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First Impressions of “Pride and Prejudice”

January 30, 2021 Leave a comment

I have heard of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice my whole life. I have been an avid reader my whole life yet have avoided Pride and Prejudice until just these last few weeks. I’ve had many conversations about Pride and Prejudice, or more specifically since I had never read it, why the woman I was conversing with found it so appealing. I had had enough of these conversations that I could engage in them without ever having actually read the book. Now that I have read it, I am so confused.

The initial response to the inquiry of how a woman feels about Pride and Prejudice is near universally that Elizabeth Bennet is a strong female character who takes charge of the situation. I heard this from multiple conversations, I heard this in “Austenland” and in “You’ve Got Mail”; yet I honestly can’t think of when that happens in the book. There are three times where I believe it can be argued Elizabeth Bennet takes charge: first, when Mr. Collins proposes to her, second, when Mr. Darcy proposes marriage to her the first time, and third, when Lady De Bourgh tries to get her to promise to not marry Mr. Darcy. When Mr. Collins proposes, Elizabeth finds him to be repulsive, so is it really that strong to reject him? When Miss Bennet rejected Mr. Darcy’s first proposal, she was still at the point of taking his many compliments as insults. I also don’t really see it as taking charge when Elizabeth wouldn’t make a promise to an old woman that she didn’t really care for. Elizabeth Bennet never takes charge, she just prevents others from pushing her into situations she doesn’t want.

The second response to how a woman feels about Pride and Prejudice is how Elizabeth Bennet changes Mr. Darcy. I am now more convinced than ever that she doesn’t. Mr. Darcy is the same from beginning to end. He doesn’t change at all. All of the changing in Pride and Prejudice is on Elizabeth Bennet’s part and it primarily entails how to take a compliment from a man who is not an extrovert. If the words introvert and extrovert existed in the vernacular and that time it would have been pretty apparent that Mr. Darcy is an introvert, and that’s all.

Since I do not find either of the primary arguments persuasive my primary conclusion is that the most attractive feature of the book is escaping to a lifestyle where gossip is a valuable currency, and the primary worries in life are when the next ball is being held. Most of the book consists of tracking who said what to whom and when they said it. Whether it’s to show the energy and effort of the Bennet sisters going to Meryton, or how people shifted around at the different dances and socials to converse with each other. Having so much of the daily life of these characters stripped out, to focus on just the gossip, creates an overdose of gossipy intrigue in the reader’s mind. Very attractive to those who find such things attractive.

Another point of appeal might be the language and words used. There is a lot of flowery language to get lost in. Jane Austen uses a lot of words to say very little. She must have made prodigious use of her dictionary when writing Pride and Prejudice, because it contains many English words with which I am unfamiliar with. Not that it’s a bad thing, but most books don’t require such a high bar to understand. It is not hard to imagine when one reads Pride and Prejudice, one feels smarter for being able to keep up with the long sentences. So Pride and Prejudice is an escape fantasy where a woman can overdose in gossip and intrigue, while “experiencing” the life of a woman who ends up married to the most handsome, richest, generous man of all; all the while being rude and indifferent to him and putting minimal effort into the relationship. There are parts of the book where she’s experiencing much angst, but it’s all self-inflicted as she’s trying to talk herself out of Mr. Darcy liking her, despite all of his actions which say otherwise. She just needed to stop seeing Mr. Darcy from her first impression and start seeing him as the socially awkward introvert that he is. That’s it.

Categories: Entertainment

Another Way J.J. Abrams Doesn’t Understand Star Wars

March 4, 2020 Leave a comment

This is something that has sat on my mind for years, but I’m only now committing it to writing. J.J. Abrams doesn’t understand Hyperspace in Star Wars. I’m making that statement based off of a different post I read recently about how J.J. Abrams doesn’t understand Force usage. The basic premise is that in The Force Awakens it’s easy to see all of the Force users doing impossible things with the Force with a very high frequency. In every other Star Wars movie, given how training and concentration are repeatedly mentioned, as well as the sparse use of the Force, it leaves an impression that using the Force is difficult, takes limited energy, or something else that makes its use rare. But The Force Awakens turns Force users into every other super hero/wizard. I have a similar complaint, but one which is with the use of Hyperspace.
I’m writing this after having seen The Force Awakens only once, and that was four years ago (Rise of Skywalker was released a little over two months ago). I can remember that Hyperspace was used incorrectly in two instances, and those are: the Millennium Falcon going into Hyperspace from within the docking bay of another ship, and the Millennium Flacon entering real space inside the atmosphere of the Star Killer base. These uses are absolutely devastating to Star Wars.
The rules for Hyperspace aren’t spelled out in Star Wars, and that’s kind of a good thing. It’s one of the nice thing about Star Wars, not much exposition. We the audience are seeing a sliver of time in our hero’s lives. Just like how we don’t constantly describe how car engines work, it would be odd of someone to spontaneously talk about how Hyperspace works. The one line where Hyperspace limits are mentioned happens in A New Hope where after having blasted out of Mos Eisley, Han Solo explains “Without precise calculations we’d fly right through a star, or bounce to close to a Super Nova”. Other rules aren’t spelled out, but can be implied by characters actions.
Examples of those actions are: You need to get your space ship into space (out of atmosphere). You need to make calculations after making it into space. You need to be far enough away from a gravity well (ie planet) to enter Hyperspace. You exit Hyperspace a certain distance from a gravity well (it’s why there are many shots of space ships approaching a planet in real space). Exiting Hyperspace shows up on scans. If these weren’t important, many of the dramatic scenes in Star Wars wouldn’t exist. The very first scene in all of Star Wars is because the blockade runner that princess Leia was on, had to exit Hyperspace to get around Tatooine. The next scene in space, is our hero’s leaving Tatooine to go to Alderaan, but are being chased by a Star Destroyer until they can enter Hyperspace. In both instances drama ensues. These rules (implied or otherwise) are just plot devices, but so long as they’re consistent across all scenes in all movies, they are acceptable plot devices. The closest scenes in Episodes 1 – 6 which bend these rules are in Episodes 2 and 3 where the Jedi Starfighter docks with Hyperspace rings which are in orbit and immediately enters Hyperspace. But if you think of it as the rings entering Hyperspace, and not the Starfighters, it works.
By removing these limitations on Hyperspace, The Force Awakens invalidates all of the Hyperspace based dramatic moments in the previous movies. It is exciting to see our hero’s blast out of another ship in The Force Awakens (or exit Hyperspace in a forest), but only because somewhere in the back of our heads, our brains are processing how unique/impossible that is. It shouldn’t have happened – which is what makes it exciting – but doing so is a cheap phycological trick. Yes, it makes that one scene exciting, but it undoes everything else.
The way that Hyperspace is used in The Force Awakens not only invalidates many memorable Star Wars scenes, but invalidates all of Star Wars. If you can enter hyperspace from within atmosphere, from within a gravity well, without waiting for calculations from the Navicomputer, and exit deep in a gravity well, and deep in atmosphere; why have space ships at all? You’ve just created infinite range teleporters. And ignoring the fact that a human could pull out of hyperspace at just the right time, by making it even possible to exit hyperspace within an atmosphere, why have a Death Star? The Empire should have just built a bunch of Hyperspace capable missiles, launched them from wherever, and had them explode wherever. No planet (or suspected Rebel base) could possibly have defenses from unforeseeable detonations. At any moment, nuclear bombs could be covering your planet, and there wouldn’t be anything that anyone could have done to stop them.
In summary, no spaceships, no dramatic moments, no Death Star, no Rebellion. Doesn’t sound much like Star Wars does it?
Rise of Skywalker commits similar sins with the Hyper Skipping and having a mysterious route to a mysterious planet that all of a sudden, fleets of ships can get through (which still have visible stars behind them). Those aren’t as bad as sins, because they do have negative consequences or limitations (the Millennium Falcon is on fire afterwards), but still are dumb.
So just like how J.J. Abrams made Force use too easy and simple, he also made Hyperspace too convenient for the plot instead of using it to create plot.
As for The Last Jedi, I don’t feel that it broke Hyperspace rules (implied or otherwise) at all.

Categories: Entertainment

Captain Marvel is Better than Wonder Woman

April 22, 2019 Leave a comment

The movie Captain Marvel (2019) is better than the movie Wonder Woman (2017). For some reason everyone can’t help but compare the two and when I compare the two, Captain Marvel comes out as the better movie. It’s because the protagonist overcame something in one but not in the other.
This isn’t to say that Wonder Woman isn’t an enjoyable watch, it is; but when watching it you never get the sense that Diana is going to do anything but succeed at everything she tries to do. At the end of the movie they even spell it out: she’s the god killer, the gift given to the Amazons to defeat Ares; she was preordained to succeed. Captain Marvel doesn’t have that sense at all. Vers (the name of Captain Marvel for most of the movie) does fail. She can’t defeat her commanding officer is a joust, she gets captured in an ambush, she can’t hunt down the Skrull’s on her own, the Skrulls can hurt her, etc.
In Wonder Woman you never get the sense that Wonder Woman is ever in danger. Diana throws herself into danger and succeeds stunningly without ever getting scratched over and over. Does she even ever get knocked down? Captain Marvel certainly gets knocked down. The movie has montages of her getting knocked down. The movie is a story of overcoming adversity. Which then makes the montage of her getting back up again, all the more powerful.
I don’t think that Wonder Woman has any character development. Yes, she learns about the larger world, but she doesn’t seem to be any different at the end of the movie than when she was the little girl doing impossible things. Captain Marvel finds her humanity in her movie. She goes from being a space soldier to someone with friends, who ends up betraying all that she knew for doing the right thing. She also overcomes the restrictions that she had been living under. I find it something which can be related to and inspiring, than Wonder Womans’ invincible person who can’t be beat, story.
Wonder Woman’s fish-out-of-water scenes are way better than Captain Marvel’s. They’re funnier, they make more sense, and are overall better. The way it’s played in Captain Marvel feels like the humor is forced and her actions don’t make a lot of sense. While I get that the Kree don’t have a strict Federation like Prime Directive, Vers walking around a planet, that she should know doesn’t know about the outside galaxy, asking for “Star Command” (or whatever it is in the movie) is odd. She barely even tries to go covert, which is odd. She’s a lone soldier, in a foreign land, she shouldn’t be sticking out. Yes, some bumbling about might make for humor, but it didn’t here.
The plot twists (or reveals) in Captain Marvel are better than those in Wonder Woman. In Wonder Woman they’re more on the nose, spelled out, more “shocking”, but what makes them shocking is that they’re oddly inconsistent with the rest of the movie. Particularly the who-Ares-actually-is reveal. While surprising, you then can’t help but think “If he was Ares all along, why did he help get Diana to the place which would stop his final plan? And why then did he show up to confront the one person that could kill him? And why does he tell that person that she’s the one that can kill him?” You went from a sneaky villain to a bumbling one. The Skrulls-are-oppressed twist takes longer to play out, isn’t so black and white, you kind of don’t buy it and are waiting for a double twist to happen, which then never comes.
Captain Marvel wins out as the better movie. I found the characters arc’s better, the story was better, the music was more thematically consistent, it was just better. Both movies are enjoyable to watch but one has a sense of danger where the other one did not; and one has a protagonist who learns how to stand back up, while the other doesn’t know what it’s like to be knocked down.

Categories: Entertainment

Best Possible Opening Scene for Black Panther

September 6, 2016 Leave a comment

I know that it’s still more than two years until Marvel releases their first Black Panther movie, but I already have in my mind what the best possible opening scene would be. It should mimic the opening scene of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Opening scene should be sunrise in Wakanda with Sam Wilson running. A faster runner passes him on his left and you hear Steve Rogers say “On your left.” Next shot, Sam Wilson is running a long and a faster runner passes him on his left and you hear Black Panther say “On your left.” I think it would be funny.

Now its possible that Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, or Thor Ragnarok are going to move Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson from Wakanda, but I doubt it. Captain America: Civil War left them in Wakanda, so it would make sense to see them in the Black Panther movie. Probably not has vital characters, but as cameos. Have them in an earlier scene, explain that they’re off going to be doing something else (rendezvous with Sharon Carter perhaps), and have it be that. I’ll be rather bummed if they don’t make an appearance at all.

Categories: Entertainment

Comic Movies Should Use Codenames More

May 12, 2016 Leave a comment

Something which bothers me with a lot of comic book based movies is that they don’t use the characters codename more. A lot of characters will have two names, their civilian name, and their code name. For example, Clark Kent is Superman. It seems like for the past 15 years or so, the code name is hardly ever mentioned. I think that lots of the movie going public, they wouldn’t even know a character’s civilian name, yet that’s how they’re referenced for most of the movie.

To me, what movie writers should do is to always have the characters be referred to by their code name when they’re on a mission. For example, in Star Wars, when the pilots are flying, they always refer to each other via code names (red two, gold leader, etc). The idea being that you don’t want the enemy to learn your actual names, should they be able to overhear your radio chatter. Comic book based movies need to do the same. When Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanoff are on a strike mission, they should always refer to each other as Captain America and Black Widow. When Black Widow and Captain America are back at base, chilling out, they can refer to each other as Natasha and Steve. It certainly would give a purpose to having these code names in the first place.

Categories: Entertainment

What Captain America: Civil War Is Missing

May 10, 2016 1 comment

I loved Captain America: Civil War. It certainly draws one in, and makes one feel what the characters are feeling. And while there are some things which I would have done differently if I were directing the movie (and those opinions are my own) this is a list small things which would have added to what is already there.

The First Action Scene Needs To Be Tied In With The Rest Of The Movie

While the explosion at the end of the sting operation in Lagos does get the ball rolling for the rest of the movie, the scene itself is pretty independent of the rest of the plot. It’s a fun and exciting scene, but I think it was missing something; it was missing Zemo. In Winter Soldier where they’re rescuing hostages from the Lumarian Star, who was on the boat, and what it was doing in the first place, became significant to the overall plot. But in Civil War, the Biohazardous material and Rumlow trying to get it, had nothing to do with the rest of the story at all. I think it would have been great if there was some reference to Zemo sending Rumlow/Crossbones out on these “missions”, not to accomplish whatever they were trying to do, but to get the Avengers to commit some sort of collateral damage.

Each Side Needed One More Argument

While most people praise Civil War for not bogging down the movie with a dialogue and a debate between the two sides, I think that each side needed one more point to really round out their argument.

  • Steve Rogers should have asked “What would we have done differently with an oversight committee?” Until the end of Winter Soldier the Avengers did have an oversight committee in the World Security Council. All the good that did, given that they almost launched Hydra controlled Helicarriers into the air, and ordered a Nuclear missile to blow up New York. The only ‘mistake’ the Avengers made was trying to interface with Loki’s Scepter which resulted in Ultron. And Tony Stark intentionally didn’t tell the rest of the team that he was doing that, so he certainly wouldn’t have told an oversight committee.
  • Tony Stark should have mentioned more of the legal complications that he was having. He does mention the issue he was having with housing Wanda in the US, and there is a TV playing in the background where someone asks “By what authority were the Avengers in Nigeria in the first place?” I think this should have been given one more sentence of air time. Tony should have said that by not even having quasi legal status, they were running into issues with getting countries to prosecute and detain the bad guys that they captured. Or that people who died while fighting the Avengers don’t become homicide cases. I’m pretty sure that lots of countries wouldn’t like the idea of a rich, white man sending his private army into their countries to do whatever they felt like doing

Zemo Needed To Be Doing Something Which Needed To Be Stopped

I think that lots of people will feel a bit of a let down from the end of the movie, but will struggle with why they’re feeling that way. My thought is that people will be feeling “Shouldn’t that climax have been more climactic?” Don’t get me wrong, the final conflict between Iron Man and Captain America was given great motivation and passion. I’m talking more about Zemo. The second act airport battle happened because Captain America needed to get to Siberia ASAP, to stop Zemo from getting his hands onto something very dangerous. But when Captain America finally gets to Zemo, Zemo says (and this is paraphrasing) “I wasn’t going after the dangerous thing, I just wanted to pick up this VHS.” Once your brain processes the fact that the last step in Zemo’s plot didn’t really need to be stopped, it’s a letdown. Zemo could have been getting a hold of material in hopes that it would tear the Avengers apart, in addition to getting a hold of another weapon he could use to perhaps kill off one or two of them.

Conclusion

So there you have it. A list of things which certainly don’t require big changes to Captain America: Civil War, but if where done would have made this great movie, even better.

Categories: Entertainment

How Rey is a Mary Sue

April 10, 2016 Leave a comment

Ever since Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been released there has been lots of discussion on the internet on the Mary Sue-ness of the character Rey. I will sum up all of the arguments I’ve seen here with my thoughts on them. Note: Episode VIII has yet to be named, let alone released; so this is my thoughts consisting of just The Force Awakens.(While there is no official definition of a Mary Sue you can get the rough working definition at http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MarySue)

  1. Rey beats up the two men who were sent to kidnap her.
    1. This doesn’t come off as a Mary Sue to me. While I was slightly rolling my eyes at it when I first saw The Force Awakens, I’m more okay with it the more I’ve had to think about it. You have two guys who are caught of guard by the resistance their target was able to put up. So far, not a Mary Sue.
  2. Rey flies the Millennium Falcon well enough to fight off two Tie fighters.
    1. Given that she’s a junk collector and there’s no established precedent for her piloting abilities, solid Mary Sue. The only imperfection in the scene is that she had Finn go to the bottom turret instead of the top, but that just created more opportunity to pull off more unlikely maneuvers. Very much Mary Sue writing by the writers.
  3. Rey fixes issues with the Millennium Falcon on the fly.
    1. It’s been established that she’s a scavenger, so also being a mechanic isn’t too far fetched. At least a bailing wire and duct tape type of mechanic. It’s not out of character, not a Mary Sue.
  4. Rey has all of the impressive stats of the Millennium Falcon memorized.
    1. Very Mary Sue. She’s being a fan for the fans.
  5. Rey releases the Rathtar’s aboard Han Solo’s ship.
    1. This is generally pointed out how Rey made a mistake and therefore isn’t a Mary Sue. While it was a mistake, it resulted in getting rid of the gangsters they were trying to get away from, and none of the hero’s were harmed. But it wasn’t an expression of out of character ability, so I’m going with neutral. Neither Mary Sue or not.
  6. Ren captures Rey on Takodana.
    1. This wouldn’t have happened with a Mary Sue. So non-Mary Sue.
  7. Rey resists Ren’s invasion of her mind.
    1. I’m inclined that this should be a Mary Sue, given that Kylo Ren has been presented at being very good at memory reading, but there’s enough precedent for natural Force users to be different in certain ways that I’m going to let it go. So non-Mary Sue.
  8. Rey mind tricks the storm trooper guarding her, into letting her go.
    1. Solid Mary Sue. She has know idea that a Force user could even do such a thing, let alone doing it without ever having consciously used the Force before. Besides, wouldn’t it have been absolutely horrible if Finn actually had to have saved her? Can’t have that.
  9. Rey calls the lightsaber to her.
    1. Mary Sue. Ren is calling it to him at the same time and Rey get’s it.
  10. Rey’s lightsaber battle with Ren is a draw.
    1. Mary Sue. I don’t care if she’s a fighter, or that Ren’s hurt. Kylo Ren shouldn’t have been hit by Chewbacca’s shot anyway. It’s just that without it, even the writers couldn’t have justified a draw, so they did something very convenient for Rey, so it wouldn’t be so absurd for Rey to do as well as she did against Ren, using a weapon she’s never picked up before. So given that the existing premise of Ren’s abilities had to be bent to even get to that point, Mary Sue.
  11. Rey is sent to find Luke Skywalker.
    1. Given what we know from The Force Awakens, also a Mary Sue. Why would Leia send a newbie stranger to go find her brother that she’s been looking for for years. Oh I know, because it’s really convenient for the awesomeness of Rey.

And those are my thoughts. Rey is a Mary Sue. The biggest reason for why I see that she shouldn’t be is “She’s so cool, I don’t want her to be.” But that’s the point. She’s too cool.

 

Categories: Entertainment

Star Wars – The Force Awakens Review

January 12, 2016 Leave a comment

I saw The Force Awakens on December 24th when visiting family for the holiday. That was 19 days ago. Since then many people have asked me what thought about it. I liked the movie. It is fun to watch, and I’m glad that I saw it. It ‘feels’ more like a Star Wars movie than the prequels did. I particularly enjoyed the X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter battle during the second act. There was something about that which felt like I was a teenager again playing one of the X-Wing video games. It was awesome.

That being said The Force Awakens is not without its head-scratching moments. I’m not a fan of Star Trek, but I did enjoy the first J.J. Abrams Stark Trek movie. The second one though, is one of the worst possible abominations of all movie-dom. The plot holes were enormous, self-contradictory actions abounded, and universe defying tricks moved along the plot too conveniently. The big fear I had going into The Force Awakens was that J.J. Abrams would do the same to Star Wars, and he kind of did. But not too much to make the overall movie unenjoyable. When done it left me with a sense of lazy writing. The producers of the show wanted a bunch of cool scenes, but didn’t know how to tie them together.

The following list is a list of grievances I had myself while watching The Force Awakens, or my thoughts to ones which others have shared with me.

Han Solo Hyperspaces into the Atmosphere of the Star Killer Base

This to me is ultimate sin in the movie. It’s very well setup in the rest of the Star Wars movies that you can’t be in hyperspace too close to a large object; ie anything large enough to have a gravitational pull of at least a small moon. You can’t enter hyperspace if you’re too close, and you get ripped from hyperspace if too close. But what do they do when they can’t figure out a way to get Han onto the base, due to a shield around the base? He just takes a ship he hasn’t used in years, and manually pulls out of hyperspace meters away from a mountain top, beneath the shield. If it was possible to do that, there wouldn’t be a need for a Death Star or Star Killer Base. All weapons would become warhead armed hyperspace rockets. Say what you will about the prequels, none of them did anything as universe destroying as this.

Rey Becomes too Powerful too Fast

I know lots of people like Rey, and I don’t mind the character, but she became too powerful too fast. The rest of the movies go over how it takes years of training to use the Light side of the Force. Lots of meditation to not fall into the Dark side of the Force. Then with nothing but being told she might be able to access the Force Rey is mind controlling storm troopers, pulling objects to herself and away from Kylo Ren, and other feats. I didn’t mind so much at the very end that she could use the Force to come to a draw in the duel with Kylo Ren, I more was bothered by the fact that Kylo Ren seemed to be fine to let her do it. Seriously, there’s nearly a minute where she’s standing there with her eyes closed and Kylo doesn’t take a swipe at her. Some people will say that Rey learned Force lessons as a child, but then had her memories erased. Guess what, if you don’t have memories of doing something, and haven’t done it in years, you can’t do it. I don’t care if they explain that in a later movie, it’s a poor explanation. Plus, any needed explanation needs to occur in the same movie, or it’s bad movie! Either way, Rey’s rise to power was extremely inconsistent with all that we learn about the Force in the other movies. Say what you will about the prequels, none of them were this glaringly inconsistent with their use of the Force.

There’s a Map to Luke Skywalker

He’s a human, not a location. There shouldn’t be a map to him. Plus, when they look at the part of the map that BB-8 is holding they say “This doesn’t match with anything we have”. Then when R2-D2 wakes up with the rest of the map, you see that it’s containing about 1/12th of the known galaxy. How did that not match any known part of the galaxy? Every time they said “map to Luke Skywalker” it just felt so dumb.

Deus Ex-Machina

There are two really bad Dues Ex-Machina’s. One is when the planet creates a chasm between Rey and Kylo when it looks like Rey might beat Kylo, but they want the villain for another movie. The second is when R2-D2 conveniently wakes up, at just the time when the Resistance has a break (just defeated the Star Killer base), and they have the remaining section of the map. There’s no reason why Luke wouldn’t have had R2 with him.

Kylo Rens Fluctuating Power

One thing that was introduced was Kylo Ren talking about how he’s feeling a tug from the Light side of the Force. That’s never come up in either of the movies, or the Expanded Universe, and it doesn’t feel out of place. That being said, everything else about it was odd. He starts out super powerful; stops a blaster bolt he didn’t see coming, so arguably more powerful than Darth Vader; it’s established that he’s killed off the other Jedi trainees; and yet after killing his father (which is established in Return of the Jedi as a guaranteed way of becoming very powerful in the Dark Side of the Force), he gets hit with a blaster bolt he sees coming, while holding his light saber, and then doesn’t defeat someone in a lightsaber duel the first time they’ve picked up a light saber. They made him too powerful, and then didn’t know what to do with him at the end.

It’s Watching A New Hope Over Again

Yes. Annoying. Every other Star Wars movie is quite unique (including prequels). This was bothersome.

Han Solo Finding the Millennium Falcon

I know that Han says something along the lines that a sensor went off and so he hopped on over. I’m glad they at least through that line in. Lots of people are bothered by how convenient he shows up. I am a little, but I don’t mind it for the sake of the movie. What bothers me is how the First Order then never shows up. The First Order is chasing the Millennium Falcon off of Jakku, the Falcon can’t go to hyperspace, so the First Order should have been right on their tails. I’m fine with Han grabbing it first in his other ship, but then the First Order should have been right there! Especially since Han declared it the most detectable ship in the galaxy or something like that.

The Music

The music is good. But none of it feels like it’s Star Wars good. John Williams did the score again, but I’ve listened to the soundtrack over and over, and none of it feels like it has the staying power of any of the music from the other movies. Thankfully none of it was distracting, but watch The Phantom Menace; the worst of the Star Wars movies, and it’s easy to enjoy the music.

So, I liked the Force Awakens. But it has plot holes an inconsistency issues that no other Star Wars movie has had. I don’t care if some issues get explained in sequels. That’s never been needed before, and shouldn’t ever be needed. So it’s the first Star Wars which missed their usual success of knowing what needs explaining and what doesn’t.

Categories: Entertainment

Batman Aminated Series Title Cards

May 11, 2014 Leave a comment

I found out that I can pick an image that Windows Explorer will show as the thumbnail for a video by using MP3Tag and setting the “Cover” of the file to whatever image I want. That is way better than the default that Explorer picks, because it makes a folder of show episodes all look the same because they’re all playing the title sequence at the point that Explorer picks. So I used the Snipping Tool to grab the Title Card to each episode of Batman The Animated Series that I own. Here they are:

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Categories: Entertainment

Breaking the Link Between a Track and Greatest Hits

November 7, 2013 Leave a comment

When I rip a track from a Greatest Hits album, the ripping program (sensibly) adds the metadata of the track for that album. The album in the file is the Greatest Hits album, the year in the file is the year the album was released, etc. The problem is that (most of the time) the track wasn’t originally recorded and released on the Greatest Hits album. After I rip a track I care less about the shiny disk the track was ripped from, and more about the album (and associated metadata) the track was originally released on. If I trip a track from a Greatest Hits album that was released in 2013, but the song is originally from 1970, I’d rather have the song show up as being from 1970, not 2013! Plus having a digital library with all of the original album art, instead of just the Greatest Hits covers, just feels better.

One problem I’ve discovered is that Windows Media Player does a really good job of remembering which tracks came from which shiny disk and assumes that the relationship between the tracks is constant. So if I rip a CD from Media Player and then later try to modify the album for a single track, Media Player will change the album information for all of the tracks which were ripped from the same shiny disk. This can be extremely frustrating, especially when restoring tracks from a mix disk. I understand why Media Player does this; the team optimized for the scenario where somebody ripped an album, didn’t bother to look up album metadata and have a library full of songs with a title of Track 1, Track 2, etc from Unknown Album’s. Once the owner does add album information it’s reasonable to add it for all of the files that came from the shiny disk.

What makes breaking the tracks from the ripped album in Windows Media Player so difficult is that the ripping creates the WM/CollectionID, WM/CollectionGroupID and the WM/UniqueFileIdentifier tags. I wrote a program to wipe out the CollectionID’s, but to write something that would properly remove the UniqueFileIdentifier was going to take more effort than I thought would be worth it. Plus the information is also cached in the  %localappdata%\Microsoft\Media Player directory. So Windows Media Player might even restore it, after I would have properly removed it from the file.

A little while ago my Sony Walkman hit a technical issue and in attempt to fix it I factory restored it. Given that my primary way of listening to music was reset I took the opportunity to restart a lot of my music collection from scratch. The Rube Goldberg solution I came up with is as follows:

I deleted all songs from my computer that I had a CD for. Then I ripped the CD’s using AudioGrabber. AudioGrabber was nice, because it didn’t look up too much metadata, and you can easily remove the metadata you won’t want (like album) before ripping. Plus, it didn’t save pointless metadata like track number. I would then look up each song on Wikipedia and enter the Album and Year information in the properties window of the file in Explorer. Then after deleting all references to Zune and Media Player from %localappdata% I opened up Zune and let Zune find the album information. I found Zune to not be as draconian with the metadata as Windows Media Player is, plus it had more information about older albums than Media Player. The one draw back to Zune is that it doesn’t embed the album art into the track file, it stores it as a hidden file in either the directory of the file or in %programdata%\zune\AlbumArt. To embed the album art I would have the songs folder open, showing hidden files, Zune open and Windows Media Player open, and I would drag and drop the album cover files from Explorer to Windows Media Player to embed the art into the files.

Was that a lot of work, yes! But I’ve had fun finding out about where the songs came from. And now I have album art and metadata information from the original albums that the songs were released on (except the Monkees; a bunch of their songs were released as singles only and then years later on Greatest Hits albums). I know I am going to be enjoying my music experience more because of it.