Ten Years After “Live Free Or Die Hard”

Can you believe that Live Free or Die Hard released June 22nd, 2007?

I mean, damn. I feel old.

Ten years later, and I have such a mixed relationship with this movie. The Hollywood Hacking cliches are offensively straight out of an early 1990’s film, but the dialogue is spot on. The action scenes are completely over the top, and yet they are fun as hell to watch.

Ten years later, I still have no idea how I feel about the film.

Ten years later, we are more dependent on computers than ever before, but if anything, the film’s premise of a dedicated group of cyberterrorists being able to shut down the entire national infrastructure seems more distant than it did in 2007. Part of that is we just have a better public understanding about how IT works today — one of the benefits of being so uniformly dependent on computers. Another part is that the technology has advanced more, and still yet another part is that the movie’s plot has always been… well, let’s be charitable and call it “highly implausible”.

So why do techies hate this movie? I mean, it’s a dumb but fun summer flick, isn’t it? Well yes, but it presented just realistically enough in 2007 that a lot of people believed it was pretty accurate. More than that though, as I’ve said before when discussing this movie: “You don’t go into an alley to get stabbed, but you still feel the knife when it happens.”

Live Free or Die Hard doesn’t mean to fool people. It doesn’t mean to cause a virtual aneuryism in techies and gadget geeks. It just wants to be a fun movie. Fortunately, for the most part, it is. So, the science underpinning the plot is hilariously and offensively wrong. Big whoop. The action scenes are fun to watch and appreciably over the top, even if the previous films felt a bit more grounded in reality. The dialogue is snappy, snarky, and sarcastic at all the right points, with Bruce Willis and Justin Long trading positions regularly as the guy calling out the absurdities of the plot, and there are plenty of those moments to be found.

Ultimately, Live Free Or Die Hard doesn’t play by the rules of reality. It plays by John McClane’s, which as the films repeatedly go out of their way to point out, don’t really ever make full sense.

Live Free or Die Hard  is a great movie. It’s fun, it’s witty, stuff blows up and Bruce Willis manages to be himself throughout.

I just wish I wasn’t so compelled to scream “OH MY GOD THAT COULDN’T BE MORE WRONG” at every single turn of technobabble.

And fuck that F-35 scene.

Here’s hoping you all get another opportunity to enjoy this underrated classic of American Summer action cinema on this upcoming Fourth of July.

Peace out.

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Square-Enix dropped a new Kingdom Hearts trailer, but is anyone left to care?

Some games are in development a long time. Like, a REALLY REALLY LONG TIME.

Kingdom Hearts III is currently heading the “lengthy development” pack, at 12 years since we first knew it was coming, now that Duke Nukem Forever nuked itself after 15 years of development and Final Fantasy Versus XIII shapeshifted into Final Fantasy XV and finally released. But FF15 took 10 years to produce, itself, and now… well… not that many people are excited about Kingdom Hearts III anymore.

The overarching feel is that Square-Enix took too long. That’s closer to the mark than anything else.

To put things in context, I was excited about Kingdom Hearts III when it was first teased in 2005’s secret ending to Kingdom Hearts II. That secret ending was later rejiggered into a portable title, Birth By Sleep (which is probably among the best in the series, to be honest) in order to fill the gap, and we’ve had half a dozen prequels, sequels, rereleases and spin offs from Kingdom Hearts II in the 12 years since. 12 years*.

12. Damn. Years.

Where was I twelve years ago? Glad you asked. In 2005, I had just entered High School. I managed to go my entire High School career waiting for this game, obsessively playing Chain of Memories on my Game Boy Advance and replaying Kingdom Hearts I & II on my PlayStation 2 while I waited. But then I kept waiting.

And waiting.

And waiting.

And waiting.

And w– well let’s just say you know how the rest of that goes. Eventually, let’s say, 2012, I just wanted release from that prison. I wanted Square to admit the game was no longer in production and we could breathe a disappointed but relieved sigh. They did not. Instead, they teased and hinted and suggested further. For years. I was living some ancient Aztec curse. The spin offs would not satisfy and left me feeling empty. The teasers turned to ash in my soul, and all the HD Remasters in the world would not quench my thirst. I felt nothing anymore. Kingdom Hearts had become this undead thing neither living nor dead, neither released nor cancelled.

Eventually a trailer finally released. But by that point, as my sister loves to say, “my give-a-damn was busted”.

When I ask around, this seems to be the general impression, at least among my age group. We’ve been waiting an eternity in gamer years, and still we doubt that this phantom will ever materialize. The good part is, we’re mostly okay with this. We’ve moved on. I’ve discovered new favorites since then, and I no longer need Kingdom Hearts III in my life. The FFVII remake that SE is working on? Don’t need that either. Not anymore. Final Fantasy XV? Nope.

These are all games that High School me would have murdered a granny with a sledgehammer for a chance to play for a single day, but my current adult self no longer finds interesting or considers a must-have.

Maybe they’ll net some new fans with this. I hope they do. It used to be a great franchise and surely someone new will enjoy this game that has now been in and out of production for the better part of 12 years. Someone ought to when that much toil has gone into it. But, try as Square Enix might, as my sister also says, I just “can’t seem to find my give-a-shit button”.

Sorry Squeenix, you made my teenage years amazing, but I just don’t want you or need you anymore. You just took too long too many times.

If you’re of a sort that still looks forward to this game, here’s the trailer that dropped today.

Predictably, there’s STILL no release date.

Are you looking forward to Kingdom Hearts III? Am I just being a crotchety and cantankerous old koot? Drop a comment below!


*Granted it’s only been 4 years since the game was officially announced but seriously guys you told us it was coming 12 years ago come on.

Albus Dumb-ledore is a goddamn monster

So Albus Dumbledore. You know the guy. Kindly wizard mentor, often compared to Gandalf.

He’s now at the top of my Harry Potter shitlist.

Why? Because after thinking about it, he’s pretty much the most detestable manipulator and quietly hypocritical mentor figure I can possibly imagine.

First, let’s start with this Tumblr post, which got this ball rolling:

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That last line hit me like a load of bricks, because holy shit it’s true.

But then I realized it’s actually worse than that.

He really did KNOWINGLY CHOOSE to leave Harry with an abusive family instead of adopting him off to another Muggle family who would have wanted him and, if nothing else, might have treated him with the most basic levels of common decency we afford to human beings. The Dursleys effectively locked Harry in a broom closet for ten years. TEN. YEARS. That’s not even the worst thing they did to poor Harry. Far from it. That’s just the tip of that iceberg. And when they realized he wasn’t allowed to do magic outside of school? Oh boy. It actually emboldened them and made the abuse worse than it had been before. Why? Because nothing teaches an abuser they’re hot stuff like realizing that the person they’re abusing literally is prohibited by law and cultural morality from fighting back.

Why would Dumbledore do that? “Because they’re the only family he has left”? Bullshit. That’s hardly any real defense. Family can be found or made — you’re not just saddled with your blood relatives, which oh by the way is PART OF THE MESSAGE OF THE BOOKS. Later, JK tried to handwave things by saying “oh but magical protections over the Dursleys herp derp”, but her explanation was flimsy at best and there’s very little reason that similar protections couldn’t have been established over another Muggle household by a wizard as powerful and skilled as Albus Dumbledore.

And it’s not like he didn’t know horrid the Dursleys were in advance. Minerva scouted for him and told him as much. AND HE STILL PUT AN INFANT CHILD ON THEIR DOORSTEP.

An.

Infant.

Child.

Dumbledore knew from the outset how horrible the Dursleys were and STILL left Harry with them. He didn’t just LEAVE a child in an abusive household, he PUT THE CHILD THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE, KNOWING FULL WELL IN ADVANCE HOW ABUSIVE THEY WERE and how much they were going to hate him.

And Harry goes on to idolize this man as the father he never really had (until he met Sirius) and by and large treats Dumbledore as an infallible leader because, essentially, Dumbledore was the first real authority figure to be nice to him on a regular basis. That’s HORRIBLE, and a tactic used by abusive parents to get the kids on their side in real life. I know. I’ve seen it happen to my best friend when we were growing up. His dad plied his loyalty by buying him toys and treats and set up his mother as a horrible and abusive person because she a) wasn’t well skilled for parenting to begin with and b) asked him do his chores, as if asking was somehow a horrible thing. In this way, the dad turned his son into a perfect disciple and it ruined him for life, and ruined his mom’s life for damn near 20 years until she finally found someone else who helped her generally stay alive despite her baggage.

And that is essentially what Dumbledore did to Harry, but worse. WAY WORSE. He ensured that Harry grew up in a toxic and consistently harmful environment where he was always being put down and tormented (not all that dissimilar from a certain Voldemort figure, really) and then “rescues” him and plays favorites and gives him all sorts of positive attention and “get out of jail free” cards to buy his loyalty. It didn’t work so well when he tried that with Tom Riddle, but I guess he just got lucky that his second Laser Guided Tykebomb turned out better than the first. Oh, and he kept sending Harry “home” to his abusive family at every available opportunity, in effect reminding Harry why “Harry Needs Dumbledore”, which he couldn’t do with Tom, who grew up in an orphanage and so had no home he could be sent back to. Guess that’s why Harry worked out in the end.

And let’s not forget that no matter how Dumbledore actually felt about Harry, let’s not forget that he was raising Harry to essentially die at a time and place of Dumbledore’s choosing — Harry is the final Horcrux after all, and in order to kill Voldemort, Dumbledore knew Harry was going to have to die. It’s a plot-contrived miracle Harry survived to have kids of his own. If Dumbledore didn’t give a rat’s ass about Harry, well then, I think we can safely say that he’s a manipulative sociopath (sociopaths are indeed often very charming and good at ingratiating themselves with people). But let’s think about “but what if he really did care about Harry’s well-being?”. Assuming he actually cared about Harry, this actually manages to make things somehow even worse because this makes him a damned monster.

Why?

Because Harry was never “the Boy Who Lived” or even “surrogate son” to Dumbledore. Not even a student. He was an asset from day one. Ultimately, no matter what dear old Al had to say about it, Harry really meant no more to him than an M1 Abrams tank or a Navy Seals team means to the American Department of Defense; in the end there was just no possible end to Dumbledore’s plan that didn’t involve Harry getting killed at some point near the finish line. If he didn’t care about Harry and simply acted like he did, that’s callous and ever so slightly abusive. If he honestly cared but did it anyway, that’s high octane cruel and unusual abuse and really shows that nothing is more important to Dumbledore than beating Voldemort, not even love for the children under his care.

To raise a child as a soldier meant to die in battle with said child feeling like your conditioning is true compassion or even love is beyond sick and is easily the most disgusting thing Albus is shown to do.

AND HARRY NAMES HIS SON AFTER THIS GUY.

But hey! Let’s not stop the Hogwarts Express while it’s still rolling! Dumbledore’s done a lot of other horrible crap too!

Things like:

1) Tried all that with Tom Riddle, the direct descendant of Salazar “LET’S WEED OUT AND KILL ALL THE IMPURE BLOODLINES” Slytherin, in the first place, only for it to blow up in literally the ENTIRE UNITED KINGDOM’S FACES. Twice!

2) Put a True Believer Death Eater, Snape, in charge of Slytherin House, which precipitates their descent into Always Chaotic Evil territory by the time Harry is enrolled. After Professor Slughorn takes over, the Slytherins almost IMMEDIATELY start getting better, pretty handily indicting Snape’s bad leadership, and Dumbledore’s by proxy, as the primary factor in Slytherin’s bad behavior. 30 years after Dumbledore and Snape’s deaths, Slytherin house is STILL dealing with the fallout of this decision.

3) Risks the lives of the entire student body and faculty of Hogwarts by keeping the Sorcerer’s Stone in the school, not acting on the knowledge that Quirrell was at the very least working for the enemy, and generally leaving the fate of a whole country (if not the world) in the hands of a eleven year old child who had just found out about magic less than 12 months prior and pitting him against Quirrell, who was by any standard a master-level sorcerer in several fields that could be fatal against a seasoned duelist, never mind an unprepared and undertrained child. No matter how capable or gutsy the child, that’s just plain cruel.

4) Risks the lives of the entire student body and faculty of Hogwarts by not evacuating the school ASAP when the Chamber of Secrets and the monster within turned out in fact to be VERY REAL, and staunchly refuses to do a damn thing about it until Minerva pretty much forces him to at the last minute.

5) Risks the lives of the entire student body by instating Rubeus Hagrid as the instructor for Care of Magical Creatures. Hagrid. A guy who has a well established and verified track record for three things of note: finding flesheating, fire/poison spitting monsters utterly adorable, raising said monsters, and losing track/control of them. Hagrid’s a great guy and definitely someone you can count on when the chips are down, but Draco Malfoy is actually pretty correct when he pointed out that maybe Hagrid wasn’t prime teaching material  — even if he was a snide bitch about it. Sure enough, this decision pretty directly lands the school in hot water with the government shortly afterwards, and who knows who else might have been injured or killed because other students didn’t share Hagrid’s rapport with all things beasty.

6) Risks the lives of the entire student body and faculty of Hogwarts when he somehow fails to notice that Alistair Moody, a man he’d known for ages, was being impersonated by a Death Eater. Come on Albus. Even Draco Malfoy, who had never heard of Polyjuice Potion, questioned Crabbe and Goyle’s identities when Harry and Ron impersonated them. AND HE WAS A CHILD AT THE TIME. I thought that Dumbledore was supposed to be wise. Oh by the way, this DIRECTLY results in Voldemort’s resurrection by Pete the Traitor. Nice.

7) Risks the lives of the entire student body and faculty of Hogwarts by pretending to give a damn about the innocence of Draco Malfoy. In reality, he was only playing a stupidly overcomplicated gambit against Voldemort.

You see, Dumbledore put on a Horcrux which brought him close to death in and of itself. After realizing that he must not be “defeated” (otherwise the power of his wand will go to the one who defeated him), he devised an elaborate scheme to get Snape to kill him. That way Voldemort would never be considered as having “defeated” Dumbledore, preventing Voldemort from tapping the full powers of the Elder Wand. But Dumbledore makes it sound as if this is somehow to preserve the innocence of Draco Malfoy, who’s already pretty damn corrupted at this point just by virtue of who his father is. No, that’s just a clever lie so that nobody catches on to what you’re actually trying to do, Dumbs. As we’ve already found out, Dumbledore doesn’t actually give a damn about the innocence of his students, simply the role they have to play in his machinations.

Oh by the way, his death enables Voldemort to invade Hogwarts, take over the Ministry of Magic, Break the Masquerade that keeps Muggles unaware of the Wizarding world and gets a metric fuckton of people killed. All so he could deny Voldemort a wand that Voldemort assumed was just a legend at the time (and probably wouldn’t have ever known the truth about if Dumbledore had lived) and also to kill Voldemort in the most overwrought, over dramatic, and over complicated manner possible, a victory his plans unnecessarily ensured he’d never live to see.

Never mind a suicide, or better yet, teleporting the damn wand to the bottom of the Mariana’s Trench on the down low and then living to die of old age — either one would have broken the power of the wand forever, which was his goal. Dumbledore deliberately opted to go out in a way which caused as much collateral damage as possible.

NICE JOB BREAKING IT, “HERO”.

All of this could have been thoroughly avoided if literally any other Hogwarts staff had been the one to recruit Tom Riddle that day, or if literally any other Hogwarts staff had been the one to actually have run Hogwarts. In short, effectively everything bad that happens in Harry’s story ties in some way back to one or more of Dumbledore’s decisions. The whole series is pretty much his fault in some way.

Screw Gandalf. As a coldly logical, scheming and manipulative yet suspiciously nearsighted chessmaster, Dumbledore has more in common with Saruman the White! The only difference is that, of the two, Dumbledore achieved virtually everything he set out to do, which is what happens when you’re nominally the hero instead of a straight up villain.

Too bad his role wasn’t completely occupied by Minerva McGonagall, who is in reality every bit the flawless mentor, reasonable authority figure, and loving parental role model that Harry thought and JK Rowling pretended Dumbledore was.

Voldemort wouldn’t have made it past Book One with her in charge.

Now, none of this is to imply that Dumbledore is a failed mentor; he actually gives a lot of good advice over the course of the books, and is very good at kindling hope in others. He’s terrific at inspiring kids to fight Evil. It is however flat out telling you that the specific instance of Evil that he’s inspiring the kids to fight is entirely his fault to begin with, for which he recieves no comeuppance at all during or after his life, instead going down in wizarding history as a hero.

You know, for fixing problems he created in the first place.

Really, writing this has convinced me that all the trauma Harry endured could have been simply prevented by the presence of Child Protective Services instead of Albus Dumbledore at one key point in wizard history.

The more you know, I guess!

Cheers!

Thorns of a Rose (by any other name)

It’s true it would smell as sweet
that rose by any other name
People are like roses too:
Who they are remains the same.

You can cut the tusks off a Walrus
You can paint a Zebra brown
You can bleach a Raven’s feathers
Or put a beggar beneath a crown.

You can call a Devil an Angel
You can put a Chimp in a Suit
You can stick wings upon a pig
And call a vegetable a fruit.

But a Zebra isn’t a horse
A Walrus isn’t a Seal
A Raven’s not a Dove
And your fruit just isn’t real

The Devil’s not an Angel
A Chimp won’t start hiring
A Pig is not a Hawk
And a Crown doesn’t make a King.

Claim whatever you want
Sling blame and point where it lands
A fox
The papers
Your neighbors
Your rivals
Fault can never be washed off your hands

Say the office has changed
And hand things over to a successor
But no matter what you say you are
The tyrant will always be the oppressor.

Life as a Chandelier Sees It


An iron cage clings to life suspended above the floor
It keeps a careful watch through windows and the door.
The cage is rather like us all, I find
Its inner lights flicker and wane
Time it seems, for both iron and people, is equally a bane.

But those lights just keep on shining, time and age be damned
The lights refuse to quit, just like the Sun in this summer land.
It’s a laudable persistence, a life lesson
Despite its age and make, it hasn’t begun to rust
After all, Chandeliers are like people

We shine because we must.

Well, THAT was generous.

So I finally have signed up for EA Origin, preordered Mass Effect Andromeda, and threw in a subscription to EA Access while I was at it. And then I discovered that as a member of EA Access, I was able to get the deluxe editions of the whole Mass Effect Trilogy on the house. Along with a bunch of other games I’d been itching to play on PC at no additional cost. Next month I’ll see about snapping up the Mass Effect Trilogy DLCs to complete the set.

This… this turned out better than I could have possibly anticipated.

That all being said, EA Access netted me:

Aragami
Battlefield 3
Battlefield 4 Premium Edition
Battlefield Hardline
Crysis
Crysis 2 Maximum Edition
Crysis 3
Dead Space
Dead Space 2
Dead Space 3
(which I will admit I only took because it was goddamn free)
Dragon Age Origins: Ultimate Edition
Dragon Age 2
Dragon Age Inquisition Digital Deluxe Edition
Furi
Jade Empire Special Edition
Mass Effect
Mass Effect 2 Digital Deluxe Edition
Mass Effect 3 Digital Deluxe Edition
Mirror’s Edge
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
Star Wars Battlefront
The Saboteur
Titanfall Deluxe Edition
Unravel

This saves me the trouble of rebuying a good half of the games I own on PS3/4 and Xbox One/360 at significantly higher prices.

That list will only grow.

All for $5.99 a month.

And I got Syberia II out of their “On The House” channel.
EA may be moral shitstains, but they’re GENEROUS moral shitstains.

For the love of god Blizzard, DROP COMPETITIVE MODE ALREADY

So I’ve made the very sad decision to abandon Overwatch. The game is good. The people playing it? Not so much. Ever since they put in Competitive play, it’s spread poor sportsmanship and Lunkheadedness like the fastest cancer I’ve ever seen.

I’ve tried to play Overwatch several times since Competitive Mode was introduced, but I just can’t get into it. Too many CompHeads are ruining the fun community feel that was abundant in the beta and at launch. Overwatch started as a fun, relaxed and friendly team shooter for the rest of us, but now it’s got the same kind of dickwads that infest the Halo and Call of Duty multiplayer modes, and muting them in-game solves nothing; they’ll FIND YOU on social media.

The atmosphere on the actual game is just toxic for me. People only care about Comp, and only care about anything else as how it relates to their Comp performance – even in arcade mode. I used to try just playing on the off-season where it should be more relaxed, but godfuckingdammit the lunkheads never take a break. They’re like those guys at the gym who grunt excessively and drop weights. Jumping to quick play or Arcade solves nothing: these guys are now the majority and are EVERYWHERE. Nowhere is safe.

It used to be that if you lost a couple of matches, there was an attitude of “Man, that fight was TENSE! Sucks that we lost again, but it’s okay. We’ll roll with the punches and get ’em next time.”

Now you hear “FUCK OH MY FUCKING GOD iAmLegend38! THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT AND NOW I’M GONNA DROP DOWN TO GOLD TIER BECAUSE LOSSES ARE LITERALLY CANCER!”

To which you might respond: “…We’re in Arcade mode? There’s no ranking here.”

And then you hear back “IT DOESN’T MATTER! OUR LOSS WAS ALL YOUR FAULT AND NOW I’M NOT GONNA STOP LOSING.”

Firstly: I guess I missed the part where your failures were my problem.
Secondly: I’m really sad about this development because before comp was introduced, I’d never had more fun on a team shooter. Now I just don’t have fun at all.

Overwatch has stopped being fun, but it’s not the game’s fault. It’s the fault of guys who scream in chat and social media: ‘IF YOU DON’T LIKE COMP STOP PLAYING OVERWATCH YOU STUPID DICKSUCKING CUCK’.

Thanks to that attitude?
Yeah, I think I will stop playing. It’s  clearly not my home anymore.

And that’s genuinely sad because once upon a time, Overwatch had a great community. Dare I say it, it had the BEST community of any online shooter.

Dammit I miss the days of the beta.