Surrogates – Yet another badly recieved robot future movie

I have a theory.

The theory is this: This generation grew up watching things like Small Wonder and Star Trek (where we saw Data) and various other things that implanted in our brains that the future was in androids, robots, cyborgs and the like. We have felt for the longest time that these things would be wonderful, they would be fabulous, and nothing would go wrong.

Despite the many books on the subject, we as a generation (and those that come after us), do not want to see the potential ills of relying on these things too much. That they might be evil, or we might be making the wrong choice. That we could possibly lose ourselves as humans to the machines.

I encountered this similar distaste for the humans in Wall-e. Probably for similar reasons. In that movie, we are given ever convenience, and we become fat, weak and small boned. Incapable of carrying ourselves on our own two feet. Reliant on machines to do everything for us. Everything. Including brushing our teeth.

The electronic age has brought in many fancy and fascinating things. Ten years ago, who would have thought that our cell phones could do all they do now? Who would have really given pause to the idea of reading books on eReaders on a regular basis, and that they would be available to Every Man? We have these fantastic computers and MP3 players and we don’t even give it a moments thought. The majority of the world is now run by computers. Many human fail safes have been pushed aside because for some reason we think that computers are infallible. We blame every mistake on human error.

Well, yes. But who made the machines? Who fixes the machines? Who keeps them clean and upgrades them and spills their coffee on them in the morning? The backup plan for important files is no longer to have a hard copy. It is to rely on other machines to keep track of them. Online storage spaces. External hard drives. And what if those all fail?

It leads me to think that this world is not ready to see the potential problems with putting all our eggs in the electronics basket. Just consider a moment everything that you own, how much you rely on it, and how much you take it for granted. Just… a moment. Look around. Think. I’m sure you’ll find at least one thing there that if it failed, really failed, you’d be fucked. Because you weren’t thinking, and now it’s dead and everything that was on it is gone. Maybe it’s not a huge thing, just music files. Just computer games. But how pissed would you be?

I, Robot didn’t do well. The robots in that eventually turn on us. They gain too much intelligence and refuse to be our slaves anymore. I feel that people don’t want to believe that can happen. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if my computer called me an asshole in ten minutes. I might shit myself, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

A.I. didn’t do well. In that, we watch a couples’ life fall apart. They turn to a machine to fill their void. And what do they do when the void is lifted? They abandon the machine. Again, people don’t want to consider this possibility. Yet we do it all the time. What do you do when your old computer bites it? When it becomes old tech? You toss it, without thinking. You get your files and send the poor little thing away without a second thought. You’ve gotten what you need out of it, what does it matter? It’s only a machine, after all. Is it?

Surrogates didn’t do well. In this, we just give up on being human completely. We put ourselves into fake bodies and do things that we wouldn’t be able to do in our flesh because our flesh is breakable. They get shot on purpose, jump off bridges. Have unprotected sex. The world is a pseudo-utopia. We think everything is perfect. Except for that one small contingent that is convinced that walking around all the time in an artificial exoskeleton is an abomination. Then they turn out to be right. Thinking, feeling, being is more important than perfection. Which is another thing that humans rail against. Perfection is all. We strive to be perfect, or what our society deems is perfect at the time. Look at the fashions today, look at the hair, the models. Look at what it all used to be. It’s never the same. Nothing is ever perfect. The most beautiful things are the things that are flawed. But humans can’t have that.

I believe that it makes people truly uncomfortable to give thought to the fact that perhaps our answer isn’t robots. Robots are cool, I’m totally not going to argue. Probably, if they manage to do it before I die, I’ll stick my brain into a robot body. But not until this fleshy mess is finished with. I want to see the world with real eyes. Smell the world, no matter how much it stinks in places, with an actual sense of smell, hear the world with ears and not aural preceptors.

But hey, that’s me.

I personally enjoyed all three movies. But my brain is wired to look for whatever can possibly go wrong with any given thing. I’m a generally negative person in that way. Everything that can go wrong, will. At one point or another, there will be total system failure. Be it biological or otherwise, eventually everything will fall apart. It’s just how the world works. It’s just how everything is made. A fact of life. Not trying to be depressing here. Just the facts, ma’am. I certainly don’t expect others to see things the same way I do, I’m not one to try to convince others to see things from my point of view. I’ll state my case and if it’s acceptable to others, fine, if not, fine.

Then again, I’m ready for the zombie apocalypse.

But, it’s a dead technology…

In 1992 there was this neato little thing that came out called the Minidisc. Special little players. Special little recordable disks. Everything a technophile might want in a new toy to play with.

Well, I never got one. I can’t say for sure why. Either it was too expensive back then, or something else caught my attention and I needed to have that more. Note that this is during a time when I have to rely on my parents to get me the gadgets I want because I’ve got no income except from babysitting (not even an allowance!) and five bucks an hour doesn’t really add up very quickly.

Let’s cut here to recently. It’s been well over ten years since this magical device was on the shelves of our electronics stores. I am an adult now. I have my own money source. And I no longer need the permission of anybody else to buy the things that I want. Even if they are completely rediculous. An acquaintance of mine informs a group of people on a forum that he’s going to sell or just plain give away a bunch of his old stuff. I note on the list that there’s a minidisc player in there, along with blank discs and a charger.

So I wait like two weeks, stalking the thread, mildly curious as to why nobody’s snatched up that player. It’s only 20 bucks for all of it, I feel I should make that quite clear. It’s not expensive. Oh, yes. It’s a dead technology. Now we’ve got CDs and MP3 players that will hold thousands of hours of music on them, plus videos and whatever the hell else we want to put on them.

The minidisc is – quite bluntly – the retarded cousin of the cd player.

Every once in a while, two things come out. In this case, minidisc and cd. They battle over the populace, each denouncing the other for it’s various faults, and touting it’s own prowess in the music world. But there can only be one. We saw BetaMax go down, we saw LaserDisc flounder and die. It’s not only the truth of history, but also Darwin’s theory of evolution. The fittest one wins. For minidisc? It was the CD. A simple, easy thing that people flocked to, leaving the poor little minidisc in the wakes of it’s glory.

So I finally decide that I’m going to buy this thing. Why the hell not, right? 20 bucks, and it’s something that I used to want really badly. Maybe it’s hearkening back to my younger years. Wanting to remember easier times. Maybe it’s nostalgia. I’m also admittedly lying to myself and saying that I could use it in more “dangerous” or “risky” situations that I don’t want to bring my Zune into. The truth of that that’s held down in the dank depths of my mind is that I likely won’t take it any further than my front door. But shhh. That’s not what’s important.

Cue to two days later. A package comes in the mail. Ho! It is my recent purchase!
A lovely box of deleted disks with a few fresh ones mixed in. The player itself. A Gameboy Color charger that amusingly works for this contraption.

Of course the first thing I do is to search the disks for something on them. One of them does contain some music. It sounds pretty freaking good considering how old this thing is. I figure out how to delete not only individual songs, but also the whole disk. (This was on purpose) I’m pretty amused by the whole thing, and then it comes time to explore the machine more completely.

Ridiculous Point Number One: This thing actually runs on a single regular battery. Oh, I know. This is how it all used to work. You don’t have to tell me. I’m old enough to remember a time before Duracel figured out how to create rechargeable AAs. Back in the stone age where when our tape decks started to run out of juice, everything would start to sound as if it were coming to you from under water. It’s just surprising, that’s all. I don’t think I’ve seen any electronic device with a normal battery case in like five years.

Yes, console controllers do come with them, but there’s that option for the rechargeables, isn’t there? There is. And what do we all do? We go buy the rechargeable pack, because we know in our hearts that using regular batteries is borderline retarded.

Luckily, the thing works if you plug in the A/C adapter. I seriously thought I was plugging it in to recharge a dead cell, not because the thing wasn’t actually holding a BATTERY at all.

Ridiculous Point Number Two: A few minutes of prodding and exploring shows me that there’s no real way to connect this thing to my computer. Everything is on USB these days. And even if it’s not, it’s got some kind of link cable to connect it to your PC and do whatever it is you have to do. But this?

I think I’m missing a cable, maybe. So I send a PM to the seller asking just how on earth I’m supposed to get music onto these blank disks that I’ve got.

Do you know what he tells me? Do you? You have to record the audio onto the discs like you used to do with tapes. Are you all too young to remember that process? You had to play the tape you wanted to record, and hit the record button on the device that you’re recording to. Manually controlling the two items, and making sure that you’ve got it all synced up perfectly, lest there be dead air on your tape. All while, I might add, having to actually listen to the length of the song, because it had to be playing for the second device to record.

whut

So I’m laughing. I’m laughing my ass off. This is so fucking absurd that I can’t help it. I have lived through so many changes in this world, seen so much progress, that I can’t even fathom not just clicking on something and dragging it over to the destination device and have it just instantly be copied there.

Ridiculous Point Number Three: So this is where our determined heroine goes searching over the vast plains of the Interwebnetlands to obtain for herself the magical cord which will connect her computer to her new and slightly creationally deformed device.

Imagine her amazement to discover that she got her minidisc at an astounding price. That these things are still going on Amazon for 50 dollars or more used. USED. That is, out of the box, played with, taken around the world. USED.

Imagine her amazement at the fact that these silly little things are in incredibly high demand, even now! People are still buying and trading these devices like they’re brand new!

Imagine how her mouth hangs agape and her eyes widen to impossible dinner plates as she explores further and further, finding out that somehow, somehow, this product has survived the depths of obscurity and thrives!

No, they’re not making new ones. Nothing is new. Everything is old. And everything is very expensive.

I’m completely dumbfounded here. Before tonight I never would have imagined that this thing still had followers in the world. Actual followers. True believers, if you will. Loyalists. I thought that I wouldn’t find a cord that would work because it’s so dead and gone that it just wouldn’t exist. Now I realize my problem is not that, but finding a frigging cord that I can afford.

As it stands currently, without said cord, my player is rendered a mighty shiny brick, and I suppose I could use the blank disks as pointy Frisbees. But that’s all it’s doing. Not that I mind. The more I discover in this lake of absurdity, the funnier it gets. I have honestly been laughing for hours. Sitting all by myself, looking at this whatnot, laughing. The neighbors might think I’ve gone insane.

Will I ever find a way to make this thing viable for myself? I don’t know. Right now, I’m not worried about it.

I have dived into the pool of the minidisc, and find myself floundering, not because it’s a dead technology, but because it’s a dead technology that’s somehow still alive!

It’s a fucking ZOMBIE TECHNOLOGY.

Death Troopers

Star Wars + Zombies = Happiest girl EVAR

Seriously. This was really risky to go into. It’s not just taking one genre I love, but two of them, and then it’s promising to mesh them together. The idea of it is, of course, joyful and exciting. But would the reality of it match up with my hopes? Would I try to like this book just because it’s a Star Wars Zombie book, or would I be able to allow real opinions come in? Could I let myself be honest?

This book is quite honestly a big deal to me.

Happily, I did actually enjoy it. Not just for the sake of what it was. The writing was good. The story moved fluidly, and quickly. The characters were the types that you gained interest in, wanted to see what would happen to them.

I did enjoy it.

Now that I’ve said that, I just have to say to everybody out there who might have a zombie fear, you have a new thing to terrify you in your dark nights. I’m not even going to reveal anything about the zombies themselves, or how they become that, because that’s a terror all of it’s own.

No. All I’m going to say is: Zombie Wookiees.

Those two words together make me want to cackle. I mean, you’ve got this massive creature with claws and fangs, intelligence, incredible strength, and then they become of the undead. UNDEAD, FLESH EATING, WOOKIEES.

I don’t think my joy on this is going to fade any time soon.

Just think about all the things that a zombie Wookiee could do. They wouldn’t really need a whole group in order to get past barriers, they could push through on their own. Rip doors off hinges. Climb shit. Break in, pretty much however they wanted. And with their heightened sense of smell, just imagine how much easier they could track down their prey. You could try to hide all you wanted, and they’d still sniff you out. And fighting one? Fuck that. If you got anywhere near within their reach, you’re gone. Absolutely gone.

I LOVE ZOMBIE WOOKIEES.

I need a shirt.

Fido

Okay, so Fido is the most deranged episode of Lassie ever. Complete with a kid named Timmy and abject life lessons for us all.

Of course, I’m pretty sure that in Lassie, Timmy’s mom never fell for the dog. Which is not really the only glaring difference between Fido and Lassie, but it’s certainly pretty significant.

It really astounds me how close to Lassie this movie is. I’m sure it couldn’t be a complete accident. Maybe it started out unintentional, but it sure had intention by the end.

I also enjoyed the subtle shift in the mom that takes place for the entire length of the movie. Going from perfect little wife concerned with what’s normal and what she should do for her husband to strong, independent woman. The dad is pretty spectacular, too, though. With his ignoring of feelings.

“You have to get over that.”
“Get over what?”
“Feelings. Feeling’s not… important.”

Even as an avid zombie story lover, it’s hard to know when things are going to turn out well and when they’re going to go horribly wrong. It’s kind of an at-your-own-risk genre. You go into things not knowing if you’re going to enjoy it, but maybe that’s part of the allure.

All in all, Fido did a very good job of keeping me amused and entertained. Also – impressed. There were some fairly big names involved in the film, and everybody was well suited to their parts.

So far I’ve got to say that the zombie comedies really live up to their potential. I can’t think of one that I’ve been disappointed with.
That’s a notable record, since the zombie genre as a whole has some real doozies. Movies that are only good for their campiness, things that must be watched with friends to retain any value in a collection.

I think my favorite part of the whole movie is the smoking. We learn that zombies don’t have to eat or drink normal foods, but they can. We also learn that Fido was a smoker in life, and that his craving has carried over into his un-life.
It’s nothing huge, just a little thing that amuses me a great deal.

Deadgirl – Request(ish)

With friends like J.T., who needs prison cellmates?

It’s one thing to be a juvenile delinquent and know your friend is slightly more of a waste than you are, and another entirely to realize your best friend is willing and able to abuse a helpless girl both physically and sexually.

And entirely different thing altogether when that girl is possibly not as alive as she appears to be.

Other than some fairly bad editing and the use of some incredibly Donnie-Darko-esque music, I actually enjoyed watching this movie. Yeah, you are detecting a bit of surprise there. I really didn’t expect to enjoy it at all. A friend said she was pretty disturbed by it, and I like disturbed, so I went for it. Low expectations for everything, guessing that it wouldn’t strike my fancy too much. So yes, I’m a bit taken aback that I actually liked it. The acting was pulled off pretty well, considering that the main players in the flick aren’t real heavy hitters. The slightly slow story isn’t really noticeable because you really want to know what’s going to happen next (she says while mentioning it).

It’s like the most fucked up fairy tale in the entire history of fairy tales. I’m even including all the original ones here. The Grimm’s. The folklore. All of it.

As much as you think you can anticipate the ending, you really can’t. It comes a little bit out of left feild. Then it goes ahead and runs around behind you for a while before popping up again and shouting “BOO!”

The whole movie is pretty weird, but the ending is sort of extra weird. You’re a little disgusted and a little bit horrified, but it’s also sort of sweet. In a really disturbing kind of way.

The prince and hero eventually gets his princess… sort of.

“You’ll enjoy being dead. Deadgirl does.”

The Rising – Brian Keene

So Brian Keene is not a write I had encountered until recently. A friend of mine handed over his book, The Rising, so I could experience him. It’s a little odd that I haven’t even heard of him, considering my affinity for zombie stories.

Before I get into the meat of my review here, I have three little things that bother me about this book.

1. General writing – I don’t know if this guy’s editor was bad, or if he just really doesn’t understand punctuation, but there was a rampant misuse of the apostrophe in this book. He did a lot of ‘s for things that were not possessives. It’s a little nitpick, but as a writer myself, I believe more attention needs to be paid to these things.

2. One of the characters is called a deaf-mute. Mute means that no words or sounds come from the person. The character, Worm, forms words the best that he can. He talks. This makes him NOT a mute. I think that if this is not a general-knowledge sort of thing that some research should have been done. It’s a fairly easy thing to discover.

3. And this is a personal preference sort of thing. I’m a firm believer in the general zombie lore that animals do not become zombies. This book had them. But magically the bugs didn’t become zombies. I don’t think that animals would (or will) become zombies when the apocalypse happens. I think they’ll be left to roam the earth and take it over when all the rest of us are gone.

Now that all of that is out of the way:

Generally speaking I liked the book. It was a good, fast read. It was interesting. A lot of people died in a lot of horrible ways. There wasn’t a typical “everybody helps everybody” feel to it that you find in a lot of the more feel good zombie stories.

The character development was good, and the fact that everybody kept dying really left a lot of guessing. I like guessing. I like not knowing where things are going, and not being able to predict what’s going to happen.

The ending was like that too. Nothing was determined. I know that’s a little spoilery, but not too bad. I liked the ending. I thought at first that it pissed me off a lot, and I hated it. But then I realized that because it pissed me off so much I really liked it.

Definitions

Websters definition of “zombie”

Main Entry:
zom·bie Listen to the pronunciation of zombie
Variant(s):
also zom·bi Listen to the pronunciation of zombi \ˈzäm-bē\
Function:
noun
Etymology:
Louisiana Creole or Haitian Creole zonbi, of Bantu origin; akin to Kimbundu nzúmbe ghost
Date:
circa 1871

1usually zombi a: the supernatural power that according to voodoo belief may enter into and reanimate a dead body b: a will-less and speechless human in the West Indies capable only of automatic movement who is held to have died and been supernaturally reanimated2 a: a person held to resemble the so-called walking dead; especially : automaton b: a person markedly strange in appearance or behavior3: a mixed drink made of several kinds of rum, liqueur, and fruit juice
— zom·bie·like Listen to the pronunciation of zombielike \-bē-ˌlīk\ adjective