Imperial Command of the Raccoon General

Thoughts and Memoirs of a Ring-tailed and Masked Dominator of the World

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General of the mighty Raccoon Army

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Movie Moments

I have to say this to a number of the closest (and thus supposedly, dearest) of my friends...

Watchmen. The movie, Watchmen.


Hahaha, just kidding. Mind you I am boggled why this of all movies, none of you asked me along and just went around without a thought, but then hey, it happens, and not everyone is enlightened enough to know the importance of ME in the universe.... hehehehehe...

Anyways, some thoughts and memories of movies

1. Favourite line in movies:

Meet Joe Black
Near the end of the movie, as the Joe (Brad Pitt) and Bill (Anthony Hopkins) are about to leave, and the look back, Bill Parrish said: It's hard to let go isnt it? Well what can I tell you, that's life."

2. Inspiring Battle Scene

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
The battle of Pellenor Fields, the Rohirrim arrives at the outskirts of Minas Tirith.

Theoden, King (played by Bernard Hill): Arise. Arise, Riders of Théoden. Spears shall be shaken, shields shall be splintered. A sword day... a red day... ere the sun rises. Ride now... Ride now... Ride. Ride for ruin and the world's ending! Death! Death! DEATH~! Forth Eorlingas!

The theme of Rohan plays, and it is a tune that reflects the majesty but also the vulnerability of Rohan, as the thousands of Rohirrim charges head on towards the Mordor host.

3. Inspiring Moment that made me not care much about its Pro-American Propaganda.

Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis) says goodbye to his daughter, nukes the Asteroid. it splits and misses Earth. People all over the world cheers, third world countries and Super Powers alike. Children run joyously in the streets in makeshift space shuttle toys and such.

I forgot how much pro-American it was, as all I felt was the sheer thrill of the triumph of humanity over colossal odds.

4. Most Memorable OST

Last of the Mohicans

I never really was into Daniel Day Lewis, no matter how serious an actor he is. I never really liked seeing Imperial England got beaten; I am obsessed with Redcoats.

But from 1993 (it was released in 1992, but I watched it in 1993 via VHS) till today, the theme song for the movie rings ever constantly every now and then in my head, and it never fails to strike a deep chord within me. More than all the rock singing songs, trendy pop or rap music, I feel such themes, instrumental and all, touches ones being greater than the contemporaries.

5. First Time Ever Felt like Crying after Seeing a Scene

Con Air
Ending; Poe (Nicholas Cage) picks up the sullied bunny soft toy from being washed into the drain. He meets his wife and the daughter he never met. He offers his daughter the bunny, which she initially recoils before her mother encourages her to accept. A small exchange of words, and they huy as the music, How do I live? by Trisha Yearwood plays.

I don't know why but that really touches me deeply. To date, I've never been a family person.

6. Funny Line I just can't forget

Yvaine (played by Claire Danes) : Yeah, this where it fell. It is, or if you want to be really specific, up there is where this weird bloody necklace came out of nowhere and knocked it out of the heavens where it was minding its own business. And over there is where it landed. And right here, *this* is where it got hit by a magical flying MORON!

I so love that magical flying moron bit.

7. Poetry in Movies

Spoken by Partridge (Sean Bean) as he was caught reading illegal sense materials by Preston (Christian Bale): But I being poor have only my dreams, I have spread my dreams under your feet, tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

This is actually from a poem written by William Butler Yeats, an early 20th century Irish poet. If I am not mistaken the poems title is "He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven"

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Self Justification

I haven't been busy but aside from some awesome gaming moments, even squeezing them between work days and all, there's been nothing much to note, so I don't have much else to write till now.

I may not be the most observent of persons, but I do tend to ponder a lot on the things I encounter in life, at least at some time or other. I find it curiously intriguing at how some people justify themselves in certain things in order to portray themselves in good light. Or maybe, I should rephrase that to "in an imagined good light".

Have you ever met or heard of someone who goes around and points to how ridiculous others are for indulging certain things? For an example, the person finds someone being rather deeply technical on a matter and decided to say that the technical one is rather sad, silly, ridiculous, or that the action is wrong, unnecessary, excessive, geeky, over indulgent and the like. Or the fact that if I were to read a book and I was critical about its language. As an example, of course. I wonder since when has it been anyone's right to say when or what we can or cannot focus on, or whether or not we can state on the said matters.

These people are trying to justify themselves of course, trying to persuade themselves and/or any chaps who happen to encounter them... just how "in the right" they are. There are many reasons being spewed out from these people, from it being their rights to be bitches, or to how socially/ethically wrong the others are for doing what they consider a form of inproper action. I don't think I should blame people if they need or feel the need to justify themselves. But I do find it funny upon hearing the lame reasons they give. Forgive me, I didn't mean to taint that word; Reason. I meant to say... excuses.

Personally I have to admit, I enjoy arguments, especially healthy, inspiring, intelligent arguments. I think I can accept and respect the person more if they come up with facts, solid examples and and fight me off with such intelligence that I will be left speechless at the end. At best, I would feel enlightened by such people. At worst, I will feel slightly embarassed to be solidly proven wrong. But to argue with someone who comes up with "It's my right to be a bitch" or "You're being silly because you take it too seriously" or such, it just astounds me to see how they can figure themselves as modern, enlightened, educated, intelligent, independent, creative or otherwise.

And then, there's those who seek to argue not by mere solidity of your facts, but how your speech, narrative, or thoughts have contradict or faltered. OH I'm sure you know, those people who go on saying "Eh dulu cakap lain" (Translated from malay: "Last time you said something else"). Look I know sometimes we state out principles and such but later on we might step over those very words. But I don't think that defines hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is more on the lack of belief, switching your stance whenever it suits you most. But that aside, if you truly believe in something, I don't see any wrong in having a change of mind. It's not hyprocrisy if you really believe it I think. It's only so when you change as a matter of greed or being sneeky. Or just out of popular sentiment. I don't know. I am just recalling the few collegues I have here who because working life can be a bit hectic, they simple say "Oh, I quit gaming already coz' I'm busy with work" For me that's hypocrisy, not because of them leaving gaming, but because they haven't really tried for it, and you'll know it coz you will still find them doing other things beside work. Shopping. Doing art. Dating. Whatever. Point is they have time, but they refuse to admit the complete truth of it.

The sad thing is that this is exactly my point in my past posting, "Words" in point number 7 about being open minded. These people can be... delusional, I suppose the word is, in their belief in their own infallibility. Open minded, admitting personal flaws, preaching for simple approaches to life, these are the new trends people want to use to impress others these days, I might add. They self proclaim these virtues out loud so as to be labelled the good guy. Do not mistake my meaning though, those are all very good virtues which we should try to aspire for, but we are not in posession of them merely because we proclaim it so.

Additionally, I think its worth stating one more thing partially related to all this; about criticism and reactions to it. By all means, should you choose to accept or reject a criticsm, that's between you and your conscience. But your outward reaction to it can have quite the jarring effect on me sometimes. One should not act smug at being criticized by either downplaying the person who criticize you, (the age old argument of "Who are YOU to criticize me??) or by downplaying the act of such criticism (I think Malays would some times say something like "Alah, benda kecik-kecik macam tu pun nak berkira/ translated: even such small matters you want to be critical about..). I'm saying these because for the former, just because one has a better history or track record than someone else does not mean they are beneath you to even say anything bad about you and yours. As for the latter, I have to state something I pointed out in a past (friendly) argument with a friend of mine. Small things matter. In the simplest of elaborations, big things are made of small things, and the overall quality of a big thing is determined by the essence that makes it; small things are like the DNA needed to make big things.

Hmm. I think there are times I should heed my own words. In my profession for example, its obvious I have lots to learn, but being reasonably good, sometimes, at my job, I can find it quite annoying to have my flaws pointed out. OH well... I suppose we should all advise each other and learn together then.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Monsters vs Aliens vs PC upgrade vs Warhammer

It was a long weekend for us in Malaysia, because of Monday being a holiday; The Prophet's birthday. It certainly was a most activity filled weekend for me.

1. Core i7 mania

Saturday was PC buying day. Not for myself of course but I helped and advised on a PC specs for my friend's new computer and it is without doubt the first Core i7 PC I have ever seen. Awesome. Next I need one for myself. But we have in a way imposed a restriction on ourselves with our current OS (operating system). It is said that most of us use 32-bit OS, which means we can't have a total RAM of 4GB or higher. I'm not sure if that is the exact thing, but I do recall my own failure to use 4GB RAMs on my 32bit Vista system to have among other things, that particular thing listed as one of the causes for the problem.

So top of my PC item list will be a Core i7 Processor, Motherboard, triple channel RAMs and if it's beyond 4GB or so, a new 64-bit OS.

2. Fighting for the Imperium of Man

Dawn of War II rocks. I had my doubts when I saw they really downsized the combat scale, but I'm happy enough that despite that much regretable choice by the designers, the gameplay is still awesome. And it didn't feel as much as the button tapping orchestra I saw typical in Warcraft 3.

True enough, the slightly larger scale and all makes multiplayer somewhat more to my liking than the single player campaign, which in its own right is thoroughly enjoyable. Orks are very colorful enough, in manner as well as some physical traits, Eldar seems cooler than previously, and Space Marines are more awesome. I only regret the lack of Imperial Guards and the minimal vehicular combat.
And yes, Tyranids, scary things those critters are.

For the record, I bought a special edition original copy of Dawn of War II which includes bonus content and a free DoW II T-shirt.


Dig this.

Yeah I bought that. The Art of DreamWork's Monsters vs. Aliens. Don't let the cheesy title fool you. Based on what I see in the book this is quite the quality production.

Yeah, yeah I know, the chick is the central character and she's hot, for a cartoon. I like, true enough but that's not the sole reason for advocating this. The amount of design work and studies poured into this production is very inspiring and the style and architecture of locales, props etc are very nicely done. I so love the attention to detail of the military vehicles and the San Francisco locale, including the Golden Gate Bridge.
And yes, the chick is hot.
Finally, I think, chick characters are getting a central role. Even in writings like the Hero's Journey, female characters are typical as support figures to a central male figure. Look, I'm not into the who feminist thing, I hate female supremacy anyways. But I do not find subservient women attractive either. For a female character to take the lead (as I always make it so for my single player Role Playing PC Games...:P) is something of an inspired choice. I find the market being saturated by heroic alpha male types really do need this change of focus.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Don't Blame Me If I Get a Pirated Copy

March was suppose to be glorious for me. Empire Total War is out, a game that seemed to have been made specifically for me. I mean, huge battles, empire building, naval combat in the age of sail, BRITISH REDCOATS! Those are MY elements of interest.

Sadly, I am worried now, simply by reading one simple cold hard fact based on the user reviews and official forums posting.

Empire Total War requires Steam to play. Even if you bought a boxed copy instead of downloading it through steam, you still need to connect to Steam to activate it. Even worse than that is that you will need to connect to and update Steam everytime you play the game, even for single player only. If you want to play offline, there is an option where you can play without needing to connect to Steam but that requires further registration for some Steam Offline thingamajig.

I never used Steam, but not because I have anything personal against it. I am not hating or angry at Steam, as many of those who are dissapointed by this fact is saying. Steam may or may not be a crappy service, I don't know. What I am angry at is the principle being advocated by the people who made it, Creative Assembly and/or SEGA.

Imagine this:

If you wanted to eat a Big Mac, you can either go to a McDonalds restaurant or have them deliver it to you. THAT is in fact a matter of YOUR own choice. But assume that we don't want to associate with the hassles of a delivery boy, we'd rather just go to McD's and get the burger ourselves... directly.

Given that scenario what would you say if you were forced to deal with the delivery boy still, even though you went miles and miles on your own to get the Big Mac? Of course any of us would rather just pay up, get the burger and eat. Why the hell do we need to confirm our purchase with the damn delivery boy still?

It's not wrong to have alternate methods of delivering a product and all, but you have to understand that some people like the new high tech gizmo of all Online and stuff, but quite a number still prefer paying real cash and getting a solid tangible product so as to avoid all the Online related stuff that, for whatever reason that is our own god given right, we sooo despise. Call as backward, or old fashioned or whatever but some people find all the online or wireless thing still prone for too many complications. We want it easy and direct.

I get the anti piracy thing. I've started to support original softwares a lot since I am earning a stable income. I felt it was time I paid my due to an industry I so love, but this whole mess makes one feel betrayed. It's the principle, really.

It's the god damned principle of it all.

I bought another game sometime back, I blogged about the game even. I have no pretensions that the game can match the sheer effort and polish of games like Empire Total War. But I had only to register the game once online, and then free to play it as i see fit. In fact, I once uninstalled it and reinstalled it again, and found it seemingly pleasing that it automatically redeems the registration key for me to use it again when I re-install the game. That for a fact, is a harsh blow to some EA-DRM related copy protection issue that limits the number of time you can reinstall a game.

Anyhow, what is good about that is that the activation is done directly with the creators, and ONCE only. I did not need to download or install a BLOODY Steam software, nor do I have to keep activating via steam even for a gameplay that doesn't require bloody online connection, nor do I need to immerse myself in further hassle of a specific offline variant of activation and stuff.

Developers, publishers, they don't understand, or choose not to bother, or so it seems. It's not really anything personal or whatever towards a certain group, but when we pay good, hard earned money for something, we want that thing free for our own use at our own discretion, and in our own privacy without the need to associate with anyone else.

Like buying a book, I should be free to read it whenever, wherever I please, or as many times as I like, without needing anyone elses permission. I paid for it, and so long as I don't make copies of it for sale, I should be allowed to do whatever I want with it; make it into a shrine or use it as toilet paper or anything in between.

It reminds me of the idiots who are persecuting the "war on terror". Their method of "combating" the enemy is in fact driving more people to enemy's side.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Writing Stories

We are mystified by high stories and enchanting tales. Be it written in text, pictorial, animation or film, stories move us in a way some of us cannot fathom. Many aspire to be storytellers for the sake of telling others their stories, and through that, sharing our views, ideas and experiences. I gave lots of thoughts and countless hours of serious study towards the creation of stories. I am not claiming to be a superb writer or such; nor am I being simply modest by denying, but I can if needs be state the facts that there are much more things in storytelling that I need to learn, practice and understand.

When writing a story, I think a number of us worry about the quality of our chosen language. Is the sentence sophisticated enough, or flowery enough, or poetic enough? Perhaps because some good novels, songs and poems are described as beautifully written, we tend to think that good story writing is likened to writing each sentence in it as shakespearean poetry. Similiarly, we tend to look at "good" movies by defining the technological aspects and achievement as definition of a good story. More so than writing perhaps, because special effects and visual mastery can easily dazzle the senses towards great heights.

What are we doing?

We are defining the beauty of a structure based on the quality of the individual bricks in it. We are glorying a painting by the quality of its paint's materials.

Do not mistake me for thinking that my belief is that those things are inconsequential. They are. But not to a point that they define the very existence of the work. It's easier to appreciate a drawing or painting or sculpture as a whole, than doing the same for a narrative, story, comic book, graphic novel, animation or film. But both are art forms, and we should learn to appreciate the latter group as we do the former; for what it stands for, the meaning and purpose behind it and its overall beauty.

A film is not good simply because it has the lastest Special effects. An animation is not good because it has cutting edge 3D. Nor is a video game that way because of the high end graphics engine.

And if it's not technical aspects, its certain themes that a story wants to portray. I'm talking for example about how many locals can go overwhelmingly supportive of anything that has local inspired contents, or how many women can be so roused up be a film with strong feminist sentiments and triumphs over men, or die hard war-buffs who howl with glee over movies with noble warriors and bloody warfare included. In my case, my constant worry is that my overwhelming joy of sci-fi alien races and spaceships would overwhelm the fundamentals of a good story if I were to write one. This is just wrong.

The best stories I think should be universally inclined.

In writing, we should not think the ability to know and comprehend more words within a dictionary and the ability to write flowery, poetic phrases as the hallmark of good story writing. A good story, almost always, is defined by the journey of the protagonist(s) in which the audience can relate to and enjoy, as well as the message than touches within all those who read the story.

Many of us either know of, or have actually read the Hero's Journey. If not, there's some useful insights at this link:

Upon reading that, or if you already know of the contents, you'll realize that the good tales revolve not around effects or content materials we want to advertise/portray, but rather the story of how a character matures. How the character changes, evolves, and develop over the course of the story. Nobody will find it exhilirating if the hero from the very start is already as powerful or more powerful than the villain. Nobody also, would find it very interesting if the character remains static till the end of the tale. And no amount of FX, unique content, or flowery language can fix that.

Additionally, storytellers cannot be self-centered people. I say that because storytellers need to be people who share their tales and experiences. They cannot be those who wish to promote only the things they like, nor wish to enforce things to the audience. The acceptance and pleasing of the audience is the foremost objective in storytelling.

Forget that you think the world is a bleak place and wish to show the folly of the human race too much. Forget that you think adding a zillion unique fairy tale-like creatures to be a fun thing. Forget that you think only an overwhelmingly complex backstory is the groundwork of a good tale.

Inspire the Audience. Reach out for them. I mean, I'm sorry if some of the things you personally prefer or profess isn't to their liking, because those of the audience want be inspired, want to see hope, and want to see a purpose to existence beyond this drudgery life we have. We want to see that there is something better in life, or a semblence of hope for something better. We do not want to be told of how bad life will be, or how inevitable our demise is (even if it is true, in logical circumstances), or how only a narrow view conceived by one or a few person to be the ultimate utopia. (And I apologize off hand because while writing that last bit, feminists comes to mind....but to be fair, it's not just you actually).

So, to close off, tell me a story. Lift me up from my meagre existence. Entertain me. Show me hope. Make me believe. Keep me interested. But above all, make sure we are all inspired.