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Movie Reviews:

Friday, July 30, 2004

I Guess I'm a Troll

...but not the message board variety.

What kith are you? Find out here.

Meh. It fits, I have to admit. At least I'm not a bloody Pooka.

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 10:42 p.m.


Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Free Expression? What Free Expression?

I was considering doing another movie review, but I think I've been doing too many of those lately. It's time for me to wax political again.

Of course, the only thing politics-related on my mind at the moment is the present hullabaloo regarding the so-called "Free-Speech Zones" currently being used at political conventions in the U.S. And really, George Paine of Warblogging sums up the situation much better than I could.

Does anyone ever call the Preznit of the U.S. the "leader of the free world" with a straight face anymore?

(Photo by Shining Dragon of

But, if that's just too depressing for you, here's some similar news that's a little bit more amusingly surreal: Some people, it seems, just have something against ice cream. One has to wonder how the idea to burn ice cream as a protest even occurs to someone. I mean, until now, I didn't even think it was possible.

I tell ya, it's a laugh a minute, this "state of the world." I'll be glad when it starts to make sense again.

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 9:28 p.m.


Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Musings on Pie

As a break for all those of you who have suffered through my inordinately long blog entries lately (not that many of you actually read them in their entirety, I expect), I offer you this excerpt from a recent MSN chat I had with a friend who lately goes by the on-line monicker of Shiroi Musashi. Enjoy!

Shiroi Musashi: But I do like pie.

Me: Doesn't everyone?

Shiroi Musashi: Well... not EVERYone...

Me: I'm sure that every person likes at least one kind of pie. I mean, there are so many types of pie out there, it would take more conscious effort than a human being is capable of to dislike all pie.

Me: At the very least, they might not be too crazy about pie itself, but they would probably like the idea of pie.

Me: Y'know... On a conceptual level.

Shiroi Musashi: Ah. Perhaps you are correct.

Me: I'm certain of it. At its foundation, pie is an absolute, a conceptual essence that forms one of the building blocks of the universe. Like love, or evil. Or beer.

Me: I've gotta write some of this down.

Shiroi Musashi: You just did.

Me: Hey, you're right! I did!

Me: I love teh intarweb! :)

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 10:53 a.m.


Sunday, July 25, 2004

Superman Goes Bad!

According to that always-accurate and completely unbiased "news" source, FoxNews, it seems Superman's had a very bad day.

Personally, I think he was framed. Luthor is no doubt behind this.

And speaking of Superman, some of you may remember a short film called Batman: Dead End a year or so back. It made quite a stir, in fact, when it first came out. (If you haven't seen it or don't know what I'm talking about, go here to find out. You'll be glad you did.)

Well, the same guy who's responsible for B:DE has now come out with a new film project -- the trailer for a (sadly) fictional movie, this time about Superman and Batman. You'll want to download the high-quality, 80 meg version... It's definitely worth the extra bandwidth (and I speak as someone who downloaded it on a piddly little 56.6 baud dial-up modem). Very cool stuff; I wish they'd just hired Collora to do this movie rather than wasting time and money on that train wreck that is known as Catwoman.

There's also another fictional trailer, called Greyson, that follows the same vein. It's also very good, but it suffers a bit from "fanboy overload." (I mean, how many iconic characters have to be in a film before it becomes just too much?)

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 1:39 p.m.


Saturday, July 24, 2004

Continuing Grumbles

The good people at Blogger still haven’t fixed my blog problem. Well, I guess life must go on. Can’t let something like technical difficulties prevent me from talking to the vast emptiness that is my corner the intarweb.

What to talk about? I have some superhero-related news, but I think I’ll save that for the next post. For now, I’ll do a review of the movie I just finished watching.

The Duplicate (aka Deuces)

The Duplicate is a vaguely sci-fi thriller put out by Go Time Films. It’s written and directed by Michael Winnick, and stars Tiffany Paige, Trey Alexander, Nicholl Hiren, James E. Hurd, and more!

What, you’ve never heard of any of these people?

There’s a reason for that. You see, this is not the worst movie I’ve ever seen.

But damn, is it close.

The tag-line on the DVD cover says, “What would you do if someone was living your life better than you were?” The basic concept behind the movie, from what I could gather, is that because of a clerical error in Mayan calendars five thousand years ago or somesuch, every twenty years there’s a chance that people from an alternate universe will accidentally spill over into our own world. These people have counterparts in our world – duplicates look exactly the same, but are polar opposites when it comes to their personality. I can only assume this is the same Mirrorverse that anti-Kirk comes from.

I’m reasonably certain that the Outer Limits did something similar. Or perhaps Twilight Zone. Maybe even both. I’m also reasonably certain, without having seen such an episode of either of these series, that the television show was far better than the movie.

The story follows the trials and tribulations of Karen Addams, played by Tiffany Paige, a struggling and extremely ethical reporter who’s just looking for the break she needs to make it big. She visits a crazy theatre-owner as part of a story she’s investigating (passing up a chance to cover a bank-massacre by an irate accountant in the process), and ends up opening the door to the mirror world.

The co-star is Greg Johnson, played by Trey Alexander, who is actually the mirrorverse counterpart of the psychopathic accountant that committed the aforementioned bank massacre. Naturally, he’s as harmless as a fly, except when he’s in a fist fight, in which case he’s capable of tossing people through windows and rushing armed gunmen, but is helpless against a common garden hose.

The lighting was bad. The camera-work was dull, amateurish and uninspired. The script was terrible – I quite literally felt like retching at a few of the lines. This is not hyperbole – this is literal truth. True, it could have been aggravated by the Big Mac I’d just finished, but regardless it’s hard for me to be so disgusted with a line and its delivery that it makes me feel physically ill. I mean, I got through Showgirls without such a problem. Hell, I used to watch Anime on a regular basis (and I still do on a rare occasion), and I never had that problem.

It was a new experience for me. I’ll give it that.

Allow me to drive the point further home. You know the saying how if you chain a thousand monkeys to typewriters and have them punch keys randomly, given enough time they’ll produce all of Shakespeare’s works? Well, this movie had one monkey, fifteen minutes, and I'm pretty sure he was stoned at the time.

Did I mention the delivery? If the script was bad, the delivery was atrocious. I won’t say the acting was atrocious, because really there wasn’t any, there was just delivery. The so-called “actors” mostly just walked around and said the lines they were given, and what emotion they might have been expressing at the time seemed to have no connection with the lines themselves, nor the context surrounding the event. It was almost like a crap shoot, and the rare occasions that the line and the delivery matched appeared to be

With one notable exception. James E. Hurd, as Detective Howser, possesses acting ability head-and-shoulders above the rest of the cast. This does not make him a good actor. He’s not a good actor, at least not yet. Rather, he’s not bad. You could tell he wanted his lines to be good, and just beneath the surface you could see utter despair in his eyes as he wondered whether this would kill his chance of ever having an acting career. Instead, he just does what he can with what he’s given, which isn’t much, but at least it isn’t gut-wrenchingly painful.

I hope that he gets more work; I’d like to see if he could do better with a better script. However, I’m not glad he was in the movie. Having someone not incredibly horrible come on-screen for moments at a time just made everything else that much more unbearable by comparison. It’s like putting your hand on a hot burner, and then taking it off half a second before your nerves are permanently burnt away, so as to prolong the pain you feel when you put your hand back on the burner again a moment later.

Apparently, this movie is the 2002 Telluride IndieFest Film “Best Feature Film” winner. I’ll confess that I’ve never heard of the Telluride IndieFest awards before, and I’m thankful

I rented this movie on a whim. I was terribly bored and too tired to do anything overly constructive. However, now that I have brought this movie to the attention of a handful of readers, I grow fearful that this may pique some kind of morbid curiosity, the sort that might make someone go out and watch White Chicks or Catwoman or something.

Thus, I feel obligated to spoil the movie for you. I’ll choose to do so with my condensed/abridged script, that follows. Please note that, if you are in any way entertained by this work, this should not reflect on the movie in question.

THE DUPLICATE as translated by Jesse Roberts

OPENING: Scene opens with Old Man Jenkins yelling at his dog.

OMJ: You call that guarding the door to the mirrorverse? Bad dog! No biscuit!

Dog: Woof!

OMJ: *picks up shotgun* Well, I guess I’m gonna have to do this the hard way.

***OMJ walks off-screen, we hear a gunshot. He comes back in covered in blood.***

OMJ: Now it’s your turn, dog.

Dog: Woof?

***Scene switches to a cubicle, where the star, Karren Addams, is busily working at her computer. Enter the youngest editor-in-chief for any magazine reality has ever seen.***

Editor: Karen! I want you to go to cover the bank massacre that just occurred. It’s a hot story – see what you can find.

Karen: But, sir! I’d much rather continue my investigation of some obscure incident that occurred twenty years ago and that nobody but me cares about!

Editor: Well, it’s against my better judgement, but okay. *he walks off.*

Karen: I guess it’s off to see the crazy old man and work on my piece. But first, I’d better visit my obligatory oversexed sidekick, Amanda.

*She walks to another cubicle*

Karen: Hi, Amanda!

Amanda: Hi, Karen! I’m a terribly oversexed blonde! Let’s go out tonight and find men!

Karen: But I’m writing a book!

Amanda: A book about men?

Karen: No… A book about… Something vague and meaningless.

Amanda: It should be a book about men!

Karen: Oh, Amanda! You’re such a joker. You’re my single best friend in the whole world. I just want to make that clear because it’ll be important later on.

***Scene switches to the inside of a theatre, where Karen is interviewing Old Man Jenkins***

OMJ: I’m crazy! CRAZY! Wokka-Wokka-Wokka! *begins flapping arms around in the air*

Karen: I see. So, what do you have to say about the strange events that took place twenty years ago to the day?

OMJ: Blah, blah, blah, mayans and stuff. Blah, blah, blah, they’re coming soon. Every twenty years, you see, blah, blah. Hey, let me give you this ultra-important key to another universe for no particular reason. Did I mention I’m crazy?

Karen: Thanks!

***A police officer and what can only be assumed is a strangely young bank person arrive to evict Old Man Jenkins***

Officer: Evicted!

OMJ: Oh, no!

Karen: And now, I’ll open this door with the key I was just given!

***Karen is at a night club with Amanda, after work***

Amanda: That sure was strange, that Brad guy leaving you a message on your answering machine, even though you’ve never heard of him before.

Karen: He seemed to think we went on a date or something. How odd.

Amanda: Well, even though he’s a total stranger, you should call him up and talk to him. And then have sex, because sex is cool.

Karen: Oh, I couldn’t do that. Gosh, I wish I were more forward. But I sure am glad that you’re my friend, Amanda. Why, if you were tragically murdered somehow, I don’t know what I’d do.

Amanda: I agree. Hey, look -- Men! I’m going to go get sex! Yay, sex!

***Karen returns home only to find bondage gear inexplicably in her bedroom. Naturally, she calls the police. Enter Officer Putz and Detective Howser***

Officer: Bondage gear! Dude! *he puts on a leather mask and begins prancing about the bedroom*

Karen: Are you sure that prancing is standard investigation procedure?

Howser: *winces, can’t believe he’s saying this line* Er… Yeah… it’s vital. We need to, er, get inside the perv’s – I mean perp’s! – perp’s mind.

Karen: Well, if you say so. Now, about this break-in…

Howser: No, never mind about that. For some very odd reason, I’m going to belittle your fears at having someone set up a leather ceiling harness in your bedroom. Although it makes absolutely no sense, I’ll just proceed to ignore your concerns rather than take them seriously, while my partner plays with a dildo. Dear God, I don’t want to be in this movie.

Karen: I think that’s terribly unfair.

Howser: You think that’s unfair? I’ve actually got a bit of talent, unlike the rest of you hacks. Somebody, please shoot me. No, better yet, shoot my agent.

Karen: So, aren’t you going to do anything?

Howser: Sure. I’m drinking myself into a stupor as soon as I get off this set.

***New scene, in which Karen is at her cubicle, about to put in her day’s work after an extremely unproductive previous day***

Editor: Hey, Karen! Great story!

Karen: Story? I haven’t submitted any story.

Editor: Really, that was the best story I’ve ever read.

Karen: But I didn’t submit anything.

Editor: It was just so AWESOME! The BEST! I LOVE YOU!!!!1!

Karen: Can’t you hear me? I’m telling you, I didn’t write anything – I haven’t submitted any story to you yet! The Old Man Jenkins story was a bust!

Editor: TEH BEST STORAY EVAR!!  U R0XX0RZ!!!one!!!!


Editor: Keep up the good work! And take a few days off, because otherwise we won’t be able to feasibly explain your upcoming neglect to do your job! *walks off with his hands over his ears, singing “la, la, la, I can’t hear you”*

Karen: This doesn’t make any sense. Well, I guess I’ll go home. *she walks to the elevator and sees her duplicate*

Oh, no! That person looks exactly like me! I’m going CRAZY!!! Wokka-Wokka-Wokka! *runs off into the streets*

***Karen decides to return to Old Man Jenkins’ theatre. Next to a dumpster lies Greg Johnson, who has been sleeping in a muddy alleyway, judging by the unshaven face and unkempt hair. Despite this, his light blue shirt and tan trenchcoat are perfectly clean, as if they’d just come from the dry-cleaners.***

Karen: I wonder why I’m here?

Greg: Hi, lady!

Karen: Hey, you’re that mass-murderer that everyone thinks I helped catch by writing a story I didn’t write!

Greg: Yeah, that’s me, only I didn’t do it. And I’m hoping you’ll believe me, because you’re a complete stranger, and it’s the sort of things complete strangers do.

Karen: Could I just kick you in the nards instead?

Greg: Sure. Wait, I mean – *she kicks him in the nards. He drops like a sack of potatoes. She runs. He catches her. Police arrive and chase him off.*

***Karen returns home, had a water-balloon fight with the neighbourhood kids, and then goes back to work to talk with Amanda.***

Karen: Amanda, I need to talk to you…

Amanda: Oh, you’re talking to your oversexed blonde sidekick now, are you? I thought you wanted to snub me!

Karen: When did I do that?

Amanda: This morning!

Karen: I wasn’t here this morning. Look, I’m being impersonated by someone.

Amanda: Why should I believe you?

Karen: Well, look at this; I’ve just gotten a bill in the mail for a yellow sports car.

Amanda: So?

Karen: I don’t drive.

Amanda: Oh, yeah. Obviously, this has to be some sort of evil twin, then.

Karen: I’m so glad you’re my friend. So will you help me out by finding out stuff about the past that would be too boring for the audience if I were to do it?

Amanda: Well… I’ll be missing out on sex. And in case I didn’t make it clear, I really, really like sex. But, sure, we’re best friends and all.

Karen: We sure are! And I just want to belabour the point, just in case something horrible and tragic happens to you just before the climax of the movie!

***With Amanda’s help, Karen is able to discover the home of answering-machine Brad***

Karen: Hey, Mr. Brad, are you in? *There is no answer, so she decides to climb up the terrace and through the window, as any logical person would do when someone refuses to answer the door*

Brad: *brandishing gun* Crazy-bitch woman, get away from me or I blow your brains out!

Karen: I never expected you to react so hostilely to my breaking into your home! I’m shocked! Shocked, I say!

Brad: Leave me alone! I never want to see you again! You’re making me GO KEE-RAYZEE! Wokka-Wokka-Wokka!

***Karen returns to talk to Amanda and find out what she’s discovered***

Karen: Well, I guess I’ll never make it as a cat burglar. Did you find out anything interesting, Amanda?

Amanda: I sure did… It seems that every twenty years, a few people in this city will start claiming they’re being impersonated and their lives are ruined and stuff. The records of this goes back as far as there are records.

Karen: Wow… Is there anything common between the incidents?

Amanda: Nope, nothing whatsoever. Well, unless you count the single connection that they all have in common, which would be that theatre of Old Man Jenkins.

Karen: I wonder if this is somehow connected to my problem?

Amanda: It could be…

***The next day, Karen decides to have lunch. Mirrorverse Greg decides to join her***

Greg: Hey! You’re still pretty much a stranger, and even though you kicked me in the nards last time we talked, I’d like your help.

Karen: Well, okay, I’ll hear you out, even though I’m told that since your bank massacre, you’ve escaped police custody, killing two officers as you did so.

Greg: Someone’s impersonating me! This baseball glove proves it.

Karen: Me, too! Well, I’m convinced. We should team up to defeat the evil-doers!

Greg: Yes, we should! But be warned, I’m a shy, mousey individual who couldn’t hurt a fly. Plus, I’m really confused because there are things that are different all of a sudden – streets that are in this city that weren’t there before, and others that aren’t there when they should be. It’s like I’m from a different universe or something!

Karen: How odd. I wonder what it means? And I wonder if Brad knows anything about our duplicates?

Greg: I could go find out for you.

Karen: Would you? That would be swell; he won’t talk to me, because I guess where he’s from it’s rude to break into other folks’ apartments or something.

*Police spot Greg. They get ready to chase him.*

Greg: Whoops! Gotta run – I’ll meet you at Brad’s place.

*Greg runs off, being chased by police. The police follow him into a building and up a flight of stairs*

Officer 1: Hey… Wait a sec…

Officer 2: What is it?

Officer 1: We’re on the tail of someone who killed a whole bank full of people, was arrested, and then killed two cops as he escaped.

Officer 2: Yeah? So?

Officer 1: So, shouldn’t we at least have our guns ready? I mean, we’re not even taking them out of the holsters. Hell, we aren’t even taking our billy clubs out. Don’t you think it would be wise?

Officer 2: Actually, it would make a lot of sense to pull out our guns, demand his surrender, and fire if he refuses. Or, considering he’s a cop-killer and most of us cops tend to frown on that sort of thing, we could fire whether he surrenders or not. But that would be realistic. Do you mean to say that you’re looking for realism in this movie?

Officer 1: You’re right, I don’t know what I was thinking. Let’s just continue chasing him as we are.

*They chase him to the top of the stairs. He runs up a ladder and onto the roof.*

Officer 1: He’s on the roof now. There’s nowhere he can go. We’ve got him.

Officer 2: Wait! Let’s give him a few moments to figure out a way to get out of this situation.

*they wait, tapping their feet and checking their watches. Then they play a game of tic-tac-toe. Officer 1 wins. Officer 2 demands best two out of three. Officer 1 wins again.*

Officer 2: *grumbles, disgusted at having lost* Well, fine then! You go up the ladder first! Remember, don’t draw your gun or anything.

Officer 1: Right.

*They climb the ladder and find Greg nowhere to be seen.*

Officer 1: He got away somehow! Oh, no!

***Greg meets Karen at Brad’s place. She waits outside, he goes in to try to talk to Brad, and catches him just as he’s leaving***

Greg: Hi, you Brad?

Brad: That’s me! What can I do for ya, chum?

Greg: I’d like to ask you a few questions, if you don’t mind, about a woman named Karen.


*Brad punches Greg, who drops to the floor, then decides that getting up and chasing Brad is the best way to correct a misunderstanding. Brad runs outside, mows over Karen, and then is mowed over by a yellow sports car*

Greg: oh, my! Is he dead?

Karen: Yes. He’s very dead. And that car – it must have been my duplicate. The car’s insured in my name… Now she’s trying to frame me for murder!

Greg: I know that feeling.

***Greg and Karen return to her apartment. She notices his bloody lip from having been punched in the face***

Karen: Oh, my! You’re hurt! Allow me to fulfill a stupid action-movie cliché by helping you with your wound and then falling in love with you!

Greg: By all means.

Karen: Say, would you like to see something in my bedroom?

Greg: Sure. Are we gonna have sex now?

Karen: Oh, no, I’m much too shy. I could never do something like that; we’ve only just met, and I’m a good little girl.

Greg: Fair enuff. I’ll make sure to forget all about that later. What do you want to show me?

Karen: This key!

Greg: Hey, I have a key just like that. It was given to me by a crazy old man some time ago, and I hung onto it for reasons that I’d rather not explain at this time. Or ever.

Karen: Now, I’m going to go back to the theatre where I’ll talk with Old Man Jenkins. You stay here, because it’s convenient plot-wise.

***Karen returns to the theatre, where she finds Old Man Jenkins, apparently no longer evicted or something, standing guard with his trusty double-barrel shotgun. As soon as he sees her, he tosses her to the ground and points the gun at her***


Karen: Ah! I’m scared!

OMJ: Hmm… My duplicate-sense isn’t going off. Even though there’s no way I should be able to tell, I can sense that you’re not the duplicate. You may live.

Karen: Thanks a bunch.

OMJ: Yes, as you can see, this time I’m talking much more coherently. But I’m still a crazy old man.

Karen: Noted. So, about these duplicates…

OMJ: Yeah, they’re just like you, only opposite. And your duplicate wants to take over your life. Sooner or later, one of you is going to have to kill the other. No biggie. Oh, yeah, and your boyfriend Greg is also from the mirrorverse, not from here. I’m just pointing it out in case the audience has been too stupid to figure it out themselves up to this point.

Karen: *shocked* No!

OMJ: Anyway, you’ve got to go now. Back to being a crazy old man.

*Karen leaves. Old Man Jenkins babbles incoherently and fires some shots into the obviously empty theatre seats. Then, he’s shot from behind by persons unknown.*

***Meanwhile, back at the apartment, Duplicate Karren gets back and meets Greg***

Greg: Karen! You’re back!

DK: A-yup.

Greg: Did you find anything about the Duplicate yet? How did it go at Old Man Jenkins’ theatre?

DK: Er… not so well. Hey, Greg, I’ve got an idea… Let’s have sex now!

Greg: Sure! I don’t find that suspicious at all!

DK: Now let me lead you into the bedroom as I take off all my clothes in a desperate effort to make the audience feel uncomfortable by my aggressiveness. I’m a forward woman, and that necessarily makes me evil. My very existence threatens society as a whole. BWAHAHAHA!

Greg: That evil laughter isn’t suspicious, either!

DK: Now lie down as I show my boobs to pander to the all-important 13-30 male market.

Greg: Don’t mind if I do.

DK: Now, I’ll handcuff you to the bed.

Greg: Sure thing. Hey, is that an ice pick you’ve got there?

DK: What? *she looks guilty, tosses away the ice pick in as discreet a manner as this movie deserves* Er… Ah, no. No, not at all.

Greg: Just checking. I’m not really into ice picks.

*Once he’s properly handcuffed, she gets up off him and puts on a robe*

Greg: Hey, what gives? I was gonna score!

DK: Ha ha, no sex for you! Now, I’m going to phone the police and get the credit for having single-handedly caught Greg the mass murderer!

Greg: But, I thought we agreed that I didn’t do it?

DK: No, you made that agreement with the other me.

Greg: You mean, I’ve been working with the evil Karen all this time?

DK: No, stupid, I’m the evil Karen.

Greg: I don’t understand.

DK: Never mind. Just lie there until the police arrive. Now, instead of staying here where I can keep an eye on you, even though this phone is a mobile, I’ll walk into the kitchen and leave you completely unguarded.

Greg: Alright. I promise I won’t try to escape.

*she leaves. Greg escapes*

Greg: Sucka!

*Duplicate Karen hears Amanda on the answering machine, talking about her efforts to find the duplicate. Duplicate Karen picks up the phone, and talks to her, pretending to be Original Karen. She decides to pay Amanda a visit, taking a kitchen knife with her. It is notable that she wears gloves.*

***Meanwhile, Amanda is at her own apartment being Amanda***

Amanda: *putting down the phone* Hey, token boyfriend, Karen says she’ll be a few more minutes before she gets here.

TB: Well, what should we do in the meantime?

Amanda: SEX!!!!

*they jump into bed. Amanda shows her boobies, just in case the viewers didn’t get enough of Karen’s. The doorbell rings in the middle of coital scene. Mid-coit, if you will. Kinda like coi^tal, since that would be the exactly middle. You get the picture*

Amanda: Hey, check out my boobies. And you should go answer the door.

TB: That I shall, but first… A tasteful shot of my bottom for the ladies!

*Token Boyfriend shakes his booty, picks up a towel, and answers the door. Amanda puts on a large t-shirt, covering her boobies and, no doubt, disappointing adolescent male teens world-wide – possibly the only audience that might actually enjoy this film, though why they’d see this instead of a comparatively artistically worthy boob-flick like, say, Private School starring Betsy Russell, is beyond me*

Amanda: Well now I’ll go and check up on my boyfriend, who I’m sure is completely safe and unharmed.

*Amanda goes to check on Token Boyfriend, who she finds stabbed in the gut. Despite the fact that stomach injuries are among the slowest and most painful ways to die known to humankind, he drops dead an instant after looking at her with a stunned puppy-dog face. Then, Duplicate Karen grabs Amanda from behind and slits her throat. Actually, she just kind of nicks it a bit, but the viewer is supposed to assume that her throat was cut quite fully. Amanda drops dead, and the scene takes the viewer by complete surprise because there was absolutely no foreshadowing or anything. And it sure isn’t formulaic at all. Nope.*

***Original Karen returns to her apartment to find Officer Putz and Detective Howser. The latter is still complaining about being in this movie***

Karen: Hey, guys, I’m not in the mood for dealing with this right now.

Howser: You’re not in the mood?! Try being in my shoes. I don’t deserve this. I could have done something worthy, like playing a speechless role in Dodgeball. But, no, my agent has to be a dick.

Karen: Er… What are you doing here, anyway?

Howser: Well, we’re still trying to figure out where Greg the mass murderer could have gotten to. No luck yet – it seems he escaped after you captured him.

Karen: Captured…? Oh! Right! That’s right, I captured him. And then phoned you, because that’s the sort of thing I’d do.

Howser: Now, I’m going to go and post a couple of police officers at the front door of this building for your protection, because that sounds vaguely like something a real Detective would do in this situation. They’ll manage to keep you completely safe, as long as they aren’t somehow killed in the next few hours.

Karen: Great.

*The police leave. Karen sees a message on her machine, and hears Amanda’s voice and part of the conversation she had with Duplicate Karen. She also notices that one of her kitchen knives is missing. She goes to Amanda’s home, sees them dead, sees the bloody knife, and gets upset and scared in a terribly touching, Oscar-worthy scene. Actually, that’s a lie. It’s touching, I guess, but more in a creepy-uncle-I’m-going-to-say-no-then-go-and-tell-someone-I-trust kind of way.*

***Karen returns to her apartment, still upset. Greg arrives.***

Karen: Oh, Greg! It was awful! My best friend is dead, and it was my duplicate that did it! Let’s kiss now!

*they kiss*

Greg: Well, that was nice, but I’m still going to have to kill you.

*Greg reveals himself to be the evil Original Greg, out for revenge against reporter he believes got him arrested*

Karen: No! Won’t someone please help me?

OG: Hahaha! I’m completely evil and unhinged! I’m crazy, but in a completely different way than Old Man Jenkins, who I just killed by shooting him in the back! I also killed the two police officers outside, just in case you hadn’t already assumed!

Greg: Get away from her!

*Duplicate Greg jumps into the apartment. Cue original Star Trek battle music. You know, the track where Kirk’s fighting that lizard-thing on that desert planet, and makes gunpowder and stuff? That one.*

*Original Greg pulls a gun and aims it at Duplicate Greg. Duplicate Greg rips open his shirt, revealing a big “S” symbol underneath. He tackles Original Greg using his super-speed powers to traverse fifteen feet faster than Original Greg can pull the trigger. They tackle each other, and are thrown outside the window. Unfortunately Original Greg grabs a length of kryptonite garden hose and uses it to choke Duplicate Greg.*

*Original Greg hears Officer Putz and Detective Howser approaching from around the corner, inexplicably running without their guns drawn despite the fact that there’s two dead officers and the sounds of struggle close-by. Original Greg leaves his Duplicate still breathing to go kill some more cops*

*Original Greg picks up a length of pipe and clobbers Detective Howser over the head with it. Officer Putz draws his gun and shoots Original Greg dead. Somehow, he misses the presence of the limp, near-dead Duplicate Greg nearby, and presumably the latter slinks off at some point off-camera.*

Officer Putz: *checks Detective Howser, picks up radio* “Officer down, repeat, officer down! Suspect down as well! Need an ambulance immediately!”

Howser: *grumbling* No, let me die… I’ve endured enough…

***Back in the apartment proper, Karen stands around not knowing what to do. At least, not until Duplicate Karen shows up brandishing a knife.***

DK: At last we meet! I understand you’ve been looking for me.

Karen: You ruined my life!

DK: Your life? It’s my life! I’m the one that deserves it! And as soon as you’re out of the way, I can enjoy it!

Karen: Wait… If you were planning to take over my life, why did you do all the things you did?

DK: What do you mean?

Karen: Well, you used a car registered under my identity – which is also yours – to kill Brad. And you killed Amanda and Token Boyfriend with a knife that has two sets of prints on it – Greg’s and mine. Since my prints are presumably the same as yours, the investigation would obviously lead to you. Why were you ruining the life that you wanted to take over?

DK: Um… Er… *tries to think of a good retort. Finally, she stumbles upon one* DIE!!!

*she slashes at Karen in a terribly choreographed fight scene. Karen jumps for the gun dropped by Original Greg, grabs it, and fires at her duplicate’s knees. Just then, there’s a sudden rift in the space/time continuum between the two Karens, which causes the bullet to strike the duplicate’s forehead instead.*

***Scene Change: Karen and Greg are standing on a bridge or something, looking at the view.***

Greg: Well, I guess it’s over.

Karen: Sure is.

Greg: A-yup.

Karen: Mmm-hmm.

Greg: Hey, wanna shack up?

Karen: Sure! If there’s anything I’ve learned through this ordeal, it’s to be more aggressive in life! Just like my murderous double!

Greg: Well, if that means I finally get laid, it works for me!

(thank God it’s) THE END

UPDATE:  I just realized that I'd forgotten to assign this movie its duly appropriate Cute White Rat rating.

In case it wasn't apparent, this movie deserves the shameful rating of half a CWR.  Yes, it's really that bad.

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 12:06 a.m.


Thursday, July 22, 2004


You may notice a new look, complete with formatting errors and stuff. Yeah.

See, after my last post, the template I was using screwed up. I'm still not sure how it happened, but all of a sudden the sidebar was being listed at the bottom of the page, and where the sidebar should be was the post before last. It was highly confusing. Obviously, that wouldn't do.

What you see here is my failed attempt to fix the problem. After about an hour of fiddling with template settings and html code I don't actually understand, I've given up. I wrote the blogger people, and hopefully they'll be able to fix things. Once that happens, then begins the task of trying to get the colours back to where I had them. Maybe. If I still care by that time.

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 3:38 a.m.



I'm not certain when, exactly, I developed the attention span of an MTV-addicted gnat.  Used to be, I could sit down and read a novel in one sitting.  I could even read the thicker, more conceptual stuff in large-ish chunks.  No longer, it seems.  These days, it feels like my brain gets full in an inordinately short period of time, which usually results in me going off to doing something else.  Usually something that's a complete waste of time, like Neopets.
I just moments ago finished the last page of Nobilis, a reading that was made inordinately slow by both the size of the book (300 pages doesn't seem like all that much at first, until you take into consideration the size of the pages and the text) and the fact that I had to really understand both the book's mechanics and its concepts, both of which border on the difficult side.
Yeah, I know, I'm making excuses.  But they're my excuses, and I'm sticking with them.
Anyway, here I'll try to organize my thoughts, musings, and conclusions about the game that is Nobilis.  Mainly because I can't think of anything else to write about, and my blog is overdue for another entry.
Between Men and Gods,
Reality and Myth, Perfection and the End of Everything:  There Stand the Nobilis.
So says the elegant text on the front cover of the book, just above the equally-elegant title, and next to the picture of the elegant Romanesque statue of what, I can only presume, is meant to be a representation of Nobilis.  The book is also elegantly designed, the pages the size of what one might expect in a coffee-table book about penguins, or perhaps pie.  Only this is more elegant that such a hypothetical book, and it has far less pictures.
If I recall correctly, the book cost me about eighty dollars of our strangely-coloured Canadian money.  This makes it a fairly expensive roleplaying book, although the obvious high-quality of production (like I said, a very elegant book, particularly by RPG book standards) helps to offset the feeling of being gouged.  Plus, it's put out by Hogshead Publishing, and has a low-enough production that it can be considered a "small press" book in the RPG world.  Mind you, calling a company in the RPG world "small press" is kind of like claiming a car is small by Volkswagon standards.  Overkill.
The entire reason I picked up this book is because, after the publication of my first professional work (sadly out of print now, though the most recent book I worked on, Laws of Judgement, is still in stores...  *plug*) I decided that I wanted to be serious aboug game design.  I decided to look into what other designers feel is important to game design -- what games have been considered landmarks that have helped define what the industry is today.  After all, most of my experience with RPGs up to that point had been mostly related to Dungeons and Dragons (of various editions), Marvel Super Heroes, various White Wolf games (both live-action and tabletop), and an embarassingly large smattering of Palladium here and there.  These were all extremely mainstream, so I was pretty sure that there were important games out there that I'd missed.
The lists of important games varied from designer to designer, but there were a few that were almost universal, such as Feng Shui and Little Fears (both of which I tracked down -- in fact, I bought two copies of Little Fears).  However, at the top of that short list was Nobilis; people (both game designers and not) absolutely raved about this game.  I decided to try and track down a copy.
This proved difficult, but eventually I was successful.
Then began the long, arduous task of actually reading the damn thing.
Now, the fault doesn't lie with the writing per se.  In fact, most of the writing, as I hope my periodic excerpts have shown, is fascinating.  However, this isn't just a story, or even a setting.  This is a rule-book.  RPG writing has to blend creative and technical writing together -- the best writers can do so seamlessly.  Rebecca Sean Borgstrom is, without a doubt, one of the greatest RPG designers of the decade.  She works with difficult concepts and makes a game out of things that most conventional game-design wisdom would have claimed was unplayable.  Her rules-design is excellent, as well.  Unfortunately, the way she chooses to express these rules can be less than clear at times.
I've always had quite a head for rules; besides being able to memorize individual rules fairly quickly, I'm also able to see the logic and consistency behind such rules, the fabric that helps weave a game's mechanics together.  Occasionally, a specific, obscure rule might escape me, but in such cases I can usually just extend the internal logic of a game to compensate and fill up the gap if I don't feel like looking up the forgotten rule.  However, there are still points of the rules in Nobilis that aren't entirely clear to me, and since the rules aren't organized particularly well (some aren't even spelled out in clear, black-and-white terms -- a necessity for an RPG) I've had trouble finding clarifications.
Still, I've seen many worse books, and although the organization could be better, the typos and stupid mistakes that plague most RPG books were few and far between.
So, What the Heck is Nobilis About?
First, let's look at what the back of the book:

Unwilling Gods.  Impossible Powers.  Unearthly Dangers.
Beyond the Sky, the World Ash stretches from Hell to Heaven, supporting countless worlds besides our own.  Between these strange realms, divine Powers and the Wild fight a war to control and define the whole of existence, one idea at a time ... Or to unmake it altogther.
The Nobilis stand in the front lines of this celestial struggle.  Once they were human.  Now they are something more, each infused with a piece of creation's power and given mastery over one part of reality.  Love, war, music, steel, thunder, agony, or any of infinity's components:  A Noble is its incarnation, master and protector.
Nobilis lets you be one of these guardians of reality.  The game combines fierce imagination and the Transcendent power of Gods to create intense roleplaying experiences, from the unseen mysteries of the universe to the depths of the human heart.

The back of the book also provides a helpful quote from a review by Kenneth Hite:  "Imagine Neil Gaiman's Sandman and Clive Barker's Hellraiser on an absinthe bender.  With flowers.  That's Nobilis."
Really, those descriptions are better than anything I could provide.  But they also don't go far enough.
A typical Nobilis character, as the back of the book mentions, begins as a perfectly mundane human (there are some exceptions, of course -- some characters were never mundane, and some were never human).  Then, they get the attention of a hugely powerful divine being -- perhaps an Angel of Heaven who represents the concepts of time, insanity, and strength combined, or perhaps an ancient God who has power over the Sky, Birds, Commerce, and Treachery -- and that divine being places a part of its own soul, nothing more than a single shard of the whole, inside the character.  Suddenly that person changes, awakening to whole concepts of reality to which he or she was blind before.
At its thematic core, Nobilis is about the interaction and intermingling of different (often, though not necessarily, opposite) concepts.  All that is known of existence rests somewhere on the World Ash, Yggdrasil.  At its top is Heaven, which is the conceptual expression of pure and perfect beauty -- the Angels tend to it, continually changing Heaven's tapestry (since perfect beauty is never stagnant), and they are Heaven's only residents, since any lesser beings would mar its perfection.  At the base of the World Ash and intertwined between its roots is Hell, the essence of pure corruption, populated by the Fallen Angels and its original inhabitants, the demons.  Of course, unlike Heaven, Hell eagerly welcomes the souls of the dead into its borders.
Earth, and all of the other words besides, exist as a result of the interplay between these two basic concepts -- pure beauty and pure corruption -- as the two forces travel up and down the World Tree.  Each world, it is theorized by those who know of the World Ash's existence, cannot exist without both of these forces at work.
Reality is also divided into three layers:  Prosaic Reality, which is the layer on which ordinary people live, governed by science and rationality and everything appears entirely mundane.  There is also the Spirit World, where everything exists as concepts -- the sun is not actually a ball of fire, but an angel who brings warmth and light to the world every day, until she inevitably must look away out of sadness from seeing all the ugly, horrific things that occur there (when she steels her courage again and is able to look back, that's when morning comes).  Physical bodies don't actually exist here, and the foundational concepts of all of reality -- the elements, emotions, even things like space and time -- can be found embodied within the roots of the World Ash.
In between these two layers of reality, its existence owed to the inteplay between Prosaic Reality and the Spirit World, is Mythic Reality.  Mythic Reality reflects both the other layers of existence -- everything is alive, here; a car is a being that makes decisions to drive down a road of its own free will, even as its corresponding existence in Prosaic Reality is being driven by the person at its wheel.  Rivers can run as a result of magic that pulls them along the face of the earth, rather than something as mundane as Prosaic Reality's laws of gravity.  A gang on a Nigerian campus in Prosaic Reality takes the form of a Hydra in Mythic Reality -- cut off one head through arrest or death, two more rise to take its place, and the campus remains in a state of terror.
Of the three, the Spirit World is the most powerful, followed by the Mythic World, then followed by Prosaic Reality as the weakest.  By this I mean, the Spirit World has the most effect on reality.  If the Imperator (that is, God-like being) of Cars is somehow slain then suddenly all cars disappear -- no one in Prosaic Reality, in fact, can ever remember the existence of automobiles, and history is retroactively changed to reflect the lack of such devices.  Similarly, a breakthrough in science, such as Newton's discovery of gravity, can take place as a result of the Imperator of Science winning an important battle against the Imperator of Chaos, so that the phenomenon of things falling to the ground is suddenly considered a rational thing rather than something that happens just because it happens (and, in fact, before this battle, things may have fallen "up" on a regular basis.)
However, the Spirit World is a very strange place, and few characters ever go there.  Mostly, player characters tend to gravitate toward the Mythic World.  Here, if you want to make that car in Prosaic Reality stop for some reason, you can try to convince it to do so.  Suddenly, the Prosaic Reality reflection stalls and won't start again for an hour (after which the car spirit decides that it wants to start moving again, and whatever mysterious problem plagued the Prosaic Reality car and kept it from starting just seems to go away).  In fact, a player character could convince the car spirit to take a different route than the Prosaic driver intended, and the Prosaic driver gets lost and "accidentally" heads down that other route.
Another, more potent, example of how Mythic Reality can affect the Prosaic World is India.  India, you see, was once entirely located within a Chancel -- a pocket of Mythic Reality that is claimed by an Imperator as its home.  Then, about a hundred years ago as we mere mortals measure it, that Imperator died, and the Chancel was broken; this resulted in India spilling over into Prosaic Reality.  Thousands of years of history were created overnight to explain the presence of this nation, and even though it wasn't there the night before, everyone remembers it being there on all those globes and maps.  Some people even remember travelling there in their lifetime.  Such is the nature of the interplay between the different layers of reality.
However, there is still another layer of reality outside of creation, and it is from this place that the strange beings known a Excrucians come.  Excrusians are all bent toward a single goal:  the destruction of all of Creation.  Their motives are unknown; their power rivals that of the Imperators themselves.  And they wage this war on all three layers of reality.
Excrucians wage their war one idea at a time.  Once, there was such a thing as the Dry Salve -- a kind of powdered light, with salutary effects when mixed with water and consumed.  Also, there were Child Guardiands, stuffed animal-like robots who derived motive energy from a child and purpose from a set of contingency programs for various childhood emergencies.  Have trouble how these things would have fit into earth society?  There's a good reason for that -- the concepts were destroyed by the Excrucians' war, and wiped from memory and existence, so that now it strains the imagination just to think about these things.
Much of the war takes place in the Spirit World.  However, that is where most Imperators reside, and they fight viciously to keep from losing any of creation to the Excrucian menace.  Moreover, the Imperators outnumber the Excrucians.  Thus, the Excrucians must use other means to do battle; although the Spirit World is more powerful than the Prosaic Reality, the latter can nevertheless influence the former in the right circumstances and with the right magic, so it becomes something of a back door, or perhaps a flank attack.  This is where player characters come in.
As Nobilis (also known as Nobles), player characters have been given a piece of an Imperator's power in order to help them battle Excrucian efforts in Prosaic and Mythic Realities.  This allows the Imperators themselves to concentrate on the most dangerous battlefield.  Most Nobles care about their estate most of all -- a Noble of the Internet would protect the world wide web first and foremost -- but are expected to do their part in defending other aspects of reality as well.  Sometimes, such expectations are overly optimistic, and most Nobles have a great deal of autonomy over how they manage their affairs.
Flowers also figure into the conceptual basis behind the game's setting.  It's a little complicated, but basically it's believed that the enigmatic Creator of creation build Heaven first, and first in Heaven he/she/it created flowers.  Inside these flowers of Heaven, the Angels soon learned, are locked the "creation code," if you will, for all of Reality as anyone knows it.  These flowers are immensely powerful, and the Angels sometimes use them to shape Heaven.  Flowers in other realms, such as Earth, are but the palest reflections of these original Plato-flowers, but even a shade of a key to the truth of reality can be used to produce great effects by those who know how to access that shade of truth.  Again, that's boiled down a great deal, and I'm probably not doing the idea justice (in fact, I'm probably not doing any of this game justice), but it's the best I can do at the moment.
And that's the concept behind the game, in a nutshell.  But as long as this blog entry already is, I'm not done yet.
Mechanics and Design Concepts
The setting and concepts that make up Nobilis are fascinating.  Well, they are to me, at least.  The game also brings a number of design ideas to roleplaying that struck me as ingenious.
The game, of course, is diceless.  This alone piqued my interest.  To be fair, Nobilis wasn't the first diceless game; Amber Diceless Roleplaying, based on Roger Zelazny's Amber novels, predates Nobilis by over a decade, and Nobilis owes a debt of great gratitude to this game.  However, Amber's diceless mechanics were quite primitive compared to Nobilis.
The basic concept behind the mechanics is, much like Amber, stat comparison.  Characters each have four main statistics -- Aspect, covering physical, mental, and social abilities, Domain, covering the character's control over the concept he or she embodies, Realm, which provides the character control over the fabric of the Chancel the character inhabits, and Spirit, which is the force of the character's soul (and, to a lesser extent, the mastery the character can achieve over Noble ritual magic).  For PCs, stats range from 0 to 5; a 0 in Aspect is equal to an average human at his or her peak.  An Aspect of 2 can, without effort, keep pace with the best human savants and athletes in the world, run soundlessly through a forest with a thorn in his or her foot, or  exactly measure distances by the eye.  An Aspect of 5 can catch bullets in their teeth.
There are other ways to customize a character, but I won't get into that.
Generally, a character will succeed at whatever he or she wants to do, providing the character has the appropriate stat high enough, unless opposed by another more powerful character.  That's when Miracle Points come in -- each character has a pool of points they can draw upon to boost their efforts beyond what they are normally capable of.  In this way, a Noble could be clever enough to hide a mountain in her pocket, or another Noble with power over forests could turn all the trees in the world so that they bear cotton candy as fruit.  Why a Noble would want to do either of these things is beyond me, but through the judicious use of Miracle Points an Aspect 3 Noble could defeat an Aspect 5 Noble in a fist-fight.
Of course, most conflicts are resolved by the use of miracle points and creative thinking in conjunction, and since Miracle Points are refreshed only occasionally, they tend only to be used in important matters.  I'm just trying to use illustratively simple examples.
Other games have since used this system of "diceless-plus-effort-pools" to determine action resolution (such as the latest out-of-print-already Marvel Supers game), but I'm fairly certain that Nobilis was the first.  However, this isn't the only concept that Nobilis brought to the gaming table, if you'll allow me to mangle an euphamism.
Most RPGs have players create a single character, called a Player Character or PC.  This character is that player's single window into the fictional world that the Game Master (called Hollyhock God in Nobilis).  The player is expected to have complete control over that character, while the Game Master has complete control over pretty much the rest of reality.  Nobilis doesn't work this way.
Players create their PCs, as per usual.  However, they must then collectively create their patron Imperator (all PCs are assumed to have a single Imperator in common), a negotiation process that essentially creates one of the Hollyhock God's NPCs (non-player character) for him.  Once that task is complete, the players collectively create the setting of a sizeable portion of the game, the Chancel of that Imperator.  The HG can, of course, offer advice, disallow certain things, or even take over Chancel creation entirely, but the default is that the players do so themselves.
Then, the players create their PC's Anchors -- people whom the PC in question either loves or hates, and is able to (for lack of a better word) possess during those times the PC has to be in two or more places at once.
During the course of a game, a player can be expected to switch between a number of these windows.  They might play their main PC one moment, then switch to portray the PC's Imperator during a particularly important event in that Imperator's life.  Then, off to portray the PC's Anchor, then the PC's Anchor possessed by the PC.  Then, to wrap things up and provide a story-finishing ground's-eye-view of the fallout of the PC's actions, they might take on the roles of ordinary Chancel residents for a scene.
Again, this isn't entirely new; the first time I saw the idea of switching roles temporarily to provide a different perspective for a story was, I think, in a supplement for White Wolf's game Vampire: the Masquerade.  However, Nobilis was the first to actually provide rules mechanics for it, and to make it a vitally important storytelling method.
Most games have some sort of method for character advancement, usually in the form of experience points.  The PC goes through events and collects experience points, which, depending on the game, are then either spent or accumulated until the character reaches the next tier of power, which provides the character with new or enhanced abilities.  In most cases, the number of experience points given is positively correlated with the difficulty of the events the character experienced.
Nobilis, too, has experience points.  However, in a brilliantly simple and simply brilliant design decision, Nobilis turns the reigning conceit behind experience points on its head.  Really, the idea is so simple, I'm rather ashamed it never occurred to me before:  At the conclusion of every story, each PC receives one experience point, providing all the players agree that they had fun during that story.  This may seem like a simple thing to you if you're not familiar with the way most XP systems work, but this one has far-reaching implications.   It reaffirms the idea that RPGs are, at their essence, still games, and games are for having fun.  If a story wasn't fun, it didn't serve its purpose, so it shouldn't be worth anything.  Furthermore, players (always greedy little bastards when it comes to experience points) will be eager to ensure that everyone around them had fun, which solves so many problems that I've seen at gaming tables in my days, and does so in one fell swoop, it's mind-boggling.
There are a number of other new concepts that Nobilis brings to game design, but I'm getting hungry, so I'll just briefly touch upon one more -- perhaps the most important of them all, at least to Nobilis itself if not to the industry as a whole.  This is the way the game handles a PC's powers.  As mentioned above, PCs are meant to both embody and control some sort of event, concept or element, whether it be Fire, Conspiracy, War, or anything else the player might wish.  Now, I wouldn't want to try to build a game where it's assumed that a PC could alter the very fabric of reality -- the very idea exhausts me -- but Rebecca Borgstrom manages to do it, and do it well, without sacrificing gameplay or the inherent challenges that are necessary in telling stories through RPGs.  And by managing this, the game makes it that much easier to tell stories.
You see, for a while now, it's been assumed that a good game -- or at least a sophisticated one -- needs to have a Theme.  The supers game I run at present, for example, is about a few themes -- power and its implications, mostly, but also the idea of social divides, the importance of survival, and the uncovering of hidden truths.  Ideally, each individual story within a campaign should relate to one of these themes, and each important NPC involved in that story should be related to that story's specific theme somehow.  Here, I'll admit my Supers game falls flat; I just don't have the energy, or the attention to detail, to do this every adventure.
With Nobilis, this isn't a problem.  Since characters actually embody concepts, by telling a story about the PC Power of Warfare and his conflict with the NPC Power of Conspiracy, by its very nature the theme of the story becomes the interplay between War and Conspiracy.  Likewise, all the NPCs somehow fall into the interplay of these themes.
In other words, despite how intimidating I find this game to be, I have the dawning suspicion that thanks to the way the game was designed, much of the game will run itself.
And that's my thoughts on Nobilis.  If I were doing a review, I'd give this four and a half Cute White Rats; it's easily worth five, but falls short thanks to what is, in my mind, poor organization of the material.  However, I'm not rating it, so I won't give it any Cute White Rats at all.
Now, just to make this incredibly long blog entry even longer, I'll give you a final Nobilis quote, and then I'll go and make myself a meal: 

I emerged from the staircase into the sunlight.  It made me blink five times.  The 15th floor, it appeared, was the rooftop.  A group of men and women stood at the edge of the roof.  Two fo them were blonde.  A woman in a white coat stood beside them.  Two men in gray stood on either side of the stairs.  They had clip pads.  Sevena nd thirteen pieces of paper on them.  Respectively.  One asked me, "Acrophobia?"
It took me aback.  "Pardon?"
"Are you here for the advanced acrophobia immersion theraby?"
"Oh."  I shook my head.  "No.  Obsessive."  I shook my head again.
"The man in gray whistled.  "Don't envy you.  But you've got the wrong group.  We handle OCD on floor 12."
"Ah."  I stood there for a moment longer.  I needed a few seconds before I could go back; it was too soon.  Not far away, the woman in the white coat casually pushed one of the men off the roof.  He yelled for about eleven seconds as he fell.  I think.
"I..."  I don't know what I meant to say.
"Do you need help getting there?"
"No," I said, and shook my head.  "No.  I can manage."

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 3:33 a.m.


Sunday, July 18, 2004

Back at the Keyboard Again
Well, I've been away from the blog for a while.  This is owing to a few emotional crises, the details of which I'll refrain from getting into here for the sake of my loyal readership.  I'm hoping that this will prove to be the last week-long blogging-break of the season, and to get my break-break off on the right foot, I've decided to review the movie I saw on Thursday.
Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive, and Dodge.   

At some point during the post-script, pre-production stage, a number of producers were sitting around a table discussing the success potential possessed by this movie.  I think the conversation went something like this:
Producer 1:  "An excellent script."
Producer 2:  "I'm in total agreement, master.  Perfect in every way."
Producer 3:  "We're definitely in need of a decent comedy this summer."
Producer 1:  "What about White Chicks?"
Producer 3:  "I said decent comedy, not Crime Against Film-making."
Producer 2:  "That's just what I was about to say, my dark lord."
Producer 3:  "And yet, this movie is somehow missing something..."
Producer 1:  "What do you mean?"
Producer 3:  "Well, the jokes work alright...  But there's an element of zaniness missing here."
Producer 2:  "As you say, master...  It needs zaniness."
Producer 1:  "How can a movie with Ben Stiller possibly be any more zany?"
Producer 3:  "I'm sure we can find a way.  We need something wacky, but popular."
Producer 2:  "Pirates of the Carribean was popular."
Producer 1:  "Don't be ridiculous!  What do you want us to do, put a pirate into this movie somehow?"
Producer 2:  "Of course not...  Please forgive me, my dark lord..."
Producer 3:  "Actually, I think he might be on to something..."
And so, they added Steve the Pirate, played by Alan Tudyk.  And the character really did add that element that the movie needed.
Now, this movie isn't going to be for everyone.  In fact, even for those people who might enjoy this movie, they'd have to be in the right mood.  It is, without a doubt, a stupid movie.
Yet, it's not a dumb movie.  And there's a huge difference between the two.
No, I'm not being deliberately confusing.
There are certain types of movies -- stupid movies -- that I'll watch and enjoy thoroughly despite, perhaps even because of, their stupidity.  In fact, I'll do so without guilt or shame.  This includes movies like Night at the Roxbury, Airplane!, and Zoolander.  Meanwhile, there are other movies I'll enjoy but feel guilt and/or shame as a result, like Dude, Where's My Car.  Lastly, there are certain movies that are so incredibly stupid they pass into the realm of dumb and are no longer funny.  This would include the Scary Movie franchise and Robin Hood: Men In Tights.
Dodgeball fits in somewhere between Zoolander and Dude, Where's My Car.  It's stupid, but it's not dumb.
Peter La Fleur (Vince Vaughn), owner and proprietor of Average Joe's gym, is threatened by closure due to defaulting on his mortgage. Meanwhile, his nemesis, White Goodman (Ben Stiller), is posed to buy out the gym in order to expand his evil empire, Globo Gym.  To raise the requisite $50,000 to recover the mortgage in thirty days, La Fleur and his motley crew enter a Dodgeball tournament.  However, Goodman (who's long hated La Fleur) catches on to the plan and decides to enter the tournament as well, with the intention of preventing the unlikely survival of Average Joe's Gym.  Hilarity ensues.
There are, of course, all the low-brow "balls" jokes that one would expect.  In fact, there's a heaping helping of low-brow humour all over the movie, as one might expect.  The wit certainly isn't up to the caliber of, say, L.A. Story.  What is surprising, however, is everything the movie does right.
It doesn't take itself seriously.  In fact, it doesn't even take its jokes seriously.  The movie knows exactly what it is -- a sports movie parody -- and plays with the genre tropes for all that it's worth.  When an ironically tragic event strikes the hapless heroes, the movie is kind enough to point that out.  When the convenient Deux Ex Machina rears its head near the end, it comes conveniently labelled.  And just when you're on the verge of getting sick of all the peurile penile jokes, suddenly the bad guys make a joke about "King Midas's Silver."
Plus, in how many other movies can you hear the soon-to-be-immortal line, "Thank you, Chuck Norris!"
Overall, the mix works.  Sure, you can't go into this comedy looking to be touched (try the above-mentioned L.A. Story if that's what you're looking for), but you'll probably laugh pretty hard despite yourself.  And it's just literate enough, and aware enough, that it's enjoyable even if the conveniently-timed all-girl bikini car wash doesn't appeal to you.
Unfortunately, the ending, at least as regards the romantic sub-plot, could have been a lot better.  At first, they make you think they're going to throw you for a loop and defy the genre formula (to great comic effect), but then they chicken out at the last minute.  At first, I was impressed.  Then, I just groaned and grew highly disappointed at the last-minute reverse-reversal.
So, how do I rate this movie?  Well, the lamer-ending-than-necessary hurts the rating, reducing the total by half a Cute White Rat.  Then again, it also has Steve the Pirate.  Plus half a Cute White Rat.  It's not a great work of art, so that prevents it from getting a really high rating.  Then again, it's not a piece of crap.
Overall, I give Dodgeball exactly 3 Cute White Rats -- the middle road.  It's worth a viewing if you're in the right mood, and in such a mood it's enjoyable, but it's probably not the best comedy you'll see this year.
3 CWRs

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 3:36 a.m.


Friday, July 09, 2004

Promise Fulfilled

The other day, after we'd watched Fahrenheit 9/11, I was walking around with a friend as she picked up some cat litter from Wal-Mart. In the midst of this cat-litter quest, she asked me, "is there anything you need to pick up while we're here?"

I replied, "No, I avoid shopping at Wal-Mart whenever it's in any way possible for me to do so." I'm not sure if those were my exact words, but they're pretty close.

She seemed confused. "Why?" she asked.

Immediately, my brain began organizing my usual anti-Wal-Mart rant. Unfortunately, the effort was futile -- after watching More's info-tainment film, my brain was too dedicated to working through its anti-Bush rants, and assimilating the three or four new pieces of information the film provided me. I just didn't have enough processing power for another rant, and I knew that if I tried, I'd end up bungling it... maybe even passing off misremembered (and thus inaccurate) information as factual.

Instead, knowing that she reads my blog on a regular basis, I said, "Meh... Not now. I'll do a blog post about it sometime." This seemed to appease her curiousity.

And it leads us here.

The Beast of Bentonville

In 2002 Wal-Mart became the largest corporation in the world. That’s right. Bigger than Microsoft. Bigger than Sony. The largest in the whole bloody world.


Let’s talk some numbers, to give you an idea of just how big it is. As far as the U.S. market is concerned, it’s responsible for about 30% of household stapes. It’s the biggest outlet of DVDs and videos, accounting for 15-20% of that market. Magazines? 15%. Its not as strong in Canadian markets yet, but it’s probably only a matter of time.

Clearly, this is a huge company. And it owes most of its success to its business model, which puts the concept of the lowest price upon some sort of nigh-religious pedestal.

On its face, the Wal-Mart dedication to low prices at all costs may seem to be a great boon to the consumer. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The question that must be asked is this: How does Wal-Mart achieve these low prices?

The True Cost of Low Prices

Simply, they cut costs everywhere. I mean everywhere. One such source of cut costs are the employees, who are paid as little as possible. Sometimes, employees have to work through breaks or work unpaid overtime (there are law suits currently pending over these practices).

From Businessweek:

To cite a particularly noteworthy one, this staunchly anti-union company, America's largest private employer, is widely blamed for the sorry state of retail wages in America. On average, Wal-Mart sales clerks -- "associates" in company parlance -- pulled in $8.23 an hour, or $13,861 a year, in 2001, according to documents filed in a lawsuit pending against the company. At the time, the federal poverty line for a family of three was $14,630. Wal-Mart insists that it pays competitively, citing a privately commissioned survey that found that it "meets or exceeds" the total remuneration paid by rival retailers in 50 U.S. markets. "This is a good place to work," says Coleman H. Peterson, executive vice-president for personnel, citing an employee turnover rate that has fallen below 45% from 70% in 1999.

Critics counter that this is evidence not of improving morale but of a lack of employment alternatives in a slow-growth economy. "It's a ticking time bomb," says an executive at one big Wal-Mart supplier. "At some point, do the people stand up and revolt?"
Unfortunately, unionization isn’t an option, thanks to Wal-Mart’s notorious union-breaking tactics, which I’ll get into later.

There is also considerable evidence that their employee-related cost-cutting is applied unevenly. According to the above article, “On Sept. 24, a federal judge in California began considering a plaintiff's petition to include all women who have worked at Wal-Mart since late 1998 -- 1.6 million all told -- in a suit alleging that Wal-Mart systematically denies women equal pay and opportunities for promotion. Wal-Mart is vigorously contesting all of these suits.”

To be fair, I honestly don’t know how much truth there is to this last accusation – when a company treats everyone like crap, how can you prove that they treat women marginally more like crap than men? Then again, I could be wrong, and anything that takes a chunk out of Wal-Mart is a good thing in my book… If it creates some social justice in doing so, even better.

Another source of cut costs are on the supply end. Wal-Mart strong-arms suppliers to get them to lower their prices. For most suppliers, the ability to get into Wal-Mart can make or break a company, so they have little choice but to capitulate. This means that for those suppliers’ employees lucky enough to live in a country that allows unions, such unions simply aren’t an option. But then, most suppliers are unable to hire employees in industrial nations anyway, if they want to fit the Wal-Mart business model, so they outsource to third-world countries where people working in miserable conditions make $20 jeans for twenty-five cents a day. Labour camps are, to put it mildly, highly uncool.

In America, First, You Get the Sugar... Then, You Get the Power...

Wal-Mart is the big guy, the standard that defines the industry (in fact, as Wal-Mart gets its greedy little fingers into more and more pies – they’ve recently started dealing in books – that means they set that many more standards). If a business wants to compete with Wal-Mart, that means they have to try to set their prices in a similar range. This, of course, leads to similar unethical cost-cutting tactics on the part of other stores and chains. Wal-Mart moves into an area, and pretty soon everyone gets paid crap for wages.

Those that won’t (or can’t) compete on the same level as Wal-Mart usually go out of business. So the 300 new jobs that the new Wal-Mart promises to an area comes at the cost of about 600 lost jobs in the area. (Studies have shown it keeps a roughly 2-to-1 ratio.)

As a matter of fact, Wal-Mart specifically targets local competition. Their managers are trained to specifically put local competition out of business (and, as with any such struggle, it’s always the mom n’ pop stores that are the first to go.)

This isn’t just bad for other businesses and people working in the retail. Fewer businesses means fewer taxes, which means the government’s revenues go down, and for a country with such a huge socialist streak in it like our own, that’s a very bad thing. Likely, there are also other implications of this that I haven’t thought of yet, but these are the most obvious.

When it comes to the retail sector, Wal-Mart pretty much has all the sugar that Homer was talking about.

Unions? Not On My Watch!

Wal-Mart hates unions. In fact, the company has a special anti union team it sends to any store that they feel might be at risk of unionizing. This team is only their most overt method of discouraging unions.

According to Benjamin Rogers of, who once managed a Wal-Mart,

3 years after this happens at a Wal-Mart store, the store will close and as a new one is opened a year and a half after the event occurs within just a few miles of the original store and they decide "to close the redundant facility that is not earning as much".

It is written up in the manuals to happen exactly that way. Wal-Mart will not tolerate their facilities going union and have the economic might to close a location to prevent "the contagion" from spreading.

If you value you job, don't even try it.

If you want that store to close--unionize! (But be alert that they'll just open another one--or several--to take up the slack.)

To clarify, in case the above isn't clear

Jan 1, X1 Unionized
Jan 2, X1 Scouting for new location(s) begins
June 1, X2 New store(s) opened
Jan 1 X3 Unionized facility closed
As a matter of fact, reportedly Wal-Mart tells its managers to never hire anyone who has even so much as been a member of a union at some point in the past. They have plenty of law suits pending thanks to these tactics, and have lost many in the past, but the thing is the company is so huge and makes so much money thanks to its sleazy tactics it can easily absorb such costs.

Contract Violations

Besides their well-documented abuse of billing cycles and the destruction of healthy supplier-retailer relationships (just read an article or two to get the low-down on that – I don’t want to go into too much detail just now), Wal-Mart's also one of the biggest violators of release dates for DVDs, music, and video games. They routinely “accidentally” put these products out early.

Most other retailers could never get away with that, since studios and game designers tend to punish that pretty harshly (usually by refusing to ship to that retailer for a time). With Wal-Mart, that’s not an option – like I said before, as the largest retailer in the world, Wal-Mart has the power to make or break a company, even established, powerful-in-their-own-right companies like Paramount or Rockstar Games. There’s no reprisal, because the suppliers can’t afford to punish Wal-Mart for their breaches of contract, and the behaviour continues… With the effect of further undercutting the competition’s bottom line, since they can’t afford to use the same tactics Wal-Mart does.

Incidentally, Wal-Mart also frequently refuses to sell books and movies that aren’t stripped down versions (that is, versions that have had any “offensive content” removed, possibly with certain features disabled). If there is no such version, or if the company refuses to produce one, usually they just don’t stock such products. This may bother some people (like me – I hate feeling like I own an inferior or incomplete product, particularly when it comes to movies), while it doesn’t bother others. But most people don’t even know, and any way you cut it, the fact that Wal-Mart has such a huge amount of power in determining what is and isn’t “mainstream” culture simply by what it stocks is a problem. In my mind, that much power in the hands of a single company is a very bad thing.

Then again, this is the least of the reason I don't shop at Wal-Mart.

The Practical Side of Things

Also from Benjamin Rogers of,

Wal-Mart redistributes wealth from one region to another.

Every dime that Wal-Mart collects is deposited into a local bank account each night.

Three days later--when (theoretically) checks have cleared--every dime that was deposited is wire-transferred to Bentonville, Arkansas.

Does Wal-Mart assist the local economy?

Yes, but not by as much as they imply.

Jobs? Sure--much of which ends up being spent back in the Wal-Mart store because their employees get a 10% discount and can't much afford purchases elsewhere.

Building? Sure. One time expense.

Operations? Sure. A minor fraction of what they pull in.

Everything else goes to Bentonville, Arkansas.

Now, Bentonville's economy is booming--because all the executives live there and spend their money there...

A local business tends to spend their money in their own town, continually refreshing the local economy.

Wal-Mart sucks local economies dry, sending all that money to a single community in Arkansas (that's pronounced "arr-can-saw" for the uninitiated). Knowledgeable consumers would be wise to spend their money elsewhere... Unfortunately, such consumers are growing increasingly rare.

Consumers Just Don’t Get It

Despite the negative media coverage that Wal-Mart has received, most people don’t know about Wal-Mart’s evils. The sad part is, even if they did know, most of those people wouldn’t really care.

Your average consumer really doesn’t care where those jeans or those Tupperware appliances were made – they just want to get the best price, which they believe is in their best interests. People want to stretch their dollar as far as it will go. So what if they sell their soul to Corporate America in the process?

But then, what a consumer believes is in his or her best interest is not always so. Anyone who stops and looks at the bigger picture can see the cycle this perpetuates:

1. Consumer shops at Wal-Mart for cheaper prices.
2. Competition loses business, cuts prices to compete. This means, among other things, lower pay for employees in both the company in question, and its suppliers.
3. Wal-Mart, seeking to keep in the head of the pack, lowers their prices even more.
4. Consumer, now armed with a smaller paycheck, shops at Wal-Mart again in a greater need of savings.
5. Repeat steps 2 through 4.
To draw an admittedly awkward metaphor, Wal-Mart is the SUV of the retailing sector. People love using them, but they just don’t understand how damaging SUVs are to the world around them. When do we say that enough is enough, and put a stop to the capitalist idolization of consumer fiat?

Actually, when I think about it, I think I like a metaphor involving crack cocaine better. Sure, legal sales of cocaine is the logical extension of a completely free-market capitalist economic model. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

In Conclusion

Basically, I just make an ethical decision not to shop at Wal-Mart whenever I have an option (which, so far, has been all the time). Sure, it may cost me an extra buck, or two, or even five, to get something I want elsewhere, but by doing so more of my money is staying in the local economy, and less of my money is going to keep labour camps in third world countries open – something that I don’t want to have any part of. Frankly, I think the extra money is well-spent.

Another way of looking at it is this: rather thank think about how much extra money it costs to shop elsewhere, try thinking about how much that lowered price costs, both locally and globally. That $5 off of that pair of sneakers may seem appealing, or even like no big deal, but what it represents in terms of worker’s conditions in another country, and in terms of lost jobs locally, is just plain ugly. I happen to believe that there is some moral responsibility on the consumer to avoid knowingly contributing to that kind of corporate greed and worship of the bottom line.

In the long run, Wal-Mart economic model is unsustainable. It’s scorched-earth, zero-sum economics – eventually prices will get so low they simply can’t go any lower, and Wal-Mart will collapse upon itself. The only question is how much damage it will do to economies – local, regional, and even global – in the meantime.

Some sources:

And Some Nobilis, Just Because

In a few, I'll be off to Moncton to visit a friend with some other friends, so just a short Nobilis quote this time around:

When God lost love to the Devil in a dicing match, he had to trade both the luminiferous ether and Creation-science away to get it back. Most savants agree that the trade was worthy; yet it is indubitable that the world has made less sense ever since.

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 4:35 p.m.


Thursday, July 08, 2004

Nobilis Interlude

I don't have the time to do a full blog entry at the moment, so I'll just provide another Nobilis excerpt:

Phillip was 16, and he had a problem. A mild cough had become pneumonia, but that was not his problem; rather, it was the results of the CAT scan, which conclusively showed that Phillip did not exist.

"It's not surprising," the doctor admitted. "You're a small piece of nothing in a world just full of somethings. The wonder isn't that it took us sixteen years to find it so much as the fact that we detected it at all."

This game truly kicks ass.

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 7:05 p.m.


Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Wasting Time

I haven't been getting any work done lately. Which is bad, because my plate is very full, and I can't afford to not do anything right now. Yet, nothing is exactly what I've been doing.

This is due to two reasons.

The first can be attributed to a visit I made some time ago to Blogging It. Of course, I check Andrea's blog every day or two, on the off chance she's made another of her far-too-scarce posts. That visit in particular ended in disappointment. Oh, if only disappointment was all it ended in.

I noticed a link at the side of her blog -- a button I hadn't noticed before. "Is this new?" I asked myself, wondering, "What on earth is Neopets?" Curious, I clicked on the link.

I hate Neopets. I hate it so very much.

Yet I can't stop.

I swear, there must be something seriously wrong with me. And, just for the record... Andrea, I blame you.

The other waste of time (and the lesser of the two), is much more wholesome.

Wait, no it isn't. It's less wholesome. Which, of course, makes it better.

It's called Kingdom of Loathing. This is a delightful web-based parody RPG game that's free, funny, and utterly insane. It takes many well-known RPG conventions and turns them on their heads in order to create a world that really must be experienced to be understood appreciated the source of a waste of time. And the top-notch, state-of-the-art graphics are the l337 r0xx0r!

Well, okay, that last one was a lie, but it really does need to be played to be understood. I highly recommend kingdom of loathing, even if you're only looking to waste 15-30 minutes a day (which is about all it lets you play at first, anyway) on something that makes you boggle at incredible wit one moment only to wince at a terrible pun the next.

Plus, you could join the guild I've set up, the Philosopher Kings. We've got a potted meat tree and everything.

So, yeah, I recommend kingdom. I wouldn't wish Neopets on my worst enemies.

Another Dash of Nobilis

Also, just because I feel like it, here's another excerpt from Nobilis:

"Once upon a time," he said, "there was a very foolish King, who woke up every morning before the rooster's crow."


"He would tiptoe up to the top of his highest tower, and when the dawn had turned the sky the right color, he would cry out, 'I command you, sun, to rise!'"

"That does sound pretty foolish."

He nodded. "Yup. But no one wanted to tell the King that. At least, not until he fell in love with a more sensible woman and brought her to the palace to live."

"And she wondered why the bed was empty every morning?"

He nodded again. "And when she found out, she told him just how foolish it was, and that he was probably going to get a cold. No man likes looking foolish in front of his wife, of course, so he immediately vowed to sleep in the next morning."

"And?" I asked.

"And the sun didn't rise."

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 1:48 p.m.


Tuesday, July 06, 2004


Blogger's been giving me mucho problemo lately; all the achingly slow loading times and the 404 errors are starting to piss me off. Colour me unimpressed.

Anyway... Here's another neat-o quiz courtesy of Scribblingwoman. Because if there's one thing your average blog needs, it's more quizzes.

The Justice Card
You are the Justice card. Justice preserves the
harmony of the world. Working with opposite
forces, Justice does not seek to criticize or
condemn but rather to accept. The idea behind
the card justice is that opposite forces are
complementary; you could not have good without
evil or light without darkness. Justice's
position is to make sure that if a thing is out
of balance, the weight of its energy is
realigned with its opposite force. This card is
also a card of humour, for it is in pointing
out contrary positions that humour is often
found. The attitude that is found in the
humourous person, being able to shift
perspective and flow with an instinct, is
important in the maintenance of good balance.
Image from The Blue Moon Tarot Deck.

Which Tarot Card Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 3:12 p.m.


Monday, July 05, 2004

I Wanna Meme, Too!

From an idea/blog game passed on via Scribblingwoman (see the link at the side, under blogs), which I though was pretty neat, here’s the movie meme. The idea is to bold the movies you’ve seen and then add three to the bottom of the list.

01. Trainspotting
02. Shrek
03. M
04. Dogma
05. Strictly Ballroom
06. The Princess Bride
07. Love Actually
08. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings
09. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
10. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
11. Reservoir Dogs
12. Desperado
13. Swordfish
14. Kill Bill Vol. 1
15. Donnie Darko
16. Spirited Away
17. Better Than Sex
18. Sleepy Hollow
19. Pirates of the Caribbean
20. The Eye
21. Requiem for a Dream
22. Dawn of the Dead (The original).
23. The Pillow Book
24. The Italian Job
25. The Goonies
26. Baseketball
27. The Spice Girls Movie (Spice World)
28. Army of Darkness
29. The Color Purple
30. The Safety of Objects
31. Can’t Hardly Wait
32. Mystic Pizza
33. Finding Nemo
34. Monsters Inc.
35. Circle of Friends
36. Mary Poppins
37. The Bourne Identity (both!)
38. Forrest Gump
39. A Clockwork Orange
40. Kindergarten Cop
41. On The Line
42. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
43. Final Destination
44. Sorority Boys
45. Urban Legend
46. Cheaper by the Dozen The original.
47. Fierce Creatures
48. Dude, Where’s My Car
49. Ladyhawke
50. Ghostbusters
51. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
52. Back to the Future
53. An Affair To Remember
54. Somewhere In Time
55. North By Northwest
56. Moulin Rouge
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
58. The Wizard of Oz
59. Zoolander
60. A Walk to Remember
61. Chicago
62. Vanilla Sky
63. The Sweetest Thing
64. Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead
65. The Nightmare Before Christmas
66. Chasing Amy
67. Edward Scissorhands
68. Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert
69. Muriel’s Wedding
70. Croupier
71. Blade Runner
72. Cruel Intentions
73. Ocean’s Eleven
74. Magnolia
75. Fight Club
76. Beauty and The Beast
77. Much Ado About Nothing
78. Dirty Dancing
79. Gladiator
80. Ever After
81. Braveheart
82. What Lies Beneath
83. Regarding Henry
84. The Dark Crystal
85. Star Wars
86. The Birds
87. Beaches
88. Cujo
89. Maid In Manhattan
90. Labyrinth
91. Thoroughly Modern Millie
92. His Girl Friday
93. Chocolat
94. Independence Day
95. Singing in the Rain
96. Big Fish
97. The Thomas Crown Affair
98. The Matrix
99. Stargate
100. A Hard Day’s Night
101. About A Boy
102. Jurassic Park
103. Life of Brian
104. Dune
105. Help!
106. Grease
107. Newsies
108. Gone With The Wind
109. School of Rock
110. TOMMY
111. Yellow Submarine
112. From Hell
113. Benny & Joon
114. Amelie
115. Bridget Jones’ Diary
116. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
117. Heavenly Creatures
118. All About Eve
119. The Outsiders
120. Airplane!
121. The Sorcerer
122. The Crying Game
123. Hedwig and the Angry Inch
124. Slap Her, She’s French
125. Amadeus
126. Tommy Boy
127. Aladdin
128. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
129. Snatch
130. American History X
131. Jack and Sarah
132. Monkey Bone
133. Rocky Horror Picture Show
134. Kate and Leopold
135. Interview with the Vampire
136. Underworld
137. Truly, Madly, Deeply
138. Tank Girl
139. Boondock Saints
140. Blow Dry
141. Titanic
142. Good Morning Vietnam
143. Save the Last Dance
144. Lost in Translation
145. Willow
146. Legend
147. Van Helsing
148. Troy
149. Nine Girls and a Ghost
150. A Knight’s Tale
151. Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey
152. Beetlejuice
153. E.T.
154. Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone
155. Spaceballs
156. Young Frankenstein
157. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
158. American President
159. Bad Boys
160. Pecker
161. Pink Floyd: The Wall
161. X-Men
162. Sidewalks of New York
163. The Children of Dune
164. Beyond Borders
165. Life Is Beautiful
166. Good Will Hunting
167. Run Lola Run
168. Blazing saddles
169. Caligula
170. The Transporter
171. Better Off Dead
172. The Abyss
173. Almost Famous
174. The Red Violin
175. Contact
176. Stand and Deliver
177. Clueless
178. William Shakespeare’s Romeo+Juliet
179. Dangerous Laisions
180. I Am Sam
181. The Usual Suspects
182. U-571
183. Capricorn One
184. The Little Shop of Horrors (the one with Jack Nicholson)
185. Die Hard
186. The Flamingo Kid
187. Night of the Comet
188. Point Break
189. Chatterbox
190. Secretary
191. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
192. American Beauty
193. Pulp Fiction
194. What About Bob
195. Roger and Me
196. Fahrenheit 9/11
197. Bowling for Columbine
198. The Professional (aka Leon)
199. The Fifth Element
200. La Femme Nikita
201. Heathers
202. Bull Durham
203. The Scorpion King
204. The Thin Blue Line
205. Do the Right Thing
206. Lady From Shanghai
207. Natural Born Killers
208. Funeral in Berlin
209. Decline of the American Empire
210. Prophecy
211. Night at the Roxbury
212. The Game

And a Dash of Nobilis

Nobilis is an RPG book I'm presently trying to work my way through. It's been described as the high art of RPGs, and with good reason -- it's innovative both rules-wise and conceptually, and many of the metaphysical concepts it deals with are rather heavy. Right now, I'm really not sure exactly how I'm supposed to run the darn game, but then I'm only 150 pages in. I'm sure there's a bit of information to come later in the book that will make everything fall into place and will provide me with my eureka moment.

Anyway, here's a little anecdote from the book that I thought was pretty neat:

Once, a man was so well-loved that he set the fields ablaze and the peasants didn't mind.

Then he killed all the animals, gave his folk dust to eat, and they didn't mind.

Then he dirtied the water with blood from his wars, and they didn't mind.

Then they tortured hims lowly to death on the Stone Wheel, and when his heirs asked the peasants why, they said, "We thought he liked that sort of thing."

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 7:12 p.m.