Thursday, May 16, 2013

Movie Review: Star Trek: Into Darkness

I want to preface this review with the fact that i spent six months of my life passionately watching everything ever created in the legitimate Star Trek canon. As such, i guess i can be considered as an extreme fanboy. Truth be told, i'm going to try and be as unbiased as possible, but chances are a lot of my nit-pickings are not going to matter to anyone else lol.

Star Trek: Into Darkness is the second in what i hope is going to be at least a trilogy of films that reimage the entire Star Trek original series from the late 1960's by the use of a handy little thing called an alternate timeline. I know there's a lot of controversy surrounding whether the new movies are a true alternate timeline or whether it's just a specific point in time that was altered and everything else in the history of ever still remains the same. In my mind, this movie pretty much settles those arguments and makes it pretty cut and dry that it is a true alternate timeline (not necessarily an alternate universe, but definitely an alternate timeline). That's all i'll say about that.

As for the actual movie itself, it stands on it's own two legs just fine from the first movie, Aside from having to know who is who, if someone with no star trek knowledge were to walk into the movie theater and sit down, they would be able to pick up this movie and dine upon it's fruit without any confusion. Events that happen in the beginning of the movie are pretty much the only events that are mentioned with the exception of a certain admiral giving a certain something to a certain captain. (those of you who have seen the first movie will wonder why i'm being so blatantly vague). The special effects are as always amazing, and Benedict Cumberbatch does an amazing job at his roll as the anti-hero. They let him on to be a samaritan at the beginning of the movie, only to turn that good deed around into something so horrifically sinister that you feel horrible for ever feeling warm about him.

The journey of the crew leads them straight to the Klingon homeworld in which we finally get our first glimpse of the re-imaged klingons. this has to be my only major beef. The klingons were very well covered in the original canon, explaining that their entire body was filled with double and triple redundancies so that klingons can take inordinate amounts of internal and external damage and still be strong enough to stand and fight. Their ridges were a sign of how pure their klingon blood was. The taller your ridges the more noble your blood essentially. But without revealing too much, the klingons in this movie look like the Persians from 300 only with v-shaped gold studs in their foreheads. it's kind of a grotesque sight (as if the original ridges weren't... i know) and they didn't come off as proud and war mongering like the original species. I digress though, this is an alternate timeline, something may very well have happened somewhere that caused the to behave differently in face to face confrontation.

lastly i'd like to discuss the dialog. Aside from punching in the token catch phrases of every crew member, the dialog was pretty much amazing. very well written, very well thought out. Only one line, belonging to Uhura, was really cheesy in the sense that they made it a hair too dramatic. And of course those of you who have seen the original 6 motion pictures will surely be looking forward to the words "Second star to the right, and straight on till morning." But please, don't get your hopes up like i did. it's not coming.

Have you seen Star Trek: Into Darkness? what was your take? I'd love to see what some non-giga-geeks like me think haha.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Importance of Backing Up

I'm sure all of you have heard it preached before by dozens of people the importance of backing up. If you're anything like me, you tend to just nod these things away and go through the motions of acknowledging what the people are saying, while in your head, you're secretly telling yourself "The chances of anything happening to me are so slim, it's almost not even worth it to back up your work and files." or even simpler "that'll never happen to me..."

Well i'm here to tell you, while backing up everything you possibly own might be a little excessive, because if you've never made any tech savvy enemies, chances are you're not going to have some douchebag hack your system, steal all of your information then corrupt your hard drives (this is outside the obvious of stop scrolling the unsafe, free porn websites and you won't have any russian superhackers selling your personal information on the black market by monday. However, backing up specific pieces of information, and maybe not even so much that as it is important to keep rock solid records and hold off on deleting certain critical files for a period of time.

In the Fall semester of 2013, i was taking a class on the Assembly programming language, i was trucking through it just find and everything was going well for me until about 2 weeks before the end of the semester the instructor offered to show us our grades up to that date in confidence. Well when i went up to him, he told me as it stood there was no chance of me passing the class. This seriously confused me because i had turned in all of my work, i had received A's and B's in all of my assignments. It turns out that among the chaos of all his classes, he neglected anything that had anything to do with my grades or assignments and so his grade book was showing absolutely nothing turned in except for the first 2 of 4 quizzes.

I assured him for 20 minutes that i had turned in everything and he refused to believe me, i'm sure i looked like the stereotypical drop-out student who doesn't do a damn thing and then tries to weasel his way into a passing grade at the very last second. As such, he made a deal with me, that if i could find timestamped logs of my turn-ins as well as copies of the documents that had un-hampered created dates, he would give me the grades that i deserved on all my assignments, If i could just come up with the documents, regardless of the created date, he would give me points for the assignments, but with a deduction for turning them in late.

I scrambled around in a frenzy for a week trying to collect all of these assignments which became a problem because i didn't really back up any of my work or keep a sturdy email record. I ended up having to recreate several of the documents from scratch and i lost a huge amount of points in the class all because of his blunder combined with my epic fail of data retention.

So after barely passing a class that i should have aced, i learned the hard way that from that day forward, i was making immaculate records of all my transactions between all my contacts including backed up copies of all files transfered between people on an external hard drive that i kept with me at all times and purchased specifically for school. A sizable 500GB external with a decent transfer rate, to ensure that i would never ever run out of space until long after i was done with school for my entire life.

Well the next semester i signed up for a class on Database Design and Development, and on the day of the class, my teacher pulled out from the class and as luck would have it, that exact same teacher that screwed up my grade last semester picked up the class. This time i was prepared though. I wasn't about to let this teacher shove me around and cause me to bust my ass twice on work to get a barely passable grade. So, i started doing the same strategy, only this time, all of my correspondence was cataloged under his name in my gmail folders as well as externall backed up with all of my homework assignments, neatly organized and with additional copies of all original correspondence, timestamped in 3 different places and never touched again.

Sure enough, 3 weeks into the class, he was already losing my assignments again. Just as i had feared. This time as soon as i noticed it, i immediately emailed him an email with an attached copy of the original text in the body of the message, a copy of the original text in a log file, and the original assignment, all time stamped on the creation date of the files as well as the actual "Originally sent" date on the email itself. He responds, acknowledging the email and does nothing. This guy is becoming a problem. I send the email again a few weeks later he responds once more and again, does nothing about it. So not i'm approaching him in class a few weeks later and i'm sitting there in front of him with my email open, i pull up the tag in my inbox with him watching, he's just floored, then and only then does he consent to grading the paper right in front of me and punching in my grade right in front of me. So finally i have all my assignments in and my grade is just where it needs to be.

The moral of this story about my shitty experience with a shitty educator, is that you can't always trust other people with important documents. There's just no chance that nobody is going to lose something critical to something. So it falls upon you to cover your own ass. Back up critical pieces at the time of their creation that way you don't run into angst later down the line with some useless douchebag takes it upon himself to ruin your life and try to cheat you out of money.

Has anything like this ever happened to you? Leave your response in the comments.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Psychology Behind Breaking Bad

I just recently finished watching all of the material that is currently available for Breaking Bad (which ends at Season 5 Episode 8). And i find it interesting now that i have a moment to reflect on the entire series to see how all of the characters have changed from Point A to Point B. In this post i'll be making some pretty general statements about the TV show as a whole but some people might consider them as spoilers, so if you're adamant about not having anything about the show ruined for you, i'd suggest taking a bow out of this post for now.

The entire TV series opens up with portraying Walter White as a little bit of a bitch. he's whipped by his wife, he's on the verge of being whipped by his students, and he's whipped by his boss at the car wash. He just kind of mopes around and takes it all too. Never bothers to put up a fight of any kind. Then to add insult to injury, he finds out he has cancer, so now he's whipped by his own heath. Enter Jesse Pinkman. With the introduction of Jesse, we find a young man who gave up on his education a few years too early and as a consequence he faced the dilemma that all high school dropouts face, which is the inability to get any form of high paying job what so ever. So, to counteract having to work 9 to 5 in some shit hole fast food restaurant for the rest of his life, he resorted to cooking meth (and subsequently getting addicted on his own product).

When our two main characters meet up and do their first cook, you see more of the same from Jesse, he's an addict whom has no regard what-so-ever for the process in which to cook or for the product itself. But for Walter, we see a genius spring into action. We begin to see that this guy is much too qualified than your average high school teacher. Then when they run into the first speed bump in their business, we see that Jesse has a complex for obeying orders. he refuses to do anything of the sort which causes several problems for the duo. We also see Walter struggling within himself to hold onto a small piece of his morality, only to throw it out of the window in exchange for his own limited survival.

Season 2 brings a new Walter to the scene. Walter becomes much more assertive. He becomes cold to the dirty work involved with the business, but he's still determined to only make what he needs to give his family enough to live off of when he passes away. Jesse finds love and has a reason to live besides the cook. Walter attempts to get out of the business for a short while when he has enough money but finds himself wanting for more. This is also the point where we begin to see that it's no longer about the money for walter.

Season 3 shows us  Walter continuing to slide down the slippery slope. Jesse loses love, goes into rehab, comes out clean and almost immediately starts selling again without walter. Season 4 Walter becomes so addicted to being in a place of power with his ability to make the most chemically perfect crystal in the world that he is willing to set up extremely intricate schemes to eliminate anyone in his path so he instantly skyrockets to the top of the world. Jesse, on the other hand, manages to find love once again, stays clean, becomes independent, and confident.

Lastly where we land, Walter begins to realize that his reach has exceeded his grasp, and he starts to really collect who he is once again. But by this time, he has already become the antagonist when he started as the protagonist (a very unlikable one at that but still the intended protagonist). Jesse has become the Protagonist now. Completely pulling out of the business and living the life of a hermit after breaking up with his second love to protect her and her child.

The reason i cover this all is to show you the power of dynamic characters. Even in my all-time favorite TV show, Battlestar Galactica (2004), sure the characters were dynamic, but they were never this dynamic. They evolved from Point A to Point B, but what Breaking Bad takes 2 seasons to do, BSG took 4 (6 if you want to count 2.5 and 4.5 as their own, independently standing seasons).

But this isn't just about Hollywood writing, it really is about the human psyhe. A man who was merely a timid shell of a person almost his entire life, finds a rush of adrenaline in an activity he is reluctant to do and becomes addicted to that rush. He begins to take on the mentality of doing whatever it takes to get that rush the same way as he did that first time. Walter is the worst possible epitomization of that addiction because he feeds it. He changes who he is dramatically, he lets himself learn to be okay with things that are as far from okay as they possibly could be, and all just to get that rush again.

On the flipside of the coin, Jesse is a kid who had that rush as a daily component of his life for as long as he can remember. so by the end of the journey, he finally realized that he was tired of being pushed around, and the rush had lost it's zeal. He just wanted to be left alone and not have to think about the rush for that matter.

This all applies in everyday situations too. Say you get into skydiving and you love the rush of it, chances are, you're going to have a few close calls if you keep at it, and then you'll call it quits. it costs too much to get up in the air, it's too dangerous jumping out, there's too many variables that can go wrong, and the thrill is gone, it's just going through the motions now. Everyone will get to that point, it's just a matter of people who start sooner will probably get there sooner.

Sorry for the long rant, but it is in the web address of the blog. What do you think about the psychological development in Breaking Bad? Maybe not even just within Walter and Jesse, all of the characters. The only 2 static characters on the regular cast if you ask me are Walter Jr. and Marie.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Enderverse and It's Movie

I've been spending an awful lot of time reading recently. For some of you, i'm sure that sentence doesn't even compute, for me an awful lot of reading is anything more than one book a year, but after finding out that there was a Movie component to Ender's Game coming out, i felt compelled to read the series. Still i didn't actually have any of the books and i wasn't about to go illegally download a book i might not enjoy. So i went talking to a few friends and finally found one that was willing to loan me their copy of Ender's Game.

Even with the book in hand and the desire to read it, it took a little building up steam for me to actually want to read it. I read the first 4 chapters in one sitting and then preoccupied myself with other matters for a few months. Finally around my 21st birthday, my father wanted to drive out to vegas which is an 8-ish hour drive for us. So i monopolized that driving time to continue reading this book that i kept telling myself i really needed to read.

Sure enough i was hooked quickly and now i can't stop reading the damned things. As the ender's series stands, in July there will officially be 14 books in the series and half as many short stories. All of them contributing weapons-grade awesome to the overall canon. As of last night i've finished my 6th book, and 3 short stories down. It's been a crazy last few months of my life but the entire collection is intensely gripping.

Being completely obsessed with the series and having read all of the 3 books that take place at the exact same time as the movie, i was of course leery about how they planned on executing the movie. I've never heard of the movie's director and i wasn't sure i could pin down who the screenwriter was, so naturally, like every other movie adaptation of a book, i was afraid they were going to butcher the book and stray away completely from the original plot. We've seen this happen with The Hunger Games series, the Lord of the Rings, and many others. Chances are, if you can name a book in which a movie has been made out of it. The book was disgraced by the movie piece.

It was only yesterday that i found out, through some very professional, P.I. grade google snooping that the author of the entire Enderverse, Orson Scott Card, is the writer of the screen play and i also discovered a quotation from him in interview about the movie adaptation where he explains the changes he made to the script and why. I don't know why this made me eccstatic, but it did. If you were to ask me now, after having read that, i would tell you that i firmly believe that all film adaptations of the movie should be prefaced with an interview from the screenplay writer. It doesn't have to be a video interview, it doesn't have to be an audio interview, it doesn't even have to be put in with the movie itself. Every movie has a fan page it seems like.It could be some terrible movie like Racist Assholes 5: The Quest for Hitler's Illegitimate Daughter. and at the end of it's terrible and terribly racist trailer there'd be a website link ""

So back to my argument about the interviews. Just post the transcription of said interview on the movie's website, and have the screenwriter explain where he went with the script in relation to the original work, and why he went there. If we can see some form of reasoning as to why things were left out or changed up even in the slightest, then we know what to expect, we're prepared to see something that is not verbatim with the book counterpart.

Either way, that's my rant about the Enderverse and it's upcoming movie slated to be released November of this year.

How do you feel about my idea of having the screenplay author do an interview as a sort of caveats to why the movie is different from it's book counterpart? What do you feel was the absolute worst movie adaptation of a book?