Sunday, November 29, 2009

you cross a lawyer with the Godfather, baby, he'll make you an offer that you can't understand

The English version of DMCA, a badly-conceived idea to start with (Britain, NEVER IMITATE the United States, trust us, it will SCREW YOU UP), staggers on to attack publishers and media agents.

Will the stupidity of this bill never cease? If y'all actually publish this, I will point and laugh.

And then, likely, I will cry, because it's a BAD, bad law.

Miss Sphynx Soleil has been tossing me job apps and possible employment opportunities, and I've been slowly weeding through them, but along the way she mentioned I should check out Maxwell Graf's profile--in specific, the section in his Picks regarding "Lindenial".

As he defines it:

"Lindenial [lin-di-nahy-uhl] -verb. Refusing to acknowledge or address the scope and scale of direct threats to your customer base while obtusely planning new methods of profiting from them."

Oh, that's just perfect. And so very, very true.

I was pondering this very thing when, in a discussion with my loves, the concept of Runes of Magic's latest charity offer came up. While, granted, it's to support a childrens' charity, and the horse made of flame and tentacle swords would give any reasonable child nightmares, it's still a very, very cool thing. Affordable enough for virtually everyone (299 diamonds, or about $12 US), it gives those who buy one a cool mount to ride around on, that won't go away, and the knowledge that for each mount sold, three Euros will go to the international Save the Children foundation.

runes of magic

That's actually a little under a third of the price of each mount; and we decided we wanted one each, so one of us went out to one of the local stores carrying the gift cards and plunked down $25 for one. So all of us could have one (considering, admittedly, it was a double diamonds sale, so that $25 would cover mounts for four people).

How easy was this? "We want this mount. It's a good idea. It supports charity. We're tossing money at this game."

runes of magic

It's actually amazing-looking in game. Even clicking the larger images won't tell anyone how amazing. Each mount looks formed from solid, moving, translucent fire, with a waving black-feather headdress and armor. Burning red eyes and hooves carved from red-gold flame complete the look, and those curved claw-sabre things off the front of the barding? Those things move. It doesn't work like this in game, but I swear, anyone walking by should receive cutting damage from the flexing blades.

I contrast this with Second Life. While, yes, recently they got into the charity game, too, with resident-designed holiday wreathes that go to support Kiva, and also while, yes, they are not an MMO...the similarities stand out and strike me.

When was the last time the Lindens had a Linden sale? Buy 250 Lindens, get 500? When was the last time the land store had a sale--get an island this weekend, we'll knock $150 off the buying price? I remember one sale, distantly, back in '06...has there been one since?

Instead, they're seemingly focused on ways to get more money out of people, apparently ignoring the fact that the economy's bad all over, while making it harder, not easier, for folks to list things to make money on the grid--the proceeds of which could very well be used to procure premium accounts.

Offering deals will get people to invest.

runes of magic

Sure, they have the premium account options--X price for one month, X price discounted for one quarter, X price discounted even more for one year--but have they ever said, buy twelve months, we'll throw in the thirteenth free? Or buy an island, get a house?

How hard is it to, bluntly, not be dicks about things?

I normally don't involve myself in fandom wank, but this was just too good to pass up. Ghostbusters is a landmark of cinema; love it or hate it, it made its mark in many diverse ways, and became a part of popular culture. And not just popular geek culture; it became a part of popular culture at large.

Which is why this dismissive woman's condescending review of the film needs to be read, at least once, to understand how some people just won't get it. Ever. Because her total end impression of the film? If you take away the special effects, and the fun lines, well, it's just a bare outline of a film, insubstantial as dust.

And yes...with the script gone...the characters gone...the special effects...the SETS...the plot is pretty thin; anemic, even. It takes the sets, the characters, the actors, the script, the special effects, and the keen sense of irony, humor and impeccable comic timing that the talents tied to the film, bring to the make it something that still works to this day.

Pff. Some people.

And, because I recently had reason to finally watch the new Star Trek film....this. Oh my dark gods, THIS. Because Saldana may be very good at whatever it is she does, but she is NOT Uhura and she NEVER will be and Nyota the strong and defiant needs to come back through time and grab her alternate-universe counterpart and tell her, slowly, that when she was in an alternate universe, she got to taunt people with daggers, not wimp around stripping in front of her Orion roommate. (*facepalms* Orion. Roommate.

And this film looks...derivative and somewhat inane. I may have to see it anyway--it stars Thomas Jane--but seriously, now, haven't we seen this already, with the Cube films? This concept has been done before. More than once.


Sphynx Soleil said...

Perhaps the point could be argued that due to the relative youth of the characters, that perhaps that strength and backbone came later after having some experiences under her proverbial belt?

I wasn't anywhere near the sort of person at age 19 or 20 that I am now beyond 40, for example. :)

Emilly Orr said...

Maybe. Save for one thing--Nichelle Nichols, while she was in actuality 34 when Star Trek started, she was supposed to be in her early twenties--right around the age that Saldana was portraying.

Anonymous said...

You think New Uhura comes off as weak?! I think we saw two different movies... in the one I saw, she was smart, bold, initiative-taking, and respected. And didn't take any crap from anybody. And she even got [spoiler omitted].

(I'd also make a distinction between TOS TV Uhura and TOS novel Uhura; while the former was a step forward for the '60s, she still largely came off as a glorified telephone operator.)

Regarding the point just above, everybody in the reboot is less experienced and less polished than their TOS counterparts. Which actually worked quite well, I thought...

On the other hand, this entire film was nothing but an elaborate setup. The next film is the one that'll make or break this version.

Anonymous said...

(For what it's worth, I really liked this take on the film, from a Trek newbie, and this one, from a specifically black female perspective, linked to in the first. Both get into the impact of the spoiler I omitted, and both have really good things to say.)

Emilly Orr said...

Well, let's see. The first time we see her, she's buying drinks in a bar. She has a spine, but it's briefly seen, then back to the !ACTION!. When next we see her character, she's stripping in what is, essentially, a glass cubicle, while Kirk watches from under the bed of her ORION cadet roommate.

When we see her for brief moments throughout the rest of the film, she's pretty much standard TOS telephone girl, save for when she's sucking face with Spock.

Which is repellent on so many levels, I don't even want to think about it.

Maybe it's me, but she came across as unsure, when she wasn't being painted as artificially (and cloyingly) sexual. I wasn't impressed.

Anonymous said...

...and then, in that second scene, she catches Kirk and throws his ass out. (And I read the Orion bit the opposite way you did; in this universe, they're actually in the Starfleet Academy! Progress!) And then she challenges Spock for not getting a good enough assignment, and makes him fix it. And then it's specifically and solely her backup of Kirk at a critical moment that makes Pike change his mind and switch plans, because she actually has his trust.

And then... well, then there's the entire Spock thing. If the links I provided above don't change your mind on that one, I doubt anything I have to say would. But that was the single thing in the movie I was happiest about, by a wide margin. I didn't think it was forced at all. Uhura gets Spock. And from all indications, she gets him as a respected equal, rather than being driven by hormones and/or ponn farr. I mean... seriously, if you don't see how awesome that is, we're just never gonna agree. :-)

Emilly Orr said...

I read through both links (and I even went back to another link on the first one and read through her general analysis of why female characters, in general, suck and we need to change that) and...yeah. I don't see it. I don't get the Awesome. It is not there for me.

But understand, I am a hardcore, dyed-in-the-wool Star Trek book fan. And for me, that makes a big difference. Because in the books, Uhura rocks, far more than she does in the original show, far more than she does in any of the films.

She is strong and assured, she is unafraid, she has romances, she deals with love, loss, grief, joy, redemption, and deep, deep friendship--because that's what happens when you work on the flagship of the Federation, Enterprise, because life is not safe. Just like the Hellmouth in Buffy Summer's universe, there is no perpetual bliss for her, or for any of the main characters--because people die, people get deeply hurt, people get brain-wiped, people turn on you and that's okay because that's what happens when you work on the Enterprise.

Put her in--for one, in the arms of a Spock who loathes his human half, a Spock who doesn't have perfect barriered control of his emotions yet, and thus keeps everyone at arm's length, and for two, put her in the arms of a character who was already affianced, which is a BIG taboo in Vulcan culture--put her in that character's arms, and it's a farce. It's very nearly a Highlander II-level flaw. (And if you don't know about that flaw, ask any true fan--there is no Highlander II. Never existed. Never made. Nope. No film by that name was ever released.)

I don't know if I can communicate to you how much that diminishes Nyota Uhura. She is essentially laughing in the face of all of Vulcan. He can never take her as a potential mate to his home planet, even had it survived. He can never introduce her even to the surviving Vulcans. He cannot admit that she exists, which, in a telepathic race, is pretty damned difficult to do.

And for her? She won't be believed. "You date a Vulcan? Right. Next you'll tell me Klingons like Tribbles." She can never openly acknowledge this relationship--except she does, and it is utterly, and with every fiber of my being, I mean this, artificial, because it wouldn't happen. I don't mean it's improbable--I mean, IT WOULD NEVER, EVER HAPPEN.

And it cheapens both characters. And I hate the film's writers for going there, and they really should be shackled to small steroidal Chihuahuas for about a week, dyed pink, to nibble on their ankles and snarl at them.

Maybe two weeks. It's really a stupid plot move, in an entire movie of stupid plot moves.

Anonymous said...

First, I agree on the superiority of Uhura in the novels, which is why I set them apart in my first post. I don't think comparing the movie to the books would be fair; comparing the TOS books to newer books set in the reboot universe would be another story. :-)

Second, I entirely disagree with the premise that Spock and Uhura cannot possibly get together, that their love Cannot Be, that the entire Vulcan race would be dead-set against it and present an insurmountable obstacle... and the reason why I disagree is the reason the film itself foregrounds: Spock's father blazed that trail. The real implausibility is Sarek/Amanda, and that's firmly canon in all universes. Not only can it happen, but I think it actually makes more sense for Spock to go that route himself.

And reboot-Spock is more in touch with his human side. Unlike TOS Spock, he isn't going to the extreme of trying to prove himself more Vulcan than the Vulcans; he rejects the Vulcan academy because they see his humanity as a weakness to be overcome; he doesn't require two seasons, three movies, and a reincarnation to start taking on the question of "how do you feel?"

I consider that an improvement as well. :-)

(Finally, was Spock betrothed to T'Pring in this universe? I don't recall if it was brought up, and if it wasn't, I'm willing to suppose that this was among the butterfly-effect changes. Even if they were, I also don't know if she made it off the planet alive.)

Emilly Orr said...

And again, this is why I hate retcons that use the same characters.

Also, all of this was supposed to follow from the destruction of the Kelvin?

Really. That one ship. Just that one. Really?

Orions joining the Federation. Spock being okay with being half-human? Uhura being fine with stripping in a glass box. Budweiser still existing?

I don't buy it.

Sphynx Soleil said...

Well, we just don't KNOW all of what happened after Kirk's Father's ship explodes - mainly, we see Kirk as a young boy being an ass (typical kid stuff), then the bit where he gets convinced to join the Academy.

It seems like everything else in that timeline? We don't KNOW where the ripples went. We don't know all of what changed and what didn't change. Maybe the time-shifted Romulan ship made it's own impacts along the way that they just didn't cover. I would think even replicators need to be restocked at some point.

(I'll grant the point about the books - believe or not, I've actually NOT read any of the books. Just never had the opportunity with the funds.)

In TOS, yea, she really is much like a glorified telephone operator, something that always annoyed the hell out of me in the beginning. For me, the movie is an improvement in character (timeline) because of that. In the original *movies* she was much better, and kicked more ass. :)

Rhianon Jameson said...

Wait a second. I haven't seen the film yet (in the Netflix queue),'s supposed to be the same characters but not the same characters? Some mildly offset parallel universe? What's that all about? I had thought this film was supposed to be a straight prequel.

Or is this one of the Hollywood remake machine's great conceits, that you can tinker with things for the sake of the film, even though your entire core audience knows that you're screwing with the canon?

As far as the Lindens putting Linden dollars on sale...I take it that Runes of Magic doesn't allow you to cash out diamonds for real currency? Because, otherwise, the problem with discounting your currency is that either (1) the US$/L$ exchange rate immediately drops by the same percentage as the discount, or (2) someone makes a killing by buying L$ at a discount and selling them at face value.

Of course, it's an odd economic model anyway when LL sets both the price of land and the quantity of land.

Anonymous said...

Miss Soleil: like Miss Orr, I came to Star Trek fandom primarily through the novels. There are a number of truly excellent ones out there. And I will grant that one reason why Enterprise the series is MY Highlander II is that it stamped out the previously quasi-canonical backstory that the novels had put together... and I liked the books' version much better. (This latest film, on the other hand, had a number of nods to the books' inventions. Including Uhura's first name, which had previously been novel-only.)

Miss Jameson: best to watch the film and discover the answers for yourself. For my part, I think it did what it did pretty well... and it wasn't what I'd expected, either. More than that, I'd really rather not say, and I'd suggest you try to forget anything else you saw above. :-)

Emilly Orr said...

The problem with time-shifting is--where do you stop? The Kelvin blew up, it didn't go on--which means the whole original pilot of the show never happened. Which means Spock never risked his career for 'his friend', risked a charge of mutiny and insubordination, and never made the entire crew of the Enterprise realize loyalty is more important than obedience.

That's huge, in my opinion.

Sphynx: I'll grant you the point that she was more active in this film, but the problem in this film is it is nearly entirely about Kirk, and Spock--and everyone else, even the villain, is background. In fact, the only character that makes any additional impression at all beyond Kirk!! Spock!! Spock!!! Kirk!! is...Scotty, who is a) never referred to as Scotty, b) anti-canon in how he came to the Enterprise, and c) stands out only because Simon Pegg is so phenomenal.

Emilly Orr said...

Miss Jameson,

I would be sorry for spoiling some of the movie plot, save the Spock/Uhura thing practically went on billboards over the summer.

I will say that if you go into it thinking it's a new take, or just a new concept entirely, you'll be fine. There's a lack of character development overall, and a sense that this is Prologue to All the Cool Stuph Coming Next,'s not a bad film as pseudo-scientific action blockbusters go.

But Star Trek it's not.

Miss Poindexter,

I believe you've pointed out the source of my irk. Because I am more a fan of the books, over the films and even the series, when book details crept in, I expected them to hold to book canon...and they didn't.

Emilly Orr said...

And not to add to this, but I'm totally adding to this--it doesn't help in the least when I idly Google Zoe Saldana and find this as one of the first links.

Great. Weak Uhura (yes, IMO, I will say that, some people think Zoe=strong), AND she can't button her top.

Hells, I don't think either of those outfits HAVE buttons on the top.

Rhianon Jameson said...

Those weren't spoilers for me - I read the reviews when the movie came out, and cringed at the "love triangle" business. So no worries, Miss Poindexter. (If I really wanted to insulate myself from plot points, I'd have ignored the entertaining Orr/Poindexter debate. :) )

Speaking of buttoning tops, I found it interesting that, for the first few seasons of CSI: Miami, Emily Proctor showed an amazing amount of cleavage, week in, week out. Then she was asked about it in an interview, and she said she ewas uncomfortable with the whole thing, but she didn't dress herself (or words to that effect). Ever since then, she's dressed substantially more demurely.

Anonymous said...

"I will say that if you go into it thinking it's a new take, or just a new concept entirely, you'll be fine."

You're onto something here... that is, in fact, how I went into it. I'd assumed it was going to be a reboot-from-scratch, ala Batman Begins or Casino Royale, and was delighted that it turned out to be more than just that.

Emilly Orr said...

Miss Jameson,

It was rather everywhere, which is interesting in itself--proves we haven't advanced that far as a culture, when you think of it. Because the last time there was a huge controversy regarding love and Uhura? It was because she shared an onscreen kiss with Kirk.

I remember that interview...I attributed it at the time to, she said she was uncomfortable about it in print, so the show could, conceivably, 'look bad'...She may have been saying the same thing for months to the costume department for all we know, but saying it once in print carries weight.

Miss Poindexter,

I think you've hit it. I didn't go into it thinking it was an entirely new thing. I went into it thinking, literally, "Star Trek fans are international...they can't have changed it that much..."

And I avidly read all the press on it, so a lot of the things that struck me as so, so very wrong--the love thing, the branding thing, rap music is the new classical--I knew about in advance, and had already decided I didn't like them then, because they weren't "Star Trek" as I knew it.

I am a grumpy fan. :)

Edward Pearse, Duke of Argylle said...

I believe the correct term is old-fart-fan :-P

I on the other hand came to Star Trek via TV and movies. In fact it's the Star Trek Pocketbook novels that started my general aversion to novelizations and my dislike for fanfic in general. Sure some of the novels were great. My friends and I were part of a Romulan group based off the Diane Duane novels, back before Next Gen arrived and took all the stuff the Romulans were, gave it to the Klingons, then put bumps on their heads and dressed them in tea cozies!

And for every Dark Mirror there were at least three as crap as Dreadnought.

I've still got tech manuals and Medical reference manuals and the Chronology of Spaceflight but for the most part I ignored the novels.

I will give brownie points to the Star Trek remakers (*cough* excuse me "reimaginers") in coming up with an innovative way of saying all the Star Trek continuity you can just throw out the window. Beyond that, not a lot. They had to do so using the hackneyed Star Trek biscuit of time travel; They made the Romulans crap yet again; they put in the suckface with Uhura and Spock; and it felt like it should have had a Jerry Bruckheimer production credit.

It might be a good and exciting movie, but it ain't Star Trek.

As for the Ghostbusters thing, well. In the words of Spike: Who You Gonna Call? (beat) God, that phrase is never going to be usable again, is it?
If the movie was so damn crap then phrases like that would only be known to hard core fans because the movie would have sunk into obscurity. Try quoting a line from Beastmaster and see how many people look at you blankly.

Anonymous said...

...I know Dreadnought! and Battlestations! are the Trek novels everybody loves to hate, and I understand the Mary Sue criticisms, but, well, I liked them. And Diane Carey's novels featuring George Kirk are among my favorites.

That said, Diane Duane's Rihannsu novels are higher on my list. As are John M. Ford's; why couldn't we have had his Klingons? Not far behind: J.M. Dillard, the Reeve-Stevenses, and early Peter David. (Later Peter David is at the very bottom of the list.)

Emilly Orr said...

Don't forget How Much For Just the Planet?, one of my favorite Star Trek books of all time. Ford was a genius.

Melissa Snodgrass, Janet Kagan, even Barbara Hambly managed what was essentially a published fan crossover novel with grace and style. I'll agree with both of you on later Peter David, though, James Blish, and anything that said "Fotonovel" on the cover.

But yes; Diane Duane, Margaret Wander Bonanno's beautiful book featuring several Warrantors of the Peace kidnapped (and wau, what a terrifying concept to ensure peace and diplomacy, but it would likely work--if you want to declare war on someone, you have to dig the firing codes out of the heart of your child, killing them. Damn, that's hardcore).

I'd go with "picky" over "old fart", though, only because it really is more picky. I threw away Enterprise as a whole, even though it starred Scott Bakula, because they a) used Hollywood Klingon in the first episode; b) had Ferengi meeting the humans LONG before we got out that far; and c) looked more high-tech than the original series, which I understand was somewhat unavoidable, but they still should have squared a lot of things off.

Rhianon Jameson said...

Having seen the movie this weekend, I wanted to close the loop on the discussion. Uhura? Was she in the movie? :) While I agree with Miss Poindexter's comment (waaaay above) that she has some important moments - convincing Spock he needs a better assignment, backing Kirk at a crucial point - I didn't see much of a character. (And, contrary to the promos, I didn't see much of a "love triangle." Kirk hit on her about five times, and was 0-for-5.) What did she see in Spock, and what did he see in her? Dunno. She's good at listening to subspace frequencies, or whatever cockamamie thing they trotted out to get her on the bridge, fair enough, but we get nothing of the person.

In fairness, as Miss Poindexter observes, this movie serves to set up the next one(s), and it's not a movie about Uhura, or Sulu, or Chekhov, or even the amusing Scotty. It's a Buddy Movie, and has to be evaluated that way.

I thought the movie was too much inside baseball for ordinary moviegoers, and too much tinkering with the canon for hard-core Trekkies, thereby pleasing no one. But maybe that's just me. :)

Emilly Orr said...

I thought the movie was too much inside baseball for ordinary moviegoers, and too much tinkering with the canon for hard-core Trekkies, thereby pleasing no one.

That's precisely it, I think. It threw all the 'familiar' characters up on screen, but didn't flesh anyone out--even, when we really break it down, the two supposed 'cores' of the film, Kirk and Spock. It shows more for Spock, I think, than Kirk: Kirk just comes across as the boy that never grew up, and I'm sorry, there was more to the books and the original series than that, even if we hurl the movies afterward to the wind.