Mass Effect, as a series, is probably known and loved more for the cast of characters Shepard pals around with while saving the galaxy multiple times than any other aspect. Other games do combat better (although I’ve never enjoyed any shooter more than Mass Effect 3, especially the multiplayer), or have better plots or storylines, but no game really comes close to having characters who grow and evolve during the series, in many cases shaped by their interactions the player has with them. Fan favorites like Garrus, Wrex, Tali (I even named my dog after her), Jack, Mordin – all of them are incredibly well fleshed-out, have real growth arcs through the series, and have real resonance. They are beloved.
There is one character, though, who is not beloved. She is rarely even be-liked. She is usually be-fucking-hated. She is Ashley Williams.
Here is the non-spoiler portion of this post: There is a movie called Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I have seen it.
This is the end of the non-spoiler portion of the post. Seriously, everything that comes after this will spoil everything, including movies that haven’t even been written yet. That’s how spoilery this shit is. After this, if you see something that ruins a crucial Jabba the Hutt related moment in the movie for you, that’s entirely your fault and not mine.
I love The Lord of the Rings more than any other collection of slaughtered tree corpses that have been smashed flat and sliced thin and then stained with runic symbols made from dyes and solvents. You probably knew that already. One day, I was pondering who the most useful members of the Fellowship were, as one does, and decided to write this here post.
So here is the definitive ranking of the members of the Fellowship from the books only, from best to worst. This list is based on the following criteria:
Contribution to the quest relative of power: Gandalf is an immortal spirit with a level of power basically equivalent to Sauron (it’s complicated, I know, since much of the strength of the Dark Lord is tied to Middle-Earth itself, but from a base level, it’s like comparing one Elf to another). Sam is a short fat gardener. One should expect Gandalf to be more useful than Sam, so I try to weigh a character’s potential impact to their actual impact.
Notable achievements during the quest (Pros): pretty self-explanatory.
Bone-headed dumb shit done during the quest (Cons): How badly the character Pippined things up. (Or should it be Pippinned? I feel grammatically it should be Pippinned, but I’m going with Pippined because I like it better.)
Intangibles: The little things the character does that make their impact greater than the sum of their actions that may not be obvious on the surface, which sounds a hell of a lot better than “how I justify ranking someone higher than they might deserve because I am biased in one way or another” which is what this actually factors in.
I will also provide the ranking I would assign if this were based on the movies. Here we go!
I am not unfamiliar with the concept of a luxury hotel. I am also aware that hotels on the beach in Florida are pricey as all hell. I am not entirely a beautiful naive sophisticated newborn baby (despite what my betrothed would say), so the fact that there are incredibly expensive hotel rooms out there is not a shock or unfathomable or anything. It does make me feel a little ill, to be honest, or at least the concept of paying for such a hotel does – I am an accountant, after all, and cost/benefit analysis is as hard-wired into my psyche (accountants are born, not made – if someone likes to learn about rules and is the first one to read them when a new boardgame is brought out, you’d probably make an excellent accountant. Which after reading that makes accountants sound boring as hell, which isn’t always true, but accounting itself really is pretty boring when you get right down to it.) as love of steak and distrust of yellow squash. I can’t wrap my head around paying 10 times as much for something simply for the fact that I can afford it when a suitable alternative provides the same function. I get nauseous.
I’m a fan of the NFL Washington Redskins, in case you haven’t noticed. My first memory of being a live, thinking, and functioning human is of watching a Redskins game in the basement of our house with my father and brother (as they lost to the fucking Cowboys, because of course they fucking did). I inherited my love of the team from my dad and sibling and it’s been part of my life ever since. I’m such a huge fan of this team, in fact, that I can’t watch them play and haven’t watched a Redskins game in its entirety without previously knowing the outcome in years. I know that doesn’t sound like being much of a fan, but I care so fucking much about what is happening that I lose my ever-fucking mind. A first quarter third-down stop by the defense leads me to an expletive-laced tirade about how lame the opposing team is and how I wish them all to die in a cancer fire, and that’s for a PRESEASON game. When they win (rare!) it brightens my entire outlook and psyche. When they lose (often!) it sends me into a bitter spiral of anger and despair. I actually frighten people who have the misfortune to be around me when for some reason I can see the game.
Yes, I have a problem. No, that’s not actually the point of this blog.
My blog is usually about ephemeral bullshit and inchoate rage about ephemeral bullshit. This post is not like those posts. Ya been warned.
I almost didn’t write this one.
The issues that I’m going to talk about are so politicized, so polarizing, and so inflammatory that I know I can’t even state my thoughts without angering someone, or a lot of someones, or even large swathes of entire political parties. Like yesterday’s post about feminism/gender equality, these issues are emotional and almost immediately cause disagreement. So it would be easier for me to say nothing, except to the people I’m close to who mostly agree with me.
Except I think that’s the coward’s way out. So here we go.
In another of my popular series, “Why I Hate on Random Shit Like TV Shows and Movies That Are Not Very Important In the Big or Even Medium-Small Scheme of Things,” I have decided to answer a question posed to me by a commenter on my last blog post. Basically, it boils down to this: as a fan of Tolkien, why do I hate on Peter Jackson so much when he brought so much of Tolkien’s vision to the big screen and mass audiences, revitalizing the genre and Tolkien’s legacy and exposing an entirely new generation to the joy and wonder of Middle-Earth?
Christ, when I put it that way I make myself feel like a crotchety misanthropic asshat who would complain about the method someone used to make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Of course, I am exactly the sort of person who would be disappointed if someone incorrectly assembled such a sandwich by, say, putting the jelly directly onto the other slice of bread rather than on the peanut butter, which is the proper method for creating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and anyone who says it is the same either way is wrong and should feel bad about themselves.
I know this blog is better known for screaming ranting hate and me bitching very loudly about things like cupcakes or Brad Pitt’s hair or smoke detectors and other things, but occasionally – very occasionally – I talk about things I love that are not currently being shit on by Peter Jackson and instead wax rhapsodic – or, well, as close as I can get to rhapsody at any rate – about things that bring me joy. This is one of those posts. Sorry to disappoint you guys.
Anyway, I love The Silmarillion. It’s been my favorite book since I took in the first few pages a long long time ago. I know I’m in the minority on this one. In fact, I know only one other person who agrees with me. Even people who love Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings can’t get through it at all in a lot of cases. Most people say it’s dry, it’s dull, hard to read, hard to keep track of what’s going on, etc etc yadda yadda.
I get it. It’s not written like most books. Of course, it’s not really written by Tolkien himself, since it was basically an attempt by his son Christopher to turn the vast amount of notes and work-in-progress stuff into a single cohesive narrative to share the history of Middle-Earth. But I’ve never thought of it as dry. Matter-of-fact, maybe, but there is a sort of poetry to the whole thing all at the same time. Check this out:
Blue was her raiment as the unclouded heaven, but her eyes were as grey as the starlit evening; her mantle was sown with golden flowers, but her hair was dark as the shadows of twilight. As the light upon the leaves of trees, as the voice of clear waters, as the stars above the mists of the world, such was her glory and her loveliness; and in her face was a shining light.
That’s fucking poetry, only less emo and not bullshitty like James Franco.
Sunday, October 14th. That’s when it’s back. The show I love to hate, full of the most dysfunctional group of addle-brained survivors of all time, comes back after an entire season spent on a farm agonizing over morning-after pills, religion, suicide, a woman’s proper role in life, love triangles, and where the fuck Carl has disappeared to and who’s gonna die because of it. Every now and again they put a zombie in it. It was not a good season. Most people agreed that it was slow and awful and dull, until the last episode seemed to make everyone forget about the horrible pacing and stupid arguments and ridiculous thought processes. Zombies! Guns! Impossible headshots and shotguns that never need to be reloaded! And then the big part, the last scene, where everyone seemed to have a collective fangasm and couldn’t stop gushing about what next season would bring. ZOMG the prison! And Michionne! Michionne! MICHIONNE!!!!!!!
A few weeks back, I provided some really awful parenting advice as part of my series about weight loss (sample: “Show your kids the back of your hand”). I included the caveat that no one should listen to any of my advice about anything ever, but then a weird thing happened. People, people with children, people with actual living human beings under their care and guidance, thought that I should write the parenting guide I’d jokingly referred to.
Well, OK. Let’s do this thing.
Because why the hell not? I’m a parenting expert, because I don’t have any squealing little brats that I constantly coddle and gloss over the sociopathic and demented shit they do. I mean, I was a kid once, I HAD parents, so I’m as much an expert as the next guy. I can see the forest for the trees and all that shit. Actually, I’m probably more qualified to be an expert in bee-eating than parenting, but whatever. As long as you don’t actually listen to a single thing I say ever, you’ll do fine.