Category Archives: Nerdism and Geeky stuff

Your ultimate Lovecraft soundtrack part 1

I’ve noticed the curious fact that so many bands have recently gone in the direction of Lovecraftian themes in their music, it’s astonishing. Some of them are brilliant.

Entering the Mythos

I stumbled upon a library book when I was around 16 years of age, featuring assorted Lovecraft stories. Though the book was more aimed at New England stories (the witchcraft stories of Lovecraft), it was an immediate succes for my reading pleasures. For years it felt like a nice underground thing, that only the initiated of my friends knew about. It’s the kind of work that makes you feel like you know something others dont.

The mythos isn’t for everyone, there’s a style of writing inate to the work of Lovecraft that is dense, old and sometimes a bit too stale, but it all helps in the proces of scaring you. Not everyone can get that far, which always prompts me to recommend short stories. Lovecraft could astonish you in a  100 pages of ‘At The Mountains of Madness’, but evenly so in a 3 page short story.

Academic interest

The Lovecraft mythos and its impact has even become a topic of some academic/essayist interest with the writings of even a Michel Houellebecq adresses the topic of Lovecraft. The early 20th century pulp writer has become an underground culture phenomenon. Specially in the later decades of past century, Cthulhu is rising.

Not only are there tons of cartoons, re-issues and weird fan art, Cthulhu and other Lovecraftian creations have been part of music (mostly heavy or underground) for a while. Gary Hill documented this in his book ‘The Strange Sound of Cthulhu: Music Inspired by the Writings of H.P. Lovecraft’.  It mentions an astonishing amount of bands from all sorts of places, but I feel quite often from the southern part of the USA. I guess the foggy swamps bring about something supernatural.

Musical Reading Support

Though many bands featured mention the fact that they veel their music should stand on its own, I find personally that having a good slab of music to listen to while reading the works of Lovecraft is an entirely cool thing to have. The comical Lovecraft tunes and punkrock probably doesn’t fit very well as material that supports you while reading. Instead you would go for something more atmospheric, heavy and oppressing, leaving classical/postrock/ambient and metal. I prefer metal.

Recently there’s been a boom in Cthulhu stuff, which ranges from audiobooks on bandcamp to strange experimental rock similar to the soundtracky stuff by X-ray Dog. An example of that are these guys:

Triskaidekaphobia would be right up your sleeve if you are interested in more electronic, trance-like material. A bit of goth flavoring and a ton of electronic assistance create something akin to a game soundtrack.

Similarly, the work by guitarist Brett Miller takes on that sound, but more metal oriented and maybe akin to the famous Red Alert videogame soundtrack. Strong riffing, but little other effects. Quite up front, which  is not for every reader, and highly captivating.

More out to get some prog in your ears? The recording done by Back to R’lyeh is a worthy endeavour with soaring, big sounding adventure-music. There’s a bit of heavy vocals mixed in their, but overall they sound a bit like modern day Opeth. Good stuff by this Spanish group, but to me a bit too all over the place.

More sticking witht he ambiance of a radio show? Reber Clark supplies the music to the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society’s Dark Adventure Radio Theatre and more, so he’s well versed in this. You can find a lot of his work online. 

A bit weirder…

A bit more odd, but I’m not judging, is the lo-fi surf inspired noise rock by Zpider on this endeavour. Granted, for me the weirdnes of it would be a bit too distracting, but the Burzumesque drones and spiralling sounds may just be what you need to get in that Lovecraftian groove.

So the Suction Cups took that and made it even more weird and silly, with a carnivalesque organ jam that sounds way to much like a party to me, but damn,… it’s captivating.

Thomasz Bylina is a metal musician, but on the side he started doing something he likes to call illustrative music. That is great, because that is exactly what you’d be looking for. The record, titled firstly ‘Teomachia’ is in fact ment as a soundtrack of a game Thomasz is part of developing. How awesome is that!?

Or you just don’t give a tick, give Cthulhu boobs and a vagina  that looks like the mouth of  Gene Simmons , like Blinding Eye Dog. I don’t know what more to say about this. Lovecraft probably didn’t envision this, but then again Lovecraft was a bit of an old fashioned guy… The music is good in my opinion.

Mind, this is just a pick of recent materials that have been released. It’s not an all encompassing list, but just what I came across.

The thing is, the inspiration that Lovecraft’s work has given to musicians is one of a kind. Even the weirdos from Blinding Eye Dog have clearly read the works and decided to do a strange spin on that. Sure, it’s very different, but the impact is shown. Yeah sure, it’s not thet profound expression of appreciation, but it shows the impact of Lovecraft’s work.

The Books I Read #18 Dungeons & Dragons

I kind of stopped mentioning the books I read for a while. Mainly due to the fact that I was stuck on the same saga for a while. I’ve started reading the ‘Legend of Drizzt’ series by R.A. Salvatore.

I mentioned a few of those books already in an earlier post. Since I shunned my responsibilities since, I have to now catch up with these things for a bit, to regain my self respect. I’m going to discuss the Drizzt series books from the start and the comics I’ve been checking out on this topic.

R.A. Salvatore – The Dark Elf Trilogy (Homeland, Exile, Sojourn)

goodreads.com

In the first series we are immersed in the world of Drizzt Do’Urden, warrior, thinker and hero of the Dungeons & Dragons Universe. Drizzt is born underground, in a place of certain death and evil: The Drow city of Menzoberranzan. On the night of his birth his elder brother is killed by his sibling, which means the life of Drizzt is spared. A third son would be sacrificed to the chaos goddess Lolth. Drizzt is raised in the matriarchal society under the tutelage of his father and the weapons master of house Do’Urden, while the matriarch watches. His father, Zaknafein, installs a different moral code in his son, one that strays from the evil path of the Drow and will set Drizzt apart from his kind.

The storytelling is such as to really allow the reader to immerse in the otherworldly and unholy beauty of these realms, specifically the hard to imagine Underdark, where the drow live. One could argue that Salvatore is engaging in the nature vs nurture debate here as well, since the character of Drizzt only starts to really be discussed after the real ethical questions are being raised. Before this point, he is an empty vessel in a way, following the path layed out for him. Once Salvatore opens up the characters, it feels elaborate and completely in sync with how D&D players would express their characters. The journey is quite beautiful, but very solo Drizzt. It is a necessary story that allows the reader to appreciate and embrace the character and the element that is Drizzt in the further stories.

R.A. Salvatore – The Icewind Dale Trilogy (The Crystal Shard, Streams of Silver, The Halfling’s Gem)

goodreads.com

In the second trilogy we fast-forward a little bit to a point where Drizzt has made some friends in the northern valley of Icewind Dale, a place of thieves, robbers and outcasts trying to start new lives. His friends include dwarven king Bruenor Battlehammer, halfling Regis and Catti-bri, human adopted daughter of King Bruenor. The characters are introduced during the story, slightly lifting up the veil on their backgrounds, while a threat grows in the dale. Not only do the friends need to unite, they’ll also need to unite the bickering villages of the vale, who have only once managed to work together to save their hides.

It is also the story of another character, namely the barbarian child Wulfgar. During the battle where the villages united against the Barbarian tribes, he was spared and indentured by Bruenor. We find the child coming of age as a man with the right mindset and principles, but the stubbornness of his own people. In the story the characters develop and find themselves amid the turbulent times they are part of. Ofcourse the story kicks of a leap to the next trilogy as well and much further adventures for what becomes the ‘Companions of the Hall’.  Where the first book focuses on what can be called pretty much ‘survival’, this book focuses on other D&D values such as diplomacy, wisdom and cunning.

goodreads.com

R.A. Salvatore – Legacy of the Drow ( The Legacy, Starless Night, Siege of Darkness, Passage to Dawn)

The events in the previous trilogy lead to an expansion of the world that the adventurers face, but also brings forward a longing for peace and home. Unfortunately the figure Drizzt has become a much desired prize for the evil drow, his own people. The matron mother of the city of Menzoberranzan decides on a hunt for the rogue drown to appease the displeased deity Lolth. In fact, Lolth herself has a hand in the whole events, tricking a great demon into cooperating with her against the prodigal son of her people. This reconnects the reader with some old familiar figures and brings us back to the Underdark, the realm of the drow. Dramatic events start to unfold soon, which will reshape the personalities in the game, even assassin Artemis Entreri, now a mortal enemy of Drizzt.

The tone of these novels is much more grim and dark, similar to their setting. Where battles are usually briefly mentioned and the focus is usually in the Drizzt novels on the interaction and experiences of the characters, this time a full out war is part of the story as well. It makes the story bigger and more grim than the previous outings. Also noteworthy is the return of some other elements from the previous books, that prove that history is not something for archives but a real thing that can come back to haunt you. In this book Salvatore also chooses to connect Drizzt to some other figures from the D&D universe, which is for a long time fan an absolute pleasure obviously.

R.A. Salvatore – Legend of Drizzt: The Graphic Novel Omnibus Vol. 1 & Vol 2

source: amazon

When a book has so much detail and characteristics embedded in its way of telling the story, the big challenge of course is to bring that to a visual medium. Luckily, there are plenty of capable artists and the team that worked on these first two installments of the two trilogy’s of Drizzt are definitely worth your reading hours, if not only for the strong way of transferring the story to a new medium, without completely bastardizing the text. In fact, much remains the same, apart from the painting parts about the landscape. Those are replaced with stunning images of the realms and the characters.

Granted, sometimes the drawings don’t correspond with your expectations, but that’s an inevitable qualm you’ll have with any adaptation. Ofcourse here and there sections are left out or minimalized, but you can’t prevent that from happening either.  When a fantasy story doesn’t have a film or something, itś always great to have something that offers you a visual experience. These comics definitely do that for you.

Cover image; Website Wizards of the Coast

Brews that Rock: Põhjala

Apart from a specific enthousiasm about music, I’ve been a beer enthousiast for a long time. I’d like to share a bit about one of my favorite beers, namely Põhjala from Estonia. A wonderful little brewery.

It says a lot if a small brewery is willing to drop by in Eindhoven twice to give people  a taste of their brilliant products. Põhjala dropped by the first time in Van Moll, the local brewpub where you could enjoy a wide range of beers from the Estonians. Lately they returned to hang out with beer lovers in the cosy beer shop De Bierbrigadier. These are also two spots that I really recommend if you drop by in my city and wish to try some beers.

I got a Pohjala shirt, it's really seriously cool
I got a Pohjala shirt, it’s really seriously cool

Estonian Craft Beer

I’ve been to Estonia twice, to visit the capital Tallinn and Tartu. What was immediately noticable was the lack of traditional brews and the more flavorous products. What you’d find was pretty much the big brews like SakuAlexander and the weirdly named A. Le Coq. There was also a beer named ROCK, but it didn’t really rock.

That is indeed the case, according to marketeer Peeter Keek, who dropped by in Eindhoven on the next tour of the young brand. It just wasn’t there: “When we started making beer with Põhjala, we really were the first. No one else was making craft beer in Estonia. Since, it really has exploded in our country.”  It’s true, Estonia has really seen a brewvolution in the last years with with tons of brewers popping up and as a cherry on the cake there’s even the Tallinn Craft Beer Weekend (organised by Põhjala apparently). According to Peeter, the weekend is well worth the trip with a lot of beers to taste. The price is well worth it.

Scottish inspiratin

The secret ingrediënt of Põhjala brews is a very specific one. He’s called Chris Pilkington and he used to brew beers for no other than Brewdog, the pinnacle of craft breweries for many beer geeks. Where Brewdog is pushing out a stable series of high class beers, Põhjala  started pushing the envelope on flavor with interesting, refreshing brews. The brewery was started by four entrepeneurs and a master brewer and clearly has their eyes set on the top, nothing less.

There’s a lot of experiment going on in their brewing, but also a lot of tweaking. What they don’t do is try to make crazy beers, they’re aiming for good stuff. I highly doubt that anyone will reinvent the drink in a radical manner, we already know what is good and so do these gentlemen.

yeah, this is some of the beer from Pohjala with very cool labels.
yeah, this is some of the beer from Pohjala with very cool labels.

The Beers

Peeter informed the visitors at great length about the special flavors and unique beers the brewery is producing: “We are as a brewer focussing on the heavy, black beers. It’s our specialty, which you can also see in our range.”  As he hols up a bottle of the brilliant Öö and the Must Kuld. The first is a imperial Baltic porter, offering the unique flavors of a Baltic porter with the dark nights and the unruly nature of these regions. The Must Kuld is more temperate, but a great porter that is the basis for various other great products, like a Kenya coffee porter and a cherry porter.

I have to mention one other variation of the Öö, named the Valge Öö, which is a white stout. Did you read that? A white stout! It’s a smooth flavoured, but potent drink that will set you back for a moment. The flavor is that of a stout, but the eye tells you differently. I can go on about their favulous beers, but I think this’ll do for now. Go try them yourself!
Ok, there’s this magic double IPA with ever changing hops, which makes the beer so surprisingly different. The edition I had to try was almost like liquorice hints in the beer, curious what you’ll get.

Vibe

Põhjala doesn’t feel old fashioned like a folk band, it’s a bit like punkrock in my opinion. Going against the grain, but in their own respectful way. It’s not bottled violence, but it certainly is a beer that you won’t buy in a six pack and it will surely rise above others in the years to come. Starting a craft brewery in a country that has none is kind of saying: We’ll start our own scene, we’ll just do it ourselves. Which is… the punkrock ethos in brewing.

It has its very own scene, exploring new areas with familiar ingredients, trying to perfect their craft and beers along. They are in complete control of their very own product and I hope to get to try a lot of them. There’s a risky flavor to the beer, something edgy and it really speaks to me as a brewer I dig and a beer to enjoy in winter and summer alike.

(there’s an unnecessary amount of references in the last bit to punkrock)

Don’t take my word for it, this guy says so too.

World of Warcraft is a Feeling #3

Where was I? Oh yeah, I wrote about Warcraft 2 and Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness. For some reason Roman numbers don’t work very well online, so I’ll stick with regular numbers. So, what happened after Warcraft 2?

Well, as pretty much every RTS fan must remember: Warcraft 3 happened. Oh my god, what an epic improvement on the game that was. It was one huge leap forward for gaming and I completely missed its initial release. I had moved away from games for a bit, only playing some NHL 2001 or something like that on the odd chance and some Final Fantasy VI. This was in 2002, the game had been out for a short while and after messing about with some copy I got myself the Battle Chest.

A Warcraft Battle Chest was nothing more than the game and its expansion with two guide books. Warcraft 3 was fully called Warcraft III: Reign Of Chaos and the expansion was ‘Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. The time between Warcraft 2 and 3 was a bit vague, things had transpired but it was pretty tricky to figure it out. Also, the storyline was hard to follow in Warcraft 2 because I never played for very long at one time, so the names didn’t stick. With the fabulous promo video and the epic cut scenes and clearly outlined story, Warcraft 3 was something new, something else and something wonderful.

Summertime Blues

It was a summer holiday and I had to work a lot at the supermarket that year, but during the holiday of my parents I would play all the time when I wasn’t working. I actually threw my matrass down next to the PC so I could save time. Ridiculous, I know, but I was that insanely into it. To follow the whole campaign and learn of the characters like Arthas MenethilThrall and Grom Hellscream (already a favorite from the past along with Korgath Bladefist) and ofcourse Illadan Stormrage. It was miraculous and completely immesive. The game was good for hours and hours of unlimited, unchallenged gameplay.

This was the game you were discussing with your friends, this was a story that you wanted to have retold and tried to trace. It was by far the best thing Blizzard had done this far and the whole sales numbers proved as much. Warcraft III is at the base of the succesful DOTA and League of Legends games and set the bar for RTS games for years to come. So while playing it, I was living in the Warcraft Universe and every moment I wasn’t, I was still there in my head. It was great stuff.

Innovation

Where the previous games had named characters, these had personalities. That was one of the things that Blizzard may have taken from the likes of Red Alert and Command & Conquer. Having characters with personalities helps the player in feeling part of the grand narrative. Something the man from Blizz understood like no other I suppose.

What also helped, was an environment that felt more natural and alive, not the barren wasteland that you were left with in the pervious games. There was a better ambient sound to accompany the setting and critters that you could kill, but also random mobs. Marauding gnolls, rampaging ogres and the ever present Murlocs. Also, the campaigns where you had to rely on skills and fast commanding were so much better and fun to engage in. Landing in Kalimdor with the Orcs really felt like finding a strange and mysterious land, not just the next puzzle. Corrupting the land with the undead felt a bit grimy and wrong, but also awakens the sadist in you.

To me these were major innovations in the game, though probably not as unique as it felt to me, but very significant.

source: Battle.net

Not just single player fun

For me personally, I’ve never been a great online player. Frankly, I sucked on the battle net servers. Battle Net had been launched already for Starcraft players a few years previously, to faciliate online playing. Interesting enough, the online playing was the future and Blizzard was one of the few companies really getting that.

Not only that, the game was so big, that you could discuss it easily with your friends who had started playing it. Funny enough, one of my best friends held the game wrapped up for 12 years before engaging in it, recently finishing the game finally. It was a weird throw back to discuss some elements in the game, since many of them where later sort of rectified in the ongoing narrative of the game in World of Warcraft.

Out of an ocean of mediocre games, this one rose above and beyond and was for me definitely the one that got me hooked forever on the game. It was not long after that WoW was released, which I didn’t start playing at first. I took some time… but I did start with the novels.

It’s just before I got into the biggest and I think best MMO of all time.

Music is less/more than/not Art

Music should never start calling itself art. Why so you may wonder. Well, music is an artform quite seperate from others, rarely recognized as one, always considered less and lowly.

Schopenhauer liked to give music a specificly different position within the arts, because it enabled one to get closest to the world and reveals the ‘in itself’ of it. It does that only if the music is a pure music. It gives us a direct insight and tells something directly about the will of the universe and its unity. He does not condone getting down to it though, music is for comtemplation and Schopenhauer might not consider your favorite metal band music.

…when music suitable to any scene, action, event, or environment is played, it seems to disclose to us its most secret meaning, and appears to be the most accurate and distinct commentary on it.

But Schopenhauer is a rare case. others like Immanuel Kant considered music beautiful and intriguing but ultimately lacking in the meaning and force of communiction that other forms of arts have. Neither did Pound think of it much and by extention and regardles of his profound influence on pop music, neither did T.S. Eliot embrace it, in particular popular music. It’s what it is.

The arts have not been kind to music, and  it as an art form has been left on its own  with its very own appreciation.  Also when it comes to subsidizing of the arts, music is the last to get any dough to make it work. Rather the powers that be will try to keep the fledgling poets alive by funding weird poetry on walls, at bus stops or on benches, because the poet needs to be kept alive. The result of that is not a resurrection love of the word, but just crappy poetry pooped out by bad poets who found a way to make money doing something they apparently care so little for. If they did, they would know that their twitter-style poetry of putting words together in a way you can find on the infuriating ‘justgirlythings’ cards on tumblr is not really artistic. Enough about this topic…

So what can you find when you actually look for music and philosophy, specially pop music. I found this one blog which attempts to bring the two together, but really all it does is bring about connections between the sentences that might make sense, but really would make the artist in question just go ‘wa??’. Also, the whole Katy Perry analysis, comparing a her song to Plato’s cave metaphor is just cute, but ofcourse not adding any value or validation to the music of Katy Perry (which is as yet mostly still done by her other assets). They are great tunes though, that make you feel a bit better, but they’re not charged with meaning, subtext and so forth. That’s alright.

In my view art doesn’t need to explain itself apart from the aesthetic. It beats a shitty explanation you might get with a flowerpot filled with concrete and a broomstick stuck in it, that would read something like: “This art represents the apparent liberty of current day women, who are allowed to look at the top but never achieve it due to male dominated powerstructures that keep them achored to the lowly positions…” See, I knock that stuff up without a thought. Do you feel offended, because this was your art project? Well, that’s how artistic it feels.

Music does not get the validation from thinkers or the ‘art-industry’ of being art. Therefore, it should stop trying to be and define itself on its own terms. Music is music and art is whatever some pompous git somewhere thinks. Music is thanks to this also much more accesible and open, it’s less likely to create elitism (yeah, there’s the hipster thing, but you can pretty much ignore that compared to the sniggering ‘oh-look-at-me-being-provocative-with-a-cucumber-under-my-dress’ crowd in the art world. Art doesn’t want you to come enjoy it, it wants to be left alone and exist outside of society, in its ivory tower (meaning funded by the government). Music wants you to come in and embrace it. So let it be just that way.

True art doesn’t need a label or funding, it’ll just be. That’s what music is doing right now.

Star Wars: The Trade-off of Legends

I’ve enjoyed the new Star Wars film like no other. It reinvigorated my passion for the expansive universe sci-fi series, but when the revamp was announced one thing was soon clear: There’d be a huge trade-off.

The trade-off for new Star Wars films is the reduction of the expanded universe to ‘legends’. This means,that the powers that be are in full control of reshaping, remoulding and destroying parts of the universe in favor of continuity of the films. To me that massively sucks. I’m going to be heavily speculating here about some of the key elements of the Expanded universe in my own brand of depressed analysis. Still, I draw hope from what Timothy Zahn mentioned about this all:

Bottom line: let’s all sit back and relax and see what new adventures are offered to us, both in new books and new movies. It’ll be Star Wars, and that’s what counts. – Timothy Zahn

Force Users

Zahn offers me a good bridge to an inital element of annoyance. Luke Skywalker is not necessarily the last Jedi. In fact, the complete expanded universe has been a huge contradiction of this. If not just for the current sucky situation that Leia seems to have no affinity with the force whatsoever, how about some of the most beloved characters from post-Star Wars EU stories. Ok, there is this slight hint of Leia having a slim sort of affinity to the force when she experiences loss when Han Solo is killed, but its too little, too late. In ‘The Force Awakens’, the son of the couple Ben Solo has force affinity. This is also tricky. I’ll refrain from going into this wasps nest of theory though.

How about Kyle Katarn? Does this trade-off reduce him to the history books of cool-guy-could-have-beens? I’m not saying this won’t be fixed, but there’s definitely an issue now, after declaring Luke the only force user.

source: Reddit

Key Playaz of History

The present is shaped by the past, but this situation offers a great way to really reduce history’s significance to a near zero. Though the Republic fell so easily in the films I, II and III it had stood before that fora millenia. Millenia in which the most fierce and powerful of the Sith were active. Let’s be reasonable, Darth Sidious is a pitiful bit of Sith. Manipulative, sure, but is he so strong that he could overthrow the whole Jedi order? Was Anakin that bright light?

Exar Kun, source: Star Wars Wikia.com

How could that Republic fight back the likes of Marka Ragnos and the combined power of Exar Kun and Uli Qel-Droma and this one fall under the boot of Hayden Christensen?

Expanded Universe reduced to fleeting mythology

Not only does the history seem trivial now in comparison to the film and its characters, it also has been changed from established fact to myth. At any time it can be repudiated, discarded and even erased. From the rocks that show the path of history in the Galaxy far, far away it becomes a misty, vague past with probabilities and possibilities. A vast detereoration of years of passionate work and love for the galaxy. It’s even captivated in the name: ‘Legends’.

A well, these are just my minor concerns. Don bother too much with them if you have never heard of the expanded universe. It shouldn’t bother you much.

World of Warcraft is a feeling #2

Warcraft returned to me with the second incarnation of the game.  That took some time, because to be honest I never had that first edition on my ow pc. I had to go see my friend for that.

I think the way I got the game Warcraft II is already rather iconic for that time. Remember that glorious days when the internet was still rather new and far off? My dad would go to computer nights to get software. Basically, he would let me tag along and everyone was waiting for the guy with the Twilight discs. Remember those? If you had acces to them in that time, you were the bomb. I managed to get my hands on one at some point in time, which had GTA London on it.

Sourcce: Wowwiki, artwork by Chris Metzen, instrumental in sparking ones fantasy

So we were scrolling through lists of installable content when my eye caught the glorious title I needed (I wasn’t looking for it, but there it was): Warcraft II and Warcraft II: Beyond The Dark Portal. The game was installed on our PC and the glorious quests to defend Azeroth could finally start from our own home.

The story of Warcraft II becomes more dense and coherent. Characters emerge and re-emerge, like the fabled Lothar and ofcourse the newly introduced Paladin class with Uther The Lightbringer at their head. More units, more complexity and also much more fun. What I liked most were the heroes, that gave more depth to the story, the variation in terrain and the possibilities to persue air, water or land battles.

Names like Terron Gorefiend, Korgath Bladefist, Ogrim Doomhammer and many more sounded great. I love how they all sometime in the future would show up again, but it sparked my interest and imagination. What I liked particularly much in this version of the game, was the ability to create your own levels. This was also a feature of the later Starcraft, which allowed you to deply hero units (not hero’s as in WCIII, more like unique characters) and all sorts of special stuff. Ofcourse, the levels I build were shit and not at all fun to play when it came down to it, but no matter. The ability to be part of this world and create in it was enough at the time.

We played it together, in turns or just watching eachother play it. It was discussed with my close friends even. The story was kinda being made up on the spot. The story telling was not that clear as yet, but we were fighting Orcs! With Knights! It was epic.
It’s hard to explain today with the old footage why it got to me so much. Why this game defined my gaming experience for the next decades and why I still rarely play other games. It was the epic quality of the music, the grand story and the ability to be in control of all that. It’s  the complete product that Blizzard creates, which is so important in teh experience you have as a player. It was awesome.  Warcraft I captivated me, but it was Warcraft II and that amazing expansion ‘Beyond The Dark Portal’ that cemented my love for this game.

I don’t often dedicate a post to someone, but I’d like to dedicate this one to my brother. He was, is and always will be a better gamer than I am, but has never shied away from taking the time to take me along on his quests. I’m very grateful for that, for sharing the magic, even today.

Why you should just give up on Marvel films.

(if you think they aren’t as good as the comics)

Holy shit! The rage is strong in geek land again. Marvel/Fox is releasing some footage about that new X-men film ‘Age of Apocalypse’. Yeah, Apocalypse looks like some weird seventies Doctor Who swamp monster, part of some ancient warrior caste.

Even though this is my favorite story arc of the classic X-men, I’m not going to be bothered too much about it. I mean, there are various reasons why you shouldn’t be having these crazy expectations. Sure, I did watch a bunch of the films much later on my pc and sure they were enjoyable. Did I expect the same magic as I did when I was a child? No… Ok, lets start with some numbers.

1. It’s NOT a Marvel product

No matter how your view on crime and punishment is, the end product is no longer in the hands of Marvel, but the movie company they sold it too. Happens that this is FOX, not known for their subtle ways I guess. Sure, there’ s one hell of a producer behind the cameras, but you have to start realising that this film is not made for you, the comic book or animated show loving geek, but for that audience of millions that needs to feed the box office with moneys. It needs to appeal to that, so the ‘complexities’ and spin-off storylines are not in there. It’s sad, sure, but the way of things.

2. You’re not 12 anymore

Remember how you were baffled by Santa Claus as a kid? How adults seemed like heroes and the world was all good? The perspective as a child is very different and you are no longer that. Those complexities and world-changing ideas you think you found in that comic book once, were probably just you growing up a little bit. You’ve changed, but the X-men haven’t really.

The classic stories will always be great, because they came to you on an age when you were full of wonder and easily impressed by them. Reliving them in a new form, without them being told in the same way and without you expecting them, will prove that the stories are not that dense and full of meaning. It kinda rhymes with the beef Simon Pegg has with superhero films. It’s not like the makers are trying to make it more mature, special effects are a shortcut to succes.

source: Buzzquotes.com

3. You know that he’ s not Charles Xavier…

You have these ideal images of the characters from the comic and now you have a bunch of flawed, human figures in their place. You know that Ian McKellen is actually Gandalf and that Patrick Stewart really belongs on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. Ok, yes! They are not in this film! James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are, two guys you’ve probably seen killing it in any other film they were in, so wrapped up in different roles and faces… Sophie Turner is always going to be the Stark girl from Game of Thrones and Jennifer Lawrence is the chick who’s titties you’ve probably seen thanks to that phone hack incident. If she played anyone else than Mystique, that would seriously taint the image of perfection of these characters.

What I’m saying is, you’ll probably feel like not a single actor is good enough for their role (except Hugh Jackman, y’all love Hugh Jackman), because of this idealized image you have of your favorite franchise. Let it go, it’s not this and if that’s the attitude you’re going to bring, no one will share their popcorn with you.

4. The Bad Guy is going to suck, because there’s no Ian McKellen

Let’s face it, the only decent bad guy depicted in this series of films was Magneto. The cold rationale, the persistence and humanity, that was all Ian McKellen and he was awesome. Specially opposite Patrick Stewart. Every other villain kinda sucked. Vinnie Jones as the Juggernaut? Come on…

Apocalypse should be larger than life, almost divine in a way, but he won’t be. He is going to look like a bad reproduction of a Mortal Combat villain (did you ever see that show? That sucked balls…) or one of those other nineties doofy, low-budget shows. Why? Because that’s how it’s going to be.

source: musingsbystarlight.com

5. There’s only so much you can get out of a good thing….

There’s  a bunch of films out now, and it seems to have run its course. There were 3 Lord of the Rings films. That was it, that was a good thing and for many reasons there was not more. That was also it, that was the material. So why was The Hobbit, a much slimmer little book, brought in 3 films as well? Because they were milking it for whatever it was worth. Is that a bad thing? Yes, it usually is and gets the viewer swamped in overdone dramatic cut-scenes, special effect extravaganza end very, very little narrative. This may be a personal Peter Jackson rant, but the point is valid. Set your limits, do not keep going on milking stuff.

The time of the films that get  a part 10 is way behind us. The thing is, good things come to an end and even the great cast of actors is not going to carry this concept into the future.

I’m just awaiting the disappointment of ‘Gambit’  (Channing Tautum, wtf?) and the long awaited ‘Deadpool’. I’ll go into that fully knowing that it’s not going to be the awesome I expect, but maybe I’m just a bit sadomasochistic…. Who knows…

I did like Guardians of the Galaxy. What do you think?

Keep on Bloggin’

So I started blogging about a year ago, I thought it would be a good way to start expressing myself and put some feelings and words on paper. Looking back, there’s a lot of personal posts I’ve deleted. I felt that it was just too much open wound sadness and sorrow.

About a year ago I started a series of conversations, which were supposed to help me overcome certain personal problems and I saw a lot of value in trying to share that. It created a lot of tension and clashes in my life, that did not make me very happy. I’m still not sure if those were good things or bad, I know where I am now and I’m quite ok with myself.

So recently I switched that blogging around and Im more getting into stuff I find cool and writing down rants and thoughts. Sorry for the many Skyrim references, I hope to start playing another game soon but my time is a bit limited when it comes to that. Or… Skyrim takes up too much time. I had given up on gaming to be honest, becuase I thought it was not mature and stuff. Thanks to following people like Wil Wheaton (again, my blog is named after that dude) and other geeky heroes, I’m ok with it. Why would I not do the things that make me happy?

I feel like I’m hitting the form of my original posts  and that I’m trying to say relateable things that are interesting and perhaps a bit funny. I feel good about that. Recently there were quite some positive responses to my blogposts on facebook, even if those were just likes, they were much appreciated.

The ones that seem to attract less attention are the ones about the books I read, but then again I received nice words about those to my face. All in all, it’s been enough inspiration to keep on blogging. Hopefully putting out some stuff that is appreciated. I strive for a strong personal element and hope to touch upon my favorite topics, which are nerdism, thoughts, travel and lifestyle (mine I guess) with some music mixed in.  Hopefully you’lll keep reading and enjoying it. Thanks for all the thumbs up.

I guess you’ve noticed the strange cover picture? That’s where the magic happens. Yes! It doesn’t look as pleasant as this:

Source: Blogsuccesschool.com (click for that site, its quite a cool site about professional blogging)

So yeah, that’s not my set up, I do not own a Mac and my notebook is a random collection or whatever crap I need to write down. It does not look appealing. I wouldn’t mind if it was though. You know what, next time I’ll make a picture of my setup at the kitchen table, with my chromebook.

Gotta go now, my cat Frankie is lost somewhere behind the bathroom unit and making the saddest sounds (which also occur when hungry).

Joining the Empire!

Here I am with my empire
I’ll bring you to your knees
ebb and flow with my desire
cause its all that you’ve been taught to be
– Boysetsfire, ‘Empire’

The Empire, always the evil force in the world, but playing Skyrim I joined the Empire. Not the Stormcloaks. Am I finally becoming an adult?

A quick rundown of what the difference is between those two factions in the game. The Empire is a human faction, which has been keeping the Dominion at bay. The Dominion are the elves, who try to dominate the world. So the Empire is in a global conflict for the good cause, but has signed a concordate with the Elves (really, I am not good at getting to the core of things I am excited about). Now, the Empire is due to that concordat enforcing some rules, like prohibiting the reverence of Talos as a deity. Talos is like the first emperor of the land Tamriel and in a sense the ‘Elder Scrolls’ Jesus.

So the Stormcloaks, under Ulfric Stormcloak, think thats bullshit and want to kick the empire out. They are in essence rebels, fighting for freedom and maintaining their  Nord (the nordic people/race) ways. Downside: They’re also a bit going on with ‘Skyrim for the Nords’, which has a bit of a ‘Auslander Aus!’ flavor to it. So what it boils down to, the Empire protects the human population, but enforces some restrictions on religion. In general they provide peace and prosperity to an extent. The Stormcloaks want more freedoms and thus they fight them. There’s another group called the Forsworn, but apart from wearing silly costumes, they seem to lack a real plan.

source: Tumblr

Usually the Empire sucks, like in Star Wars and pretty much every slightly older scifi/fantasy setting. Mostly this is due to them being evil, but I never really got what was wrong with the Empire of Darth Vader and the Emperor. Sure, they were a bit hard handed, but was their plan to destroy the galaxy and plunge it into eternal war? That’s more the empire in Warhammer 40,000, but those are the good guys… Depending on your perspective at least. In Firefly you have the brown coats, who are like the ‘South’ in the American civil war, fighting  against the alliance that again brings peace and prosperity.

It’s almost like a Hobbesian view of society that is depicted by a bunch of these rebel movements. The society needs to submit to a ruling power, which is depicted as an all overshadowing Leviathan. Its the grimmest view one can take of the social contract, which it in fact. is. In Skyrim the Empire is your best bet, even though the Thalmor (evil elves) are dictating what they do. The Empire has been severely wounded by war and needs to lick its wounds. Now, it can’t do that if them elves kill all humans.

I was always a bit more of a rebel guy, but now I find that I sided with the empire. The blatant racism of the Stormcloaks might have a lot to do with it, but also the general lack of perspective. What point do your ‘freedoms’ have if you can not unite in any sense against a bigger enemy? If you cant actually realise anything. Also, ironically, you are putting a despot in place most of the time. I’ve had high doubts about the future of that ‘Galaxy far, far away…’ after the Empire falls apart. Who’s gonna rule that? Luke? Give me a break, maybe Lando has a shot at it.

I used to be into punkrock and I still believe in its strenght. Rebellion is a good thing and necessary even, but it is not the solution. So I say, throw in your lot with the empire. You can kill Thalmor on sight whenever you want anyways. What I was getting at though is that chosing the Empire is chosing relatively the greater good. I think thats the mature thing to do. I found it quite interesting. Apart from that, it shows a general shift in our thinking. A reevaluation of set ideas. What is the greater good and does it justify the good? You can decide for yourself and figure out what your stand on this is. If you change your mind, you can always reload an older save game.

source: PCgamer.com ‘Killing everything and everyone because you want to in Skyrim’

Also the Empire dresses like Romans and gives you Roman style ranks. I’m a Legate now. I guess there’s also people who just chop of heads of all npc’s. So it’s the liberalism of Voltaire for the Stormcloaks, Rousseau believers for the empire… and ofcourse De Sade like berserkers for just chopping of heads. Huzah!

Gaming makes you smarter kids.