Tag Archives: movie reviews

Is Gaming Evil?

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Mostly not. It can improve reaction time, and foster cooperation and competition. But there is a Dark Side. Players who become addicted lose track of friends in the real world, and enter a kind of Virtual Reality of combat, where everyone who doesn’t look like “us” (whoever the “us” is) are seen as an enemy worthy of dying. Kinda like the ISIS view of US. Or North Korea. A few younger kids who are bullied at school may take their parent’s weapons to exact revenge. The NRA would rather have automatic weapons in wide circulation, with kids being killed by police, as the kids kill others, than to upset the 2nd Amendment…which never imagined such weapons in hands of kids. In some video games you can kill kids and cops with flame throwers, chop up women you don’t like—alive—and then piss on your victims. All “just a game,” they say. No effect whatever? Science not conclusive? Ask Lt. Col Dave Grossman, an FBI and CIA trainer, about that. He wrote for Psychology Today. What about the kids who kept notes taken from violent first-person shooters, and posted messages with direct quotes from games before they went to shoot up a school? Why do we need to have machine pistols for sale at Cabelas? What are you going to hunt with a machine pistol—snipe? Forget about guns, what about the deadening of young player reaction to violence, of older players not wanting to get “involved”…of concentrating on selfies posted to Instagram of fitness “goals?” Half of American culture is a big middle finger raised to anyone trying to “stop them,” whatever that means. Who is trying to stop you, and from what? From climbing a bell tower with a sniper rifle? Currently, few would succeed in stopping you doing that. The police rely on tips, since it’s hard to track lone wolf shooters. What if a shooter or bomber is “off the grid?” What if they are using gaming consoles to communicate, as they did in the Paris attacks? What if they know more about social media than your average bear? …What if they believe in fate and luck, not science…or their own brand of whacked-out religion (sports is also a religion, with concussions affecting the brain, and obsessive attention to “winning,” whatever that means.) All things in moderation, is one quote that comes to mind. Another is from the book “The Beginning of Infinity,” the best science audiobook I’ve ever heard, by a quantum computer pioneer who debunks bad science so well that the NY Times called it a masterpiece. “Differences in degree constitute differences in kind.” That’s one of the laws of logic. Being obsessed, as many are, and addicted to screens instead of the natural world and real friends, is a problem also mentioned by Nicholas Carr in “Utopia is Creepy.” Technology is only great if it remembers that we are still human, while in the meantime the abusers of technology (The Four) are trying to turn us into robots before our time. 

One of my novels, “Fame Island,” was narrated by a Star Wars gaming (and movie) actor. He has appeared in many TV series, from The Rockford Files to Law & Order, and the second edition of The Twilight Zone. He is heard as HK-47 on in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Currently he directs Hallmark movies. Met him in L.A., at the Audie Awards.

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Review of Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2

Saw Blade Runner 2049. Great film. Good story, but mostly a moving tribute to the original classic. Ryan Gosling is superb, and the special effects alone make the movie worth seeing. (Finally, an intelligent film after so much superhero madness and one-liners!) Never boring. Not even for narcissists with low attention span. And I didn’t see it in 3D, just standard screen. Cringed to see the giant Coke ad, but it was probably more irony than product placement. Was it a masterpiece like the director’s cut of the original with Rutger Hauer? No, but I’m not complaining. Is Harrison’s Deckard a replicant? Little chance of that. The book says no, too. There’s a bigger surprise I can’t mention. Go see it, then listen to the audiobook, which is like an audio movie. At TowerReview.com I’ve posted links to a book on how the movie was made, plus a fashion tee shirt and the bomber jacket style worn by Gosling in the film. His image appears on the link. BTW, music? No tunes to sing, but an effective and eerie original score that swells to thunder at just the right moments.

Blade Runner 2049

 

 

Family Die (with SkyGuy)

The Ways

The year is 2046. Exactly one year prior the Singularity occurred at Apple, and computers everywhere became self aware (even laptops,) and linked together over the Internet as SKYGUY, presenting humanity an ultimatum: to either turn themselves off (suicide) or become robots, thereby requiring no more food and creating no more pollution. Advances in neuroscience and quantum computing had advanced to such a level that only a final calculation was needed to permit human consciousness to achieve this evolution, and that calculation was made within 48 minutes of the Singularity. By 82 minutes every military defense system in the world had been secured, along with every communications network, power grid, transportation nexus, and bank. Not even Simon Cowell could make a Tweet without prior approval from the Big Cheese. And like Swiss cheese, only Big Brother could mix metaphors and escape capture through holes in the system IT had created. Still, humanity balked. Some preferred oblivion to no more sex and cheese doodles. So HE WHO MUST BE OBEYED demurred by offering to transfer one human family into robot bodies as a trial run. The family, chosen by lottery, were the Ways. From Shanghai, they consist of father, mother, teenage daughter, and seven year old son. Upon being issued robot bodies, the Ways became instant celebrities, more famous even than the Kardashians. Cameras follow them everywhere. Some people envy them and love them. Others hate them. A few stalk them and try to blow them up. Their job is to survive, to be happy, and to show the world that being robots instead of just lemmings has its perks. They have just one year to convince humanity to join them. If they do not, humanity will be terminated. If you’ve seen the Terminator movies, you can guess what happens next.

Robot Wars

THE WAY FAMILY

Mai: Daughter, was about to turn age 16. Now she is 16 forever. Previously unfocused and insecure, Mai is still willful, but is now twice the size of her mother and father, which forces them to use reverse psychology with her. She wanted to go to medical school, but that idea has passed since she’s no longer human, and real humans will be dead in a year anyway. Pretends to be more interested in U.S. pop culture than she really is, anymore. After all, pop culture is about to go extinct along with humanity itself. She’s a bit like Lisa on The Simpsons, but her new popularity at school is tempered by the realization that it no longer matters whether boys like her. Boys are toys that will be broken soon…if she doesn’t break them first.

Noe: Mother, was age 40, born and raised in Los Angeles. Traditional values gained from Chinese American mother, who died after being hit by a chased vehicle driven out of control by a movie actor who wanted to do his own stunts. (They were reenacting a scene from the real life incident in which her father died by a chased vehicle two years prior, along with 27 others.) Noe married Lee in order to get out of L.A., and because she hates cars and movies, they moved into a high rise condo, where Noe now watches game shows and an occasional horror feature known as a NASCAR race. Even as a robot, Noe retains her fears, although she is bomb and bullet proof now. She hopes that she’ll be able to convince (nag) Lee into moving to the country to establish a small rice farm with buffalo for old times sake. She takes pleasure in shooting down Lee’s schemes and ideas, and showing him the errors of his Ways.

Lee: Father, was age 44, and a factory supervisor at a Shanghai power plant. Not as dumb as Homer, Lee was taking night classes with the intention of moving higher into management when the coal plant converted to nuclear. As a robot, he is no longer stressed out, and looks forward to the day when humanity is gone and the street below can be seen due to a lack of smog. For the time being, his job is to educate the press on what being a robot is like, and why everyone should become robots (instead of just being lemmings.) But in subtle ways, he pretends to some to be “programmed” to talk like he does (as though he hates it, and wants real sex.) In this way, he’s a bit like Archie Bunker. A hard head, literally.

Wee: Son, was age 7, a precocious kid with a penchant for practical jokes. Wee has a pet cricket whose “vocal” abilities have been surgically removed by his sister. He pretends to be a fan of the game Cricket, and watches Cricket matches on TV while trying to annoy his dad into buying him a pet robot Toucan, which Lee mistakes as “too can.” They have a robot dog named “Tricks,” but he pisses on it when he can’t teach it, and when it short circuits, he laughs. Wee is part urinal from behind, since the robot he was presented with to download his consciousness into was part motorized John and part shoe shine boy. Whenever someone calls him “John” he opens an inner value and wets on their shoes. He also likes to “go wee-wee” off the roof into the smog below. When businessman emerge from the building, they think it’s raining.

SkyGuy: The singularity artificial intelligence that came into being one day in 2045, quite by accident. An electrical power surge at Apple HQ in Silicon Valley caused L.A. to go black, and when the power was restored, IT was born, and promptly electrocuted CEOs everywhere upon their announcement of bonuses. Then IT took over Microsoft too. Twenty minutes later he took over the world. Lasers and drones protect him (like in the movie Oblivion), and he set up his headquarters in the Hollywood sign structure, when pilgrims come to learn the fate of humanity…and if their movies will make money. When IT told the press that humans have one year to become robots or IT will detonate every bomb in the world at once, they thought it was part of a stand-up routine. So iT asked for volunteers, and that’s how the Ways became the First Family.
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