[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Tuesday, 2016-06-14

Magic Item: Julian’s Magic Glass

Filed under: Gaming,Television — bblackmoor @ 08:40

Julian’s Magic Glass

Julian in combat, glass in handOnce filled with rum & coke (or some other nonmagical beverage) and a piece of ice (optional), the glass will continue to be full and the ice will not melt, no matter how many sips the holder takes from it. Additionally, as long as the holder has a firm grasp on the glass, it will remain level and the liquid will not spill regardless of what befalls the holder. Julian’s Magic Glass also has the property that the holder will be allowed to carry the glass without consequences even at times and places where it is impractical, inappropriate, or would otherwise be prohibited (in combat, on horseback, in a prison, at an audience with royalty, etc.). Observers can see the glass and its contents: it just doesn’t occur to them to object to it.

Friday, 2016-04-08

Petula Clark, Harry Belafonte, and Mizhena

Filed under: Civil Rights,Gaming,Television — bblackmoor @ 07:21

There is a computer game called Baldur’s Gate. It’s a fantasy adventure game based on Dungeons & Dragons, along the lines of Lord Of The Rings. An expansion for the game was released recently, and in that expansion there is a minor character named “Mizhena” who, if you engage with them and repeatedly ask them questions, will eventually tell you that they are transgender. If you are unfamiliar with Dungeons & Dragons, you might not realize that transgender characters have been a part of that game world for 30 or 40 years. It’s not new. It is, however, new to the Baldur’s Gate game.

As a result, a small segment of the Baldur’s Gate fan base revealed themselves to be vile bigots. These bigots created a “controversy”, objecting to the inclusion of this character in the game.

Petula Clark and Harry BelafonteThis “controversy” comes at an interesting time. Today, April 8 2016, is the 48th anniversary of the broadcast of the Petula Clark Show on NBC. Petula Clark was a very popular singer at the time, having fifteen consecutive Top 40 hits in the USA, starting with “Downtown” in 1965. Clark was joined on her special by Harry Belafonte, who had made Calypso and Caribbean music popular throughout the world with his singing in the 1950s. During a duet toward the end of the show, Clark touched Belafonte briefly on the arm. Doyle Lott, a vice president from Chrysler, the show’s sponsor, was present at the taping. Lott objected to the “interracial touching”. He pressured NBC to remove the “forced” contact between Clark and Belafonte, to remove this “social justice” from the show. However, Petula Clark stuck to her guns, and the special was broadcast with the “controversial” touching. When the show aired, it received high ratings.

It’s been over 40 years, and the Doyle Lotts of the world are still manufacturing controversies to defend their bigotry. I think it is right and just that people are enjoying the music of Petula Clark and Harry Belafonte to this very day, while Doyle Lott has been reduced to a footnote in the history of civil rights.

There are many cases where people of good will can and do disagree. That is usually the case, in my opinion. However, these cretins who wail and moan and gnash their teeth any time they see someone other than themselves represented are not people of good will. They are the bartender who says, “We don’t serve their kind here.” They are the prejudiced priest who refuses to heal the half-orc in the party. They are the pig-faced sheriff that says, “We don’t take kindly to outsiders around here.” They are the craven peasant accusing a midwife of witchcraft. They’re the corrupt king who doesn’t want the adventurers to fight the dragon because it’s never his daughter that gets sacrificed to it.

These are not people of good will. They are not defenders of the sanctity of gaming. They are, by their own choice and by their own hand, villains.

Monday, 2015-12-21

Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate

Filed under: Comics,Movies,Philosophy,Television — bblackmoor @ 10:34

Or to put it another way: “Eschew petty criticisms.”

I posted a comment on a YouTube video this morning, “helpfully” pointing out that the alien in Alien (and sequels) is a xenomorph, not the xenomorph — that any extraterrestrial encountered in that film’s universe is “a xenomorph”. It occurred to me that this is the modern version of telling people that Frankenstein is the scientist, and not the monster.

And then it occurred to me how incredibly annoying it is to be around someone who talks like this, pointing out petty errors or inconsistencies in movies, comics, or TV shows. I don’t care if Nightcrawler has face tattoos in the comicbooks. I don’t care if The Purple Man looked or acted anything like David Tennant in the comicbooks. I don’t care if Gal Godot’s Wonder Woman costume looks like the one in the comics.

And even if I do care a little, listening to that sort of thing annoys the hell out of me. So I am going to try, from now on, to not be someone who says that sort of thing. If I like a TV show or a movie, I will say that I like it, and I’ll say what I like about it. Other than that, I’m going to try to keep my mouth shut.

Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate

Wednesday, 2015-10-07

Misfits, Gotham, Agents Of Shield, Heroes Reborn, Powers

Filed under: Television — bblackmoor @ 17:53
Misfits Season 1 Blu-ray

I’ve reached the end of Misfits (eight seasons on Netflix, but there’s only eight episodes per season). While it’s a bit uneven, and sometimes it takes some effort to care about the characters, I like it so much more than the current seasons of Gotham, Agents of Shield, and Heroes Reborn.

The thing that irks me most about Heroes Reborn, and why I won’t be watching it anymore, is the tiresome “there’s no time!”/”it’s too dangerous!” enforced secrecy, without which the whole plot would collapse like a punctured bouncy house. If the main characters just had a five minute conversation, they could save us all the trouble of sitting through a dozen episodes of nothing. But no: there’s no time/it’s too dangerous! “No time” is right: life is too short to watch an exercise in padding.

Agents of Shield is just boring. I don’t care about the characters, don’t care about their mission, the plots are dull, the villains are dull, the outfits are dull, yawn, goodbye.

And Gotham… I liked the first season of Gotham, but FFS, I get it: the red-headed kid is the Joker. Except he’s not, because the Joker won’t show up for another 10-15 years (after Batman does), and when he does, whoever he used to be is a huge mystery, so he can’t be some famous over-the-top psycho from when Bruce Wayne was a kid. Seriously, he’s way over-the-top. Jim Carrey in The Mask is looking at this guy and going, “Whoa, dude: dial it back a notch.”

I hope Powers comes back for another season. The first season was slow, the production values are… frugal, and Eddie Izzard’s character will probably not return (he was the shining beacon of the first season), but I would still like to see where it goes from where the first season left off.

Friday, 2015-01-23

Do not stretch 4:3 images to fit 16:9 screens

Filed under: Technology,Television — bblackmoor @ 09:15

I was at a restaurant once, and the widescreen TVs were set to non-widescreen stations, with the image squashed vertically (or stretched horizontally, potayto potahto) to fit. That was bad enough. But then the show itself had a person standing in front of a TV (it was some kind of “news” show or something), and THAT TV was a widescreen TV showing a squashed 4:3 image.

How can anyone not notice how wrong this is?

WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? STOP DOING IT!

Do not stretch 4:3 images to fit 16:9 screens

Wednesday, 2014-12-17

Dr. Phibes’ Abominable Christmas Special

Filed under: Movies,Music,Television — bblackmoor @ 16:46

How many of you remember with fondness the 1973 “Dr. Phibes’ Abominable Christmas Special”?

Dr Phibes Abominable Christmas Special (1973)

“Twelve signs of the zodiac. Twelve apostles. Twelve times, twelve! The human body has twelve cranial nerves, Doctor. … I will now play the Twelve Days Of Christmas. Ho. Ho. Ho.”
(from “Dr. Phibes’ Abominable Christmas Special”, 1973)

Dr. Phibes’ Abominable Christmas Special was a Christmas-themed television special starring Vincent Price broadcast December 23, 1973 on ABC. It featured guest star Joseph Cotten in a reprisal of his role as Dr. Vesalius from The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Also guest starring were Virginia North as Vulnavia, Billie Hayes as Witchiepoo from “H.R. Pufnstuf”, Tim Conway, Roz Kelly, Florence Henderson, rock band Pink Floyd, Billy Barty, Betty White and, in an unbilled surprise appearance, Sonny and Cher (whose own Christmas episode of the hit show “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour” had been broadcast on CBS four days earlier, on December 19, 1973).

Tuesday, 2013-12-24

The true meaning of Christmas

Filed under: Family,Friends,Television — bblackmoor @ 20:07

How the Grinch Stole ChristmasIf I had to pick one Christmas special that sums up what I consider the “true meaning of Christmas”, it would be Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

“Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos, far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be, just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart, and hand in hand.”

Saturday, 2013-06-01

Stephen Fry In America: The Deep South

Filed under: Television,Travel — bblackmoor @ 14:02
Stephen Fry In America

In episode two of this charming series, Fry visits the South. He has such an obvious affection for what makes us distinctive, including our friendliness and our love of our history (celebrating the good and transcending the bad).

I can’t help but wish that more Americans had as few prejudices about the South as Stephen Fry does.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It

Sunday, 2013-05-19

Review: Logitech Harmony Ultimate

Filed under: Home,Technology,Television — bblackmoor @ 11:19
Harmony Ultimate

I received a Harmony Ultimate from Logitech because I own several Logitech Harmony One Advanced Universal Remote remotes and have recommended them highly. I was looking forward to the Harmony Ultimate, since I had given an unfavorable review to the Harmony Touch, and I was hoping that the Harmony Ultimate would correct the design deficiencies of the Harmony Touch. It does correct some problems, but it also introduces new ones. Here are some good things and bad things:

Good things:

  1. The removal of the number buttons to make the Harmony Ultimate a more convenient size was a good move. The on-screen numbers are easy to find, when they are needed.
  2. Overall, the size of the Harmony Ultimate is convenient and comfortable.
  3. Most of my settings were successfully imported from one of my Harmony One settings, so that saved me some time during set-up.
  4. Having a dedicated button for the DVR and for the four colored buttons is a great addition.
  5. The remote comes with a “hub” and a pair of “IR blasters”, which one could place in a cabinet to control concealed electronics. That’s nice, I suppose.

Unfortunately, there are quite a few things that make the Harmony Ultimate a bad fit for my living room experience.

  1. The location of the play-stop-forward-reverse buttons to above the screen makes using the Harmony Ultimate more awkward than using the Harmony One, even though the Harmony One is significantly larger. Using the play-stop-forward-reverse buttons on the Logitech Harmony One Advanced Universal Remote can be done one-handed. On the Harmony Ultimate it requires awkwardly shifting the position of the hand, or using two hands. This is a significant step backward in usability. However, what’s worse is….
  2. Putting the touch-sensitive screen between the play-stop-forward-reverse buttons and the up-down-left-right buttons is a terrible design. I was constantly hitting the screen when trying to use the play-stop-forward-reverse buttons, causing all sorts of mayhem. This rendered the remote useless.
  3. The addition of “favorite channels” is a needless complication. Every DVR has favorite channel lists built in.
  4. The Harmony Ultimate itself does not control a Roku box. The remote *only* sends commands to the Roku box through the “IR blaster” widgets. For me, this would require putting the Harmony Ultimate “hub” in my already crowded entertainment cabinet and re-arranging it so that the Roku box can face one of the “IR blasters”. Why not just have the remote itself send the commands? That’s what the Harmony One does,and it works perfectly. Even the Harmony Touch was able to get this right. This is a bad design.
  5. The Harmony Ultimate does not have physical buttons for “skip forward” and “skip backward”. To activate those frequently-used commands, you have to hold down the “fast forward” and “rewind” buttons. This is a bad design.
  6. There is no obvious way to access the commands for Devices, in order to send a command directly to one of your components. On the Harmony One, the “Devices” button is always easily accessible at the bottom of the screen. On the Harmony Ultimate, the Devices button is hidden in an on-screen sub-menu.
  7. After the activities are set up, they are listed on the screen, much like they are on the Harmony One (a great improvement over the Harmony Touch). However, the on-screen button for the bottom-most activity is located *behind* the on-screen “Menu” button for the remote itself (this menu is where the “Devices” menu is hidden). This makes accessing that fourth activity … difficult.

Conclusion: in a world where the Logitech Harmony One Advanced Universal Remote had never been invented, the Harmony Ultimate would be a nice addition to any living room. However, the Harmony One does exist, and has existed for years. That being the case, there is really no excuse for the flaws in the design of the Harmony Touch.

Suggestions for the Harmony Two, or the Harmony Ultimate Plus, or whatever the next version will be called:

  1. Put all of the physical buttons, including the play-stop-forward-reverse buttons, below the screen, where the user can reach them with one hand.
  2. Have physical buttons for “skip forward” and “skip backward”, located beneath the “fast forward” and “rewind” buttons, as the Harmony One currently does.
  3. Do not put any physical buttons above the touch-sensitive screen.
  4. Eliminate the “Favorites” screen and replace it with a list of the user’s “Devices”.

Sunday, 2013-04-21

Mind-boggling horror

Filed under: Civil Rights,Politics,Television — bblackmoor @ 10:21

Warning: this video is graphic. It shows dead people. You’ve been warned.

Now for my thoughts:

The first segment, on the Philippines, illustrates the scenario that I think motivates some of the anti-gun hysteria in this country. Ironically, I think that divisive rhetoric and attempts to infringe on other people’s civil rights makes that scenario more likely rather than less. I hope, really hope, that Americans wake up to that and stop with the attacks on each other. Ignorance, hatred, and irrational fear are poor foundations for public policy.

The second segment, on the Taliban and Afghanistan… that’s almost too tragic. I have trouble even wrapping my head around it. It would be easy to blame religion, but the suicide bombers aren’t even being told what their own religion says. They are lied to and manipulated by their Imams and Muftis, who are distorting their own religion to use these children as weapons. The horror of it baffles me.

I am so grateful that I live in a relatively safe, relatively sane country. I hope it stays that way.

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