Archives for category: Epic True Stories From Beyond!

Unintended gaps, I think we should just move in together. The way we keep meeting up by accident is kind of baffling.

In a nice turn of events, there are positive reasons for the lull in posting of late. After 9 months of unemployment, building urgency, and an almost colossal state of despair and pressure, I started working for A Very Awesome Company on March 1st. Said company isn’t going to be named because I want to avoid what happened when I mentioned the fact to people in real life; doing the same on the internet, where social filters are a thing unheard of, would be tantamount to madness.* Let’s just say for the moment that we’re very happy with each other at the moment and see what happens, eh?

(* For the record, much like when I worked for WIT, I won’t be talking about the new job or the company on the blog, for the sake of good grace and manners as anything else.)

On top of that, stuff happened! I went from sitting around the house in my underwear** trying to get through the first Gormenghast book to being thrown around a rollercoaster of events which required my immediate attention because, y’know, money, power, the women… What this mostly translates to is a bunch of posts I had intended to write up got delayed (the end of the trip to Japan with Osaka, Kyoto, cakes and sumo wrestling) or killed due to untimeliness (the end of CHUCK being the only one that comes to mind – the tl;dr version is ‘Right place, right frame of mind, necessity, weren’t it good, like?’). Some stuff will still get written – the only thing that slows down the Japan posts is sorting through the hundreds of photos of each location, truth be told – and more recent concerns will get shoved in there too coughcoughPottermorecoughcough coughcoughgrowinguneasewithcomicscough  coughcoughMassEffect3endinghasplentyrightwithitcoughcough…

(** Granted, this was by choice rather than necessity.)

Right now, I’m settling into a better place of mind than I’ve been in for quite some time. Getting let go was rough; that both myself and Herself were let go at the same time was brutal; that this was on the back of the crap we had to deal with after getting back from Japan, then quickly followed up by what was not so much a stream as a raging river of crap thereafter means that, and at time of writing, 2011 holds the record for the worst year of my life. I’m in a good enough place to say that out loud now, though. Three cheers for progress, and all that jazz.

So yeah: regular posting will begin again shortly now that I have a grip on my weekly schedule (which right now consists of full-time job, full-time MSc research, activity time so as to not become the shape of mush, time with my Good Lady, sleep, and Miscellaneous Endeavours) I have a notion of how to move forward.

I’ve missed moving forward. It’s nice to do it again.

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I go years without one, then three funerals hit in the last month. I was beginning to wonder if, following the second one in as many weeks, a third would follow immediately after. As it turned out, I was lulled into a false sense of security by a quiet week. I’m in the lucky position to be mildly and inadvertently flippant as I didn’t lose anyone myself, but was instead supporting to varying degrees those who did. As per the course of these things, I did start to think about how I was going to cope when the inevitable came along for the people closest to me (likely not very well), but also how when the time came for me, what would need doing.

I really don’t want a funeral.

Or, now that I’ve made the standard and pointless ‘shock & awe’ statement that I’m going to completely undo, I don’t want a normal funeral. Putting aside my ongoing and overstated issues with religion, a lot of it is due to my being really uncomfortable with how death and its ceremonies are often approached. I don’t want people being solemn and depressed and trying to reach for platitudes to wallpaper over my glaring personality flaws. If people are to come together following (or maybe just for) my death, I want them to have a good time.

Dudes, I want a party.

Read the rest of this entry »

I love my workload, I really do. Wait, today is Opposite Day, right?

I kid – as heavy as the last few months have been, I don’t have much to complain about. Well, until the semester ends and I have to find another means of gainful employment for a few months, at least. But in the meantime, I have work aplenty to do, we’re cheerfully busy in the Academic Skills Centre and the change in my working week, while shorter thanks to the joy that is recent education cuts, allows me to spend more time at my desk in the research area working on My Future.

I’d add “… as a scientist…” but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Once I qualify?Then I can toot my own trumpet. Right now, I happy to enjoy the hustle and bustle of developing something that can make a difference to the world that doesn’t directly orbit the hulking gravitational mass that is my own ego. You know: the real one, as opposed to the fancy one with elves, robots and nostalgia ghosts that exists inside my head.

Right now, I’m throwing myself into Chapter 0 in order to prepare for the PG1 form and ethics review. The former is an enrollment document outlining my intentions and aims, while the latter is to make sure I 1) know what I am in very clear terms doing, and 2) am not a raving lunatic. Most people would be intent on just getting the first chapter done and out of the way, but not me, I have notions.

Insouciance aside, they’re important milestones that I want to get right the first time around so that I can focus on the research without distraction. Chapter 0 is based on the notion that I will have heavily rewritten it to Be Not Terrible by the time it comes to the final submission. I’m fully aware of how bad first drafts can be and end up editing to the point of a lily more gild than chlorophyll. Right now I have five A4 pages of notes scribbled in that scrawling joy that is my hand-writing to my side detailing the ethical considerations I need to address, with more yet to follow.

In anticipation of same, I presented a poster based on the few months of work to date, which was simultaneously stressful and essential. For all the wailing and gnashing of teeth in trying to fit what I needed into the beast, it did help me to lay down what needs doing over the next few months in a way that sitting at your desk while spinning on your comfy chair can often preclude. So many gaps and flaws and weaknesses to be addressed, so little time by comparison.

It’s fun. Remind me I said this is six months time, won’t you?

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I promised talk of Japan last blog post, which is part of why there was a slightly larger delay in my babblery than is normal. It felt a little bit odd to talk about how amazing the trip was when the country was smack dab in the middle of a natural disaster. That I had started rereading Akira when it happened was practically zen. The passing of time may not heal wounds as well as can be claimed (and certainly not this quickly), but thinking positively of the place and encouraging people to visit is important for the process. It’s an amazing place and that needs to be focused on, rather than holding the world’s best pity party, however well-meant.

Also: Akira has possibly the finest closing pages to any story ever, and you would do well to consume said tome if you have not already.

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Fun fact: In spite of being an obnoxious godless type who takes too much pleasure from arguments regarding deistic existence than is healthy, I am once again Off Stuff for Lent. I get asked by a lot of people why I do this, given my alien ways and all, to which the most common response is “Did you enjoy the Christmas present I got you?” It’s mostly an excuse to cut out a bad habit for a time, spurred on my the reassurance that other people are similarly going without as well. It’s not quite peer pressure – I’m an adult who realised the horrible truth about Pancake Tuesday long before now – but for some reason I manage to go the distance during Lent that I somehow don’t manage at other times of the year, to the extent that any similar such foregoings tend to get called Lent as well in a desperate attempt to stay the course.

As usual, this means forswearing sweets and chocolate with my traditional caveats:

  • Desserts are acceptable so long as they are not chocolate/candy-based.
  • Chocolate sprinkled on top of a frothy coffee is acceptable, should the barista do so. The chocolate/sweet on the side is to be given to someone else.
  • The above also applies to sauces and incidental ingredients applied by a third party.
  • Caramel macchiatos don’t count, but mochas do.
  • I take this stuff far too seriously for someone who isn’t catholic.
  • Upbringings, man/lady. You can only do so much to get away from them.
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Man, it’s a pretty good time to be a nerd, isn’t it? New Doctor Who in a few days, while in the time that’s mean Game of Thrones is a damn fine adaptation of the books (presumably getting a blog post of its own when I’ve watched a few more episodes). The Pale King is finally out and so far is as lovely and melancholic as I hoped, albeit a tome I’ve barely started. I’ve discovered a new author to follow in Ben Aaronovitch, whose Rivers of London and Moon Over Soho are excellent and will similarly get a blog post down the line. Dragon Age 2 is wonderful, having not only made a genuine effort to address the notion of Games as Art, but also experimenting with tropes taken for granted by other narrative forms, such as the unreliable narrator, all the while playing hard and fast with the idea of what choices a game should present to the player. The more I think about it, the more I appreciate it, bugs and glitches be danged.
Okay, let’s just assume I’ll be talking about all of these things over the coming weeks, shall we?
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My nimble and clever friend Emer has a new blog wherein she’ll be talking about theater, soc-pol, PhDery and more. Emer is one of a group of people whose surname I forget and or confuse with someone else’s every two and a half years for reasons I’m not sure of. Help me assuage my White Man’s Guilt by popping over and saying hello, won’t you?

My most common hits are still coming from Scott Pilgrim searches. Were I to take it as an indicator of scale, O’Malley’s gem is more important than Terry Pratchett.

I can’t choose between them, I love them both too much.

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I’m tremendously happy that I didn’t make a New Years resolution to blog more. Aside from the fact that I have never made a New Year’s resolution with a straight face or possible scale, reality has struck against me and she. I had planned to blog about Japan while in Japan: this was first hampered by being stranded in London for eight days under weather conditions favourably thought of as ‘arctic’; secondary hampering came from trying to write about the said personal disaster. It’s too depressing to go back to a very bad headspace involving high stress, failing health, damaged ankles, impossible phone calls and red tape cutting off your ability to function while on honeymoon. The return fared no better, as we came back to a house still without heating (a long story 13 months and counting in the making), a still-broken fridge, doors as yet still-unrebarrelled and, but a few days after landing the eagle, a kitchen flooded thanks to a burst pipe.

And that’s just the highlights!

It’d be very easy to just roll over and whine, but to Amsterdam with that noise. This is an upbeat blog, goddamnit, and if I can avoid cursing up a storm here and on Twitter through sheer force of will in the last few weeks, then damn it we will beat Misery’s ass until Kathy Bates turns up with the notice of surrender. For all the rough, nasty, horrible crap we went through in the days that preceded and followed the Wedthing, we also got to meet a lot of good and splendid people and relish fantastic opportunities.

Read the rest of this entry »

While the temptation to bitch endlessly around the vagaries of climates and airlines is still present (and will fallalal along soon enough, worry not), I thought I would take the time to post the six comics I drew as part of our wedthing favours. This, in part is because I’m not sure if anyone managed to get all six, since we put them into the bags individually and at random. So prease to enjoy and click to embiggen!

Sarcasm and Silliness Read the rest of this entry »

We’re in an odd stasis of sorts in Operation: Wedthing right now. I often feel I should be talking about this here more, for Olivia’s sake if nothing else. I don’t want her to think that I’m not thinking about it, which an absence of bloggery can imply (however erroneously). But I tend to be big on novelty as a function, in the sense of trying to inform with news rather than dwelling further on what I’ve already discussed. If there is little to report, I’m more inclined to wait until there is more for me to say than three lines and a packet of crisps. But I digress…

The stasis isn’t an emotional one, worry ye not. We’re at the point of trying to confirm with multiple parties the go-ahead for a single, unifying date so we can more forward with all the everything that is waiting in the wings on this one motion. Getting away from my back-and-forth between bow-ties and cravats (once so simple, now conflicted by a cunning argument!), it’s mostly a case of outright public awareness. We’ve hopefully had the information disseminated to the active majority of attendees, but I’m bouncing at the bit to make sure everyone knows definitively in a simple, practical way by getting the damn invites off. It’ll be nice to have at it, since it will be the final thrust of who to invite (which has become such a circular thinking for me that there is a groove in our living room for the cats to play in, an inner conflict I have mentioned before and a prime example of what was mentioned earlier). I have no problem with living with the consequences of whatever is chosen. It’s the paralysis of indecision that precedes it that is the problem…

It’s weird. There is a lot to do, and yet there also isn’t. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what readings we could use, and a decision there must be made. I’ve even downloaded a lot of old, ex. copyright books to scour for passages and texts to plunder (a love letter by Mark Twain being a definite favourite, while Vonnegut has surprised me a little by not really having much of anything usable, save for a justification of why he won’t write about love and et cetera). I am forever hampered by poetry, thanks to an unfortunate dislike instilled in my youth that has never been quite shaken off.* The work flows slower than I would like, and yet and yet and yet… I think my own contributions are sorted and I’m really just in the act of making sure I’m sure, to be sure. Vows I started work on long before now, they simply need to be set in ink and thunder. It’s a grand scale of work quickly done…

Then again, my best work is always done with a lack of time, an excess of necessity and utterly without consciousness of form.

The website is built and tested, the colours and takeaways have been chosen, the key players are in place and most matters have gone without hitch or problem. Much has, in all honesty, been done. What dread there is comes from knowing that there is also the issues not springing to mind that are there nonetheless. These panic me out somewhat, since I know I should know what they are, and yet the edam cheese I call my memory lets them slip just far enough out of view as to make them problematic. A glimpsed corner is all well and good, but not fine enough as to allow recognition. Worse yet, Olivia will have told me often and repeatedly and it is my inattentiveness which creates the issue out of the nothingness. I should (and likely will) just commit them to yet another list to be stored in my wallet, to be ticked off as they are trounced by will and action. At the worst, they will remain there taunting me and prompting me to work so as to avoid the impending sense of inadequacy that is my detested (yet wonderfully motivational) bedfellow. A guilty conscience is the friend you love to hate.**

But yes: long story short is that no news is as much good news as anything else can be these days. Work proceeds, albeit planning permission is awaited for the last construction work to begin. Life remains steadfastness in its boredom for the most part. After the interesting few years it follows, the boredom-of-a-sort is welcome relief.

* I would love to like poetry or at least get a sense of appreciation beyond “Well it’s all very nice for those as likes it, innit?”, but without a contextual entry point I just feel bewildered. I presume this is what it is like for someone who would like to read comics but has no idea which issue of Uncanny X-Men will allow them to not go blinkered with information-overload or bewildered from an absence of same.

** Or hate to love. Relationships based on mutual disdain can be confusing in their fetishisation.

Dear Irish Rail,

What the what, man? It’s bad enough that you schedule trains to run to anywhere that’s not a city in a haphazard fashion, making it increasing difficult to get to somewhere that isn’t Dublin or Cork without having to take time if not the whole day to make the train to get to these places. You keep raising the prices of your tickets, making these very journeys exorbitantly costly. Even when you create a system that allows for some control over this, as with your online booking site, you start to extract the urine: having a handling charge because of credit cards is something I was willing to accept because of the issue surrounding bad credit in the financial tailspin that is the soi-disant recession and that you gave the option of paying by debit card at no extra cost. Except that now you charge punters irrespective of what type of card they use to pay. Let’s be clear on this: we do your job in organising the ticket, guarantee you a sold and paid-for attendee, lessen the number of people queuing and creating a backlog particularly at peak commuting hours, therefore reducing the tension and stress and workload of your understaffed workforce and you are going to make me pay you for this?! To paraphrase that most defining of modern poets, camels got back and this is the straw that does that thing…

Let us consider the service you are providing when I book: a site which frequently does not process my transaction, meaning that I have to reenter everything I have already done, including selecting the trains, the times, the seats and payment details; when I do book, I may have to ask people to leave my seat when I arrive at the train because you have not properly indicated that the seat is pre-booked; if the person refuses to move, I have no actual recourse, since you no longer maintain conductors on the train and there is no guarantee that there will even be a ticket inspector who can help me; if I miss the train, I have to pay you extra in order to avail of standing space on any subsequent train, the fee for which may be in excess of buying another ticket; oh, and my fiancee cannot book a ticket in advance, as her free travel pass demands that to avoid fraud she purchase a new one-way ticket at the box office with each journey for a train that she has no guarantee of having a seat for as a result, in spite of the reason that she has a travel pass is because she has a physical limitation which requires the ability to not have to stand for several hours.

In short, if we travel together, there is no guarantee we can travel together without my forgoing the seat I have paid for, or paying the travel costs which are inexplicably higher by buying from your box office. Are you seriously contending that this is an acceptable public interaction in the modern age, with all the resources that entails? This is not an attack on your staff who, for the most part, are pleasant and friendly under often-strenuous circumstances. They have a job to do, and to the letter of the law must they follow it. Against them in this, there is no grudge.

When you are a company that is subsidised by the government to allay the losses incurred by running services that may not be profitable, the idea is to break even, not to gouge the consumer base. In order to travel from Waterford to Westport to see my family, I have to spend eight hours on two trains, tolerating all the noise of beer-drinking psychotics and screaming children, the smell of your chemical toilets which, if I should need to enter, will leave me reeking of human effluent for the rest of the day. For this joy I will spend nearly eighty euro. And that’s on the cheaper tickets. I can fly to London and back for less in a matter of hours, yet at the mercy of your excessively costly service I lose two days each way, with a lack of facilities provided for the waiting periods in between trains because if I schedule my trains too close together and the first runs late I will miss my transfer and have to pay you more yet again. The distance is not your fault, but the fleecing for substandard service and provision thereof is entirely on you.

Irish Rail management, you suck and not in that pleasant way that boys think fondly of through math class in secondary school of a hopeful Friday afternoon.

With a shaking head, clenched fists and gritted teeth,
Brian

Olivia plays Team Fortress 2. Scratch that, she submerges herself into it. It’s verging on being a lifestyle choice and I’m not sure if I still rate higher than it. Every once in a while, I look at the time she has logged playing the game – I’m pretty sure it’s in excess of 400 hours by now. She loves it, and rightly so. While most first-person shooters are dour, angsty and grim variations on Halo, Team Fortress 2 is silly, exaggerated and genuinely funny. Instead of near identical hulking masses of testosterone, each character is designed physically and stylistically around their function (as you can see here). It helped to get her through a rough rehabilitation after her surgery last year. The main draw for her now, though, is the element of teamwork involved: she tends to avoid the free-for-all carnage of arenas, wherein the goal is to shoot everyone else, in favour of team games like capture-the-flag and domination. She enjoys the interaction with other people, even from a distance or through anonymity.

There is a line she has not yet crossed. She never speaks to any of these people. I wondered long and hard about this before eventually asking her why she didn’t plug in a mic. Having spent so many hours playing the game, her grasp of strategy and team deployment is well refined by this point, and my thought would be that she would be a valuable leader to have. It might also cut down on her cursing when people don’t defend her while she is busy constructing sentry guns and teleporters (her preference being to play as an engineer). Her answer saddened me.

“It’ll spoil the game.”

Girls are still not overly prominent in the world of video games. It’s not that they aren’t out there or lack interest in the medium, but the environment is not open or welcoming to them. Olivia had observed what happened when girls actually did speak up in Team Fortress as being one of two things…

1. They are mocked, insulted, demeaned for their gender and demands are made of them that none of these guy would ever try in reality (imagine a much less tactful example of “Show us your lady bits!”) or…

(…and this is possibly worse…)

2. They are venerated to the point that the team dynamic is thrown out. Those lady bits, they are placed on an unassailable pedestal, and the team isn’t playing together, they are playing for her. Which of course leads to further resentment and…

… Who needs it?

It’s hard to think of a male equivalent, usually because the male variant personified is someone like myself, and I and mine don’t give a crap about who knows where tastes and predilections lie. What women will pay heed to my pursuits will more often than not be happy to discuss a shared interest rather than mock me for enjoying Mean Girls, disliking football or whatever else. I’m a show-off and demagogue, I enjoy the attention. Olivia however is not and does not, and is far more indicative of how a normal mind works, simply because she is not an egomaniac with little care for other people. She’s a well-intentioned person who wants to enjoy the game and not disrupt everyone else’s enjoyment of same. She simply wants to play on equal terms. Much like the female perjorative that resembles a misprinted ‘clint’, the problem is that there is no real equivalence in the social dynamic: men can enjoy things aimed at women, but if women engage in an area dominated by men they receive an extreme reaction. Whether negative or excessively positive, the end result is one of detriment to fun. The scariest part is that, frustrating though it may be, the Team Fortress community tends to be one of the most opening and pleasant around. The behaviour with a game more actively aggressive (and ironically homoerotic) like HALO is far less palatable…

The sexism isn’t a blanket cause for her silence in-game, just the initial motivation: the fact that she didn’t use a mic early on just began a pattern she has no need to break from now. She has joined groups, enjoys their online company and has no need to adapt her modus operandi. More often than not, she tends to avoid servers with mics as anyone who feels the need to talk often don’t shut up (and you are left at risk of mic-spamming, which is worse again). Generally, the best games do tend to have teams slip into roles and strategies without being ordered around to do so, and there is an audible bump in Olivia’s enjoyment when that happens. There are more than enough decent people playing the game, so why risk the frustration of harassment or special treatment? Better to shoot them in the head – at least you can do that in games.

While Olivia now gets what she wants from the game – and I am delighted that she was able to not be put off it – there still remains the problem that she is an outlier rather than a trend. Whether they are a silent majority or minority amongst their gender, they are alienated from a pursuit they should be able to enjoy, without having to tolerate douchery or fulfill the role of Nerdbait (there are those willing to perform either function, some times gleefully in the case of the latter, but they are really not helping matters for everyone else by doing so, the tweaked guys in particular).

This is all well and long before you get to the specific marketing and semiological crises of games for men and women, as typified by the role assignments of Cooking Mama and Science Papa. There, a shift occurs from disappointment to unbridled rage and we see why I do not bring Olivia near a video game store if I can avoid it… [To be continued]

Half of the work in this Wedthing seems to sprout like a new hydra head from the sputtering neck of matters already vanquished. Right now we’re in the process of trying to align all the locations for a single date, but also have a new and shiny list of additional matters to consider. Chief among them: what do we do afterwards?

I am by no means a traditionalist, and I suffer an allergic reaction to a lot of things people like to do at weddings. Chief among these? Sing-songs. I freaking hate sing-song sessions. I hated them in college, I hated them when I worked in bars and to this day, my ire has not diminished any. They’re not soulful, they’re not bonding, they tend to be mawkish or obnoxiously political… When you can’t sing (or dislike being serenaded), they’re just boring. I dread sing-songs sessions when I’m out because I have to sit there and wait it out with a gormless smile on my face. I know I’m in a minority in this. I know that this sort of event requires compromise. But you know what? It’s a day for me and she, and I should be able to enjoy that. Which brings us to the problem of what to do.

Oh, what to do?

The poll above counts some of my better ideas so far. Doing some research has turned up neat ideas that probably are not very practical given the realities of who we expect to turn up, verging on potentially embarrassing for all parties concerned (On the Spot Poetry seems like a great idea until you add the context that unless you come from a family of poets, the results will be meant well…) It’s not even a case of expense, which is a nice change, albeit not making the matter any easier. I don’t want to bring a group of people together only to have a section of it feel as bored as I would be by a session. So to the peanut gallery I doth implore: what would you like to do that is atypical of a wedthing setting?

Meanwhile, who would ever have thought that a guest list would be so difficult? This is entirely sourced in my not having seen some people in years and wondering if 1) they would like to be invited, 2) were happy to forget I existed, never mind get an invite, 3) they will be annoyed that they weren’t invited when a shared acquaintance is or 4) I am, as with all things, vastly and inexorably over-thinking the matter and I should stop worrying and just do as I please [mix and match as applicable]. I’ve mentioned this before, but existential ennui is a bosom buddy of mine of late, and this all ties into deeper issues within my life I would prefer not to face as I will then be able to fight the eventual anthropomorphic personification of same in an awesome kung fu duel and DESTROY THEM. So: repetition!

At least the location issue is finally nearing its conclusion. I wanted those invites sent out in July

In an age of information ubiquity, I will never quite accept the logic behind non-simultaneous international release dates. Ignoring the piracy issue, staggering the release of Scott Pilgrim Vs The World a few weeks after the US release date is leaving the potential audience open to the dangers of bad word of mouth. Unless you happen to be Pixar, there’s no way that won’t impact on your business, irrespective of how much or how little truth there is in it. I and mine will be there on opening day, but we’re not the ones you need to win over for the big bucks, however much we would like to believe otherwise.

Anyhoo, tirade over.

Scott Pilgrim Vs The World is a movie that I suspect I cannot be impartial or unbiased about. Aside from the earlier blog posts on the subject of Scott and his world, the series has a level of resonance for me that pushes it into a special and sheltered part of my brain that is unassailable by logic or reason. The books about the 23 year scroungabout first came out when I was a 23 year old scroungabout. Scott had a young girlfriend, I had just broken up with same. Ramona just came into his life, Olivia into mine. Gay roomates, oddly filtered perceptions of the world, inexplicable break outs into musical dance numbers… The parallels build up in a fashion that is either eerie, awesome, or the apotheosis of apophenia. The point is that objectivity is difficult at best. I want the series to be awesome. I also want the movie to be awesome. Edgar Wright has directed two of my favourite movies in recent years (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz), has the stellar Spaced under his TV belt and probably the finest taste in music of any popular culture figure in the media today.

How then does Scott’s cinematic tale fare?

Quite well, as it happens. Quite well fared indeed. First the positives: the movie looks and sounds amazing. Opening quietly, the movie quickly charges into a pop art video game frenzy that will in seconds let you know whether you are going to enjoy the movie or not. The video game references are present and plenty, but it is their subtlety that impresses: you may chuckle at the 8-bit tinkling, but you will guffaw when you realise that it is the Zelda load-screen/sleep music playing and then realise that we are seeing Scott dream… The story – such as it is – is effectively adapted from the source, chopping and changing in a way that feels natural, retaining the elements that worked and using them in novel ways. Wright realigns the action of the comic to work so well that you wish they happened that way in the source material. Without spoiling book or film, I will just say that I adore how the movie comes to show Scott’s growth and his change in motivation.

The characters are perfectly realised: people whining about Michael Cera before having even seen the movie can relax, his Scott is just as much of a lovable asshat as he was in the books. It is in the supporting cast that the movie really shines, particularly in regards to Kieran Culkin and Allison Pill as Wallace and Kim respectively. Part of the joy of the books is that the cast are all far more likeable than dear, selfish Scott, and that point is not lost here. The breakthrough, as has been stated time and again, is that of Ellen Wong as Knives Chau, who gets to show just about every emotion under the sun as she transitions from innocent school girl to hardcore jilted lover and finally as a mature adult in the space of two hours. The exes are all well realised, and even allowed some small measure of sympathy if you should feel the need to look for it: While Matthew Patel and Lucas Lee come off as idiots for the most part, Todd is – bless him – the victim of his being exceptionally dumb, while Roxy has the rather legitimate upset of being told she was “just a phase”. The movie does not shy away from the emotional carnage that both Scott and Ramona are creating with their self-involvement…

What then are the negatives? While most of the secondary and tertiary characters maintain a reasonable if reduced presence within the story, there are exceptions. Envy Adams suffers the most, having her two and a half volumes of story compressed down into ten minutes. That she is played a little too insincerely also weakens her plot, as it alters her into a throwaway opponent rather than someone Scott may have unfairly aggrieved. Ramona’s role in the climax is also verging on troubling, lacking an agency that puts her character at risk. There is at least an interesting point – that she is trapped in a series of increasingly abusive relationships and they can be hard to escape without help – but it rings oddly here. Thankfully, that it isn’t just Scott fighting removes a certain amount of the sexual politickery, and his aforementioned change in motivation makes his role in the events much more palatable. Some may quiver at the superfast transitions between the day-to-day antics and the heightened reality of Toronto Combat, but as with Speed Racer before it, that just broke my heart with glee.

It’s very hard for me to be negative about this movie, even when I try my hardest.

The movie is not for everyone, but then nothing should be. Whenever anyone tries, you end up with low grade Adam Sandler movies and monstrosities like Vampires Suck. Attention Hollywood: when you make me sympathetic to Twilight, know that you have done something evry wrong and must be punished. You may love Scott Pilgrim or you may very well hate it: it’s a divisive movie, and all the better for it. I’m tired of unimaginative, plodding movies which try to walk the middle ground between art and commerce. It’s a huge shame that it’s not storming the charts in the way it deserves to, but that’s a quiet blessing, since it means we are less likely to have a dozen shameless rip-off parodies a month which look at the artifice and miss the point.

All in all, it’s a triumph that places Wright three for three in his movie output to date. Even though a part of me knows I’m probably wrong about it on some level, it’s equal to Toy Story 3 in my estimation of movies this year and will be the only film I’ll go to see again in the cinema this Summer. Who cares about objectivity when you can have this much fun? Scott Pilgrim Vs The World is just that good, and if you don’t like it, then I am sorry, but I’m not sure that we can be friends any more…*

(* Hyperbole. You’re still pretty neat.)

Bonus! The prequel cartoon which spoils NOTHING and adds A BIT!