A Cornucopia of Stuff

The next entry in the Oneiropolis Compendium is slightly late. The image is ready, but this entry has a very, very long list of books attached to it, and that means it’s taking a bit longer to complete. I’ll put it up tomorrow.

Links, thoughts, stuff:

  • Occupy the first person plural. If you only read one thing on this list, read this one. An excellent piece of writing.
  • Anonymous: An ignorant assault on Shakespeare. The WSWS rarely has good film reviews, but if there is one thing that sets my teeth on edge, it’s bullshit like the Shakespeare “authorship question.” And no, I haven’t seen the movie, and you might say I’m strossing, but I don’t think that’s the case here. I can tell you that any movie that claims the Holocaust didn’t happen is crap, and the same goes for any movie that tries to push this long-disproven elitist rubbish on people.
  • We attended a presentation of the new Robert Harris book, The Fear Index, featuring the man himself. He was charming and nice and signed Verena’s copy of Imperium.
  • I’m currently reading China Miéville’s Iron Council. After Perdido Street Station impressed me with some of its ideas but massively pissed me off with its plot and structure,  this one is a pleasant surprise. I’m not done yet, so there’s still room for a fuckup, but everything I’ve read so far has been much more enjoyable and meaningful.
  • I recently read The Alphabet by David Sacks (a book known under a variety of titles). Parts of it were quite interesting, but there was entirely too much repetition, to a large degree because the book originally was a series of newspaper articles. It also contained a number of annoying factual errors, mostly about the pronunciation of words in languages I happen to speak, which unfortunately had the effect of making me question what else might be wrong. Still, if you know nothing about the subject matter (and I happen to know a fair amount, given my general interests and my studies, so I’m probably not the book’s intended audience), you’ll probably find that the story of one of our most important inventions is quite a fascinating one.
  • I can’t wait to have a proper internet connection again. This situation has really crippled our ability to work.
  • Anne McCaffrey died. I don’t want to be mean about her. I think her books are astoundingly terrible, and sexist to boot. I don’t know what to say without sounding condescending. Verena read her books as a child and thus got into reading, so I can’t say the woman didn’t do any good in the world; inspiring people to read is a great thing. But I still think her writing is terrible.
  • The Gnome’s Lair review of Fate of the World is interesting, and mentions something that I think deserves a detailed analysis: the way the climate change situation is often discussed only within the parameters of the current economic and political system, when in fact it is that very system which is causing the problem, or at least making it near-impossible to fix. It’s kind of like wondering how we could get the Nazis to treat the Jews better. By not electing those fuckers, that’s how.
  • It’s getting more and more uncomfortable to be Greek in Germany these days. Newspapers raving about “the Greeks,” people casually repeating the most absurd nonsense, and of course everyone having to comment on the situation the moment they realize you’re Greek, as if you were personally responsible for destroying Germany. The other day we were shopping and someone had put up an anti-Greece poster on the wall next to his stall. I never fail to be shocked by how willing people are to be fed the latest scapegoat. Especially in Germany, where they should really know better.
  • And in Greece itself, as well as in Italy, we now don’t even need the appearance of democracy anymore, we just switch governments when the markets tell us to. As a friend of mine recently put it to me, “I hate the markets because they made me sympathize with Berlusconi.” Do we really have to keep taking this crap so a few douchebags can keep paying for cocaine and hookers? Our ecocomic system isn’t just problematic, it’s a fucking joke. Does anyone even know what these “markets” are? What do they have to do with the reality of work and production? Nothing, absolutely nothing. We’re shutting down schools to pay for a casino.
  • Something more positive from Greece: Greek adventure gaming site Adventure Advocate published an article about me. That doesn’t really counterbalance the whole, you know, destruction of the country by an idiotic international financial elite thing, but it did make me smile, so hey. I was particularly fascinated by the part where my work is categorized into two “phases” (the first being darker and more lonely, the second more open, more satirical and generally more social and colourful) – it may even be true (though I don’t see my work like that), but it’s extremely odd to be talked about in this way. Not bad-odd, just odd.
  • Is it just me or does Skyrim have some of the worst voice acting ever recorded? I read various journalists claiming that it all sounded so authentic, so Scandinavian, but… err, what? Is this like that thing where English-speaking people really, really don’t get what German is supposed to sound like? (If you actually speak German, going to the movies can be a painful experience. X-Men: First Class caused a mixture of shock and giggling in the cinema when Kevin Bacon spoke… eh, “German.”) Granted, I’ve only seen the first 30-40 minutes of the game, since my PC is going to hell and I can’t get any 3D game to work without hanging, and no I haven’t bought Skyrim (I’m waiting for the GOTY edition)… but I have seen quite a few NPCs speak, and there is nothing authentic about that shit. In fact, their accents sound half Russian, half Austrian, their pronunciation of names is utterly American, and their children apparently all went to a boarding school in the US. It is, sadly, hilarious. How can a big-budget title like this be so amateurish? And let’s not even mention the writing, which made me groan before the intro was even over. What happened to the people who made something as brilliant as Morrowind?
  • I hope you’re enjoying The Oneiropolis Compendium. We certainly are, and while it’s not making us rich, it’s keeping us from starving (literally). If you enjoy the entries, it would be awesome if you could retweet them, share them with friends who might like them, rate them up on StumbleUpon, and generally use the potential of social media to spread the word. Thanks.

 

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9 Comments

  1. Hmmm. I’ll have to try Iron Council then. I read Perdido Street Station, and pretty much had the same reaction you did, though I wouldn’t say it pissed me off more than I found it a real slog to get through.

    And yes, the Compendium is delightful! What a fun little project. I’ve enjoyed each one – but ESPECIALLY Dogpuncher. 🙂

  2. You make so many points that any discussion via comments becomes, well, pointless really. Still, excellent read the Occupy text, thanks for the link, interesting update on the political primitivism thriving in Germany, love the Compendium, and have a read at this:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2011/nov/24/frank-miller-hollywood-fascism

  3. Hmm. I despise Miller and wasn’t shocked by his diatribe, but I think the article gets a lot of things wrong. Avatar is racist and New Age? Bullshit. Gladiator is about George Bush? Ehh, what? True Lies is a terrible movie, but most of Cameron’s work is decidedly anti-war, and how convenient of the article not to mention Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven. And throwing in Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis with Norris and his ilk is just plain wrong. And while the X-Men movies are sadly more about identity politics than about anything else, grouping them with Iron Man and Captain America is just plain silly.

  4. Aw, dammit, the article on the Greek website is in Greek! I can’t even transliterate Greek! How dare those people speak Greek, and not American, like everybody else!

  5. Skyrim really is quite brilliant when you get into it, despite the “let’s pick a generic pseudo-Germanic/-Scandinavian accent” voice acting and middling dialogue writing. The world has the wonderful alien feel of Morrowind but with Vikings instead of mushrooms, many of the quest chains are genuinely interesting, and the “dungeons” are actually fun all the way through. I haven’t found a dull, generic (Oblivion) dungeon yet.

  6. Just want to say that I really appreciate your writings on Greece, Germany, and being Greek in Germany. Reading your perspective and experiences makes what’s happening over there hit home more.

  7. @ Jonas: Hmmm, yes, you make quite a few valid points indeed. Must have been blinded from my wild hatred of Miller’s political views. Do enjoy the odd Sin City mind.

    @ Evil Roda: Fair point that, dear.

  8. @Evil Roda: τι να κάνουμε, έτσι είναι τα πράγματα.

    @Gregory: Don’t say that, you’re making me want to play it! (I actually really do want to play it, but the voice acting really is too hilarious for its own good. I think this kind of thing gets stronger the more familiar you are with an accent/language. I thought Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon felt very “authentic”, but Mandarin speakers complained about the accents.)

    @Melissa: Thanks. Not everyone will agree with me – my friend Julian, for example, will always claim things are less bad. But then he lives in China these days, so what does he know? *g* I can just report what it feels like to walk past a newspaper stand with exhortations to punish “the Greeks.”

    @gnome: I can understand that. I’ve felt an undying hatred for Miller ever since he took the story of the Thermopylae, which I’ve always found amazing (in a complex way), and turned it into the piece of racist garbage that is 300.

  9. Matt L

     /  November 30, 2011

    One of the things to remember about Skyrim, that I believe is true of all the voice acting in the Elder Scrolls series, is that your mileage varies from actor to actor.

    There are lots of side characters, who yes, do not have the best voice acting in the world. But there are also several major characters played by very good actors.

    Accent-wise I suppose you’re right that most of the actors don’t bother trying to add any kind of real Germanic accent. I’m fine with that. This is a mythological universe, so as far as I’m concerned they don’t NEED a Germanic accent. The few actors who really try, as you point out, don’t do a great job of it anyway. Accents are an odd beast anyway and often a crutch. They’re strongly cultural and have implications and connotations nearly as powerful as those of words.

    As a final thought, outliers aside, this game has better acting and writing overall than any other game in the series–including Morrowind which I’ve poured hours upon hours into. Yes, as usual for the series, the dialog is stiff…but it also tends to be filled with detail and a clear love for the universe. The story overall is also MUCH stronger than the other games, IMO.