Monthly Archives: July 2014

Here’s the Deal: Cosplaying as Two Face

My high school theater teacher always told me that acting starts by wearing the shoes of your character.

For me though, when I was cosplaying as Two Face, it was the suit.

The suit is one of the most important parts of cosplaying as Two Face.  It doesn’t matter what variety you go for, either black and white, ripped and non-ripped, or slick and tacky, wearing Two Face’s suit gets you in the mood.

And that is the best part about cosplaying as Batman villains.  They’re recognizable not just by their attitudes but by their attire.  Anyone can look at a person and immediately identify what villain they’re playing solely on their costume.  Poison Ivy’s leaves, Joker’s purple suit, Riddler’s bowler hat.  They are all so iconic.

When I put on Two Face’s suit, I change.  Immediately I feel gruffer, hard, and unforgiving.  But it’s not enough.

Unlike other Batman villains, the suit is not enough, you need the coin.  The coin is the only thing that tops Two Face’s suit.  You just got to have it.  It’s what all Two Faces must have for it is Two Face’s God.

Once I hold the double headed coin in my hand, it becomes only natural to start flipping it.  Once you start flipping it, you can now confront decisions that perplex Two Face.

Now as a cosplayer, you can go two routes.  Either as a person who poses as his character or a person who embraces his character.  I normally go for the latter.

But as such, how does a Two Face cosplayer accurately portray Two Face’s duality in a comic convention?  Well, I was able to accomplish it when I was at San Diego Comic Con 2012.

If your cosplay is good enough, people will ask to photograph you.  That’s only polite after all.  As such, when people asked me if they can photograph me, I hold out my coin unscarred side forward and say

“Here’s the deal.  Good side up, you get your photograph…”

I flip the coin revealing the scarred face side

“Bad side up, no dice.”

The photographer then groans with anticipation but with a shaky smile.

The coin is flipped and it soars in the air, spinning many times.

Catching it with my scarred hand and slapping it on my untainted hand, I reveal their fate.

That was super fun as the people who got the good side were delighted and the people who didn’t were disappointed but amused that such event had occurred.

The second, and more hilarious, event was the blood donation.

At Comic Con, there was a blood donation booth where you can sign up and go over to a building next door to donate blood.

I swaggered up to the booth attendants and held up my coin and said, “Here’s the deal: Good side up I donate blood, bad side up, no dice.”

Now, I should stress here that I have a certain aversion to needles.  So making a commitment like this has some stake for me.

I flip the coin and it landed good side up.  Later that day, a nurse dressed as Poison Ivy was putting a needle in my arm and taking my blood.

It was a lot of fun cosplaying as Two Face for Comic Con.  It was hard getting the hair dye and gel out of my hair but it was totally worth it.

The best part out of the whole thing was when a little boy, maybe six years old, came up to me and said with beaming eyes, “Can I have your photograph Two Face??”

For once, I had disregard the coin, a sacrilegious act but excusable.

I said sure and had my photograph with him.

As he was running away he shouted “I hope you beat Batman!”

“I will one day kid,” I said quietly, “I will.”

Two Face, My Little Pony, Cosplay, Comic Con

Unfortunately, the big problem for my outfit was the blackness in the suit but I was in a rush trying to get the other costumes ready that the suit suffered. If and when I do Two Face again, I’m going to clean up the suit. Anyway, this was also one of the best things to happen that day. I didn’t even have to ask! A friend of mine at the convention went into the bathroom and saw one of the cosplayers there. She asked her if she could pose with me to which she responded if he asked my friend to tell her this. My friend said no and wanted it to be a surprise. So while I was getting my photograph taken, they came up to me and said they wanted to pose with me. Sure I said as I tried my damnedest not to be giddy about it. We pose and it was awesome. No regrets.

The Unapologetic Nerd will be on hiatus next week

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Gender Roles in Harvest Moon (SNES)

Harvest Moon on the Super Nintendo has always been a staple game for me since late elementary school.  I have played this game multiple times and I’m quite fond of it.  The only other game in the series that I like more than it would be Friends of Mineral Town on the Gameboy Advance.  Yet despite my admiration for this game there is a flaw that, whether done consciously or not, negatively reinforces gender roles in today’s society.

Before I go further, let me clarify that I am by no means a gender studies person nor have I taken any classes in gender studies.  This is from a personal view that should be taken with a grain of salt.

Society, though not as big on this as it once was, force men to accomplish three goals in life in order to be viewed as successful.  Athletic prowess, economic stability, and sexual conquest.  If you do not accomplish all three of these goals, you could be considered a failure. And though I can’t speak for all of my fellow brethren, I know that I fear, to an extent, not being able to accomplish all three of these things (especially the economic one).

Harvest Moon on the SNES embraces all three of these goals very nicely.  After all, the game is about a boy growing up to be a man.  In the beginning of the game you are a boy who has taken up his grandfather’s run down farm and are tasked to make it great once again.  Not an easy trial that’s for sure.  While conquering this feat, you simultaneously fulfill the three criteria of society’s man definition  In fact, the game’s ending (yes, there is an ending to the game) depends on your accomplishing these three criteria.

First, athletic prowess.  At the beginning of the game you are a pretty weak boy.  Doing hard tasks like chopping wood and breaking stone can wear you down pretty quick.  But as you explore the world and continue to work hard, you are rewarded with magical items called Power Berries.  Eating these Power Berries increases your stamina and makes you last longer while doing hard labor.  There are ten of them and though some of them can be found doing random tasks, most of them are acquired by doing hard labor.  You might find one while plowing the field or inside a stump after you chop one up.  As you eat them you become a strong man.

"God, I hate eratics" taken from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEfdF6GFh4Y

“God, I hate eratics”
taken from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEfdF6GFh4Y

Eating these Power Berries also helps attain your goal of economic stability.  You are able to expand your fields, build your house, and obtain stronger and better items.  Even without the Berries, you could still obtain economic success by raising chickens and cows.  However, the game can be cruel to you by showing that life isn’t always fair.  Hurricanes in particular are nasty as they can ruin your farm and make your animals go hungry.  It’s up to you to pick yourself back up and keep going forward.  Through every hardship you must persevere and become a better man.  Don’t look back or else you won’t succeed.

And finally, we reach sexual conquest.  Women in Harvest Moon are as objectified as the cattle you raise and the crops you harvest.  They are nothing more than a desirable object which you have to tend to as much as you tend your farm animals.  Even the women’s privacy is cast aside as you are able to sneak into their rooms and look through their diary to determine how much you like them.

Found a one way ticket to a black eye!

Found a one way ticket to a black eye!

You might say I’m overreacting but this objectifying and simplifying women becomes truly apparent when you marry your sweetheart.  In the game there are five potential women to marry, all of whom have their own unique sprites and (relatively) distinct personalities.  There’s the barmaid, the flower girl, the mechanic, the farm girl, and the church girl.  Boom, individualistic girls who have their own set of likes and dislikes and personality traits.

HOWEVER, this is all toss aside when you marry the girl.  Her distinct avatar and personality vanishes and is replaced by a docile wife who looks 30 sprite years older.  And oh yeah, the wife sprite is the SAME for all five wives!  The only difference is the hair color.  I honestly don’t think marriage matters in Harvest Moon since the end result is a partner who is nothing like the woman I wanted to be with.  I’m not even exaggerating, all of the wives’ dialogue is exactly the same no matter who you’re married to.  The only time your wife’s personality comes through is the end of the game where you spend time with her and that’s like a 15 second clip.  Big whoop.

Wives

Wives, taste the rainbow

What’s worse is how useless your wife is.  Her main purpose is to give you support and give birth to two children.  That’s it.  She doesn’t help with the livestock or the field, she just sits in the house and makes you meals while popping out babies.

Granted…Harvest Moon is not a romance game.  It is a game that has romance in it, but it’s not solely about it.  Exploration, harvesting, and animal husbandry are also important factors in the game.  But even so, three small changes could have been made to improve the game’s romance.

-Distinct wife sprites: What was honestly wrong with their original sprites??  I wouldn’t have mind it at all if they kept their original sprites.  Why do the girls change appearance while the boy remains the same?

-Special wife traits: Each girl in Harvest Moon has a distinct hobby and personality.  If this carried onto the wives then this would add a layer of depth to the game.  Ann the inventor could give you a cool farming instrument.  Ellen the farm girl could feed all of the cattle.  The list goes on.  If you’re trying to build a certain farm, maybe the girl who you marry can help build that farm for you!

-Unique Dialogue: Oh God, yes!  Honey!  What’s wrong with you?? You seem so zombie like and dead inside!  Where’s the girl that I fell in love with??  Say something that makes me know you are still you!

*Cough* In the end, the women in Harvest Moon are subjected to the game’s definition of what it means to be a man.  In order to be viewed as successful, you must have a wife who can cook and bear you children, in other words, sexual conquest.  They are not human beings who have equal status to their husband.  They are simply an item to obtain.

To finish this off, I would like to say that the Harvest Moon series has improved dramatically since their first game when it comes to gender roles.  As more complexity is allowed in more advanced systems, the women evolve into actual characters who retain their personality throughout the game.  What’s more, you are now able to play as a girl farmer who is looking to develop a successful farm and marry just like the boy farmer.

What are your thoughts?  What are some game series whose gender roles improve (or not) as the series progressed?

Planet of the Apes and Rise: a Comparison Between Two Different Styled Films of the Same Franchise

Comparing the original Planet of the Apes (PA) to its reboot/prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes (RPA) is like comparing a painting of a banana by one artist to that of a riper banana of a different artist.  Okay, that analogy may be out there but I think it fits.  The tone combined with the visual effects these two movies offer is quite different yet both serve the viewer an enjoyable experience.

Right off the bat you can tell that both movies are completely different.  As you watch PA you are first struck by the unsettling score that is filled with clashes and bonging and no melody or tunes you can latch onto.  It creates an atmosphere that is alien and foreign.  Yet RPA’s score is that of a traditional summer blockbuster film filled with brass and percussion instruments set in place by a steady and pulsating beat.

Even still, Charlton Heston’s opening monologue in PA, where he contemplates about the war loving nature of man, gives us a notion of the film’s morality.  This is in stark contrast to RPA’s opening scene where we see chimpanzees being hunted, captured, and experimented on by humans.  RPA’s opening clearly shows us it’s morality is about the tampering of nature by mankind.  These two morals, like many science fiction films, reflect on our modern fears and scientific advances.  For PA it was nuclear war and for RPA it was environmentalism.

PA is also more monologue heavy compared to RPA which is more action heavy (thanks in part by our mostly mute protagonists).  Even so, we get a riveting performance from PA, especially from its lead, Charlton Heston.  He can be hammy at some parts but for the most part he just sells it.  He’s a man desperate to live and to retain his identity.  His plight for survival feels real and even through his slight douchbaggery at the beginning may be offputting, we slowly grow to embrace the man to survive in this madhouse of the world.  Maurice Evans, as Dr. Zaius, is convincing as well by playing an ape desperate to preserve tradition and faith in apekind.  He makes a great antagonist without being too villainy or one dimensional.  With these two and the supporting cast, we get great dialogue exchanges such as when Zira realizes how smart Taylor was, the courtroom scene, and the climax in the cave.

Planet-of-the-Apes

This moment was also nice as it relieved the tension in an otherwise tense scene.

As mentioned, RPA is more action oriented but this partially translates into the big jailbreak scene.  We have seen many jailbreak movies or scenes in jails and concentration camps.  We even seen toys escape from a school in Toy Story 3.  However, this is probably a first in seeing apes critically think and plan their escape from their respective madhouse.  It’s one of the best parts of RPA as we see Caesar transform from a docile chimp to a natural born leader.

The special effects of these two films are as contrasting as their storyline and delivery.  In PA we see massive use of makeup.  I read on IMDB that the makeup budget consisted of 17% of the entire budget.  That’s ridiculous.  Some people may find the makeup ridiculous or distracting but I didn’t find it that way at all except for the kissing moments between Zira and Cornelius.  True, the facial expressions may be lacking but personality quirks and expressions still came through thanks to the good acting.  In RPA, we see the still revolutionary method of performance capture applied heavily.  The characters in RPA may be lacking but damn does Andy Serkis really sell his performance as Caesar.  Everyone talks about this but I can’t get over those eyes, they just say it all.

But of these two films, it is the original that’s superior.  RPA is great but it’s still a very typical summer blockbuster film that does not have many things that stand out from the rest of the crowd.  RPA also suffers from rather poor characters that I just can get behind or sympathize (except for the apes…maybe that was done on purpose???).  It’s PA that really stands out.  This shouldn’t be surprising given the nature of the film’s history but having finally seeing it recently, I can finally understand what the big deal of this film is.  PA could have easily been a flop amidst the other science fiction films of the time.  But the makeup, the characters, the style, and the story really come together to create an entertaining and great storyline filled with tension, humor (both intentional and not), and ending with an unforgettable ending that is parodied to this day.  This banana is delicious.  

Nostalgia Filter Test: Battlebots

I was exposed to Battlebots when I was 10 or 11 years old, the best age possible.  Despite it being shown during early Saturday mornings, I tried to watch it as many times as I possibly could and even set up the VCR to record it at the proper times.  Battlebots was a short but huge fad.  They had board games, toys, McDonald Happy Meal toys, and even an extensive guide to Battlebots.  I remember owning all of these things.  The toys were especially fun as they used the spin bots, like Ziggo, as super fast battling tops similar to Beyblade.  I had a lot of fun with those.  My dad even gave me for Christmas one year a remote controlled Dissector and Biohazard which could battle each other.  They were decent size as well, both going over a foot long by almost a foot wide.

Now, going back to all of that a decade later, has it held up well?

Hell no!

Where do I begin with this?

Okay, my biggest complaints have to be the cohosts who were Bil Dwyer and Sean Salisbury (who was later replaced by Tim Green).  For being on the Comedy Central channel, these guys were just not funny; they were more annoying than funny in fact.  I can get over their intros to the battles and such, but do they have to comment all the damn time during the battles?  Shut up, I just want to watch the robots kicking each other’s asses!  Unlike football or basketball where the announcer is useful for the spectator, the cohosts just state the obvious and really have no part in it other than to liven up the action.

battlebots, cohosts

Boo

The show also suffers from lack of battles, each 30 min long episode has only three battles per episode which can only last 3 minutes at max.  The rest of the time is spent hyping of the robots or interviewing the builders or just killing time.  I wish we got to see more of the fights and be able to appreciate the tournament similar to the NCAA Tournament.  Just imagine watching all those fights and being able to truly appreciate the winners as they fight a long and hard battle to the Silver Nut.

But as I was rewatching episode clips (full length episodes are hard to find), I slowly realized why they had the annoying hosts and all of the filler time between the battles.  Most of the robots aren’t very exciting.  They’re mainly push bots and wedge bots.  And there are two very simple and easy reasons why this is so.  They’re cheap to build and they’re more likely to win.  You can’t argue with that.  Some of the more outlandish battlebots like Nightmare may be cool and all, but he can’t stand a chance if you get to him from the side and push him over.  As such, many of the battles are simply robots pushing and shoving each other into the hazards hoping the other one will break down.  It’s kind of boring…

Okay, I may have been a little harsh there.  There are some great examples of battlebots who have won it all that were neither push nor wedge bots.  Son of Whyachi, Hazard, Ziggo, Backlash, Toro; these bots and more are excellently designed and pull off their weapon of choice very well.  However, most of them were quite expensive meaning the average person probably wouldn’t be able to afford such a strong robot.

Hazard is BOSS!

Hazard is BOSS!

But even so I can also see why Comedy Central decided to not show all of the battles, especially the early round battles.  Faulty or plain-looking robots cannot generate the excitement (aka the views) needed compared to the more interesting ones.

There’s nothing much else to say about the show except for the weird guest appearances with Bill Nye and Carmen Electra.  At the time, I thought it was awesome that Bill was on the show, now, I just feel sorry for him, why did Battlebots need him??  At least he was better than Carmen.  God, even as a kid I couldn’t stand her.  She contributed nothing to the show.

Still, I think it would be cool if Battlebots came back in full force nowadays.  The advances in technology means we can have better robots that won’t break down as easily and can be more varied in design.  With so many new and young people going into engineering nowadays, the potential for the next Hazard or Ziggo can be easily achieved.  I can also imagine the show on HBO but without all of the annoying hosts and with all of the battles viewable.  If they clean it up, it can be great.

Before I hand out my Nostalgia Filter Test Score, allow me to nerd out.  *ahem*

-Wasn’t it awesome when Nightmare destroyed Slam Job in one hit?!?  He went flying!

BOOM!

BOOM!

-Isn’t Hazard amazing??  He can destroy any opponent that faces him; Middleweight bots just shudder in fear thinking about him!

-And when then rookie-bot Son of Whyachi in Season 3 mauled all of his opponents to pieces including Nightmare and Biohazard??  Look me dead in the eye and tell me you don’t think that season was awesome!

-And when Ziggo showed that lightweight robots weren’t wimps by annihilating any robot that gets in his way??  Man, I love that robot!

Haha, anyway…

Nostalgia Filter Test Score: C-