I play Warhammer 40,000 (or ’40K’). I play Warhammer as often as I can, which is not nearly enough. If I had my way, I’d play a game a week and enter a tournament a month. As it stands, I play about a game a month and enter tournaments once or twice a year. I am always trying to get new people to play the game, because those friends of mine who do play are either few in number or difficult to pry into actually playing (or both). Typically, when I broach the subject of playing 40K with somebody who sounds potentially interested, I usually get the response “It’s so expensive, though!”
And that, my friends, is just soooo much bullshit. So, in the interest of procrastinating the mountain of work I’ve got sitting here to be graded, I’m going to rant a bit.
All right, Warhammer 40K is not super cheap. The sticker shock of buying an army outright seems overwhelming. The rulebook will cost you $75, the army specific rulebook (which you’ll need) will set you back another 50. Most full-size armies, if bought at the sticker price, will cost you several hundred dollars. Throw in another hundred-ish bucks for paint and brushes, and you can reasonably expect to drop ~$500 to start up (though there are a *lot* of ways to get discount stuff and come under this figure). When people go to the website and start adding things together, they start to freak out.
What they’re forgetting, though, is that nobody expects you to go out and buy everything all at once in the same sense that nobody expects you to go out and buy every single piece of a model train set all at the same time or expect you to buy and entire set of golf clubs and attire the first time you play. This, I feel, is part of the misunderstanding: people think Warhammer is a game. It isn’t. It’s a hobby.
Playing the actual game of Warhammer 40K is only about a third (or less) of what you spend your time doing. For the rest of the time you are buying models, building/painting/customizing those models, putting together army lists, modeling terrain, chatting tactics online, and so on. For every game I play of Warhammer 40K, I’ve probably put about 10 hours of prep time behind it over the course of however many weeks or months. I enjoy this process - it is part of the hobby. It’s fun and very satisfying to finish painting a really cool model to add to my collection.
People who think it’s a game are usually folks that approach the world from the perspective of the video gamer. You buy it, you sit down, you play it, and, 20-ish hours later, it’s over. Never mind that video gamers are paying the exact same amount of money (if not more) for their consoles + games as I do for my 40K armies. Nevermind that, unlike video games, an army that I build or a model that I paint I can use and will remain relevant forever. I am still fielding models I purchased almost ten years ago. Did that little plastic tank cost me $50? Yeah, it did. But when I laid out the money for that tank, you were laying out $50 for Halo 2. Tell me, are you still playing Halo 2? Hmmm?
Didn’t think so.
Furthermore, when you compare Warhammer 40K with other actual hobbies, it compares quite favorably. It’s cheaper than golf by a country mile, it’s less time consuming and less expensive than fishing. It costs a damn sight less than boating hobbies of any kind. Model Trains? Warhammer is both less expensive (overall) and takes up less space. Gardening? People spend more money on gardening than on any other hobby (in aggregate, granted). Sure, when you’re a teenager with a crap minimum wage job you only work part time, a Warhammer army is realistically out of your reach. If you’re a full grown person, though, with a salary and a car who pays your own rent and taxes and still has the money left over to occasionally take your significant other out to an expensive dinner, don’t sing me the ‘but it’s so expensive’ sob story. Bull shit, cheapskate–if you want to, you can afford it without even making a noticeable dent in your bank account. Hell, I afforded it while working as a dog walker and then as an adjunct professor, and let me tell you: those jobs do NOT pay that well.
If you want to whine to me about how much 40K costs, what you should say to me is “I don’t like the idea of this hobby enough to invest the resources necessary”. I don’t have a problem with that. That is totally fine by me. There are a lot of hobbies I don’t like enough to invest in (like fishing, for instance). I do not prance around, though, using the ‘exorbitant’ cost of fishing rods as an excuse not to get involved. I just say ‘no thank you’ and move on. What drives me bonkers is the perception (A) that if I play this game I somehow have buckets of disposable income and (B) that I’m supposed to believe that you really want to play but are just too broke to start. Sure, some people are legitimately strapped for cash for a variety of reasons, but the majority of the people who say this to me are not among them. They’ve been making more money than this poor-ass writer for a long, long time. They just, for some reason quite beyond me, can’t simply admit to me that they don’t think the cost is justified considering the enjoyment derived. That doesn’t mean you can’t afford it; that just means you don’t want to. Stop pretending and just tell it to me straight.
It has come to the attention of Vrokthar the Skull-Feaster, Scourge of the Northern Wastes and Bane of the Help Desk Cult, that you wetlanders have grown anxious about thy impending doom. This at first pleased the might ears of Vrokthar, for he thought that the miserable wretches of those weak peoples had, at last, realized the futility of their existence and resigned themselves to glorious slaughter at the swords of Vrokthar’s mighty ravaging hordes.
But lo, Vrokthar was wrong! The outrage! The insult!
You limp-wristed fools fear the ravages of a horde of zombies? Zombies? What nonsense is this? Why should you pathetic weaklings be more menacing when infected with diseases and parasites? Vrokthar is no master of logic, but he does have considerable experience with parasites and infections and, take it from me, they do not make you stronger. Packs of diseased wetlanders would be as dangerous as an average pack of poxy swine – easily slain and a wondrous source of fine bacon. If you have not sampled man-bacon, I assure you it is delicious, and you puffy overweight un-men are a wondrous source of both plentiful bacon and the lard in which to fry it.
So, aside from providing Vrotkthar and his multitudinous progeny with unending supplies of bacon, of what consequence is your pitiful zombie apocalypse? Do you honestly think that you, fat lazy hog lounging on your plush divans and speculating upon the pelvic gyrations of your vid-trollops, are a mere infection away from dangerous weapon? I would gladly remove your zombie spine and wear it as a belt to prove your inferiority, whether dead or alive, but the spines of your people are notoriously difficult to find.
I can hear now your sniveling protestations: “But Vrokthar,” you whimper, snot dribbling from your rosy little noses, “there will be hordes of us! We will be too many?”
Think you that your numbers are of account? Bah! My blade has hungered for such an opportunity to test its edge. Your pathetic sense, so dulled by whatever infection hath corrupted your reason, will fall easy prey to me. I shall hack and slash my way through your miserable masses to utmost victory. You will have no organization, no leaders, no weapons, and no sense – thy doom will be assured.
So, speak not to me of the menaces of your ‘zombie apocalypse’. Such a worthless event, were it to come to pass, would not be frightening enough to make Vrokthar pass gas. He would simply bide his time in the bitter vastness of the north and then, when your pathetic culture had finally managed to laze itself into near collapse, I would blow my mighty horn, gather the hordes, and descend upon thee like the judgment of angry gods.
And then, the man-bacon would flow.
I bought a smart phone yesterday. I didn’t really want to – none of its added functionality really appeals to me as worth the extra charges – but my ancient dumbphone is on its last legs and the ‘new’ dumbphones were all of worse design than the one I bought in 2007. Society has sent a clear message: buy a smartphone, you cheap bastard. So I did. Ah well. Thus I am compelled to shell out an extra 30 bucks per month in perpetuity in order to keep pace with the world.
Technology is a difficult master. It moves along (note I refuse to say ‘forward’) and compels us to keep pace or be shunned. This happens in every sphere of life – military, social, agricultural, architectural, etc., etc. – and it is almost impossible to stop it. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – I do think the human race, on the whole, is better off today than it was in previous eras, and the numbers bear this out on balance – but it does require human beings to acclimate to something we fundamentally despise: change.
The world always changes. Always. Sometimes by degrees, sometimes all at once, but it always happens. Those who succeed in the world (whether we’re talking humans or animals or plants or whatever) are the ones that adapt best to it. We humans are probably the all-time adaptability champs, or at least the current title holders. It’s funny, though, how much we like to complain about it.
And so that brings me back to the smartphone. The smartphone is the poster boy for the New World Order, and people have been lining up to hop on board ever since the iPhone was trotted out. It represents an age of unparalleled interconnectivity, of convenience of access, of freely flowing information, of the world at your fingertips. We, as a society, love these things. We really, honestly do. If the smartphones were to all be packed away, the internet dismantled, and the world to be disconnected, we would be miserable.
So can we all please stop bitching about losing our privacy?
Much hand-wringing and a metric ton of wailing and teeth-gnashing has accompanied our new era of connection. We keep hearing about privacy being lost, freedoms curtailed, and so on and so forth. Wired’s Marcia Hoffman writes a column about how Apple’s newest gadgetry may compromise the 5th Amendment and, you know what, she’s probably right. The thing that bothers me, though, is what did everybody think would happen?
How can you be alarmed that corporations and governments are acquiring your personal information if you spend almost ALL OF YOUR TIME shooting it through space to be intercepted? Spy agencies spy on people – it’s why they’re called spy agencies. Corporations will do anything to make money – this should not be new. How can you be so alarmed when these entities (most of which predate the Information Age) have adapted themselves to capitalizing upon the Information Age? Shouldn’t it be OBVIOUS that the NSA can hack any site on the internet they want? I mean, if they couldn’t, would they be very good at their jobs?
The crazier thing to me is that we’re acting like this is a brand new phenomenon. Businesses and governments have been doing this stuff since FOREVER, folks. Ever since there’s been secrets whispered in alleys, there’s been people hanging out in alleys to hear secrets. The only thing that’s changed is the amount of stuff we’re saying to each other and making available to each other. It only follows that the listeners would also grow.
The idea of online privacy is a charming myth, like El Dorado or the Fountain of Youth. You can’t have it. There has never been a vehicle of communication that wasn’t compromised by people wanting to make money or secure power. Never. So, if you own a gadget that connects all of your information to the rest of the world at the touch of a button, it’s merely the cost of doing business to accept that somebody else could, if they so wish, acquire that information. Get over it. Move on. Technology works both ways, folks. It always has and it always will.
Or, you know, toss out the Internet. Melt down all the smartphones. No more Facebook for you. No more blogs. Because that is the only way you will get your mythical ‘privacy’ back (assuming you ever had it in the first place which, if you ever had a credit card before the internet, you didn’t).
Unfortunately, if it’s gotten to the point where I purchased a smartphone, I think the cat is pretty well out of the bag at this point.
Ben Affleck is going to be Batman. Get over it.
No, seriously, just shut up. You’re being a giant child. Seeing as there is presumably nobody pointing a loaded weapon to your head and forcing you to go see this movie, you have two adult options here:
- Go and see the movie and see what happens. Life goes on.
- Don’t go and see the movie. Life goes on.
It’s not like Ben Affleck gassed kidnapped children in an abandoned coal mine. Calm the fuck down.
There is a bizarre cultural weight given certain fictional universes by the assembled masses of geekdom. A casting choice goes awry or so-and-so does such-and-such to Super-Guy’s underroos, and somewhere somebody is throwing an almighty hissy fit. I’ve done it, admittedly – I’ve done it here on this blog. I like to think my major objection in these instances isn’t to the choices made, though, as it is to the execution of said choices. If you want Gotham City to go into a kind of fascist lockdown, then fine. You need to have it make even a remote amount of sense, though. I object less to the ‘bat nipple’ than I do to the fact that Batman and Robin was a stupidly executed plot with poorly drawn characters and awkward performances. I also didn’t write the studio any hate mail.
When people start ranting about things like this, I like to ask them a question: What would you prefer? They inevitably produce a laundry list of things they would do differently – different actors, different costumes, different plots. Fine. The follow-up question is this:
Do you honestly think people wouldn’t get pissed at you, too?
If you grew up to become a hardcore geek, you also developed deep attachments to various characters. You loved Captain Kirk. You dreamed about fighting alongside Aragorn. On the playground, you were Han Solo’s niece with a blaster and a knack for fixing droids. I get it – I grew up the same way. These characters and these things stuck with you for a long, long time. They were folded into your personality, into your sense of self. I think this happens to everybody, geek or not. There was the kid who grew up wanting to be Bo Jackson or Michael Jordan, the guy who carried a copy of David Copperfield all through college, the girl who couldn’t stop watching My So-Called Life – all of these people have wrapped their self-image in with their heroes and heroines and stories. This is a fine thing to do – normal, even.
At some point, though, you need to know that somebody’s going to come along and try to capture the magic again. There are lots of reasons to do this – money, a love of the material, a desire to surpass what has been done before, etc.. In any event, they’re going to try. No matter how good it is, too, they’re probably going to fail with somebody. To some people, Michael Jordan is always going to be better than <whoever>, no one will ever capture the scope of Dickens in any other form, and all those other teen-dramas are just knock-offs. I met a guy once and we got to talking about James Bond. He hated Daniel Craig as Bond. His favorite? Roger Moore. Why? Roger Moore was cheesier, and that was what he liked. Seriously, that was his argument.
All of us have our ideal movie playing in our heads. It’s the thing we grew up with, it’s part of who we are. We can’t expect somebody else’s little movie in their head to match our own all the time, or even most of the time. What you consider ‘getting it right’ is inherently subjective. Will you hate Ben Affleck as Batman? Yeah, maybe. Maybe not – I bet you hated the idea of Heath Ledger as the Joker, too, and that was pretty stupid, wasn’t it (or do you think Mark Hamil is the perfect Joker? Jack Nicholson? Cesar Romero?)? In any event, the whole affair is no reason to get so upset. Just don’t go see the movie. You know you’re allowed to do that, right?
In the end, the thing I really want to tell people who get up in arms over how Hollywood ruined <blank> involves two additional things: First, that it isn’t like Hollywood erased the old thing (unless you’re George Lucas, but he gave us the originals back eventually), so just go back and watch that. Second, if you don’t like how they’re telling this story, tell it yourself. Nobody is ever going to make that movie you have in your head except you.
That’s half the reason I write, after all – nobody tells stories quite the way I would, so it’s up to me to tell them myself. Of course, being a writer isn’t for everybody – I understand that. You would think, though, that with that understanding people would elicit some degree of restraint in their criticism. If anybody ever asks you ‘could you do better’ and you can’t honestly say ‘yes’ (emphasis on honestly), maybe you shouldn’t be bitching so loudly. Furthermore, if the answer is yes, then go and do it.
For my money, I’m going to wait and see what Affleck does with the role. After all, you just never know and the worst that could happen has already happened. It’s called Daredevil.
So it is again that I, Vrokthar the Skullfeaster, Scourge of the Northern Wastes, does again howl his curses into this magical word-slate, so that he might send word to his enemies that their miserable lives are to come to an end. Oh, yes, the puffy, limp-limbed wizards that rule this non-realm laugh at Vrokthar’s threats. “Ha!” sayeth the old-womanish cellar-dwelling gargoyles of the land of ‘Tech Support’, “you shall never find us, Vrokthar, for we are clever and hide behind our thick doors and send our mothers to the door when we knock.” “Also,” these pustulent web-toads cackle, “we are mostly located in the distant land of Asia, hiding among the many multitudes of our countrymen.”
These fools have no notion of Vrokthar’s wrath. Before his vengeance is sated, he shall bathe in a great cauldron of their steaming spinal fluid and use their knee-cartilage as chewing gum for many years to come.
But I get ahead of myself.
How hath these fetid, indolent mouse-goblins affronted the mighty Vrokthar? Listen then, and listen well to my grievances, so that your howls of rage might be added to mine own and so might the very stars tremble at our displeasure:
After many years of pillaging the pathetic wetlander nations, it occurred to the diseased and weakling brains of his enemies to provide the Northern Wastes with a spirit known as ’Wifi’, so that the mighty and warlike peoples of Vrokthar’s tribe might use the magical word-tablets of the south to appease their rage. The fools even expected to sell these objects of wonder to my people. Of course we did not buy them, but took them by force after slaughtering many idiot merchants from both the tribes of Microsoft and Apple. Their wails as they awaited their deaths upon the mounds of the Inferno Ants was most pleasing as we toyed with our new spoils. For some short while we were amused by the panoply of absurd cats and busty females to be found in the deep folds of Wifi’s realm. That was, of course, until we stumbled upon the one known as ‘Beiber’, and then took it upon ourselves to stage a great crusade against the wetlanders that would produce such a foul, effeminate wretch and, still more, allow him to bombard their ears with his pointless, idiotic screeching.
But Vrokthar digresses…
Vrokthar of course secured for himself the mightiest of the ‘computers’ that they seized, and told it a great many of his mightiest secrets, so that they might be held safe from the prying magicks of enemy witchcraft. So it was that Vrokthar came to value this prize. He sacrificed many wetlander infants for its long health, and ordered his bannermen to leave for it the finest parts of the caribou for it to feast upon. What mattered that it deigned not to eat? It was Vrokthar’s most trusted advisor, and any fool who sought to disobey it’s ‘Tweets’ was justly slain by mine own hand.
Then, one cursed morning, Vrokthar was about to consult his computer upon a matter of great import (and in no way related to that despicably buxom wetlander woman Christina Hendricks – this I swear!), his computer ceased to function. Great was Vrokthar’s wrath, but greater still his resolve to restore his lost secrets. He recalled the whimperings of a dying merchant, blubbering for his life as Vrokthar’s battle hounds tore out his entrails, that there were sages hidden deep within the ‘inter-net’ that could resurrect his advisor. So, Vrokthar quested for these men, and found them, and demanded of them their obedience. They promised to help, but their promises were the foulest of lies. They could not rescue Vrokthar’s data! They send Vrokthar not one, but two new ‘hard drives’, only for them both to not function! They asked Vrokthar stupid questions, such as whether or not his computer was switched on (OBVIOUSLY NOT, YOU INSUFFERABLE BOOB, ELSE I WOULD HAVE CUT OFF YOUR MANHOOD AND LEFT YOU TO PERISH HOURS AGO!) or whether his hard drive was hooked up to the computer (YOU SHALL WADE KNEE DEEP IN THE BLOOD OF YOUR OFFSPRING, YOU CONDESCENDING JACKAL!).
They gave Vrokthar incorrect instructions. They transferred Vrokthar to alternate sages who knew nothing. They gifted him with software that would not function. All this and more!
So it is that I swear to hunt down these fools in person, so that they might know the depth of my displeasure. They think they can hide? Know this, Sunjay of Tech Support: There is no population so large that could cushion you from the doom of Vrokthar the Skullfeaster. He will slay every Sunjay in India and fashion a shrine from their collected skulls only so he might desecrate it regularly with his mighty bowel movements. Your screams will sunder heaven and cause your gods to weep. Your family and your friends and your acquaintances and neighbors shall all be branded with Vrokthar’s mark and taken as slaves, there to sand the dead flesh of his bunions and shall be permitted to eat nothing but the sanded remnants of his mighty bunions until they waste away and die. Such is my oath. Even now, my hounds seek the scent of you and all your ilk.
Tell all who will listen: Vrokthar comes for you, and he is as pitiless as the dead clicking of a broken 360 gigabyte hard drive.
This is probably going to turn into a rant, but before it does, let me first and foremost say that I recommend Patrick Rothfuss’s novels, In the Name of the Wind and Wise Man’s Fear. The main character, Kvothe, is brilliantly drawn. It’s been a while since I’ve been so attached to a protagonist that I literally cheer on his accomplishments while reading. I still haven’t finished Wise Man’s Fear yet (life has gotten in the way, as has writing), but I expect to soon, and I am still enjoying the series a good deal.
I do, however, have one incredibly annoying problem with the book: Denna, the love interest.
Denna is not attractive to me. Denna is worse than unattractive, I find Denna actively repulsive. I would flee from this woman like she had cholera. I honestly cannot stand her; she drives me bonkers. And yet Kvothe, whom I adore, is madly in love with her. I find myself screaming at the text “Kvothe you moron! THE GIRL IS BAD NEWS! MOVE ON!” It’s like witnessing a good friend of yours going out with a complete zero and you knowing you have no real control over it (it’s their life, etc.), but it also seems to occupy your every thought during every conversation you have with them. It’s an eyelash in your eye, an eggshell in your omelette.
For those of you who haven’t read the book, Denna is, essentially, the Manic Pixie Dreamgirl trope from modern film. If you don’t know who I mean, think Natalie Portman from Garden State, Audrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown, of even Catherine from the classic French flick, Jules et Jim. The MPDG was defined by film critic Nathan Rabin when he said:
“[The MPDG is] that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.”
The MPDG is flighty, free-spirited, and playful. She is in need of a man to give her stability in life, but refuses to submit to a man’s authority. The man, conversely, needs the MPDG to teach him to love and laugh and grow. They feed off one another, they banter and they play, and ultimately complete each other in a kind of perfect love.
This sounds nice on paper, I suppose, but only if you assume the MPDG is some kind of puzzle piece and not an actual human being. MPDGs would be, in reality, emotionally damaged people. They cannot trust and are afraid to love due to deep-seeded psychological issues that only they (and perhaps a licensed therapist) can repair. They are not relationship material, no matter how quirky or fun they appear. This is not to say, of course, that quirky and fun women are automatically bad news in real life (far from it!), but when that quirkiness is really just a shield for self-destructively low self-esteem and emotional unavailability, well, it’s not good.
Denna fulfills this trope well – she is mistrustful, flighty, and the rest of it. Rothfuss (through Kvothe’s narration) portrays this as wonderful and enchanting and intoxicating, which drives me bonkers. No, Kvothe, it is not charming when Denna gives you a little wink while on the arm of another man. It is hurtful to you, to her, and dishonest to everyone (especially the guy whose arm she is on). It’s emotionally destructive behavior. Denna keeps secrets and dislikes inquiry into her past (WARNING FLAG, Kvothe!), she refuses to pursue Kvothe or be pursued by him for fear of being hurt. She can’t take criticism. She is unreliable.
As if this wasn’t aggravating enough, Rothfuss parades a variety of far more attractive women (at least to me) under Kvothe’s nose. There is Fela, the intelligent, well-spoken, honest, courageous, generous classmate at the University. There is Devi, the confident, talented, street-smart, and curious loan-shark. Hell, there’s even Felurian, a faerie princess and the most beautiful woman in the world. Granted, she isn’t human and would eventually devour Kvothe with her affections, but at least the woman would supply some degree of emotional satisfaction to the poor man before his heart gave out.
Now, it may well be that Rothfuss is perfectly aware of what bad news this Denna girl is. He is making the series out to be somehow tragic, anyway – maybe Denna is part of it. All I know is that it’s been two books now of Kvothe mooning over a girl who, were he a real guy and my friend, I would do my best to dissuade his interest. Denna is bad news, man. For Tehlu’s sake, ASK OUT FELA!
So, first off, I like Batman. I like Batman a lot. He is one of my favorite superheroes of all time. I also like Christopher Nolan – The Dark Knight, Inception, and The Prestige are some of my favorite movies. You know what I didn’t like, though?
Rising Rises (sorry, didn’t like the movie enough to remember its precise title). Ugh.
Okay, I’m going to rant a bit here, and massive quantities of spoilers below, if you still care. I feel like I’m the last person to see this movie, so I doubt it matters, but still…
What I Liked
Before I get into tearing this mostly ridiculous movie apart, let’s go over the stuff that was honestly good. First on the list is Anne Hathaway as Selena Kyle – very well done, good character arc, good one-liners, etc.. Second is the character arc of Bruce Wayne himself, which was a fitting conclusion to the series as a whole. I also loved Joseph Gordon-Leavitt in this flick, and I would totally go see a Nightwing movie with him in it.
There we go. Positives done with. Let’s go through the problems, one-by-one, starting with:
#1: Batman is Such an Idiot
Batman is supposed to be smart. He’s supposed to be the world’s greatest detective. He’s supposed to have a plan for everything. So why, then, is he caught so flat-footed by Kyle’s betrayal in the sewers? How on earth is this surprising to him? She’s a crook and a con-artist and he’s going to follow her into the base of the guy she’s been working for and he doesn’t have a back-up plan? Seriously? This is where the movie, which was holding on until this point, starts to go downhill.
When Batman fights Bane, apparently his only plan is ‘punch Bane until he falls down.’ Then, when he doesn’t fall down, Batman’s plan is ‘punch Bane more.’ Errr…maybe a change in tactics is in order? Haven’t you got a taser or something? Knock-out gas? Something?
Then, Bane charters the private jet to Central Asia that, you know, he has just lying around to shuttle himself and Bruce Wayne to that prison in the middle of nowhere. For giggles, you know? To show how he ‘grew up in darkness’ (despite this being the sunniest prison I’ve ever seen, but whatever) and to torture Batman with cable news networks on satellite TV forever. Mwa-hahahahaha! Oh yes, so evil. Sunny prisons with their own private climbing wall, no apparent guards, and free reign of the facility sound awful.
Now, while I generally like the ‘Bruce Wayne clawing his way out of the pit of despair’ thing, I do have to question the man’s intelligence again. Indeed, I think that perhaps this entire prison is designed to capture the irrevocably stupid rather than the wicked. Take a look at the picture to the right here. Look at it long and hard.
Am I the only person who sees the rope?
What the hell, guys? They have a pulley system set up to belay. It appears to go to the top of the pit. Hasn’t anyone in this ridiculous prison figured out that they could just hoist a guy to the top with the stupid belaying line and then he can climb out? Even if the pulley doesn’t go all the way up, it goes higher than that jump nobody can make. Has anyone considered, I don’t know, swinging from the rope for a while to cross the gap? I mean, of all people, shouldn’t Batman be able to figure something like this out? Jeez…
#2: Meanwhile, Back in Gotham…
Bane hatches his evil plot. His evil plot involves manipulating the entire Gotham PD to go into the sewers. At this point in the film, my wife (who works in disaster management, homeland security, and interfaces with numerous police departments) starting laughing uncontrollably at the television. So, a couple things here:
- Why the hell would you send every cop you had into the sewers? You need cops to do other things all the time like, for instance, work security at a professional football game happening simultaneously.
- Are we to believe that every cop in the Gotham PD was put on duty? Yeah, that makes sense. All the cops on duty at once, sure. See what the police union has to say about that.
- Major cities have more than one police department in them. Boston, for instance, has the BPD, the State Police, around three to four university police departments, Transit Police, the Sheriff’s Department/Correctional Officers, and so on. A much bigger city like
New YorkGotham would probably have even more.
So, we’re to believe that all of the cops went into the sewers and then Bane blew up all of the entrances to the sewers? Sure, whatever guys.
Then, in order to show Gothamites that they are ‘liberated’, he blows up their football team. Because, you know, the best way to get John Q Public to do what you want is to blow up his favorite professional football team. Good plan, Bane. Yes, obviously you and your dozen mercenaries are going to be able to restrain tens of thousands of angry, half-drunk football nuts, especially since you say you have a nuclear bomb. Obviously. People are reasonable like that. They are going to listen to your ‘you are my hostages now, congratulations! Oh, and by the way, I have no demands!’ and say ‘the man makes a good argument. Plus the bums had a 5-6 record, so screw them.’
I’m not going to stray into the whole ‘what would people really do’ argument too far here, but lets just say this: in the five months that Gotham is under martial law, the only people who seem to actually live in Gotham are the half-dozen cops who weren’t in the sewers, the two dozen or so of Bane’s thugs, and Catwoman and her roommate. Everybody else stays home, I guess, for the entire five months. Patently ridiculous, of course, but let’s not get into it. Still…
#3: I Have Some Logistical Concerns
How many dudes does Bane employ, anyway? I ask because they seem to be freaking everywhere. Again, drawing on my wife’s expertise, she estimates it would take about 10,000 personnel to lock down a city like Boston (population 600,000). If Gotham is Manhattan-sized, it’s much bigger than that. Now, granted it’s an island, so let’s give Bane the benefit of the doubt and say he needed 15,000 men to keep Gotham under wraps. Fifteen thousand seems an unrealistically high number of guys for him to possibly employ. I mean, sure, he’s been collecting disaffected youth in the sewers for a while, but how the hell does he even feed all those guys? What are they paid? Are we seriously expecting all of them to be that loyal to him? Really? The dude in the wolfman-mask is scary, yeah, but wouldn’t most of those juvenile delinquents prefer playing Xbox on a stolen television in some dumpy basement apartment? Like, where’s the upside working for Bane? What does he promise them, exactly, and why do they believe him?
Okay, okay, I’ll stop. He’s got upteen-billion fanatical followers, sure. Whatever. I just can’t quite figure out how the hell this is supposed to work. There’d be so many holes in this ‘blockade’ it would be ridiculous. People would be leaving (and entering) via little boats every night. The forces surrounding the city would be engaged in some serious planning to isolate the bomb, negotiate with the terrorists, and play hardball whenever they can, nuke or no nuke. Fine, though, I get it – Batman has to save the city. I know, know. So let’s to it:
#4: Batman Saves The City with Punching
So, Bruce Wayne, broke, penniless, and a fugitive from prison, manages to effortlessly walk out of whatever central Asian territory he’d been imprisoned and hops a flight home, easily bypassing the blockade (along with, I presume, innumerable others).
He then busts the cops out of the sewers (seriously, guys? Five months?) and they come out, looking unusually healthy for guys who’ve been in the cold and dark for that long. They all then muster up somewhere (I’m guessing the park) and, deciding it’s the 18th century, march in ranks against the assembled ranks of Bane’s thugs (who also seem to have gotten the memo that today was going to be a big fight at city hall). The Thugs, who also seem to think it’s the 18th century, fire their machine guns once, and then charge in for fisticuffs. At this point in the film, my wife and I started singing “When
You’re a Jet, You’re a Jet” from West Side Story. Seemed appropriate.
Then comes the climatic battle between Bane and Batman; they begin fighting, taking turns punching each other. At last, as though struck by a bolt of lightning, Batman has a revelation: Oh! I should punch Bane in the face! Ah-ha!
So then Batman loosens a tube on Bane’s face mask which, apparently, is really important. Bane has trouble breathing, Batman wins. Sort of. Some girl stabs him, but that turns out to not be that important, since stabbing action heroes in the stomach is a mild disadvantage, at best. The stomach, you see, is for eating, and since Batman isn’t eating, he should be fine. Plenty of time to see a doctor. Seriously. Blood loss isn’t really a thing. Neither is sepsis. Chill out everybody, it’s Batman.
Naturally, after all that, Batman picks up the nuke and flies it out to sea, since we all know that nuclear weapons that explode over the ocean aren’t dangerous. I’m sure there will be no ill effects. We’re all saved. Hooray Batman!
In retrospect, I am forced to wonder what other endgame did Bane and company have in mind. I mean, he clearly didn’t cause much of a panic. He basically gave the children of Gotham a five-month snow day, more or less. I mean, if he wanted to nuke the city, couldn’t he have just nuked the city? Isn’t the idea to destroy the city, after all? Oh, right – he wanted Gotham to suffer. But they didn’t suffer, did they? Like, maybe a little, but if they did, we didn’t really see it. Some rich folks got their houses looted. They made some people drown. They blew up the football team. It seems, though, that for the most part everybody just stayed home, watched On Demand, and waited for Batman to show up and do something about it. So, yeah, dumb plan, Bane.
And I’m not even getting started on the terrible editing, the overbearing soundtrack, or the absolute ridiculosity that is Christian Bale’s Batman Voice. Wow, silly. Michael Cane hasn’t done a sillier movie since Jaws 4, honestly. I hope, at least, that the house this one bought is equally as fabulous.
Vrokthar the Skullfeaster, Scourge of the Northern Wastes, is greatly angered this holiday season. So angered that he has subdued the soft wetlander that commands this magical, glowing word-slate and has taken the time to tap out his complaints, letter by letter, so that the gods of Inter-net may hear them and tremble.
So, hear me, feeble word-gods of this future world! Vrokthar commands tribute from you, for you hath offended him deeply. Listen well:
Bring me the head of the man who created modern packaging, and you and your lands may exist un-pillaged and un-razed.
Surely this is among the most reasonable of requests, as Vrokthar cannot imagine that you would protect such a miserable and aggravating weakling as he who decided to encase all of Vrokthar’s new memory cards in plastic so impenetrable that Mook’ta, the God of Mindless Hatred, would have difficulty opening them. Vrokthar had need to smite these thin, clear plastic boxes with his greatest axe to free them, and this has damaged the treasures within. It has also, Vrokthar is informed, voided his ‘Warranty’, which sounds bad. If the purposeless meddling of this fat, mewling inventor has exposed Vrokthar to evil curses, long shall his screams echo across the tundra.
Vrokthar, however, is as generous as he is mighty. Though he cursed the heavens with many bloody oaths after smashing his memory card, it occurred to him, in calmer moments, that perhaps this impenetrable force-field of plastic was needed to protect valuable objects from raiders. This is a weakling thing – Vrokthar fears no thieves, and keeps his things in sacks, preferably carried by his harem of female slaves – but Vrokthar must remember that you wetlanders are entirely populated by puffy weaklings. Very well then, reed-thin un-men, protect your valuable electronics with your womanish technological arts. This makes sense for you, sons of lambs that you are.
But packages of Macaroni and Cheese? What the flying fuck?!
Why must Vrokthar track down a pair of scissors to open up his cheesy powder-flavoring to enjoy a box of pillaged food products? Such sustenance is less than worthless – there is no market to sell such objects and one must travel about with a great pallet of such sub-foods in order to be traded for a simple slave-wench. Yet, here am I, Vrokthar, Mighty of the Mighty, straining his cable-like muscles to open a simple plastic bag full of noodles. Then, when the foolish bag is sundered by my great power, the fucking noodles fly everywhere! ARRRGHHHH!
Vrokthar demands satisfaction. Bring me the foolish engineer’s head. BRING HIM TO ME! Let me feast on his blood! Let him be dipped in a boiling cauldron of his own fiendish plastic and have his screams be encased forever, so that his seared corpse may be left standing as a monument on the Wastes to all who would annoy the Skullfeaster.
So it shall be!
So, my brother-in-law generously gave me his old lawnmower so that I, new homeowner, could reduce the jungle growing up around my house before the Na’vi took up residence and started all their environmental nonsense. Anyway, the mower was hard to start – I think that Briggs & Stratton build engines specifically designed to frustrate me – and it took me a while fiddling with it before I could get it to go. One of the things I did was fill it up with gas. This necessitated me purchasing a new gas can, and here our story begins.
You know what drives me nuts? No, don’t guess – let me just tell you: when people create ‘improvements’ to things that DO NOT NEED IMPROVEMENT. Case in point, this gas can, like all gas cans since gas cans were a thing, has a little spigot/nozzle/tube thing that comes out the end so that you can easily pour gasoline from the can into whatever device you’re looking to fuel. Those little things are not only useful, but ridiculously simple, cheap, elegant, and almost completely foolproof.
My new gas can didn’t have one. It had a ‘new improved’ version with a safety lock on it and some mechanism wherein you had to push down on the nozzle to make the gas come out. This thing, of course, promptly either broke or was so byzantine in its function that I found myself completely unable to get it to work. Gas was spilling everywhere. I shook my fists at the heavens and at whatever moron decided this doohickey was somehow essential to the operation of my little 1-gallon gas can.
Seriously, under what circumstances is something like that needed? Am I filling my lawnmower on the pitching, heaving deck of ship that is currently on fire and, therefore, should one *single* drop of gasoline go awry, the entire place would explode? Do they expect me to need this gas can in some apocalyptic wasteland where every single cubic centimeter of fuel is such a precious commodity that I need redundant systems to prevent any loss whatsoever? Do the regular purchasers of this gas can have a kind of palsy that makes them shake and tremble so that conventional spigots are ineffectual. I mean WHAT THE HELL, GUYS?
This stupid spigot is indicative of what we’re doing with technological advancement today. We are wasting our intelligence and effort on pointless gadgets rather than trying to solve something important, like the energy crisis, the population bomb, hunger, disease, space travel, etc., etc.. Take the almighty iPhone, for instance. I don’t have one. I don’t have one because (a) they are expensive and (b) I already have a phone that works just fine. Yes, I cannot use my phone to take quality photographs or e-mail people or play games or check Facebook, but I don’t need to do that. At all. It might be fun, but it’s also frivolous and silly. I’m pretty much the only person on the train who observes his surroundings anymore. I could pick everybody’s pocket in there, if I wanted, and escape without notice, because everybody’s powers of perception are wholly poured into a tiny little rectangle of light held in the palms of their hands. Why? Because they can’t stand the thought of not being entertained for fifteen goddamned minutes. We can’t get ourselves off relying on fossil fuels, but we can watch reruns of Futurama any freaking time we please.
There’s a lot of other garbage like this in our modern world, from those little GPS computers that tell you where you are and where you’re going (when a decent map or even MapQuest would suffice) to the asinine contents of every single SkyMall catalog to those stupid cars that can parallel park themselves (what, can’t you, I don’t know, LEARN?). We’ve become a people so paranoid of boredom and discomfort that we’ve decided to outsource our brains to some engineer somewhere who thinks she can make a gadget that does it better.
I wound up pouring gas into my lawnmower engine with no spigot at all. Like a goddamned savage.
Dear Mr Toppumhat,
Like everybody here on the island, I am a frequent patron and user of our extensive train system. While I have certain reservations about the sheer number of tracks laid across our relatively small island (they do have cars now, you know, and I’d like to be able to ride a bicycle occasionally without having to lose fillings while bumping over tracks), in general the presence of the train lines makes life more convenient. Or would, perhaps, were it not for those stupid damned trains.
I realize that having autonomous, artificially intelligent trains is both extremely cutting edge and a draw for tourist dollars, but I for one am tired of having my livelihood depend upon the random and often childish acts of computerized trains with the emotional maturity of five-year-olds. It doesn’t matter one button how many stupid tourists our island gets if the damned trains they ride decide that it would be ‘more fun’ to take them to see the ironworks instead of stopping at my fruit stand. Do you have any idea, sir, how important that fruit stand is to paying my bills? I swear, the next time Toby cruises by my farm with that stupid grin on his creepy, latex face while taking my customers on some stupid joy ride they neither want nor need, I am going to spike the damned rails. See that I won’t! It isn’t as though the damned trains don’t derail themselves all the time for God knows what juvenile reason. I swear I saw Thomas playing chicken with Gordon - chicken! - over some schoolyard disagreement over who was bluer. There are people’s lives at stake, you fat dimwit!
Here’s an idea, you bloated technophile: rather than treating our island (and our home) as some sort of high-tech playground for your stunted AI trains, why don’t we do what the rest of the world does and get some normal trains that are piloted by actual people? Do you have any idea what the unemployment rate is here on the Isle? Think of all the jobs that would be available if we took those creepy robot engines and sold their positronic brains for scrap and then hired skilled laborers to replace them. Derailments would go down, schedules would be kept, and that stupid tow-truck at the iron works would drive at a reasonable pace and would stop accidentally lobbing railroad ties across town. Old Lady Martin’s China Shop is still trying to recover from that time what’s-his-name got over excited and dropped a half-ton boiler through her roof.
Think of the peace, quiet, and consistency of our rails if we were to finally rid ourselves of those ten-ton mechanical toddlers. They’d stop tooting at my chickens for no good reason (I can’t remember the last time I had fresh eggs), they’d stop lollygagging around as they sort out their petty emotional problems (for once I’d get to market on time), and I’d wager that 100% fewer cars filled with VIPs would get covered with soot because Edward has some kind of hissy fit over the quality of his paint.
You can swear me off as some grouchy old man if you like, Toppumhat, but I’m not alone on this island. Shape things up, or we’ll see about finding someone who will.
Amos Trotter, Farmer