Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Thoughts on Social Media, and Brainwashing

It's grown increasingly apparent to me that the internet is the heart of current mainstream society; within all "modern" generations, the internet is vital. I've been asked and potentially even been required many times this week alone to provide an active social media; FaceBook, Instagram, SnapChat. Whether it be to interact with the masses, or to properly 'follow' School events.

However, I actively do not use social media. I have a FaceBook; I also have had an Instagram, SnapChat, and countless other sources of digital social interaction in the past. But really... who doesn't? It's a necessity, as sick as that is.

So why don't I use anything?

Because it is specifically designed to encourage conformity, lack of general thought, and an ever-declining mass intelligence. Think about it. Entertainment-based technology has evolved specifically to enhance distraction - or, as producers would word it, immersion.

  • The book relied heavily on the reader's unique mind, thus inspiring inquisitive thought. On one hand, to the creator, this could potentially neuter translation of a concept... in other words, the intrusion of free cognitive awareness made translating a forced concept - whether it be an image, or an ideal - neigh impossible. 
  • This was followed by the radio; a fast-paced alternative, eliminating the thought and enhancing the need for utmost focus on the words being said. A mechanical god telling it's prophecies through the airwaves.
  • Next came the television. No longer was any inkling of imagination applied to entertainment - follow the images, hear the words, stay still. Focus on what it said, register it, and accept it.
  • But that wasn't enough; it may have been able to encapsulate the mind, but it was not totally immersive. The Internet, however, was. It's a totally fictitious world, almost perfectly built for obsession and self-relatability. 
  • This new world needed to stick - not be trapped in a monitor. So it became a modern smartphone. A haunt tied to your soul at all times, an inescapable aspect of modern life, as it is portrayed. No longer is one able to resist the falsified world that is the Internet. A mobile distraction.
  • And soon, virtual reality will literally provide a better alternative to our God-given perception. The end all be all means of taking over the mind.

Book, to radio, to TV, to Internet, to Phone, to now VR --- taking us away from any semblance or awareness by giving us a more pretty alternative.

And it's not just escapism. It has melded the minds of society without fail. As a very common example, note how centralized relationships are to the modern hivemind - and, likewise, note their constant focus within the false worlds. Every single modern TV channel aimed at children places a centralized focus on something sexual, usually guised as comedic, playful relationships. 'Love' is an achievement that must be studied, followed, and won; devoid of legitimate social value, as is all interaction within the media focused society. Another hopeless dream for the entranced human to follow - more on that later.

Why is this constantly being portrayed as a normal part of life? Is this a simple aspect of honest storytelling? Sure. Is it communicating a forced message to easily influenced minds? Sure. However... does it need to be a simple aspect of honest storytelling? Absolutely not - and the only reason it is seen as such is because of years of media-based influence. Humanity, while social, is never defined - by my religion's standards - as centralized on these interactions. It can even be argued that those without them have more religious success; and while neither choice is without it's shame within scriptures, neither is also end-all be-all defined as 'key'. The godlike media has decided and forced this upon our psyche instead. There is no artistic integrity. There is unspoken agendas. Even within entertainment aimed almost squarely at those who avoid mental submission - it's there. Because the media is not something that will be destroyed by it's own product. It toes the line of revelation so as to make believers appear all the more unbelievable.

It applies to us all. Waste your day learning useless information, or performing similarly useless tasks; run home to the sugar that is your form of escapism. You accept this as your personal Heaven. It's your goal for the day. Your goal is to finish life, and get back to the false world. Back to the distraction. It gives you dreams - become this, gain that. Do this to get that. A capitalist-influenced model of life that almost always traces back to supporting the endless cycle of money and neutered intelligence through very simple brainwashing.

Social interaction becomes nothing more than a constantly nodding lineup of bobble-heads. Agree with this, or you'll be seen as a bigotry-fueled psychopath. Join the club, or you're missing out. I've been there. I've been a knick-knack on the shelf.

Behind every Social Media zombie, there is a deeply rooted sadness. Somewhere, a subconscious need for acknowledgement. Perhaps to please a crowd. Perhaps to 'prove' something. Perhaps to become someone. It's a sadness encouraged by the aforementioned hopeless dreams - if you can't manage this, the least you can do is manage that. On a large scale, it becomes pathetic - a way to imitate the glamourous life of a celebrity... of the images flaunted on the screens. Is it truly self expression when it's for an ulterior audience? Where is the true, unexaggerated line between expression, embellishment, and compliance?

Friday, August 25, 2017

Is Wastelnd too Dramatic?

Reading back on various posts, It's apparent to me that some carry an air of melodrama... whether that be my wordy writing style, or the 'broad' strokes within most of my thought-centric posts, is debatable.

I'm more of a creative writer, despite the consistency I've had maintaining this blog; Though I am currently working on carrying over this dedication into the imaginative setting with which I'm more accustomed (as evidenced by the addition of a "Coming Soon" poster along what is currently the left sidebar), It's naturally leaked into these writings. What is a colorful simile within the world of fiction becomes an exaggerated rant when concerning a reality based reflection. Though it may seem discrediting, it isn't too far fetched to call some of my Wastelnd writings embellished; 'repainted', so to speak, to express emotions in an oversaturated, honest fashion. I've always believed art is more about the influence of a work than the content... likewise, when I'm feeling particularly critical, a blog post is going to aim it's best at making the reader feel that way, too.

However, It's also worth noting - well, yes, this is a blog. Really a design-heavy journal, more than anything. Wastelnd's former months were mostly very complicated, difficult times for me, for reasons probably very apparent in the content of their personally focused posts. In fact, this and the previous month have really been the best in consideration tomy total sense of optimism; although I obviously still face issues here and there, more worldly concerns have fallen out of focus to the point where I'm comfortable with 'reality' anew. My concerns grow less thought based, and more action based.

Many of these posts are nothing more than reflections, ones written without a lot of concern for impact. Seeing as I essentially babble into my own void, tone is not always in mind - concerning this blog specifically.

Are some past posts a bit overbaked in their dramatic tones? I'd say so - although, I'm my biggest critic. Still, they hold their initial ulterior purpose just as well, and stand as developmental writings regardless of what I now consider them. It comes with a long-term creation; you must be able to look back and accept the flaws. Accept the awkwardness. Hell - maybe even acknowledge that something you once thought you did wrong, wasn't so bad after all. I've realized this with my art - I'm realizing it with my writing - and maybe I've subconsciously realized it in my life.

Thoughts on Thoughts

People don't want relationships anymore.

People tend to be more interested in the "goal", rather than the path. There is no path - when everyone has one single post in their head, there's no point in meandering along an indefinite road. Why bother?

People would rather have the light of day, unbroken, than the acknowledgement of reality. Even in the smallest way; recognizing aspects of the world, trying to see depth in a person who doesn't seem to imply any whatsoever. Putting faith in a critical point of view.

In some twisted regard, that' what societies feel to be missing. In that we give up our negative, more judgemental thought, we likewise and inadvertently maim the coinciding thoughts that lead to analysis. We accept everything, to the point of glossing over the ridges that are the very foundation of decision making. Everything is a smooth slope to one aforementioned goal - no bumps, no blemishes, nothing to catch your psyche. Nothing to raise a moral flag.

Is this consistently a bad aspect of reality? No, not at all - levity has it's place. In fact, I'd argue mass 'lightness' is far more effective than mass awareness. It simplifies - and in that regard, not every situation carries an underlying weight. Even ones which seem to carry some type of intent can hypothetically be nothing more than another skit in the ongoing playbook of life. However, a mentally ingrained sense of sight has been lost... A compass, whether it be moral or even logical. It stems from this widespread softness - this widespread pastel hue, no sharp lines or violent consideration accepted. If everything falls onto the same empty plain, nothing has any value. Nothing has any draw. There will come the day when anything once seen as mentally impactful will become... well, nothing, in and of itself.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Review - Medicom Daft Punk (Thomas Bangalter & Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo)

Daft Punk - Thomas Bangalter (clad with a Gort-esque silver helmet) and Guy-Manuel de Homem Christo (wearing a faceless golden helmet), respectively) - really need no introduction; a pair of Grammy-award winning future-funk-meets-house masterminds, popular for their mysterious public identities and favor of overtly 'electronic' tropes.

2013's release Random Access Memories lessened the techno, and upped the groove; creating a musical love letter to the nostalgic tunes that inspired the very basis of their genre. Donning flashy tuxedos and donning a more 'regal' attitude within their robotic disguises, Daft Punk evolved to match their music; as such, longtime Daft Punk merchandiser Medicom released updated versions of the duo in their notable Real Action Heroes line. selling for roughly $200~ each on most aftermarkets, they're a tough pair to grab - nothing less for pop's most elusive icons.

As both figures are essentially the same, I will be reviewing them under one collective rating.

Sculpt - 5/5

Unsurprisingly, Medicom has perfectly recreated DP's 2013 wardrobes. Both sci-fi helmets are photo accurate, adorned with very specific details such as Thomas' hidden vents (located beneath the visor) or the various small contraptions within Guy's "ears". Even their smooth 'necks' are true to form, representing the underlying black mesh worn by the pair. Their clothes fit very nicely, and are properly to scale - features such as the necklace's chain and the miniature sequins are roughly the correct size, and look very good in relation to the entire figure.

The one gripe some may have is that, unlike Bandai's FiguArts renditions, these helmets feature a solid black "glass" - no underlying screens are visible. Though this was an admittedly interesting choice on Bandai's part, it isn't accurate to the real-life costumes (both the ones Bandai represented, nor these). The only versions of the helmets to sport screens were the original Discovery-era editions. It's a fictitious detail that's neat to see, but definitely not necessary.

Articulation - 5/5

Again as per RAH tradition, the articulation on both figures is very good. Every joint is nice and stiff, with no hindrance whatsoever from the outer clothing. Most joints seem to be a either pin-disc or ball, and (with some finagling) can really achieve any practical pose one could desire. Though most will likely leave the pair in a neutral stance, it's very possible to recreate more eccentric poses seen in some photos. 

Accessories - 4/5

DP aren't usually seen sporting a multitude of accessory-worthy objects, so what has been provided serves it's small purpose well. Both come with two extra pairs of hands (one set spread open, the other clenched into a fist), as well as adjustable stands. These figures have pretty good centers of gravity, making the stands not entirely needed, but having them available is useful. More colorful bonuses such would have really added weight to this category; perhaps a small-scale RAM Record, or any handful of props from their music videos. 

Paint - 5/5

DP's personas are very design conscious, with a very simplistic style that can adapt to any musical setting. The single tones of these designs are recreated to a tee - each surface color is consistent across every piece, the metallic shine is beautifully reflective, and their match silver boots shimmer in a realistic way. The very small black portions on both necklaces is cleanly applied, without even the slightest inclination of slop - it's almost as if the real jewelery was shrunk onto these figures. Even the underlying bodies are a solid black, representing the aforementioned mesh.


Fun Factor - 5/5

For adult-oriented figures, these seem to be far from fragile; every point of articulation is appropriately tough, and though care should be taken with the very intricate clothing, the biggest issue one could potentially face is an uneven tie or wrinkled pant leg. Thought these two aren't for play, they're also very capable of repeated manipulation.

Overall - 5/5

Really, anything less than a 5/5 would be surprising concerning figures of this quality. These are prime examples of how artistically impressive high-end collectibles can be; so meticulously designed, they could easily be mistaken for the real deal. Though they've always fetched a high price, it isn't hard to see where the money goes - these two have a demanding presence on any shelf, by the sheer striking nature of their lifelike sculpts alone. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Record Player in the Basement

The Summer of 2017 flew by like an airplane - but, looking back, it's the best Summer I think I've ever had.

It was dark; gritty, quiet, self-contained. It was light; the cold nighttime fog, the dew of grass. It was everything - yet it hardly made a sound.

Already, it returns to me as a dusty photobook. Laying awake at the dead of the night, dozing off to the lonesome croons of Frank Sinatra. Scurrying about, crookedly setting up photographs for an abstract art project. The thoughtful space within the dry northern heat. Staring into the grey summer calm, attending a small outdoor Church service. Wandering the pitch black neighborhood streets, focused only on the music in my head, the road beneath my feet, and the thoughts sliding about like feathers in a gust.

It was the Summer I needed. The Summer of a new human being. A more pure, aware, and religious one; one I've always wanted to be.

And what's more; I don't intend for it to end.

Goodbye, The Great Movie Ride

Disney parks tend to have a "heart"; whether it be an international variety of fantastic Castles, the highly intricate Tree of Life, visual marvel Spaceship Earth, or any other central attraction. Many of these contain accompanying large-scale shows, often held within the structure itself - must sees for parkgoers visiting the respective icon.

At Disney's Hollywood Studios (once known as Disney-MGM Studios), a beautiful reproduction of the famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre followed suit with a wonderful tribute to not only the park's respective film-focused theme, but to the colorful history of the art itself - with The Great Movie Ride. Guests were taken on a tour through classic movie highlights, featuring scenes from Footlight Parade, Singin' in the Rain, Mary Poppins, The Public Enemy, A Fistful of Dollars, The Searchers, Alien, Raiders of the Lost Arc, Tarzan the Ape Man, Casablanca, and The Wizard of Oz recreated using Audio Animatronic technology... with countless other classics making cameos as stock footage during the introduction, main show and finale.

Being no stranger to the vast universe of film, I've always loved this ride especially. Seeing such marvel and honest respect paid to the undisputed movie classics - in such a visually impressive way - was nothing short of candy. Each segment felt truly dedicated to it's subject, presenting a miniature "ride" devoted to each movie; who could forget the striking image of Mary Poppins floating whimsically next to chimney sweep Bert, joined by the silhouettes of his fellow giddy workmen? The eerie, smoke-coated streets of the Gangster genres? The thrillingly dark mechanical hell of The Nostromo? Disney's Imagineers went above and beyond with each 'room' - making you not only want to dive into the source material once more, but effectively letting you experience the world behind the screen for even the shortest amount of time.

My final ride was one to remember - the cast members truly pulled out every stop, shooting for the magical last hurrah worthy of the films it parades. They even managed to give my group the rare "Cowboy Scene" - To elaborate, rides are 'taken over' by either a rogue Cowboy, or Gangster, from each respective genre's zone. Likely because of the pyrotechnics involved in the Cowboy scene, the ride typically uses only the Gangster plot. This great touch of acknowledgement for the attractions fans and history was a really warm moment, embracing the 'end'.

Removing this show, in my opinion, will prove to be a major gash in Disney's Theme Park record. It communicates the point of Hollywood Studios better than perhaps any other aspect of the location; celebrating the sparkle of a happy night at movies, thriving in that wistful Disney charm.

However, it, too, is now a classic - locked in the world it was able to let us enter. It's a fitting end for the living museum of film... now forever in the movies.

Roll the credits - here's to The Great Movie Ride.

Click here to view an Imgur album of the pictures I took during my final ride!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Goodbye, Haruo Nakajima

Haruo Nakajima, the original Godzilla (filling the role from 1954 to 1972, as well as various other Monster and Onscreen roles), passed away today at the age of 88.

I had the amazing chance to meet him (as well as fellow Toho veteran, Akira Takarada - pictured to my right, with Nakajima to my left) at the 2014 Spooky Empire Convention, hot off the tracks of 2014's Godzilla - a reboot which has proved incredibly successful for the series, spawning an American Kaiju film universe, the wild success of Shin Godzilla, and a new run of CG Animated Godzilla films set to begin later this year.

Haruo was alive to see this revival, and fittingly so. Godzilla: Final Wars - the 40th anniversary film designed, at the time, as the "series finale" for Godzilla - is now the final Godzilla feature to use Suitmation. Godzilla '14, Shin Godzilla, and seemingly all future installments have not used this technique at all; moving instead to CG animation. The torch has effectively been passed; while the days of lumbering rubber suits, model cities, pyrotechnics, and live performances are certainly gone, what they've influenced and fueled would be entirely nonexistent were they not displayed with the success Haruo (as well as effects mastermind, Eiji Tsuburaya) achieved.

Haruo was a very respectful, approachable man - especially for someone better known as Godzilla, Matango, Gaira, The H-Man, Neronga, Rodan, Gabora, Jirass, Kiyla... the list goes on. Getting his signature (on a photograph of him holding a Godzilla model used in Invasion of Astro-Monster ) has been an amazing highlight of my time as a Kaiju fan, perhaps only topped by getting to directly ask him a question during he and Takarada's panel; the question pertaining to how dangerous, as well as challenging his profession was. Needless to say, becoming a radioactive beast is no simple task; and doing so until the mid seventies is even less so.

Haruo's passing is a great loss, and hurts deeply as a fan and follower of his work. While the true Godzilla may be gone, his amazing onscreen work will never fade away to time; whether he be eerily wading through the dimly lit streets of Tokyo, dancing in joy on a distant planet, battling oversized foes on tropical islands, toughing up his adoptive son, or facing any innumerable amount of oddball interstellar invaders, Godzilla - with Nakajima - will eternally have life in the classic films which defined an era of monster-mash movie history.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Review - Shin Godzilla

2016 brought us the second in a new era of Godzilla films, Shin Godzilla. Directed by Hideaki Anno, the movie is strikingly mindful, as well as professional - perhaps unexpected, knowing Godzilla's past.

Shin stands as an indirect follow-up to 2014's Godzilla, which rebooted the series with a large-scale Hollywood flair. Godzilla focused heavily on action and the marvel of the beasts themselves, packed full of more 'modern' concepts and audience-pleasing popcorn moments (the kiss of death, anyone?).

True to name ("Shin" translating to true, or new), Shin Godzilla prides itself in a totally alternate approach; unpolishing Godzilla from a high-budget spectacle of a creature, to the horror he encapsulates as a concept.

Shin is a thinly-veiled remake of the original Godzilla film, Gojira. Antiquated story elements such as the Serizawa love triangle are dropped, as the focus is almost entirely shined upon the political tensions Gojira occasionally nodded to in a select few scenes. A standout in the 32 film long series, Shin is perhaps the most "real" a Godzilla film has managed to feel; and yet, conversely, makes no attempt to simplify the subject matter.

A key element of the film is that, despite it's grounded setting of a 2010-era world, there is no restraint in the beast's depiction, nor is he downplayed to feel perhaps more 'accessible' to the sound-minded audiences of today. He isn't vaguely heroic, nor likeable; he is a monster. He's altogether implausible. He's distorted beyond belief. He is 'false' - capable of abilities laughable when applied to his animal kingdom equivalents - and rightly so.

The focus of the movie itself is that Godzilla symbolises the inescapably overpowering force of a disaster; a tsunami, an earthquake. He is able to transcend expectations, able to repeatedly and unpredictably 'fight back'; a living, breathing hell, and a titan stood next to humanity.

The story itself is hard to divulge without instead discussing the impact of the tale itself, as the film is dripping with applicability. The style of storytelling is very unique, following an almost real-time structure. Through repetition as well as a sort of wry parodic tone, we follow a league of scrambling bureaucratic heads trying their damndest to handle the spiralling anomaly before them - repeatedly growing too wound in their own unnecessary technicalities and formalities to actually make any impact on the events of the disaster whatsoever. Ultimately, Godzilla is only stopped when this mess of policy is quite literally destroyed, leaving only a notably nationalist, young-minded and willing group of "fringe" politicians to cut away the fat of their government and take matters into their own hands.

It's not hard to read into the very socially conscious plot; there are a number of clever directorial choices made to enhance the droning, repetitive sense of professionalism in this government, particularly in the use of snappy dialogue and fast-paced cuts.

Characters aren't exactly a key element of the film, interestingly enough; they really only fill a role in the system Shin criticizes. There's really no reason to give these 'pawns' further depth than their profession - a clever choice, as well as a fairly risky one, writing-wise. We have our handful of leads, but they are no moreso important than the other key players who engage in the various political schemes and plans tossed about. It's an interesting draw away from the character-driven writing that makes up the vast majority of movies today. However, this does lead to some mostly inevitable drags in certain portions. There is constant is there - as, ultimately, everything in the film seems to serve at least an ulterior purpose - but the fact stands.
talk between characters, and though things never grow pointless, things can become a bit grey. I'm not sure I'd remove or simplify what boredom

There are some select moments through the movie that feel somehow 'off'; music cues sometimes feel tonally incorrect, or end abruptly, some actors feel perhaps too pretty for their role, so on. These issues certainly are not majorly impactful, though they do exist.

On a different note, the effects of the movie are surprisingly good; although a bit glossy on Godzilla's earlier forms, and perhaps jittery concerning the more fast movements made here and there, the monster generally looks very convincing - especially for a fully CG model. Many scenes in the grand finale look stunningly real, as though puppets and models were used. Though certainly not quite beating Godzilla (2014)'s stunning sequences, Shin does come close - especially with the ultimate destruction sequence, which I consider one of if not the best attack scene in Godzilla's long history. On the note of Godzilla himself, the fanservice in the form of visual references to Gojira, as well as the return of classic SFX and music was very pleasing.

Shin Godzilla is the "true" Godzilla. It's the closest we've seen to a horrific, impossible cartoon of a monster attacking our world; not in the collateral, psychologically impactful sense, but instead in that it would cause a massive bout of hysteria we cannot foresee. It's an excellent modern-day parallel piece, as well as a clever observance.