Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Apology accepted, Captain Needa

How Lord Vader reacted when J. J. Abrams told him what a crybaby his grandson had turned into
Apparently the latest blatant shameless useless naked Disney cash grab STAR WARS spin-off is not turning out to be quite as brilliant as the Mousketeers had hoped:
It has a release date that is not so far, far away. 
But Disney bosses are apparently so alarmed at how bad the new Star Wars spin-off movie Rogue One is that they have ordered four weeks of expensive reshoots in a bid to salvage the project. 
After the money-making bonanza that was The Force Awakens, they are reportedly shocked at the poor quality of the new film, which takes place shortly before the original Star Wars and features delicate English starlet Felicity Jones as a tough-talking maverick pilot. 
A source told Page Six: 'The execs at Disney are not happy with the movie, and Rogue One will have to go back into four weeks of expensive reshoots in July. 
And it seems up-and-coming director Gareth Edwards, best known for 2014's Godzilla, is the person being fingered for the blame. 
According to the insider, 'Gareth’s work on the first Godzilla shows he can handle a big studio blockbuster. 
'But Rogue One has fallen short of what JJ Abrams did with Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens. So Disney has ordered reshoots.' 
'Disney won’t take a back seat, and is demanding changes, as the movie isn’t testing well.' 
Given how JJ's effort is hardly a work of cinematic high art, and more of a high octane remix of the first Star Wars than anything remotely original, the fact the new film has failed to reach the same standard is surely alarming for fans of the beloved franchise. 
The plot reportedly sees resistance fighters embark on a daring mission to steal the plans for the Death Star before it can be used to enforce the Emperor’s cruel rule.
Right, you motley lot that read this pokey little blog! Hands raised if you're surprised by this news!


Yeah. That's what I thought.

Precisely NOBODY with a real brain, who actually bothered to watch the godawful trailer to this SJW-converged crapfest, is in the least bit surprised that the entire thing has turned out to be terrible.

Note that the explanation for the film's terribleness centres on the director, Gareth Edwards, who as the article notes directed Godzilla (2014). Now, I have watched that movie (several times, in fact); I have to admit that I quite liked it. (Yes, I know, my taste in movies stinks. Deal with it. My taste in music, on the other hand, is of course unimpeachable.) I thought that was a rather well done monster film, with plenty of red meat for both casual fans of the Godzilla franchise, and hard-core otaku types who live and breathe the canon.

So I am more than a little sceptical at the notion that the director is entirely to blame for the SJW-crafted shit-sandwich that was initially going to be foisted upon us.

I suspect that the problems with the new film are far more fundamental than this. As the saying goes, the fish rots from the head down. The director may be the tip of the problem, but beneath him is a cadre of screenwriters and casting agents that thought that the appropriate way to follow up the worst STAR WARS film of all time would be to create a movie packed with ever more feminist propaganda, ever more social-justice nonsense, and even less by way of plot or great action.

(And yes, I do count the Star Wars Holiday Special, as well as Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, in that comparison with STAR WARS VII: The Force Awakens. I hated that J. J. Abrams shitstorm THAT MUCH.)

The re-shoots probably will not help the finished product, if past history is any indication. Remember a movie from back in 2013 called G.I. Joe: Retaliation? It was a sequel to a rather successful 2009 film called G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. I saw that first movie, and, well, I actually kind of liked it. (Comments about my appalling taste in movies below, please.) It was loud, it was brainless, and it was unbelievably silly in oh so many ways. But its stupidity had a certain charm to it.

This didn't exactly hurt its appeal either. Although I have to say, that armour strikes me as WILDLY impractical.
The sequel, however, apparently registered very poorly with test audiences, due in no small part to the decision taken by the writers and the director to kill off Channing Tatum's character- or something like that. So Paramount sent the movie back for extensive re-shoots and delayed the sequel's release by a year, which had some rather painful consequences for the product placements and tie-ins that were supposed to be bundled with it.

The end result? Well, the sequel still sucked. It just sucked slightly less than it would have otherwise.

Given that we're dealing with an SJW-infested production in this particular case, the Disney execs who made the hard decision to send STAR WARS: Rogue One back for re-shoots probably made the wrong choice. They should have simply strangled the project outright and shoved its decaying remains back into the dungeons underneath their magic castle.

Believe me, it would have been a kinder fate for all concerned. This new STAR WARS movie is going to blow. And there is nothing that anyone can do about it.

As for me, I grew up watching the original trilogy. I can still quote from it chapter and verse. I still have an unholy amount of expanded universe rattling around in my skull. I would be happiest if they just euthanised the franchise now, and let those fond memories stay. The original films were works of cinematic brilliance (well, the first two were, and so was maybe the latter third of Return of the Jedi). Leave them be, and stop trying to recreate their magic. It died long ago; let it rest in peace.

And you thought Michael Bay was going to make it terrible...

Anybody grow up watching the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon in the late 80s and early 90s? Good times, man, good times...

Fortunately, I grew out of that particular phase before I ever had any chance to watch the desecration that was the TMNT musical/singalong/massive mindf**k that they unleashed upon an unsuspecting and cowering mankind:

Compared to that, the TMNT movie from a couple of years back might as well have been Citizen Kane.

Monday, 30 May 2016

"So please remember us"

"Never the lotus closes, never the wild-fowl wake,
But a soul goes out on the East Wind that died for England's sake --
Man or woman or suckling, mother or bride or maid --
Because on the bones of the English the English Flag is stayed. 
"The desert-dust hath dimmed it, the flying wild-ass knows,
The scared white leopard winds it across the taintless snows.
What is the Flag of England? Ye have but my sun to dare,
Ye have but my sands to travel. Go forth, for it is there!"
-- From "The English Flag" by Rudyard Kipling
Around where I live, there is a footpath that tracks all along the coastline, where the river meets the open Atlantic sea. On warm and lazy summer evenings, there are few things that I love better than to to slip on a pair of decidedly weird-looking shoes, and walk along that path while enjoying the cool breeze, the light of the setting sun, and the majestic beauty of the New England coastline.

About ten minutes up that path from where I am, there is a small public park that sits right on a promontory in the Hudson bay. It is a favourite picnic spot for the families that live in the area, situated as it is opposite a marina and yacht club, and right at the footsteps of some very nice residential apartment complexes.

And right next to that public park is a Korean War memorial- a tribute to "those who ventured into the howling dark, and did not return".

Upon that monument is inscribed a poem that captures perfectly the horrors of war, and the mark that it left upon the souls of the men who fought through the "Forgotten War":
We didn't do much talking
We didn't raise a fuss
But Korea really happened
So please remember us
We all just did our duty
But we didn't win or lose
A victory was denied us
But we never got to choose
We all roasted in Summer
In winter, we damn near froze
Walking back from near the Yalu
With our blackened, frozen toes
Like the surf, the Chinese kept coming
With their bungles in the night
And we fired into their masses
Praying for the morning light
All of us just had to be there
And so many of us died
But now were all but half forgotten
No one remembers how we tried
We grow fewer with the years now
And we still don't raise a fuss
But Korea really happened
So please - remember us
Every time I walk past that memorial, the reality of the freedoms that the residents of this most special place enjoy, is brought crashing home.

To visitors, this strangely American obsession with flag-waving, with parades, with "remembering the fallen" is often viewed as an odd affectation, one of those mildly amusing cultural quirks that makes Americans distinct from, oh, say, Swedes or Germans. It seems trite and silly; this patriotic nonsense seems parochial in the extreme to some of our "betters" from across the sea, to whom war, hardship, sacrifice, and death in service to God, country, and family are ephemeral and abstract concepts bred out of them by long decades of peace. (A peace bought and paid for in American blood and American dollars, let it be noted.)

But I view that trait as one of the most admirable and decent qualities of a good and moral people.

And it is there, within that circle of black marble, surrounded by the names of ordinary men who fought and bled and died in a war that they probably hardly understood, that I always come to realise just how profoundly grateful I am for the respect in which the American soldier is held.

It is there that I see what their sacrifice bought Americans, and those foreigners- like me- who are lucky enough to live here by the grace and generosity of a good and decent people.

I was walking past that very spot yesterday. The setting sun was at my back; the cool evening breeze blew through my hair. On my right, in the marina, free and happy people took their boats out into the bay to enjoy a gentle cruise on the sea. In the pavilion of the yacht club, free and happy members were sitting around drinking cocktails and enjoying an early evening barbecque. On my left, free and happy children shrieked and ran and roughhoused and tumbled, while their bemused parents did their level best to stop them from running into each other and into fence-posts (as children are of course wont to do). Ahead of me, a group of young men about my age were playing volleyball as their girlfriends and wives sat on the grass and gossiped (as women are of course wont to do).

And in the middle of all of that joy of life well lived, there stood a silent memorial of black marble and white lettering, with a statue of a soldier half-carrying his wounded mate to safety, standing silent watch over the very people who now enjoy the fruits of their sacrifices.

That scene is what those men fought and died for. All they ask in return is that we remember them- as simple and as respectful a request as a soldier can make to those who sent him to war.

Most Americans have never known what it means to live in a country where the simple ability to sit in a public park with your family is fraught with danger because security is not guaranteed. Most Americans cannot imagine having their right to walk wherever they damn well please being restricted, because certain areas are not "safe" to wander into. Most Americans take it for granted that they can sit in a marina without metal detectors, without heavily armed private security, without having to worry about some Islamist loony wanting to blow himself up and take dozens and hundreds of them with him on his way to his so-called "paradise".

I pray to the Living God every day that you people will never have to learn what that is like.

I have lived through the fall of a government. I have seen what happens when a country tears itself apart through economic and political instability. I have seen mobs being fired upon by soldiers who took it upon themselves to mete out "justice", such as it was, at the point of a gun. And I have seen what happens when, in desperation, a nation turns to the army to restore stability and sanity- and how rare it is for a general to renounce the reins of power in deference to civilian authority.

I never want to see that come to America's shores. The one thing that lets me think that such a day is a long way off is, of course, my knowledge of the American soldier.

Shortly after the Revolutionary War was won, a petition was circulated among the officers of the old Continental Army demanding that Congress restore back-pay that had never been distributed to General Washington's veterans. There were mutterings about leading a revolt against Congress itself, for the veterans had been hard done by and (justly) felt that Congress had become blind to their suffering.

General Washington stood up in front of his veterans, fumbled his opening remarks, put on a pair of spectacles, and commented that, in service to the new nation, he had not only grown grey but blind as well.

He then went on to denounce the petition as treason against the nation that he and his men had sacrificed so much to build- against all odds, against the greatest Army and Navy the world had ever seen, with at times only Divine Providence itself to help them.

His veterans, suitably chastised by the Father of the Nation, disbanded. Once again, George Washington had saved his country, and the concept upon which it was founded: the Rights of Englishmen to live free of tyranny, free of hereditary monarchy, free of fear that the Army would be turned against them.

That trust that the average American has in the American soldier is, believe it or not, shared by non-Americans as well. I don't care how many examples you show me of protesters burning American Presidents in effigy on the streets of capitals around the world. When things go pear-shaped due to an earthquake, a flood, a volcanic eruption, or a man-made disaster like a collapsing government taking a nation down with it in its death-throes, the first thing that every citizen of those afflicted lands wants to see is an American Marine or sailor or infantryman, handing out aid packets and water and food.

You can break trust in America, easily enough. Lord knows, your politicians do enough to break that trust on a daily basis. But damn near nothing breaks the trust that people have in the American soldier.

And that is because, like those men whose names are inscribed in the black marble of that beautiful memorial, those soldiers do not ask for much. They only ask: "so please - remember us".
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.
-- Ronald Wilson Reagan, 40th President of the United States of America

Bring them home

Every time I see yet another report showing yet another example of how President Obummer has managed to, yet again, screw up somewhere in the world and, yet once more, has to send in American soldiers to clean up his mess, I am reminded of this video:

Try watching that video without getting... emotional. Good luck with that. I've seen it many times over the last five years, and... well, let's just say that I don't think I've ever passed that challenge.

Enough already. Enough American blood spilled in vain dreams of imperial hegemony in the Middle East, and everywhere else. Bring these men (and, unfortunately, women) deployed on combat tours around the world home. Put them to work guarding America's borders against those who would usurp them.

If nothing else, bring them home so that the wives and mothers of these good and decent men can see their husbands and sons returned safely to them, and so that their sons and daughters may know what it means to have a father in their lives.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Don't cut your damn hair: current Victoria's Secret Angel edition

Victoria's Secret models are, supposedly, among the most beautiful and desirable women in the world. One might be tempted to argue with those definitions with respect to specific cases from time to time, but then one sees things like, well, this:

However, as I have been saying for at least the past three years, the fastest way for a woman- even a Victoria's Secret model- to destroy her looks is to cut her long hair short.

There could be no more conclusive demonstration of this than looking at before-and-after pictures of a current VS Angel- namely, one Taylor Hill.

This is what she looks like with long hair:

Gentlemen, be honest: WYB?

Actually, that's not even a very good picture. Try this one instead:
DEFINITE yes. America- PHUCK YEAH!!!
Aaaaaaand now look at her with short hair:

If your first thought was, "Who the hell replaced that gorgeous model with the awesome tits with a washed-out heroin addict", well, be assured that this is exactly what I thought too.

Now apparently there is some question as to whether she really cut her hair; as the Daily Mail (irrelevantly) points out, back when Karlie Kloss cut her hair two days before some big fashion show, the powers-that-be tarted her up with some ridiculously expensive hair extensions and then booted her onto the catwalk.

I, too, fail to see the problem with that decision.

The question of whether Ms. Hill actually cut her hair or not is, of course, irrelevant to the topic at hand. All that matters is what she looked like before she "cut her hair", and what she looked like after.

It comes as no surprise that she looked way better before than after.

As I and virtually every other alt-Right writer will tell any woman with sense enough to listen, a woman's value resides primarily in her youth, and her beauty.

If you're a woman and you don't like it, too bad. You don't have to like reality- you just have to accept that it can, and absolutely will, kick you upside the arse if you disrespect it.

And one of the fastest ways for a woman to destroy her beauty is to destroy her hair.

A woman's hair is one of the most obvious and visual aspects of her beauty. Take a look at Holly Holm, for instance. She is a genuine badass, one of the very few women ANYWHERE that I genuinely think has even the smallest chance of taking on a man in her profession and winning.

Ms. Holm is not exactly what you would call a stunner, even with great lighting and makeup. But her hair is amazing.

That hair of hers adds, in my opinion, a full two points to her looks.

And that is the reality that any pretty woman- never mind models, just any pretty woman- who wants to cut her hair, needs to understand. If you insist on looking like a boy with boobs- aw, gross, excuse me while I puke my guts out here for a moment- then, by all means, cut your hair; we guys will simply ignore you while we chat up your hot friend who wasn't a colossal dumbass and didn't take a pair of garden shears to her hair.

The 10 Ebonics Commandments

Classic. (I modified the First Commandment slightly. Just seemed appropriate.)
  1. I Be the LAWD yo' God. Don’ be dissin’ Me.
  2. Don’ be makin’ hood ornaments outta Me or nothin’ in Mah crib.
  3. Don’ be callin’ Me fo’ no reason – Homey don’ play dat.
  4. Y’all betta be in church on Sundee.
  5. Don’ dis ya mama … an if ya know who ya daddy is, don’ dis him neither.
  6. Don’ ice a nizzle.
  7. Stick to ya own boo.
  8. Don’ be liftin’ no goods.
  9. Don’ be frontin’ like you all dat an’ no snitchin’ on ya homies.
  10. Don’ be eyein’ ya homie’s crib, ride, or nuffin’.
If you are black, and you read that, and you are deeply offended... ask yourself first and foremost why these exist in the first place. And be angry at that, instead of people like me.

If, on the other hand, you're like pretty much everyone else who reads this pokey little blog of mine, you're probably trying to stop your sides from splitting.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

HALO became "safe", that's what

A fellow HALO maniac asks the question that is on the minds of a great many fans of the series these days:

The full video raises a number of interesting points about what I consider, still, to be simply the greatest franchise in the history of gaming.

Yes, I know, that statement will piss off a LOT of people- as will my equally outrageous claim that HALO 3 is, quite simply, the greatest FPS game ever made. (Play through the entire level, "The Covenant", and then tell me you think differently. It's OK, I'll wait. I've got some HALO 5 ass-kicking to do in the meantime.) And if you'd asked a younger version of me- say, back in my early- to mid-twenties- what the greatest gaming franchise ever was, I would immediately say that it was either the Mario Bros. or Zelda series.

But I haven't played a new Mario or Zelda game in... I'm actually embarrassed to admit how long it has been. HALO, on the other hand, has been a nearly daily part of my life since I first got myself an Xbox 360 back in 2009 and started blasting through all of the original games.

I have to admit that I STANK at it back then.

I couldn't even play all the way through HALO: Combat Evolved on Normal difficulty. I got frustrated with the repetitive levels and enemies, the goddamn Jackals with overcharged plasma pistols, the electric-sliding Elites who just dodged every single freakin' grenade, the Hunters who could kill you with a single swing- and, of course, the Flood, who freaked me the hell out the first time I played them.

I was so bad at it, in fact, that I stopped playing the game like 2/3 of the way through and shelved it in disgust. I didn't go back to playing HALO until about 8 months later, when, in a fit of boredom, I finally decided to give it another shot on the easiest possible difficulty setting. (Yeah, I know. What a n00b.)

And I was hooked.

Suddenly, I saw what I'd been missing right there in front of me. The epic story; the incredible vistas and locations; the hugely impressive enemy AI designs; the furious, heart-pounding battles that tested mind and nerve to the limit; the magnificent carnage wrought by rampaging through levels using a Scorpion tank- I saw it ALL. And I've been a raving fanboy ever since.

I saw HALO for what it truly was: the genre-defining landmark of virtual combat that basically every single FPS game since has tried, and mostly failed, to usurp. And I have played several of the more successful variants of those games; not one of them has ever come close to matching the joy and thrill of playing the HALO games, from first to last.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, for instance, was just... well, boring, quite frankly. I didn't see the point of it.

The very first Crysis game was, in my opinion, lousy; I found it more or less unplayable due to vehicle controls that just didn't make any damn sense. Crysis 2 was a giant leap forward and, in my opinion, remains the high point of that particular franchise; it is the only FPS game that I've ever played that I honestly believe can compete with HALO 3's status as the greatest FPS ever. But Crysis 3, while still being an outstanding game, was somehow not quite on par with its predecessor, and kind of took the franchise back a step in some ways.

As for Destiny... I think I've played it for maybe 15 hours in total since I bought it last year. I still haven't bothered with any of the latest DLC, because I just don't see the point. As a shooter game, I give it maybe a 7/10. The back-story makes no sense to me, and the campaign- such as it is- seems completely directionless. Bungie and Activision made Destiny almost too open, because they wanted to make it a vast MMORPG-FPS hybrid- but then they removed a lot of the social features that make MMOs so addictive. As a result, it simply doesn't know what it is.

These days, a weekend just isn't complete without at least an hour spent playing through one of the many HALO campaign levels on a minimum difficulty setting of "Heroic". ("Normal" is just too easy nowadays.) NOTHING says "PHUCK YOU!" quite like pulling off an epic headshot with a Battle Rifle or DMR while jumping through the air on one of those goddamn Elite Zealots, while tossing grenades into a pack of Grunts, on a cool and quiet Saturday morning.

So... what did happen to the HALO franchise? Why is it that the greatest and most respected FPS game of all time is increasingly looking almost like a lazy derivative of the very genre that it so completely changed in so many ways?

There are several answers to this question, many of which are referenced in the video above.

The first and most important reason is that the core focuses of the franchise have changed. With the original Bungie games, the focus was on gameplay, story, character- in that order, descending. Multiplayer was almost secondary to the core features of the single-player campaign, which is why the campaign modes of every original HALO game are so amazing to play. Multiplayer is great too, no doubt- I wouldn't know, I've never been a multiplayer gamer- but it was almost a secondary consideration in the eyes of the developers.

But with HALO 4 and HALO 5: Guardians, the focuses shifted in subtle but critical ways.

With both of those games, the order of importance was changed. With those games, the order became: story, character, gameplay. And that has had a profound effect on the way that the franchise itself has evolved.

HALO 4 was, I will admit, a difficult game to love. When I first played it, I found the story impossible to follow. That was because 343 Industries made a deliberate, and risky, decision to remove the self-contained nature of the storylines of previous games and turn the story into a more expansive- and therefore lucrative- universe that could only be fully understood and appreciated by buying a lot of extraneous books, comics, and portable mini-games. All of which, of course, translated to MOAR MOOLAH going to Microsoft.

But HALO 4 won me over eventually, because of the fact that the core mechanics of the gameplay hadn't changed. The focus was still on giving players intense, hair-raising, challenging, and incredibly memorable battles against tough, determined, and disciplined enemies. I love the Scorpion rampage in the latter third of the mission "Infinity", or the storming of Ivanoff Station in the mission "Composer". And the final fight against the Didact (hey, that's me! Or I should say, the Ur-Didact, technically speaking...) has a sense of desperate urgency about it that is unique to this game; nothing else in any other game in the franchise matches it.

With HALO 4, though, we can see that in retrospect a lot of the problems that the franchise now has to overcome were rooted in the decisions taken with that game. And we begin to see the pattern that 343i will either follow for all future games of the series under their aegis, or will have to break away from in order to restore HALO to its top-tier glory.

The basic pattern that is detectable these days is that the franchise is now ruled by managers, not innovators.

Think about this carefully, and you will see how this is so. Innovators are interested in taking big risks with big potential payoffs- which is what Bungie did, repeatedly, with the HALO franchise. The original HALO: Combat Evolved was actually supposed to be a third-person Mac-based shooter. (Seriously.) Then it was changed into a console-based FPS, and, well, the rest is history. (Speculation that Steve Jobs actually died from being poisoned through choking on his own rage-induced bile after letting HALO get away like that remains, at this point, unconfirmed.)

They did it again when they created a split campaign in HALO 2 with permitting dual-wielding and setting the Arbiter as a deuteragonist. (Terrible decision, by the way.) And then again, in HALO 3, by removing Cortana as a direct presence in the story. And yet again, with HALO 3: ODST by changing the focus completely from the legendary Master Chief to some nameless grunt on the ground working his way through a non-linear detective story. And once again with HALO: Reach, their swansong, by putting the focus on a nameless SPARTAN whose heroic efforts end in death but still leave the player with a feeling of accomplishing something great.

But managers are interested only in taking the safe course, in not rocking the boat, in making sure that their quarterly profits are in line with expectations.

Compare those huge gambles, and huge payoffs, that Bungie made back in the day, with the way that Microsoft has changed the formula of HALO.

By switching from a largely self-contained, easy-to-follow story of the original franchise with the more immersive (and expensive) broader universe of the current games, Microsoft basically went the way of Mass Effect.

By implementing Aiming-Down-Sights (ADS) using the left trigger, and completely throwing out what I felt to be one of the best things about HALO 4's aiming mechanism, whereby you could depress a thumbstick and stay zoomed in until you chose to do otherwise, Microsoft basically copied the Call of Battlefield Honor Killzone Far Crysis franchise.

By switching the focus to insanely awesome multiplayer- and everything that I have seen about both HALO 4 and HALO 5: Guardians indicates that most fans LOVE the multiplayer setups- Microsoft basically went a long way towards imitating the Call of Duty franchise in particular, where single-player mode is actually much of a muchness and everyone only ever cares about blowing shit up but good in epic multiplayer slayer deathmatches.

By adding a team-based AI dynamic into the game for HALO 5: Guardians, Microsoft basically ripped off one of the most criminally underrated and brilliantly executed FPS games ever made, but in so doing also dialed the difficulty level way down even on the harder settings. Somehow, playing through H5 on "Heroic" just isn't nearly as challenging as playing through H3 on the same setting.

And by expanding the games from just console-based FPS to a possible MMO, a sequel to everyone's least favourite RTS version of the game, not one but two tabletop games, and at least two separate mobile-geared games, Microsoft is basically milking the franchise for every last drop that it can squeeze out- and in so doing, is essentially reducing the HALO franchise, once the most respected in all of gaming, into basically a more teenage-friendly version of whatever the hell it is that Nintendo is doing these days.

You'll notice, by the way, a pattern here. Most of the blame for the decline in the HALO franchise's relative importance is being put squarely on Microsoft, not on 343 Industries. That is deliberate on my part.

As far as I can tell, 343i is doing their absolute best to carry the (crushing) burden of fan expectations on their backs. They're doing their level best to make games that are both great fun to play and true to the spirit of the original franchise. They are headed by someone who is practically marinated in HALO lore- hell, he wrote quite a lot of it. And I have to say, on balance, I actually think that 343i has done a tremendous job of carrying that incredibly important torch.

I think that Microsoft, on the other hand, has done what any typical giant corporation run by managers instead of innovators would do: it's done its level best to strangle the heart and soul of the franchise and turn it into a reliable, but boring, cash cow.

Don't get me wrong, I still LOVE playing HALO. I just finished playing through the last Spartan Ops mission today (for like the fifth time) and will probably start playing HALO 5: Guardians, yet again, just for kicks. The franchise is alive and kicking, and every time I play it, I experience something new and amazing. I get a thrill and a buzz from playing HALO that no other game can match.

But there is no question in my mind, and in the minds of many other fans, that HALO 5: Guardians was not the game that it should have been. The franchise has gone from being one of the most consistent and bold innovators in the FPS genre, to being an imitator of the very franchises that used to imitate HALO itself.

That is never a recipe for future success. What is needed now is for 343i to take some serious, bold, and scary risks with the next game.

In my view, that means restoring the focus on gameplay rather than story, and restoring the MASTER GODDAMN CHIEF to his rightful place as the central focus of the storyline. It means DITCHING all of these stupid, useless, pointless affirmative action characters like Olympia Vail and Holly Tanaka. (But please, please, please keep Eddie Buck. He's a BADASS.) It means focusing on the fight against galaxy-spanning evil empires and existential threats to humanity, not some AI-gone-bonkers who goes on a mad power trip.

It means restoring split-screen co-op play. Come on, man, we have the technology with modern networks. If that means downgrading the resolution from 60fps to something just a little bit lower, fine- the loss of fidelity is more than made up for by allowing people to play the campaign and multiplayer modes alongside the people that they love.

And above all, it means putting the focus back on crafting the greatest single-player FPS gaming experiences ever made. That is what the HALO franchise is about, and that is what I want to see in HALO 6.

I will still buy HALO games no matter what. I am one of those hardcore fans who will never abandon the franchise- well, unless Microsoft does something galactically stupid, like turning Cortana into a transgender AI, or turning Master Chief into an emasculated girl. (Which, I am very sorry to say, are distinct possibilities in the current environment.) I am, in fact, the very kind of fan that Microsoft can always rely on.

But people like me are not going to sustain and expand the HALO empire. We are hardcore gamers. We love this shit. We spend ridiculous amounts of our free time on these games that we could otherwise spend on things like... oh, I dunno, girls, friends, or shooting actual targets at the gun range.

The people who are going to build and expand upon the HALO franchise are in fact casual gamers who will be hooked by the ability to play a great, immersive game with their friends.

And those are the exact same people that Microsoft has insisted on alienating. All in the name of making the HALO franchise "safe".

If they carry on much farther in this vein, HALO will become like Windows: boring, buggy, sold to the lowest common denominator, slow, bloated, and frankly stupid compared to the alternatives.

And I never, ever want to see that happen to the games that I love.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Hail to the Queen

Now THAT is how you make a grand entrance:

America- PHUCK YEAH!!!

Try watching that before you're setting up for your next bench press set, like I was today. I had to take a moment to gather myself, I was laughing so hard.

Look, I know that Milo is a flaming sodomite. I do not approve of his homosexuality, not even slightly. But I also know that he is a tremendous asset in our ongoing war to save what is left of Western civilisation. As far as I am concerned, that makes him not merely an ally, but a friend. And friends are precious; they are worth defending.

What was done to him at DePaul University was absolutely unforgivable. The crybullies of the #BlackLivesMatter movement stormed the stage and proceeded to make complete asses out of themselves. Security that Breitbart News hired for the event failed to do their damn JOB and refused to step in and stop the madness. I'm just glad for Milo's sake- and, of course, for the sake of his impressively elaborate hairdo- that it didn't get too much more physical.

Although, let's face facts- Milo might very well be the Queen of England, but he could still beat the crap out of any of those idiots if they tried to take a swing at him:

"I've got a 9-3 elbow with your name carved on the end of it right here, honey"
Milo is doing all of us alt-Right types a tremendous service by getting out there, spreading the word, and- in his own inimitable way- refusing to back down before the petty little thought-tyrants of the fascist Left. For that, he deserves our thanks, and our support.

Between him, the Trumpinator, Roosh, and Mike Cernovich, we haven't had this effective a hit squd of badass, take-no-prisoners truth-tellers since... well, at least the time of Ronald Reagan. Coming from me, praise doesn't get much higher than that.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Translation needed

Does anyone know how to say, "from my cold dead hands!" in Hawaiian?
Hawaii state senator Will Espero (D-19) is pushing a gun owner database that the state will share with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 
The database will “automatically notify police if an island resident is arrested anywhere else in the country.” 
According to the AP, there are extant state databases that are FBI-accessible and which alert police when “school teachers and bus drivers” are arrested. But the inclusion of gun owners would be a first for any state. 
Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence staff attorney Allison Anderman praised Espero’s bill, suggesting it “would make Hawaii a leader in safe gun laws.” But Kenneth Lawson–a professor at the University of Hawaii’s William S. Richardson School of Law–suggested the very existence of such database could be a step onto unconstitutional ground. 
Lawson said Espero’s bill “[curtails a constitutional] right by requiring a name to be entered into a database without someone doing anything wrong.”
Precisely which part of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America is so hard for these numpties to understand??? I mean, this is literally all that this specific Amendment says:
A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.
That is all it says. The only thing that I find even mildly questionable about that entire sentence is the word count; it's either 23 words if you count "well-regulated" as one word, or 24 if you count it as two.

The natural counterargument used by nanny-statist ninnies like State Sen. Espero is that they're not "infringing" upon your right to arm bears buy and keep and use guns. Their smarmy argument is that, if you don't plan to use your weapons for anything illegal, you have nothing to worry about.

Of course you can use your rifles and handguns for hunting, or sport shooting, or competitions, or whatever else floats your boat. Of course you can enjoy your right to keep and bear arms. Of course there is no imposition upon your right to defend yourselves, and your loved ones...

... Until one of you is actually forced to use your weapon for defensive purposes against someone intent upon doing great harm to you, your family, your friends, your tribe, or your home.

And then you'll see just how quickly the supposedly "benign" law demanding that you register your weapons, is turned against you.

The reality is that this new law, like almost all other laws passed by governments that seek to limit or inhibit your ancient and God-given right to keep and bear arms, is designed to intimidate you into not spending your hard-earned money on the tools that you need in order to protect yourself.

I was in Hawaii about five years back for a wedding. I remember it being a rather nice, if somewhat humid, place- with a very liberal population. But then, when you're parked on a bunch of islands that basically amount to a tropical paradise in the middle of freakin' nowhere, where the combined welfare spending from both Federal and State government largesse makes it easier to sit on your ass than work, and there are eleven military bases scattered around the islands themselves to protect the population, well, it shouldn't be surprising that you'll end up seeing a LOT of liberal douchebags.

But not all of the liberal nonsense in the world can change the fact that guns are, and always will be, the fastest and easiest way to ensure that you respect your neighbours, and they respect you. They are tools, nothing more; in skilled and experienced hands, a gun is no more inherently dangerous than a power tool.

Those who would argue with me on that front should remember what happens when you hand a child a chainsaw. It is the same with guns- hand any untrained doofus an AR-15, and you shouldn't be surprised if he ends up blowing holes in everything around him. But, if you hand an AR-15 to an upstanding citizen who knows what it is, and respects it for that, you will have a polite, well-armed, genial, and generally decent human being wielding a tool only when it is safe to do so.

And that is the reality that these overreaching meddlers keep forgetting. Even curmudgeonly misanthropes like me understand what they do not: the average person, fat and stupid and useless though he might be, is still far more trustworthy and far less dangerous than the average liberal politician.

Every liberal politician needs to be reminded of that fact from time to time. I can think of no better way to do so than to legally buy a gun, learn how to use it, and keep it well cleaned and carefully maintained in preparation for the day that I hope never comes- the day that you actually have to use it in anger.

After all, unlike that stupid Federal database that the Hawaiians are thinking about imposing on themselves, that gun will actually do its damn job and protect you, the way it was meant to.

Monday, 23 May 2016

RIP Nick Menza

Damn. I did NOT expect to wake up yesterday and read this headline:
Menza was performing with the band OHM at the Baked Potato in Studio City, CA when he reportedly collapsed from a heart attack. [...]
Mustaine wrote on Twitter: “TELL ME THIS ISN'T TRUE! I woke at 4 AM to hear Nick Menza passed away on 5/21 playing his drums w/Ohm at the Baked Potato. I’m gutted.”
I remember the day I first listened to Rust In Peace all the way through almost like it was yesterday. I was in college at the time. At that point, the album was well over a decade old- and yet, despite the fact that many younger and far more aggressive bands had come along, nothing I had heard before, or have heard since, topped its high-octane combination of speed, aggression, virtuosity, and acutely topical lyrics.

In many ways, that album was the pinnacle of technical melodic thrash metal. The only album that I think surpasses it is another MEGADETH album- Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?. And, not coincidentally, the only MEGADETH drummer that I think surpasses Nick Menza is also dead- Gar Samuelson, one of the finest drummers who ever lived.

Nor is it a coincidence that the reason both of these drummers were so great is that they didn't start out in metal. Gar Samuelson started out as a jazz drummer, and you can hear those jazz sensibilities all over the first two MEGADETH albums.

As for Nick Menza, well, he was a student of the late, legendary Buddy Rich. (When Neil freakin' Peart calls someone the greatest drummer of all time, as he does call Buddy Rich, you know he really is the best.) His drumming style reflected that heritage- it wasn't just pure speed and power; there was a level of complexity and subtlety to it that made listening to those "middle-years" MEGADETH albums a real pleasure, even when they weren't very good. (I'm lookin' at you, Cryptic Writings...)

In memory of a fallen legend, then, raise your horns, my friends, and let us relive some truly classic thrashterpieces:

Sunday, 22 May 2016


Commenter Kapios sent over some (as it turns out, old) news that is actually some of the best I've seen in months:

Unfortunately, the news that Clarkson, Hammond, and May are all going to be on Amazon Prime from now on did not go down well with everyone. It appears that a certain Adolf Hitler was particularly pissed about it:

I normally disagree with Adolf Hitler on everything, including the words "the" and "and". But in this one case, I have to admit, he does have a point.

On the other hand, Amazon Prime costs just $99 a year. And for that, you can watch pretty much whatever the hell you want. Given that I've already spent at least that much on various movies thus far this year, I'd say that's a great bargain.

Also... there will come a day when those Downfall parodies will stop being funny. This is still not that day.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

In the words of the Prophet Ringo...

Back in 2009, a certain madcap genius wrote and published a certain book which, if you read it today, makes it seem like the author had one hell of a powerful crystal ball sitting in his living room.

The funny thing is, when I first read the book, I have to admit that I didn't actually think all that much of it. I found the narrative style very disjointed; John Ringo wrote it very much "blog-style", so the story jumped all over the place and embraced many different ideas at a truly bewildering pace. The combat sequences were hard to understand because of the way he was writing them- short on details but very long on action. And it was obvious that there was a clear political axe to grind.

Of course, back then, I was somewhat less... grumpy than I am right now. And since that time, I have read and re-read this one book so many times that I think the only book I've ever re-read more is probably Starship Troopers.

As it turns out, The Last Centurion is packed with wisdom and John Ringo's signature batshit-insane sense of humour. It is, quite simply, a phenomenal book.

However, in this particular election cycle, its real value lies in its incredible predictive power.

Remember that, back when John Ringo wrote this book, the country was in the grips of a massive economic depression- I lived through those days watching the markets move down, down, and down some more as Barack Obama's dope-and-change shtick really started to kick in. Those were dark, terrible days- not that these are necessarily any better, mind you- and it was amid that atmosphere that Mr. Ringo crafted one of his finest ever standalone novels.

Reading it today, though, you have to wonder why the hell he didn't simply quit writing and start up his own hedge fund. He'd have made a goddamn killing.

In the book, Mr. Ringo writes about:
  • How a lethal global pandemic devastates America and the rest of the world in the space of just a few months, thanks in no small part to the Chinese;
  • How the corrupt, venal, narcissistic, feminist lawyercunt First Female President- hello, Hilldebeast!- leads the entire country straight into the very lungs of Hell;
  • How the entire Anthropogenic Global Warming scam finally falls apart after it becomes clear that the Sun's activity is dropping off in a big way;
  • How the relentless drumbeat of multi-culti diversity and moral relativism very nearly completely destroy the fabric of American society;
  • And how, in the end, America's core values and ideas still shine through, and still manage to pull the country and the world out of the abyss
Look back upon what he wrote and you will realise that he was absolutely right in almost every single department.

Have you noticed, for instance, that the weather has been really screwy this year? Ever wondered why that is? Hint: your SUV is not responsible for the weather, for murdering polar bears, or for shrinking polar ice caps. In reality, we are still in the middle of a major downturn in Solar activity, that is causing weather and climate to go out of whack all over the world.

Did you see how Europe is now collapsing under the weight of unchecked immigration and multicultural insanity? Did you notice how that same insanity has made its way to the US of A, where the very concept of the "United States" of America is now nothing more than a pleasant and bygone fiction?

Oh, and while we're at it- seems as though a certain Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was directly, deliberately, and thoroughly caricatured in the book, has somehow managed to achieve the impossible and made the fictional President Warrick look like a moderate.

Seriously. How abominable a Presidential candidate do you have to be in order to make the Bitch look sane by comparison?!?

This book is packed with an incredible number of ideas, and it's simply not possible to go into each and every one. Nor is this meant to be a book review; I simply wished to point out how closely and strangely life follows fiction sometimes. But the most important and critical point that the book makes is really about trust.

The basic idea of societal trust is something that I've discussed before here, and I got many if not most of my ideas on the subject from this book. (Yes, that's right- John Ringo is indirectly responsible for these rants. One might think he has a lot to answer for, eh?) The concept of social trust is paradoxically very hard to explain, yet extremely easy to understand. Essentially, we trust those who look, act, and think like us; we distrust those who are "different" from us.

You see instantly just how different a high-trust society is from a low-trust one the moment you take a trip down to, oh, say, Plano, TX and compare it with, say, Manhattan, NY. Certainly there is a far greater amount of diversity in the latter locale; but you'll quickly realise that nobody here actually likes anyone else. And that is because there is nothing particularly common binding people together in big multicultural cities.

Societal trust has declined at an astonishing rate, from what I can see, in the ten years or so that I have lived in this country. The problem is getting worse every single day, and it will take wrenching changes to the entirety of American society to reverse that problem- along the lines of forced mass expulsions of immigrants and refugees from just about every corner of the country.

This is not a pleasant thing to anticipate. As the book points out, blind adherence to the false gospels of Diversity and Multiculturalism will inevitably lead to fratricide and war- and that is precisely the spectre we are faced with today. The Red Horseman of War is already riding across the lands of the West; we can only hope and pray to the Lord that His mercy will allow the USA to avoid the near-apocalyptic scenarios depicted in the book.

But I wouldn't bet on it. John Ringo got so much right in that book that I've got an eerie feeling that, if by some unholy mistake, the Hilldebeast wins the election in November, 2019, and not 2030, will mark the end of these United States as we know them.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

It's not a question of "if"...

Gentlemen, suppose for a moment that we were all transported to a parallel dimension, where normal and sensible things did not happen very often. Suppose that, in such a universe, a certain (overhyped) MMA fighter named Ronda Rousey were taken seriously in her claims that she would be ready to take on any opponent, whether male or female. And suppose that, because she is taken seriously in such a world, she actually did get a fight, whether an exhibition match or otherwise, with a male fighter of approximately the same size and weight.

What do you suppose the outcome would be?

Since we are talking about a parallel dimension where normal things don't happen often, it's just maybe possible that she would win. But back in the REAL world, the one that you and I actually live in, the question would not be "if" Ms. Rousey would lose; the question would be, "how badly?".

To help us answer that, let us take a look at a past example of what happened when the greatest female fighter in her sport, of any age, was pitted against an up-and-coming male fighter of her same weight class in an exhibition fight:

Let me be very clear about one thing: I have nothing but respect and admiration for Lucia Rijker. She was, and remains, a legend in both boxing and kickboxing. Her professional record is incredible- 17-0-0 in boxing, 37-0-1 in kickboxing. And she still hasn't retired as a boxer- though apparently the only fight that she will ever consider as a boxer is against Laila Ali, who is retired.

Compare her record to Holly Holm, the only other female professional fighter that I think comes anywhere close to that level of dominance and skill. Ms. Holm, brilliant and talented and hard-working fighter that she is, has a boxing record of 38-2-3, a kickboxing record of 3-1-0, and an MMA record of 10-1-0. (I'm still pissed about her loss to Miesha Tate. I really wanted her to defend that title. Oh well. Them's the breaks, I guess.)

Basically, pretty much no other female fighter comes anywhere close to Ms. Rijker's level of skill and technical proficiency. She was, and is, a BADASS.

And in spite of that, in spite of all of her abilities and power and speed, she STILL got KTFO by a man.

A similar outcome is to be expected whenever a woman attempts to compete physically with a man. The plain fact is that, simply by virtue of our musculature and upper body strength, the average man will always be stronger than the average woman. That's just basic physiology, and no amount of feminist stupidity can change it.

And that's just the average man. As the video above points out, even though Ms. Rijker and her opponent were roughly the same size, Somchai Jaidee had approximately 20% more lean muscle mass- and therefore was faster, stronger, and more easily able to withstand the extremely physical nature of the match.

You can see what happens in the video itself. Ms. Rijker, despite her clearly impressive technical skills as a stand-up striker, simply cannot handle the much faster and more powerful blows of her male opponent. And the result is just as inevitable: one solid punch lands squarely and it's lights out.

Let no one be deceived by the hype surrounding female fighters. They are fast, strong, fit, and talented, to be sure- no one who has ever seen Holly Holm fight, for instance, would ever be stupid enough to think that she isn't an exceptionally strong and dangerous woman. The same can be said to an even greater degree of Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino- although in her case, she walks around at roughly 170lbs and sounds like a dude, thanks to all those steroids.

But against a similarly sized, trained and skilled male opponent, they wouldn't just be hurt. They would be DESTROYED.

One of the best things that could possibly have resulted from Ms. Rousey's epic, tooth-shattering loss to Holly Holm was the utter destruction of the hype machine that surrounded her. It will be some time yet before anyone is stupid enough to argue that the top female UFC fighters could take on their male counterparts and win. And that is very much to the good.

It is high time that common sense, and common decency, prevailed over the hype and the hypocrisy of modern combat sports. I, for one, am most grateful for the fact that our civilisation has not yet devolved to the point where women aren't just being encouraged to fight men in cage matches, but are actually doing it. This hasn't happened yet; pray God that it never does.