Archive for the Randomness Category

Richard B. Riddick

Posted in Randomness on June 23, 2011 by Sardonic Pariah

Riddick.  In my opinion, a spectacular anti-hero, perhaps one of the best.  He literally is the antithesis of social norms: a sociopath, a murderer, and a convict who’s been through the worst prisons in the universe he inhabits.  In coping with the extremes of his life he has amassed a number of abilities not attributed to the normal person: incredible skills with a knife, amongst other weapons, the ability to pilot small spacecraft, eyes that collect light to the point where he can practically see into the infrared.  He has remarkable willpower, perception, and intelligence.  Unfortunately, the series of which he is a part has frankly ruined the character.  How?

First things first, Pitch Black is a damn solid movie.  It has a premise grounded in science, suspense, monsters, and, like all good fiction, is character-driven despite these other perks.  Riddick himself, portrayed by Vin Diesel, puts the movie over the top.

And then came the abortion known as Chronicles of Riddick.  Somehow the producers of this movie have found a way to transmute vomit directly into digital images.  Neat trick, that.

Whoever they got to write this steaming pile of crap doesn’t seem to have had much originality.  Or talent, for that matter.  Aside from reusing lines from the original movie (“You’re not afraid of the dark, are you?”) as opposed to, say, creating new lines along the same theme, it also seemed appropriate to name things as if the in-universe explorers had received some brain damage before they set out to find new worlds.  Helion Prime is a grand example: Helios was the personification of the Sun in Greek mythology.  Helion could be taken to mean “of the Sun.”  Better yet, there are apparently four or five other worlds within the habitable zone of this unnamed star, which is one hell of a tight fit.

But back to the movie’s naming conventions.  Riddick comes from a planet called Furya (winning), populated by a people known as the Furyans (still winning), though he doesn’t know it.  This explains nicely as to why he’s so pissed off, in addition to having been found in a trash can with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck.

Now, in the first movie, Riddick seems to have come by this information second-hand, which gels, because who has memories of their first few moments of life?  His natural assumption was that his mother had tried to kill him and chucked him out.  Turns out it was an officer of the Necromongers (if you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that we’re still winning) who has since risen to become their Lord Marshal.

This fellow, who’s a bit of a prick, as you may assume, became Lord Marshal after returning from some place called the Underverse (continuing to win).  His people refer to this as “another verse.”  Not another ‘brane, as would be scientifically accurate, but another verse.  Like they’ve sung the chorus, and now it’s time to delve into the next part of the song.  You can’t expect them to be too bright, though.  They live in a society that appears so inherently unstable that it should swallow itself within a generation or two, though it instead seems to conquer entire planets in mere hours.  Maybe they’re so ferocious when they get outside because they’re so excited to get away from the gloomy architecture.  There’s Gothic, and then there’s depressing.  And then there’s whatever the fuck it is these people are subjecting themselves to.

Speaking of which, the fragility of the science presented in this supposed piece of science fiction is laughable.  Well, actually, it’s not science; no one here could be accused of having picked up a book on any science, anywhere.  Unless you count porn as biology.  Probably the most grating, from my point of view, is the assertion that the night side of Crematoria (sigh, winning) was three hundred degrees below zero, which is colder than cold can get.  Ever.  At -273C all activity, down to the atomic scale, stops.  It’s called absolute zero for a reason, people.

Curious is the seemingly advanced animals found in-universe, and the apparent lack of intelligent life.  This one’s really more a matter of the author’s preference, mind you, and I’m still wondering if the Elementals (winning…) are aliens or some kind of strangely modified humans.  Though how you would modify a human to allow it to essentially dematerialize is beyond me; for that matter, how (and why) would a species have evolved this way on their own, supposing they’re aliens?

In short, Chronicles of Riddick exemplifies the subgenre of science fiction I like the least, that being space opera.  That being said, Chronicles is some pretty horrible space opera, and writing such must take a lot of work.  So, A for effort on this one.  Bonus marks, even.

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Japanese Rap and Anime FTW

Posted in Randomness on May 16, 2011 by Sardonic Pariah

Sorry, I just had to.

Friggatriskaidekaphobia

Posted in Randomness on May 13, 2011 by Sardonic Pariah

People fear the oddest things.  This one is the clinical name for a phobia of Friday the 13th.  If you suffer from this condition, you’re not reading this post.  You’re in your basement with a paper bag over your head waiting for the Apocalypse.

Friday the 13th as a tradition seems to have started in the 19th century; the first written record of anyone remarking on it is in a biography of Gioachino Rossini written by Henry Sutherland Edwards in 1869.  Before this, there was nothing mentioned about any significance attached to the day.  It’s quite possible that the superstition existed long before this, however, as the day has special significance when placed into a Christian context.  Jesus was crucified on a Friday, and some believe that if thirteen people sit down at a table for a meal, one of the diners will die, as per the Last Supper.  Evidence of the individual unluckiness of both the number 13 and the day of Friday are extant from far before the 19th century, so it is quite likely that the two were combined before the first written record of the date came up.  Thirteen has been considered a bad number since the advent of numerology, and as far back as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales there are indications that Friday has been viewed as an unfortunate day.

Just for shits and giggles, I decided to poke around and see what kinds of things have happened on Friday the 13th in the past.  Pencils at the ready; there will be a quiz after the lecture.

October 13, 1307 – King Phillip IV of France stages a mass arrest of the Knights Templar in his realm, targeting specifically the order’s Grand Master, Jacques de Molay.  De Molay himself and sixty of his Templars were arrested, charged with various heresies, and later executed.  The suspected motive for the arrests and charges was the seizure of property from the Templars, who committed the crime of being rich at a time when the kingdom of France was poor.

August 13, 1521 – The Aztec empire is destroyed by the Conquistadors when Hernan Cortes captures Cuauhtemoc, the ruler of Tenochtitlan.  After this point Mexico is ruled by the Spanish, with Cortes made Marques del Valle de Oaxaca, or the Marquis of Oaxaca.  And you thought normal colonialism was bad.

July 13, 1821 – Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest is born in Tennessee.  Regularly mixing his racism with his military command, Forrest is notorious for committing war crimes against captured black Union soldiers.  Despite his distasteful view of the world, Forrest was a military genius, known in some circles as the The Wizard of the Saddle.

September 13, 1940 – Five bombs launched by German pilots struck Buckingham Palace.  King George IV was present in the palace at the time of the bombing, and was quite likely the target of the raid, but survived the attack.  The event elevated the reluctant monarch to the status of a hero in England.  His refusal to leave his homeland for his own safety when the Nazis were so obviously targeting him endeared him to his people.

July 13, 1956 – Great Britain and the United States reject pleas from India and Yugoslavia to stop atmospheric nuclear weapon testing.  If you thought colonialism had died in the 19th century, you’re dead wrong.  What makes these two Anglophone countries think they can fire off poisonous weapons in the atmosphere with impunity?  The holier-than-thou attitude prevalent in colonial methodology, that’s what.

November 13, 1970 – A massive storm strikes Asia, killing some three hundred thousand people in Bangaladesh and potentially as many as one million in the Ganges delta.  The mean mortality rate throughout the region was 16.5% of the population, making this the most devastating storm in meteorological history.

June 13, 1986 – The Olsen twins are born in Sherman Oaks, California.  After achieving fame on the family sitcom Full House the two went on to grow up to be a pair of pretty sickly looking individuals.  Maybe there was something sour on their birth-date.

January 13, 1989 – One of the first major computer virus outbreaks takes place in Britain.  The aptly named “Friday the 13th Virus” strikes IBM computers across the country.  At this point in time troubleshooting is not a well developed aspect of computer maintenance, and the virus causes widespread panic about the dangers of the opening digital age.

October 13, 1989 – The Dow Jones market suffers a crash, losing 190 points within the day.  At the time this is the second largest crash in the market’s history.  This event is later dubbed the “Friday the 13th Mini Crash.”

September 13, 1996 – Rapper Tupac Shakur dies of injuries sustained in a drive-by shooting that took place on September 8.  Part of the massive controversy that still swirls around this event is the date on which he was announced dead, given that he had released albums under the name “Makaveli,” derived from Niccolo Machiavelli, a 16th century Italian politician known for his occasionally underhanded and misleading strategies.  Some believe that Tupac was not killed, and that he in fact faked his own death in order to evade his enemies, a truly Machiavellian strategem.