Valentine’s 2015

Here it is almost two weeks later and I still haven’t made a post about my awesome Valentine’s date!

My wife and I went out to eat at her favorite restaurant, Chevy’s. She likes the place a lot because they have really good tortilla chips and the family friendly atmosphere is very inviting.

After the wonderful dinner we used a birthday present I’d gotten for her back in November, tickets to Disney on Ice!

The opening act was a few ice-skating boomerang throwers.

Mickey came out along with all of his friends who wanted to throw a birthday party for somebody, but it wasn’t any of their birthdays!

The Mad Hatter came out along with Alice and suggested an Unbirthday party instead.

After the party Mickey stayed to clean everything up by putting on his wizard clothes and summoning a bunch of iceskating brooms.

The next celebration was Halloween (because Halloween is totally on Valentine’s Day in February).

After Halloween came Valentine’s Day. Finally!

Minnie was looking for her love, but couldn’t find him. All the Disney princes and princesses tried to help out by dancing around a fountain. Most of the traditional amazing ice skating moves were during this number. Lots of princes lifting princesses and dazzling spins on the ice.

In the end Mickey was inside the fountain that Disney royalty was dancing around. He came out and had a dance with Minnie.

Hu-Ha! Let's get married, Minnie!
Hu-Ha! Let’s get married, Minnie!

After the Valentine’s Dance there was an intermission followed by Mickey’s fantastic travel the world second act! If you’ve been to Disneyland and seen the Magical Dot show, it’s almost the same thing.

Asia, Agrabah, all over Europe, New Orleans, and Hawaii!

Hawaii was the best of all. A man came out and sprayed some liquid onto the ice. Then the male lead from Lilo and Stitch came out with a fiery baton and lit the liquid (gasoline) on fire!

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Pyrotechnics are hard to capture on film beca-THIS SHOW IS COPYRIGHTED BY DISNEY!

And then the show ended with the required big finale where all the characters came out to sing and make merry.

I know what you're thinking and no, Woodie did not make merry with the dinosaur.
I know what you’re thinking and no, Woodie did not make merry with the dinosaur.

Pretty cool date! Definitely glad that we went.

-GoCorral

 

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Dracula Untold Review

I saw Dracula Untold the other night in theaters.

It was decent, but not as good as the trailers made it seem to me.

The movie attempts to juggle a lot of different themes and ultimately fails on most of them.

The movie attempts to unify the historical story of Vlad the Impaler with the mythological story of Dracula. It does a decent job.

The historical story is heavily condensed, turning a three year war into something that takes about a week, but that’s to be expected when making a movie. The personalities of the participating characters are changed as well, but that was necessary for the story the script writers wanted to tell.

The mythological story is compromised to make Vlad seem more appealing to the audience. This is an origin story, so Vlad doesn’t start off as a horrible bloodsucking villain. He’s a family man who fights the Turks to protect his country as well as his son. He’s all but turned into card-carrying monster by the end of the movie though.

But if Vlad is a good person, how does he become a vampire? The “evil vampire” is a monster that is trapped by a curse within a cave. The vampire can turn someone else into a vampire. If that person does not drink blood within the next three days then they will turn back into a human. However, if they do drink blood then the original vampire will be freed from the cave to do horrible vampire things to people.

Vlad takes this deal with the devil to protect his family from the coming Turk invasion. The three days don’t prove to be enough to stop the Turk invasion, mostly because Vlad wastes his second day doing nothing of significance. Vlad chooses to extend his gift into eternity by drinking blood. He then shares his gift with a few of his loyal soldiers and they wreck the entire Turk army. The tactics employed by the vampires reminded me so much of the short story Out of the Dark by David Weber that I’m sure the script writers read the short story as well.

There’s lots of actions and special effects. A few wonky camera angles that mess up the movie, but those are fortunately rare.

I think my main issue with the movie was the multiple different personas Vlad has. We all act differently in different situations and around different people, there’s nothing unusual about that.

My problem was that there was no obvious transition between Vlad’s different personas.

Vlad comes back home after encountering the original vampire. This is before he makes a deal with the original. The vampire killed two of Vlad’s most loyal soldiers.

Vlad returns to his family, puts on a happy face, and kisses his wife. She notices he seems distant and he says, “I was only distracted by your unbelievable beauty.” Vlad then goes on to play and joke with his children before tucking them into bed before having sex with his wife in the bathtub.

But he just saw two of his men killed by a demon a few hours before this? It is possible that he transitions this quickly. He probably needs to do so often as he is a military ruler of his country with the nickname, “The Impaler,” but the audience does not see this transition. All the movie needed was to show Vlad outside the door to his family room before going in. He could sigh and shake his head before entering, having mentally prepared himself for hiding the brutal murders he just witnessed from his family. Nothing like that is in the movie. It goes straight from a discussion with a monk about the vampire to him reuniting with his family.

That’s not the only issue. When Vlad first accepts the curse of the vampire he understands that it might cost him his soul. He realizes that later on while praying in a church. Yet when he’s about to lose his power if he doesn’t drink blood, he doesn’t remember. The person who he drinks the blood of doesn’t remind him either. There should’ve been some discussion of whether his soul was worth expelling the Turks from Wallachia and saving his son’s life, but there isn’t! We at least get an anguished scream from Vlad after he drinks the blood, but that’s all. No traumatic battle between good and evil within him over becoming a demon. Just a battle over the sin of cannibalism.

Who would I recommend this movie to? Probably not fans of the historical Vlad the Impaler. Too much of the story is changed to truly match the real version.

It feels more like a typical action/adventure movie. If you liked The Mummy or Raiders of the Lost Ark then this will be a good movie for you to watch. Not as good as those classics, but a decent movie with fighting and special effects to entertain you. The characterization isn’t great and the plot… Well we all already know what happens in the Dracula story.

-Mister Ed

An Overview of Gurutama Part 4

A section of Gurutama that covers the human territories along the Upper and Eastern portions of the Maw.
A section of Gurutama that covers the human territories along the Upper and Eastern portions of the Maw.

Previous: An Overview of Gurutama Part 3

I’ve described the Merfolk and Avians in Gurutama in broad strokes. I’d like to talk about the humans next.

The humans in Gurutama are similar to humans in the real world.

Gurutama humans originated in one area and spread out from there, just like humans originated in Africa on Earth and spread out from there.

There are now several different human nations in Gurutama. Today, I’ll focus on Najar, the first nation and the origin point of the human race in Gurutama.

When we started the Dawn of Worlds game we had an idea for four different races each embodying one of the four elements.

Merfolk are water and Avians are air. Humans are fire and later I’ll talk about Dwarves which are the earth in the quartet.

Humans in their early stages were rather primitive. They had a tribal structure within the northern forests and had little if any development towards typical civilized culture. I’d compare early Gurutama humans to the people living in Germany and France before the Romans got involved.

The humans did not slowly develop civilization in Gurutama, but were gifted it rapidly when the Najar Volcano erupted.

The eruption of the volcano scorched the Najar Valley below it, but it also signaled a great and terrible event.

The demon prince, Navillus, came up out of hell through the volcano and began to influence the human people.

He named the Najar people as his mouthpiece and set them forth to rule all humans.

Most of the primitive humans converted willingly, but one tribe resisted.

Chieftan Bwolark Bwolo of the Bwarlor Skull-Dog Tribe fought against the demon worshipers.

The Skull-Dogs could not resist forever against the multitudes charged with the Black Prince’s power.

The Bwarlor people were forced to flee in boats for the islands in the Maw.

They set up colonies along the shore of the islands.

The Merfolk living by the islands saw the islands as theirs, even if they did not inhabit them.

Conflict between the Merfolk and the Bwarlor never escalated into war, but small skirmishes have taken place from the founding of the colonies on til today.

That’s probably enough information for one blog. There are still several more different human civilizations in Gurutama that I’ll describe in a later post.

-Mister Ed

Next: An Overview of Gurutama Part 5