn English, since I rely on reading and writing to make a living.  Include a three-month paid vacation with intensive lessons included to get my English back, and I’d be happy.

4. If you could appear on any game show (including ones that have ended), which one would you choose?

I used to want to make it onto Jeopardy as a kid, but just answering questions in question form seems a bit boring to me now.  I’d pick Takeshi’s Castle.  The odds of winning that game are incredibly low, but your friends and family getting to watch you pummeled by plastic cannonballs while you try to walk across a board over a lake would be fun.  Fun for them, at least.  (Also probably because I’m a weeb, see answer #3 above.)

In case you were wondering, yes, this is the same Takeshi who inspired the infamous kusoge Takeshi’s Challenge

5. As someone who has watched many classics over the past few years, I’ve concluded that old films are overall better than recent efforts. What do you think the current generation of filmmakers lacks that allowed their predecessors to shine?

I’m no expert in film, but if there’s anything I think current filmmakers are missing that previous ones had, it’s a sense of subtlety and perspective.  I know there are exceptions, but it seems like most movies that are trying to make a point today feel the need to hammer it into your head without bothering with shades of gray or nuance, which I find both annoying and insulting.

I know this one is a stupidly easy target, but I’ll never forget the ending to Surrogates, a 2009 movie I saw on TV that features Bruce Willis mumbling his way through a lead performance as a detective in a sci-fi future society where everyone uses artificial bodies while their organic bodies are in special chambers at home.  The movie’s a piece of shit, so I’ll just spoil it here: the big ending is that Bruce Willis’ wife destroys the computer that powers the surrogate bodies or something, and everyone goes back to living fully natural lives.  Which the movie presents as a victory without considering all the possible benefits of being able to use an artificial body.  Say you’re physically disabled.  Or you feel you were born the wrong gender and want to live in a body of the opposite sex without undergoing a major surgery.  No, apparently none of that shit matters.  No nuance, no shades of gray.  Technology bad, nature good.  Sure, movie, whatever you say.

Well, this is coming from a guy who admitted he would marry a deadly battle android if he could.  So you should probably take that opinion with a grain of salt.

Okay, so Surrogates was fucking garbage and I’m shooting fish in a barrel by criticizing it.  But even plenty of movies that are supposed to be good according to most critics often seem to fall into this trap.  I understand having an agenda, especially these days when the future seems so dark, but it’s no good letting your agenda take over your sense of perspective, not to mention your sense of humor.

6. How do you like your eggs prepared?

Over easy. I guess that’s not the safest way to eat them, is it? Doesn’t kill all the potential salmonella in there, but I haven’t gotten sick yet. On the rare occasion I’m at a Waffle House (say if I’m out at 3 am for some reason) I’ll order them scrambled.

7. How do you like your potatoes prepared?

I like a baked potato with sour cream, butter, and chives.  Not the healthiest option with all that sour cream and butter in there, but it tastes the best.

8. If you found yourself directing films, which genre would you want to specialize in?

Hard sci-fi, especially if the budget isn’t a problem.  There’s a lot you can do with that genre beyond the usual “humanity is doomed” kind of stuff we see now.  I have a few plot ideas, in fact, but I’ll just have to write them in story form instead since I don’t have the skills or money to make a film.

Planetes is the realest hard sci-fi series ever made

9. What is your favorite band/artist with a limited discography (i.e. no more than four studio albums)?

Red Metal already brought up a few worthy answers to this question like Joy Division, the Sex Pistols, and Nirvana.  I really like those bands (especially Nirvana; even though they were a bit before my time, they were a big part of my angsty teenage playlist right up there with Radiohead) but I’ll go with Jimi Hendrix and his band the Experience.  For as much influence as the guy has had on music, he only put out three studio albums — there’s no saying what he could have done if he hadn’t died so young.  I’ve always liked Hendrix, even his singing that a lot of people are unimpressed by; it fits his style perfectly.  Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding were excellent musicians too, let’s not forget about them.  And all three albums they put out were great.  I’m a big fan of Axis: Bold as Love, which I think tends to get a little overshadowed by the others.

10. There are many stories over the years of projects or ideas never getting off the ground or being canceled mid-production. Which one would you bring into reality if you could?

I really had to think about this one.  I know for a fact there have been games I was looking forward to at times that were canceled, but they may have ended up being lousy for all I know.  I’ll go back to music this time and say The Who’s Lifehouse.  Pete Townshend’s concept for Lifehouse sounds quite insane, but it would have been interesting to hear the result.  Then again, Who’s Next, the album we got from the wreckage of Lifehouse, was great anyway, and I care about the music a lot more than the concept when it comes to the rock operas I like.

11. What series do you feel managed to be consistently good for an extended period of time?

Disgaea.  Both the mainline games and spinoffs I’ve played range from good to excellent, with each game building upon what the previous one accomplished in terms of mechanics and features.  The prospect of the series ending because of developer Nippon Ichi’s possible bankruptcy is a depressing one.  I know it’s all business, but still, to see one of my favorite series perhaps facing its end is not easy.

If the series ends with Disgaea 5, at least it would be going out on a high note.

Thanks to Red Metal once again for the interesting questions.  Here’s my own set of questions:

1. How do you feel about content warnings and rating systems (like the MPAA and ESRB rating systems and the famous RIAA Explicit Content sticker?) Are they effective, or is the point of these ratings the same as it was when they were created?
2. Do you have hard limits as far how short or long a game should be?  Or a book, movie, or album — whichever you have a strong opinion on.
3. How do you keep yourself occupied during your commute or while on a long trip?
4. Is there a certain character in a work that you strongly identify with? What is it about that character that you identify with?
5. Have you ever read/watched/played a work with a protagonist who you ended up hating, even though you were meant to like them? Who was it and what put you off about them?
6. Do you prefer to listen to studio or live albums?  Or does it just depend on the band/artist you’re listening to?
7. Is there a series (of games, films, novels, whatever) that you used to enjoy but that eventually lost you?  If so, what do you think happened to cause that?

And the subjects this time are:

Nintendobound

I Drink and Watch Anime

Otaku Orbit

BiblioNyan

BlerdyOtaku

Video Game Grove

I’ll also tag back Red Metal, since he went through the trouble of coming up with four more questions than he had to.

And now that I’m done with that, it’s back to the usual.  Hopefully we actually get episode 10 of Cop Craft tomorrow.  Man, do I fucking hate recap shows.

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20 thoughts on “The Real Neat Blog Award, round 2

  1. Scrambled eggs are the king of drunken breakfast cuisine.

    Don’t have much else to say on this one, but it is interesting getting a bit more insight into you outside of your reviews. 😛

    • That is true. In fact, most of the times I’ve been to Waffle House for that eggs/bacon/grits/toast/whatever else plate they do, it’s been after a night of drinking. It’s the only hangover cure that works.

      And thanks. It’s nice to get personal sometimes with these kinds of posts.

  2. The only movie I have ever seen at the cinema that had an intermission was Braveheart. I have no idea why they added a break mid-movie, as the same cinema has screened other lengthy movies without having a pause. I had no idea Nippon Ichi was in trouble. That sucks because I love Disgaea too.

    • That’s weird. I didn’t see Braveheart in the theater, but it didn’t seem quite long enough to warrant an intermission. Maybe they thought people needed a break from Mel Gibson; for as much as you can say about him today, he was always intense in his roles.

      As for Nippon Ichi, last I read they couldn’t afford to pay their employees. It doesn’t sound like the kind of situation you can easily recover from. I’m hoping they do, though, or else that the stuff I’ve been reading is just exaggerated.

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  4. Yeah, I have watched a few films like Godfather: Part 2, Seven Samurai, and Kwaidan that had an intermission card, but I’ve never seen one in theaters. And you’re right; it’s a shame studios don’t like their grand, sweeping epics. I know a lot of people say less is more, but sometimes more is indeed better.

    Usually Otakon is pretty highly thought of, so I’m guessing that the venue they chose was pretty bad.

    If you’re into gaming, English and Japanese are the languages to know. If a quality game is only in one language, it is one of those two 99% of the time. I am glad that developers have become better at getting them translated into more languages.

    Yes, Takeshi Kitano would go on to create Takeshi’s Challenge. Then in 2017, he would suffer a humiliating defeat at my hands when I gave his game a 2/10. Sorry, Mr. Kitano, but there are earnest efforts that outsuck your attempts at creating the worst game ever made.

    Indeed, subtlety is a lost art in filmmaking, which is a shame given that applicability can help a work stand the test of time. In fact, I recently saw Repo Man for the first time, and even after being told that it lambasted the then-current administration’s foreign policies, I still didn’t see it. Today’s satirists? Forget it – you will walk out of that theater with the exact message the director wanted you to know – no ifs, ands or buts. I’ve seen fans defend stuff like that, claiming that some people don’t get subtlety, but I don’t believe that at all – in fact, one of the greatest failings of many so-called intellectuals is that they don’t realize the average audience member is quite a bit smarter than they think. As you’ve said in the past, it just leads to a lot of poorly written, heavy-handed works being promoted. And I still say that the 2010s was a dismal, dismal decade for sci-fi given how much the current generation of sci-fi writers seem to have a total hate-on for scientific progress. I get that we should be wary of the impact technology will have on our lives, but that’s no reason to approach it with such a fearful attitude. How ironic that, despite trying to be progressive, these writers share the same anti-intellectual fear of the unknown as their opposition. Sounds like Surrogates was ahead of the time, and not in a good way.

    I myself like them soft-boiled, though fried is a close second.

    Discounting French fries, I really like scalloped potatoes, though mashed is a close second.

    Honestly, as long as you made any sci-fi that wouldn’t make misanthropes clap like seals, I would totally support you 100%.

    Oops, guess I basically answered the question for you, huh? A lot of people go on about how overrated Nirvana was, but no, they really were just that good. Just the fact that Rolling Stone magazine is willing to acknowledge that there was any good music made after 1972 is notable. Jimi Hendrix is amazing as well; those dudes were really ahead of the curve. And I think I read somewhere that Mr. Hendrix was interested in giving progressive rock a try before his unfortunate, early death. It makes sense when you consider that it has stylistic origins in the psychedelic rock sound he made popular (and apparently grew tired of in his last years of life). Too bad we’ll never know for sure.

    Hm, now that’s an interesting one considering that we ended up getting Who’s Next as a consolation prize. Makes me wonder how well-received Lifehouse would’ve been in its original form?

    I’ve heard good things about Disgaea. It’s a real shame whenever games like this end up being obscure because, as is the case with Nippon Ichi, they have a greater chance of going bankrupt. Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen.

    • I like minimalism sometimes, but those massive period piece epics were nice too. I heard the commercial failure of Cleopatra back in the 60s put an end to them, though not sure how much of that is just talk.

      Otakon was still fun, but the organization was a total mess. I only went once a while back, though, so that might have just been an off year for them.

      I’ll have to check out your Takeshi’s Challenge review. The history behind the game is definitely interesting. First time I heard of it was on Gamecenter CX — that was a great show too.

      That condescending attitude a lot of these writers seem to have that you’ve addressed on your blog is depressing to see. You need to respect your audience. Go back to some of the great satires made in the 60s and 70s, or even further back to old novels and plays that took swings at the establishment — those guys were clever writers. Then again, this might be a case of the garbage being forgotten over time, leaving only the best of the best for later generations to discover. I don’t guess people will be watching Repo Man or Vice in 50 years, whereas people are still watching movies like Dr. Strangelove today.

      I didn’t know Jimi Hendrix was getting interested in prog, but it makes a lot of sense. If only we could have heard the result. Imagine Hendrix playing alongside guys like Yes, King Crimson, ELP or Pink Floyd. I also think Nirvana isn’t really overrated. Maybe they get a treatment similar to Pink Floyd, in fact — both commercially and artistically successful, but then some of their fans move on to lesser-known bands that might be underrated and claim they’ve gained better taste or something.

      The proposed plot to Lifehouse is crazy, but then again the plot to Tommy was crazy too, and people loved that album. I can’t imagine what kind of work they would have come up with. I know there were a couple of other “lost classics” like the Beach Boys’ Smile and Frank Zappa’s Läther that never came out or only got released piecemeal or in an altered form.

      And yeah, Disgaea is a great series. I can’t say it’s exactly obscure, but it is definitely one of those series that has a very hardcore and dedicated fanbase and not too much of an audience outside of that fanbase. I’m hoping the recent Steam releases help get Disgaea more fans and give new life to the series.

      • Yeah, when going for a minimalism, it’s important to not throw out the baby with the bathwater, and I think that’s the common failing of today’s indie films – they don’t acknowledge their opposition is doing at least a few things right even in the worst of times.

        Sorry if I was a little unclear. I meant to say that Repo Man was good because it was satirical without compromising its own integrity as a black comedy. It lampooned the then-POTUS’s foreign policies, but it’s not even the least bit distracting, which is way more than what can be said of Vice, which has about as much applicability as an expended car battery. Then again it really says something about Vice that it told critics exactly what they wanted to hear… and it still proved divisive. That’s like drawing a Royal Flush with spades and, against all statistical probability, finding some way to lose.

        And rock operas generally have crazy plots by default; I’d be a little worried if there was one I found perfectly comprehensible.

      • Ah, I misread that completely then. Not sure how, looking back at it. I should probably blame sleep deprivation, because I never get enough of that. As for Vice, I did get around to seeing that, and I pretty much agree with your assessment. Christian Bale is always great, but he was wasted on the movie.

        The original kind of opera also had crazy plots, so I guess it makes sense that the rock version does too.

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  6. Disgaia is one that’s constantly been on my radar, and I’m often tempted to drop in. It sounds like it’d have a lot of the things I like out of games. I’ve also heard it requires an obscene amount of grinding, however, and that’s been keeping me away.

    • About the grinding, I’d say that’s only half-true. If you want to beat every post-game boss in the game, you’ll definitely have to grind, but you really don’t have to grind in these games to play through the main stories. And even then, most of the games provide easy ways to powerlevel. The nice thing about the Disgaea games is that they pretty much let you play them however you want.

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