Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 14:23 on 28-11-2011, Wardog
Yes, I wondering about that... *sadness* He seems more than usually fragile as well, though I have been one-shot by a bear.
at 14:09 on 28-11-2011, valse de la lune
How... does he die by running into people?
at 12:59 on 28-11-2011, Wardog
Oooh! 100 Ways to Die in Skyrim! I have done, err, a bunch of these actually.
at 14:03 on 26-11-2011, Cammalot
Melancholia is the only von Trier film I've been remotely tempted to see. (All the reviews I read spoiled with impunity, though :-D) I'd like to hear from someone who's seen Another Earth, too; the trailers made me cry out "I want!" (not literally), but the buzz called it "predictable," which...well how does that work?! Still tempted on both counts.
at 07:08 on 26-11-2011, Michal
Well, now that we're talking "films with massive mystery planets approaching the Earth", I really wanted to see this. But, as you might expect, there was no way this was getting anywhere near a theatre in northern Canada.

A lot of nuclear war stuff is piffle or worn-out literary devices, but every once in a while there's this little peak at the core fear: the idea that you will die, everyone around you will die, everything you built will be lost, the memory of you will be erased, and there will be nothing forever after.

While The Road isn't technically a nuclear war story, it does feature far more than just a glimpse of that hard sense of misery and dread over the slow death of not only civilization but every living thing as well. Strangely, I'm reading Blood Meridian right now, and if anything, it's even more depressing. Damn you, Cormac McCarthy. It's a lucky thing your writing is so good, or else I wouldn't put up with your lack of quotation marks and overwhelming sense of hopelessness.
at 06:33 on 26-11-2011, Alasdair Czyrnyj
So, went to see two movies this evening.

First was Lars von Trier's Melancholia. Spoiler:
The planetoid collides with you know what, fuck it. It happens before the title screen, so he clearly wanted to make it clear that the worlds ends at the end, but every reviewer online has been pussyfooting around about by not actually saying that's what happens, and I for one will not be a part of this bullshit jamboree.
The planetoid collides with the Earth at the end, and all life is destroyed.

I haven't quite knit together all my thoughts about it, but I found it a companion piece to Antichrist. Some of the same concerns pop up, namely the depiction of nature as fundamentally evil, and of the defeat/destruction of rational, empirical thought in the face of irrationalism. (I've noticed that rational characters tend to be male, while the irrational ones tend to be female, but Charlotte Gainsborough is on the side of rationality in this movie. Personally, I think the gender issue in this particular case is a red herring, and that the primary matter is the destruction of people who try to be "rational", regardless of gender, but YMMV.)

Something that came through to me as I watched the movie was that our society (probably all societies, to some degree) has a hard time thinking about death. We imagine it all the time in a variety of forms, sure, but I've always had this sense that the final, complete termination of existence, of consciousness, memory, everything is something we put out of heads and rationalize all the time, something I think von Trier was trying to say in Melancholia. Maybe it's just a feature of individualistic societies; if you're part of a collective you can always "live on" if you have contributed to the whole, but even that's not immune to such fears, as even collectives aren't immortal.

I think this might be the reason I prefer nuclear war stories to zombie stories. A lot of nuclear war stuff is piffle or worn-out literary devices, but every once in a while there's this little peak at the core fear: the idea that you will die, everyone around you will die, everything you built will be lost, the memory of you will be erased, and there will be nothing forever after. I have never, ever, felt that when reading a zombie story or watching a zombie movie. Guess it just proves the old saw that action and character development are the opiates of the masses.

I also saw a vaguely similar, though more modestly ambitious, film called Take Shelter. In a nutshell, it's the charming tale of a blue-collar family man from Ohio who appears to be slowly going mad, and I felt Michael Shannon did a wonderful job balancing fear and taciturnity as said family man. The part that'll probably throw most viewers is the fact that Shannon's character continues building the bomb shelter in his backyard even though he admits he may be having a schizophrenic breakdown, but I didn't really have a problem with it. If you have a problem, it is often far, far easier to diagnose and propose treatment for yourself than it is to actually cure yourself, and if you're alone with your thoughts for a lot of the day, you'll act on them even if you know you shouldn't.
at 02:18 on 26-11-2011, Arthur B
No, people who buy into the Nice Guy idea are perfectly capable of being that delusional. (We did in fact encounter the comic before when Dan brought it up a while back.)
at 01:51 on 26-11-2011, Michal
This is better.

I mean, these guys must've been trolling to show how pitiable this kind of behaviour is, right? Right?
at 19:09 on 25-11-2011, Arthur B
This article in The Escapist is an amazing takedown of the whole Nice Guy thing.

So naturally, the first comment in the Facebook box underneath it is a guy who in one sentence thanks the author for slamming all those Nice Guys and distinguishing them from genuinely nice guys, and then starts wittering on about the "friend zone" and life screwing people over if they aren't "jerks" with lines straight out of the Nice Guy ideology handbook.
at 13:00 on 25-11-2011, Andy G
What's offensive(ly awful) is the video of 'a dad who emails his daughter every day from the day she was born' that appears if you log out. But I do like the re-design actually.
at 12:56 on 25-11-2011, Wardog
I find it inoffensive - which is all I really want from my email :)
at 10:25 on 25-11-2011, valse de la lune
Does anyone else like the gmail redesign? I seem very alone in this but I find it oh so pretty.
at 12:34 on 24-11-2011, Arthur B
I've not seen any suggestions to the effect.

Also, apparently there are enormous grey 1:1 scale models of Morrowind and Cyrodil in Skyrim which you can get to if you turn off clipping and head waaaaay off the map. This makes me very excited about the DLC/modding possibilities.
at 11:58 on 24-11-2011, Axiomatic
I have't played it yet, but I hear that Skyrim has destroyed the most interesting part of Tamriel, Morrowind. Is this true?
at 16:23 on 23-11-2011, Michal
Anything based on The Cyberiad is bound to be amazing.
at 10:12 on 23-11-2011, Arthur B
Today's Google doodle is amazing. (If you want to read the story it's based on it's this one.)
at 09:19 on 23-11-2011, Wardog
I've read The Last Werewolf - it's ... well ... I felt quite torn. I mean maybe it's because I'm a drooling moron incapable of recognising his GENIOOS but I thought it had promise, but was slightly pretentious (okay, more than slightly pretentious) and his women were shite.
at 05:36 on 23-11-2011, valse de la lune
why is Glen Duncan being white an issue? Isn't him being a rather jerkish jerk more relevant?

Straight white men are a group most prone to wahhhhhh over "political correctness."

I've read Duncan. I, Lucifer is sophomoric tat in love with its own pseudo-edginess and misogyny.
at 04:42 on 23-11-2011, Ibmiller
I was more than a little perplexed at what "political correctness" he was actually criticizing. It seemed more like a vague "bad thing" to attack, rather like "fascism" or "capitalism."
at 04:19 on 23-11-2011, Frank
For me, it's the white man poo-pooing political correctness that tickles me funny bone.
at 03:15 on 23-11-2011, Ibmiller
Out of curiosity (since I've not read either The Last Werewolf or Zone One), why is Glen Duncan being white an issue? Isn't him being a rather jerkish jerk more relevant? I didn't notice anything particularly racially oriented in his review. Is it because Whitehead is not white?
at 01:40 on 23-11-2011, Michal
white guy, Glen Duncan, scoffs at political correctness and the po-faced genre fans.

Well, if you didn't think Glen Duncan was a twat already...

Has anyone here actually read The Last Werewolf? Or anything by this guy? I'd be interested to hear what y'all think of his work.
at 01:38 on 23-11-2011, Alasdair Czyrnyj
It appears that Spec Ops: The Line, an upcoming game I was curious about a year or so ago, is back on the radar. The early reports are intriguing. And the trailer is phantasmagoric.

The developers have ambition, I'll give them that.
at 01:25 on 23-11-2011, Alasdair Czyrnyj
You know what? The Hulk's writing style is annoying as fuck. If you have a point to make on the subject of Twilight, Eat Pray Love or whatever else, there's no reason to intentionally obscure it by TYPING LIKE CAVEMAN TYPE BECAUSE THAT MY ONLY GIMMICK. ALSO REVIEWER REFER TO SELF PERSONA IN THIRD PERSON.

You know what? There may be something worthwhile written about the movie in that review, *but I really can't be bothered to wade through it* to find out.

I am now sorely tempted to start a book review blog written in the demotic post-apocalyptic Kentish English of Riddley Walker.

Each review will be 500 words long, and will take me three months to write.