In which I am SuperDad

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Tonight I bought the boy a Pokémon sourcebook and a bunch of cards in a tin on the way home from work, then once I got home I put together my new Raspberry Pi and downloaded a bunch of Nintendo games onto it.  And the original Atari 2600 version of PITFALL!, which was mostly for my mother.

I thought it was going to be a pain in the ass, honestly, but the whole thing worked like a charm.  There’s a weird audio issue where it won’t keep a consistent sound level, but I suspect I can suss out what’s causing that given some time and adding new games to the system has turned out to be damned easy.

He went from deliriously happy to be playing Mario to nearly throwing his first controller within five minutes, so I figure I’m doing something right.

What games from the Super Nintendo and original PlayStation era should I be downloading?  I missed those the first time around; my parents wouldn’t buy me either of them.  🙂

In which I embark on new projects

I had chips and salsa for dinner tonight, because 1) I’m grown and 2) shut up you’re not my momma.  Unless you are my momma, which I suppose one of you probably will be, in which case, hell, I already ate it, why you bringin’ up old stuff?

Anyway.

I have this little doohickey coming to me in the mail later this week:

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Along with this:

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And a couple of these:

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And I’m planning on taking Wednesday or Thursday and building myself a NES emulator.  Nintendo’s Classic system was simultaneously impossible to find and not what I wanted; I wanted something expandable and particularly something that was actually playable, which is not the case for any device with a 2.5 foot long controller cord.  And now it’s cancelled, so I’ll never get one of those things that isn’t quite what I want.  So fuck it, I’mma build my own.  I want games I can play with my kid and Monster Legends isn’t quite enough.  So I’ll spend a few hours beating my head against a wall, which is my standard procedure whenever embarking on a new technology adventure, and then I’ll be able to play Mario with my kid and my wife will be able to finish The Legend of Zelda, which somehow she has never done.

I’m looking forward to it.  And you get to look forward to the inevitable profane blog post when I fuck it all up.  Whee!

In which I waste a whole bunch of my time: a #review of IRON FIST

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I have said this before, both on this blog and elsewhere: if you are ever compelled, as a writer in any medium, to create a scenario where your characters are complaining about how dumb your plot is, it is probably time to stop and think very carefully about what you are doing.  If you are writing a show called Iron Fist, about a man whose job it is to be the Iron Fist, and the very first line a character says upon meeting him is “You are the worst Iron Fist ever,” you may be doing something wrong.  It is possible to write a good story about a hero who is terrible at being a hero.  But if you do that, then that’s what your story needs to be about.  You can’t have a hero who is terrible at being a hero and have your story be about something else.  The fact that he or she is terrible is going to take center stage and ruin everything else.

Enter Iron Fist, whose writers clearly do not read my blog.  This post is unnecessary in a whole lot of ways; it took me a while to get through all thirteen episodes– mostly because, again, the show’s awful– and everyone who binged it right away has already weighed in on how bad it is.  They’re all right.  But maybe there’s someone out there who isn’t attuned to the geek press all that much, but reads me for some reason.  Someone who might be saved.

Please don’t watch this show.

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And this doofy shit is the main reason why.  Now, let’s be clear about a few things:  there was a lot of fooferal when the show hadn’t quite come out yet about the fact that Marvel cast a white guy as Iron Fist instead of racebending the character and casting an Asian person instead.  I am sympathetic to those concerns, to say the least.  But even if you’re going to cast a white guy as Iron Fist, because the comic book character is white, Finn Jones is just about the worst possible choice to play the role.  He is awful; awful in every way, he is written to be awful, and the man himself does nothing to corral or channel(*) his character’s intrinsic awfulness.  There is nothing Finn Jones does in this show at any point that is convincing.  He cannot do kung fu, he cannot emote beyond an infantile shaking rage, he absolutely cannot spout anything even vaguely resembling Buddhist philosophy (and I choose the word “resembling” quite deliberately) without sounding like a hipster doofus, and he never once comes off as heroic.  Iron Fist is a sulky hipster doofus with PTSD and all the emotional stability of a ten-year-old.  He is awful.

So is every other white man on the show, by the way.  The show can’t have anyone keep a personality or a set of motivations straight for more than an episode at a time, and there are never ever ever any consequences for anyone’s actions, to the point where there are giant holes blown in one character’s dojo’s ceiling at one point so that machine-gun ninjas can drop through (don’t ask) and those giant holes and broken windows and such are never mentioned again.  Characters display magical powers in one episode and then forget they have them.  Characters are killed, thrown into fish tanks in someone’s home, then never mentioned again.

You could cut every white male character completely out of the show and nothing of any significance would change, at all.  They are, all of them, awful.

Let’s talk about these three:
tmg-article_default_mobileMadame_Gao.jpgI’m having a hell of a time getting the HTML to cooperate, so forgive me, but these three are the only thing that makes the show even vaguely watchable.  Jessica Henwick, who plays Colleen Wing, should have been playing Dani Rand.  Or, alternatively, you could grab this drunken-master badass here– his name is Lewis Tan and he actually auditioned for the park– and have him play Danny Rand.  Between the two of them they are responsible for 100% of the interesting fight scenes in the show.  Every single one.  They are also both maxresdefault.jpgbetter actors than Finn Jones. Wai Ching Ho also returns as Madame Gao, and she’s amazing for every second she’s on screen even if her character’s motivations (and abilities) are more than a little bit of a mess.  The fact that the show had these three people in it and more or less ignored them so that Jones could whine about how tough it is to be white and immensely wealthy and oh also one of the best martial artists in the world but MY PARENTS ARE DEAAADD!!!!
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It’s terrible.  But I think I said that.  I think the only thing that could redeem it is if I watched it again, liveblogged every episode, and then turned it into a chapbook to sell on Amazon and made a million dollars.

(*) So, Iron Fist’s powers come from channeling the power of his “chi” into his fist, making it Like Unto a Thing of Iron, as the comic books used to say all the time and the TV show never does.  TV Danny can’t do that.  I have quite a few Iron Fist comic books, and even more where Iron Fist isn’t the main character but shows up, and I swear to you that Finn Jones does more wanking about his chi in this thirteen hours of show than Iron Fist has done in his entire forty-year history as a comic book character previous to the show coming up.  Comic book Danny Rand’s powers just work, basically whenever he wants them to.  TV Danny Rand’s chi must be balanced, charged, recharged, harnessed, centered, purified, unblocked, hell, every verb in the English language gets applied to Danny’s chi at some point or another; I’m surprised he never has to Smurf the fucking thing.  And hearing him talk about it never stops being ridiculous.  Mostly his powers just don’t work, and mostly his powers don’t work because, in one way or another, he’s an embarrassment to his order and to his job.  He’s the worst Iron Fist ever.  Really.

I hated this damn show.

Tech and Tattoos: a generational inquiry

i-xRDcb5d.jpgAnyone with any aptitude for technology has encountered this scenario, right?  The Family Tech Support issue, where you’re stuck between just fixing their problem, whatever it is, and refusing to help at all and just screaming read the words on the screen over and over again until they either help themselves or hang up on you.  And that last panel is always the end result of any of these conversations.

It’ll happen to you, too, they say, or maybe you think it to yourself.  Sooner I’ll be relying on my kids to help me figure out why the clock in my ocular implant is always blinking 12:00 over and over again, or I’ll need my son to point out to me that the reason my touchscreen “doesn’t work” is because I won’t just touch the thing and insist on stabbing at it with the tip of my finger like I’m hitting a key on a manual typewriter.

Lemme change the subject for a second.

I have six tattoos, and I’ve been fighting the urge for a seventh for the last few weeks– in fact, I’ve woken up a few times in the last few weeks convinced that I was going to go get another one that day.  When I got my first one (and this was 20 years ago now) I heard from my parents exactly what every other person my age heard from their parents.

“What are you going to do when you’re 80 and you still have that?”

And here’s the thing (and let me be clear, I’m not talking about my parents specifically here; this is a widespread cultural phenomenon): when people ask you that, they’re suffering from a weird sort of blind spot: they’re thinking of old people now, who are comparatively less likely to have tattoos unless they were in the Navy or something.  When I’m 80– which, good luck, fat boy– I will console myself with the knowledge that probably 70% of the rest of the 80 year olds sharing space with me in the nursing home will also have tattoos.  It will be normal.  Yeah, they’ll all be saggy and blurry and faded.  So the fuck what?  It’s not going to be weird at all.  2/3 of people my age have tattoos and we will still have tattoos when we are old.

Let’s talk video games.  When I was a kid, playing video games was a thing For Kids.  The notion that there would ever be jobs connected to video games was considered ludicrous; video games were a thing that we were all going to Grow Out Of, and they’d stay a Thing for Kids forever.  Why?  Because in the late eighties the Nintendo was a Thing for Kids.

I’m 40 and still playing video games, and I suspect a fair number of the people who were playing Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out with me are too.  And I suspect a lot of those who aren’t are likely out of gaming because of reasons unrelated to maturity.

So, I ask you: how likely is it really that people my age are going to have to be calling our kids to get basic tech shit explained to us in 20 years?  In ten, when my son is 15?  What exactly is going to change about me or the way I look at the world that’s going to cause me to lose the ability– or, more importantly, the desire, because that’s actually the salient difference here– to figure new shit out, other than actual dementia?

Nothing.  It ain’t gonna happen.  Will there be some aspects of technology/Future Life that I’m not going to get?  Sure, but that’s because of youth culture, not because of the tech itself.  I don’t know what the fuck Tumblr is for, and I don’t really get Snapchat, but my confusions are more of the why would you want to do this variety rather than I need this to make my life work, please show me how to use it.  

At 40, I’m about as old as you can be and still claim to be a “digital native,” a phrase more likely to be applied to millennials than people my age.  But I grew up with this shit, and the upbringing my son is getting right now is really not that different from my own childhood.  My first home game system was an Atari.  I had a Commodore 64/128 that I used to dial into local BBS systems over a 300 baud modem.  I spent so much time on BBSes that my parents had to install a second phone line in my bedroom.  I had a cell phone in 1995 or 1996, way before most people had them.  I still tend to be an early adopter in a lot of ways and my affinity for tech stuff is a key part of my personality.

And all of this is just supposed to go away at some point, when I have to start calling my son for tech support?  When, exactly?  When am I going to stop being myself, absent some sort of literal mental deterioration?(*)  It’s not going to happen.  This is just as much of a canard as Old People Don’t Have Tattoos or You’re Going to Grow Out of Gaming.

Or maybe I’m just hugely immature.  I dunno.


Somewhat unrelated contention: I hate the phrase “Generation X” and always have.  Gen Xers are older than me; I’m not one of them.  Millennials are younger than me and I’m not one of them either.  You may refer to my generation as either Generation Star Wars or Generation Nintendo; they both work as far as I’m concerned.

The clearest sign of whether you are in my generation or you are a millennial is this, by the way: if Pokémon was part of your childhood, you are a millennial.

The end.


(*) I am, and I hope this is obvious, not suggesting that people who aren’t good with technology are suffering from some sort of disorder.  But if it were to happen to me, it would probably be a sign that I needed to go see somebody.  That’s all I’m saying.