e. magill's                        

The Unapologetic Geek

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7 Things I Learned in 2007

Before I begin, let me address the changes being made around here. You may have noticed that my political rants have gone missing, but know that they can still be found in the rant archive. [NOTE: The formatting on these archived rants is rough, the writing is unpolished, and the opinions are very, very old.] What I've done is come up with my own homemade blog, complete with a ratings, comments, and trackback system supplied via third party. Instead of keeping my focus on politics, I am going to be writing on a much broader range of subject matter, from television to current events, my writing to the sleeping habits of my cat, etc. I've also made changes in my life, changes which will hopefully allow me to keep this blog going as a weekly thing. Thanks for reading, and please feel free to leave comments at the end!

Now, on to the list of the seven things I learned in 2007:

When a movie franchise hits its third installment, it usually runs out of ideas

This summer saw several different franchises entering into their third installment, including Pirates of the Caribbean, Spiderman, Shrek, The Bourne series, Rush Hour, and more. While some, like Shrek and Bourne, were entertaining, others, like Spiderman and Pirates, were wildly disappointing. There was definitely a pattern to be found, however, in that none of these third installments were as original or entertaining as their predecessors. I doubt any of these franchises has much left in them, although the all-knowing movie producers will continue to shove the same thing down our throat again and again until we stop crapping money. If they're very lucky, they might find the next James Bond or Star Trek, but they still haven't realized that they can't force these things to happen.

Don't ever stay at a hotel in Philadelphia

I don't consider myself racist (although I have been called one), nor do I consider myself judgmental of people living in the lower class, but when my wife and I attempted to spend the night in a Days Inn in the heart of Philadelphia, I was sure one of us was going to be robbed or shot by morning. Does this mean I'm a bad person? On the plus side, I was proven wrong, though I didn't get a good night's sleep.

Videogames can handle high-brow subject matter

Roger Ebert may be a genius when it comes to reviewing movies, as I tend to agree with him over eighty percent of the time, but he is a complete moron when it comes to talking about video games. He and Clive Barker had a public war of words on whether or not video games can be a legitimate form of artistic expression, with the former declaring that video games could never, ever, ever, be as artistic as film or the written word. 2007 may have been the best year for video games thus far, but there was one game in particular that I think proves Mr. Ebert completely and utterly wrong. On the surface, BioShock looks like nearly every other X-Box 360 game on the market: it's a first-person shooter like Halo 3 or Clive Barker's own Jericho. However, any reader of Ayn Rand will immediately recognize a theme running through the game that not only brings up the deeply intellectual political philosophy of Objectivism, but is critical of it. I don't personally think Ayn Rand would have been swayed by the assertion that her philosophy could lead to crazed stem-cell infused magical madmen, but the underlying moral of the story rings true: unchecked rabid individualism, like any fundamentalist ideology, is doomed to fail. It also doesn't hurt that the game has top-notch production values, from a hauntingly beautiful score to a wildly imaginative art direction. Truly, BioShock is a work of art, and I would argue that it was more artistic than any mainstream film of 2007. (However, for the record, my favorite game of 2007 is probably Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.)

Cats can poop and vomit approximately ten times as much as they eat

Yeah, I'm planning on being a stay-at-home father, so this is one of those things that I better get used to. I know that. But I also have to be true to myself and admit that poop and vomit are not fun things to deal with. Still, the cat is cute and friendly, so I put up with it.

The guy at the top actually does make a difference

I've worked for some assholes in my day, just like any other average joe. I've worked for greedy bastards, incompetent bastards, and people who were just mean-spirited, but until my current job, I don't think I ever honestly appreciated the difference bad management can make. My views don't necessarily reflect those of the Target corporation, its sponsors, or its affiliates, but I will say that, at the Target store I currently work for, a drastic change in leadership caused all kinds of hardships for us. The fouth quarter season of 2006 was a prosperous and smooth-running operation, and morale was relatively high. However, when the store manager and overnight execs were all switched out about halfway through 2007, all of that changed for the worse. Even now, as we are trying to pick up the pieces left in the aftermath of the 2007 fourth quarter holocaust, we are witnessing a new H.R. regime that has taken it upon itself to inflict an all-new morale-crushing bureaucracy on the workforce, creating meaningless changes that only serve to make the workers more annoyed than they already were. The contrast between where our store was at this time last year and where it is now is staggering, and the most shocking part of all is that the people at the top are so busy calculating how much money the store is making and coming up with new bureaucratic nonsense to try out on us that they haven't even noticed.

Television producers will give more money to large-breasted slutbags for dating Bret Michaels than they will their own writers or workforce

Say whatever you want about the writer's strike, but please don't listen to the greedy AMPTP bigwigs who tell you that they have to lay off the working stiffs and its all the WGA's fault. For one thing, the producers bathe in money, sleep on giant stacks of hundred dollar bills, wallpaper their mansions in money, and smoke out of pipes filled with smoldering currency. For another thing, this isn't really about money, and if it were, compare how much money a good actor makes to how much money a good writer makes. Heck, take a look at how much money they shovel out to game show contestants and reality show stars! Yeah, I am completely on the side of the WGA on this. It was the AMPTP's choice to walk away from the negotiating table and start demanding that the WGA stop making demands. It was the AMPTP's choice to let this thing drag on endlessly while the WGA shows its willingness to negotiate time and time again, as recently evidenced by their deals with United Artists and Wordwide Pants. The working stiffs being laid off have nobody but the AMPTP to blame, not the WGA, and when you start getting into the new season of American Celebrity Makeover Survivor Weight-Loss Rehab Camp 18, I suggest you turn off the television and pick up a good book; that's the best way to support the writers.

My work can earn me recognition

Earning an award for my Thesea was a big step for me. Not only did it prove to me that I deserve recognition for my work, but it gave me a new perspective on my life. It was the catalyst for the changes I'm making this year, which will allow me to focus more heavily on my writing and getting published. I don't make New Year's resolutions, but if I were to make one for 2008, it would be to enter more contests, send out more queries, write more, and consider other options (like freelancing) for my writing career. The future is still bright, and the present is pretty damn sunny too. I have little to complain about, and that's the primary lesson of 2007 for me.

-e. magill 01/14/2008

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