Saturday, November 26, 2011

It Loses Something in the Translation

Although I'm not much of a gamer anymore, I still occasionally flip through video game magazines such as Nintendo Power or Game Informer when I get the chance.  Since I used to be a big-time Nintendo fan, reading about the latest Mario or Zelda adventure, even if I have no intention of playing it, is very similar to an update from a friend I haven't heard from or seen in years.  Anyway, several months ago, one issue of Game Informer I got my hands on had a full-page ad for a Wii game based on the movie Beastly.  Those of you who have seen or heard about the aforementioned flick probably immediately realized that such a film wouldn't make for much of a video game, and I felt the same way when I saw it.  Still, my curiosity was piqued, so, just for giggles, I went online to do a little research on the game.  I was only able to find one review, which said pretty much what I expected it to say.  You can click the link if you want to read the whole thing, but the first paragraph sums it up pretty well:
Some properties don't translate very well into video games, no matter how enjoyable they are in the original format. The movie "Titanic," for example, may be considered a modern classic by some, but very few fans would even entertain the notion that the romantic tale of Jack and Rose could be good material for an interactive endeavor. People still want to try the seemingly impossible and make a video game out of any and every hot property on the market. Such is the case with Beastly, which is a modern retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast story; it was critically acclaimed as a book and was just turned into a major motion picture. Storm City Games and Visual Impact decided to make a video game tie-in on the Nintendo Wii. Unfortunately, they proved that some things can't ever be translated into video game form.
There are countless other examples in the entertainment world.  I still remember watching a patriotic concert on one Memorial Day or Independence Day when I was a kid where this guy droned out a horrible rendition of "The Age of Aquarius" from the musical Hair.  Not only did it sound quite dull, but "Aquarius" is supposed to be a group number, not a solo.  That cover still haunts me to this day; rarely do I hear the original or any other version without thinking of it. Some movies, such as Super Mario Bros. or Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, were largely hated because the original media they were based on (a Nintendo game and a British book, respectively) just didn't work in cinematic form.  The former movie was so terrible that Nintendo Power, on a timeline of the red-clad plumber's history, said this about it: "Yes, it happened. Let us speak no more of it."  The latter flick was a dud just because Douglas Adams' humorous narration, the main appeal of the novel, was largely impossible to put into a movie.
Why do I bring all that up? It's not just to discuss media going from one form to the other; instead, it's because I've noticed that much of what I say and do doesn't seem to translate very well to others.  People often wonder why I do...well, pretty much anything I do.  They don't seem to get why I'm not doing the "normal" thing that they think I should be doing.
I've used this analogy before, but it's worth repeating: Most of you who know me know that my oldest sister, who died in 2005, was severely disabled and unable to do much of anything.  Having an immediate family member like her put my mom, my other sister, and I into a strange situation that most people were at a loss to understand.  However, that didn't stop many folks from making suggestions that, although usually well-meaning, just wouldn't work.  One "friend" of my mom's saw fit to spend at least thirty minutes haranguing my poor mother just because she (that is, my mom) taught my other sister how to change my oldest sister's diaper, but wouldn't even begin to let me do it.  That "friend" even accused my mom of treating her kids unfairly and being sexist in the process.  It turned out that the half-hour lambasting session was nothing but a waste of breath; my mom never did let me change my oldest sister's diaper.  Frankly, I don't see what right that "friend" had to say anything about the matter; it wasn't even her decision to make, nor did it affect her one way or the other.
The same could be said of me and certain things I do, such as being an outspoken Victoria Justice fan, watching Disney Channel Original Movies, or reading romance novels: People, for whatever reason, see fit to tell me why I shouldn't be doing those things.  They tell me that it isn't masculine; they ask what my guy friends would think if they knew I was doing it; and they probably wonder why I can't be like the other guys they know: watching sports, working with tools, drooling over cars, etc.  There's one problem with their argument, though: It's not up to them.  Unless the one(s) who has/have problems with what I'm doing are my parent(s) and/or God--and that is almost never the case--then their opinions, frankly, don't matter.
I will end by saying this: I have my reasons for liking the things I do and do not.  One such reason I'm such a devotee to certain celebrities and/or TV shows is because they help keep me grounded.  Pretty much everyone reading this already knows about last year's Love and Other Drugs incident, but what you probably don't know was that I spent most of the first two or three months of my freshman year of high school in a snit, only because Growing Pains, which was pretty much my only favorite show at the time, had been removed from ABC Family's weekday line-up.  That may sound like "small potatoes," but, without a show to love, I was lost; that 80's sitcom helped keep me sane.  Without it, I was ready to throw my television set in the trash, and that unhappiness was shown in other aspects of my life as well.  Thankfully, someone I knew introduced me to Lizzie McGuire, and we all know what happened after that.  My point is simply this: No matter your opinion of Vic, Jen, and friends, I can almost guarantee you that I wouldn't have very many friends if it weren't for them.  You can sit there and decry the whole thing until you're blue in the face, but it won't make any difference; I know I'm right.  The bottom line is: If you're truly my friend, then you don't want me to totally give up on Tori, Jennifer, and crew.  If I did, the results could be disastrous, and that's not a joke nor an exaggeration.
Any comments?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

An Exercise in Moderation

As usual, I'll start off with a story: In the 2006 film The Devil Wears Prada, the protagonist, Andy Sachs--portrayed by my former top crush, Anne Hathaway--takes a job at a fashion magazine, because that's the best thing she could find relating to journalism, which she has a degree in. To quote her, "It was either this or Auto World." Andy's new-found occupation came with the boss from Danté's Inferno, Miranda Priestly (played by Meryl Streep.) At first, Andy and her employer share mutual enmity, but, as the film progresses, the journalism student becomes so wrapped up in the job that she ends up like Miranda; so much so, that Ms. Priestly tells her twenty-something employee, "I see a lot of myself in you." Even Andy's co-workers began to notice; Emily Blunt's character (yes, the British girl) told Andy something that is, in my opinion, the film's most classic line: "You sold your soul the day you put on those Jimmy Choos." At the flick's end--and this is a spoiler, so be warned--Andy realizes what she has become, and throws her cellular phone in a fountain in the middle of a conversation with Miranda, signifying that Andy had washed her hands of the whole thing.
Why do I bring that up? It's not just to reminisce about Victoria Justice's predecessor. Rather, the reason is this: I only saw The Devil Wears Prada once, but I've always thought it made a very good point about what happens when someone gets too involved in something. Andy got too immersed with her work, and it turned her against her friends, her co-workers, even her significant other. The same has been happening over the past few years with me, only it's not my occupation that's consuming me; it's Facebook.
Let me delve into my history a bit: I have always been the quintessential "mouse potato". We didn't get Internet at our house until I was eleven years old, but I still spent many hours prior to that in front of the computers we had. Although I did do some creative projects and school work on them, most of my time was spent playing games. In 1999, when we first hooked up our computer to the Internet, my mom gave both herself and me separate AOL screen names and passwords, but set mine up with a very severe web block. You may think that was being over-protective, but keep in mind that I have always been developmentally delayed, meaning that I've been behind in some ways for my whole life. Most teens and tweens aren't mature anyway, but I was even less mature than the rest of them. So, looking back, I think it was a smart move. Many parents in this day and age worry about their kids finding pornography online, and my mom was, too, but that wasn't all she was worried about. She also didn't want me to spend hours on end talking to my friends, even people I did know. I lacked the self-discipline to keep online interaction from becoming an addiction, and she knew that. In fact, even though she made the decision about 5.5 years ago to get high-speed Internet without any blocks, social networking (as they call it these days) has become an obsession for me.
There's a number of reasons why that's the case, but I've got one that easily takes the cake: Most of you know that I love entertainment; books, movies, music, and TV are very big interests of mine. It should come as no surprise that I borrow or buy DVDs, CDs, and literature from the library, yard sales, used bookstores, etc., regularly. However, my shelves have become so full, even with using under-the-bed storage, I barely have room for all my books and movies. Several items I've borrowed from my local libraries recently have sat on my desk until they were due; I didn't even open the books, pop in the albums, or begin to watch the movies. Instead, I spend most of my spare time on Zuckerberg's website. Do I want to? No; I'd rather be enjoying a great book or a good movie than sitting around checking my notifications for the thousandth time. As the Apostle Paul said in Romans 7:15, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." (NIV)
However, I'm at a loss for what to do. I've deactivated my account twice since joining Facebook in the autumn of 2006, and found myself back on there within just a matter of weeks both times. I also don't want to leave it completely alone for a prolonged amount of time; I had a friend who abandoned his Facebook page for about eighteen months, and found out when he got back on there that he'd missed a lot. One of his friends had even invited him to his (that is, my friend's friend's) wedding, and he knew nothing about it until well after the fact. Besides which, I don't consider Facebook a bad thing; I just consider having an addiction to it a bad thing.
You may wonder: Why is "social networking" so addicting for me? Well, I've thought about it, and I came to this conclusion: It lets my voice be heard. When I was younger, my thoughts on things tended to get squelched, because I was too long-winded in expressing them, my peers were being jerks and wouldn't let me talk, I was talking about something no one else cared about, or any number of other reasons. Most people, it seems, are better at expressing themselves through the spoken word than in writing, but I'm exactly the opposite. So, Facebook, as well as this blog, allow me to express my feelings on whatever topic, whether it be Victoria Justice, sports, broken friendships, current events, the last book I've read, or anything else.
One more thought, and then I'll end this: Most of you reading this probably know that I've reacted rather negatively to romance-related posts on Facebook in the past. Some of you may also know that I've had three good friends, including two I practically grew up with, get married in the past few weeks. You may think that the above thoughts about Facebook addiction are because of that, but I can tell you right now that that's not the case. Seriously, I'm past getting upset because of others' relationships. If you want to know why, check my post titled "Do I REALLY Need a Significant Other?" or the two-parter "The REAL Truth About Me and My Celebrity Crushes" (which may have a third installment soon, if I get around to writing it.) Seriously, the problem isn't any of you, no matter what your relationship status is; it's me. You know how honest I am, so I know you believe me...right?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

For all my fellow Mac nerds...

I saw this joke randomly online, and couldn't help but re-post it. Enjoy!

Picard: Mr. LaForge, have you had any success with your attempts at finding a weakness in the Borg? And Mr. Data, have you been able to access their command pathways?
Geordi: Yes, Captain. In fact, we found the answer by searching through our archives on late twentieth-century computing technology.
(Geordi presses a key, and a logo appears on the computer screen.)
Riker [puzzled]: What the heck is Microsoft?
Data [turns to explain]: Allow me to explain. We will send this program, for some reason called Windows, through the Borg command pathways. Once inside their root command unit, it will begin consuming system resources at an unstoppable rate.
Picard: But the Borg have the ability to adapt. Won't they alter their processing systems to increase their storage capacity?
Data: Yes, Captain. But when Windows detects this, it creates a new version of itself known as an upgrade. The use of resources increases exponentially with each iteration. The Borg will not be able to adapt quickly enough. Eventually all of their processing ability will be taken over and none will be available for their normal operational functions.
Picard: Excellent work. This is even better than that unsolvable geometric shape idea.
(15 Minutes Later)
Data: Captain, we have successfully installed the Windows in the Borg's command unit. As expected, it immediately consumed 85% of all available resources. However, we have not received any confirmation of the expected upgrade.
Geordi: Our scanners have picked up an increase in Borg storage and CPU capacity, but we still have no indication of an upgrade to compensate for their increase.
Picard: Data, scan the history banks again and determine if there is something we have missed.
Data: Sir, I believe there is a reason for the failure in the upgrade. Appearently the Borg have circumvented that part of the plan by not sending in their registration cards.
Riker: Captain, we have no choice. Requesting permission to begin emergency escape sequence 3F!
Geordi: [excited] Wait, Captain! Their CPU capacity has suddenly dropped to zero percent!
Picard: Data, what do your scanners show?
Data: [studying displays] Apparently the Borg have found the internal Windows module named Solitaire, and it has used up all available CPU capacity.
Picard: Let's wait and see how long this Solitaire can reduce their functionality.
(Two Hours Pass)
Riker: Geordi, what is the status of the Borg?
Geordi: As expected, the Borg are attempting to re-engineer to compensate for increased CPU and storage demands, but each time they successfully increase resources I have setup our closest deep space monitor beacon to transmit more Windows modules from something called the Microsoft Fun-Pack.
Picard: How much time will that buy us?
Data: Current Borg solution rates allow me to predict an interest time span of six more hours.
Geordi: Captain, another vessel has entered our sector.
Picard: Identify.
Data: It appears to have markings very similar to the Microsoft logo...
Voice over Speakers: This is admiral Bill Gates of the Microsoft flagship MONOPOLY. We have positive confirmation of unregistered software in this sector. Surrender all assets and we can avoid any trouble. You have 10 seconds to comply.
Data: The alien ship has just opened its forward hatches and released thousands of humanoid-shaped objects.
Picard: Magnify forward viewer on the alien craft!
Riker: Goodness gracious, captain! Those are human beings floating straight toward the Borg ship - with no life support suits! How can they survive the tortures of deep space?!
Data: I don't believe that those are humans, sir. If you will look closer I believe you will see that they are carrying something recognized by twenty-first century man as doeskin leather briefcases, and wearing Armani suits.
Riker and Picard, together [horrified]: Lawyers!
Geordi: It can't be. All the Lawyers were rounded up and sent hurtling into the sun in 2017 during the Great Awakening.
Data: True, but appearently some must have survived.
Riker: They have surrounded the Borg ship and are covering it with all types of papers.
Data: I believe that is known in ancient vernacular as red tape. It often proves fatal.
Riker: They're tearing the Borg to pieces!
Picard: Turn the monitors off, Data, I cant bear to watch. Even the Borg doesn't deserve such a gruesome death!