Wednesday 20 August 2014

Star Wars, A New Hope

The imminence of new Star Wars is a mixed bag. I'm glad The Mouse is in the house. I'm pretty happy Buy n' Large (did you see Wall-E?) with the way that happy-go-lucky rodent operates.

I mean, I am not down with the absence of mixed race couples among the older stable of characters. I mean, the mice stay together, and the ducks stay together, and Goofy and Pluto are both dogs, but one wears clothes.

Is that super awkward when Goofy goes over to Mickey's for dinner?

I was talking about Star Wars. There're new ones on the way. The bag is mixed. That's where we were at.

The bit that makes it less so good is that I was there in '99. A lot of us were.

In my more formative years I was a lot-a-bit unstable for Star Wars. The original trilogy. That was the only one we had. Then they broke that.

George came in and was all like, 'These are my toys and I have decided to destroy them.'

If you really got into The Phantom Menace, and it is your favourite of The Wars, then you can take it and every copy of Batman & Robin and I can bury you alive.

BYO shovel.

It hasn't been all bad since the 1983 release of Care Bears versus Space Nazis. The first Dark Forces computer game was great, and came out during a long forgotten time when not everything in the Star Wars universe was made of light-sabres. Shadows of the Empire (only the novel) was a really good character based story set between Empire and Return.

And then there are these two videos by Belated Media.

I know that very strictly speaking this stuff isn't at all any sort of official canon. It's all just the ravings of a yet another YouTube lunatic who says things like 'salmon-box' to describe a scenario in which you are forced to work within the confines of a metaphorical box (predefined criteria) during a task that already feels like you are swimming upstream (like a salmon is prone to do).

These ravings though, are sweet.

When it comes to expanded universes, fan fiction, and other questions of canonicity I'm about as libertarian as I get. You can choose your own adventure. That's up to you.

For me, the Belated Prequel Trilogy is canon, and I am more excited about the arrival of episode III than I am about episode VII. They've restored a sort of positive feeling for the future of the franchise that is something that has only recently arrived in me. I'm sure there are words for that.

Thursday 14 August 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

Un amigo mío recently hypothesised that 'Guadians is definitely up [my] Straße', and he was right. I saw it, and it is deep within my Straße. It has taken up residence in a neat little half-timbered restoration that they got for a song. Well, songs.

When I say something like, 'Guardians of the Galaxy is pretty much exactly what I wanted it to be', I am telling you the truth.

I saw it, and it is.

It's part of that Marvel Cinematic Universe that's been going around, but it's not so much a superhero movie as it is space opera. It's got more in common with Star Wars, Firefly, and Flash Gordon than it does with The Avengers, Iron Man, or Green Lantern.

This, in and of itself, is a good way to win points with me. I'm down with the spandex, but you throw in the ray-guns, and I am yours.

I've expressed on occasion an appreciation for the space hero flavour of things (Panda and I both), but I don't want you to think that that is going to colour my opinion of this movie.

I don't stand up for any pan-galactic spandex-monkey. I'm a discerning space hero enthusiast. And this, my friends, is where it's at. Cosmically speaking.

The characters are adhesive. The kind of folks you're likely to carry around back there somewhere for long a time to come. They definitely shine through the spectacle, and there is a lot of spectacle to shine through.

You get the very real impression that self proclaimed outlaw of galactic renown, Peter Quill, is just an Earth boy doing the best he can in a big scary galaxy with a verbally abusive racoon and a verbally limited 'house plant'.

I'm not going to lie; I am likely to lead you astray if it suits me, and have done so in the past.

Actually, maybe I haven't. I'm not checking.

I've definitely mislead you to get your attention, but then I admit to it straight away.

Pretty much straight away.

Regardless: This is not one of those situations.

I like this movie a lot, and I've already started making arrangements to see it again, and I've been listening to the soundtrack since I got home the other night. On repeat.

Look, this film may not cuddle your happiness, and let it ride shotgun for some cosmic mayhem the way it did with me, but there is a very solid chance that you are going to enjoy this movie.

There's a good chance.

A very good chance.

Wednesday 13 August 2014

Do you need Mail Chimp?

I fell in love with Mail Chimp back in the '09. So many years ago now. It was a beautiful moment for me. It was one of those rare moments in life when you look deep into the eyes of a corporate mascot, and you realise that even deeper down inside yourself you are a sucker for a chimp with a little hat and satchel.

We've all been there.

Mail Chimp is pretty straight forward. It is everything that the name implies that it is.

Imagine, if you will, a digital chimp who lives not in the wild reaches of Africa, but dwells deep in the darkest heart of the internet. A digital chimp that delivers your e-mails for you. A chimp that also manages your mailing lists. A chimp that even alsoer helps you with your templates. A chimp that even alsoest does analytics for you that look super pretty.

Pretty standard chimp stuff really.

That's what it is. It does other stuff too, but it's this thing that I have described. In a hat and satchel.

Also, if you have 2000 subscribers, and are sending less than 12,000 e-mails a month, the chimp in the natty hat will do you for free. That's good for small businesses and people who are just starting out, and the prices stay pretty reasonable after that. He keeps costs down by only wearing a hat.

That IS pretty cool, but the thing I think I like most about Mail Chimp is that it will punish you if you are greedy, stupid, and have an actual human bum for a face. Mail Chimp is totally prejudice against bum-faces.

Let me explain.

There are lots of bad things that you can do that will pretty much ruin your correspondence, your mailing lists, and your relationship with your customers. What the chimp does is go, 'bad human!' and smacks you. He smacks you digitally. Then you learn not to do it again. If you are a bad learner he just refuses to deliver your mail for you.

This incredible chimp will settle so many arguments about things that should never be argued about in the first place.

Chimp knows best, and chimp says, 'No!'

End of chimp story.

He is kind of protecting you from yourself.

Like a chimp-run nanny-state.

The chimp will provide you with all of this information first if you want it. Which you should. He will teach you about mails and how they can best work for you, and he will make sure everything is awesome for you.

I enjoy the Mail Chimp so much that I often try to find excuses to use it, but usually fail at that and just convince other people to get into it. Then I 'provide support', and ask them to tell me what they're doing.

Step by step.

It isn't weird.

His name is Freddie.

Tuesday 12 August 2014

Train-Loads of Spandex

It may or may not surprise you to know that I spent a fair portion of this weekend cruising around the back end of Lego Batman 2: DC Heroes, and that my copy of the game not only has a Martian Manhunter that can turn invisible (as he should), but it also has fifteen brand new characters, and some alternate versions of existing characters.

They were just sitting back there. Completely unattended. They looked so lonely. You should've seen the looks on their little, digital, plastic faces. There are other things back there too. Other things that I am still in the process of fetching out.

There can never really be enough characters in a DC game. I mean, Scribblenauts Unmasked, with its 2000 some characters, might suggest a limit to that statement, but for the most part you can just sort of keep piling people in.

This sort of superhero clown-car approach is the scene these days. Everyone who has a roster to milk is growing extra hands to fully exploit the udder.

This exploitation is kind of at odds with the contents of these udders.

DC can see what Marvel is doing with The Avengers, and they want that too. They want you to buy all of their Justice Leagues, and they want you to buy them now. This is why they've decided on the express route, and they're not really winning hearts and minds.

The last three DC films have been terrible (Green Lantern), boring (The Dark Knight Rises), and among the most tedious cinematic experiences in recent history (Man of Steel). Even the animated DC udder to which I usually turn for sustenance at times like these has begun to sour.

This is DC's scene. This is what they do best. There has been a lot of trend whoring, and DC have gone to great lengths to reassure the public that they will do pretty much anything going. Villains become interchangeable, Green Arrow becomes Batman (Arrow), and Batman wears any dress that Warner Bros. thinks might appeal to the customer. Camp in the sixties, grit in the naughties, and nipples in the nineties.

It all just starts to become meaningless.

What I'm suggesting is a sort of franchise fatigue.

Look, I love the DC Universe, but I get more excited at the prospect of re-reading their encyclopaedia, than I do at the prospect of watching any of their new films.

The problem being that the DC Universe is a finely balanced cluster-fuck of nonsense in which awesome stories of diverse scope are told. There is a lot of room in there for a lot of different things. Imagine a giant train, but it's like that song.

It's a crazy train.

Then you start selling tickets to interplanetary holy wars, a racially diverse Atlantis, Egyptian god-kings who turn out to be alien police officers who are stranded on Earth in an endless cycle of reincarnation, other space police with magic rings that were susceptible to the colour yellow, mood based power rangers, heaps of orphans, so many orphans, like every second person, and a beret wearing gorilla who's in love with a villainous brain in a jar.

And that's just the first couple of rows. By the end of it there is an immense amount of incredibly wild shit going down in every carriage of the DC crazy train. But it's balanced. It all makes its own sort of sense.

I guess what I'm saying is that when you make a Batman movie, and you at some stage want it to be more than just a one horse show, you are going to need to make sure that the world your Batman lives in has room for everyone else on the train. Who are made of milk if we go back to what I was saying earlier.

I guess it's an udder train of sorts.

In the meantime, if you have Lego Batman 2, and you want more guys in your game, let me know.