Not Too Much Of a Surprise I Guess…

Posted June 20, 2008 by Imrahil
Categories: Uncategorized

I was always accused of being something of a boyscout.
Your results:
You are Superman

























Superman
90%
Spider-Man
65%
Robin
65%
Green Lantern
55%
Supergirl
43%
Iron Man
40%
Wonder Woman
38%
Batman
35%
Hulk
35%
The Flash
30%
Catwoman
15%
You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.


Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz

Never One For Opera…

Posted June 13, 2008 by Imrahil
Categories: College, Family, Friends

Yesterday (being Thursday, the 12th of June) my wife and I went to see the opera “The H.M.S. Pinafore” at BYU.  I am not much of an opera fan really.  I have seen two live and one on video, and each one because of my wife.  She is a small time opera fan, and the first date that we went on that didn’t have chaperons (other than a room full of BYU students of course) was to an opera.  There are good points to opera, but I tend to enjoy the descendants of the opera a little more.  That said, I had a great time yesterday and thought that the music was really good.

My wife works with the costume department so we get cool seats for free.  So we were right at the top of the balcony, and could see everything pretty darn well.

One of the coolest things about the opera though, was that I discovered that both Indiana Jones and Chariots Of Fire quoted from it.  “I Am The Monarch Of the Sea,” “A British Tar,” where both sung by Sallah in Raiders, and Abrahams sang “An English Man.”  While many of you out there probably already knew all this information, it was new to me.  The songs were all very good, and I enjoyed them.

Definitely  the coolest thing about the opera though was the absolutely amazing oboe section.  I am not joking!  I do not think I have ever heard such amazing oboe playing in my life!  It simply soared above the rest of the orchestra, like… an oboe!  It was amazing.  It was certainly without a doubt the best oboe section I have ever heard in my life.

Anyway.  I am learning to appreciate the art of opera.  It is taking a little time, but I am starting to like it.  The problem for me is that it is simply so hard to follow a plot when every major interaction between the characters is conducted through a song.  Sure I like musicals, but they are different.  They are not always singing, they are just usually singing.  See the difference?  No?  Okay, maybe there really is not much of a difference.  But growing up there sure seemed like there was.  Opera was for old fat people.  Musicals were for young hip people.  I mean, only the really groovy people liked musicals.  With age and experience I believe I am turning into an old fat person though, so I guess Operas are probably okay, and maybe musicals really were for squares all along.  Ah well.

Anyway, that is really all for now.  This if you are stunned by the random and nonsensical nature of this post, just throw money, and I will be appreciative.  Adieu.

In Which The Author Rants

Posted June 5, 2008 by Imrahil
Categories: Family, Friends, Gaming

This blogpost is going to be something of a rant. I generally speaking attempt to avoid ranting too much in blogposts. Part of this is because many of the things that people rant about are either: 1. Too stupid to take a second thought about, or 2. Too important to discuss in polite company. But this just subject happens to have bothered me enough to keep me occupied while still being of little enough import that I think I can rant about it.

This has something to do with the blogpost written by my beloved brother, which you can read about here. To sum up quickly and much less elegantly, I believe that the purpose of fantasy is to recall the mind to real greatness. There is a yearning and a longing for a land higher and holier. There is a desire for heroes who are truly heroic. As a Christian I believe that all these longings are echoes of the desire to understand God, to be like Him, and to dwell where He is. Thus fantasy, myths, legends, etc. all seem to have common themes. They are all telling the same story of heroism that is the true story of Christ.

Now comes the stretch. I role-play for the exact same reason as reading fantasy. Several of my friends have made fun of me in the past for always playing paladins, knights, Jedi, or whatever the equivalent form in every RPG (Role Playing Game) that I play. The simple fact is that it is mostly true. The furthest I have ever strayed from playing a holy, faith-filled warrior of virtue was when I played a drunken cop who believed in doing the right thing but simply messed up too often (based on Same Vimes). Whenever I start a new role-playing game, the first thing I usually do is research to find out what the greatest good in that imaginary world is. Then I design a character that is a member of that order. In some games there are no such orders, so I pick the best god, or simply make a character with a strong personal code of ethics. There is not a single character that I have ever played or designed for a RPG that has not followed this same basic pattern.

I play RPGs because I want to be a hero. Every character I have ever designed has been something of a Mary-Sue. My mind is drawn back to that terrible old LDS film Saturday’s Warrior, in which a young artist sings about the pictures he draws and about the kind of man he would like to be. Cheesy. Very cheesy. I never claimed that I was not a cheesy person. I like the song, and I have always empathized with it. In fact part of my love for drawing came from that film. If anyone has ever looked through my sketchbooks they would find that most of my drawings are the faces of strong-jawed men with bright eyes looking upward and off into the distance. My art and the characters I make in a game are reflections of what I want to become. All my characters usually are designed with certain flaws and strengths that I feel I possess blown into heroic proportions. The characters I play are usually what I wish I would be like in that mythic situation.

The problem that inspired this rant came from my most recent RPG campaign. The GM (Game Master) is a good friend of mine who was GMing for the first time. We were playing D&D 3.5, which is not my favorite game, but when done right is enjoyable enough. The GM was doing a pretty good job. I had fun every time, and was usually excited when the day came to play again. There was one player that I had issues with. He was a friend I have known for a little while, we were even members of a Club together at BYU. I knew before the game started that I was not fond of his role-playing style, but I was willing to work with him. I always felt that was part of the game, working with the other players to have a good time. So I tried hard not to be rude, even when his character was being secretive and slipping notes to the GM all the time. He was playing a sneaky character, and I figured that he was just trying to enhance the whole experience.

Well, just the other day the GM told me that the game was canceled. Two of the players had moved away, and a third would not be able to make it anymore. Then the GM went on to tell me everything that was going to happen. That sneaky player was playing an evil assassin who was plotting to kill my character for the right to be initiated into a Vampire Guild. A player was plotting to kill another player’s character. In fact the player had already made one or two attempts at my characters life (while I was not at the game session because of work). The game ended before he could make another attempt. The GM also went on to tell me that he was planning on immediately killing the assassin character afterwards, so I feel somewhat vindicated, but still a little upset.

To me that simply breaks the whole idea of role-playing. I can understand the desire to play a Han Solo sort of character. Good guys with edges are an important part to any good story. What would fantasy be without characters like Boromir, Edmund, Wolverine, or Ulysses? Peoples is peoples, and shady characters add depth and reality to the world. It is fun to play the heroes with rough edges. I generally do not enjoy it, but I can understand the desire. Those characters are still members of the team, and are still striving for something good. Anti-heroes are still heroes at the end of the day, no matter how reluctant. Playing villains though, that I do not get. I do not understand why anyone would want to put themselves into the shoes of someone who thinks evilly. GM’s have to do it to a degree, but the purpose of that is to inspire the heroes onto to greatness in overcoming the foe. Playing an evil character serves no other purpose than selfishly getting enjoyment at the expense of others. While society does say that there is no other way to get enjoyment, as a Christian I have to disagree. Heroes are those who are willing to sacrifice themselves for others, or simply their wants for the desires of another.

I guess it all boils down to the fact that there is ugliness in the world, but I do not need to pretend to be ugly. Yes there are people out there who are horrible, but I feel no need to take on the aspect of being horrible to have a good time. In fact I strongly feel that I should not take on that aspect lest I should find that I enjoy it, and lest I should offend or hurt one of my brothers or sisters. I role-play to celebrate what is good in life, and to help in some small way make me into a better person.

So that is my rant. Perhaps many of you readers will consider this one too to be insignificant. But if you have gotten this far I thank you for taking your time to read an attempt to understand what is bothering me. It is a little thing, but so too is a paper cut, and those can be really annoying sometimes. Again, thank you, and until next time, adieu.

One Year

Posted May 7, 2008 by Imrahil
Categories: Uncategorized

I have been married for one year and two days.  It was a good year.  It was a very good year, and I am looking forward to the coming one.  If I were someone else I might make some goals for myself.  Sort of the idea of a new years resolution or something like that.  However, my New Years resolution has been the same every year (not to have any resolutions) so making some form of new marital goals just seems kind of silly to me.

Instead of talking about what I would like to accomplish and do, I would like to take just a moment to thank my wife.  She is a wonderful person, and I could not have imagined a better spouse.  I love her very much.  I think one of the cutest things about her is whenever she is asking me to do something, her eyes get really wide and she gets that “Don’t you love me?” look on her face.  It works every time, and there is nothing that I can do about it.  Then she usually breaks out into a fit of laughter, letting me know just how easily I was manipulated.  Is it not funny how much we men seem to enjoy being manipulated by the women in our lives?

Some people say that the first year is the hardest in a marriage.  Others say that it is the first five.  Statistically the chance of divorce goes up exponentially every single year until something like the tenth year or so (I am a little fuzzy on the exact numbers, sorry).  What I know for certain though is that there are plenty of people who have had wonderful relationships their entire lives.  I am looking forward to working with my wife to having a wonderful life and relationship.

Adieu.

I Do Not Post

Posted May 7, 2008 by Imrahil
Categories: Work

Tags:

Yep, that about sums up the majority of my internet activity. It is not really that I have problem posting, or that I do not think that it is a worthwhile activity, it just seems to me that there are so many more important activities that I am not doing that I should be. I do not keep a journal. I do not always get all my hometeaching done. I rarely ever read the church lessons before Sunday unless I am teaching a class. I do not look up and research graduate schools the way that I should. In the end there are many things that I should be doing, that I do not. I am simply put a procrastinator. So writing blog posts always makes me feel a little guilty because there are so many other more important things that I could and should be doing.

What do I do instead of blogging then?

I read books and play RPGs. Is it not a funny thing that so many of us spend a large portion of our lives feeling guilty because we do unproductive things, and then do even more unproductive things to feel less guilty? Perhaps I simply have an over-developed sense of guilt. Perhaps all you readers have no clue what I am referring to right now. Either was it does not matter too much right now, because I am in fact writing a blog post, and spending the entirety of a blog post entry philosophizing about why one does not write posts is a might futile and rather ironic, eh?

The other day for work I went to a ropes course. When I say a ropes course I mean one of those outdoorsy confidence building courses that act something like a cross between an amusement park and boot camp. An example of the activities was a large swing that raises the individual something like 30 feet off the ground, and then releases the hapless victim into something akin to free fall. However the expected release does not occur until the participant first visualizes a problem in his/her life that must be released. The free fall experience therefor is supposed to represent the release of some unpleasant aspect of ones life. I guess someone might find that analogy to be pleasurable.

Another of the activities was climbing up a tree to achieve a small platform roughly 20 feet above the ground. About five feet away in a horizontal direction from said platform rests a large ring. The purpose of this “ride” is to leap from said platform, grab the ring and then hang from it until the belayer gets bored and asks you to let go so he/she can lower you to the ground via the rope attached to your previously donned safety harness. Should you, upon reaching the platform, decide not to jump, it is the belayer’s duty to insult you and generally make you feel worthless until such a time that you are so sick of the incessant pressure that you decide to finally jump for the ring. And somehow this is supposed to make one feel more confident and better about oneself.

I happily participated in both these activities. I did get the ring (without too much insulting too), and I only screamed a little after I let go of my proverbial problems in exchange for a free fall. I am afraid of heights. I consider this to be a healthy fear, as falling from them tends to result in a brief though intense friction layered collision that is often associated with pain, fractured and broken bodily parts, and even death. Thus one might say that I fear heights the way that one might fear a loaded gun pointed in ones general direction.

That said I did actually have a pleasant time, all things considered. I was glad that I got the ring, and that I did not add to the moisture of the desert after the swing first began its downwards motion.

That is all for now. Until next time when I decide to yet again not write a blog post, adieu.

Not Sorry To See Them Go

Posted March 16, 2008 by Imrahil
Categories: College, Work

For those of you who were unaware of the fact, I spent a little less than year as a custodian for Deseret Towers here in Provo. I never identified myself as a custodian, more like a boy that simply happened to be working as a custodian at the time. I got the job because of my brother (who was already working there). My brother had the job because of his wife (who used to work for the lady in charge). All in all the job was pretty good. In spring and summer terms we would clean windows. But in the Fall and Winter semesters we would clean the toilets. Yuck. I cannot say how that affected my opinion of freshmen. My brother would often comment on how he thought that monkeys were probably cleaner.

During the spring and summer terms we would also do “shotgun” cleaning after the EFY students would leave. This was when we would clean every tower from top to bottom after one wave of kinds left and before the next wave arrived. If freshmen were bad, EFY kids were horrible. They would write things like “I am here at EFY to check out all the HOT college boys (or girls).” Ew. Not fun. I think my favorite event was when I was cleaning dressers one time. One of the dressers seemed uncommonly sticky. I attempted to ascertain why and put my nose close to a drawer and was assailed by the sent of urine (all the rooms smelt funny so I did not notice it earlier). It seems that one of the young dears decided to leave a parting gift for the cleaning crew. Awful nice of him, eh?

In short I was happy to get out of the job.

But that brings me to the purpose of this post. They are tearing down those poor buildings. Many Utah residents are starting to get scared at the impending doom of some over late earthquake. As a result BYU is tearing down buildings that are not earthquake proof. Thus the great and spacious buildings are coming down. To celebrate their passing I am including pictures.

dscf2123.jpg

After all that work slaving over the windows, it almost hurts to see them broken. Not quite though.
dscf2122.jpg

Here you will notice the lack of towers. Of the original seven only one still stands. Kind of sad really. A friend of mine who used to live there almost began crying when they started tearing them down.

Anyway, that is all for now. Until next time, adieu.

The New Film

Posted March 1, 2008 by Imrahil
Categories: College, Star Wars

Well, George Lucas has done it again. Despite all the pleading and desires of the true fans of Star Wars, he is making another Star Wars movie. It is almost embarrassing to be a Star Wars fan now. Kinda sad really. For those of you who have not heard, George Lucas is making another Star Wars film that details the events of what happen between episode II and III. This post is going to focus on my reactions and feelings about his upcoming event.

The Basics

The film is going to be about the clone wars and will take place at some unspecified moment in the three years between Attack of the Clone and Revenge of the Sith. All the major characters from the prequel trilogy will be in the film to some degree or another (this includes Count Dooku and General Grievous). So far only Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) is the only original actor slated to play his role. The film is based on a TV series imaginatively named The Clone Wars, which most fans considered better than the actual prequel trilogy. That series was directed by Tartakovsky who also did the delightful Samurai Jack (and is now working on The Dark Crystal II). It does not look like he will be involved in this new series though.

The movie was originally going to be the first few episodes of a TV series that was to be released sometime in the near future. For some reason George Lucas decided that he wanted to turn the idea into a film and then have the TV show take place after the immediate events of the film.

The twist on this film is that the movie is going to be cg animated. How is this different from the other three prequel movies I hear you ask? This film will be just cg animation, no live actors to make the aliens look fake.

The Good

The animation could be a good thing. The shots I have seen look pretty good, and there are no real people to compare the animated aliens to. So it is entirely possible that the animation could be a plus that makes the movie more believable.

One of the project heads is a huge Plo Koon fan. I know that most of you out there do not know and/or do not care who Plo Koon is (but I am going to tell you anyway). He is a minor character that was originally slated to have bigger roles in both Episode II and III, that ended up doing nothing more than standing around looking cool and being shot down by his clone trooper wingmen in III. Why do I care about this guy? I am not sure really, but I do. That is all there is to it. But the point is that a Plo Koon fan is working on the project, there is a good chance that he could have not only a role, but a good role in the film.

plo_koon1.jpg

One of the issues that I had with the prequel trilogy was the lack of depth given to non-central characters. In the original trilogy there were guys like Admiral Piett, Admiral Ozzel, Wedge Antilles, Adimiral Ackbar, and Nien Numb (to name just a few) all of whom and speaking lines, but wherenot closely connected to the main characters. None of the heroes ever even meet Piett or Ozzel, but they had lines and where important in their own way. There were no characters like that in the prequels. The only chacaters that ever did anything cool were the heroes. Anakin, Obi-wan, and Padme save the day in every single movie. They only interact with each other, the badguys, and one or two support characters like Mace Windu and Yoda (who you could also argue should be included in the hero category). There are no badguys that only interact with the bad guys. Other characters are only important in how they impact the heroes lives directly.

The reason for this rant (besides the fact that is partially contributed to the poor qualities of the prequel trilogy) is that the aforementioned Plo Koon fan stated that one of the major points of this film and following TV series was to flesh out the universe and give the characters who did not do anything in the films a chance at doing something. So this film could be attempting to rectify one of the biggest problems that I had with the prequels. The fact that every trailer and sneak peek I have seen has shown several shots of Plo Koon either piloting or wielding a lightsabre helps too.

The Bad

The animation. What was George Lucas thinking? Fans have been joking about George Lucas going through and replacing all the actors of the films with cg versions in their likeness. I honestly never expected him to actually do it. I mean I know that he loves cg and all that, but Star Wars was a lot cooler before he found it.

Why is he even making another Star Wars film? We already had to do too much grinning and looking away from the last three films. Why does he feel the need to put us through this again? He is embarrassing me. I am sick of having to grin and bear my way through bad movies that bare the Star Wars logo. That is not to say that I hated (or hate) the prequel trilogy. That is not true, I am just very aware (painfully so) of their deficiencies and flaws (which are many). I am sick of having to apologize for Lucas and explain the loop holes that are in the films. I was planning on ignoring the tv show, but I am not sure if I can ignore another movie.

The Conclusion

I am wary. There are some things that look like they could be very good. There are some things that look like they could be very bad. George Lucas brought to us the travesty that is Attack of the Clones, but he also made the original trilogy. I am hoping that the fact that the film is animated will dazzle him enough that he will not feel the need to ruin it, and can get back to good story-telling.

That is all for now. I am still waiting to hear back about Grad School. I have not yet heard anything other than the fact that they have started looking at my application (that was about a week or so ago). Until next time, adieu.