Why I Enjoy Watching Scary Movies


“I enjoy watching scary movies.”

When you think about it, that’s a strange claim to make. Why would someone willingly watch something that makes you feel uncomfortable and freaks you out?

Here’s the thing, unless you watch a bit of horror you might not realize that it’s a pretty nuanced genre, there are a lot of rules and traditions. As well as that there are different types of horror which appeal to different people. Some people get a kick out of watching movies with lots of gore and torture (that’s not my thing). Personally, I love trashy horror movies featuring teenagers getting attacked.

There are two main reasons, which are semi-related as to why people watch horror movies. The first is a sense of catharsis you get from watching some average person survive through a horrific experience. It was terrible and disgusting and gross, but they GOT THROUGH IT. And by extension, so did you. A lot of people will say that there’s something wrong with their life, or that they feel stressed, but aren’t able to actually put their finger on what’s wrong. Seeing something horrible and terrifying but also very concrete can help them try to cope with a general feeling of unease in their real life.The Strangers

Another reason that it makes you feel better about your own life is it give you something to compare yourself to. “Well, I know things haven’t been going very well lately, but on the plus side, nobody’s barged into my house wielding a machete.” But for this to happen there needs to be some trust between the creators of the movie and the viewer. The scary thing has to be outlandish and incredible, some people say things like “oh I really liked Paranormal Activity because I could totally imagine that happening to me” and while that’s true, you still don’t really think that you’re going to be attacked by some demon. However, a strange man coming in and stealing your children, that’s way more terrifying, because this is a real thing that actually happens to people and as such, you don’t see much of it in horror films. Joey Comeau touched on this on why horror movies shouldn’t feature rape.

This is why when people ask me what the scariest horror movie I’ve seen is I’ll say Sinister, but then say that you’d be much better off watching The Strangers. Sinister is terrifying, but in crazy, unreal ways, but you still have this sense that there’s no reason why each act in it couldn’t have actually happened (something to keep in mind while watching it is that the story was inspired by director’s actual life). Although The Strangers will still leave you terrified and is about a home invasion, it still makes the whole thing crazy enough that you’re pretty sure it won’t happen to you.

My recommendation for horror if you’ve not really seen any and you’re wondering if you might be interested in it would be something stupid, like Final Destination or Jeepers Creepers. If for some reason you enjoyed that and start wanting more try The Strangers. Only watch Sinister if you’re prepared to be totally and completely terrified (don’t watch the trailer, it spoils most of the scares).

Tell me in the comments why you watch horror, or what your favourite movies are. If I get enough interest I’ll sit down and come up with a recommendation list of different types, because good horror is hard to find.

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Does Good Anime Even Exist Though?


As a one time fan of anime, I can tell you straight out that more than 90% of it is total bullshit weirdness not worth your time.
(this is all my opinion btw, and I don’t claim to be an expert)

Most anime is seems really derivative, I find it really hard these days to get into anything because I’ve had a run of such bad disappointments. So much seems to feel the need to satisfy certain (totally lame) tropes, such as the use of one dimensional unbeatable heroes, standard storylines, lack of character development in long running series (oh god) and fear of trying new things.

So I decided to make a list of series which I think are both good, and avoid many of the common anime problems. If you have any suggestions or comments, please feel free to leave them.

Before we continue though, I have two quick notes to make.

Subbed or Dubbed

This is a big debate. Subbed anime refers to keeping the original Japanese audio and having subtitles down the bottom of the screen where dubbed anime is when the audio has been rerecorded with English speaking voice actors. Some purists insist that subbed anime is the only way to go because only the original actors carry the correct emotion or that it only sounds right when speaking Japanese. I disagree on this point for two reasons. Firstly, unless you’re fluant in Japanese you’re not going to be able to pick up on the nuances of the actors performance anyway because of the culteral differences. Secondly anime is, by nature, a very visual medium.  If you’re looking at the subtitles, you’re going to be missing part of the quick action that’s happening on the screen. So personally, I recommend watching anime dubbed when you can, except for special cases with have a particularly bad dub, such as Azumanga Daioh.

Filler

Most anime is adapted from manga, (usually) weekly serial comics at the same time the comic is coming out. However, generally there isn’t a 20 minute episode worth of content in the 20 or so pages comic so anime producers  will pad out the series with original episodes. Which sounds great! More story right? Sadly not. The content isn’t written by the original author, so it tends to be pretty terrible and nothing is allowed to happen in the episode which influences the main story. So no character is allowed to change in any way. Some people will attempt to watch all filler to get the “full experience”. Don’t, just look up which episodes are real on the Internet and skip the rest. That said, most entries here won’t have any filler at all (HELL YES).

Good Anime

Code Geass

love Code Geass so much. This one manages to combine classic techniques, while cutting away what isn’t needed. An original story (as in, not from a manga) set in a world where England never fell as a superpower and has taken over most of the known world. It centres on a high schooler, Lelouch, who gains the power to make anyone do anything he commands them, but only when they are making eye contact, and only once. Oh, there are also giant robots. 

The reason Code Geass is better than all those other stories about teenagers with powers or giant robots is that rather than focusing on fighting it focuses on the interactions of the characters. Their motivations, their relationships with each other, how far they’re willing to go, whether they’re doing good or not. The fantastic elements of the plot are just a means to explore this. And Code Geass has a LOT of characters, each with their own stories and motivations.

One of Code Geass’ best assets is that it isn’t afraid to change the status quo. Expect relationships and situations to change and characters to die, nothing is off limits.

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

Another anime about giant robots, however, in contrast to Code Geass’ gritty realism TTGL is basically a Saturday morning cartoon. It is, however, the only anime that I’ve watched the entire way through twice. Created by Studio Gainax of Neon Genesis Evangelion fame, TTGL is what happens when you try to be as outrageous as possible. In the world of TTGL the more enthusiastic you are (your ‘fighting spirit’) the more powerful you are, and the main characters are *very* enthusiastic.

It’s hard to describe TTGL as over the course of the 26 episodes it goes from an optimistic adventure story about two best friends to an epic battle against overwhelming odds to save the universe. The themes and tone change a lot over the course of the series, but one thing that stays the same is the idea that you can do anything if you try hard enough. For a show that was originally aimed at kids there are some huge downs as well as the massive highs in the series. I suppose if you want to sum it up in a word you could call it ’emotional’.

TTGL is for the fun loving, but it’s so different from what’s already around, it’s hard to explain. The best thing to do would be to give the first couple episodes a go and see if it’s your thing. It just so happens that whole series is available for free on Youtube. Better check it out.  (or at least I remember watching it on some official channel but I can’t find it any more).

Note: The soundtrack to this is amazing.

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

This is the more action oriented series based on the manga and not related to the (excellent) movie. This series explores the issues that would arise in a society where technology has progressed to the point where the line between human and machine is blurred, which still containing some awesome action scenes. 

GITS:SAC (as the fans call it) is famous for it’s originality of a world in which people are mostly machine. If a person wants to commit a crime, they could stay at home and hack someone’s body, forcing them to do what they want, or they could do it in person, but erase everyone’s memory of him. It’s extremely cool. Another reason for fame is the very strong female lead. Where a lot of anime tend to having a male lead with some boob girl following him around GITS:SAC has The Major, a powerful character who is still unmistakably female.

Fruits Basket

Now in a total change of pace, we have Fruits Basket. The story of Tohru Honda, a high school girl who starts living with a family with an secret, if anyone of the opposite gender hugs them they turn into animals. Now, while this sounds like exactly the kind of craziness that this list is trying to avoid for some reason Fruits Basket JUST WORKS. This is the epitome of Shoujo (anime aimed at pre-teen girls) and yet everyone just loves it. After Naruto, it’s the biggest selling series in America. In a complete departure of every other entry so far, this series is based in a high school and focuses totally on the relationships between characters. No world needs saving, no evil guy must be defeated in a fight. And yet, this is maybe the saddest series on the list, possibly because it’s the most relate-able. It’s also the funniest and the most heart warming, I didn’t think I’d like it so much when one of my friends made me watch it, but after a couple episodes I was hooked.

Dragonball Z

This one nearly didn’t make it onto the list. Not because I don’t like it (because I do, as my friends can attest to, I never shut up about it) but because it suffers from a lot of anime problems. The pacing is slow, it’s full of filler, the dubs aren’t faithful and it’s a pretty formulaic fighting anime. And yet, I love it so much possibly because it does what it does SO WELL. This is the big one, the original which inspired Naruto, Bleach, One Piece. I’ve previously written a whole post about it here, so I’ll try to summarise as much as possible.

  1. It’s epic.
  2. The amazing chemistry between heroes and villains.
  3. You can respect the opponents.
  4. It shows that hard work is the most important thing.

Cowboy Bebop/Samurai Shamploo

It’s hard to talk about one of these without thinking of the other. Cowboy Bebop and it’s spiritual successor, Samurai Shamploo are often held up as the gold standard of anime. Cowboy Bebop could best be described as a Space Westen, mixed with jazz music, where Samurai Shamploo is a traditional samurai story, mixed with modern hip hop elements. Both are often considered the ‘best’ of anime, if not the most popular for it’s engrossing characters which grow over the course of the series and the beautiful mix of old and new in the setting. 

Cowboy Bebop is actually so good that I’ve never finished it. I can’t bring myself to watch the few episodes that I missed, including that final ones, so for me, it never finished, if that makes any sense at all. I simply cannot recommend these two series high enough.

Good but didn’t make the list

  • Kenichi. Very similar to Dragonball Z, simply amazing, however it tends to focus a bit to much on this gross concept called “fanservice” which pervades anime. Notable for showing the growth of Kenichi from the school dropkick, pick on by everyone to the greatest of the young fighters purely by hard work.
  • FMA: Brotherhood. By all accounts it’s amazing, but sadly I haven’t seen it, I’ve only read the series. It’s probably still a safe bet.
  • Studio Ghibli works. If I started listing movies, this post would never end. Princess Mononoke and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind are my favourite for showing that conflict is not always between good and bad. Also very good are Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away.
  • Death Note. The anime started very strongly, but sadly the weak second season makes me unable to recommend it as ‘good’ anime.

Series to Avoid (maybe)

  • Naruto. It’s a much much MUCH better experience when read. Just trust me on this.
  • Bleach. It never ends, it never goes anywhere, it’s frustrating. Don’t go there.
  • Fate Stay/Night. I wasted so much time. 😦
  • COUNTLESS OTHERS

Nehanshika: WTF, Vocaloid, Addictive


Before I say anything about this song I want you to hear it yourself so that you can form your own opinions. Don’t worry, it’s a bit more than two minutes long. Except if you have a fear of creepy crawlies. Then you should worry.

Ok, so this probably needs a bit of an explanation. This is a song that’s created using Vocaloid, a Japanese invention that will create a vocal track if you enter the music and  lyrics. It’s a bit more complex in actuality but that’s the gist.

My first response to this video was immortalized on Facebook on Monday night: “Biggest dose of WTF that I’ve had all week”. And really, that’s pretty much what everyone says when I show them this. But right after that I said that for some reason I can’t put my finger on I actually kinda like it.

GOOD: Video/Music Interaction
Lots of songs complement their video clips well, and lots of video clips complement their songs very well. But this song does something very good in that both the song and the video clip complement each other very well without ever taking focus away from the other, I think that it finds a really good mix. The animation itself is a good example of very basic anime which doesn’t seemed to be used as much these days. A classic staple was slowing the video right down for a second or two before speeding it up and doing something really impressive, and although you don’t see it as much these days this video does it perfectly.

BAD: It’s a Little Frightening
Well, a little may be the wrong word, the first time you see it you’ll be freaked the hell out. But strangly, after you watch it a few times (and you probably will, look at the next point) you’ll stop being freaked out by the crazy imagery. After a while you’ll start to see that even though they’re deformed, they don’t actually have mean expressions. The chick kinda smiles and the guy has this kinda neutral expression, I assume he’s just thinking about how awesome he is.

GOOD: Dangerously Addictive
There’s something about this song that drags you in after you’ve seen it a couple of time, I’ve had this in my head for two days now. It could be the huge amount of energy that it has, which is contrasted by the singers(?) lack of emotion. Add to this the way that you can’t actually sing along with the words because it’s in Japanese to try and purge yourself of it and you’re stuck wanting more.

BAD: More Frustrating than a Chubachub
As I said before it’s in Japanese, so unless you’re really good at remembering strange sound (or you know, speak Japanese) you can’t really sing along, and it sticks in your song so hard. Another thing is that it only goes for two minutes. Two great minutes, but still only two minutes. It’s a very short song so it’s hard to get as much satisfaction out of it as you would like.

GOOD: Very Good Animation (in a way)
After looking at this guys earlier videos it looks like this is the one where he discovered the secret of really good animation, hiding your limitations. It’s incredibly difficult to make photo realistic animations so what the creator, Deino, has done is put heaps of distortion into the video, as well as only doing quick shots with lots of motion at the character. Which so much for your mind to take in, it’s easy to not notice some of the problems with the animation (of which there are a few).

In general, I really like this song. As I said earlier it has this really awesome energy to it, the only shame is that it’s so short and that the other songs Technorch (the creater of the Nehanshika) made aren’t nearly as good. I haven’t actually listened to many Vocaloids, it’s hard to find the good few in a sea of garbage. I will, however, leave you with a vocaliod that is so much more disturbing than Nehanshika, but in a different, much more awesome way (totally safe for work). I am also fairly sure that this thing is my most viewed video on the tube. I’d recommend listening to it on full volume, I promise you won’t regret it.

Review of Song of the Dragon by Tracy Hickman.


Have you ever wanted to read a book where everything was EXTREME?? Do you want every event in the book TO BE TURNED UPTO ELEVEN???

Then this is the book for you.

It’s as if Hickman watched 300 and wanted to turn the “THIS IS SPARTAAAAA” line into an entire book.

It starts with the elven nation and their slaves sieging a dwarven fortress, and in turn Dwarf Fortress style, it is underground. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Hickman was a fan of DF

Reasons for believing that Hickman likes playing Dwarf Fortress:

  1. The elves are evil.
  2. The Dwarf Fortress is an underground labyrinth.
  3. When the dwarven fortress is sieged one of the dorfs pulls a lever and spills magma over the attacking elves.

That’s right, magma starts falling out of the underground sky and spills all over the attacking army.

“THIS IS THE MOST REFRESHING DRINK I’VE EVER HAD.”

The siege kind of sets the stage for the rest of the book. That feeling of extremely continues throughout the novel. When there is a fighting scene it is a crazed battle for survival, when there’s an unhappy scene it’s the saddest catastrophe that has ever happened, when the heroes of the book find a place to rest, it’s a haven of all that is good and true.

After reading this book for a while you feel… tired.

Highlights of the book include when everyone (and I do mean everyone) that the hero of the book knows either goes crazy or dies. When I say that this is a highlight, I mean that it is very interesting, it’s not a fun thing to read exactly, but it is very engrossing and you won’t ever forget it. I suppose that’s strength of the novel.

I’ve always loved books by Margret Weis and Tracy Hickman, namely the Dragonlance Series and the Deathgate Cycle, they are some of my favourite books. When I read Angel Warrior by Margret Weis and her daughter I was blown away by how good it was (I borrowed it from the library at recess and pretty much read it straight through my lessons until I finished it at five pm), however when I read The Immortals by Tracy Hickman I was… less than impressed, I didn’t actually finish it. In fact I didn’t believe that it was the same Tracy… I was wrong. So when I borrowed Song of the Dragon from the library I was dubious about how good it would be. I’ve decided that I like it. I’ve learnt that Margret Weis does very good personal stories, with copious levels of character development and growth, you really care about the characters and their relationships. Tracy Hickman on the other hand, can create a vast world filled with complex political relationships and mythos. Clearly they are at their best when they work together, but they do ok apart.

Good things about Song of the Dragon:

  • Makes you feel like you’re reading a book about Dwarf Fortress
  • Engrossing, you can’t put it down

Bad things about Song of the Dragon:

  • Makes you want to cry
  • Will give you trouble sleeping
  • Could do with more likable characters

Why I don’t like Home and Away


It seems to me that ever since I did “How to be Gooder at Facebook” people think I’m this really negative guy and tip toe around me on Facebook (as much as it’s possible). I promised myself that the next post would be nice, something like “Why I like Dragonball Z”, but unfortunately my hate of Home and Away surpassed that.

First I should describe Home and Away and why it is that a teenage boy is watching such garbage in the first place. Home and Away is set in a place called Summer Bay where it’s apparently always summer (this isn’t part of the story, it’s just never cloudy or raining unless the plot DESPERATELY requires it). In Summer Bay everybody is white, all of the teenagers are blonde with perfect figures, no religion other than watered down Christianity is mentioned and none of the main characters are gay. Occasionally one of the female main characters will divulge in some lesbian activities but sooner of later she ‘forgets’ that she likes girls and goes back to men. Now that I’m writing this down it strikes me that this seems like the kind of place a certain famous historical figure would have liked.

As to why I’m watching it? I eat tea with my family at seven every night. While we eat tea my parents choose what to watch.. I have no say in the matter.

So apart from all that I’ve said before, why does Summer Bay annoy me? Because so many young children (especially girls) watch it. And why does it annoy me? Because it teaches them the wrong way to interact with people. There is only so much misfortune that can happen to a person before it becomes ridicluous, so Home and Away has the characters make big deals and utterly mishandle matters that aren’t actually the end of the world. Take one of the current stories for instance. A woman, with a son became engaged to a priest. After much drama the two of them parted company and the priest left the country. The boy however, started writing to him without his mother knowing of it through a mutal friend. Now the friend is wracked with guilt that he’s keeping secrets from his friend (the boy’s mother). This secret (if it can be called that with the number of people who know about it) is tearing him to pieces, he doesn’t know what to do with himself. But I just can’t see the problem, I don’t understand why he doesn’t just tell the mother that her son was missing him and started writing letters, this secret keeping seems so unneeded.

Another example, a different boy, this one 17 doesn’t like his step father. So he does all that he can to break him and his mother up. His step father isn’t actually a bad person, he just has low social skills and can be annoying. The boy wants to break them up even though they are in proper love. What is this teaching children how to act?

Not to mention the values that it’s teaching them. At the moment a young boy (ironically this one goes around calling himself Romeo), who’s is also seventeen, and he has a problem. He is a virgin. That’s it. It’s really bothering him. I mean, I hope that the script doesn’t just make him sleep with his girlfriend and call the plot resolved, that’s terrible! I guess I view these thing differently to some people, but I don’t think what he has is anything to be ashamed of. What message is that telling kids? Also, the time delays between under-age couples getting together and doing is really quite small. Between Ruby and Jeff was only a week or two. On the subject of Ruby, she got together with Jeff the same day she broke up with her last boyfriend. Not that the last boy did anything wrong, she just got bored with him after they banged. He wasn’t impressed with being dropped like that. He did however find it in his heart to take her back… after Jeff moved away (translated: he was desperate). He was later dumped again when Ruby got the hots for her music teacher. Point of the last spiel: Everybody refers to her as such a nice, well mannered girl. She’s actually one of the ‘nice’ girl characters. Home and Away script writers aren’t actually good enough to write characters more complex than ‘nice’, ‘bad but will become nice’ and ‘bad soon to be dead’. The births, deaths and marriages office must have this black spot of activity centred on Summer Bay. Coincidently, in my research I found this. Notice how if Summer Bay was indicative of global population the human race would be extinct.

That was a big paragraph. Take it as indication of my passion. Myself and Dad have a theory that Home and Away is either written by ninth grade girls or proper script writers in their lunch break.

My experience with MUD


A MUD (multi-user dungeon) is an online game similar to a MMORPG (like World Of Warcraft) except that they are much more diverse, cheaper to run, mostly free, have many more races and have more roleplaying ability than other MMO’s. Basicly they let the player have much more freedom, which is something I love.

Oh, also they are text-based, no graphics.

I don’t mean they have no graphics in the way rouglikes like Dungeon Crawl or games like Dwarf Fortress have no graphics (they have a map made out of letters), I mean they have no graphics in the sense the game is described to you by words on a screen.

Still! I was really excited because it sounded exacly like the kind of game I could really get into. So I logged on and started a new game.

It was awful. Two things happened.

ONE: I had no idea what I was doing. I couldn’t make sense out of anything.

TWO: All these message came up at once from people commenting on how a heap of lag suddenly started up (I don’t know if I was the cause but I suspected my 1Mbps connection might have something to do with it).

These combined elements of total confusion scared me off and I exited immediately.

So I read a bit more infomation on the website. After a while, I started feeling confident again. So I hooked it back up, opened up a new game… And exactly the same thing happened again, only this time worse. I pressed the help button but all that happened was it sent out a message along the lines of “I’m a noob and I don’t know what I’m doing could somebody please please help me.” So that was unimpressive.

After half a dozen “Why is the frame rate so slow”s I got sick of it and quit again.

Going by my previous experience with obscure games (dwarf fortress) I’ll probably come back to MUDs in six months to a year and fall in love with them. But, until then, I think I’ll stick to offline games.

I bet they get a lot of players playing for five minutes and never coming back again like I did.

My Personality


In Psychology we are studying personality and personality tests. One the of these tests is called the Myers Briggs test which yeilds four letter which contains infomation about a persons personality. My letters were INTP, that is Dominant Introverted thinking.

Here is a description from the website

Rodin’s Thinker is introverted. Here these thinkers ponder the apparent chaos of the world in order to extract from it the universal truths and principles that can be counted on. These principles, once extracted, will provide the logical structure on which to build strategies.

They have a finely nuanced ability to analyse situations, find root causes and foresee consequences. They distrust action taken too quickly without the necessary investigation. They are usually levelheaded, objective, impersonal yet intensely involved in problem solving. They are fiercely independent, seeking input and comments from a chosen few. When reporting to others, they need to establish credibility first: their own and that of the person they are reporting to. If the gap in knowledge and expertise is too great and their own proficiency dismissed, belittled or ignored, they will lose interest and motivation.

They are less interested in running the world as they are in understanding it. They are curious and capable of explaining complex political, economic or technological problems, taking great pleasure in explaining all the factors and intricacies. They are rigorous with their thoughts and analysis, choosing the exact words that convey precisely what is meant. They may spend a lot of time defining words, concepts and systems in order to define a problematic solution.

They are armchair detectives, scientists and philosophers, spending most of their time in quiet reflection to ponder truth, and solve mysteries. They may tend to neglect social requirements and responsibilities, finding many relationships to be too superficial to be of much interest.

Personally I feel that description is rather flattering, however I expect that all the personality descriptions focus on the good points.

Those four letters correspond to the role or ‘architect’. Read into that whatever you want.

A quick google search and I found out who else is considered to have been an architect
* Albert Einstein
* David Keirsey
* Robert Rosen
* George Soros
* Gregory Peck
* James Madison
* Ludwig Boltzmann
* Charles Darwin
* Adam Smith
* Thomas Jefferson

I got all of this information from this website: http://www.personalitypathways.com/type_inventory.html

Also in my search for personality tests I stumbled across this site: http://www.outofservice.com/bigfive/

Possibly the dodgiest website I’ve ever come across. Please don’t complete the who thing, people will come to your house in the middle of the night and murder you.