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Start Visiting my New Web Site!

February 2, 2013

I want everyone to start visiting marzgurlproductions.com in the place of this blog.  I once had marzgurproductions.com redirecting to this blog, so for those of you who were using that link, you won’t have a problem.  But for everybody else using marzgurl.wordpress.com, you’ll need to start headed over to the official address to start getting updates from me.  Thank you for understanding the transition.  I think once you see the site for yourself you’ll see why the switch is being made.  I’m thrilled about it!   Thanks to Marc the Engineer, I have a beautifully rebuilt web page! Also, a big thanks to Mark aka Psychotaku who had previously gifted me with the Japanese graphic which Marc then used in the title banner.  Ah, I’m terribly thrilled and have really talented people to thank for their hard work and effort. Thank you!  I hope you’ll all like the site, too!

MarzGurl Reviews Final Fantasy XIII – Episode 1

December 22, 2012

Here’s a project I’ve been very passionate about, and I hope that it shows. I’ve been working on the whole series for a very, very long time. I actually have the entirety of the script written, and now the whole rest of it is simply in the editing stages. So, hopefully, you won’t have to wait terribly long between episodes. I actually wrote the whole thing BY HAND first while I was at my other job, which took a couple weeks between the work I ACTUALLY had to do, and then I transferred it over to my laptop.

If YouTube is your viewing method of choice, I do also have a second upload over here. – http://youtu.be/CZhOff9MDqo

I do want to address that, yes, Spoony is releasing his Final Fantasy XIII reviews at nearly the exact same time as I am. I can assure you, this was completely unplanned, nor is anybody copying anybody (most would suggest that I’m the copier). I’m not exactly a huge fan of the “review dibs” idea. You can’t honestly tell me you would expect IGN to do a review of a game and then NOT have Gamespot do a review because IGN was doing it. Then where would you go for a variety of opinions?

Actually, Noah and I talked at great length about XIII back during the year THREE movie for TGWTG. We made each other aware way back then that we were planning on doing our own thing, and nobody really seemed to care. It’s completely crazy that we’re releasing our videos at nearly the same time without having otherwise talked to one another.

Really, our videos are pretty drastically different. Actually, I LOVE his Part 1. I agree with just about everything stated in it, and I laughed. Laughed hard in some cases. I’d really encourage you to watch his as well to get a feeling of how different we are. – http://spoonyexperiment.com/2012/12/15/final-fantasy-xiii-part-1/

Noah’s reviews are very much set up for people who are already familiar with his reviews, especially his previous Final Fantasy reviews. Mine, however, his highly informative and comparative to previous game installments, and I would hope that this would mean that even someone who isn’t a Final Fantasy fan can jump in and understand what I’m talking about without having to already sort of “get the joke”.

Speaking of jokes, I’m not really much of a jokester. I can throw a quip here and there as well as the next guy, but they have to be really well placed. I decided a long time ago that I’m just not the snarky reviewer type. That’s why I think I’m much better with the analytically style.

All I can hope for is that my passion for the Final Fantasy series as a whole and my disappointment with what became of Final Fantasy XIII is what really shines through without having to visibly or vulgarly “tear it a new one”. I think I can far more elaborately rip it up and have it make sense. I hope you’ll join me in doing so!

Thank you for your patience and your support.

Upcoming Convention Attendance and Appearances

December 4, 2012

I wanted to make a list of upcoming events that I’ll either be attending, working, or appearing at within the coming months.  I hope to see you at some of these, too!

Ikkicon (Dec. 28 – 30, 2012, Austin, TX) – http://ikkicon.com/ – Working the SWAG Expo table.
MAGFest (Jan. 3 – 6, 2013, National Harbor, MD) – http://magfest.org/ – Attending, panel appearance
GATOCon (Feb. 16 – 17, 2013, Texas A&M University Kingsville) – http://gatocon.com/ – Guest appearance
All-Con (Mar. 8 – 10, 2013) – http://all-con.org/ – Attending
Anime Expo (Jul. 4 – 7, 2013) – http://www.anime-expo.org/ – Attending, possible panel appearance

For now, this is it.  Will post an update if anything changes.  Thanks, guys!

Great Concert! The Legend Of Zelda:Symphony Of The Goddesses

November 3, 2012

Just got back home from a sudden surprise for the evening.  I was graciously gifted with a free ticket to see The Legend Of Zelda: Symphony Of The Goddesses.  And only with about three hours advance notice!  But it was quite the awesome surprise.

This particular performance took place in downtown San Antonio’s very own Majestic Theatre.  Ticket holders were greeted with the sounds of classic Legend of Zelda songs lightly playing throughout the performance hall while the logo was projected onto a large screen behind the symphony while the symphony themselves began slowly filtering onto the stage and began getting prepared.

Now, before I continue, I feel compelled to comment on the activity of the ticket holders at the event.  For starters, I was one of the many, many people who brought their Nintendo 3DS to the concert.  Yeah, I Street Passed.  Would you believe how many people changed their hats to Link’s cap or the Triforce along with their greeting phrase just for the sake of the concert?  I guess that makes pretty decent sense.  But then there’s the way people dressed.  I get it, the concert is based on music from a series of video games.  Believe me, I understand.  I’ve been to several other symphonic video game concerts.  But this is the most casual event I’ve seen yet.  I thought everyone at Distant Worlds: Final Fantasy was bad.  No, this was much worse.  The fact is, I feel like there’s a certain level of respect that people tend to ignore.  I mean, forget the fact that it’s music from a video game.  The fact is that it’s still symphonic music.  And past that, you’re in the nicest theatre in the city.  Look at what you’re walking in to!

For this reason, I find casual clothes particularly rude.  And there were very few people who dressed nicely for the event at all.  I mean, I suppose the most I can understand is wearing your oh-so-awesome Legend of Zelda T-shirt to the concert.  That’s one thing.  But sloppy jeans and a sloppy, unrelated T-shirt is another.  Then there were cosplayers.  Again, I still felt like it was rude, as I often do at orchestrated events, but at least most everyone was dressed as Link.  Even a single Zelda was there (how nice, after all, the games are named after her).  But then there’s cosplayers who just want to be looked at and are obviously just doing it because they’re begging for attention.  I am talking directly to you, guy who dressed up as Ness from Earthbound and guy who dressed up as Marluxia of Organization XIII from the Kingdom Hearts francise and your terrible pink wig that couldn’t even fit over your head and had just as much natural hair sticking out.  If you ever read this, good.  You should see me wagging my finger at you.  Symphonic concerts aren’t conventions.  I’m sorry if you missed the memo.  Now go home and change.

Back to the show…

This show was so pro.  Now, I consider myself a much bigger Final Fantasy fan than a Legend of Zelda fan.  However, as the music played, I couldn’t help but realize what an impact the games really have had on me over the course of time.  I walked in expecting to appreciate the music, sure, but not to be moved to tears, and that’s indeed what happened.

This feeling was aided by the fact that the entire production was so well organized and thought out that I don’t know how they can possibly outdo themselves.  The performance features game footage being played along with the music from that particular game.  And while I’ve seen this done in many other concert series’ before it, never have I seen it done with such precision and accuracy.  Even the Final Fantasy concerts have never pulled it off this well.  In the Distant Worlds concerts, there would be some game footage sloppily pasted together while the orchestra played along with it, not entirely matching the visuals on the screen at that given moment in time.  However, with Zelda Symphony, we have a far more technologically advanced system.  It starts with the conductor (an Irish woman, might I add!  I have to admit, I’ve so rarely seen female conductors that I was pleasantly surprised).  She, along with the rest of the orchestra, wear little Apple-style ear buds to listen to something.  A digital metronome, perhaps?  Each other?  Anyway, in front of the conductor was a large tablet where I could indeed see what appeared to be some variety of metronome.  It at least had a bar that would scroll across it from the left side to the right side, maybe even counting out the beats in a measure.  When it got to the last bar in a song, I saw the line turn red, and then disappear.  She ended the songs just as soon as that last line would reach the far right side of the screen.  I assume that this is what keeps the orchestra so perfectly in sync with the video being displayed.  That video, by the way, is edited perfectly, to display the proper game play footage at just the right moment, where it fits both rhythmically and emotionally.  This far surpasses the editing I’d previously known from the Distant Worlds concerts.  The only thing that may be wrong with this is that no less than five games were completely spoiled to anyone who hadn’t beaten them.  There were five full overtures, from Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess, all of which had footage in order from beginning to end (including final battle and defeat footage) playing during the performance.  I suppose for a room full of LoZ nuts, that’s fine.  But… I’unno, I’m not a huge fan of that.

It was very apparent that everyone who had produced this concert wanted to make sure they were doing exactly what the fan’s hearts desired.  I apologize for comparing Zelda Symphony to Distant Worlds so much, but it’s just proved that it doesn’t matter whether my heart is given to Final Fantasy or not, sometimes another company just plain does it better.  In this situation, Nintendo has cared greatly more than Square Enix has.  One of the producers of the concert series would occasionally step out and talk about the upcoming pieces that would be performed.  It was somewhat charming the way he would prattle on about how much of a fan of the Zelda series he’s been throughout his life (and it was plainly obvious that this was the truth), but in some instances it was somewhat painful.  It would last too long, and then he would try to make in-jokes or make the audience geek-guess what the next song would be, and he’d have this big, geeky, doofy smile on his face.  I’m sure he’s a great guy and fun to talk Zelda with.  But in some places it got to a point where I wanted him to get off stage and let the music play.  At one point, the conductor began introducing the Wind Waker movement, and she actually switched out her baton for the Wind Waker baton to conduct the orchestra with for the duration of said piece.  Very nerdy, and the audience adored it, of course.

The concert was quite long.  Especially with the encores.  That’s right.  Encores is plural.  Three encores.  Three of them!  Boy, it must suck to be those guys who walked out before even the first one played.  I hope they get online later and see that they missed another three long songs and feel at least slightly dumb, like they missed out.  ‘Cause they did.  They were great.

The concert merchandise sold out like crazy.  During intermission there was just no getting up and walking around.  The Majestic isn’t particularly huge, and the line for merchandise was this insane blob in the middle of the biggest artery the Majestic has.  They had sold out of T-shirts before the end of intermission, and at least by the end of the concert they had sold out of posters, too.  I’d heard they’d had to start giving people order forms to purchase stuff and get it shipped to them later.  Nintendo is rolling in dough just from this concert series.  And why shouldn’t they be?  They made a pretty friggin’ solid presentation.

All in all, I would definitely see this concert series again.  It ended up being far grander and nicer than I expected, a presentation worthy of the price of admission.  Which is why it was even sweeter that I managed to see it for free, because I got way more than I paid for.  If it ever rolls through your town, set aside the funds to go and see it!  But, please, leave your Solid Snake costume at home.  Nobody cares.

 

Thanks to http://original-gamer.com/ for helping me see this performance.

It’s Halloween Season. How About Some Bad Japanese?

October 4, 2012

Halloween is so cool. It’s legitimately one of my favorite holidays all year. I love costuming. So when it’s Halloween time, I’m psyched because stores such as Party City really start to stock up on stuff I can use to create all kinds of costumes.

That’s just what I was thinking when I stumbled across this particular prop ninja sword in stores.

Josh displays how awesome he can look when he holds this plastic ninja sword prop.

But upon closer inspection, there was something funny about it… yes! The sword in fact has Japanese written across the blade on both sides!

One side of the sword, with Japanese written across it.

 

But… hmm… what does it mean?  Is it just nonsense?  Or is it… something more?  Luckily, I’M here to save the day!

A little bit of closer inspection shows that it says this…

“Please drink your milk.  Your mom’s name.  Honesty/Honest person.  Are you truly kind to animals?  Please give … Please … parents/loved ones.”

…Or something like that.  Look, I’m gonna be honest, the writing on this sword is GOD AWFUL.  Those places where you see I’ve left a gap in what the sword says, I’m pretty sure they just made crap up.  I don’t know every single kanji, admittedly, so maybe a native would be able to better recognize what the kanji was they were TRYING to write.  But I went and hunted through online kanji dictionaries, tried to figure it out by the different radicals in each character, and I STILL didn’t find anything for those two kanji I couldn’t figure out.  In some cases, like in the case of “Your mom’s name”, I’m even sort of stretching that, ’cause it’s missing a line that would make “name”.  And there’s no punctuation, so it just all looks like one big run-on sentence, so in some cases it was hard to determine what was part of what statement.

Anyway, the sword it just littered with bad Japanese writing, stating nothing but complete gibberish.  So, who made this sword?

 

Disguise.  Got it.  Now I know what company to make fun of when Halloween shopping.

 

Pick up YOUR Ninja Cyber Sword TODAY!

 

About a Side Project – Expect More: Kamen Rider Fourze, by JoshKnightTheFirst

September 2, 2012

I thought that this would be worth everyone’s attention because I worked on editing this video for Josh for well over a week. For the product that you end up seeing here, that might seem ridiculous. I mean, there’s quite a lot I would have liked to have done differently. But if you’ve been following what I’ve been up to for the last one to two months, this is abso-friggin’-lutely amazing. My PC has been shutting itself down when put under much of any stress, and my laptop only has about enough RAM to run Windows 7. And Josh not having the camera or editing equipment he would need to accomplish his vision, I had to give something, even if it wasn’t the greatest result I would have liked to have come up with. And with Fourze having just ended and Wizard having just begun today, time was of the essence. We had to work while the topic was still relevant.

The editing process was ridiculous. Converting video files into easily editable formats had to be done on my laptop, which, as I mentioned, was painful because my laptop barely runs itself. Since that was so painful, I realized I was going to have to edit on my PC no matter what. But the problem was that the PC would overheat and shut itself down if I made it render anything over, like, 20 seconds long. So, it turned out YouTube has this editor, right? So, what I ended up having to do was edit fragments of things mixing Josh’s narration with the imagery he wanted to portray, then upload it to YouTube, and piece it together on their editing page. I did all this jumping between my PC and my laptop. It was painful as hell. And yet, somehow, amazingly, I managed to come up with what you see now. So, for a video that I would have much rather done much better, this result is rather pleasing to me.

The entirety of information being presented to you is all courtesy of Josh. Though I must admit, that Nabisco joke was all me (sorry, Josh, had to take credit for that where my credit is due). So, for your tokusatsu information, I can’t take the credit there. All I’m taking credit for is putting together the imagery he wanted to portray to his audience. I’m not certain yet whether or not he will continue to need my assistance, but if he does you can be sure I will continue to help present the material he’s passionate about.

Frankly, this video could have gone on for much, much longer. The complaints could have filled two videos this size. But we both knew that nobody really knows Josh, so people most likely weren’t going to care. So, I think it ended up at a pretty tolerable length.

So, there it is! My explanation of this video. If this is the kind of topic that interests you, please feel free to watch more as it gets presented. Thank you!

Picking Apart Twilight: The Novel, Chapter 18

July 27, 2012

18. THE HUNT

They emerged one by one from the forest edge, ranging a dozen meters apart. The first male into the clearing fell back immediately, allowing the other male to take the front, orienting himself around the tall, dark-haired man in a manner that clearly displayed who led the pack. The third was a woman; from this distance, all I could see of her was that her hair was a startling shade of red.

Awwwwwwww, SNAP, y’all! It’s goin’ DOWN!

…Please tell me none of you thought I was legitimately that excited.

You’ll remember from the previous chapter that we had a sudden plot whiplash that involved introducing a pack of legit man-eating vampires who are totally going to be out for Bella’s blood here in a few minutes. Now here they come, just wanting to make friends.

Both men had cropped hair, but the woman’s brilliant orange hair was filled with leaves and debris from the woods.

I thought… I thought you just said her hair was red. Red and orange may be similar, but they’re not the same color. Also, I take it the movie took liberties with these characters, as neither of the male vampires had cropped hair. I mean, no big deal, just an observation.
JamesLaurent

Introducing Laurent, Victoria, and James. They seriously just want to play baseball and make friends. And Carlisle steps forward to talk casually, all like, “Yeah, come to our house, we’ll talk to you about how we set up permanent residence and stuff. Everybody here? Yeah, we’re all one big happy vampire family, nothing to see.” But then all that hiding is for nothing ’cause Bella’s got human stench just dripping from her, and everybody immediately freaks the hell out.

“She’s with us.” Carlisle’s firm rebuff was directed toward James. Laurent seemed to catch my scent less powerfully than James, but awareness now dawned on his face.
“You brought a snack?” he asked, his expression incredulous as he took an involuntary step forward.

Carlisle offers to take the new vampires to his home to sit down and talk while Edward, Alice, and Emmett take Bella to the Jeep, where they promptly GTFO. From this point on, nobody tries explaining any sort of plan to Bella. They just kidnap her. But they’re doing it out of LOVE!

We hit the main road, and though our speed increased, I could see much better where we were going. And we were headed south, away from Forks.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
No one answered. No one even looked at me.
“Dammit, Edward! Where are you taking me?”
“We have to get you away from here – far away – now.” He didn’t look back, his eyes on the road. The speedometer read a hundred and five miles an hour.
“Turn around! You have to take me home!” I shouted. I struggled with the stupid harness, tearing at the straps.
“Emmett,” Edward said grimly.
And Emmett secured my hands in his steely grasp.
“No! Edward! No, you can’t do this.”
“I have to, Bella, now please be quiet.”

How about asking this girl about what she wants? Was that ever an option? I know you want to keep her safe and all, but she IS just a regular person with regular old human problems. But I guess that doesn’t matter. And holding her against her will is totally cool because it’s for her safety and junk. Never mind not just opening up and explaining things to her at the very least.

From here, the book starts formulating the plan right in front of the audience, where the movie just shows the plan take action. I guess since it’s a book you have all the time in the world to do that, but still, we’re basically going to have to see it all written twice – once to tell us how it’s going to happen and once more when they actually execute the plan.

So, Edward’s making it seem like the only solution is to drive Bella as far away from James as possible, as he’s the guy who’s decided to turn Bella into an interesting hunt. Doesn’t it stand to reason, then, that no matter how far Bella travels, he’s not going to stop hunting her, if he is in fact the incredible tracker Edward starts claiming he is? Horrible plan there, Edward.

…The silence lasted for a long minute as Edward and Alice stared each other down.
I broke it. “Does anyone want to hear my plan?”
“No,” Edward growled.

LOL.

Okay, to further elaborate, I think it’s absolutely hilarious that Bella’s getting ignored and shot down. However, isn’t this supposed to be her boyfriend? Like, he’s supposed to care about her and junk, right? ‘Cause he’s not really showing it. He’s telling her exactly what she can and can’t do, not giving her all the information, and not listening to her when the whole situation involves her. Controlling, much?

I glared at him and continued. “You take me back. I tell my dad I want to go home to Phoenix. I pack my bags. We wait till this tracker is watching, and then we run. He’ll follow us and leave Charlie alone. Charlie won’t call the FBI on your family. Then you can take me any damned place you want.”

Oh, the immense number of reasons why this is a bad idea. Why would her dad let her go? Just like that? Edward tells Bella she has 15 minutes to convince her dad that she’s leaving, and that’s it. Yeah, like that’s gonna work…

…Oh, you’re telling me it IS about to work? Well, aren’t I the complete idiot!

“I think you should let me go alone,” I said even more quietly.
He heard that.
“Bella, please just do this my way, just this once,” he said between clenched teeth.

Just this once? You say that as if you DON’T use your magical vampire powers to dictate what it is she says and does all the time. Or are you planning on having trackers be a regular thing for a while? Is that what you meant by “just this once”?

He turned to Alice.
“Can Jasper handle this?”
“Give him some credit, Edward. He’s been doing very, very well, all things considered.”
“Can you handle this?” he asked.
And graceful little Alice pulled back her lips in a horrific grimace and let loose with a guttural snarl that had me cowering against the seat in terror.
Edward smiled at her. “But keep your opinions to yourself,” he muttered suddenly.

Yay! Who’s ready to take on the task of having a jackass kid suddenly leave her father on a night when her new boyfriend was supposed to be taking care of her and have him totally be cool with the whole thing? I have my hopes set on the tracker catching and eating Bella.

…Though I know that doesn’t happen.

Next up, chapter 19!

Picking Apart Twilight: The Novel, Chapter 17

July 25, 2012

I’d bet you guys thought I forgot about this! Well… Okay, I guess I did for a while. Life hasn’t exactly been easy as of late. But it’d love to not leave a project hanging. And while Fifty Shades of Grey is the new sick and twisted thing to be up in arms about, we must not forget that Twilight was its source for inspiration. For that reason, let’s continue ripping this thing apart!

Chapter 17 – THE GAME

It was just beginning to drizzle when Edward turned onto my street. Up until that moment, I’d had no doubt that he’d be staying with me while I spent a few interim hours in the real world.

So, you may or may not last remember, we last witnessed Bella meeting Edward’s “family”. We talked about what could have been interesting back story for Carlisle, but it fell flat. And then Edward’s family invited Bella to watch them all play baseball together. They haven’t yet gone to play the game.

And then I saw the black car, a weathered Ford, parked in Charlie’s driveway – and heard Edward mutter something unintelligible in a low, harsh voice. Leaning away from the rain under the shallow front porch, Jacob Black stood behind his father’s wheelchair. Billy’s face was impassive as stone as Edward parked my truck against the curb. Jacob stared down, his expression mortified.

So, you guys remember this, right? Jacob and his dad, Billy, are part of a tribe of native Americans who happen to also be wolves. They all know that the Cullens are vampires, and they have this pact to not reveal their vampire identities to the world so long as the vampires themselves do not trample all over their territory. We all up to speed? Good. So it’s no wonder that Jacob doesn’t look thrilled to see Edward, nor Edward to see the wolf family. Edward performs his little mind reading technique on the two to find that Billy came to warn Bella’s dad, Charlie, that Bella is dating somebody who’s probably very dangerous. How convenient for our heroine, then, that Charlie isn’t home.

Edward decides it’s best if he leaves.

His eyes flickered back to the porch, and then he leaned in to swiftly kiss me just under the edge of my jaw. My heart lurched frantically, and I, too, glanced toward the porch. Billy’s face was no longer impassive, and his hands clutched at the armrests of his chair.

Oh, yeah. THAT was why I had dreaded this book, again. It thinks it knows what love and arousal is. And it’s gross.

So Billy and Jacob come inside. Billy keeps asking about the whereabouts of Bella’s dad, and she oh-so-sneakily manages to convince him that she doesn’t know where he is. This is when Billy sends Jacob out on an errand at the car that’s sure to take him lots of time, to keep him out of the room while he and Bella discuss some things. At this point, Bella becomes incredibly curt and rude.

”Charlie won’t be back for a long time.” My voice was almost rude.
He nodded in agreement, but said nothing.
“Thanks again for the fish fry,” I hinted.
He continued nodding. I sighed and folded my arms across my chest.

Not exactly the most polite way to approach a long-lasting friend to your dad and to your family. Let’s continue to see where this goes.

”Bella,” he said, and then he hesitated.
I waited.
“Bella,” he said again, “Charlie is one of my best friends.”
“Yes.”
He spoke each word carefully in his rumbling voice. ”I noticed you’ve been spending time with one of the Cullens.”
“Yes,” I repeated curtly.
His eyes narrowed. ”Maybe it’s none of my business, but I don’t think that is such a good idea.”
“You’re right, ” I agreed. ”It is none of your business.”

Wooooooooooooow. This man is just worried about you, your safety. Just trying to be good to you and make sure you’re well, whether he knows anything about what you’ve been through with Edward and his family or not. Can you not at least show a little respect?

And still the rudeness continues.

”You probably don’t know this, but the Cullen family has an unpleasant reputation on the reservation.”
“Actually, I did know that,” I informed him in a hard voice. This surprised him. “But the reputation couldn’t be deserved, could it? Because the Cullens never set foot on the reservation, do they?”…
…”You seem… well informed about the Cullens. More informed than I expected.”
I stared him down. ”Maybe even better informed than you are.” …
…”It’s not my business,” he said. ”But it may be Charlie’s.”
“Though it would be my business, again, whether or not I think that it’s Charlie’s business, right?”

At every turn, Bella is being a complete a-hole to a family friend who is concerned for her safety. Why does Billy not turn around and give her a hard lesson? He might not be her parent, but he is a parent. Why doesn’t he just… stop trying to be so soft? Why doesn’t he say, “Hey, you idiot girl! You’re a teenager, and you don’t know anything about anything! You haven’t lived long enough to get even half of the gravity of the situation! And frankly, if Charlie is Billy’s best friend, yes, he CAN make it Charlie’s business if he wants to. He’d be perfectly allowed! I dare say he makes a terrible friend if he says nothing. Which, apparently, he won’t, because for some reason Bella’s curt tone reach him… somehow. What?

Then the wolf boy and the wolf dad leave. Blah, blah, blah, Bella has some kind of a text dress-up montage or something, then she gets a phone call from her classmate, Jessica. Not like she cares, ’cause while the voice she hears is her school friend, all she can think about is, “Edward, Edward, Edward”.

”Did you hear what I said, Bella?” Jess asked, irritated.
“I’m sorry, what?”
“I said, Mike kissed me! Can you believe it?”
“That’s wonderful, Jess,” I said.

How does Bella manage to keep her friends? It’s obvious she doesn’t care about anything going on in their lives, no matter how much they may want to share details with her. This just continues to prove the self-insertion Mary Sue argument. No matter how much of a terrible person she is, she still gets to keep all of her friends. It isn’t cute.

Charlie comes home. And Bella reveals that she’s been to the Cullens place and that she has a date with Edward that very night.

”Wait…” He paused. “Which one is Edwin?”
“Edward is the youngest, the one with the reddish brown hair.” The beautiful one, the godlike one…

First off, ugh. Second off, I thought being a vampire automatically made you, like, gorgeous and junk. How can you say Edward is THE beautiful godlike one?

Then Edward shows up.

I hadn’t realized how hard it was pouring outside. Edward stood in the halo of the porch light, looking like a male model in an advertisement for raincoats.

I’ll have to eventually quit quoting every little obnoxious obsessive Edward thought Bella makes. It’s just so hard, because she won’t ever SHUT UP about it. And anyway, it’s pouring, right? And Bella has just told her dad that they’re going to go play baseball. Doesn’t he find that suspect in the slightest?

Only in Washington would the fact that it was raining buckets have no bearing at all on the playing of outdoor sports.

Frankly, I dunno about that. I’d still be pretty concerned either about my daughter’s chances of catching pneumonia, or that she was lying. Charlie mostly seems okay with Edward and doesn’t freak out terribly hard at this very sudden baseball date in the rain at all. Barely seems concerned about the off-roading Jeep they get into. Insert more seductive lingering at Bella’s neck, and they’re finally on the road.

”You smell so good in the rain,” he explained.
“In a good way, or in a bad way?” I asked cautiously.
He sighed. ”Both, always both.”

Oh, that’s right. I’d almost forgotten about that, too. The whole vampire thing has a secondary meaning, both that he’s tempted to eat her… and that he wants to screw her brains out, but the author didn’t specifically want to use that sort of language. So it’s up to the reader to interpret it and get her panties wet on her own.

They drive out down some dirt road, which is where they then have to travel by foot, which Bella doesn’t want to do, because she neither wants to run, nor does she want to ride on Edward’s back because she doesn’t want to get sick.

”Hmmm…,” he mused as he quickly finished. ”It seems I’m going to have to tamper with your memory.”
Before I could react, he pulled me from the Jeep and set my feet on the ground. It was barely misting now; Alice was going to be right.
“Tamper with my memory?” I asked nervously.
“Something like that.” He was watching me intently, carefully, but there was humor deep in his eyes. He placed his hands against the Jeep on either side of my head and leaned forward, forcing me to press back against the door. He leaned in even closer, his face inches from mine. I had no room to escape.
“Now,” he breathed, and just his smell disturbed my thought process, “what exactly are you worrying about?”

He goes on like this for quite some time, seducing Bella into shutting up. Isn’t that some messed up kind of control? Using his mystical vampire… uh… breath? That’s cheating, right? But Bella loves it. Or she’s convinced she loves it because being a vampire magically does that to people, I guess.

Then he took my face in his hands almost roughly, and kissed me in earnest, his unyielding lips moving against mine.
There really was no excuse for my behavior. Obviously I knew better by now. And yet I couldn’t seem to stop from reacting exactly as I had the first time. Instead of keeping safely motionless, my arms reached up to twine tightly around his neck, and I was suddenly welded to his stone figure. I sighed, and my lips parted.
He staggered back, breaking my grip effortlessly.
“Damn it, Bella!” he broke off, gasping. ”You’ll be the death of me, I swear you will.”
I leaned over, bracing my hands against my knees for support.
“You’re indestructible,” I mumbled, trying to catch my breath.”
“I might have believed that before I met you. Now let’s get out of here before I do something really stupid,” he growled.

It’s getting to a point where I’m having a hard time telling whether he’s in full bloodlust or just plain-old lust, because the author has so blurred the lines. Some people would say that’s good writing. I think it’s poor to not give your audience that clear distinction. And I mean, come on. All that, from a kiss? Seriously, Edward is how old, again? And he’s only just now having this internal struggle? As much as this is fantasy fiction, this is still really friggin’ unbelievable.

They run up the mountain, Bella riding on Edward’s back. And when they get there Bella tries to storm off because she’s mad… at, uh… the fact that Edward got mad…?

He put his hands carefully on both sides of my face. ”I infuriate myself,” he said gently. ”The way I can’t seem to keep from putting you in danger. My very existence puts you at risk. Sometimes I truly hate myself. I should be stronger, I should be able to-”
I placed my hand over his mouth. ”Don’t.”
He took my hand, moving it from his lips, but holding it to his face.
“I love you, ” he said. ”It’s a poor excuse for what I’m doing, but it’s still true.”
It was the first time he’d said he loved me – in so many words. He might not realize it, but I certainly did.

Wait, what’s he so upset about now? I guess he’s maybe upset that he so very constantly wants to kill her, I guess…? But the whole, “I love you, it’s a poor excuse for what I’m doing” thing… what? What does that mean? You’re doing what, now? Putting her at risk constantly? Hey, jackass. If you really loved her you wouldn’t BE constantly putting her at risk. You’d either know how to calm your bloodlust, or you’d separate yourself from her because it’s the best thing for her. You must not really be in love, then.

They’re finally at the specific spot on the mountain. All the Cullen family is there already. Time to watch some vampire baseball. There’s lots of pages for this. The game is so fast you can barely see it, and the crack of the ball against the bat doesn’t shatter either of them, but it DOES make an amazingly loud noise, hence the need to play during a thunderstorm. Still, even a metal bat and a baseball have their limits. If the vampires are hitting this sucker as hard as the author would have you believe they are, one of the two objects, if not both, should have been demolished.

Suddenly out of nowhere, Alice’s magical vampire powers kick in. That’s right, ’cause every vampire has a different magical, mystical power, remember? Alice’s happens to be that she can see the future, though because of how things can change that may constantly be in flux. That might be cool… if the author didn’t write it stupid.

”I didn’t see – I couldn’t tell,” she whispered.
All the others were gathered by this time.
“What is it, Alice?” Carlisle asked with the calm voice of authority.
“They were traveling much quicker than I thought. I can see I had the perspective wrong before,” she murmured.
Jasper leaned over her, his posture protective. ”What changed?” he asked.
“They heard us playing, and it changed their path,” she said, contrite, as if she felt responsible for whatever had frightened her.
Seven pairs of quick eyes flashed to my face and away.
“How soon?” Carlisle said, turning toward Edward.
A look of intense concentration crossed his face.
“Less than five minutes. They’re running – they want to play.”

Okay, okay, wait, just how does her power work, again? We’re to understand that there’s some vampires, three of them to be precise, headed this way now. And Alice figured that out because… she read the future…? That’s not what it seems like. It seems in this instance more like she has Vampire Radar and she caught three blips nearby who started heading their way because they heard the ever-fun sound of baseball. That doesn’t sound like reading the future to me. That’s reading the present. And the present is several miles away running to where they can play baseball.

Also, what the hell? Just how far away can Edward mind-read? After all, as you could just see, Edward was the one to answer how quickly they were coming. The vampires are nowhere in sight, and won’t be for another five minutes. And they’re even RUNNING. What the heck is the RANGE on this ability? That’s ludicrous! Like, it’s already bad enough that he can barely shut off the ability to read minds when he’s in a super populated place. But then to hear thoughts for, what, five miles? Ten miles? Twenty? That’s just absurd!

Might I just add, for the sake of amusement, that of all things, the movie actually played up to this segment better than the book did. The whole time throughout the course of the movie, we see imagery of these three vampires wreaking havoc across Washington, killing humans for fun, sport, and food. It’s a far better build-up to the stupid climax. But this book did a God-awful job of telling the same thing. Only now, almost 4/5ths of the way through the book, do we FINALLY get to the actual CONFLICT ARC of the story. Because the conflict arc isn’t really about how much Edward wants to eat/screw Bella (as much as the book for the last 372 pages [of which there are 498] would have liked for you to believe) but rather it’s about bad vampires who want to eat people, including Bella, and Edward and his band of merry good-pires must save the day. The story at this very moment just whip lashed itself so violently that I can only barely believe that anyone was still hanging on for the ride after this.

So they try and disguise Bella by having her pull her hair down around her neck, hoping to even slightly mask the scent of human, which is apparently a moot point, and they all keep in front of her.

”I’m sorry, Bella,” he muttered fiercely. ”It was stupid, irresponsible, to expose you like this. I’m so sorry.”
I heard his breath stop, and his eyes zeroed in on right field. He took a half step, angling himself between me and what was coming.
Carlisle, Emmett, and the others turned in the same direction, hearing sounds of passage much too faint for my ears.

And that’s where chapter 17 ends. So, to reiterate, Bella is selfish and rude, yet she somehow manages to get away with whatever she wants and gets to keep her friends, Billy the hardcore native American wolf is a pushover, Edward has a boner for Bella’s blood, Charlie is a terrible father, and vampire powers that are supposed to be specific are apparently limitless in what they can do.

It’s time to start clearing out the rest of this stupid novel. Next up, it’s Chapter 18!

Where Are The Real Super Heroes?

July 20, 2012

Today I logged into Facebook to see many, many well-wishes for an old high school theater classmate of mine, Brent Lowak.  I was shocked.  Brent?  This guy that I fondly remember as being part of so many productions, who I can see myself sitting next to in several photos in my old yearbooks?  I last talked to him at some convention… Something happened to him?  What was it?  Colorado?  What was he doing there?  

He was visiting a special person in Colorado.  A girl who also went to my high school, just a couple years younger than myself.  They were only trying to watch a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, in a movie theater in Aurora.  It was an event that everyone had been excited for for so very long.  I myself had wished to see the movie at midnight, too, from my own city of San Antonio, Texas.

But then something terribly tragic happened as the movie began.  A man enters from one of the exit doors near the screen.  He throws a gas canister in and then proceeds to light the theater ablaze with gunfire.  From what I understand, Brent and his dear friend Jessica Ghawi attempted to duck under the shots.  But Jessica had been hit in the leg.  And as Brent attempted to stop the bleeding, he himself was shot in the hindquarters, shrapnel traveling up to his shoulder.  And next was a shot that very sadly ended Jessica’s life.  All Brent could do was escape, which he very luckily did, though from my understanding bleeding was hard to stop for a while.  Of course he’s been through surgery… he’s incredibly fortunate to be alive.  

But what do you live with after something like that?  Of course you will have scars, and they’ll take a while to heal.  You’ll likely have to go through quite a bit of physical therapy.  But what about the incredible emotional scars?  Jessica was an ex-girlfriend, but a friend still nonetheless, and apparently important enough to travel out of state to visit and see the midnight premiere of an exciting movie with.  What do you do with yourself, having been right there to witness the loss of someone so precious to you?

I wasn’t directly related to any of the issues out of Aurora aside from having been classmates with people who were there.  But I felt such pain for those involved with such senseless violence.  I sent a tweet, asking for prayers for my old classmate.

This is when someone sent a tweet back at me in return.  “We’re trying to find my cousin. Was your friend’s friend named Matt?”

No… someone was lost… but what could I do?  I offered to send out tweets to get retweeted to find the individual.

“His name is Matt McQuinn. He is unaccounted for. Either lost in the shuffle or one of the 10in the theater. If you hear anything let me know please. Victims sevices had no news for his mom” 

And so I tweeted.  I hoped that somebody out there had the answers this person was looking for.  Quickly, the retweets started piling up.  But sadly, it didn’t come up with the results we were looking for.

The irony was, I’d already made my own plans to see The Dark Knight Rises tonight.  I couldn’t stay by Twitter to keep my finger on the pulse, to see if Matt had been found.  So, for three hours, I went without knowing.  Until I got out of the theater and checked Twitter on my phone.

“You can call off the search. Matt didn’t make it. Thanks for trying.”

I stood outside the theater for a moment, staring down at my phone in the palm of my hand.  I felt so helpless.  I was so far away, and there was nothing I could do.  My stupid tweets didn’t mean anything.  I was powerless against the monster that appeared in that theater just the other night.

And then I cried.

I just stood outside the doors of the theater and I cried.

“I wasn’t even directly involved.  What’s wrong with me?”

You know what’s crazy?  The Dark Knight Rises was an excellent movie.  So deserving of its hype and all the money it made just in its midnight showings alone.  And everyone who went to that Colorado theater last night just wanted to share in the excitement of this experience.  They all wanted to see their hero on the big screen, the last movie in this particular chain.  They were all so excited that they couldn’t possibly wait for another showing.  It was first or nothing.

And one crazed mid-twenties man ruined it.  For everyone.

And he ruined it in such a number of ways.  In all the selfish ways one can think of… he ruined the possibility of fun excitement for passionate fans, the ones you so often see at science fiction, fantasy, or hero movies, the ones who go in costume because they’re that passionate about a franchise.  You can forget that for a while.  Ruined it for people who choose to exercise their right to bear arms.  You can look forward to ridiculous debates on gun control for a while now, too. “Everyone should have guns!”  “No one should have guns!”  At bare minimum, he ruined what was going to be a good night for a theater packed to the brim with people.

And at worst, he ruined and stole lives.

And for what?  We’ll learn motivation as the days pass, that is to be certain.  But no matter what the motivation was, there will never be a REAL reason.  There’s NEVER a good enough reason for what happened.  The people in that theater were there for an innocent pastime and were undeserving of the terror that so very casually walked in through that front exit door.  You can label it with a very simple, clear answer: Insanity.  However, does that in the slightest justify the action?  In personal belief, no, it doesn’t.  In my opinion, “insanity” is different from “intelligence”.  James Holmes very clearly and deliberately planned this attack out in advance.  It was clearly premeditated.  At the very least, he was “smart” enough to go to different locations over the last couple of months to purchase his weapons and ammunition, cover his apartment in a ridiculous amount of booby traps.  He even seemed to want to do all of this looking like, and calling himself, “The Joker”.

It sounds like he likely did exactly what he wanted to accomplish.  He became a super villain.

Perhaps by me labeling him as such, I’ve given him exactly what he was looking for.  He’s gotten his name in history.  I can’t think of any other “logical” reason behind any of it, other than it’s just want he wanted to do for himself.  After all, he didn’t even kill himself or let himself get shot by the police after the event.  How many mass shootings have you heard of where the shooter doesn’t off himself afterwards?  He let himself be taken in peacefully.  He wanted to see it unfold just as much as any of us do.

Disgusting.  Crazy, painful, and disgusting.

And it just begs the question.  Where are the real super heroes?  

Where is the real Batman?

I think people really do need heroes of some variety.  Someone they can look up to.  Someone they can believe in.  We can say that we have real heroes of a variety.  Our military forces, police officers, fire fighters, EMS, etc.  And they do amazing services and put their lives at risk every day.  They do jobs that are deserving of our utmost respect.

And yet hundreds of emergency phone calls to the police didn’t save over 70 people last night.  James did exactly as much shooting as he had planned on doing.  He shot, and he just kept shooting until he was done.  And once he was done he just casually walked right back out the same door he came in through.  He walked right into the arms of police, sure.  But where were they?  They couldn’t be there fast enough to save the lives of 12 of those people, or stop the injuries of dozens and dozens more.  And that’s not entirely their fault.  They’re only human.  They can only get there so fast.

But horrendous events like these make you wish for a hero.  A REAL hero.  Someone to swoop in and save the day.  Stop the bad guys.  And then dash away without expecting a word of thanks.

It’s an unrealistic desire.  I know.  But it doesn’t mean we don’t dream of it.  A hero, just like the Batman we’ve seen appear on the big screen this weekend.  Someone who isn’t afraid to risk his own life to save the lives of countless others in a city he loves, despite the fact that that very same city has shown no love for him.

Or at the very least, I wish I could say I had more power.  The power to do something about it all myself.  I will never see a super hero.  I will never be a super hero.  But I wish for something greater than what we have so dearly.

My prayers… my prayers for the friends, the families, the fallen.  I’m praying terribly hard for everyone even remotely involved with these tragic events tonight.  Godspeed, and please take care of yourselves.  Take care of yourselves, while we continue to search for our heroes.

Oh, of course, …

June 18, 2012

Oh, of course, the day I alert the Internet to my missing hardware problem is the day I find it’s arrived. Thank you, Marco and anon!