Infinity War Criticism

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Although some of what I’ve written in this could be considered a “spoiler”, let me be up front in saying I don’t think Infinity War is worth watching, so I’m not spoiling what is already.

The real question though, is right here: Is Disney preparing to ruin the Marvel Universe? If we look at all of the Star Wars movies made by Disney, do we see a steady decline? Does the quality of each single film diminish?

I think so.

They seemed to be trying to outdo the previous films. Rather than delivering the cool characters like Darth Maul or Han Solo or Boba Fett, the movies delivered the one-up version of the Death Star. It was a Sun Destroyer wasn’t it? Sun Sucker? If they kept that escalation up, they’d have the Galaxy Demolisher next, and then the Spaces Between Gun, and then the Universe Killer, and then, of course, the Multiverse Devourer, and after that, just a tiny little cannon with a name like something out of a silly Douglas Adams book.

With the Marvel Universe, they’ve gone toward the Infinity War, which apparently is still happening outside of the movie watcher’s point of reference (well then the infinity part is true). And the common theme there was really long, pointless, unending battle. No amount of witty one-liners between the characters can make up for that blatantly padded style. It makes me wonder if Disney needs to be quarantined and kept away from the good stories of the world. They should go back to fairy tales. Or, does Disney just need some fresh storytellers on staff? Maybe the people they have in the company are all dried up and out of material. Rey, for instance, could’ve been a really cool character, with really great story plotlines to throw her in, but they made her opponent so overpowered that she didn’t get to live up to the potential. Very much like in the Infinity War. The bad guy is ultra powerful. So what good are any of the super hero characters, if the bad guy is unstoppable?

The real low blow of the Infinity War is that it was a drain on real-time, the movie watcher’s actual life, without satisfaction. The movie had no end. It was a To Be Continued…ending, though it didn’t have those actual words that I saw. So, instead of telling a story, the people at Disney thought they could get away with creating a serialized movie? It didn’t work for this movie watcher. I’ve talked to other people about it and none of them have liked it either. So, you could even say that because Disney opted for this particular story, in this particular form, their ultra powerful bad guy could break the fictional Marvel universe AND the movie-goer’s perception of the Marvel universe.

One possible up side is if everybody gets sick of Disney destroying other people’s creations, then maybe some day Disney will get a clue and stop buying up the high-concept brands such as Star Wars and Marvel. Chances are, if they don’t care about the stories and they’re only in it to make a buck, then they’ll do it again and again. If that’s the case, watch out Doctor Who fans, and Star Trek fans, and Lord of the Rings fans. Disney’s coming to wreck those too.

Now for the metric:

  1. Drawing power: Does the story pull you in and make you feel as if you’re part of the world? Well, yes, so they get a star.
  2. Interest factor: Is the story something you want to hear, see, know? Are you craving to discover how it ends? The basis of the plot was certainly interesting. Do I want to know how it ends now? Not really. Half star.
  3. Offensive factor: Does it present sex, violence, cursing too abundantly or too vividly? Does it present a querulous agenda? Nothing offensive. Star earned.
  4. Range of emotion: Is the story serious when necessary? Do the jokes come at appropriate times? Does the story present emotions at pleasing intervals? There were a few parts where the jokes fell flat. Half star.
  5. Character factor: Are there good actors (not necessarily famous ones) in the film? Are there quality protagonists/antagonists in the literary work? Is there a quality dynamic between the characters? Is the narrator mostly invisible? Yes. Star it.
  6. Style: Does the film use sloppy-cam? Does the literary work use loose plot lines? Are all the words in the right places? Are all the props in the right scenes? Uh-oh, the throughline got loose! No star.
  7. Proper length: Does a fantasy world require multiple manuscripts? Does a dystopian world beg to be spartan or truncated? Overly long. No star.

Total=four out of seven stars. Obviously if you converted that to a percentage, it’s more than 50%, so the movie is watchable, isn’t it? Yes. In good conscience, I can’t recommend it on the basis of it being without an ending.

Pimp Shoes

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NEW LOOK!

Switching it up for the readers out there. White letters on a black background is supposed to be better for your eyes. I can definitely tell the difference. Anyone who spends a fair amount of time perusing the contents of an electronic screen can tell the difference. It’s a relief, especially when reading, to have the light text on a dark background.

The good deal is, that even if you visit a load of other sites, when you visit Xenosthesia.com, you’ll get the break you needed. Yes, Xenosthesia.com is a vacation for your eyes. You were thinking it. I only typed out the words you were already thinking.

Speaking of loads of other sites, this one is interesting: Superwriter.

And this one has lots of fantastic photos: Ester’s.

And this one will get you balanced, mentally: Make It Ultra Psychology.

Anyway, those are some I enjoy reading. Please don’t think that I’m saying these sites don’t have white text on a black background so they’re inferior. In many ways, the three sites above are far superior to mine. I’m not forcing the comparison. All I’m doing is showing you some that I visit, and hoping that I can boost their readership. I think they’re worth it. There are so many sites and blogs and such out there that without word of mouth, you might not even know the great ones exist.

The title of this barchive post came from the image I found. While looking for a decent image, I went to Unsplash and searched for “fashion”. This guy pops up in his ink, in his suit vest, and in his white shoes. I was going to title this post something marketing trite like, New Look, or Easier On The Eyes, but when I saw the picture, the two words Pimp Shoes busted into my cerebral lobes. When words are painted all over your brain, you go with it.

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Now that I’ve given away one of the secrets to my magic show, I’ll leave with my hope that you enjoy the new look, and that the format gives your eyes a moment of relaxation, however brief it may be.

Photo credit: Brunel Johnson

The Last Word

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I’ve heard it said that the best way to get the last word is to apologize. I think that saying you’re sorry is a good thing to do anyway, but doesn’t apology precede forgiveness? Most of the time, a man receives an apology and he replies with, “Apology accepted,” or, “Don’t worry about it.”

When he says that, he got the last word, didn’t he? If he keeps going, and says, “You’re forgiven,” isn’t that the last word? And then what do you say when someone forgives you? What could you say? “Thank you,” maybe? But then, what follows that?

“You’re welcome.”……………(Sing it like the Rock if you want.)

Every man knows these little facts. It’s burned into every man’s cerebral cortex—how to end a chat. Every man knows what the last word is supposed to be. I’m picking on men here because men have a specific sort of need to get the last word.

Women, on the other hand, would use an apology as a conversation starter. Women are incredibly adept at creating—and maintaining—a conversation. In fact, if one woman is going somewhere, the other will make excuses to follow so the conversation can keep its momentum. Momentum is the key to female conversation. They build up the conversation momentum and then they push it even further. As a man, I find it hypnotic to watch women in conversation. They have the keys to perpetual speech. Personally, I run out of words. I have a limit. Not only a limit of words, but a limit of patience. If I’m talking to some dude, and he has a lack of ability to get the point across, or even to grasp the point I’m trying to convey, then I start to lose patience. I start looking for the exit, conversation exit and physical exit.

It’s an interesting function of manhood that makes men in conversation want to get the last word. It might be an upper-handed sort of feeling they try to achieve. It might be a sense of accomplishment. It might be the endless search for machismo, trying to get hair on their chests. As a man, I don’t even know the answer to the question why. I do know how it works though. I can perform a last-word conversation with the best of them. A typical end to a manly conversation might be like this:

“Alright then.”

“Yep.”

“Well, see you later.”

“See ya.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Okay.”

“Take it easy.”

This plays out until one of the men actually physically leaves. The one leaving might tap on something before he goes. No one is really sure why men tap on things when they leave. It may date back to tribal times—beat the drum as the chief leaves camp.

My wife doesn’t understand this. Nor do I understand her conversation needs. She might notice that I was talking to an old friend and ask what we were talking about. I’ll say something simple like, “Oh his mother’s in the hospital,” and she’ll want to know all the details. What’s the ailment? How long will she be there? Does she need anything? Has she had any visitors today? Is she allowed visitors? Did they force her to eat that awful over-priced hospital food? Is she on oxygen? Does she still have her ovaries? What’s the ailment? How many times has she been in the hospital in her life? Does she have a ride home? Will she take a cab or the bus? What are we doing Friday afternoon? Maybe we could pick her up. Does she have insurance? Does she need some? Do we have any extra we could spare? How many doctors had to look at her? How many nurses? And were the nurses men or women? Women hate it when men see them in those hospital gowns. Do men hate it when women see them in those hospital gowns? Oooh…flowers, she needs flowers.

Of course I always tell her I don’t know any of that stuff. My conversation skills aren’t about information gathering. I don’t mind telling her, proudly, that I clapped my hands, pointed at the exit, and said, “Ay-dios,” before I left. So yeah, the last word.

Discernment

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A funny and ironic consequence of writing this particular column is that I had to rewrite it a few times. I’m my own worst critic.

That’s the topic here: criticism. Judgement and how to do it properly. So I realized I’ve done a few of these criticism pieces (Recently Read: Tom Hanks) and all I did was throw in some subjective stuff about whether I liked the book, or not. Nothing really wrong with subjective stuff, is there? Except, a person reading the critique might not have any way to measure my self-proclaimed enjoyment.

“Did you like like it, or just kind of like it? And how close to love is your like anyway?”

With that in mind, I also thought about the generic 5 star system. How do you get anything out of that, other than more subjective criticism. If each star is without measurement stats, then the 4 stars for one person could mean 5 stars for another. It’s sloppy and without standard.

Thinking about what, in my mind, makes a great story, I came up with 7 things a story needs to truly be great.

  1. Drawing power: Does the story pull you in and make you feel as if you’re part of the world?
  2. Interest factor: Is the story something you want to hear, see, know? Are you craving to discover how it ends?
  3. Offensive factor: Does it present sex, violence, cursing too abundantly or too vividly? Does it present a querulous agenda?
  4. Range of emotion: Is the story serious when necessary? Do the jokes come at appropriate times? Does the story present emotions at pleasing intervals?
  5. Character factor: Are there good actors (not necessarily famous ones) in the film? Are there quality protagonists/antagonists in the literary work? Is there a quality dynamic between the characters? Is the narrator mostly invisible?
  6. Style: Does the film use sloppy-cam? Does the literary work use loose plot lines? Are all the words in the right places? Are all the props in the right scenes?
  7. Proper length: Does a fantasy world require multiple manuscripts? Does a dystopian world beg to be spartan or truncated?

 

Guitar Super Hero

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I ain’t braggin’ or nothin’ but I can listen to a little piece of a Satriani song and tell you the title of that song. If you’re unfamiliar with Joe Satriani, you might think that’s no big deal. But if you know that very few, extremely few, of his songs have words, then you might get an idea how difficult that skill is. Unless you’re him, how are you going to know the title of every song? Especially since he has written such a large amount of musical material. He’s actually in the dictionary under the word ‘prolific’.

To illustrate his prolificness, in his solo career alone, he has put forth about 18 albums. So that’s not counting what I would call side projects like Chickenfoot. That’s not counting live recordings or repeated material in compilations and such. With those same exceptions, he’s created around 450 songs. I’m still guessing when I say he’s only made about five or six of those with lyrics. The rest are instrumental.

I don’t even need to argue that the instrumental songs are just as good as any song with lyrics. Joe Satriani sells his music. The fans, like me, have spoken. We enjoy the cosmic canticles he creates.

Speaking of cosmic, listening to most of Satriani’s music is very much like hearing a landscape, or seeing the emanations of a radio station. It can be extremely thrilling, assuming you’re in the right frame of mind already. If you’re too stiff and stubborn, unable to flex, then you won’t likely see the possibility of intergalactic surfing that his guitar is defining before your very ears.

Now, before I stay in that mode, let me give you one more perspective. When I hear a signature Satriani instrumental, I envision science fiction scenes. My wife, though, says that all of his music reminds her of summertime. She loves summertime the most, so that really is a compliment. Mostly, she likes his slower, quieter?, love songs, so maybe those are all she’s talking about, but does it matter? I don’t think so. Once she explained her perspective to me, I could hear summertime in all of his music as well. Whichever perspective you happen to agree with at the moment, you can see that we relate it with what we enjoy. To make the definition as simple as possible, Joe Satriani makes happy music.