Monday, October 27, 2014

University of Orwell update: 10/26/14

Hey y'all.  So I've been reading some books for consideration of entrance into the University of Orwell.  Why not talk about them, shall we?

Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader by Bradley K. Martin ---

This is a book that was at my work, and I checked it out with the express purpose of considering it for this list.  Just look at that cover.  So dramatic, no?  Besides, it's a two inch thick book on a topic I want to read about.  What could go wrong?

Well, to be a good history writer, one must learn to use a knife.  A metaphorical knife, to be used against one's own bias and the bias of the sources the writer uses.  One must have an austere, straightforward mind, free from subtle attitudes and being so sunk in a situation or culture that you can't see past the attitudes and influences of that situation or culture.  While it's not possible to be completely unbiased, the writer has to be always aware that their nonfiction is about the subject, not them.  And someone's writing will always show their attitude.

Such was clearly the case with Bradley K. Martin.  Now, most of his narrative does not involve the early life of Kim Il Sung, North Korea's first tyrant.  It's not really possible, given how little is available on the topic.  However, Martin's methods for summarizing Il Sung's early years is questionable.  For one thing, he heavily relies on Il Sung's own memoirs.  Given some of the fantastic fish stories that have come out of the North (see: Kim Jong Il's golf record), one should be very careful at referencing this propaganda.  While Martin spoke to some of the people who apparently knew Il Sung during his early years, most of the first three chapters rests on Il Sung's post-tyrant biographies.  And at least one of the witnesses involved was still loyal to Il Sung.  Yeah.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Nitpickery: Sword Art Online -- Aincrad Arc

Hey y'all.  So I have been working on stuff, and despite nothing showing up on my blog for a while, it has been coming along.  One of the things I did on my break was re-watch Sword Art Online, an anime that is quite fun.  Hey, I have to figure out what the otakus like so I can recommend things, no? It's all a part of being a bookstore worker.

Sword Art Online is the story of Kirito, a boy who has gotten absorbed into gamer culture of the future, where one can now put on a helmet and enter a fantasy world.  The latest game is called Sword Art Online, created by Kayaba Akihiko.  SAO is a fantasy swordfighting game set in a giant floating castle containing 100 different levels.  However, once the game has launched and all 10,000 players log in for the opening, no one is allowed to log out.  Instead, Akihiko tells them that they will never be able to leave the game until they clear the final boss.  If anyone in the real world removes the player's helmet, then they'll die.  And if they die in the game, they die for real.

Even without knowing anything about the .Hack anime (which other reviewers compare this to), this premise didn't seem all that original to me.  Being in a game "for real" is an idea that's probably been around since the beginning of video games, and not just modern ones.  Kids have been imagining themselves inside of them nearly as long as the games have existed.

You know what?  Who cares?  If the execution of the show is good, it can make up for an unoriginal premise.  The idea of being trapped inside of a video game is not only relatible to anyone who plays games or did as a kid, but is also a premise that can be taken in several different directions.  Maybe the creator of the game is very hands-on, trying to destroy the players.  Maybe the characters are going on adventures through games we all know and love.  Maybe it's a comedy, or a drama, or a romance.  The idea of being inside of a video game is very open ended, much like a zombie apocalypse story or eighteenth century romance.  It can go any direction the writer wants it to go.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Why Donkey Kong Country 2 is the Perfect 2D Platformer

Hey y'all.  Sorry it's been so long.  It's just that, combined with lack of school and a sudden lack of inspiration, it's been hard to keep up with blogging.  I think I'm over that inspiration weirdness now, and I've got the beginnings of some other blog ideas started.  Besides, November's coming up, and if I want to get on that whole NaNoWriMo thing (National Write a Novel in a Month), then I better get typing.

Also, word of advice: try to avoid taking accounting classes online, if you can.  Figuring this stuff out without a teacher can be...special.

Back to the topic at hand!

So one of the reasons I wanted to do a commentary on the Donkey Kong Country series in the first place is that I wanted to talk about Donkey Kong Country 2.  This game is very nostalgic for me, and watching a playthrough again as an adult, it seems that the game hasn't aged much at all. The only "problem" is that it has 16 bit graphics, but since it's interesting to look at, that's not an issue at all.

Thus, I propose that Donkey Kong Country 2 is the best 2D platformer ever.