Nitpicking Movies: How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

My favorite Christmas movie, without question, is How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The creative team, which included the likes of Chuck Jones, Boris Karloff, and Thurl Ravenscroft, put together an adventure with a gleefully evil villain but still managed to make it one of the most touching Christmas films ever conceived. So, naturally, I’m going to spend some time here picking it apart.

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Why is the Hulk my Favorite Character?

The Incredible Hulk is far and away my favorite comic book character. In fact, I’ve posed the argument before that he is one of the greatest literary characters of all time. I could delve into the many reasons that he is compelling not only as a superhero but as a creature of horror and a modern allegory. But, no matter what sort of merits I think the character has, the fact is that I only discovered most of them after I became a fan. So what got me hooked on the Hulk in the first place?

Well, truth be told, it was mostly because he was in the right place at the right time.

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Gaming Stories: Ride of the SS Stupid

The beauty of role-playing games lies in the stupidity of the PCs. Sometimes they will act with tactical precision and annihilate their foes, but often they will come up with the most ridiculous harebrained schemes imaginable. Those moments of glorious foolishness are where RPGs shine the brightest. Such was the case when the players in my Pathfinder game created the SS Stupid and set it off on its maiden voyage.

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Robocop: A Great Use of the Ol’ Ultraviolence

Despite the fact that I enjoy action movies, I think many films these days have too much violence in them. I’m not against violence in cinema, but I think it often lacks a purpose. Seeing a particularly gory gunfight is like witnessing a jump scare in a horror film; it’s often a cheap audiovisual trick to cover up lazy storytelling.

Of course, there are exceptions to that. For example, Robocop.

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Paizo’s Controversy, Bad Behavior, and the Dilemma of Ethical Consumption

Folks who read this blog or who know me in person probably realize that I’m a pretty big shill for the Pathfinder RPG. While I love a lot of different role-playing games, Pathfinder has won my heart due to a combination of rules, art, and creative worldbuilding. On the other hand, while I have always appreciated the work Paizo Publishing has done in creating both Pathfinder and its sister game Starfinder, I’ve never particularly idolized the company. This week is a good example of why.

Paizo is currently embroiled in a major controversy of its own making, due largely to poor decisions by management and atrocious actions taken by some of its most influential members. The company has had some serious issues for a number of years, and many of those problems are now on display for the world to see. This has all raised questions in my mind about ethical consumption, especially when it comes to luxury products like RPGs. By continuing to buy Pathfinder products, am I condoning Paizo’s bad behavior?

The answer is…well, complicated.

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The Many Faces of Elminster

I’m a Forgotten Realms player from my 2nd edition AD&D days, which means I got exposed to the setting right around the time that Elminster the Sage was crammed down players’ throats everywhere. He showed up in a great deal of Realms fiction, bothered PCs during official adventure modules, and even pestered the protagonist in the Baldur’s Gate videogames.

In most of his appearances, Elminster either served as an annoyance or suggested with his mere presence that the PCs were wholly unnecessary. After all, if a 29th-level wizard with multiple deities as his allies has his eye on something, mere mortals, no matter how well-intentioned, become redundant.

D&D‘s 4th edition tried to reverse course by stripping Elminster down to become less powerful, but he returned to his mighty stature with the transition to 5th edition. Yet despite his might, Elminster doesn’t have to be a nuisance to the PCs; there are many ways to present a massively powerful wizard without having him overshadow everything else. Here are a few optional takes on Elminster that jive with his official stats in most versions of D&D while giving him a twist to make his presence in a game less domineering.

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Phantom Histories: The 1986 Musical

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera is either a lot of flash with little substance or one of the best musicals of all time, depending on your personal tastes. It undoubtedly has incredible sets and costumes paired with beautiful music. Whether that is enough to overcome the way it glosses over many of the meatier parts of Gaston Leroux’s novel is a matter of some debate. One thing is sure, however: it brings the love story from that novel back to scenter stage.

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A Kind of Magic: Highlander The Series, seasons five and six

One thing I forgot to mention last rant was that Adrian Paul took over as the director for a couple of episodes in season four (“Homeland” and “Methuselah’s Gift”), and he also got behind the camera for two episodes in the fifth season (“Revelation 6:8” and “The Modern Prometheus”). Probably not coincidentally, three of the four episodes he directed are among the best in the series. Again, Adrian Paul’s contributions made Highlander: The Series the success it was. Unfortunately, as he lost interest in the series, the show also went downhill.

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