Month: August 2013

Society is a Fictional Monster

The other day, I was scrolling through iwastesomuchtime as I do, indeed, waste so much time, when I stumbled upon a picture. I had seen this picture several times before, but I typically ignored it and continued on with my day. This time, however, I was in a particularly thoughtful mood so I saved it to my computer and thought I would revisit it. This is the picture in question:

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Well, I guess it’s more of meme. Whatever. It’s not that it was really weird. I mean, people complain about this crap all the time. It’s that it really says a lot about what’s going on in society.

Way back when, people used to be scared by and comforted with the lie that all the monsters, all the bad guys in the world are easy to spot. They are as ugly and frightening on the outside as they are on the inside. This is the way people have thought since the dark ages and an idea repeated frequently in pop culture today (primarily in children’s movies). Form a young age, we are taught that the monsters are out there, but we are also taught that they don’t look like everyone else. And that’s a sort of comfort. Imagine how frightening it would be for a child to look out into the world and know that anybody they see, any random normal Joe on the street, could be the sort of villain they see in the movies.

It’s worth noting, of course, that the pictures in the first column are of bad guys and the pictures in the second column are of good guys. At some point, the monsters started becoming the heroes. Of course, they made the monsters pretty so we would be comfortable dealing with them, even romanticizing about them. But they still aren’t human. Humans have always had a tendency to look down on things that aren’t human, so why the sudden glamour? Or, if you will, wtf happened?

Here’s what happened.

We stopped being comforted by the monsters. As a society where the monsters are obvious and we don’t do a thing about them, where the media tells us every ugly thing going on in the world, we need to feel pretty. We need to believe that there aren’t as many monsters as we thought. That some of these so called monsters can actually become, well, human. In the pictures of the left column, we see clear, smiling faces. And in most of the given examples, the majority of the bad guys look just like the good guys. Two eyes, a nose, a mouth, oddly perfect skin. The works. but even though they look just like everyone else, even though their evil isn’t on display, our heroes still know who to fight. In a world where many people may be losing grasp of who to fight and who to trust, this is something that is very comforting.

Now, you may be shaking your head at this. I’ve read too far into it, haven’t I? You will not be convinced that there is any sense to my ramblings! You want the horror!

Well. Allow me to convince you.

Image this: You are standing on a crowded street. You have been informed that someone on the street is a monster. You have a gun. The monster appears. It is this ugly mangled thing. Your heart is pounding. People are screaming. You pull the trigger. The beast is dead. End of story. Restart. You are standing on a crowded street. You have been informed that someone on the street is a monster. You have a gun. Nothing changes. The monster is there. You feel it, but you can’t see it. It looks just like everyone else, You don’t know who to shoot. You can’t see the monster. Now you have a monster who looks like everyone else in the middle of a big city. Now we have a story.

Yes. My argument is flawed. Sue me.

The point I am trying to make is in the real world, monsters look like people. The creepy-looking guy isn’t always the killer and the princely figure isn’t always the hero. Whatever their original (usually fetish related) intent, movies and books these days are beginning to reflect that. And that is in no way a bad thing.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. Have a lovely day.

That is all.

What is the Best Superpower?

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This is a common debate within the wonderful world of nerds. Between all of the comic books and geeky movies, there are hundreds (thousands?) of variations of all the different kinds of powers and abilities one person can have. There are mental powers, physical powers, and flat out weird powers. Sometimes you have useful powers, other times you have Aquaman.

If a consensus must be reached, then we must first examine some of the different types of superpowers.

Strength, Speed, & Flight: These are some of the most common powers as well as some of the more popular. There are many different heroes in the Justice League alone who display these abilities. Five of the seven current core members display one or more of these abilities. That should be some testament to their usefulness. While these powers appear frequently in all of geekdom in dozens of characters, they are more commonly associated with the good guys. These are what I call the righteous powers. Common, useful, and not much of a downside. Perfect for the average hero.

Gambit!

Gambit!

Energy Beams of Some Sort: This is the category for things like Darkseid’s omega beam, Starfire’s star bursts, Gambit’s energy the thing, the works. This is my second favorite grouping of powers. These powers can cause heat and explosions and and all sorts of chaos. Because of the potential for chaos, these sorts of powers are about equally common with the good guys and the bad guys. That is both a strength and a weakness. Shoot energy at your villain and they can shoot it right back at you. But these sort of powers allow for precise ranged attacks we don’t really see with the righteous powers. The energy doesn’t usually create a strong physical prowess, so these powers are usually paired with one of the ones above (also considering flight is basically useless on it’s own). Again, good powers to have. Not exactly staple gifts, but definitely notable.

Professor X

Professor X

Mind Powers: If I could have any power, it would be a mind power. I would enjoy a collection similar to Charles Xavier. Getting into people’s heads, making them see things or do thing, causing seizures. The good life. While Such mental powers have huge potential for ass kicking, they are more commonly seen with the bad guys nowadays. Mind powers are tough becasue they tend to fall into the morally gray area. You know, invasion of privacy, taking will power, potentially leaving someone brain dead. For all of the advantages of these sorts of gifts, there are some major kick backs. Other than the moral grayness, you’ve got the potential for headaches and nosebleeds and, in some cases, you may touch so many minds you begin to forget who you are. These sorts of powers are also most commonly associated with alienation and mistrust, as well as psychological disorders. But they’re just so darn cool.

comics_new_52_batman_dark_knight

The Dark Knight himself

No Powers: One could argue that the greatest power of all is not to have any powers. To just work up your knowledge and your body to tap into the potential of the human body. Like Batman.  And he’s the biggest bad ass of all time. Your argument is invalid. Because he’s Batman. There is a lot of evidence that would suggest the most popular power is to have no powers. Batman is currently the best selling comics between DC and Marvel and still is the biggest comic book movies franchise of all time. Don’t even get me started on toy sales. So many people love Batman because he wasn’t given power, he worked for it and he earned it. There are some weaknesses when going against people who do have powers, particularly the righteous powers, but that just makes this hero’s journey that much more interesting to see. And now just with Batman. There are several heroes and villains out there who don’t have any powers or don’t have any physical powers and compensate by being a ninja.

I realize there are so many more I could go into. Shape-shifting and primal abilities, healing factors and immortality, walking through walls and invisibility (the ghost powers), but I’d like to get into a couple of lesser known powers that really tickle my fancy.

Molecular Manipulation: This fun little tool is the ability to control matter at the molecular level and can be limited to simply biological molecules, plant matter, metals (etc.). It’s something that we get to see a bit of with the angels in Supernatural. You don’t want to help me? Have some cancer. Many argue that this sort of thing makes someone too powerful, but I disagree. Someone with this power could be physically useless, or using this power plagues them with headaches and nose bleeds or they have to focus to keep all of the molecules where they want them. It would be maddening. I love it so much that in my many writings I created a character with this sort of ability with plant matter. Useful, with the potential for many set backs. Not really a gift someone might want, what with everything that could possible go wrong, but a nice power to use in a story.

Gary from that actually-pretty-cool show Alphas

Gary from that actually-pretty-cool show Alphas

Transducer: A transducer is like a human antenna. They can intercept communications and encrypted messages with their minds. They can see electromagnetic wavelengths and have been known to hear frequencies that only exists in the code. This is really a cool and solid power. I usually just call it Gary Vision. Because Gary. This power allows one to hack into cell phone signals, TV broadcasts and the like with just their mind. This sort of thing makes the user weak to microwave signals and DoS attacks. . And, if you’re Gary, you might not be able to read Nokia and you might be just a little bit autistic. With this power, you could be a highly valued member of any team by hacking into, say, traffic cameras or decoding enemy encryption. You could also be immune to compulsion or photo stimulation. This power is so cool and it’s probably my favorite power of all time. I don’t think I’d want it as it would probably be a major pain in the ass, but still. I’d never really seen anything like it before and it remains new and useful and cool. And I like it a lot.

Yet, we have still not uncovered the best superpower of all time. You could make a case for almost anything. I don’t think we can really judge a power by what is best, but by how it works in different situations and for different individuals. That is not to say we cannot judge what is the worst. Because wow there are some bad ones out there.

So what is your favorite superpower? Which one would you love to have? Which one do you think is the best? 

Doctor Who: The 12th Doctor

peter-capaldi

I assume we all know by now that Peter Capaldi has been cast as the 12th Doctor. If you don’t know this, I assume it’s because you don’t watch Doctor Who. At which point I would suggest leaving this blog right now and watching it. I recommend you watch at least 9 and 10 before going to Classic Who, but that’s just me. Go on. This’ll still be here when you get back.

Anyway. When this was first announced, I knew of Peter Capaldi, but I had only see him in Doctor Who (The Fires of Pompeii, season 4, episode 3) and World War Z (which I review here). After he was cast, I was in the sort of lull one feels when the new Doctor isn’t black, so I thought I’d see what he really had to offer. So I watched In the Loop. I then proceeded to fall in love.

Here’s the deal: Peter Capaldi is a fantastic actor with range. He can be a soft and caring fatherly type, and he can also tell someone to fuck off more than eighty times in in a single film. He sold some pretty creative cursing. I think he’ll make a good Doctor and I’m very excited to see what he does with the role.

Some people are less than excited. Some people were dead set on a woman (which I cover here)  or a ginger.  Others (like me) were hoping for a black Doctor. According to Neil Gaiman, a writer on Doctor Who, a black actor was offered the role and he didn’t take it. That would sadden my heart quite a bit more if I didn’t like Capaldi so much. I mean, just say his name. Capaldi. Capaldi. Capaldi.

But I don’t really want to talk about the disappointment people see in Capaldi. I would prefer to speculate about all the things he could possibly do that would be awesome. Here we go.

Future-Sonic-Screwdriver-Doctor-Who_12496-lHis Screwdriver. What will it look like? Considering the fact that Eleven has had not one, but two different TARDIS consoles, I think it’s safe to say Twelve gets a new sonic. It was red, then blue, then green. I think the next one should be purple because why the hell not. Maybe he’ll even have one that’ll do wood.

His TARDIS. The TARDIS console doesn’t always change between Doctors. Nine and Ten had the same console. Considering the fact that, again, Eleven ha two friggin consoles I think it’s safe to say we’ll be getting a new one.

His companions. We know Clara will be there at the start, but something tells me she’ll  be leaving at the end of season eight. Who should join him in the TARDIS then? Someone like Sarah Jane, maybe? A sassy Donna? A fabulous Jo? Will we have more than one companion?

His Doctor. Do you want to see someone quirky or kooky? Dark? Personally, I would love to see a Doctor who goes around insulting people and just doesn’t realize he’s doing it. While Clara just follows him around and apologizes for his antics. I don’t know why I would like that. I Just would. Quite a bit.  

Let me know what you think about the new Doctor and such in the comments below! And while we’re on the subject, I feel the need to ask:

Who is your favorite Doctor and what did you like about him? Favorite Companion(s)?

Toodle-loo!

Harry Potter: I Love Hufflepuff

H_finalI’ve always wondered why there was such hate on Hufflepuff. I mean, in the first movie the first girl to be sorted is a Hufflepuff. And my first thought is ‘Well, we won’t be seeing her again.’ Why? Hufflepuffs don’t play a huge role in the main conflict, true, but is that such a bad thing?

In order to find out what exactly this stigma is, We need to define Hufflepuff and the other houses. Most people think Hufflepuff as being the throwaway house, or the house filled with loyal friendly people. Gryffindor is for the brave, Ravenclaw is for the intelligent, and Slytherin is for the ambitious. These over simplified definitions are almost untrue. Because these things, at the core, are true of each member of each house. But are there not brave Ravenclaws? Are there not ambitious Hufflepuffs, loyal Slytherins, and intelligent Gryffindors? So I think we need a proper breakdown of the houses.

Gryffindor: The Gryffindor house is most commonly associated with bravery. There is a part people always seem to forget. A Gryffindor’s greatest strength and greatest weakness:

You might belong in Gryffindor,shield_01-5B1-5D
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart

Their daring, nerve, and chivalry is what sets them apart. Not their bravery. A Gryffindor is someone who will use themselves as a human shield to protect someone. They will rally their troops with big speeches and a lot of yelling. Yes they are brave, they are daring. Sometimes they are showboaters and this can get them killed. But this nerve exists in day to say life, life when Neville tried to stop the golden trio from leaving the house at night to do that dangerous thing they wanted to do.

Slytherin: This house is most commonly associated with ambitious, cowardly, douche bags. No one seems to step up from this house to prove anyone wrong. Except for Snape of course. He redeems the whole house in the eyes of the wizarding world. But other the the whole Voldemort mess (and a few worshipers of the dark lord here and there), what have the Slytherins done wrong? Who actually is supposed to be in Slytherin?

Or perhaps in Slytherin,shield_sly
You’ll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means,
To achieve their ends.

The part that always trips up Slytherin is ‘any means to an end’. This whole thing seems to scream ‘manipulators!’. As if we have an entire house full of psychopaths and sociopaths. BUT, there is that one line everyone ignores about it being the place you’ll make your real friends. Slytherins stick together and are clearly very loyal to one another. Because of their ambitions, I image the greatest weakness of a Slytherin is not an assumed douche baggery, but rather major trust issues. The people in Harry’s era just don’t trust the non-pure bloods. And even then, the word ambitious is connected to dreamers. Who doesn’t love a house full of dreamers? Slytherins are just especially capable at making their dreams a reality.

Ravenclaw: Ravenclaw is usually attributed to intelligence and insanity. It’s hard not to misunderstand a Ravenclaw, but the house is usually pretty straightforward.

shield_ravOr yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
If you’ve a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind.

I have heard a lot of people wonder why Hermione is a Gryffindor and not a Ravenclaw. Other than the fact that she is clearly the type to up and punch someone in the face (less likely to see a Ravenclaw do that), she lacks wit. That creativity all Ravenclaws have that can make them uncomfortably insane-sounding. Wise, old souls, nobody understands what the heck they’re talking about. I shouldn’t say they, because I am a Ravenclaw. Let me tell you something about our people. We are logical. Which means we can be cold and detached some of the time. Empathy is hard. That’s why we have a mutual misunderstanding with Gryffindors. Say what you will about Slytherin, Ravenclaw is the house most opposite to Gryffindor.

Hufflepuff: This house is, of course, the house of the loyal and the useless. As far as most people are concerned, anyway. Never mind the fact that the champion of Hogwarts was a Hufflepuff. And Tonks. Let’s see what the hat says.

You might belong in Hufflepuff,shield_huf
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true,
And unafraid of toil

Basically, a Hufflepuff would be a terrible defense attorney but a fabulous judge or district attorney. A Hufflepuff knows what’s right, and they’re here to help. You’d think more people would love Hufflepuff, considering it is basically the anti-Slytherin. But alas, no. Because throughout the books, Hufflepuff largely isn’t involved in the main conflict. Why? Because Hufflepuffs don’t want to deal with that shit. At Howarts, the entire thing has become a petty argument between Slytherin and Gryffindor. They are used to being looked over, and they’d like it to stay that way. They know what’s right, and if they’re going to defeat Voldemort they aren’t going to do it by getting in fights at school. I’ve always considered a Hufflepuff to be very similar to a Gyrffindor. Hufflepuffs just have much more humility, and are less likely to throw themselves into the front lines. They are happy to be artillery. As long as they’re fighting for what’s right.

Looking at each house separately, it’s hard to really denounce any of them. There is nothing inherently bad or useless about any of the houses. They all have strengths and they all have weaknesses. Hufflepuff gets the hate becasue they seem like they just aren’t helping or they just haven’t taken a side. This is untrue. Cedric was the champion of Hogwarts. He was a Hufflepuff. And his death basically was Voldemort killing everything good about Hogwarts. I mean, everything really went to shit after the fourth book, didn’t it? It was bad before, but it got ten times worse after Cedric died. Could he perhaps be a symbol? I say yes. Because Ii like reading into to everything like that. I think it’s perfect that the symbol for everything good about wizards and Hogwarts was a Hufflepuff becasue, when you really think about it, this symbol of goodness could not have come from any other house.

Okay. So Hufflepuffs are undercover badasses. Why do we hate them, then?

Hufflepuffs are generally the type of people who are so nice you can’t help but hate them and everything they stand for. So, I implore you, throw away your preconceived notions, and hug a Hufflepuff!

I mean, I won’t be hugging a Hufflepuff. Because ew, people. I imagine I will be hugged by a Hufflepuff though. If you’re like me, let a Hufflepuff hug you. They just want to be loved.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

World War Z Review Type Thing

Title: World War Z

Director: Mark Forster (Stranger Than Fiction, Quantum of Solace)

Stars: Brad Pitt, some other people, Peter Capaldi’s in it too

Watch if you like: Zombies, Good movies, The Walking Dead

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I’m not sure I can express in words how awesome this movie is. But by golly I’m gonna try

Before I saw the movie, I was skeptical. The trailer was okay, and I had never been a huge zombie person. After seeing the film, I now regret having those dirty thoughts in my mind. It proved me wrong in the best way possible. It didn’t just exceed my already low standards, it completely wowed me. This is by far my favorite zombie movie of all time and one of my favorite movies, period. Why? I’m going to tell you somehow.

At the start of the movie, we as the viewers are just as confused as Brad Pitt (Gerry) and his family and the people of the world (starting in New York). You get a basis of the man and his family so you know just enough about them to start to care a little bit about them. The opening of the movie has a very light tone. This changes so quickly and absolutely it feels real. It changes to quickly and absolutely that – despite knowing the general role of the hero and his family in a blockbuster – it is easy to have real fear for what might happen to them. There are several parts in the film when it really seems like Gerry is going to lose his family.

As the story unfolds we get more about Gerry and his character. One thing becomes abundantly clear from the start: Gerry can think his way through anything. Yes, he is a badass. But he’s also a genius in this zombie apocalypse. At one point he wraps newspaper around his forearms to avoid getting bitten. I never would have thought to do that. In all these films how is it no one thinks to do that? (Please let me know if I’m wrong about that). And even though he is a thinker, he’s capable of reacting, of making split second decisions. What’s perfect is the whole movie you know he’s scared and you know he’s getting desperate. But he has to keep his cool – and that not only makes him realistic and dynamic, but it makes him just that much more awesome.

This story takes a slightly different take on zombies in that not everyone is eligible to be bitten. The zombies straight out ignore some people. I’m not going to tell you why because it’s fun to try to figure it out. There is actually something tangible – something that people can actually do to protect themselves – other than grab a gun and hope for the best. Because this zombie thing is just a disease created in a lab – and every disease has a weakness. The problem is finding it.

On top of the cool story stuff, there are some hugly badass moments. Like these:

 World-War-Z-NewPosterWorld-War-Z

I can’t resist doing a paragraph looking at the technical aspects of the movie. The story telling was masterful, the acting wonderful. But the cinematography. I will admit, there were a couple of shot that were questionable. But for the most part, each shot made sense and flowed into the next and really gave us the feel we needed to get from each scene. There are a number of wide panning shots so you never forget how many zombies there actually are, medium and long shots on the streets to throw you into the chaos, and a healthy dose of close ups so you never forget just how scared everyone actually is. It’s all edited together in a way where each shot multiplies or decimates what you felt in the last shot. In a good way. So it all comes together in a well edited, well directed, and well acted movie. I could create another post entirely going into the script.

Back to general story and emotional stuff. By the end I was exhausted becasue I spent the whole movie literally on the edge of my seat, trying to think through the problems with Gerry. I was scared for his family, scared for all the people who had not been effected. The movie made me feel something and connect – and that is something both difficult and fantastic for me.

One of the best things about this movie is how I felt after I saw it. I felt fulfilled. This movie delivered in every way it set out to deliver. This is both exciting and inspiring. It made me want to go and create something. This, for me, is one of the best things a movie can do.

So, in case you did not get the message, I would highly recommend this film.

Go and see it. If you have seen it, share you opinion. Right now. I must know.

Doctor Who: A Female Doctor

Some people have expressed disappointment due at the fact that the 12th Doctor is not a woman. A controversial topic, I am actually quite glad the 12th Doctor is a man. It’s not because I believe the part should only ever be a man. Not at all. I just don’t think now is the right time to introduce the Doctor as a woman. Here’s why:

If a female Doctor were to be introduced, it would not be becasue they looked at her and they actually felt she was the best person for the part. The lead writer can’t see a woman in the part, which would mean there would be a huge disconnect in the writing, and the show would suffer for it.  Sad, but true.

Sara Jane Smith and K-9 in Classic Who

Sarah Jane Smith and K-9 in Classic Who

People have also been saying that young girls who watch the show need a cool role model, and young boys need to see strong women. They say that because The Doctor has never been female, the show does not provide this. This is actual, good and proper, bull shit. If you can’t find a female role model in this day and age, then you aren’t looking in any of the right places. Really, if you can’t find a female role model in Doctor Who then I’ll have to ask if we’re watching the same Doctor Who. My favorite companion of all time is Sarah Jane Smith – becasue she was cooler than the Doctor! She was strong and independent and she didn’t need no man. I loved the fourth Doctor with Sarah Jane Smith. As much as I love four, when she left I started to lose interest. I could go on about the women of Doctor Who. But I’ll let you imagine that conversation and skip straight ahead to Clara. She has been the hero of every single episode she has appeared in. She has saved that Doctor more times than can be counted. If that doesn’t spell out a good role model then I don’t know what does.

Now, if the Doctor actually was made female, the dynamic of the show would shift considerably. The show needs to show leads of different genders for it to work – two girls or two guys would just be boring. So a female doctor would need a man in her TARDIS and becasue of her sheer competency, the man would be rendered completely useless. It would be weird and a bit unpleasant to watch.

A good enough excuse to use this

A good enough excuse to use this

UNLESS he became the Robin to her Batman. She would need to save him or take on a motherly role or else it would just be weird. Knowing Moffat, this dynamic would not happen at all. It would probably be a romance type deal. Which could either make her some awkward sex figure or provide an overly flustered girl girl. Which could be funny if Moffat would not inevitably hurl her object of affection of a tall structure of some sort. Or he would give up and just have a female companion anyway which would, again, be very boring. And, a female Doctor, being so new, would require a ton of exposition. Moffat, like any writer, hates dealing with exposition. So he ignores it all together. Which would be bad.

And finally.

The point of women on the show is not to say you have to be in the obvious position of power to be strong. They succeed with the doctor, sometimes becasue of the doctor, and – lately – despite the doctor. The Doctor would be absolutely nowhere without the female companions. That’s what’s brilliant about them.

Basically, the viewers aren’t ready for a woman, the writers sure as hell aren’t ready for a woman, so now is a terrible time to make the Doctor a woman.

So what do you think? Is the show ready for a female Doctor? Do you ever want to see female Doctor? Share your thoughts in the comments!

An Introduction

Welcome to my blog. I could have called it thoughts on things, becasue I will generally display thoughts on things. But for some reason I decided to call it The Paradoxical Paradigm. It makes it seems more like I’m discussing things with people that should make sense but don’t really make sense.

Because that’s what people do, isn’t it? We all love something so much we hate it. A love for something that doesn’t love you back and instead hurls your favorite characters from the top of tall structures or allows you to live your life knowing your letter to Hogwarts got lost in the mail. An unconscious choice to live and experience many lives and a conscious choice to never leave your room.  And I think that’s beautiful. Entirely unhealthy, but beautiful nonetheless.

So I’m going to talk about it. We’re going to talk about it. Opening discussions and having random bouts of fun and all that. And occasionally we may chose to talk about a new movie or a new book and spread the word.

Join the party. It’ll be fantastic.