Robert Chesley

What I WPR’d #8 Gambling and Spanish

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This week I talk about “New Vegas”, “The Larry Sanders Show”, and “The fountain” as well as my thoughts on public television.

A lot of stuff happened this past week. I usually like to discuss a little about social interactions I have over the past week in my feature articles. This week I want to talk a little about the “spanish language agenda”. This week while I was just cruising through my normal Facebook stream. I read a post that said “All I want is a cartoon that teaches my baby English. Is that so wrong?” I guess it was said in light of how much of the educational television these days also has Spanish words being taught alongside English words. I don’t have children myself, but I don’t understand the big deal behind kids being taught a little Spanish here and there. I talked about it with my dad a little bit and he told me “You know, they have always done that, when you were watching Sesame Street and Electric Company they were using words like “aqua” and “hola”. I never heard any Spanish on Spongebob or South Park”. We’re not advocating that you let your young children watch South Park, but I agree with his point. If children today grow up in a world where they have more exposure to as many cultures as possible, how can this be a bad thing? We see hatred based on religion and cultural differences plague the news every morning, so why shouldn’t we be teaching our kids as many things about their culture as possible. I don’t always agree with everything people say on the Facebook stream, I also understand where he was coming from. It seems sometimes “traditionally white” culture is almost non-existent on public educational television. I also understand the fact that he believes that his kid should have the choice to learn Spanish or not and shouldn’t be thrust upon them unwillingly. I just don’t know if I can get behind it.

I’ve been playing a lot of “Fallout: New Vegas” lately. If you recall, “New Vegas” is Obsidian’s follow-up to the critically acclaimed “Fallout 3”. It was clear from the get go that this isn’t a sequel, but rather another story told in the same world. Instead of Washington D.C., you cruise the Mojave Wasteland searching out the man who spurned you as you make your fortune along the wastes of former Las Vegas, NV. The game uses the same engine as “Fallout 3” so it feels a lot like that game. The former “Van Buren” developers at Black Isle Games, now work at Obsidian, so I would like to think of this game as the “true” sequel to the Fallout franchise. A lot of what is actually in the game feels like it would have came out in that canned project. The best innovation over the Fallout 3 is the fact that you can now take two companions with you. I like this because it feels less “lonely” out in the wastes without some people at your side taking on the world with you. That being said though, there is some creepy stuff that happens in this game. The whole game feels a lot darker in some aspects. For example, I was wandering around and found a vault. I walked in exploring like I normally do, except in this vault people actually come up out of the mossy fungus you walk over. At first that was a little frightening. The game also has an incredibly high “Wacky” factor. Another example, you can be wandering around the wasteland and happen upon some really cool pop culture references, I found “Crusoe” in a hotel where he was investigating a murder, he also had his famous sunglasses on him. There are Indiana Jones and Star Wars references galore, some well known, some not so well known, but all really neat and I’m glad that the developer added them.

I don’t like how karma doesn’t really mean as much in this game as it did in Fallout 3. This game your reputation in each individual faction matters more for how the game ends then anything else. You can even get to a point where you can’t finish the game because you’ve pissed off all the factions. And it isn’t like the choice between the factions is really clear. You have a choice between a police state (the NCR), slavery (Ceaser’s Legion), “independent” (yes man), or mega-egotistical monster (Robot overlords). You kind of have to take the “who’s the least likely to be a dick” approach. I went with the NCR. That meant that anytime I crossed a Legion member I immediately shot and killed them. I didn’t hear their story or care about the whys, I just murdered them. I really liked how Fallout 3 dealt with your choices at the end game, I’m a little mixed on how this system works. I really love the world and the atmosphere of these games and they make me really want to just sit and play them and play them, but making me choose factions kind of defeats the purpose of exploring and playing beyond the main quest. I didn’t like how a lot of the enemies got a lot harder. Deathclaws for instance, seemed to be a lot more powerful then they were in previous incarnations. I feel that they kind of force you to use the “special” rounds you can make in the game just so you can take them out. There wasn’t a fun collectible side quest like the bobble heads were. Yeah, we got the snow globes, but since they really don’t add anything in the way of skill points or perks, they really seem kind of frivolous.

Overall though, I found myself sucked in and enjoying every moment the game had to offer. Since I am far more familiar with the American Southwest then I am with the Capital, I found little nuggets here and there that were obviously there for fans. My only other complaint I had with the game is that it crashed. A lot. It really seemed like for no real reason whatsoever. But I can deal with it because getting more Fallout, in any condition, is worth the price you pay.

Since the current season of television shows are on a winter break, I decided to fire up my Netflix account and watch some shows that I’ve been itching to do but just haven’t gotten around to it yet. One of these shows was “The Larry Sanders Show.” I’ve only watched about the first season of this show within a show. I have to say from a historical angle, it is interesting to see an office atmosphere that isn’t dominated by cell phones and computers. The show stars Garry Shandling as Larry Sanders, Rip Torn as Arther, and Jeffery Tambor as Hank Kingsly. The show is primarily about a Talk Show that is very much similar to Johnny Carson. It seems a lot of the characters were supposed to relate. I imagine a lot of the stories come out of Garry’s own experience on his own talk show (“It’s Garry Shandling’s Show). The jokes are a little dated, but if you enjoy shows that are like “30 Rock” or “The Office” I think you’ll find a lot of similarities in what those kinds of shows do. My favorite part of the show so far, is seeing all the interesting cameos. Such as, Bob Saget, Dana Carvey, and Robin Williams, if I remember, you could really imagine this show actually being on TV at the time they recorded the episodes.

As for what I have been watching, well outside of the brilliant “Larry Sanders Show”, I also finally got around to watching the movie “The Fountain”. I was suggested to watch this movie by a friend, and I had some motives behind watching it. Darren Aronofsky will be directing Hugh Jackman in “The Wolverine,” which comes out next year. But this film marked the first time the two paired up to make a movie. The movie follows Jackman, as he tries desparately to find a cure for brain cancer for his dying wife, played by Rachael Weis. It jumps around from present day, to inside of a story from 16th century Spain as they quest for the biblical Tree of Life. It also makes a very different sci-fi approach in the 26th century as a man tries desparately to complete the life cycle by returning the Mayan Tree of Life back to a Nebula.

The film was very interesting to me. One thing I can say about Aronofsky is that you can’t really expect anything traditional from him. Watching the film at first was really hard to follow. It isn’t a movie you can just pop in and turn your brain off. It had many layers. The acting, however, was something of a breath of fresh air. I’m used to seeing Jackman in films like “X-men” or “Van Helsing”, which are mostly action fluff pieces and we don’t get to view Jackman’s serious acting chops that often. I loved his performance in the film, it showed me that he is more than just an action star. Rachael Weis was also equally brilliant. She plays a woman in the present day that is slowly succumbing to brain cancer. She has a whimsical, yet wise outlook on her life and by the end of the movie we really are rooting for these two characters.

Really the only thing I didn’t really like that much about the movie was it wasn’t an easy movie to get into. I think if Aronofsky set up the plot a little better in the beginning I would have been able to jump in a little better. Of his entire body of work I wouldn’t say this is necessarily his best, but it isn’t what you would normally expect from him.

I also bought a couple records this week. One of them was the Social Distortion record (which you can read my review right here on WPR.) The other one I bought was “X” by Spock’s Beard. They play a lot like Rush or Yes would in the 70s. I’m a really big fan of progressive rock music and this record is one of their best and I really can’t stop listening to it.

I want to start leaving a song at the end of my feature articles. This song was a song that I recently reheard this week and I fell in love with it again. It is “Pretty Good Year” by Chuck Ragan, orignally it was by The Loved Ones. It feel it is appropriate with how I feel in my life lately. Anyways, until next week.

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