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By Andrew Schmaltz 7-18-14
Let me establish from the outset that I am not a fan of “cop shows”. And, of course, there are exceptions to the rule, I love Castle (for Fillion), I very much enjoyed SouthLAnd, and the short lived but excellent The Chicago Code. I do not enjoy “cop shows” because they tend to demand so little from the viewer. The CSIs and NCIS’s and Blue Bloods’s (which I admit I have never really watched but seems to be cut from the same cloth as its on CBS and stars a well-known, handsome male lead in his late 50s or early 60s who is competent, straight forward and very handsome) all appeal to the lowest common denominator. Tune in, watch a 42 minute mystery that is always the same. The heroes do their thing, are very smart and attractive and the killer gets caught in time for helpful wrap-up scene.
Penny Dreadful is not a “cop show”. It is a Historical/Supernatural/Mystery/Family Drama. This show not only requires an engaged viewership willing to endure the emotionally wrenching trials of the characters but a working knowledge of Classic English Language Victorian Horror Literature. The characters of Victor Frankenstein, his Creation(s), Dorian Gray, Abraham Van Helsing, Dracula all are included to varying degrees in this intriguing Showtime drama. To crib Aaron Sorkin, “this is Advanced Television Viewing”. Not easy but demanding is part of the point.
I came to this show late and binge watched which made for immediate pay off. I am normally an Event Watcher. I pay for HBO so I can watch Game of Thrones every Sunday, and True Blood and the Newsroom (I’m a life long Sorkin fan). I will watch The Walking Dead and Mad Men every week when they return. Penny Dreadful in season 2 will become Event Viewing for me. I will revel in the 7 days between episodes to talk about and theorize over the episodes. This show demands and deserves that kind of attention. I am happy to pay that price.
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By Patrick Schmaltz (7-17-14)
I have been listening to A feast for Crows, the fourth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, or the upcoming season Five of Game of thrones. As I have been listening something popped into my head, these people are “humans”. So why are they so horrible to one another? I mean Earth humans are pretty horrible to one another, but we do not rape and murder like these guys do. Maybe we do, but not as much anymore or not in modern civilized society. Westeros recorded history has been about 12000 years old. They have had the technology to forge and create hard metals, like Valyrian steel for at least that long. They have had the concept of construction and engineering for at least the last 4000 years. So why has their society not advanced past where they are now? I hate to say this but, the missing element might be Christianity. From what I have seen, none of the religions in Westeros teach love thy neighbor, turn the other cheek, or give a promise of heaven after death. Sacrificing yourself is a key term in christianity also, which most people seem kind of selfish or want revenge after some act done against them.
I am not saying that all christians follow these ideals, or that Christians have not killed millions of people over the years, just that the idea of helping others is the foundation of the religion. In the past 2000 years, Christians have reshaped how people treat each other. Sure there were some growing pains, the Crusades, and Spanish Inquisition, but humans have come to understand one another and go toward a civilized idea of looking at our fellow man. I think much in part to christianity, and the promise of going to heaven.
The closest religion in Westeros, looks to be, the Lord of Light religion “one true God”, and Stannis, seems to be the chosen one of this religion. This makes me think of Constantine the Great. Beric Dondarrion ( leader of Brother without Banners) has even been brought back to life, by the Lord of Light’s power. A resurrection of sorts. Blood plays a central role in the Red Priestess’ power magic. Magic is a funny part of this equation. People perform magic given to them by some Deity, and people will follow this religion, because they have seen the power of the god, or so they think. Stannis might not be seeing the power of the Lord of Light, but seeing magic performed by Melisandre, and saying it is him showing Stannis the future. Is this true? or just using Stannis’ faith to manipulate him, to Melisandre’s ends? Wouldn’t be first time in history a priest used religion to manipulate a man of power.
This is just a theory, but I am curious about the “what if” elements of this idea. Would the promise of an afterlife affect the world of Westeros? I am sure there would be wars of this new religion, and not everyone would convert at once. Would Christianity make Westeros a better place to live? Maybe if they stop killing each other for one second, they would make advances in technology and peoples rights. Most people would probably say that Earth is horrible place, and I would ask, Do you think its just as bad as Westeros? Would Jesus Christ’s message go on deaf ears in Westeros? It’s no doubt that his fate would ultimately be the same in both worlds.
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By Patrick Schmaltz ( 7-16-14)
Here I am back to Skyrim. Sometimes I just get a hankering for some Role Playing, and I have to play something. All roads lead back to Skyrim I have played it 200 hours already and beaten everything there is to beat. My character was maxed out, or so I thought. I read somewhere that you can “Legendary” skills that are 100 and they reset to 15 and you get the skill points back, and you will level up more. Well that sucks and is awesome. I have been running around all this time not really leveling when I could have and now there isn’t much left to do. Except find EVERY dungeon, and do EVERY side quest.
I really do love this game. I thought about starting a new character and then I realized that I would just make the same character I had now. You can really get ALL the classes in one character. Warrior, heavy armor and two handed weapon. Sneaky archer, leather armor with bows and sneaky skills. All skills can be improved just by switching your equipment. Then there is the magic, which is broken in my book. You get to a point where weapon damage ei, sword, bow, hammer, axe, far out deal the magic damage. Why you ask? Two enchants to armor that make you deal more weapon damage and decrease spell magic cost. An example of this is having an enchant that will increase weapon damage by 20% on your chest piece. In combination of enchanting and Black Smithing and alchemy you can increase this number. But you can not increase spell damage.
There is no Spell Damage Increase. Sure in the Dragonborn expansion, they added enchants to some special items that increase the damage to fire spells. (Ahzidal Mask) You can’t take this enchant off and apply it to all your armor, actually leveling the playing field between weapon damage and magic, so in my mind it is still broken. Side gripe, you put so much enchants on your armor at one point that spells effectively cost you nothing to cast. ( -100% destruction spell cost) Then what the hell was the point of putting points into Magic when I leveled up?! I could have put those points into Health and stamina, and not wasted them. True in the beginning you need them until your enchanting is high enough, but this just makes those points spent useless, and gone forever.
My character is so powerful now that it doesn’t really matter. I can one shot most things, and have enchanted rings and necklaces that make it so depending on what enemy I am fighting they won’t hurt me. I will go into greater detail about my Skyrim Characters Stats another time. (Note playing on Xbox 360)
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By Christopher Schmaltz (7-16-14)
“What’s the point?” This is the question everyone asks themselves one way or another in their lives after a profound loss or unexpected tragedy or trauma. It is the distinctly human question that has essentially driven the course of our history, writ large from individual and collective moments of pain, doubt and fear. That question is at the core of the new HBO show “The Leftovers” HBO The Leftovers, and it is the essential question of our time.
3 episodes of the show have aired1 to date. A quick intro summary – on October 14 (no year is given, but it is essentially now), 2% of the world’s population instantaneously disappears. That is approximately 140 million people. The people who disappear run the gamut from infants, 34 yr. old persons with Down syndrome, former popes, to Shaq. The show picks up 3 years after that event, and is an examination of its impact on those who remain, focusing on a group of people in a small American town.
Without question, it is a dark, oppressive show. Watching a single episode weighs heavily and lingers. I had to laugh a bit when discussing the show with my wife, because as entertaining as I find the show (we’ll discuss what I mean by “entertaining”), it is a show that is not “feel good” in any sense of that phrase. If one engages in it, it puts the viewer to the question, and it’s tough. I don’t think my wife will be watching, not because of any desire to avoid the tough questions, as she is one of the strongest people I know, but because, to paraphrase her, what time she has to watch tv, she doesn’t want that time to be a painful chore – Life is hard enough, and filled with enough negativity as it is, to spend time watching a depressing show. I am entertained by the show however, precisely because its ambition is to explore the larger questions, and by that exploration, examine where we are as humans, and what we have yet to be. And also because it asks, from one character, “I can understand a former pope, but Gary f*cking Busey?”
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News: Pacific Rim 2
Joss Whedon Draws a Buffy Comic ( sort of)
Seen: Penny Dreadful, Trueblood, The Strain, The Legend of Korra
Read: Batman Eternal, A feast for Crows, The New Biographical Dictionary of Film History, Powder Mage Trilogy
Played: Divinity Original Sin, Dark Souls 2 more Diablo, more Skyrim
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