Sometime between February 27th and April 12th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!
poor people deserve things they want, too.: "These tiny luxuries you give yourself are not sins as dictated from on high by some divine economist who decided you must earn your freedom through oppressive sorrow. These luxuries are the handholds you need to climb out of that pit, to have stamina, to keep focus, to remember that there is another type of life. It can be had, and by you too."
Sometime between December 27th and January 8th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!
Why So Many Men Hate the Last Jedi But Can’t Agree on Why: SPOILERS: "I don’t think every human who disliked The Last Jedi is an evil, evil misogynist. I do think that we have so deeply internalized sexist narrative tropes that we see them as 'correct' and 'good filmmaking' while seeing their absence as 'flaws.'"
My Hero, Luke Skywalker: SPOILERS: “It is a beautiful fantasy and, I thought, a particularly resonant message for the anxious and depressed about what you can be capable of, the kind of peace you may be able to find if you dig down deep enough and push yourself emotionally.”
Stop reading what Facebook tells you to read: "Literally, all you need to do: Type in web addresses. Use autofill! Or even: Google the website you want to go to, and go to it. Then bookmark it. Then go back every now and again."
Star Wars “fans” should remember being a fan doesn’t mean unequivocal love (or hate): SPOILERS: “This is the problem with these loudest of ‘fans’: They’ve forgotten that a big part of fandom is the ability to hold multiple opinions on the same material all at once. That all-or-nothing mentality does a disservice to fans and films alike, by reductively lumping pluses and minuses into one indiscernible stew of love or loathing.”
Sometime between November 12th and December 19th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!
Toxic Masculinity Is the True Villain of Star Wars: The Last Jedi: SPOILERS: “Poe's character, while not one of the main protagonists, has even more to do in The Last Jedi. However, while he may be filling the role of the dashing pilot that Han did in the Original Trilogy, director Rian Johnson is using the archetype to say something completely different about heroism, leadership, and—perhaps most importantly—masculinity.”
Star Wars, the Generations: SPOILERS: “Great movies reflect an era through the eyes of artists who embody that era. George Lucas embodied the era of Baby Boom ‘destiny’ and self-conceit. Rian Johnson embodies our era of diminished heroism, cynicism and near despair– tempered by the hope, if we can but learn from our heroes’ mistakes, that somehow, some way, some day, we may yet restore balance to the Force.”
Rian Johnson Confirms The Dorkiest Reference In ‘The Last Jedi’: SPOILERS: “There is a dorky reference in Star Wars: The Last Jedi that even director Rian Johnson admits that you may have to be of a certain age to get – thanks to a narrow window where you might have been watching premium cable in the very early ‘80s when this bizarre little short film would air in-between feature-length films.”
Rian Johnson Says There Are No Twists, Only Honest Choices: SPOILERS: “It seemed completely honest to me. It seems like the most dramatic version of that. And that’s what you’re supposed to do. Find what the honest moment would be, and then find the most dramatic version of it. So, in terms of the big ‘twists’ in the movie, they sprung from a process of trying to follow where these characters would go as honestly as possible.”
Pro-Neutrality, Anti-Title II: Interesting argument that the likely change to ISP regulations — the 'net neutrality' debate — may not be quite the horrid thing it appears to be. Worth thinking over. "The question at hand, though, is what is the best way to achieve net neutrality? To believe that Chairman Pai is right is not to be against net neutrality; rather, it is to believe that the FCC’s 2015 approach was mistaken."
The Amazons’ New Clothes: “The Wonder Woman designs received acclaim from fans and costume fanatics alike. They were clearly inspired by the Amazon’s origins in the Mediterranean and were feminine but very functional. Why mess with perfection? Oh, right. The all-male team of directors and executive directors wanted women to fight in bikinis.”
Dear Fellow Guys….stop hitting on women at work….: If you’re interacting with a human it’s because you want to interact with a human and you want that human to be nice to you. You are paying for their kindness, for their smiles when their feet hurt and their questions about your day when they haven’t had lunch yet. Flirting with customer service workers at work, asking them out when they’re on the clock and paid to make you happy, telling them you think they’re attractive and expecting a gushing response – that’s breaking the rules. That’s a lose-lose situation that you’ve set them up for. (tags: sexismtoxicmasculinitybehaviorflirtingsafetytumblr )
I saw Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (man, that full title is clunky) last night, and really enjoyed it. Here’s the brief mini-review I posted to Facebook:
Brief spoiler-free review of Rogue One: as many have already said, it’s good, and well worth seeing in the theater. Manages to be very much a part of the established Star Wars universe while also being very different from every other Star Wars film made to date — and, yes, part of that is that it’s darker than the rest, and parents might not want to assume that young ones will be fine with this one just because it’s part of the Star Wars universe. Very effectively sits just before A New Hope while also being a very modern film; I was particularly impressed with how well they pulled this off, especially as so many of the costumes and hairstyles had to be consistent with the very ’70s aesthetic of ANH. Lots of little (and some not so little) touches, Easter eggs, and in-jokes for long-time fans to enjoy (one conversation between a couple stormtroopers made me laugh out loud, and I didn’t hear anyone else react to it; it didn’t seem that obscure to me, but maybe this Trekkie has a bit more Star Wars cred than I’d have thought). I’ll enjoy watching this one again down the line.
In another discussion, a friend asked where Rogue One should go in a Star Wars binge based on the Machete Order (which omits Ep. I, and puts Eps. II and III between V and VI, for a final viewing order of IV-V-II-III-VI). My initial thought was to just drop RO in at the beginning, since chronologically it comes just before ANH. When combined with The Force Awakens, this would make a full Machete viewing of RO-IV-V-II-III-VI-VII).
On further reflection, though, I actually think that RO (and, most likely, the rest of the forthcoming standalone films) should be omitted from the lineup, and that Machete Order should be restricted to the “primary” films (those with formal episode numbers).
(Keep in mind, the following is from the theoretical perspective of subjecting someone to a Star Wars immersion course under the assumption that they’ve never seen the films and are so divorced from popular culture that they don’t know the characters, beats, or revelations. So, basically, this is a fun little bit of geekery not very related to the real world at all.)
Spoilers for various films in the Star Wars saga up to and including Rogue One follow, so I’ll just drop the rest of this post behind a cut…
On November 11, 2016, Rogue One writer Chris Weitz tweeted: “Please note that the Empire is a white supremacist (human) organization.” He later deleted that tweet after receiving lots of complaints from other Twitter users, many of whom asked him to stop “injecting politics” into Star Wars. Weitz clarified in one response tweet, “My apologies. You have a right to enjoy it as you wish; and I don’t wish to harm my colleagues’ work either.”
Weitz’ colleague, Gary Whitta, had already written his own response to the tweet comparing the Star Wars Empire to white supremacy, which said: “Opposed by a multicultural group led by brave women.” Whitta’s tweet has also since been deleted.
I have just as much sympathy (to wit: absolutely none) with people whining about “injecting politics” into Star Wars as those who did the same with Star Trek (most recently, regarding Bryan Fuller’s preparation for Star Trek: Discovery). Politics are integral to these stories. Even if you try to ignore the parallels between the Empire and the Nazi regime (which were explicit and intentional in both the original films and in The Force Awakens, so attempting to ignore that is rather ridiculous), the Star Wars prequels open with the Trade Federation controlling a blockade around a planet at the bidding of Chancellor Palpatine…but, no, sorry, that has nothing to do with politics. How silly of me.
All these people really mean is that they don’t want their politics to be called out as the bad guys…but, c’mon, if the shoe fits….
So Rogue One has already been passing the Furiosa Test (Do people on the internet get mad about it being feminist?), and now Trump supporters might be staying away as well (though, really, the two groups do seem to have a lot of overlap)? I don’t see much of a downside to that. I’d certainly be quite happy going to a movie knowing that there’s a smaller-than-normal chance of being surrounded by those types of people, and given the juggernaut that Star Wars is, I just don’t see a major impact on their bottom line from this. Win-win for everyone!
Saved here for my own reference, and possibly others’ if they should stumble across it: the easiest workflow I’ve found yet for converting DVDs or Blu-Rays (if you have a Blu-Ray reader, of course) for personal use on OS X, including OCR conversion of subtitles in either VOBSUB (DVD) or PGS (Blu-Ray) format to text-based .srt files suitable for use as soft subtitles, either as a sidecar file or included in the final movie file.
The flow diagram to the right gives an overview of the process I’ve landed on. Here’s a slightly more detailed breakdown.
Use MakeMKV to rip the DVD or BluRay disc to an .mkv file (if I run into a stubborn DVD, or one with a lot of multiplexing, I’ll use RipIt to create a disk image first, then run that image through MakeMKV). To save space, you can select only the primary audio track for inclusion, or you can select others if you want other languages or commentary tracks archived as well (though this will require more storage space). I also select all available English-language subtitle tracks, as some discs will include both standard subtitles and subtitles for the hearing impaired or closed captions, which include some extra information on who is speaking and background sounds, or occasionally even transcriptions of commentary tracks.
Use Subler to OCR and export the subtitle files. This takes two runs through Subler to complete.
First run; drag the .mkv file onto Subler, and only select the subtitle track(s). Pop that into the export queue, and after a few minutes of processing (this is when the OCR process happens) Subler will output a tiny .m4v file.
Second run; drag that file back onto Subler, click on the subtitle track, and choose File > Export… to save the .srt file(s). The tiny .m4v file can then be deleted.
Now, the OCR process is not perfect, and the resulting .srt file(s) are virtually guaranteed to have some errors. How many and how intrusive they are depends on the source. BluRay subs seem to come out better than DVD subs (likely due to the higher resolution of the format giving better quality text for the OCR process to scan), DVD subs are also affected by the chosen font and whether or not italics were used. For correction, I use one of two methods.
For a quick-and-dirty “good enough for now” run, I use BBEdit (but just about any other text editor would work) to do a quick spellcheck, identifying common errors and using search-and-replace to fix them in batches.
For a real quality fix, I use Aegisub to go through line-by-line, comparing the text to the original audio, adding italics when appropriate, and so on.
Of course, these two processes can be combined, done at different times, or skipped entirely; right now, I’m just living with the OCR errors, because I can always go back and use Subler to extract the .srt files for cleanup later on when I have more time.
Use HandBrake to re-encode and convert the .mkv file (which at this point will be fairly large, straight off the source media) to a smaller .m4v file. You can either embed the .srt files at this point, under HandBrake’s ‘Subtitles’ tab, or if you prefer…
…you can use Subler to .srt files into into the .m4v: Drag the .m4v file from HandBrake on to Subler, drag the .srt file(s) into the window that opens, and then drop that into the queue for final remuxing (optionally, before adding the files to the queue, use Subler’s metadata search tools to add the description, artwork, and other metadata). Then run the queue to output the final file.
And that’s it. Now, you should have a .m4v file with embedded text-based soft subtitles for programs that support that (VLC, Plex, etc.), or you can just use the .srt file(s) created by Subler earlier as a sidecar file for programs that don’t read the embedded .srt.
(This was originally published on Facebook a few days ago in a slightly shorter form.)
Thanks to the world’s weirdest advertising campaign, we watched a dumb comedy that we’d otherwise have had no interest in. And in the end? Yes, dumb, but we’ve definitely seen far worse, and there were some laughs to be had (bracketed by moments of pushing gags too far, but then, we were expecting that). It was an acceptably amusing way to spend an hour and a half, leaving us neither enriched nor regretting the experience. It didn’t suck.
One of my favorite gags was one of the more subtle ones (which is likely why this genre of comedy isn’t my usual thing, as subtlety doesn’t seem to be a major concern most of the time): the titular interview being watched by a North Korean guard on a PC running Windows 3.1.
So, the first full trailer (following the teaser from a couple months ago that was almost entirely clips from prior Pixar films) for Pixar’s next film showed up today. I’d been cautiously optimistic about this one, hoping for a change from the past, but after watching the trailer…I have concerns.
On the pro side, the main character is a little girl, something that’s been lacking in Pixar films until now, and the general concept looks like a very interesting one.
However, some things jumped out at me.
Stereotypes: Mom is caring, nurturing and interested in her daughter’s day, while dad is absentmindedly dreaming about sports and has to be prompted to show interest in his daughter. When prompted to actually interact with his family, his first thoughts are right in line with very typical male stereotypes: my wife wants my attention, so I must be in trouble; did I forget the garbage or leave the toilet seat up?
This leads directly to what to me is problematic language: “What is it, woman?!” Just…ugh.
Odd choices: When the promo material released so far highlighted the emotion characters inside the girl’s head, there was a nice 3-to-2 mix of feminine to masculine characters. However, all of the mom’s emotion characters are definitely feminine, and the dad’s are definitely all masculinized (with pornstaches, no less). Why do their characters get uniformly gendered while the girl’s are a mix? I suppose it could be commentary on gender being still somewhat unformed in a pre-pubescent child and settling later in life, but that seems a bit much to expect of a Pixar film.
I had hopes, Pixar, and they weren’t even that high. And yet, I don’t think you’re living up to them.