Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Fairy Tale Spotlight: Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

So way back in 2008, a game came out called Too Human. It took Norse mythology and and did an amazing job at making it all look high tech. The story was interesting and engaging. I kept wanting to see what would happen next. The sad thing is was that I never finished it. Why? Because the game was terrible. Just... teeeeerrrible. Awful. Just a chore to play. Boring. Horribly boring. I tried to replay it recently. I got a little bit further. Nope. I'm out. The story, as wonderful as it is, isn't worth the trouble of actually playing it.

Too Human actually got me into Norse mythology to some degree. I loved learning about their petty gods and I even liked how the game used their famous runes to help your character out in fights. (Not that it will matter. The game sucks.)

I gave up hope late last year that I was ever going to be bothered with Norse mythology in video games ever again. Then came a game called Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. And I think I speak for everyone who played it when I say, "Hell yeah!"

Damn, but I enjoyed this game. I loved this game so much that I nearly got annoyed with people interrupting me when I was playing it. "What funeral?! Can't you see I am slaying demons down in Niflheim?!"

Hellblade is is about a Pict warrior from Orkney named Senua who travels to Hell to barter for the soul of her lover, Dillion, from the goddess Hela. (She isn't nice. In fact, she is really quite horrible. I didn't like her one bit.) On top of having to actually just walk into Hell, Senua is suffering from an extreme case of mental psychosis. She's nuts. And since you have to play someone who is nuts, you have to be nuts too.

The game takes you through the fever dream that is Niflheim. It is not a good place. It is not a safe place. It is 100% horrible on every level. Everything is nasty and hateful. But in all its nastiness, it is somehow beautiful in its presentation. And here I was learning again about Norse mythology. I saw the runes again. I heard the stories again. I had come back to this wonderful fairy tale... but this time... IT WAS FUN! And freaking intense too. You ever wanna know what it's like to be inside a crazy person's head while she fights the forces of evil? Play this game.

Apparently the game was developed by an actual psychologist and even brought a focus group of former psychosis patients in so that they made sure the experience was accurate, specifically, to what the psychosis patients experienced. So it wasn't so much about just making things weird when she was going crazy. It was more about giving you the perspective of someone who has this diagnosis so that you believe what she believes. You end up role playing as mad... not just observing someone who is. Even the voices in your head become your companions along the way. It's extremely immersive.

Every single fight in this game feels like the one that will kill you. Every puzzle in the game feels like it uses some sort of "dream sense." Like it makes sense in a dream but it wouldn't make sense in real life. Symbols are everywhere. What do they mean? They must mean something. Figure it out. The whole experience was personal and honest, and on top of it all... a brilliant depiction of Norse mythology. Damn good game. Really a damn good game.

Also, look at the screenshots below. These are actual shots from the game. It actually looked that good.

Thank you for reading my blog! Did you enjoy it? Either way, you can comment below, or you can email me at tkwadeauthor@gmail.com. You can also visit my website at www.tkwade.com. Check out my books! Thanks!




Monday, April 6, 2020

Fairy Tale Spotlight: The Organization of Organized Religion

For the last year or so, I have had a little saying that I have been using to explain what organized religion really is. It goes a little something like this:

"The purpose of an organized religion is to have an organization."

Organized religion has never been about God. It has never been about Jesus. It has always been about having the organization and nothing else. And honestly, everyone should agree with this. Why? Because without an organization of people, you won't have an organization! That doesn't mean people won't believe or serve God, it just means that they will be doing it outside of the organization. Organized religion... is entirely unnecessary... and it opens itself up to corruption.

Everybody is different. People think and believe in different ways. Not everybody is going to agree with the practices and politics of an organization. A church will often have a set of rules or tenet that their flock has to follow in order to be apart of it. For example: "Chewing gum during a sermon is irreverent."

If anyone disagrees with the gum chewing rule, he still has to follow that tenet in order to be a part of the church. If he refuses or is caught chewing gum during the sermon, this threatens to break down the organization, so it then needs to be addressed in some manor. The gum chewing offender should then be talked to and explained that he needs to stop or else there will be consequences. He also has the ability to leave the church if he chooses. If he stays but continues to chew gum, there is only one way to handle it: excommunication!

Excommunication is a long and friendly word which simply means that the horrible gum chewer is being banned from being a part of the organized church. This is actually not a bad thing. You may not think gum chewing is bad, but if the church says it is, then he really does need to be booted out. But then... what if the rest of the flock felt that it was unfair that the man got booted for gum chewing? What if they make complaints? What if the whole church ends up in an uproar over it? How does the organization cope?

Well if this organization was really based on the belief in God, it would ignore their outcries and shout out loud and clear that gum chewing is abhorrent and must be stifled during that very important sermon. But then everyone might leave. Sure, you might have a few people who preferred mints. But when the preacher comes out and sees most everyone has left... it doesn't really seem worth it anymore. Maybe they should just close down? You think? You think that's what should happen? Actually... yeah.

But that's not what is going to happen realistically. What is going to happen is that the pastor will fold. Tenets will change. Gum chewing will be allowed. And as time goes by the flock will want more things. They will ask that newspapers and books can be read. Video games can be played (with the sound off, of course). What about adding a restaurant to the church? That might be nice and convenient. And then politics. Soon, the church is not about a belief but how the organization functions to make people comfortable.

The point of an organization is to have an organization. If you don't concede to your flock, you run the risk of losing that organization. (Although what remains is actually pretty solid and noteworthy.) But since organizations must exist, they give into the demands of the flock and become, not something built upon religion, but of the desires of the humans of earth. It exists only to perpetuate itself. It is, at the end of it all, pointless.

I consider myself a Christian. I don't go to church. I do not have any desire to become a part of one of those soulless organized groupings. I honestly do not think they should ever have existed. When Jesus died, the curtain of the temple ripped in half. Busily afterwards, the priests did their best to mend it up and perpetuate something that God had deemed obsolete.

Yes, we are meant to gather together. Yes, we are supposed to share the Word. But not through an organized church. The temple is obsolete. We need to make our friends and figure these things out on our own. My group is called The Figments and has a total of zero tenets! No dogma either. We make things. We create things. And while we do it, we talk... and discover... and figure things out. We may be wrong... but the point is that we are doing it ourselves. We are free to do it ourselves. We are not a theocracy anymore, and God does not care if we join an organized local church!

As a small addendum to this blog, I want to point out that the Mormons do an extremely good job at excommunicating people when they fall out of line. I respect them, as an organization, for doing this. I still think their religion is rubbish, but if I lost my mind and decided that I needed to suddenly join an organized religion, they would be the ones I'd pick. They are good people and take their stuff seriously. Good on them! If only everyone else could follow their lead! Still, all unnecessary to begin with. Get out before they collectively convince you to become an atheist, if not already.

Thank you for reading my blog! Did you enjoy it? Either way, you can comment below, or you can email me at tkwadeauthor@gmail.com. You can also visit my website at www.tkwade.com. Check out my books! Thanks!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Fairy Tale Spotlight: Movie Boycotts and Credits

I've struggled with the concept of the boycott of movies. It is the idea of refusing to see a movie because some actor said something bad or some other controversy occurred surrounding the film. For a lot of my friends, I've ended up being a sort of guinea pig for movies they have not really wanted to touch. And I've seen them and even sometimes enjoyed the films.

Often times, I have entirely become uninterested in a movie because of the controversy surrounding it. But if I still have a peaked interest, I start to feel bad if I don't go see it. A lot of this is because I just have to know if the movie rises above the stuff being said about it. This bring me to another beef I've had with films: crediting.

Sometimes I just don't want to know about what work goes into a movie. I am not particularly interested in the actors and other crew. I don't go to a movie because a certain actor was in it. I am trying to experience a work of fiction and see if I enjoy it. But a lot of movies go through a lot of trouble nowadays to tell you everything about everything involving the film.

I yearn for a world where movies stand entirely on their own without us needing to know anything about who is playing what, and what person made coffee for who on the set. I don't care. All that stuff could easily be made available online if I had the sudden interest to look. I am tired of movies being all about the people making it. I'd rather it just be about the story they are trying to tell. That's my beef really.

It annoys the crap out of my friends, but I have this odd habit of, not only watching movies in order, but avoiding the trailers. I'll keep track of text descriptions and listen to things people may say about it, but I generally just like to put myself in an isolation chamber. A lot of the times when I finally do see a movie, I am seeing it entirely for what it is without any of the pre-hype that often comes with it. I dare say I do this far more than my friends even know. I get a lot of weird gazes when I refuse to look at a clip or a trailer. I know... Sorry, guys. I'm a weirdo. I'm just a fan of watching movies completely free of spin.

Back to boycotts: I still can't avoid the controversy about certain movies because my friends will talk. I won't ignore my friends, and so there is nothing I can do about that. But that curiosity can still get very strong. I know it isn't a movie, but I avoided playing Halo 4 for years before I broke and tried it out. It really wasn't even close to as bad as I had been told. And really I think the series is still very good.

I've gotten to the point that I don't really believe in boycotts. I don't really care about the actors and crew. I don't care if they get my money. I am only really paying to see something that I want to see. And if I end up hating it, I'll tell the world how I feel about it. If I love it, I do so despite the controversy. I love it on its merits as a movie--a work of fiction.

Now, understand that this way of thinking still prevents me from seeing something if it just makes me feel sick thinking about it. The new Bond movie has me reeling so bad that I just can't be bothered to get off my ass to go see it. I just got way too worn down from hearing what was happening back stage and about the future plans for the franchise. It killed my interest. But that's my point. I only go if I have an interest. And sometimes, the movie ends up being good as it is presented all by itself.

On one final bizarre note, I absolutely loved Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. As a standalone movie it was extremely good. Later on I found out that parts of the plot were canonized into a random video game called Fortnite. This ruined a lot of the movie for me, but the movie itself without all the outside stuff was wonderful. I am basically using this as an example why I usually seclude myself and act in this way. I can't trust the world to get things right, but maybe the movie is fine on its own.

I'm not interest in boycotts anymore. I'm a lover of fiction and I want to see it for what it is... untouched. Don't care about actors. Don't care about directors. Don't care about controversy. Just give me a story I can sink into, and for goodness sake, do a good job at it or I'm going to bash the shit out of it.

Thank you for reading my blog! Did you enjoy it? Either way, you can comment below, or you can email me at tkwadeauthor@gmail.com. You can also visit my website at www.tkwade.com. Check out my books! Thanks!

Monday, March 30, 2020

Fairy Tale Spotlight: Skepticism

I've spent a lot of time watching YouTube videos about various skeptics. They consist of the likes of James Randi and the very entertaining Captain Disillusion. Now as a person who actually believes in supernatural things, I, perhaps surprisingly, have a soft spot for skeptics and the very idea of skepticism. I just don't go down the same streets as they do, although I've been staying in the same area code for a while now.

I see professional skeptics as little sweepers that go around dusting things off. The reason this is a good thing is because there is quite a lot of deception out there. These guys are pretty good at showing that to us, and that isn't a bad thing. It helps. And even though it may make me seem like something of a jerk, I actually do revel in the exposure of a deception. It clears up the mystery and allows me to move on to the next. As long as the conclusion isn't based on an assumption, I take the skepticism seriously. Everything must be dealt with case-by-case.

Most skeptics end up as atheists. That isn't surprising. I mean... were you surprised to hear that? I certainly wasn't. Skeptics use worldly means to disprove worldly mysteries. How on earth could they ever prove something like God ever existed? Every claim is painfully easy to take down. Heck, much of the claims supporting the existence of God are wishy-washy at best. And once you nix the existence of God, everything else supernatural generally follows.

Skeptics can spend their entire careers desperately trying to find God but never actually making a success of it. But my problem with that is... it's a bit like trying to locate the man behind the curtain... but he was never really there to begin with. You can't really prove that God does not exist through skepticism; you can only prove he doesn't exist behind the curtain. But for many people, that is enough for them to become an atheist.

Long term skeptics get into a sort of healthy swing of things. They begin seeing the deceptions made by other humans. They learn their tricks. They start to become aware of how it all works. But in order to get started down this road, you have to at least be open to the possibility that the supernatural may exist. You give the event the benefit of the doubt and let it prove itself by its own merits. Open-mindedness is key here. You have to allow yourself to believe that anything is possible--even the impossible. But don't close your eyes. Look for tears in the fabric. When you find it, rip it apart.

Over time, however, that open-mindedness gets sullied by cynicism. They begin to think that certain things can't be possible. Pretty soon the world gets reduced to something, albeit fun for a time, but ultimately pointless. There is no reason for anything but that we all are just trying to survive and make the best of it. Nothing can really get better. All that there is left to do is just expose the world for the deception that it is and move on to the next. It creates a sort of spiritual blindness.

What will we ever do if something truly supernatural occurs? Will we even see it? Will we even care? The belief in impossible things can easily be mixed with a batch of healthy skepticism. They can work together. But you cannot lose that open-mindedness for even a second. Be open to the supernatural. Be open to God. Don't so quickly toss the idea of amazing things because you have seen it all before and found nothing. Just let it sit in the back of your mind... and if the sense is ever needed... you'll be able to cope. You'll be able to see.

Thank you for reading my blog! Did you enjoy it? Either way, you can comment below, or you can email me at tkwadeauthor@gmail.com. You can also visit my website at www.tkwade.com. Check out my books! Thanks!

James Randi
Captain Disillusion

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Fairy Tale Spotlight: Saludos Amigos

One of my absolute favorite Disney movies is the 1944 film The Three Caballeros. Every time I watch this movie I smile and enjoy every moment of it. It masters the art of music, color, and visual presentation. It combines beloved cartoon characters with actors in a way that rivals Mary Poppins. It is brilliant. It is also, in many ways, a documentary about (then contemporary) Mexico and Brazil at the same time. However there is a reason this movie is so good, and that had to do with a completely different movie.

The Three Caballeros is actually a sequel. I don't know a lot of people who know this. The movie stands on its own so well, and not a lot of people remember any other movie with these characters. Well, the truth is that, in many ways, The Three Caballeros was really it's own thing, but it was also the product of the movie that came before it. And that movie is: Saludos Amigos. (1942)

This has to be one of the stranger movies by Disney. It is very much a movie about itself. It is a movie about the famed Disney Imagineers traveling out to Latin America looking for inspiration for ideas and even new cartoon characters. It is a documentary about the very thing they were doing as it was filmed.

Engineering reminds me of the traveling poet. They would travel the world seeking inspiration for their writings. They would then deliver these in the form of spoken word or song. From that moment the inspiration travels on among the people and perpetuates in quite a remarkable fashion. Nobody really remembers the poet as much as the poem. That isn't a bad thing.

Saludos Amigos is really a straightforward look at what it means to be an imagineer, and the proof of concept comes out in two years with the result of their journey: The Three Caballeros. They even show the moment when Jose Carioca was born, as a artist sketches him out. He comes to life in the next movie, and I think that is wonderful.

Even though The Three Caballaros is a superior film, it is a magical experience seeing the actual imagineering happen in the previous film. It really shows what humans are capable of when they use their imaginations. It creates things. The action of imagining creates reality. Disney got it right with how they went about this, and many wonderful stories came from it.

Unfortunately imagineering is a thing of the past. Disney claims that they still have imagineers, but from what I can tell, they are little more than just a board of idea-men. The good times are over, friends. A once great force of imagination has fallen. But the fruits of the old days are still available for now. I recommend both Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros in order as an example of the process and ultimate result of imagination. Enjoy!

Thank you for reading my blog! Did you enjoy it? Either way, you can comment below, or you can email me at tkwadeauthor@gmail.com. You can also visit my website at www.tkwade.com. Check out my books! Thanks!


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Fairy Tale Spotlight: Zoolander

Before I begin, I want to point out a couple guidelines to this blog. I'm not really here to spoil the movie. I'm not going to be talking about the plot-points and such. It's mostly going to be about the setting. Secondly, I have not seen the sequel, so I will be ignoring it entirely. With that said, let me begin.

I have for a while considered the movie Zoolander as a legitimate fairy tale. Even though it is a comedy intended to make fun of the often bizarre world of male modeling, the presentation of it strikes me more within the realms of fairy fantasy. If you can look past all the obvious humor, what you may find is that this movie is filled with fairy creatures that look similar to us... but clearly deviate away from what makes human beings what they are.

The movie places a distinction between a standard human being and a male model. The models are out-rightly depicted in a similar manner to an alien. They are entirely alien to this world. And that provides for a lot of humor, but it may also exist as a good example of the strangeness, the uncanny valley, we experience when we come face to face with fairy creatures in the woods.

Fairies operate on very specific pathways of thought and practice. They obsess over only the things that they are wont to obsess over. They cannot be changed, but they can learn and adapt. If you were to come across a fairy, they might look human and even speak your language, but you will notice that something is off.

Zoolander makes it very clear who the humans are and who the fairies are. Now... fairies are usually a lot smarter. The male models in Zoolander all seem to be idiots. But another way to look at it is that they are simply alien to our normalcy. They don't understand anything we do because they are not from here. You need only to look in their eyes to know that something isn't right... at least not right from our perspective. They don't belong here.

In reality, fairies are just what we call fallen angels and demon hybrids. Both of them are likely to give us strange feelings when we meet them. We'll notice that disconnect with our reality when we look into their eyes. The things they choose to talk about won't make much sense either. But whatever the case, they still function and do their best to adapt to our world.

I do recommend the movie. It is very funny and it was entirely intended to be a comedy to make fun of the stupidity that exists within the model industry. But just keep in mind that some works of fiction can be used as examples of other things. And in this case, I think Zoolander makes for a very good modern day fairy tale.

Thank you for reading my blog! Did you enjoy it? Either way, you can comment below, or you can email me at tkwadeauthor@gmail.com. You can also visit my website at www.tkwade.com. Check out my books! Thanks!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Fairy Tale Spotlight: The Air Raider (Earth Defense Force)

When I was first introduced to the Air Raider class of Earth Defense Force, I thought it might be broken. It certainly did not feel very well balanced. Most of his weapons did not work and he seemed to die pretty easily. I felt like I was playing the Ranger class but severely broken. I soon, however, found out what the problem was: The Air Raider is intended as a support class.

If one is to make good use out of an Air Raider, you really need to to be playing the game co-op. Here are a few reasons why. Aside from being able to use a rather disappointing limpet gun, most of what makes the Air Raider great is their ability to call in vehicles and air strikes. But they are not allowed to do any of those things until a certain number of enemies have been dispatched. So at the moment each battle begins... they are a bit useless.

The games will allow you to play them in single player, but you are forced to go in with a limpet gun and take on the forces with only that lousy thing until you get can enough support to bring out a vehicle or a single air strike. At the end of the day, it is a bit too much work for them. And shame on the Earth Defense Force for putting so much on him, in that case.

No, the Air Raider is at his best when paired with either a Ranger, a Wing Diver, a Fencer, or a combination of all three. While the others do their beast in killing monsters, the Air Raider will soon begin providing support. Soon there will be air strikes, missiles, and gun turrets showing up. Tanks, helicopters, and other exotic vehicles will soon become available for the other players (and the Air Raider) to use. Everything soon becomes a bit more interesting and fun as the battle progresses.

Not to be overlooked is another very queer ability of the Air Raider. They have the ability to create lock on points for missile launchers. And it is a bit more than that. They can make these points work more efficiently. Working in tandem with classes that support missile launchers, they can decrease the time the missiles take to lock on and also increase the distance they can get a lock. You'll soon find new and creative ways to help the other players out.

Armor-wise, the Air Raider kind of sucks, but don't worry. The other players can sometimes form a little bromance with their cute little Air Raider who gives them free things for killing monsters. It is very common for the other classes to be protective of the little Air Raiders. So if you get into trouble, just call out for help, and the other players in the game will often come to your rescue.

I totally enjoyed playing the Air Raider in co-op. I know support sounds boring, but I spent so much time in giant tanks, mech walkers, and bringing down hellfire from the sky itself to care. Hell, I could even direct a satellite laser where to fire! None of the other classes could do that. Who knew the smallest person on the battlefield had the powers of heaven in the palm of his hand? Freaking brilliant.

Thank you for reading my blog! Did you enjoy it? Either way, you can comment below, or you can email me at tkwadeauthor@gmail.com. You can also visit my website at www.tkwade.com. Check out my books! Thanks!