More Beast than Mastery

Beastmaster Poster

I love the poster for The Beastmaster. It tells you exactly what kind of movie you’re getting ready to see. This isn’t to say it was a film without surprises. For instance, it surprised me that this series got not one but two sequels and a TV show. It further surprised me that only one of these films was direct-to-video. The trivia involved in the film is equally surprising, featuring a bear attack on Marc Singer’s first day on set, dropping an eagle out of a hot air balloon to make it fly, and a few other tidbits that make the film so much better.

The Beastmaster is a film about Dar, a guy who has the inexplicable ability to talk to animals. He’s kidnapped from his mother’s womb to be a human sacrifice and then he gets raised by the man who rescues him. He then grows up to be a scumbag who assaults women and uses his power to try and get laid. Then, after being rejected, he proceeds to stalk the woman. He even goes so far as to enroll the help of her guardian and cousin. Then, when it’s revealed that he’s related to her, he goes after her with renewed effort. If that weren’t enough he uses the animals as though they owe him their lives. Honestly, since his power is just to communicate with animals, it’s surprising that they ever do anything he tells them to do. I will say, there are a couple of animals that die in the movie, and I genuinely wish that Dar had died instead.

All that said, the outdated view of women, the moderately muscled Marc Singer, the gratuitous use of nudity (in spite of the PG rating), all contribute to a terrible film, but the action is what redeems it as a good bad movie. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing good about the action. People swing in wide arcs, never coming close to their targets. It was a game to figure out which attack was meant to be the one that hit. There were multiple fight scenes in which a few people waved swords around at each other and then they all died except for Dar. While I have the privilege of owning an old VHS tape, you can find it for free through Amazon Prime. So, grab some popcorn and your most sarcastic friends and enjoy this two hour proof that they’ll make any movie.

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A New Path Appears

With my laptop dead and in the ground, and without the funds to replace it, I find myself in a few pickles. Most of these have been solved simply by going to the library. It’s pushed me to start doing things like getting my desktop back in fully operational order, and delve deeper into the resources at my library. The one thing they can’t bring back is my document full of game notes that was saved with my library of e-book rule books including all of my Doctor Who RPG books. My notes weren’t much, but they outlined the path the next leg of the game was going to take. Now, I’m stuck reformulating a new outline as I can’t remember what I wrote.

Sometimes, this sort of thing happens for the best. I have often found that if I write something out more than once, then the second writing is better. Just a subconscious level of editing that goes into it. I do even better if I rewrite as I reread the old material, but that’s not for this discussion. As I stare out the window at the rows of non-fiction material covering Cuba, Haiti, American History, Colonial and Civil War, off onto a distant mountain range, I’m not reworking what I had once written. I’m devising a completely new direction. You see, I know exactly what I’ll do if they die, so I can really just open up and make things difficult for them. I can throw things way out of their league at them and feel confident that the next week I’d have a new adventure just waiting for them.

It’s a very freeing feeling knowing that it’s okay to kill off your players. They’ve had these characters for close to a year now, and they’ve got gear good enough that it should be a challenge to kill them if they remember to read their sheets and start playing to outsmart me. It shouldn’t be hard. I often forget what they have written down on their sheets. Now that I’m coming back to the game, I feel a renewed interest and desire to kill them off, like every good DM should.

Oh the Places You’ve Been

Today is technically the last day of National Library Week. I’ll have one more post on the subject tomorrow but today I wanted to talk about my experiences with my library. I should preface this by saying that I’ve been to all kinds of different libraries all over the country and in other countries. My local library is still my all time favorite library. Perhaps that’s mostly nostalgia, but I can’t imagine a better place to sit for hours on end reading and working on stories. It’s a very pleasant environment with comfortable seating and great atmosphere. A good place to be both alone and around people simultaneously.

When I was around 11 or 12, I walked down to the library every day during the summer. I didn’t have much else to do. If I stayed home my reading would be interrupted by my family and I’d probably wind up having to do chores. Cleaning my room didn’t seem at all like something I would enjoy doing, though it certainly needed it at the time. So I began walking to the library. This was not the safest thing to do at the time. There were few sidewalks and plenty of traffic. Still, I listened to the entirety of a series of fantasy books while on those walks. I don’t so much remember the stories so much as I remember the feel of the cassette player bouncing on my hip, the whir of the tape in the background, and he heat of the headphones on my ears. I would much rather have been reading, but I wasn’t allowed to do that. I also wasn’t allowed to go down the much closer but much busier road that went to the library so it always took me over an hour to walk to the library. To this day, I don’t know how I managed to not get heat stroke.

There’s a planned renovation at my library. It’s going to extend out to the lot next door, an old and now empty hospital. I’m excited for the next iteration of the library. The last time they expanded was half my life time ago. I couldn’t sleep one night so I left the house and walked, barefoot in pajamas, down to find where the library would eventually stand. I didn’t, but I did get picked up by a cop who called my parents and drove me home. If and when I leave this town the thing I’ll miss most of all will be this library.

Shifting Horizons

I was worried I wouldn’t have too much to talk about on here today. After all, I haven’t taken too much time to learn anything. I sit here, quietly in the upstairs atrium of the library and desperately grasp for straws to help me learn something quickly. I sat down, with the laptop I’d checked out from their help desk and launched Chrome. I switched from Bento to catalog search, wanting to find a book to learn something from. Then  I paused, with the blinking line standing in stark contrast to the gray lettering inquiring my keywords, author, subject, etc. I couldn’t decide on just one thing. It was as bad as not being able to think of anything. Then I saw it, white text on blue background that simply read “Research & Learn.”

I clicked on it and was taken to a page of resources. Nothing stood out until I got down to the bottom and saw a drop down for classes. One of these was just about how to get a job. The other two were far more interesting. The first is a fairly common and popular site that pumps out advertisements on podcasts and YouTube videos called Lynda.com. They have a plethora of video based courses that are designed to help you learn to do things from programming to graphic design. While extensive it is hardly exhaustive. The focus of the site is primarily to bump up your resume. After all, they were purchased by LinkedIn in 2015.

I actually found the other site a tad more intriguing for my purposes. Universal Class is a website for further education like Lynda.com, but is also accredited. There are college courses on this website that can be transferred to a students degree plan, if their school agrees. They also offer some of the craziest courses ever. From alternative medicine and learning about chakra, to courses on couponing and dog grooming. There is a course on haunted locations which certainly peaked my interest. That said, it also contains courses on more practical things. I’m very much looking forward to my course on WordPress through them. They seem to be affiliated with a lot of libraries, so if you want to learn about tea parties or how to write a travel blog then they are certainly a place to check out.

Millennial Fantasies

On Monday, the last day my computer worked, I went to a seminar at my public library over how to buy a house. I am not able to afford a house. Nor will I be able to afford a house anytime in the near future. My girlfriend and I have a loving fantasy about buying a house sometime during our life. It may be unrealistic but it hurts no one to dream. We did not stay for the whole seminar, as she needs plenty of time to study so that she can eventually become an underpaid worker whose value is constantly questioned. Maybe she’ll get her Masters too, and just remain unemployed. That’s not the future we talk about. Generally it’s either the one where we own a home or there’s a bunch of zombies.

We did stay long enough to get a list of steps to buying a house. The first thing you have to do is decide that you want to buy a house. There’s a whole thing about pros and cons that you should go through. It was truly interesting how much a house actually costs, in spite of the cheap monthly cost of a mortgage (as compared to renting in my area). You then assign a budget, meet with a lender talk to a realtor and go shopping. The whole process is exhaustive and exhausting. The chart I was given ends with the foreboding “HOMEOWNERSHIP…” I’m not sure why there was an ellipsis at the end of that. Possibly an attempt to indicate that this is an ongoing state of being, but it has a sort of frightening aspect attached to it. What aren’t you telling us, yellow chart? What dangers lurk after your teachings? Prepare us for the terrible truth.

One thing that was mentioned that is important to mention is that “Appraisal” and “Home Inspection” are very different things. Appraisal tells you the price of a house based on the market and similar homes that have sold recently in the area. A home inspection tells you everything that’s wrong with the house and what it will cost to fix it. You don’t have to share the findings of the home inspector with the home owner, and probably shouldn’t. My sister did once and the home owner decided to pull the house off of the market and live there herself. Let her mistake educate you. The seller isn’t your friend.

Technical Difficulties

My computer broke yesterday. It just stopped turning on. I didn’t ever get it to actually start up, so I’m working on a desktop now. It’s not ideal, but it will work for this. I fortunately backed up all my documents onto a flash drive so I didn’t lose the work I’ve done on my novel except for one page that’s saved on my hard drive. Things like photos and other media are locked on the computer and are now inaccessible. So what I learned yesterday, was how to take apart my laptop, though clearly that did nothing to help me.

Pulling apart a laptop isn’t really that hard. It’s a lot easier if you don’t care if it works after you put it back together again. I, unfortunately, did care, so the process was a long and arduous one that resulted in finding no new information. It took maybe two hours to pry everything off of the computer, and to find the three hidden screws beneath the keyboard that kept me from prying it apart. I was hoping to find that something had gotten unseated or unplugged. I’d have been fine finding something that had simply been burned out. It would have been nice to have a nice clear answer as to why the computer wasn’t turning on. Yet, I found nothing. My friend who used to be in computer repair found nothing. We didn’t pull everything apart, though, because we didn’t have any thermal glue.

Disappointed, I put the laptop back together. I don’t particularly like the computer. It’s a fairly inexpensive laptop. It’s slow and has crashed my word processor more than once. Still, it was a great convenience. I’m not quite giving up on it yet, but the cost to repair the laptop would probably be about the same as buying a new one of a comparable quality. All the game notes and e-books can be rewritten and redownloaded. It’s a hassle but such is life. If nothing else, it taught me something important about my computer: Always check for the model type on the back before trying to deduce which one it is from photos online. Truly, words of wisdom.

Remembering the Bad Ones

As the first day of National Library Week passed, I found myself searching desperately for something I could learn in a day. In fact, I was googling it as hard as I possibly could. Still, all I was getting back were things I could learn in a week. That’s when I realized that my Google game was weak. After the necessary grieving period for my pride, I decided that’s what I would learn for today. I sought out and learned new search-fu but didn’t have anything on which to test my skills. Then a target presented itself to me over dinner last night. I needed to find that cartoon from when I was a kid.

As vague as that sounds, I didn’t actually have much more to go on. I knew it was from either the late nineties or early 2000’s. I knew it was CGI. I had a toy from it that was barbie sized and had a flexing action that whenever you bent his arm his bicep turned from normal to steel. I also knew he had something to do with nano technology and extreme sports. For the era, this was basically nothing, and I kept getting results from a show called Generator Rex which was most certainly not what I had set out to find.

It took me a while but I did find the show. Max Steel featured all the plastic-y CGI I could ever want.  It was part of an effort to make barbie style toys for boys in this new era, and has actually seen a reboot in the past few years that included a cartoon show and a live action movie last year. I watched the first few moments of the film and was properly entertained by Mattel’s gritty opening logo set to ominous music. I hope at least one character sports a tattoo in a Gothic font that reads “Barbie 4 Life.”

So how can you learn this ability? Well, it’s not hard. After all, there are dozens of resources out there in the world that will help you. If you want to follow the path I went down then click on these links.

The Week of the Librarians

Welcome to National Library Week if you’re in the United States of America. If you’re not, I’m sure there’s someone out there willing to escort you out to the tune of our national anthem and a chorus of drunk men chanting “‘Murica!” aggressively at you. That’s generally the way we do things around here. This week, my local library is embracing the concept of forgiveness in that they’ve put out little bookmarks for the past month to fill out a spot every time I read for an hour. Each hour I read is a dollar off of any fines I have due. Don’t have any fines? That’s fine. My hours can go to someone else that needs the forgiveness. So far, I’ve filled out two of these bookmarks and am working on a third.

It’s actually a rather odd thing to think about dedicating a week to celebrating. It’s not that I don’t think we can’t or shouldn’t celebrate libraries. Their incredibly important and worth celebrating. It’s one of those things that I don’t know how I can celebrate the library. They’re a wonderful resource for so many things, and soon to be many more. The library is something sacred. A place of contemplation and aid for the weary traveler. Libraries and the librarians that house them are wonderful. After all, they’re the ones who taught me not to generalize.

I suppose the only thing holding me back is not knowing what I can do to celebrate the library that would make it special. All I can do in celebration is read and learn. After all, that’s all the library really wants, to fulfill it’s purpose. So this week I’ll be trying to learn something new every day and share it on here with everyone on here. Some of it will be things that may seem obvious to others or so fantastically impractical there may be moments where you wonder why? All I will be able to answer is that it seemed like something I could learn in a day from a book from the library and get everything else I need to do done.

The Next Big Thing

Moonlight PosterIt’s come to this. I’ve come to the realization that I have to actually talk about this show. There’s just too much there that I need to say about it. I find myself feeling as though I’ve been extremely unfair to this show, though the first few episodes of it were terrible and stilted the show actually came alive. By the end I was invested in what was going to happen next. I know what would have happened next, but I was still invested.

It was a soap opera dressed up in murder mystery clothing, much like Twin Peaks. Each revelation was meant to make the audience say “How horrible!” and lean in closer for more. Yet they used the same tired tropes that are supposed to titillate but were done in Smallville  a dozen times before, and on numerous other shows before that. Unlike Twin Peaks it didn’t bother to pay homage, or respect the source material Instead they assumed they could do what people had made careers doing for decades before better. Ah, hubris, it’s so familiar. Still, they managed to create something that was watchable and something I very much enjoyed. It’s a blanket of familiarity, a show you can watch for the first time and feel like you’re revisiting an old favorite.

The fact that this show got cancelled was too bad. I won’t be mourning it like the loss of Firefly. The series simply didn’t make the cut against other shows of that genre. After all, True Blood came out during it’s life span. In most aspects, I’d say that True Blood is the superior show. After all, it’s won far more awards (though surprisingly Moonlight‘s award count isn’t zero) has much better acting, better sets, has better lore and has better characters. The problem for Moonlight is that it was a show that set out to be different with vampires right as vampires had become the next big thing. Perhaps it’s biggest sin is simply bad timing. It definitely fits with the delivery of the actors. Now, I’ll end it just like the show.

Velcro Days

Some days just fit. That can be a great thing or a terrible thing. Some days I just sit here and type out the first sentence to the article I’m going to write over and over again, until something clicks, but other days I just type the first thing that comes into my head and it goes off from there. Those days when it clicks are the days I should be a bit more wary of what I’m writing because I tend to not notice my mistakes or leaps in logic. Those also tend to be the days that I’m least likely to be wary. After all, everything is falling perfectly into place.

It’s a sort of manic mood of the universe. It’s not necessarily a good mood, though the immediate association is definitely a good one. Today, for instance, things seem to be clicking perfectly into place but they aren’t fitting together into a positive piece. Rather, they are fitting together in a way that is upsetting. But it’s upsetting in a perfect way. The weather is cold, the sky is gray and threatening, no one in the house is feeling okay. Anxiety is running high and away from everyone involved. This day is a perfect killer. silent and deadly. It’s the end of a good time, the beginning of a break up, the middle of nowhere in particular.

At least the words are flowing freely. A soft jet of black pixels sprouting from a solid black line that isn’t given pause enough to blink more than twice between sentences, and never once in the middle. It’s a freeing feeling being able to type out something and feel steady progress being made. After such a long week of slogging through my writing day in and day out, it makes me feel as though I’ve broken free only to realize I don’t know which way to run. So I run in circles, chasing a tail that long since evolved into obscurity, my balance unimpaired, my direction, as ever, unchanged. I’ll circle back, and back again, until I finally realize that I’ve dug myself a well.