Saturday, March 29, 2014

The year Twenty-Twelve was a good year for Roger Zelazny Haiku.

Continuing our look
back at haiku from before.
This was the first bunch:


In April, I will
post one Roger Zelazny
haiku every day.

Roadmarks was fun to
read. Want to know why? Timyin
Tin was fucking great!

(Also, he and Archie exchange haiku during their fight.)

Archie:

"It looks as if white
flowers fall upon my shroud.
Your hands are so pale."


Timyin Tin: 

"To leave the world in spring,
with flower guards to honor:
it must be peace."

Lord of Light haiku?
Just say Mahasamatman.
You're already done!

And thousandhp posted this in the comments section. It was much better than anything I wrote:

Kalkin's Chariot
Breaking Gods against its wheels;
Yama, reins in hand.


Hey, my copy of
Wilderness finally came.
Now to review it!

Typical Josh post:
"Merlin sucks. Blah blah blah blah."
Pretty much just that.

Naked Matador
Medusa meets Hemingway
How awesome is that?

The only way to
improve Godson was to make
it a musical.

Only Zelazny
says things like "Jacobian
Demigod". (Starships)

Jack of Shadows. Lord
of Shadow Guard. Walker in
silence and shadows .

Black, the demon horse
is neither demon, nor horse.
(It's complicated)

Kalifriki has
one too many syllables
for a good haiku.

I thought I was smart
to read just one chapter of
October per day.

(But I really wasn't. Turns out that's the way everybody reads it.)

I loved Donnerjack.
But nobody else did. It
was awesome. Le Sigh.

Note to Hugh Glass: Aim
more carefully. Also, you
should pick better friends.

Oddball immortals
and green-eyed gods. No one else
could write them better.

Francis Sandow. Host
to Shimbo of Darktree. Half
God, half scaredy cat.

Creatures of Light and
Darkness. Fathers who are sons.
(Set's his own grandpa)

Fred Cassidy. The
Eternal Undergrad. I
think each school has one.

No love for "To Die
in Italbar"? I like it
more than "Eye of Cat."

The world databank
in Legion would need a
zillion punch cards.

Mafia clones in
space. ("Today We Choose Faces")
Less cool than it sounds.

The Amber novels:
Sometimes sibling rivalry
just goes way too far.

Loki Seven Two
Eight One. Roger commits world's
first mechanicide.

Was Benedict as
good as they say? Corwin still
has all of his arms.

In Autumn's dark chill
In the Lonesome October
The Great Game is Held

A brotherhood of
gods. The Lokapalas are
never defeated.

Post-modern fable
of Kit, Mari, Fuji and
apotheosis.

To deliver him,
Dara was Oberon's tool.
Merlin's just a tool.

Green-eyed ubermench
sought for literate sci-fi.
Smokers only please.

Hey, I wrote thirty
haiku about Zelazny.
Only took a month!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

April is almost here, so here is last year's stuff, to tide you over.


Zelazny haiku,
year two! Even though last year's batch
wasn't that funny.

If you should find the
Buddha, kill the Buddha. No!
Not like that, Yama!

Fiona's head looks
really weird in this piece from
the visual guide.

Josh always runs out
of ideas for haiku
on about this date.

Teenage werewolf grows
hair where there was none before.
Some Fangs and claws, too.

Maxine meets Jenny.
"Chess?" "No. I'll waste you with my
machine guns instead."

Bright Defile is the
greatest name for a city.
I wish I lived there.

As much as I love
the book, "Lord of Light" seemed such
a poor name for it.

The doors of his mouth,
The lamps of his face, Moby
Dick set on Venus

Updated: 

The doors of his face
The lamps of his mouth! There, I
corrected it, Chris!

Time to revisit
my Eye of Cat review. Next
month works well, I think.

Roger created
Forever After, fun and
funny shared world book.

April Thirtieth
would be such a great day. If
Luke could pull it off.

Mighty Frost searches
for the measurements of the
nature of a Man.

Poet needed to
Repopulate Mars. Good work
if you can get it.

And now for something
completely different. Song
of the Blue Baboon.

Divine Madness. The
Music is Reversible.
Alas, time is not.

I'm such a big fan
of Amber that I married
a green-eyed woman.

Damnation Alley.
Good man falls. Bad man rises.
And they meet midway.

Charles Render, the
Dream Master, is really a
bit of an asshole.

Remember the time
the Great God Pan beat the crap
out of a robot?

By virtue of his
name, Marcel Marceau would fit
in with the Furies.

Gather 'round, children,
for Pol Detson's strum-a-long.
Get a job, hippie!


Cut your brain in half
so you'll kill the president.
It's the perfect crime.

Immortal hero
in a Zelazny story?
Obligatory.

Oberon looks like
he has to go poo. Maybe
some prune juice would help.

Syllable count in
Kjwalll'kje'k'koothai'lll'kje'k?
Damned if I know, man.

I don't care what Chris
Kovacs says! Jenny is way
better than Maxine!


Monday, March 17, 2014

Two more weeks...

April Approaches
Josh needs to think of thirty
Zelazny haiku

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sumdog Millionaire

Yeah, yeah, predictable title. I know.




Sumdog is a site Lily's school uses to practice math at school. With her login, she can use the site at home as well. By solving math problems, kids earn coins to spend on their avatars. Every so often, they go up a rank. Everyone starts as a brown rat, and they go up through the ranks, they level up to the next animal, going  through common chimpanzee to blue whale to dhole to harpy eagle, or however the progression goes.



That was my first surprise. Apparently the dhole is a real animal. It's some kind of wild dog from Asia. It's kind of cute.

Awwwww....Cute!

The only dhole with which I was familiar was the one from the Cthulhu Mythos, the miles-long nightmare worm monsters, which I had to admit, would have been an unusual choice for an intermediate rank in a children's math game.

Ahhh!!!...Not Cute!
It's nice. Lily enjoys math and she enjoys the games and dressing up her avatar. I'm surprised to see problems that amount to elementary algebra at her level.


Solve for paw

Overall, it's a decent tool for a parent, and I like to be able to track her progress.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What Josh Reads: Blogs, part two

Jane Lindskold: Jane Lindskold's fiction doesn't appeal to me. That's not a comment on the merit of her books, but rather an observation that her solo works hold no particular resonance for me. That's fine. Different strokes for different folks, and she's got plenty of other fans. Plus, she's got a lifetime supply of goodwill from me for completing Donnerjack, and for the work she has done in safeguarding Zelazny's legacy. Also, I really like her blog. It has a wonderful, conversational tone and some interesting insights into the life of a professional writer.

ken-jennings.com: Yup, Ken Jennings, the Jeopardy champ. He posts logic puzzles, updates about his books and has a very sly sense of humor.

Let the Weird Times Roll: My best friend's blog! Tim is New Hampshire's number one authority on Calvin and Hobbes (click here to hear him on the radio). Seldom updated since he drank the Twitter Kool-Aid and became unable to express himself in more than 140 characters, but always fun when he does.

Lurking Rhythmically: A peculiar but engaging mix of ponies, guns, the Traveller RPG and invocations against Strygalldwir, in about that order.

Neil Gaiman's Journal: This is Neil Gaiman's blog. If you're reading a blog dedicated to the works of Roger Zelazny, you know who Neil Gaiman is. I don't know how he has time to write between all the stuff he does.

News From ME: In my opinion, one of the very best blogs online about any subject. Mark Evanier has been working in the comic and animation industries for decades. He worked for Jack Kirby, worked at Hanna Barbara when they were producing their most memorable properties (like Scooby Doo). He collaborated with Sergio Aragon├ęs on Groo and he seems to have known everyone in the industry, because whenever a famous person passes away, he's right there with a loving and respectful anecdote. He's absurdly prolific and I don't know how he gets any work done in the real world, because the blog usually has five or six posts during the day.

Oakheart at LizDanforth.com: I can't remember how I started following this blog. Though she's best known as an artist, she's also worked as a writer for video games and tabletop RPGs. She's working on Wasteland 2 (and had been one of the forces behind the original). Though the blog is infrequently updated, it's worth reading, as she's got a lot of experience in all manner of fun, geeky things.

Reversing the Polarity: This is my friend Jen's blog. Though she's profoundly wrong about which Doctor was the best, her episode recaps are certainly worth reading. (She started at Hartnell and is working her way through at about a post a week.) She also posts about baking, photography and vandalizing Edgar Allen Poe's grave.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Some thoughts on Game of Thrones



I can't remember why I picked up Game of Thrones. It was in 2007, well before the TV show would become a phenomenon. I knew Martin's work from his Wild Cards series, which was okay, but which only caught my interest because Roger Zelazny had contributed a couple stories to it.

In general, I don't like fantasy books, because most of them are pretty awful. That's true of everything, Sturgeon's law, et cetera et cetera, but fantasy comes in so many variations of awful, with the Tolkien pastiches, the Conan ripoffs and the gaming fiction. I can't remember what would have moved me to pick up this fantasy series of which I knew nothing.

Now, I've read all the books and caught up with the show. I live next door to a Game of Thrones superfan. (Hi, Nicole!) I'm listening to the first book again. It's interesting coming back to it, now that I have a different perspective.

If I may digress for a moment, something that I tend not to like in my fiction is when the characters are handed unearned victories. A couple years back, Emma Coats, a story artist at Pixar, tweeted a series of loose guidelines she had picked up from her more senior colleagues. They're all pretty great, and the entire list forms the centerpiece of another post I'm writing, but the one that sticks with me is:

Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

Too often, writers are so in love with their characters that they have the characters succeed through outrageous coincidence, (Oh, you can't paralyze me through that pressure point at the base of my spine! I'm immune, because of a hitherto unrevealed war injury!) or profound incompetence of the part of the villains.

I thought I was going to hate Game of Thrones, because, near the end of the first book, Ned was bungling his investigation badly, and I figured that he'd succeed anyway. Either he'd goad Cersei into a "Yes, I did it and I'd do it again!" confession in front of Robert, or he'd unearth some flimsy evidence that would be treated as incontrovertible proof.

But he didn't. I don't want to say that he deserved his fate, because that implies a value judgment, but it certainly seems like a probable consequence of the way he went about his investigation.

I never liked Ned much anyway. His "honor" always struck me as a pose. Honor is like a nickname. It has to be bestowed on you. You can't tell everyone that you're henceforth going to be called "Ace". You don't act in a particular way because you're an honorable person; you're called an honorable person because you act in a way that people deem honorable. It's a small distinction, but I think it's an important one. If you have to make a big deal and constantly puff and posture about it, well, then there is probably less there than meets the eye.

Personal honor is a good thing, but a good leader should never place his personal honor above the good of his people. Being responsible for any number of people means making compromises and acting in ways you may find distasteful. There's a line near the end of Avatar the last Airbender that always seemed to sum this up very well, when the pacifist main character is seeking advice about how to remove the threat represented by a tyrant: "Here is my wisdom for you: selfless duty calls for you to sacrifice your own spiritual needs, and do whatever it takes to protect the world."

Plus, his honor slips when it's convenient for him. (I'll just edit your last will and testament so it's a little more convenient for me, Robert. You don't mind, do you?) I assume he had to be in violation of his sacred oaths when he marched to overthrow Aerys. And anyone willing to throw the kingdom into a bloody civil war by backing Stannis, an able wartime commander, but the very definition of lawful evil alignment, is not a good man, full stop.

Farking Ned, man. Boromir should march on over and play hacky sack with your head.

The Losers are still losing, but Ned Stark is finally a head
Robb is similar. He's honorable, when it's convenient for him. He puts his own needs over those of his people, and it comes to bite him in the ass in the end.

(Every day on my way into work, I pass a sign for Frey smiles, and this is what I think of)




Edit. Can't believe I left this out. It's one of my favorite scenes.

"No. They hate you because you act like you’re better than they are. They look at you and see a castle-bred bastard who thinks he’s a lordling." The armorer leaned close. "you’re no lordling. Remember that. You’re a Snow, not a Stark. You’re a bastard and a bully."

"A bully?" Jon almost choked on the word. The accusation was so unjust it took his breath away. "They were the ones who came after me. Four of them."

"Four that you’ve humiliated in the yard. Four who are probably afraid of you. I’ve watched you fight. It’s not training with you. Put a good edge on your sword, and they’d be dead meat; you know it, I know it, they know it. You leave them nothing. You shame them. Does that make you proud?"

Jon hesitated. He did feel proud when he won. Why shouldn’t he? But the armorer was taking that away too, making it sound as if he were doing something wrong. “They’re all older than me,” he said defensively.

“Older and bigger and stronger, that’s the truth. I’ll wager your master-at-arms taught you how to fight bigger men at Winterfell, though. Who was he, some old knight?”

“Ser Rodrik Cassel,” Jon said warily. There was a trap here. He felt it closing around him.

Donal Noye leaned forward, into Jon’s face. “Now think on this, boy. None of these others have ever had a master-at-arms until Ser Alliser. Their fathers were farmers and wagonmen and poachers, smiths and miners and oars on a trading galley. What they know of fighting they learned between decks, in the alleys of Oldtown and Lannisport, in wayside brothels and taverns on the kingsroad. They may have clacked a few sticks together before they came here, but I promise you, not one in twenty was ever rich enough to own a real sword.” His look was grim. “So how do you like the taste of your victories now, Lord Snow?”

Part of the reason I fell out of love with Joss Whedon's writing is that his characters are kind to each other, but anywhere from dismissive to hostile to anyone outside their little clique. And if someone is nice to you, but "rude to the waiter", they are not a nice person. No one ever called them to account on their hypocrisy. Martin, partially through the virtue of the rotating POV manages to avoid the pitfall of protagonist centered morality, and the work is that much stronger because of it.

In the books, the Red Wedding was foreshadowed to a much greater extent than it was in the show. With the show, you can kind of see odd hints dropped here and there that something bad is on the horizon. With the book, it was like "How could you possibly miss this?!"

The series is extremely well put together, and it's the actors from the show I imagine when I read the books. Even the smallest roles range from professional to outstanding. Peter Dinklage, in particular, stands out. He gives consistently phenomenal performances. Likewise, Gwendoline Christie is superb. It had to be difficult to cast actors in those roles, which are in large part defined by the physical characteristics of the characters, but they nail it. They're as good as anyone and better than most on the show. Joffrey is also great. It can't be easy portraying such a loathsome character. 

I could watch this all day


Did I say everyone was great? There is one unfortunately exception. Emilia Clarke is terrible. She has the flat affect of the recently lobotomized, and her performance compares unfavorably to a block of wood. When she's upstaged by Khal Drogo, whose only instructions from the director were "Scowl harder!", there's a real problem. I grew to hate the character in the books. With Daenerys, it seems like Martin is guilty of what he so ably avoids with the rest of the characters. Her victories never seem earned. She's got one story arc, repeated about a dozen times, with Ser Jorah, Khal Drogo, Selmy Barristan and Daario. "Hi, Daenerys, I think you're so swell that I'm going to solve whatever problem you're facing right now and then dedicate the rest of my life to serving you." Ugh. It's like watching someone DM for his girlfriend.

The final scene of the third season, where Daenerys frees a bunch of slaves, was somewhat troubling. They spanned a large variety of races in the books, and my understanding is that they were played mostly by people with dark skin because that's what the available extras looked like where the scene was filmed. Still, Daenerys is as white as they come, and I'm not especially comfortable with the implication that these beknighted dark people needed to wait for Mighty Whitey to come and free them.

Other things: On arriving, Robert mentions offhandedly that Winterfell is as big as the rest of the kingdoms put together. Big, empty and cold? Sounds like Alaska. I guess that makes Ned Sarah Palin.
Winter is coming, Herp Derp

 Listening to first book again, it's very clear the Lyanna and Rhaegar are Jon Snow's parents This isn't subtext. It's practically text. It's possible that Ned is his father, in the same way it's possible that time-traveling Batman is his father. Nothing explicitly contradicts it, but there's no evidence for it, and it leaves a lot of unanswered questions.

Sansa. She's eleven years old in the books, and fourteen, I think, in the series. It's not hard to believe a highborn eleven year old acting in that way. It's hard to imagine Sansa growing up to become the person she was in the harshness of Winterfell, as neither of her parents seem inclined to shelter her from the harsh realities of life in Westeros. I kind of like Sansa. She's the anti-Daenerys, suffering through no fault of her own. (Yeah, she made some bad mistakes early on, but most of her problems are not of her own making.)

It's funny. There was a time when I hadn't ever seen the show, and I was discussing it with my friend Tim, who had never read the books. He had no idea how the names were spelled and I had no idea how they were pronounced. Heh heh.

Looking forward to the Fourth Season.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Crossover Combat: The Laundry vs. Bureau 13

Two quasi-governmental agencies tasked with defending the world against the supernatural. Who comes out on top?

In this corner, we have the 13th Bureau of Justice Department.


There were a lot of game stores and comic shops in the 90s. When I worked in comic store a couple years later, someone more familiar with the industry said that if you had the capital to open a game store in that era, then you were just about guaranteed to make money. The boom was unsustainable, being, as it was, fueled in large part by speculation, but Ah my friends, and oh, my foes, it made a lovely light.

I first encountered Bureau 13 in one of those local game stores during the 90s. They sold used games for cheap. The Phil Foglio cover caught my eye. I'd been playing Magic the Gathering and I really liked Foglio's distinctive style. I figured that for five dollars, I could take a chance.

I usually describe Bureau 13 as the X-Files before the X-Files. It's a game about government agents investigating the supernatural and weird science, and it predates the X-Files by a good ten years.

Gamers often make a distinction between "crunch" and "fluff". Crunch represents the rules of the game and fluff represents the setting. Bureau 13 had wonderful fluff, but I felt that its crunch was far too complex for its play style. Does my free-wheeling adventure game really need rules for hydrostatic shock? Phoenix Command called. It wants its rules back.

The fluff, though. That was some great stuff. I loved the writing and the humor and the wonderful villain groups. It reminded me of the old 1st edition DMG, this crazy sprawling mishmash overflowing with adventure seeds on every page.

I'm not a huge fan of universal systems, but I thought the d20 edition released during the d20 boom was a better fit. When I played it online, our GM used cinematic GURPS.

The novels, too, are outstanding. They're even more broadly comedic, and somewhat different in tone. The RPG assumed that PCs would be civilians conscripted into the Bureau's service after surviving an encounter with the supernatural, but the heroes of the books were sorcerers, super-evolved apes and psychics. It's been my experience that most groups tend to reflect the books more closely. (My first character was a Neanderthal mathematician and marksman.)

I was sorry to see that Nick Pollotta, author of the Bureau 13 novels, had passed away in April. We'd had one or two exchanges on the old Bureau 13 group, but more than that, he seemed like a really nice guy, and he wrote a combination of wry humor and sci fi action better than anyone else.




I was surprised by how much I liked the Atrocity Archives, because I liked almost none of the components that made it up. The dialogue is dreadful, his metaphors are overwrought and I hated every one of his characters. It also has the idiosyncrasy peculiar to British works, which tend to be written with the premise that the UK is still a world power, rather than an island that exists to create media properties for the consumption of the rest of the world.

I'm not exaggerating. I couldn't think of a single character I didn't hate. The world was fascinating and I envy the incisive combination of imagination and precision Stross used to bring it to life.

I've only read the Atrocity Archives, which collects the Atrocity Archive and Concrete Jungle. I've been told his gender relations improve, but this was by die-hard fans who cited Concrete Jungle as when we first started seeing the improvement, and I felt, if anything, Jungle was even worse in its portrayal of women.

It's probably addressed in the later books, because Stross really impressed me as a world-builder, but the biggest problem facing the Laundry seems to be that they are trying to protect the world England from the effects of what in the Laundry universe, are basic scientific truths. The same problems were present in the arms race. Once you know the math, A leads inexorably to B, and you can't keep a lid on it forever, and once is all it takes.

I see that there is also an RPG based on the series, and I think I might be interested in that, because, as I've said, I love the world, but hate its inhabitants. Telling stories there with a bunch of characters who aren't outrageous dickwads might be a lot of fun.

It's unfair to match them up directly, because the power levels are so uneven, and the Laundry's purview is so limited. It's only on British soil that the Laundry would have any kind of hope, and even with that, the outcome is far from certain. It's not impossible to concoct a scenario that would see the Laundry victorious, but you'd really have to build it with that outcome in mind and work backwards from there. 99% of the scenarios are going to show the grey old men of the Laundry that geases and being an asshole isn't enough to cut it against the jet-powered apes and the .50 caliber machine guns of the Bureau.

Bottom Line, Bob encountered remnants of a victorious Third Reich in the first book.

Bureau 13 regularly tangles with the SIXTH Reich. You gotta go to Delta Green if you want better Nazis than that!

Game, set, match: Bureau 13

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Ten-Thousandth Review of the Lego Movie to reference "Everything is Awesome!"



After a couple missed opportunities, I finally got to see the LEGO movie with Lily this Saturday.

My friend Phil had mentioned something about spoilers. I was thinking, "What, how can the LEGO movie have spoilers?"

This review will have a ton of SPOILERS. 


But first, the previews.

Island of Lemurs: Morgan Freeman narrating an IMAX film about lemurs. A.) This seems like absolutely the most pleasant thing in the world. B.) Morgan Freeman's voice is everywhere.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman: Speaking of people whose voice is everywhere, here's an animated movie featuring Patrick Warburton. This looks...okay. Is the strip mining of my childhood now complete?

Amazing Spiderman 2: I don't know a single person excited for this. It is the Pogs of movies. Maybe I'm wrong and it'll be great, but seeing a movie crammed full with so many villains is prompting memories of Batman and Robin. I'll give it a chance, but if I see nipples on the Spider suit, I'm going to start running.

To the LEGO movie!!! We open on Lord Business (Will Farrell) blinding Vitruvius and taking the Kragle.

Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) recites the following prophecy:

One day a talented lass or fellow, a Special one with face of yellow, Will make the Piece of Resistance found, from its hiding refuge underground. With a noble army at the helm, this Master Builder will thwart the Kragle and save the realm, And be the greatest, most interesting, most important person of all times. All this is true, because it rhymes.

The part I really liked about this was they put the girls first. It's a little thing, but usually, it's "boys and girls" or some variation thereof. Trivial, and possibly incidental, but as I think that girls are often given short shrift, and since I was seeing the movie with a little girl whom I hope grows up believing she can do anything, it did make me smile.

I had assumed that Vitruvius was named for Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man, though I had it backwards. The Vitruvian Man was named after an architect who took the named Vitruvius and "architect" is derived from the words for "Master Builder". Nice touch.

We cut to Emmet (Chris Pratt). Chris Pratt is about three picoseconds from superstardom, between this and Guardians of the Galaxy. I met him once, briefly, about ten years ago for a promotional event for Everwood. I understand that he's an actor and everything, but he really seemed like a genuinely nice guy who really was legitimately happy to be at the event.

Emmet is a likable everyman with no real friends or opinions of his own. His favorite restaurant is any chain restaurant and he listens to popular music, like Everything is Awesome.

(Everything is awesome is itself awesome. It's performed by Tegan and Sara, an act I had previously assumed to be some kind of Doctor Who tribute band (from Tegan Jovanka and Sarah Sutton) , but it's named after the two leads, whose names are just a coincidence.)

Here's an embed.


Emmet sees a pretty girl poking around  after hoursin the construction site where he works, so he chases her, falls down a hole and suffers a series of comic pratfalls, before encountering the prophesied Piece of Resistance, and experiencing a vision of another world.

He wakes up in an interrogation room, where he is grilled by Liam Neeson's Bad Cop about the piece stuck to his back. Bad Cop takes him to the melting room, but the girl Emmet had seen earlier (Wyldstyle, voiced by Elizabeth Banks) rescues him and they make their escape, breaking through a Wild West world.

I think this is the weakest section of the movie, but only by way of contrast, because it's not as off the chain awesome as the rest of it. We get an intermission where Lord Business berates Bad Cop for failing him, and this is the only part I'd really consider "bad'. When Will Farrell is funny, he's hilarious (Anchorman), when he's not, he's excruciating (The rest of his filmography). This was excruciating, and even though it provided some exposition (Business wants to use the Kragle (Krazy Glue with some letters worn off) to freeze everything in the universe), I couldn't wait for it to be over.

Bad Cop tracks down Emmet, Wyldstyle, and Virtruvius, but they're rescued by Wyldstyle's boyfriend, Batman. That sentence seems like it could come from any role-playing campaign in which I've ever played, except that we never had anyone approaching Wyldstyle's level of competence. We were all Emmet and Batman.

I really like the characterization of Batman in the movie. He's this macho, posturing, narccsistic douchebag. So...I'm gonna say they nailed it. ("If anybody has black parts I need them, okay? I only work in black, and sometimes very, very dark grey.")

The group heads to Cloud Cuckoo Land, where Emmet delivers an "inspirational" speech, but, before he can conclude, Bad Cop attacks, having tagged Emmet with a tracking device, during their earlier confrontation. Our core group of heroes escapes, regroups, attacks Lord Business' lair, fails and are captured. Vitruvius is killed (and admits the prophecy was made up), and Emmet is strapped to a bomb (a nine-volt battery) which will destroy everyone in the building. Lord Business takes off to implement his doomsday plan.



Emmet throws himself in a nearby bottomless pit in order to save his friends, and winds up in the real world, where it turns out the whole movie was happening in the imagination of a little boy. I liked this part a lot. A little bit Matrix, (that vibe was already there, with Wyldstyle's demeanor and the look of the micromanagers) and a little bit Time Bandits.

Back in the Lego World, Wyldstyle takes to the set of "Honey, Where's my Pants?" to broadcast a plea to the citizens of the various Lego worlds to build their own creations and fight back.

In the real world, the little boy's dad, played by Will Farrell, comes down and yells at his kid for playing with his toys. Farrell nails the role of an unlikable, uninteresting, unfunny tool. Probably because it isn't much of a stretch. He begins krazy-gluing his creations in place, so that his son cannot take them apart to build his own. This is reflected in the Lego World, where the forces of Lord Business start freezing everyone. In the real world, Farrell sees a tableau between Lord Business and Emmet and reconsiders his stance, allowing his son to play with his toys whenever he wants.

This also opens the door to his little sister playing in the world, and the movie closes with an invasion of creatures from the planet Duplo.

There is quite a bit I omitted ("Proper Name, Place name, Backstory", Metalbeard the pirate, Benny the 80's Spaceman, Unikitty)
It's fun, it has...I'm reluctant to say "heart", because that sounds like something off a kitten poster, but there's a emotional center that grounds what could have just been a 100 minute toy commercial.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Damnation Alley Super Car

A friend of mine emailed me the image below



He's never read Damnation Alley, but he did read John Hodgman's "That is All" where Hodgman makes a throwaway reference along the lines of "I see you have my Damnation Alley-style super-car" and he asked if this could be it.

That's pretty nifty.

Here's a picture of the actual vehicle used in the film, the Landmaster.




It's a neat looking vehicle, but those promotional shots are way too clean and bright.