Category: Literature

DJ’s Guide to Computer Viruses: The Cause

So let’s talk about computer viruses. There’s a lot of cute ideas people have about them. A couple weeks back, I had a family come in terrified that people were sneaking into the computer and wanted to know if I could change the IP address to prevent them from finding their computer again.

Yeah.

So first of all, what actually happens when you have a virus?

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Better Than Dirt: James and the Giant Peach’s Earthworm

I watched James and the Giant Peach again recently. I never actually got to see it when it came out. I vaguely remember that my mother, for some reason, did not like it. I think maybe she just found Tim Burton's stop-motion shit weird in general because I remember having wanted to see The Nightmare Before Christmas too and we never did. So instead, I had a phase a few years after high school where I "caught up" on some of the Disney movies I missed out on and this was one of my favorites.

What I have been thinking about mostly since having rewatched it is how they translated the insects into their more "human" forms and then animated them to reflect both sides of that. Some of them, Grasshopper and Centipede, were made more humanoid with insect characteristics like their multiple arms and antennas. Others strike sort of a middle ground where they have rather unavoidable insect characteristics that need to be accounted for. Ladybug's large round body and Glowworms's bioluminescent tail specifically. Then there's Earthworm and Spider, who could only really just be made as larger versions of their actual species.

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When the Saints Come Marchin’ In: Sexism in Hitman

So I've thought a bit more about that Hitman trailer. Read around a bit about it. Saw what the haps was.

It is really disheartening to read comments from guys on this subject because they are so goddamn clueless. I mean, I really want to just be all "Well, they don't know any better". 'Cause they don't. But at the same time, they're so dismissive and rude about it. "Bitches making a mountain out of a molehill" essentially. If it's a molehill, it's still there and needs to be addressed.

But let's talk a little about what the social justice warriors are saying about it.

The predominant thing I saw people complaining about about was why those columnists who objected to the trailer seemed so reluctant to say outright that it was sexist to have 47 beat up all these sexualized women and why people were so focused on the trailer not being reflective of the gameplay.

It's sort of a tangled subject, but I'mma try and sort it out.

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Agent Smith

One of the things I think makes Blood Money neat in respect to Hitman as a whole is the way they use Agent Smith.

Agent Smith is a CIA agent who finds himself stripped down to his boxers and needing to be rescued in every Hitman game. (As a sidenote, I find the amount of male bondage and torture in Hitman games inordinately great. I am sure there is some psychological angle of interest to that, given their target audience of STRAIGHT MALE GAMER.) They don't really go into how these things happen in the narrative, so Agent Smith comes off as a hapless failure of a spy and 47 treats him as such. I personally like to think that this is his specialty, though. I can't see why the CIA wouldn't get rid of him otherwise. Perhaps his allowing himself to be captured so often is a part of his missions. He’s obviously very hardy and can take a beating, although he starts to break down from it in Silent Assassin, taking to drinking on the job and becoming even more of an apparent liability.
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Contracts: The Concept Album

If you ask to most other Hitman fans, they tend not to like Contracts. This makes sense, as it’s atmospherically different from Codename: 47 and Silent Assassin (despite cribbing many of its missions from the former) and the difficulty was brought down quite a bit. In terms of scope, as well, where someone who’d played the other two might expect another epic globetrotting adventure, Contracts was very small and self-contained.

I think it’s sort of interesting that way in that the first two games, sprawling and grandiose with large conspiracy plots, were thematically about the search for self. Throughout Codename 47, as 47 is hired to kill each of his genetic donors off one by one, he’s given information about who they are and where he came from whereas before he knew very little. Silent Assassin follows through on that and 47 briefly tries to come to terms with his place in the world until the brother of one of the dudes from the last game kidnaps the preacher whose church he’s living in and he has to work for the Agency again for them to use their sources for information to find him. ‘Cause Diana loves you, bro, but this ride ain’t free. Read more

Women of GTA: Asuka Kasen

So GTA gets a lot of shit for being, among practically every other social ill, sexist. And let’s not kid ourselves, it totally is. This is, if you’ll recall, the game where you can fuck sex workers and then kill them to get your money back.

But under that, it also has a lot of really good female characters. (I’m only gonna talk about ones from the III continuity, but IV has some gems as well.) I think sometimes it’s hard to see this because III’s overall tone tends to be outrageous and exaggerated so all of the characters, even moderately serious ones, come off as jokes. But if you look at a Donald Love without the knowledge that he’s a cannibal, you get a different picture and he seems like a ght guy.
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Touchy Feelly

One thing I’ve always thought was interesting about Agent 47’s character is that despite being a master of disguise and able to slip into anybody (or rather any man’s) role in a place, he breaks character when he enters situations where touch is expected.

For instance, in The Bjarkhov Bomb, you have to kill Franz Fuchs, steal his clothes, and then meet with Sergei Bjarkhov. When you do, Bjarkhov greets 47 warmly and expects a hug as if he and Fuchs were close friends. 47 allows this but does not hug back, instead sort of holding his arms out so Bjarkhov, whose own body language indicates that he finds this response unusual, can reach around him.

But most fans remember the part in Codename 47’s Ambush at the Wang Fou Restaurant where 47 is visibly repulsed at Mei Ling, a woman kidnapped and forced into prostitution at Lee Hong’s brothel, kissing him.

As a clone bio-engineered and “raised” in a sterile laboratory with not much in the way of normal human contact, these things make sense. I would not qualify 47’s behavior as full-on social anxiety, just a reluctance to get too close.

Interestingly though, in the remake of Ambush in Contracts, his disgust at being kissed is “retconned” into mild bemusement. Contracts is not strictly a remake though, as the missions cribbed from Codename are misremembered flashbacks, so I think the shudder of revoltion is still canonic. It is intriguing that 47 doesn’t remember being sickened by Mei Ling’s gesture though.

And, you know, it’s hilarious to me that this small detail of his personality is expressed the games, but there’s of course never any game-changing reaction to it. You never get a blown cover because 47’s pulled back from a handshake too fast. That would put a damper on his whole MASTER ASSASSIN THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW IF I FKN EXIST AT ALL I’M THAT DAMN GOOD thing.

Then again, this is a game where a bald white guy can effectively pass himself off as men of various not-white-at-all racial descent so hand-waving, yo.

Vice City Public Radio

One of the best things about any GTA, but especially Vice City, is the radio programming. And one of the best of the stations, I think, is the Vice City rendition of VCPR. Unlike the Stories one, which is modeled more after NPR with varied programming consisting of other discussions shows and recycled radio plays from yesteryear, the original one only had three episodes of one show. Pressing Issues is a roundtable discussion show, sort of like Crossfire, in which radically opposed guests discuss a single subject.

In each episode, three characters are introduced, each based on amalgamations of complimentary 80's events and tropes. In the two politically-themed episodes there's two conservative characters and one liberal. I would guess Rockstar perhaps has liberal leanings anyway, at least in reference to social issues, which is why these episodes usually portray the conservative characters as extremists with hangups that influence their bad ideas (although the liberals are also made fun of, though in a different tone). But it also reflects the overall conservatism of the 80's.

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How to Not Look Guilty of Murder (Particularly When You Are)

So I watch a lot of Investigation Discovery. A shitton. It’s the only thing I turn my TV on for. And I have noticed a pattern of frankly dumb behavior among people suspected (and probably guilty of) killing their relatives. So, while I don’t condone murdering your “loved” ones, if you’re gonna, follow these guidelines make so you don’t rookie mistakes:
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 Simon got me this nanoblock boxer because his jowls made me go "Awwwwwwww!"  Had my buttermilk ranch dressing all prepared in advance, but then the CDC was like, "hey, there's an e. coli outbreak in romaine lettuce" so no salad this year. Had Simon pick me up a last minute substitution 'cause the whole point of the salad is that you can't just drink ranch dressing straight and have diginity at the same time. Y'all like my DIY chip 'n dip?
 Miss Rowgoo had to go the vet Thursday, but she is feeling better now, despite this grumpy look she is giving me.  Stretchy cat!

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