Archive for July, 2008

Is Art useful?

July 29, 2008

This post stems from an argument I had with my sister. She starts college in September and is going to take art classes, more specifically, design classes. I’ve often teased her about it, that being an artiste she would always find a good meal at my place, seeing as she wouldn’t be able to afford one herself.

The argument in itself came from me commenting that modern art is pretty much garbage, that anyone can create this kind of “art”. As Dave Kellett points out (here and here) in his webcomic Sheldon (which you must read, it is extremely funny), “by the end of his life Picasso could’ve spit on a bar napkin and called it “art”. I agree with this sentiment exactly. And this is what I told my sister. This, inevitably, led to a discussion in which she tried to get me to define art, and I refused.

I refused because I don’t know what art is, but I know what art isn’t. Art isn’t a yellow line drawn in a white canvas, framed and put for sale for 20 000 USD as being a representation of “Happiness” (this is true by the way, I actually went to an art showing where they were trying to sell this thing). This isn’t art, as far as I am concerned. Neither is this, and I am sure that this isn’t either.

My sister retorts that we must look beyond the finished product and look at the process that the artist had to go trough in order to reach the final piece. I have to disagree with her once again. When I look at a painting or a sculpture, I don’t want to know, I don’t need to know, if the artist was a poor orphan who climbed his way to the top with his teeth or if he was a rich gazillionaire who had nothing better to do than to paint. I don’t want to know if the inspiration for this piece came from a flash of genius or from years and years of study. What I do want when I look at something is to see the beauty in it, to be inspired, confused, revolted, touched by it. When I look at modern art, all I fell is that some people have to much free time on their hands.

Most people, in regards to most subjects, react like so: “You don’t like * insert subject of choice here * ? Oh well, we can’t all like the same things, can we? Barkeep, another cold one for my friend here” And that’s the end of it. Sure they may try lure you to their side, but it is always in a friendly, semi-jokingly, manner. I love this kind of people.

However, there is one specific type of modern art lover (most people, I’m sure, are not like this, you get rotten apples in every bunch), who does not react this way. The moment you say you don’t like modern art, they look at you as though you were some kind of Neanderthal who had just unfrozen this morning. From their point of view, I must be stupid to not be able to enjoy this fine piece of art in front of me. Can’t I see the way the lines represent the modern struggle against mechanization? Or how the deconstruction of government oppression is achieved by the brilliant use of an all black canvas with a single white dot? I’m sorry, I can’t.

In conclusion, if you like modern art, excellent. More power to you and I honestly hope you enjoy it. But please don’t look at me like I’m an idiot if I don’t find anything interesting in it. Thank you.

Space Empires V: The Revenge

July 12, 2008

Sorry, but I have to make another post on SEV, I just have to. The more I play this game, the more I love it, and being the sweet guy that I am, I want to share that love with you guys (and gals… please let there be gals).

I’m still playing the game I posted about earlier, me versus 4 AI opponents. So far I’ve eliminated 3 of them, mostly without to much trouble. Now, I don’t know if it was because I set the difficulty to low, or if the AI should more correctly be called AS (Artificial Stupidity), but when your empire consists of one (1) planet and zero (0) ships, you shouldn’t go out of your way to declare war on the guy who can kill stars, mkay?

I’m fascinated by the way the game allows you to customize your ships the way you see fit. Do I make my Cruiser an armored behemoth that can’t swat a fly, or do I make him a messenger of death, brimming with Graviton Guns and Anti-Proton Beams, but so weak that a single, lowly Fighter could take him down? Do I invest in Bombardment Weapons that will let me destroy everything on a planet and then build over the ashes of my enemies, or should I train Troops to take over the planet intact, subjecting the populace to my will? Decisions, decisions, decisions…

Numbers don’t mean as much as you’d expect. One time, 3 of my Cruisers where attacked by a fleet of 30 enemy ships. Outnumbered 10 to 1, I knew I was dead, but decided to try and take at least one of the bastards with me.

The game allows two modes for combat: Tactical, in which you control every single aspect of the battle, what weapons your ships use and against what enemies, formations, launching fighters and mines, stuff like that; and Strategic, in which you pre-set a strategy and just hope for the best. The problem with Strategic battles is that you can’t predict every single variable that will affect combat. Setting a strategy with incomplete information, and over which you will have no further control is just to complicated for me.

So I went with Tactical. And discovered, to my surprise and joy, that not only where my ships faster, but they also had greater weapons range than the enemy ships. And that allowed me to finish the battle with my 3 ships intact and having destroyed 10 of the enemy ships. Victory!

And I also found out that you can bribe enemy ships to join your side. You don’t even have to know where they are, your network of spies infiltrates the enemy’s systems and bribes them away! Truly a great feature and truly a great game. I heartily recommend you get it if you can.

Hancock

July 6, 2008

Went and saw the movie a few days ago. I really enjoyed it, not in a Oh my God, this movie has changed my life! kind of way, more in the 92 minutes well spent, I think way. And I don’t mean that sarcastically, I really enjoyed this flick.

Near the end it has a complete turn around, it’s comedy for the entire movie and then there are a few minutes of full, in your face, drama that feels kinda forced. I kept waiting for something funny to happen, and when it does, it’s still funny, but not quite enough to get the taste of pathos (as Sid Plait said so very well) out of my mouth.

All in all, I liked it. (Get used to those kind of reviews, I’m the kind of audience movie studios have wet dreams about, I’ll like almost anything they throw at me. I’m easy like that)

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I’m a guy, and as a guy, I’m supposed to like certain things. Cars and cleavage, for example. Check on the second, not so much on the first. Cars aren’t really my thing. I like to drive but I don’t go all gaga about the new Mercedes Model T or whatever it’s name is.

But cleavage is another story all together. Cleavage has to have its moment in a movie. You don’t show cleavage just because (gets ready to turn in his man-card at the front desk), you have to have a reason. So when Charlize Theron goes to meet Will Smith at his trailer, did she have to wear the sluttiest thing she had in the closet? And with all that eye-liner? I’m not complaining about the outfit itself, I’m just wondering about the timing in the movie. I think they thought “here we have one of the most beautiful women on the planet, we have to show some cleavage!”. Not complaining, just saying that cleavage has to have its moment.