Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Online Comics: The End of a Nerd's Dream?

Well, before anything, I must admit that I feel like somewhat of a 'tool bag' because I, too, happened to read the I Can't Stop Thinking! series by Scott McCloud. However, instead of discussing the application of "trails" in online comics, I would like to explore the effects of comics' new medium (i.e. the internet) on not only the genre as a whole, but the culture, too.

Though the series in general provides plenty of 'fodder' for my argument, issue #2 (so to call it) had got me thinking on this subject in the first place. The others, however, still gave me some food for thought.

To illustrate the benefits of moving comics to the internet, McCloud uses the music industry as an analogy, citing the vast options that one can find on an online music store as compared to your local music store. Now, fans of any music genre imaginable can find their fix: rap, techno, Russian folk, whatever. Accordingly, he continues with this analogy by bringing it into the world of comics; he argues that the internet will not only provide budding artists/authors with a place to display their work, but it will also expand comics' potential audience altogether.

Of course, this makes sense in the financial and creative realm of comics. McCloud admits that "comics currently only speaks [sic] to one out of a thousand potential readers." He also mentions how the internet greatly simplifies the production of comics. Thus, it would prove both beneficial and economical for them to move to the internet. This begs the question, though: what will this do comics in print and the culture that accompanies it?

To start with it effects on comics in print, I'd like to address his analogy of how the comic industry only selects the comics it knows will sell. More often than not, there's a reason these comics make it to print: they're good. Not only that, but the process of making a comic book is undoubtedly arduous and trying; take the mad (in that good, awe-inspiring sort of way) work Jimmy Corrigan. Will a comic book store keep comics around because they'll sell? Of course, this is capitalism we're talking about, after all; however, that should not distract us from the fact that the internet can marginalize an entire industry just as much as it can contribute to it. To work with the same analogy as McCloud, let's consider the current status of the music industry. Has it made a wider variety of music available to the public? Certainly. At the same time, though, networks like MySpace and Pure Volume have watered down the music industry to the point that I'm constantly bombarded by the work of every ass-hat that can incomprehensibly attempt to strum a G chord. What's more, programs such as Pro Tools have radically simplified, but arguably harmed, the extensive work that goes into making music.

Alright, I'm straying away from my focus a bit with this analogy, and I'm approaching my word limit here, but as Freddy Mercury always sang in that charming voice, "Don't Stop Me Now." (What's a blog entry without a good Queen reference?)

To take the 'trail' back to comics, namely Jimmy Corrigan, the expansion of the comic realm to the internet weakens the effect of a deliberately crafted masterpiece such as this. Yes, the internet allows the artist a wider realm of creative expression, but I would like to argue that the true, perhaps truer (if I may be so bold) creativity lies in one's ability to invent within a frame that tends to be rather rigid and confining--just as Ware does in his work. To make use of a wider range of options is a convenience; to redefine those options is unique. As our narrator says in Jimmy Corrigan, "With the inevitable forward march of progress come new ways of hiding things, and new things to hide." In the context of this post, I believe we are hiding or, rather, suppressing the potential of an art form.

Finally, I'd like to consider the cultural ramifications of this movement to the internet. Ok, I'm a pretty nerdy guy. Comics aren't exactly my thing, but I play imported, off-beat video games, I watch animated shows (both cartoons and anime) and I know useless trivia about things that should probably be filled with more useful knowledge. In other words, I know what it's like to be a fan of something "niche." McCloud argues that the internet would allow comics to open up to a whole new range of people and cuts the need for various production steps. What I want to know, though, is this: do we really want that? What I'm talking about is the marginalization of comics in an entirely different way; a push to make comics 'normal'. Ultimately, though, isn't the very essence of something "niche" the fact that it caters to a smaller audience? Consider the way a legitimate copy of Spiderman #1 acts as a status symbol amongst comic fans. Sure, maybe you've read it a couple times, but do you own it? In the preface to Jimmy Corrigan, we see that Ware admits to the cult status of comics at the time and that he wants to alter that. But at what point will the audience become so large that the industry can only be sustained by "crowd pleasers?" Is it not the "Comic Book Guy" and dedicated readers of comics that appreciate the meaning and woefully pathetic character that is Jimmy? Essentially, it seems as if, by catering to the interest of a new crowd, we are ostracizing the very crowd that kept comics alive in the first place.

Dear Chris Ware:

I hate you.

I started working on that Jimmy Corrigan paperdoll thing. Let me preface this misadventure by admitting to you all the following important points:

  • I am a 20 year old college junior that cannot color inside the lines.

  • I haven't been able to stop playing Forza Motorsport 2 to actually do anything productive.

    Therefore, don't judge me. Also, the pictures were taken on my cellphone, so don't hate.

    Let the adventure begin:

  • This can't be that bad, right? WRONG. WRONG WRONG OH GOD WRONG

    Why are we in the tool room? Well, the scissors just weren't cutting the mustard for some of the finer detail (which I fucked up horribly). Exacto knives are for artists and goths and I've never really been a finesse kind of guy anyway so...

    ...goddamn boxcutter.

    (the last time I used a boxcutter for a school project I cut a vein in my arm, sprayed blood all over my teacher's house, and got six stitches. Ask me to show you the scar sometime if you don't believe me! But that's neither here nor there!)

    On a side note, little kids kept coming to my house asking me for candy. It's my candy. Maybe if they had jobs they'd be able to afford candy and wouldn't have to go around the neighborhood asking for handouts. The first ones that stopped by had swords, so I figured I'd better arm myself and protect what was rightfully mine.

    Me and my dear friend Sig P226 were holding down the fort. All I'm saying is that if they start throwing eggs at my house, I start throwing lead at their faces.

    Amidst all of this excitement, how far did I get? well....

    Not very far. This is so hard. I hate you Chris Ware. I honestly hope that you have kids my age just so I can find them and kick their asses for being your children. My buildings look like shit. They fall apart more than the goddamn house of leaves.

    I'm not sure if I'm going to finish this. I have a butane torch (not pictured) that I've been thinking about taking to the Corrigan estate here. Who knows.


    Web Comics vs. Jimmy Corrigan [Graded Blog]

    Ok, I probably should mention now that I spend a lot of time viewing web comics. Some of my favorites include VG Cats, SNAFU, Grim Tales From Down Below and FreeX IRL. I'm also a big fan of Garfield and Calvin & Hobbes. These comics tend to follow the general comic layout of left-to-right and top-to-bottom. Jimmy Corrigan, on the other hand, is different. Within the first three pages of Jimmy Corrigan, I discovered that it is different than other comics I've seen.

    Most of the comics I've read are relatively short in time. Usually only about a page or two and time passes at a fairly constant rate through all of them. Jimmy Corrigan is different in several ways. For starters, most of the pages in Jimmy Corrigan don't exactly follow a simple left-to-right and top-to-bottom layout. On several occasions I have to read the page from left-to-right and top-to-bottom while still staying on the left half of the page. Eventually I jump to the right side but find myself at the top of the page again. Time itself is also not constant in Jimmy Corrigan. Throughout the story the reader jumps from the "present day" to the past and even fast forwarding through a specific time period. For example, in the reading we had for today (Wednesday), time went from present day to 1893 (roughly), when Jimmy's grandfather was a young boy. Here, time does fast-forward on several occasions. Time is fairly constant through the scene in the World's Fair construction site, but afterwards time is sped up and skips several moments (including the funeral and the school day). Eventually, we jump back to the present day.

    Jimmy Corrigan is interesting to go through in that the reader has to be paying attention to each individual frame to follow the story properly. This makes it slow to read compared to other comics I've seen. The web comics I referred to earlier are easier to follow since most of them use the simply left-to-right/top-to-bottom layout. However, the internet does provide some interesting ways of creating comics. Where as Jimmy is restricted to simple paper, web comics can follow links or even be continued in "links" placed in themselves. In the online comics The Right Number by Scott McCloud, the author chose the medium of Flash animation to create his comic. This allowed him to set up the comic like a long tunnel, you pass THROUGH each frame to get to the next one. It's like walking though a tunnel devided by bulkheads and each individual frame of the comics is painted on each bulkhead. The result, thanks to the wonders of Flash, is a fairly compact comic. A comic of this design is easy to follow, since all of the frames are sorted out for the reader, but appearance wise it is an interesting layout. The only problem I see is that a computer without Flash installed will not be able to view the comic, but that is hardly a problem now a days.

    Now, a lot of the comics I read on a daily basis are generally only one strip long (hardly a novel), but some, like Bleedman's Grim Tales From Down Below, try to form a complete story, like a graphic novel. Now that I think about it, there is one small similarity between Jimmy Corrigan and Grim Tales (don't know how important this detail is, but I'm just putting it on record). Like Corrigan, Grim Tales is set in both the "present" time as well as the past, though Grim Tales is still a work in progress (I'm keeping up with it as new pages are added).

    [Edit]: Am I making any sense?

    Online "Trails" and Jimmy Corrigan

    Some of the comics that were of particular interest to me were on the Scott McCloud link that Dr. Johns posted. The I Can’t Stop Thinking comics are set up in ways that move through various odd “trails” as McCloud calls them. The comic that is actually entitled Trails (I tried to post a link but for some reason it doesn't work. If you follow the link posted by Dr. Johns, you can follow it to the I Can't Stop Thinking comic #4.) really begins to play with this idea as is constantly reflects on the characteristics that this technique entails. The extension of comics onto an online structure is what McCloud explains as enabling the possibility of these unique structures compared to traditional comics. The structure of the comic is in such a way that demands the reader to read in all directions at generally random times.

    One major effect that this structure has is that it significantly slows the reading process compared to traditional left-to-right comic panels. It also is explained in the comic of having window-like characteristics instead of being flat. The unpredictability of the structure gives the comic the ability to jump out of the page at the reader to get the reader more involved in what the story is actually doing.

    I agree with some of these arguments that McCloud makes. I do not support the idea that it is the complete reinvention of comics and I certainly do not agree that the effects cannot be duplicated on paper. Jimmy Corrigan is an excellent example of this. While the structure is loosely based on a left-to-right structure, I often find myself slowing down while reading to decipher which frame is intended to be read next. A specific example can be found around page 18 (right after Superman jumps from the building.) The reader is indeed meant to start at the top left and end at the bottom right, but in between, the many different sized frames can cause an uncertainty of the intended direction. This is also apparent in the very first page of the comic of Earth that was discussed in class. The view of the planet is shown at different perspectives as it zooms in which actually requires the reader to turn the book to view the earth at the same perspective. Another example which I had to really slow down and study was around page 75 when the phone rings. The frames are set up with different sizes that significantly alter the intended order of viewing at first glance. The use of arrows on this page that link some of the frames together actually show the structure as being a backwards ‘S’ shape.

    I agree that this is not the exact same as the structure of online comics, but it still has the same effects. Different layouts of frames slow the reader’s process and which cause the reader to think more deeply about what the comic is trying to do with the layout. With the online comics set up in trails, the intended trail is clearly marked by following the transition markers of the comic. Jimmy Corrigan usually lacks these trails which make the reader think more about the structure of the actual comic. As a result, I think that the only true advantage that isolated to online comics is the lack of flipping pages. The significance of this advantage, to me, is not that great.

    Monday, October 29, 2007

    Next Blog Assignment

    Some bonehead (that would be me) forgot to post this earlier, so this isn't due until Thursday morning.

    Find a comic which interests you on the web. I highly recommend that you look at the online comics (or links from) Scott McCloud's website, if you don't have any better /different ideas.

    Discuss some aspect of that author's work, preferably including their form, in relationship to what you see in Jimmy Corrigan. You should develop a clear argument - perhaps one about the superiority/inferiority (or simply about a particular difference) of the web as a medium for comics, perhaps one focusing on the structure and meaning of time in the two works.

    Include a link to the comic you are using!Link

    Little tidbits

    For as much time as I spend looking up references to stuff that we talk about in class, I figure I should post at least some of it. Otherwise, I'm letting good participation points go down the drain. Here's a few useless facts I've been saving up.

    1) I knew it! You guys are saying it wrong. Check the pronunciation key:

    2) Luba Luft anagrams into Full Tuba. Since Dick is obsessed w/ names, think this relates to her singing ability?

    3) I thought Tiptree sounded familiar. Maybe you said it in class, but:

    4) Sheldon's husband was Huntington D Sheldon. He was the director of the Office of Current Intelligence, not the CIA. Did Adam mention Alice and Huntington had a suicide pact? She shot him, then herself.

    That's it for now.

    Friday, October 26, 2007

    Graded Blog #8 - "I'm Human. I Swear."

    I offer no excuse for this blog being late, but let me enumerate some of the realities I had to face this week. Organic Chemistry 2 Test, Organic Chemistry 2 Lab report, Societies Midterm, and Developmental Psychology Midterm. The typical human response would be empathy. Have some.

    Can "human nature" be duplicated by machines and, if so, are humans then just a special sort of machine? This question brings up interesting ideas held in Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep and “The Girl who was plugged in” Primarily, they deal with concept of artificial life. Both pieces of literature question what it means to be human and imply with the technological future looming ahead of us comes the convergence of humanity and machine.
    “A bounty hunter is a professional murderer who’s given a list of those [androids] he’s supposed to kill.” (Dick 129) Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter of the twenty-first-century; his job is to hunt down and kill androids. As staged in Dick's novel, the android inaugurates a crisis of subjectivity. Unfortunately for Deckard, androids aren’t the typical metallic personas one might see in television shows like “Futurama”; the androids are almost indiscernible from human beings. “Empathy toward an artificial construct? He asked himself. Something that only pretends to be alive? But Luba Luft had seemed genuinely alive; it had not worn the aspect of a simulation.” (Dick 123) The only difference between androids and humans is the androids lack of empathy for animals (Rick feels empathy for androids so he questions his humanity); yeah as ridiculous as that sounds, one can understand the ethical conundrum that Rick Deckard faces in his effort to assert his humanity. Rick Deckard represents the convergence of man and android thought. He conceives himself as, in fact, a non-self; as a being that amounts to no more than a sequence of embodied experiences.
    The corporate control of existence and the response to establish a meaningful existence by Paul and P.Burke, link aesthetically to Phillip K. Dick and his implications through Rick Deckard. In “The Girl who was plugged in” P.Burke is representative of our collective ontology. P. Burke is an outcast. In her original and final form, Burke is "the ugly of the world" (Tiptree 45). Contingent with the idea of the non-self, she does actually worship the corporate gods and comes to love living in the luxury of society but Burke is merely an employee to make the corporation tool, Delphi, a profitable investment. GTX executives do not empathize with the likes of Burke. Mr. Cantle wonders to himself "what gutters do they drag for these Remotes" (Tiptree 52). Although born into the corporate hierarchy/family, Paul is as much an outsider as Burke. He's a revolutionary fighting against GTX with the corporation's own equipment, making shows "pregnant with social protest. And underground expression" (Tiptree 66).

    Thursday, October 25, 2007

    Yer Mom (graded blog entry)

    In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep the idea of being human is defined by empathy. The Voight-Kampff test is used to determine whether a person is empathetic or not by asking questions pertaining to animals and babies (this is also more than slightly reminiscent of the test to determine whether or not a woman in Brahm Stoker's Dracula is a vampire, but I'm not going to go into that tangent). It's interesting to me that the things Deckard asks of the female androids are very much in the natural, might we say maternal realm of things. As humans (outside the context of Dick's novel) we equate not only being human, but very specifically being a mother, with ideas of empathy.

    An android could never be a mother. Not only because of the obvious biological reasons, but because they supposedly lack the feeling necessary to sufficiently rear another empathetic being. The child of an android could only be another android, and what's the point of that, when they could just as easily be built? It's really weird, then, to juxtapose this idea of motherhood and this naturalness that can be inferred from Electric Sheep with both the Harraway and "The Girl Who Was Plugged In." Weird in a good way, though.

    In class we talked about how Delphi is all girl, but not really woman in the context of the story. The idea of being a woman is a biological reality, and feeling is necessary for that to occur. Delphi has all the parts of a woman, but doesn't really feel anything. She is a sensational android, a sensory android, bereft of the empathy of touch rather than emotion. But she is a god, in and out of the context of the story, because she has the power to alter the perceptions of others. She is, for all intents and purposes, a being that thrives on empathy, even if it isn't necessarily her own. She was built for that purpose, after all. What kind of mother would she make?

    I bring up the concept of motherhood because of what Harraway says about the difference between a cyborg and a goddess. We talked yesterday about rebirth as opposed to reinvention. Goddesses are concerned with cycles because they're immortal, like Adam pointed out, but also because they have been, from the beginning, universal mother figures. Everything that is natural and good (i.e. birth, harvest, wisdom) comes from goddesses, not gods, in most pantheons. Harraway's cyborg breaks free from those cycles by recreating itself rather than just being reborn. This break from the natural order of things would make her idea androidian (yeah, I don't think that's actually a word), but Harraway's point is that being an android, a cyborg, is so much better than being human.

    Again, in Electric Sheep, Mercerism emphasizes the need for unity. You have to grab onto the sidebars of the empathy box to be able to get any meaning from Mercer's journey. Not because there's meaning in what Mercer is doing, he makes it clear that his teaching is near bereft of meaning. The point is the community involved in it. Though Mercerism seems anti-android in the book, I would argue that Mercer and Harraway see eye-to-eye. One of the things Harraway says about the beauties in cyborg-dom is that it ensures that everyone is connected, always. There wouldn't be any more boundaries if everyone was a cyborg, it would be the ultimate community. We would not be giving up our humanity, just reinventing humanity better.

    I don't think I ended on the same point at which I started, but there's a point in there somewhere.

    Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    Buyer's Desires (Graded Blog Entry)

    In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Deckard obsesses over the animals he owns (or doesn't own). Throughout the novel, Deckard tries to acquire an animal to replace his dead sheep. Fittingly, the novel closes on the character settling with the fake toad he has found, seemingly content with (at least resigned to) it. In The Girl Who Was Plugged In, P. Burke is used by the GTX corporation to peddle preselected goods to the masses. This looks like the authors are trying to caution us against covetting material goods, but I believe this overlooks an important point- we control our desires, we control what is given to us. It is only through the will of the people that corporations do what they do, not vice versa.

    First, analyze Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. Rick Deckard loses his pet sheep to tetanus from a wire in the sheep's food. He buys a fake sheep to replace it but is thoroughly embarrassed and troubled by it. Throughout the novel, he tries to acquire an owl, rabbits, a goat, and finally a toad. The reason Deckard needs an animal is because society looks down on people that do not care for nearly extinct animals.

    The ubiquitous Sidney's catalogue dictates the value of any given animal, even ones that have died out. This looks like a form of advertising. It appears as though the Sidney's company gets to tell the consumer how much his animal (and therefore he) is worth. But there's something more to that. Sidney's doesn't invent a number; it reports the last transaction price. This is no different than NASDAQ telling us what our stocks are worth. It's totally independent of the company's opinion. It is all determined by the buyers and sellers of that particular item. Those are the consumers, not the corporations, calling the shots. The population decides what it will pay, and Sidney's just reports it.

    Also of note is that it is not the animal breeders or the builders that have made animals popular to own, it was society's own self-determined mores. The war killed animals, and people decided it was right and fitting to take care of those left. The corporations followed the population's lead here.

    The same can be said of The Girl Who Was Plugged In. This story is about advertising. While Do Androids deals with "How much am I worth?", Girl deals with "What is more worthy than what?" In the futuristic world, advertising is banned, so people have very little to guide them through the selection of goods they choose to buy. The whole idea is subverted by the GTX corporation that makes what amounts to secret endorsement deals. The manufacture celebrities that advertise to us via usage of items.

    The themes of "gods", "dead daddy" and "zombies" make it seem like the population just absorbs whatever is advertised to them by the god-like celebrities, but a closer inspection shows that it is just the opposite. GTX employees talk of "the pendulum swinging". The narrator speaks of the holocams having feedback. The quote is something like "dial into whatever ethic-sex-gender-age-class category you like. They like it. Give them more. Warmer, warmer, burning baby." (Okay, so you caught me. I lost my copy of it and can't give a direct quote. Close enough.) Interestingly enough, it's not the corporation deciding things after all! It's the people, en masse, deciding what they like. Those things the population likes are what the celebrities will wear and use. GTX doesn't decide where the pendulum swings, it just tries to ride with it.

    So both works have something to say about the way goods and services are consumed. They both show consumers clamoring for the same set of goods produced by a powerful industry. However, neither work should be interpretted as saying that we buy what corporations want us to, but instead that corporations give us what we already want.

    The Disloyal Cyborg

    Cyborgs dominating humanity’s future is a very real possibility and most individuals envision their presence as a threat for one main reason: their inherent disloyalty. All of the robotic characters in Dick, Tiptree Jr., and Harway’s works tend to be selfish backstabbers. The androids work on a simple motto: Whatever benefits me, I will do it. Dick, Tiptree Jr., and Haraway all depict their fear of cyborgs in different ways, but the main theme is that cyborg’s cannot be trusted because they lack genuine, human loyalty.

    Philip K. Dick’s androids are vicious creatures that do not trust anyone, even their fellow androids. After Isidore accepts the three androids into his apartment promising not to turn them in, Baty, the leader of the androids, says, “If he was an android, he’d turn us in about ten tomorrow morning. He’d take off for his job and that would be it. I’m overwhelmed with admiration.” (144) It is general knowledge among the androids that even among themselves there is an absence of loyalty. They would turn in one of their own kind in order to get what benefitted them. The androids epitomize the most selfish, disloyal person.

    This is also displayed later in the novel when Pris dissects a spider, much to the chagrin of Isidore, the man who valued her as a friend. Dick writes, “Pris glanced up inquiringly. ‘Is it worth something?’ ‘Don’t mutilate it,’ he said wheezingly. Imploringly. With the scissors Pris snipped off one of the spider’s legs.’” Pris is merciless in the face of someone most people would respect in the same situation. She disregards the host’s requests to stop and mutilates the spider with pleasure. Her grotesque curiosity outweighs any sense of loyalty and this distinguishes her as an android.

    In The Girl Who Was Plugged In, the protagonist is a cyborg controlling another cyborg body. P. Burke, the controller of Delphi, eventually associates more with Delphi than with her body trapped in a basement in Carbondale, Pennsylvania. Later, she starts to resist the commands from the company that built her. After complaining about some of the products she has to endorse, the superviser, Mr. McCantle responds, “What does she think she is, a goddam consumer rep?” (31) The character’s rebellious behavior and her status as a former human allow the reader to empathize with the protagonist. She is still expected to show more gratitude and loyalty to her creators, but this story really draws the question, “Is it just for us to expect loyalty from cyborgs?”

    Harrway’s A Cyborg Manifesto provides a direct reflection upon loyalty and robots. The author writes, “The main trouble with cyborgs is that they are illegitimate offspring of militarism and patriarchal capitalism, not to mention state socialism. But illegitimate offspring are exceedingly unfaithful to their origins. Their fathers are, after all, inessential.” This is my main fear of cyborgs: they resemble humans, yet lack the loyalty that is common of humanity. They lack loyalty because they were created artificially, by people expecting to only gain from their creations. But as Haraway notes, the robot is born from the womb of selfishness and should be expected to embody those characteristics. She writes, ““In a sense the cyborg has no origin story in the western sense – a ‘final’ irony since the cyborg is also the awful apocalyptic telos of the ‘West’s’ escalating domination of abstract individualism, an ultimate self untied at last from all dependency, a man in space.”

    The reason this theme of disloyal cyborgs pervading our society is so frightening is because it is already happening. In Haraway’s A Cyborg Manifesto, she assures the reader that there is no separation between science fiction and reality. I feel that this is especially apparent now. If a prior generation was deemed the ‘Me-First’ generation, then the current generation should be deemed the ‘I can’t hear you because I’m plugged into my i-Pod, which is subsequently plugged into my computer’ generation. We, as a culture, are learning from our computers more than we are learning from our grandfathers. The indirect connection between humanity and computers replaces direct face-to-face interaction, a type of interaction which builds empathy and loyalty. Each child being taught by a computer is becoming the ‘ultimate self untied at last from all dependency;’ dependency on direct human interaction, which would lead to gratitude, loyalty to an instructor (like a mother or father). One by one, we become ‘a man in space,’ but space is the internet, the television, and any hollow void which makes someone grateful for their technology, rather than loyal to their fathers.

    "It's too bad she won't live...but then again, who does?"

    The point of similarity I've found for my blog entry tonight may seem like a minor one in terms of relevance to both Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and The Girl Who Was Plugged In, but I think it sheds a great deal of light into the minds of both authors: death. As funny as it looks in print, death is an important part of life. A lot of people spend a lot of time worrying about how they're going to die or where or what happens afterwards.

    Not so with our authors this week. Dick spends the majority of his novel downplaying death to a large degree. Sure, there's some good description of Deckard shooting a replicant in the head, as seen on page 82. But the fact of the matter is that Decakrd couldn't really care less that he'd just taken a 'life'. He is primarily concerned with money, and is quite pleased that he'd just made a quick grand -- "Anyhow I made myself a thousand dollars just now, he informed himself. So it was worth it." (82). While this lends a lot to the reader in terms of establishing Deckard as an android-esque bounty hunter, motivated not by a feeling of duty or resentment but rather the desire for cash, it also showcases Dick's lack of fear in terms of dying or dealing death.

    Throughout the last half of the novel, there is a lot of anxiety built up towards Deckard's final confrontation with the Batys and Pris. We see Deckard struggle with the concept of taking an android life, as he begins to ponder if the androids are really any different. First, it is hinted at: "He entered the elevator and together they moved nearer to God. 'I had to buy this,' he said. 'Something went wrong, today; something about retiring them. It wouldn't have been possible for me to go on without getting an animal.'" (149) And then it's presented much more overtly -- "Rachel said, 'Or we could live in sin, except that I'm not alive.' 'Legally you're not. But you really are. Biologically. You're not made out of transistorized circuits like a false animal; you're an organic entity.'" (173) It becomes quite clear that through Rachael, Deckard is beginning to feel for the androids. This notion, though mentioned often in the novel, will not be as important to Deckard as one may think.

    If anyone has seen the film that this novel was based on, Blade Runner, then you know that the last twenty or thirty minutes of the film are Deckard's showdown with Roy Baty. Not so in the novel - it takes Deckard all of 3 pages (seriously, that's it) to kill the last three androids. Deckard guns them down and that's that. Sure, he's a little screwed up over it right out of the gate (though maybe it's the loss of his goat), but it's nothing that isn't fixed by the time he goes home and sleeps. The focus of Blade Runner and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is life. Any natural life is celebrated - real animals are revered as status symbols and bought and sold at high prices that are haggled over not unlike buying a car, where fake ones are a source of shame, androids are forced into subservient labor roles, and real humans use the empathy box to feel what they can't dial in on their mood organs - a feat which separates them from the 'unfeeling' lack of life the androids possess.

    Tiptree touches on some of the same points in The Girl Who Was Plugged In. In the world Tiptree creates, nothing can be absolutely considered real anymore - not the people you're talking to, not your concept of what advertising is, and certainly not death. We see that the character of Delphi is not actually Delphi, but rather Philadelphia Burke, a hideous creature with no centralized nervous system, bulbous and fat. Wholly unattractive. What's more important, however, is that the protagonist, upon seeing this mass that is P. Burke, promptly kills it, without really intending to, but kills it all the same. Try as they might to let Paul know what he's just done, the doctors' efforts are wasted, as he simply brushes off killing Delphi's consciousness as nothing major.

    What's the most telling towards what I'm trying to point out in this blog entry is that Delphi's death is fairly glossed over. She babbles on, saying "Goodbye" quite a bit, and then she's dead. Paul, you would imagine, is pretty torn up about it, but that's glossed over very quickly. Fast forward. Paul's a bigwig for FTX and - get this - Delphi lives again. Death isn't really death in this world.

    Science fiction is a medium through which authors and filmmakers often attempt to take modern-day problems and show how they are dealt with in futuristic societies. Arguably, most people don't want to die. It's only natural, then, that sci fi should have some sort of aversion towards death -- towards making it not

    Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    Corporations Rule the World

    It's not a hard or especially new concept of corporations beginning to take the power from the masses. Companies hire people who are trained in how best to sway human thought, specifically in favor of the company. The two mega-corporations in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and "The Girl Who Was Plugged In" both exert an enromous degree of influence over the populace. Interestingly enough, these corporations (Rosen Association and GTX respectively) have control over a product or service that is considered socially taboo. With the GTX firm, advertising has become a large part of the company's revenue, even though advertising is outlawed. The gravity of forbidden advertising that GTX specializes in is summed up at the start of the exchange between Mr. Cantle and Delphi on page in 13, which goes,

    "Do you know what advertising is?"
    He's talking dirty, hitting to shock. Delphi's eyes widen and her little chin goes up.

    The initial revulsion that Delphi shows at the very idea of advertising is enough to make the reader think that such a thing in this future is extremely lewd to talk about. Yet, GTX makes their fortune off of communication and generating revenue by having their man-made gods and goddesses handle the products of manufacturers that pay them. The GTX company seems to have little other goals than to make a lot of money and sway human thought on advertising.

    On the other hand, the Rosen Association seems to have other goals while additionally making a large portion of money. The Rosens produce androids, which is something of a taboo process because androids are treated as slaves in the colonies (with many reports of them rebelling and killing their masters) and they are a pest on the radioactive surface of Earth. Rick Deckard gets the sense of how his testing of the new Nexus-6 brain-type on Earth could potentially bankrupt one of the largest corporations around if the tests used to detect androids became obsolete. All of chapter four and most of chapter five in DADES has Rick Deckard testing Rachel Rosen about whether she is an android or human. When Deckard declares that Rachel is an android (and though they deny it and eventually find out that she, indeed, is an android) he cannot outright retire her because the company claims her as property. Rachel proves to be a test that the Rosen Association meant to void the Voigt-Kampff and therefore mix the android population in with the human population. It also would not be a leap that the Rosen Association has a hand in Buster Friendly's affairs, as he is supposedly an android who attempts to demonize the values of Mercerism which is the most substantial barrier between humans becoming mixed with androids. Buster Friendly handled all forms of media and therefore, like GTX, the Rosen Association would have quite a degree of control over advertising and how humans perceive products and other people.

    What both companies in both books shows is an explicit action to control a given populace's mind or perception. The implicit value is actually gaining money. When the two factors are combined, both companies become extremely powerful and become major players in both works of fiction that they appear in.

    Paris Hilton: Android or Remote Being?

    In reading both Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and “The Girl Who Was Plugged In” it is apparent that both of the authors have an opinion on the public’s obsession with celebrity. Additionally, both authors (in one way or another) accurately predict the degree to which our society is fixated on the rich and famous.

    In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep we see figures like Buster Friendly and Amanda Werner who are the only celebrities in existence. Werner, who is an actress that has never done any movies, is one of the few guests who appears on Friendly’s his daily TV and radio shows. Although neither has done any professional work, people worship the ersatz idols. During the radio show the qualities of Buster and Amanda’s interactions are described; “Their remarks, always witty, always new, weren’t rehearsed. Amanda’s hair glowed, her eyes glinted, her teeth shone; she never ran down, never became tired, never found herself at a loss as to a clever retort to Buster’s bang-bang string of quips, jokes, and sharp observations” (65). Despite the fact that they simultaneously produce a radio and a television show for twenty-three hours a day each, the pair never appears to wear out. They are flawless beings, able to go on day after day. In a similar fashion, this is how one could speak of someone such as Paris Hilton, a public figure who is constantly on the go. Much like Amanda Werner, Hilton’s hair glows, her eyes glint, and her teeth shine; she is a symbol of perfect. Because of this, we obsess over her. Little girls idolize her, men fantasize over her. Additionally, similarly to Werner, Hilton is a celebrity for the sole fact that she is beautiful and has money (she could be called an actress or a ‘pop-star’, but her movie and singing careers came years after she rolled on to the nightlife scene). Friendly, Werner and Hilton alike all uphold an image of persistence and charisma without ever showing any signs of fatigue. They are idolized because people need someone to look up to. We don’t want to idolize any regular, boring person; we need something more. In fact, as it seems, Buster and Amanda are androids, which somewhat explains the fact that they never get run down.

    Somewhat similarly, in “The Girl Who Was Plugged In,” celebrities are idolized as gods. From the first page we see the degree to which people obsess over celebrities; P. Burke is on the street when her idols walk by and this description follows, “Her gods are coming out of a store called Body East. Three youngbloods, larking along loverly. Dressed like simple street-people but… smashing. . . The crowd moans. Love. The whole boiling megacity, this whole fun future world loves its gods” (1-2). In this passage it is clearly laid out that the people of the future idolize the celebrities. Although they look at them as something to worship, there is an actual purpose to these characters. Marketing companies utilize power in order to advertise for products in a time when advertising is illegal. It may seem ridiculous, but it somewhat mirrors the society of today. Many companies use promotion from celebrities in order to push their products ahead in the market. Again, Paris Hilton can be used for this example. The heiress has promoted products for various designers (including Dior, Hilfiger, and Guess) and Carl's Junior (a west coast fast food chain). Additionally, she is seen as automatic publicity whenever she appears at any nightclub (including her own club, Club Paris). Companies know that if certain celebrities are associated with their products, it will only help their popularity. Because of this, they will go to great lengths to have celebrities endorse their products. This appeal of celebrities is shown in “The Girl Who Was Plugged In” when P. Burke (now known as Delphi) is given her popularity for the sole purpose of endorsing whatever product a company wants.

    Although I applied the ideas from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and “The Girl Who Was Plugged In” to Paris Hilton, the truth is that they are applicable to almost any celebrity. Philip K. Dick and James Tiptree Jr. both saw a trend in the obsession with celebrity. In turn, they took it a step further, saying “What if?” As a result, we find these two texts which somewhat eerily predict what is currently happening with celebrities in our society.

    PS- If you haven't seen the Paris Hilton commercial for Carl's Junior, I highly suggest you click the link here. It is... entertaining. I'm not quite sure many people want a burger after watching it.

    Monday, October 22, 2007

    Prompt for Blog #8, Group #1

    The purpose of this blog is to identify some interesting idea or theme shared at least in part by two out of the three most recent texts we've worked with: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, "A Cyborg Manifesto," and "The Girl Who Was Plugged In." Using specific passages from both texts, argue something about the politics or aesthetics of the two authors regarding this shared theme or interest.

    One helpful thing to note is that Tiptree clearly influenced Haraway, and that Dick arguably influenced Tiptree.

    Example topics: simulated life, artificial life, the "end" of gender, the influence of corporations on thought...

    Note: I know I need to get my gradebook in order, and I apologize for that. Feel free to email me if I've forgotten to send you grades on any of your blog entries.

    Friday, October 19, 2007

    Midterm - Choose Your Own Horrible Demise

    Well, fancy that. Here I was thinking the project was due tomorrow night for some reason, and getting ready to go to bed. I guess it's a damn good thing I happened to check the blog prior to sleeping. I'm a little late, but I think I'm just being fashionable. Anyway, apologies for the late post, but here's a little bit about my project.

    Zork is a great interface for a game, as I've explained before on this very blog, because I think it really challenges the player, especially we kids these days. To expand: Consider that your Xbox 360 or what have you interprets everything for you. The programmers tell the console "This is a wall texture, it is gray and looks like a rock" and so the 360 shows you a texture that is gray and looks like a rock. There's only one way that the texture can be seen.

    Zork, and interactive fiction in general, allow you to interpret things the way you want to interpret them. Instead of everything looking the same to everyone, these games get much more personal and say "Okay, well, the lobby is grand, pillars with golden trim rise to the tall ceiling and a beautiful chandelier hangs above you, sparkling like the night". Your idea of a beautiful chandelier might be hideous to me, but this way we can each create what we want the thing to look like in our head.

    I just don't think media these days challenges the user to use their heads enough.

    Another thing that's great about interactive fiction is that most of it is surprisingly nonlinear. You don't have to do things in a certain order in Zork, or even in a certain way. You don't have to have the sword to kill the troll, it just makes it a lot easier. Some of the items you might not even use. Yes, there is a finite number of solutions you can come up with for any given problem, but the way you reach the solution you reach is completely up to you.

    Most games these days don't even give you a choice. It's just "You will have to have the Bracers of Masculinity +5 to be any good at barbecuing or football". Playing interactive fiction and other non-linear (see my brief mention of Morrowind and Oblivion in another blog entry) games really challenges the user, and I think I'd like to see more of that in moderm gaming.

    These games really blend the ideas of narrative and technology, as they allow a 'reader' to experience the narrative in ways they otherwise wouldn't. When you read a novel, things in the novel happen one way -- the way the author wants them to happen. You may disagree with the author and say "hey, you know, things make more sense to me if you do them this way". Well, tough shit, maybe when you write a book things can go the way you want them to. But with interactive fiction, you do have a say! You can do things however you want to do them.

    But best of all, all of these, whether they're CYOA or interactive games like Zork, they all make sure you can die in the most overdramatic, unexpected, horrifying ways. I thought that aspect of them was hilarious. Your choice could be between having the veal or having the chicken, but something would find a way to shoot you in the head somewhere in between. I am perpetually making fun of things, so I figured parodying the entire genre would be the best route for me.

    So without further ado, here is the download link to the game. It's a little short, I think there are only 13 or 14 rooms. I wasn't sure how long to make it. Zork had 110 rooms, but that seems like a nightmare to me. Plus I figured that the Inform 7 code i wrote came out to over 6 pages in Microsoft Word, which is how long Dr. Johns wanted our essays to be, if we only wrote an essay. I figure I'm golden.


    Wednesday, October 17, 2007

    Building an Empire [CYOA] Midterm Project

    Right, I've got the story up on my deviantART account. The story starts here. You can follow the links in the Artist's Comments section right below the actual page.

    I did make some changes from the original plan. The problem I had with the original outline was that is that I had too many branches in the tree and that gave me problems around the "Great Depression" period of the story. What I did instead was narrow down the choices. Instead of choosing from four locomotives at the start of the story, you only have to choose between two.
    This made the story a lot easier to write.

    Lost in My Own Fiction - midterm project

    Kay, disregard the first thread I linked. I think it was a precursor that I personally needed and though it may come up in my final project, it means nothing in the scope of this midterm. In the simplest terms I can convey:

    • Mac is a character I created.
    • she "creates" a "character" on a fictional "board" similar to the one I've created her on.
    • that "character" of hers is, essentially, me.
    • Mac then comes across the board on which I created her ("The Final Solution") and finds herself. Literally.
    • she IMs me and we talk about... reality.

    Existence As We Know It
    Meet Your Maker

    Em-Jay and all about chain stories - Midterm Project

    Here is my final draft for my midterm project. At least read the story (its at the beginning) because I know it will give you a good laugh!

    A brief introduction to my project:

    "The Amazing Adventure Through Time."

    That is the title of my midterm CYOA. The purpose of my project was to point out the absurdity of the traditional CYOA series. If I were a kid, and I saw the word 'amazing,' I would instantly steal that book from the shelf and want to read it. And, if it's an 'adventure through time,' I'm there.

    In my project, my main focus was to mock the structure of CYOAs. They are kids books, yes, but in half of the endings in "The Cup of Death" the reader ends up dead. If you read through any (or all) of my endings, you will notice that there is really only ONE happy ending. In the rest you usually end up dying. But why do the authors of these texts think it is appropriate to have a small child read a book where they end up getting shot? It is absolutely ridiculous in my mind. Back in the day, I would have cried had I read one of those books. Lucky for me, I stuck with school assigned readings only.

    I understand that the authors want to engage their readers, but I could be just as engaged without having to find myself dead at the end of every plot line. But, as a satire, I chose to only allow the reader one happy ending. In my book, the reader gets what the reader wants: death, prostitution, and more death. If you really want to live, follow the story diagram (located on the navigation bar at the left side of each page) for the path that leads you to ending 31 (the bottom left hand corner of the tree).

    Another thing I wanted to mock was the plot twists in these books. In reading "The Cup of Death" I noticed that although there was one central plot- to find the missing teacup- there were a few that seemed out of place. Just by the title, one would assume that my story is about time travel. In fact, it is. But only really half of the story is about time travel. The rest is just random shit thrown in. It is the complete opposite of what you would expect to find in a story called "The Amazing Adventure Through Time."

    I guess I am done talking about CYOAs for now. So, without further ado, click here to read my story.

    Mid Term..

    Joy Ransom (Fall 2007)
    Brief synopsis and explanation of the intended direction, and reason for the adaptations style.
    My CYOA, has two basic outcomes. I loosely followed the script of an actual show here, but included and subtracted a few ideas and concepts. By having only one true decision to make, which is the first one, (that decision being the appropriateness of expressing ones love for another at a specific moment in time), I am trying to illustrate the severity of one simple decisions in the progression of human narrative. By allowing the reader to feel in control of the outcome of this love narrative, by having such different options for the first and only decision, the reader will undoubtedly react in different ways to the progression of the story. The next option for both decision, are also the same. Having this was deliberate, I am choosing to ensue ambiguity here, and also satirically laugh at the desire to navigate perfection, when it comes to love.
    When I think of narrative, it reminds me that the human narrative of love, is one that is perplexing to all, and will continue to be so until the end of time, however what I find interesting and enjoyable about Sex and the City, is that the writers make the viewers believe that this narrative can be strategically navigated. They cleverly include almost all women, by using four women, who are easily identifiable by just about any American girl. These women experience almost every possible relationship trial and tribulation possible. The leader, Carrie narrates the shows, and it is her perspective that is used as the undertone. Her questions allow room for hundreds of perspectives, thousands of questions, and millions of interpretations and as the show progresses the viewer is encouraged to find meanings relevant to their own narrative.
    Sadly I could not delve as deeply as I wanted to with this midterm, because my criteria for the project only allowed for so much script manipulation, to illustrate my point, however for a bigger project I think it would be interesting to indulge the reader with many options, and write a script, that only includes my own creativity based on my interpretation of these very unique women. That way, I can think about the way society coerces women into specific ways of thinking about relationships, and the resulting way they live their “love narrative”.

    Joy Ransom
    Mid Term

    Adaptation of Sex and the City (CYOA)

    Season Two Episode 10, The Caste System Written by Jenny Bicks, Directed by Alan Taylor, Adapted by Joy Ransom

    Sitting in the warm spring air you think about your three best friends. Samantha, oldest and dearest is what you could call “futuristic, modern women”. She has sex when and where she wants, and has just about no reservations about with whom she has sex. She praises herself for having the ego of a man in the body of a woman. Charlotte is from Connecticut. She is an Upper East Side type of girl. She works at an art gallery, selling high priced artwork to people who can afford it, but might not understand it, she doesn’t mind though. Miranda, she is the successful lawyer. She is perfectly content with her success and chooses to live void of male influence, on occasion.
    But thoughts continue to wonder, and now they rest on your love, Mr. Big, the rich man that swept you off your feet, and has captivated you in every sense. He wines and dines you, and despite your effort has buried deeper in your heart than any other. It is easy to say things you love about New York, but it is hard to say I love you Mr. Big.
    The next morning, you and Big sit in his expensive kitchen and as you watch him eat his toast, it becomes even more clear that you love him. You gently wipe the crumb off of his face, not more than a minute after you remove it, he takes another huge bit, replacing the crumb that you so deliberately moved. In this moment you think.
    To Say you love Mr. Big the next time the opportunity presents itself, with no concern about how appropriate it might be, or how the randomness might affect the sentimentality of the phrase, because true love needs to stage for expression go to (2)
    To Say you love Mr. Big at a time that you think would be picture perfect, and more appropriate, at a time where all circumstance lead to an obvious sensual reply of the same, from him… go to (3)
    Section Two
    You leave Big’s place shortly after lunch to go home and freshen up, by now time has passed and it is early evening. You think longingly how fast time fly’s when your with Big, now 8 hours later you run to the door after you hear his knock, anticipating another special moment. You open the door and see him standing, perfect as usual. You invite him in and tell him you need to change your shoes. He follows you into the room and pulls a small bag from behind his back. Eagerly looking into the bag, you are horrified. You pull out bejeweled goose purse. It was all wrong, ugly, gaudy, and way too up town for you. Nothing in the world seemed right now besides; “I love you” it spilled out of your mouth like a waterfall. Go to (6)
    Section Three
    You know you want to tell him how you feel, but you are keeping hope alive, that love can be fairytale. You tell him you’ll see him later and hurry home. Seven that night, you answer the door. Standing before you he seems even better than usual, you just know that tonight will be the perfectly romantic fairytale you hoped for. After all, he’s taking you to the ballet. You know now deep in your heart that this small gesture is huge, for Big, mainly because he hates the ballet. He pulls out a bag, and when you see the name on the bag a smile can’t help but to run across your face. You pull out a bejeweled purse, shaped like a goose. It was all wrong. The goose, the gems, the shape, as your head spins confused, looking lovingly at the purse you fall into his chest, after all it’s the thought right? The moment is perfect, he loves you, you think. He brought you this dumb gift on a special night to show how dedicated he is to you. “ I love you!” He looks at your face and for what seem like a year’s stairs blankly. “Uh, I’ll be outside.” Go to (7)
    Section SixThe next day you eat a casual lunch with the girls and the story can’t come out any faster. “You told big you loved him over that!” Samantha says in disbelief. “I think my mother has on of those” chimes in Miranda sarcastically, “Maybe he thought you said, I love it” say optimistic Charlotte. You think for a moment, how that harsh encounter went, you recall his cold response. “Uh..I’ll just wait outside he said”. You wonder, was it the wrong time after all?
    The conversation whirls around you but you cant help but to be distracted. You ask yourself over and over again, if there is any truth to the fairytale relationship. The perfect “I love you” with the perfect guy, at the perfect time, and you kick your self for possibly ruining it. “So he just pretended you didn’t even say it?” says, Miranda. “Sort of.” you say “ now I’ve laid down a gauntlet, either he has to say it back or I am going to be forced to break up with him.” “How long are you going to give him?” Charlotte asks. “Well I don’t know, I think it has the shelf life of a dairy product, after about a week its going to begin to curdle.” “You know its funny, you tell a man you hate him and you have the best sex of your life, but tell a man you love him, and you’ll probably never see him again.” says Samantha. “Wait a minute, says Miranda, Did you ever think at this very moment they guy is thinking about his own discrete way of saying I love you back?” Knowing what a love skeptic Miranda is, makes you curious what love euphony she has had that has so drastically changed her outlook. Go to (10)
    Section Seven
    This night can’t have gone any worse than it has just gone. You call Charlotte and hope that her words will somehow make this ok, if only for a second. “Maybe he thinks you said I love it” says, Charlotte. “I mean he cant have seriously thought you love that ugly purse. Carrie look, that purse is what’s big now maybe he just wanted to show how dedicated he is to brining you into his world, I mean let’s face it, you are on a totally different level.” You think for a minute about what the intentions of his gesture were. Maybe love does surpass his obviously misplaced signs of affection. You leave and make it to the ballet. However, when the shows over, and the swans stop dancing, so does the music. Go to (9)
    Section Eight
    The next day you eat a casual lunch with the girls and the story can’t come out any faster. “You told big you loved him over that!” Samantha says in disbelief. “I think my mother has on of those” chimes in Miranda sarcastically, “Maybe he thought you said, I love it” say optimistic Charlotte. You think for a moment, how that harsh encounter went, you recall his cold response. “Uh..I’ll just wait outside he said”. You wonder, was it the wrong time after all?
    The conversation whirls around you but you cant help but to be distracted. You ask yourself over and over again, if there is any truth to the fairytale relationship. The perfect “I love you” with the perfect guy, at the perfect time, and you kick your self for possibly ruining it. “So he just pretended you didn’t even say it?” says, Miranda. “Sort of.” you say “ now I’ve laid down a gauntlet, either he has to say it back or I am going to be forced to break up with him.” “How long are you going to give him?” Charlotte asks. “Well I don’t know, I think it has the shelf life of a dairy product, after about a week its going to begin to curdle.” “You know its funny, you tell a man you hate him and you have the best sex of your life, but tell a man you love him, and you’ll probably never see him again.” says Samantha. “Wait a minute, says Miranda, Did you ever think at this very moment they guy is thinking about his own discrete way of saying I love you back?” Knowing what a love skeptic Miranda is, makes you curious what love euphony she has had that has so drastically changed her outlook. Go to (10)

    Section Nine

    “Wait a minute”, he said you can take it back. Say Miranda. “How in the world did that rectify the situation?” You tell then how your perfect night concluded. Almost tearfully you continue, “ so we sat at the table, candle light illuminating his perfections, and enhancing my flaws and he looks deep into my eyes and say it. I could hardly believe my ears. The way he eased into it falsely made me think that this first “I love you” could be perfect, but thank you Big, the first time I say it, his first audible response is, you can take it back it you don’t like it.” “How” you scream, “did the first time I say I love you to big, become the first time I wanted to say, I hate you?!” go to (13)

    Section Ten
    You were right, Miranda has had a love epiphany, and though you love her, you cant but to envy her seemingly perfect guy. His name is Steve, and they have been seeing each other for a while. He is a bartender and has not actual aspiration outside of “tips” Though they come from vastly different economic situation, your dear friend has chosen to ignore their differences in credit card limits. She allows Steve to take her out, but only to places she knows he can afford. Most recently they took a trip to a mid-town pizza place. It was cute, not what she is use too, but nice nonetheless. Over their quite flirtatious, “new love” conversation, she mentions a upcoming party hosted by her firm. Naturally her invite pleased him, and after agreeing to go, he breaks the new about the only suit he owns. “Gold”, she tells you. “He own only a gold suit..” Naturally she agreed to go shopping with him to by a more appropriate suit. The outing turned into a disaster..Go to (12)
    Section Twelve
    The shopping spree was a disaster, and for the likes of you, you cant seem to understand how it went to wrong for Miranda. She entered into it with the most honorable of intention. She loved Steve, and it was all that she could do to keep herself from ozzing out of the eyes with happiness when he had agreed to go in the first place. But now, the difference in credit card limits, had wedged a gab between the two love birds that neither Charlotte’s explanation or you own thought go understand. It started our innocently enough, Steve tried n the perfect suit, shows, and has even agreed to have the cuff done the way Miranda wanted, but when it came time to pay, he could not afford the thousand dollar suit. It was Miranda’s intention to pay for it, since she had invited him, but Steve’s ego could not allow him to be the “female” in this situation. After trying all his cards, he decided to max out one card, pay cash, and write a check. Obviously this was a bad idea, and later this decision would drastically alter the direction of their relationship forever. Go to (14)
    Section Thirteen
    You meet the girls for your weekly spa treatment. As you casually go over the events of the week, which include Miranda’s new love, Steve you break into a heated debate on what the rule of thumb should be with relationships and money. You and Big have a huge gap in income, and this gap also has been, indirectly the cause of your most recent feelings of hatred. Not literally, of course, but his not knowing how to bring you into his world, without buying expensive, poorly thought out gifts. You think silently as they go on, “I don’t want to have to apologize for my success, says Miranda, Why is it that if you make more money than a man you need to accommodate his ego. It’s like if they aren’t above you, they feel inferior to you, can’t we just exist with each other knowing that we have different credit card limits?” “Guys”, Charlotte interjects “ Its is just expected that the men make more money in the relationship. You act like we live in a classless society and we don’t!” Her head motions to the four women working frantically on you pedicures, then silence. Go to (15)
    Section Fourteen
    Miranda and Steve will never find the balance between their spending limits, and the night of the ball Steve stands her up, well almost. He cameo to her door dressed I plane clothes with an explanation. His justification of the situation was that, Miranda was out of his range. He feels that she needs to be with someone who can wine and dine her they was she deserves. In his own words “ She will always be out of her reach”. Though she can almost understand his point of views, it doesn’t stop it from hurting. You console her the best you can, but than again you are I no position to give advice about love and life. Miranda goes to the party alone, and wonders sadly to her self, if there was really anything wrong with a gold suit after all. Samantha has realized that the luxury of wealth wont ever compare to the satisfaction of balance in a relationship. It turns out that her new guy, a realtor Harvey Turkle has a servant, who doesn’t feel the need for any other women in her master’s life besides herself. She tormented Samantha for two nights in a row and ultimately won the favor of Harvey. Go to (18)
    Section Fifteen
    That night Samantha goes to see her newest love interest. Harvey Turkle, a wealthy realtor, who has just mad a fortune turning sweat shops into condos. She likes him well enough. As they eat she is shocked to discover he has a servant, yes a servant. A maid would have been appropriate but a servant is peculiar. Your phone rings and on the other end is a distressed Samantha. “She is insane, she kicked me out of the bed this morning, and threatened me” she blares into your sleepy ear. It turn out there is only room fro one lady in Harvey’s life. You laugh and think to yourself. The game of relationship are never as perfect as they may seem, you console your friend and no sooner than you hang up the phone rings again, Miranda hangs on the other end horrified at the way Steve’s shopping excursion has ended. Go to (17)
    Section Sixteen
    Miranda and Steve will never find the balance between their spending limits, and the night of the ball Steve stands her up, well almost. He cameo to her door dressed I plane clothes with an explanation. His justification of the situation was that, Miranda was out of his range. He feels that she needs to be with someone who can wine and dine her they was she deserves. In his own words “ She will always be out of her reach”. Though she can almost understand his point of views, it doesn’t stop it from hurting. You console her the best you can, but than again you are I no position to give advice about love and life. Miranda goes to the party alone, and wonders sadly to her self, if there was really anything wrong with a gold suit after all. Samantha has realized that the luxury of wealth wont ever compare to the satisfaction of balance in a relationship. It turns out that her new guy, a realtor Harvey Turkle has a servant, who doesn’t feel the need for any other women in her master’s life besides herself. She tormented Samantha for two nights in a row and ultimately won the favor of Harvey. Go to (18)
    Section Seventeen
    Fed up with the crazy world of Miranda and Samantha, you turn to your own relationship. Big has invited you to an up-town party, and because the goose had brought nothing but drama, you decide to show you appreciation, by using it tonight. If you wear the purse tonight, you can rectify the situation, and maybe even get the “I hate you” out of your system, and replace it with the perfect “I love you”. At the party you realize that the perfection you strive for in unattainable. While there you realize that though you love him, you cannot sacrifice you belief in love. Love should not be expressed with goose purse’s. You walk to the balcony to have a smoke, and you are pleasantly surprised to run into your old friend Jeremiah.
    To converse with Jeremiah, and see where this potentially flirtatious past between the two of you can go, stay on the balcony turn. Go to (19)
    To have a smoke, and leave turn to Go to (21)
    Section Eighteen
    You and Big never actually have your perfect interchange of words and though it makes you sad you realize that you were wrong for trying to make perfection out of something as sensitive as a helium bomb. You were playing with fire. You feel incomplete, and after tormenting yourself with thoughts of this for hours, you decide to start on your upcoming column. As you type out all the pain and disappointment you have in your heart the phone rings. After the third ring you answer the phone and are pleased to hear Big on the other end, you cross your fingers, and wait for it. THE END
    Section Nineteen
    Jeremiah is a musician. He plays downtown, and on more than one occasion you went to hear him. Each time you meet you and he spoke indiscreetly about the possibility of a relationship, but nothing ever flourished. He tells you about a new tattoo he got, and curious to see it he unzips his pants to reveal the waistline ink. While your head is buried deep in his crouch, a guest appears on the balcony. It is obvious that they will now report back to Big about what they thought they saw and irritated you return to the party, and the obvious crucifying go to (22)
    Section Twenty-one
    You have your cigarette and make your way back to the party. Its is dull, and you expected it to be so after taking in one too many superficial comment you decide to leave. Big stays behind, and surprisingly you don’t even care. When you get home you fall asleep and realize that your relationship with Big is more complex and convoluted than you initially had expected. The next morning you awake alone, still longing for your perfect Big response, and missing his body next to your more than ever before. You go to the computer and frantically type out the title for your next column. “Men are like socks.”… THE END
    Section Twenty-two
    Big approaches you, and almost as if he is someone else ask you in a not so nice voice if you were really giving the help a blow job. Disgusted you choose to ignore his question and move to another side of the room. As the night wound down, Jeremiah decided to take you to get drink and laugh the night away. After you’ve hit the last bar with him you two stumble down the street to your apartment singing “Jeremiah was a bullfrog.” The phone rings, and jolts you out of your drunken slumber, it is now morning, and Big’s voice on the other end is refreshing. He has finally found his way of saying I love you, actually though it is harsh and completely out of context you appreciate his, “I fuckin love you ok.” And realize that you cannot plan love, and though it can be navigated to some extent, it is defiantly not something you can prepare for. You hang up the phone roll over to look at Jeremiah, and decide you wont tell big about this one, because everything before “I love you, doesn’t count.” THE END

    Midterm Clarification

    You can turn in your midterm one of three ways.

    1. Email it to me.

    2. Post it on the blog (or post a link to it to the blog). If you do this, I'd appreciate an email to let me know that you've posted the final version.

    3. Slip it under my office door (or hand it to me if I'm in the office) before 4:30 today. My office # is 451 in the Cathedral.

    If it's simply a document, you might as well both email it to me and post it, but if it belongs online there's no reason to try to fit it into an emailable document.

    Edit: it's due by 8:00 if you aren't turning it in at my office.

    Tuesday, October 16, 2007

    Midterm essay

    First, I’d like to clarify why I’m writing this. I was going to write an essay on the Machinima genre and origins but decided an essay on the movie I made would be better. I’m not writing this in formal formats and languages because my project isn’t about this essay- it’s about the movie. So, in no particular order, here are my thoughts, intentions, meanings, and comments on various subjects regarding “Nice Men”.

    1) The “so what?”- When making a point where a thesis can’t be written, it’s important to blatantly state it somehow. Otherwise, you run the risk of your audience missing it entirely. The point of this project was to be able to say “Look at what I can do without anybody’s help. Try doing THIS 50 years ago. No sir, you need technology to do this.” Our present day technology has changed storytelling to THIS form! I find it impressive that w/ simple tools at my control, I can depict a meaningful story without actors, setting descriptions, musicians, scriptwriters, or any other outside help. True, I needed someone to make the program, but that being granted, the rest was all me. If I gave the project to someone who knew how to use the program, they could duplicate it in an hour or less. How impressive!!

    2) The story- In depicting a story in order to show “storytelling”, I needed the classic script. I borrowed a page from Levi-Strauss’ theories on myths. I chose two opposing forces, set them against each other, and resolved it. That’s the basics of any story. Then I stole some elements from Vladimir Propp’s ideas and recreated the basics of an “irreducible narrative”. To be blatant, here’s the plot of “Nice Men” as I see it: Two characters are introduced as being buddies, the hero and the villain. Some event outside the direct control of the hero splits the two. Then a prize is introduced, sometimes a throne or riches but in this case, Emily. The villain comes back and there’s a skirmish which the hero loses (mostly). The villain then takes the prize. The hero is outcast and banned. He breaks the ban and returns, often w/ a branding, like a scar. The villain and the hero fight, the villain is defeated, the hero takes the prize.

    3) The mumbling- I was using fake actors so I wanted them to have their own language too. I decided to make my subtitles ‘translate’ instead of just read. I didn’t want this to be a silent movie, I wanted it to be foreign.
    4) The hidden elements- My favorite parts of narratives are the “easter eggs”, the hidden secrets that fly beneath normal perpection, but are obvious when pointed out. If you picked them out from “Nice Men”, kudos. I hope you felt a small thrill. For the ones you missed, have fun finding these your second time through:
    a. The black vs. white: Seth wears black and Will wears white. Sybolism obvious. Also note how Will loses his jacket (becoming whiter) in the desert, where he’s ‘purified’.
    b. Smoking: This is Will’s scar. He tells the thugs he doesn’t smoke, but when he’s beaten and returns, he drops a cigarette to go approach Seth. Will’s experience gives him a new characteristic, and shows a more “badass” style to his character instead of a wimpy one.
    c. Supporting roles- The Indians that are killed early on are the same actors that beat up Will for Seth. Bet you couldn’t tell til I told you.
    d. The title screen says “Nice Men has been APPROVED by someone without any ATHOURITY to do so.” Nyuk.
    e. “Random Dance Party” is inspired by the endings of “Something About Mary”, “40 Year Old Virgin”, and “Reefer Madness” where the whole cast sings a song.
    f. The wakeup scene in the sand is a tribute to “The Count of Monte Cristo” (movie, not book).
    g. The actors’ names are amalgams of kids in the daycare class I teach. The movie’s name was randomly suggested by the computer. I almost when with “Jumping Penguins”.
    h. Will’s early mention of a supply convoy is a Star Wars reference.
    i. If Seth’s swooping in on Emily seems a little quick, good. It’s a potshot at Queen Anne in Richard III (that whore).
    j. Bloopers- There are so many. Let’s start at the top. At various points in the movie, the horses have saddles that disappear and reappear. The opening rifle shot is actually a rocket explosion. The beat-up scene is actually a sewn scene. The setting “extremely severe” wasn’t enough for me, so I put in two. In the knife vs. unarmed fight scene, Will should be carrying a knife. He even bends down to pick it up after dropping it. I took it out to make him tougher. That’s why the gutshot looks so strange. Also, that knife is some KA-BAR style knife…totally anachronistic. The woman ‘conducting’ the dance party is the preacher from the wedding. Quick dye job, eh?

    So that’s it. Now you’ve got the serious parts and the light-hearted parts of why “Nice Men” is so awesome.

    Saturday, October 13, 2007

    My ROUGH Draft

    Rough is an understatement. I'm having so much trouble with this damn thing, it isn't even funny.

    Up on the internet I have very little evidence of work, but that's not to say I haven't stared at the computer for hours. My computer and I don't agree on a lot of things, and working together isn't every a pretty thing. And, I think my "creative bone" died. I have writer's block and I'm not even a freaking writer.

    Sooo, yeah. To see some of my stuff, click here. Half of it is in the works, or half of it is done but I need to work out the steps to get there. So, this is all that's online. Click here.

    Friday, October 12, 2007

    Midterm Draft, finally

    Here is a rough, rough draft for my midterm project. I know it is a little late, but I decided to post a copy of the actual CYOA instead of a binary tree, so this took longer than usual. A reminder: this is a basic idea of the structure of the CYOA. I still need to include a stronger arguement over the entire story, but this provides a good start.

    1.) The year is 1995. You are nine years old and you are awoken by the sound of raindrops tapping against your bedroom. It’s Saturday morning and you take a moment to thank God for the fact that your slave driver of a fourth-grade English teacher has not given you a blogging assignment to do over the weekend. You would like to go outside and celebrate, but of course this is Pennsylvania and you are used to the traditional rainy weekends. Besides, in such a small town, there is a good chance that the activity you would find to keep you entertained would be dangerous, illegal in most states, or both. Instead, there are plenty of things that can be done indoors that are sure to bring you happiness.

    If you decide to go to the living room to see what’s on television, go to page 3.

    If you decide to find a book that you haven’t read in a while, go to page 2.

    If you decide to do nothing and waste your time, go to page 5.

    2.) Deciding that the most intellectual choice would be to find a nice quiet spot and dive into a new book, you head to your sisters’ room where there is a huge bookshelf of various literatures. The bedroom is shared by your twin sister and your older sister by two years and you rarely ever visit this room. It seems like an entirely different planet filled with unknown gadgets and hair clips, a planet that you do not want to be a part of. There are far more pink-colored items in this room than you would care to see and all of the Barbie dolls and various other girlie things that you don’t even know about are scattered on the floor. You barely make it to the bookshelf. Feeling a bit dizzy from your current situation, you figure it would be a good idea to grab a few books and make a decision when your head is clear. When you come to your senses, you are on the basement couch with two books, a Goosebumps novel, and a Hardy Boys novel.

    To read the Goosebumps novel, go to page 6.

    To read the Hardy Boys novel, go to page 21.

    3.) As you enter the living room, you can hear that something is already playing on the TV. When you round the corner, you see your two sisters watching their favorite movie, The Sound of Music. Realizing that Fraulein Maria has just arrived at the von Trapp household, you know that if you stay to watch, you will be in for a long afternoon. It is the first musical that you have been exposed to as a child and you find it odd how the characters often break into song during normal situations. As a nine year old boy, it is very difficult to understand why a movie such as this could win an Oscar for best picture, but your sisters have seen it about thirty times, so you better not mention anything negative about it or a full-blown war might start.

    If you decide to invade the living room and gain control of the TV, go to page 7.

    If you decide to keep quiet and watch the movie, go to page 4.

    4.) It is general knowledge that staring arguments with your sisters usually ends in turmoil, so you take the safe but painful route of watching the movie. You wait for your chance, and three hours later you grab the remote as soon as the credits begin to roll. Switching the TV without even rewinding the video, you check to see what shows are on.

    Turn to page 8.

    5.) You decide at nine years old, you have plenty of life ahead of you so there would be no harm in wasting some of it on a rainy Saturday. You lie on your bed and stare at the ceiling, counting the number of glow in the dark stars that your sister put up when she had your room. Oddly enough, as you are staring at them, one becomes loose and falls to the floor. You roll out of bed to pick it up and send it back into space. In the corner of your room, next to your closet, you find the star lying next to a sheet of paper. Glancing at the paper, you realize that it is an assignment given by your English teacher last week; another two page blog. “Rats” you say, “fooled again.”

    THE END (turn to page 24.)

    6.) You choose that a horror novel would be the most fun at the time, so you decide to read Say Cheese and Die! by R.L. Stine. It is part of his Goosebumps series and you know from experience that they have never let you down in the past. It takes you a considerable amount of time to read, but it was a fairly entertaining read. When you head upstairs, you realize that your sisters are watching some spooky looking TV show. Deciding that you could go for another horror story, you decide to stay and watch. Something seems ironically familiar about the show, and when it cuts to commercial, you realize that you are watching a new Goosebumps show, and Say Cheese and Die! is the episode that is playing. You get the entire story in 30 minutes and it is equally as entertaining as the book. You realize that it would be way more efficient to watch the TV series, you start watching Goosebumps often and rarely read the actual books. For some reason you feel like hearing the Buggles song, Video Killed the Radio Star, but it is not very difficult to resist those urges.

    THE END (turn to page 24.)

    7.) It is against your better judgment to interfere with The Sound of Music but when have you ever listened to you conscience before when your sisters are around? You swiftly knock the remote out of your twin sister’s hand, the weaker of the two. After endless yelling and screaming, you are immediately sent to your room without questions asked since you are most likely the cause of such trouble.

    Turn to page11.

    8.) Nickelodeon is usually the best choice to watch and you see that a rerun of Doug is currently on. Doug is an animated sitcom about a young boy in school that encounters many adventures and has an elite imagination. The show contains so many elements to which you can relate with that it has been one of your favorite shows on Nickelodeon. Once the show ends, you realize that a rerun of Clarissa Explains it All is on next. This show is essentially the opposite of Doug and is something which would be better enjoyed by your sisters. Your best bet is to find something else to do.

    If you decide to find a book to read, go to page 10.

    If you decide to find a video game to play, go to page 9.

    9.) You head to your room and fire up the Sega Genesis. It is the second generation version and it is much smaller and sleeker than the original. All of your friends that don’t currently own a Super Nintendo are supremely jealous. The game is Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the current best-selling game for the platform. It is a fairly difficult game, but it lacks much narrative aspect throughout the course of the game. The only plot synopsis you receive is at the beginning of the game where you learn that Dr. Robotnik has attacked your island, imprisoning all of the inhabitants and brainwashing them into mindless workers and guards. The game is enjoyable for a while, but you soon get bored with the repetition and long for a more story-oriented game.

    Go to page 20.

    10.) You decide to relax and read a book for a while. You learn that you will soon be reading Charlotte’s Web in school so you figure it would be a good idea to give yourself a head start. The book becomes a favorite of yours and you become inspired by the resolve displayed by Charlotte. Your wise choice in preparation for the class scores you an impressive grade in the class. You continue on the road to success, eventually becoming a very successful politician. Ironically, you die once your service in the workforce is over, but not before producing many successful children.

    THE END (turn to page 24.)

    11.) You have been sent to your room, but this is not such a bad punishment since this is where your Sega Genesis is located. It is probably a wise decision to leave your sisters alone for the rest of the night since it is not uncommon to lose video game privileges.

    To go back to the living room and get revenge, go to page 13

    To sneak out of your window, got to page 14

    To stay in your room and serve your time, go to page 15.

    12.) You awaken in the middle of the night, soaking wet. The temperature has dropped a considerable amount and your body temperature is becoming dangerously low. It would be wise to head home now, but you aren’t very sure how to find your way through the woods in the dark. The cold is making you delirious and you can’t stop yourself from drifting to sleep again.

    THE END (turn to page 24.)

    13.) Once again, you decide to ignore your better judgment and head to the living room to get revenge on your sisters. Just to be evil, you attempt to remove the movie from the VCR in a way that might damage the tape itself, ensuring that you will never have to sit through the three hour musical again. In your sister’s desperate attempt to save her prized video, she tackles you into the TV, cracking open your forehead. You spend some time in the hospital and you are sent back to your bedroom to be grounded for life. In your bitterness, you spend multiple hours playing violent videogames. You develop into a schizophrenic mass murderer and spend the rest of your life in an 8 X 9 white padded room where they play the soundtrack from The Sound of Music for the rest of eternity.

    THE END (turn to page 24.)

    14.) You wait for a little while until the coast is clear and then you open your window to make a run for it. You decide that the best thing to do is go down the street to your friend Adam’s house. It is still raining slightly so it would be ideal to get your bike, but there is a chance that you may be spotted in the process of getting it off the porch. It isn’t too far away, so you could probably make it by foot in about a half hour.

    To attempt to take the bike, go to page 16.

    To walk to Adam’s house, go to page 17.

    15.) A few hours pass as you play videogames and you decide it would be a good time to head out of your room. By this time, The Sound of Music should be over and you might be able to find something good on TV.

    Go to page4.

    16.) You make your way around the house to the back porch. You bike is sitting under the gazebo and it seems that no one is around. You grab the bike and take it down the steps. As you are ready to start off, you hear the voice of you father and you know you’re busted.

    Go to page 11.

    17.) You decide that taking the bike is too risky to you make a straight shot through the trees to the road. After about a mile and a half, you reach Adam’s house only to find that he has too much school work to do and no time to do anything else for the weekend. At this point, you only have the option of heading back home to face the music. You know that you’ll be grounded immediately if you head back, but the only other option is to use your survival skills and find some place to hide for the night.

    If you head back home, go to page 19.

    If you are to stubborn to head back, go to the next page.

    18.) You attempt to find to a spot along the woods on the way home where you familiar with. On your way there, you cross a section of woods with dense pine trees that will provide some cover. The pine needles on the ground might even provide a somewhat descent bed. It is still raining, but not much water is reaching you through the pine trees. As you think about how you are going to face you parents tomorrow, you can only hope that the rain does not pick up throughout the night.

    Turn to page 12.

    19.) The temperature is dropping quickly as you head back home. You finally enter your bedroom with shame as your parents give you a look of disappointment. When you get in your room, you realize that the Sega Genesis and TV are missing. There is no chance of leaving your room anytime soon and you don’t even have any good books around to read. Another quiet night is in store as you shut of the light and pull the blankets over your head.

    THE END (turn to page 24.)

    20.) A few years later, you are lucky enough to upgrade to a Sony Playstation. With this platform, you will be able to play the most state-of-the-art games with 3-D graphics and intense story lines. You begin with some sports games which are fun but soon become boring much like Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Soon, a new game is released entitled Metal Gear Solid, which has been reviewed to contain a deep plot with intense action.

    The game has a very deep development of all of its characters and the action is completely story-driven. It takes you well over twenty hours of playtime to finish the game the first time you play it. There are also instances in which your decisions control whether certain characters live or die, thus leading to multiple endings. Lengthy cut-scenes are used to develop the plot of the game making it almost seem like more of an interactive movie than a video game.

    This unique representation of narrative captures your interest in such a way that you purchase the sequels in the near future and continue to be a fan of the series for many years. You can only hope that another form of medium will also be used someday to continue the plot development of the intense multiple-game series.

    THE END (turn to page 24.)

    21.) The novel you choose to read is a Hardy Boys mystery, Dead in the Water. It is an interesting story which is easy to relate to since it involves two younger boys which, throughout the series, seem to get themselves into mysterious situations. The book takes you a considerable amount of time to read and once you are finished, you look out the window to see that it is still raining. Such an interesting story has possibly sparked your interest in reading another book, but there are also other things that could be done with your time.

    If you continue to read more books, turn to the next page.

    If you decide to try something else, go to page 9.

    22.) You continue to read another Hardy Boys novel which is just as interesting as the first and you are becoming addicted to mystery novels. You continue reading until your eyes hurt and you still desire more. Your family asks why you have been spending so much time in the basement on the couch and suggests that you do something else for a change. Your sister mentions that your favorite show is coming up soon.

    To continue reading more and more books, go to the next page

    To watch TV with your sister, go to page 8

    23.) You have been reading alone in your basement during your free time for most of the school year. Your friends at school have been talking about a new videogame that has come out called Metal Gear Solid. You have no idea what they are talking about and feel like an outcast from the conversation. You can’t wait to get home and head to the basement couch. Your only friend for the next few months will be the bookcase of various adventures. A few years pass and you realize that it may be your only friend for a long time.

    THE END (turn to page 24.)

    24.) Your adventure is not over! Go back and try another route and realize that your choices decide your destiny. If you received a “good “ ending, chances are you picked a variety of different uses of narrative including movies, TV shows, books, and videogames. If you received a “bad” ending, chances are you limited yourself to the form of narrative.

    Technology has enabled some wonderful advancement to be created that benefits narrative structures. Visual representations and special effects have been able to show narrative content in ways that text never could. It is important to embrace this new technology as well as old forms of narrative.

    Each form of narrative has its own advantage and should be regarded as equally important. Text will most likely always have the imaginative advantage, since the reader’s imagination shapes the setting, characters and plot to their own interpretation. Videogames have their advantage due to the fact that the player must make choices that affect the storyline of the game. Television and movies can have a variety of different advantages such as the use of animation to appeal to younger audiences as well as the way in which musicals provide an extra element to narratives that no other medium could. For the record, the author does not despise The Sound of Music as much as he did when he was nine years old. He has learned that is it important to embrace all different forms of narrative.