Sunday, July 24, 2011

You can fight like a krogan, run like a leopard/but you'll never be better than Commander Shepard

Goddamn you, Comic-Con. I get myself all psyched up for some crazy awesome announcement re: the Mass Effect movie (and I am SO EXCITED - I am not one of those fans who is terrified they'll mess it up, because even if they do it still means MORE MASS EFFECT.) And they give us this. Sigh. Maybe next year?
But more exciting things re: Mass Effect 3! They are letting the fans vote on which version of Femshep gets in the marketing materials/on the Collector's Edition box (which I have already preordered the shit right out of, of course.) Six Femsheps, all of 'em grim, sultry and movie-hot. Which, I'll admit, I am a tad disappoint, because I kind of like default game Femshep with her ordinary-looking face and awkward haircut - do you think the galaxy's most kickass space marine is going to waste time on hair and makeup? Hell no! She's got people to kill and places to blow up! But, I guess, you gotta glam it up for the box art. At least she's in full armor.

The trouble with letting fans vote on things, though, is that a lot of fans are morons and what they want isn't good for the franchise. See the "straight guys don't even want the possibility of gay romance in their games" thread over at the Bioware forums re: Dragon Age 2. The proper response is the smackdown the lead writer immediately laid, one of the few times I've seen someone in gaming ever even own up to the concept of privilege, much less having it. Magnificent. This is why I buy everything they make and the T-shirts too. And while the way they're doing it isn't my favorite, I'm glad they at least have decided to give Femshep a marketing presence, because the trouble with Bioware's marketing has always been that the game as portrayed on the box is significantly worse than the game that's actually IN the box. Generic white dude space marine/sexy chick/weird alien, pose as a team. Do you want to play that? I don't want to play that. It's probably a standard military sci-fi FPS with a grim greyish color scheme, weak writing, boring aliens and a story mode that's been half-assed in favor of multiplayer. If I hadn't stumbled into Mass Effect via fellow Dragon Age fans gushing over it I would never have found out how awesome it was.

Ahem. My point! My point is that catering to the majority fanbase can go wrong. Like right now it is going wrong, because the top-rated Shepard is the blonde one. Really, really blonde. Samus Aran blonde. And even as someone who is significantly blonde, and who made my Dragon Age character look just like me for kicks and it was a ton of fun - for God's sake, does every woman in every freakin' medium have to be blonde ALL THE TIME? Even in the future? Is the tyranny of hair dye (because blonde is not that common a hair color IRL - if you want to know how many natural blonde women there are, count the blond men. Surprising!) going to continue for another few hundred years? Is the epitome of beauty still going to be "as white as you can possibly get without being an albino"? Is that the future you want to spend upwards of 40 hours of gametime, perhaps several times over, wallowing in? Not me. I would rather hang out in a future where Shepard is not white (see proposed Femshep #4, my personal favorite) and nobody gives a damn. See Lesley Kinzel's most awesome argument re: this. Or at least is a short-haired redhead like my own personal Femshep (coincidentally illustrated by Bill Mudron in this nifty poster I need to buy.) Not the same damn hot-blonde-chick stereotype we see everywhere else all the goddamned time. Have some imagination, people!

I'm buying the Collector's Edition no matter which Femshep is on it, of course. And I know it's going to be Dudeshep in the movie, alas, because to get Femshep right they'd have to cast Jennifer Hale and I don't think she does live-action work. If it absolutely HAS to be Dudeshep I am rooting for Matthew Fox. ("Tali! We have to go back!") Not only has he already played a guy named Sheppard but he's got the correct sort of bland-yet-tough earnestness you want from a Paragon Shep, and we already know he can rock a buzz cut.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Frank Miller's Lord of the Rings

A Dance with Dragons actually exists and has been published and I am reading it! What's next, the Arrested Development movie gets made? I'm getting a kick out of it so far, but it hasn't really caught fire yet - although even if it doesn't, I'm satisfied. I do love the whole A Song of Ice and Fire series - it has all the things I want in my high-end pulp fantasy. Maps in the front, elaborate family trees in the back, dragons, knights, political plotting during which everyone in the book simultaneously stabs each other in the back, descriptions of feasts, etc. that go on for thousands upon thousands of pages. Doorstop fantasy at its finest. I love me some wizards and shit.

I'd planned to write a longer post earlier re: A Game of Thrones on HBO, but I've only watched the first two episodes so far, so that's coming later. I do HAVE the whole season, I just ended up working long hours and when I got home I could really only spare half an hour for television before bed, so we ended up watching all of Parks and Recreation instead. Okay, that's not the whole reason - the other part was that I was a little taken aback by the pornitude. Now ASOIAF is chock-full of sex sex sex anyway - I have to say that's part of what I like about the "dark fantasy" aspect of it, showcasing how lust and greed can drive the fates of nations - so I thought I was prepared. But apparently some people at HBO had the following conversation:

Writer: So, in the first book we have whores, incest, rape, whores, forced child marriage, a lesbian scene, public ritual sex and whores.
HBO executive: More whores.
Writer: I already said -
HBO executive: MORE WHORES.
Other HBO executive: And make sure they're naked!

Also I really wasn't impressed with the kid they got for Jon Snow, and while "Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister" are the five words that guaranteed I would watch the hell out of this show, some review somewhere pointed out that his accent is super cheesy and now I can't unhear it. But I really do need to watch the rest. Otherwise the show we're working on at the moment is House and the last thing I need to do right now is think about how many undiagnosable diseases I might have right now. Pregnancy is one of the times in one's life where one is actively encouraged to be a hypochondriac, and I do not need that, I really don't.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Naming your future supervillain

I have just been amusing myself over at Baby's Named a Bad, Bad Thing, and I know what I'm naming the kid (tentatively referred to right now as Evil Beans, from a Jezebel comment re: what you would have to eat regularly to mistake a baby kicking you in the ribcage for indigestion) if it's a girl: Tierranney. It looks like a typically goofy fake-Celtic baby name, and then you pronounce it. It would be especially hilarious if she got a postgraduate degree and became Doctor Tierranney. Or went into academia and was Professor Tierranney. And the usual "and now the President of the United States, (firstname) (lastname)" baby name acceptability formula works too. What rules the free world? Tierranney! And of course she will find a place in her cabinet for her sister Hegemonie.

I am sorely tempted. Granted, my husband is sorely tempted to name a boy Guybrush, and that's not going to happen, so alas, poor Evil Beans is going to have to take over the world with a less perfectly appropriate first name.

The iPhone app I'm using to obsessively track everything about this pregnancy has a list of the current top thousand baby names, and just wow. I thought Baby's Named a Bad, Bad Thing represented outliers. Apparently not. Each one of the names below has at least 300 kids in the US who were named it last year. In some cases significantly more. I do not understand the thought processes that lead to certain names taking hold of the mass subconscious so that even parents who think they're original are compelled to use them, but the swarms of  Jennys in my grade school class are proof that it happens.

Today's selections: Boys.

#674: Alexzander (pick one weird letter and stick with it, people)
#583: Armani (will get a job in tech and spend his life in ratty jeans and video-game T-shirts)
#978: Bridger (for a minute there I thought it said "Badger" - which is pretty cool if you want your kid to grow up to be an Old West outlaw)
#631: Cannon (naming your children after artillery is so Palinesque)
#766: Dax (yeah, I liked Deep Space Nine too)
#670: Draven (walks the night...)
#736: Gauge (now I can see "Gage", but "Gauge"? And his brothers Jack and Tire Iron)
#859: German (is probably not actually. Part of the "I've never been there but it's such a nice name" trend: see also London, Ireland, Asia.)
#471: Gunner (not "Gunnar", Gunner. As in one who shoots guns. This is my friend's dad's hunting dog's name. That's much more appropriate.)
#154: Jaxon (sound the klaxon! It's Jaxon! I actually think this one is kind of cute.)
#500: Kale (is not as tasty as the health nuts would have us believe, and I have been known to eat raw mustard greens)
#883: Leonidas (TONIGHT WE DINE IN HELL!!!!)
#939: Lyric (nouns as first names are goofy sometimes but generally I approve - but "Lyric" is a little celebrity-baby for me. Says "My dad was totally in a band in college.")
#511: Maverick (it will always be 2008 for this kid)
#704: Messiah (doomed to feel like an underachiever forever)
#780: Raiden (FATALITY!!!)
#804: Ronin (and his brother Shinobi - they like to go out back and throw the ol' ninja star around)
#719: Sincere (has no choice but to grow up to be a con man)
#465: Talon (yes, you consider yourself kind of a badass, we get it )

And my absolute favorite: #628, Xzavier. An X is cool, a Z is cooler - put them together and TRIPLE WORD SCORE!

Friday, July 1, 2011

O Canada!

On this Canada Day, let's all raise a Labatt to our friendly neighbors to the north, home of awesome things including socialized healthcare, the fun side of Niagara Falls, and of course Bioware.