Saturday, June 20, 2009

Parental Tip: "The Birds and the Bees"

I know a lot of parents have wondered about how to talk with their children about sex. That's fine. Even so, it seems that a lot of them end up doing it wrong in some way. I've even seen a clip of the Dr. Phil show about a woman and her child (six years old, if I remember correctly, but real young either way) passing by a guy watching porn in his car (remember that issue being talked about a lot?). I can't remember exactly how it went because it was a few years ago, but I think the child noticed the video asking what was going on or something like that. The mother said that, later on, "I had no choice but to tell her about the birds and the bees." You know what, if your child doesn't really know what's going on, and if he's/she's barely past five years old, there's no need to tell him/her. You can give the child some kind of excuse to not tell them. It's not like there's just no way out of it. They'll stop bugging you at some point if you keep with it.

But if you're giving them the actual talk, then I'd suggest not just telling them about, "this thing called sex." That's the mistake my parents made. I was only disgusted, they only told me a bit of basic info, and they only told me about straight sex. I don't expect parents to tell their kids about gay and lesbian sex, but I'm a lesbian, and if anything, that would've been what I wanted to hear instead. That would've grabbed my attention a little better. Even so, I didn't know the point of what they were telling me about. I just took it as a penis being inserted into a vagina, which certainly wasn't something I wanted to happen to me.

That's where my cousin came in (the cousin I mentioned in my first post, who I will usually be talking about when I mention "my cousin," unless otherwise noted). As she picked me up from school the next day, I told her about what my parents had told me. She, as a complete contrast to my parents, told me about, instead of just straight sex and how it's done, she told me about how babies were made, gave me a little more detail about how (and ultimately why) it's done, what happens when it is done, and then she even told me about lesbian sex, which made me blush, but I liked hearing about it. She told me to wait on doing that, which I planned on waiting anyway (and my girlfriend and I still haven't done anything to this day). I was disappointed to hear that two women couldn't have a baby like a man and a woman could, but I was still happy to learn about it. Even with that knowledge, several years later, I found a news story, which I've already posted before, that two women can indeed have a baby. I don't know if that'll happen during my lifetime, but I can at least adopt and have artificial insemination. I personally prefer the former, though.

I asked my girlfriend the next day if she knew how babies were made or where they came from. She said she didn't know. I really wanted her to know, but I didn't want to get in trouble, so the next time I was over, I told her mom about what I learned and asked if she could tell my girlfriend. Her mom told her a lot like my cousin told me. My girlfriend wasn't disgusted or anything. In fact, she was smiling, like she usually does.

And so, all of this has me convinced on how to properly tell kids about sex. The major thing that parents should do is that they should mention where babies come from or how they're made. That should get a child's interest, because they've likely wondered the answer to that question for several years.

Second, be sure to tell your kids about safe sex, like using condoms and birth control. Also tell them about some of the diseases that they can get if they don't use protection.

Third, no matter what you say to them, be sure to tell them to wait. Give them the knowledge of how hard it would be to take care of a child if they had one at a young age.

The rest is up to you on how you want to tell it (like the lesbian sex details being just for my girlfriend and I, that's not necessary if he's/she's straight), but those are some tips that should definitely be kept in mind. If I'm forgetting anything, please let me know and I'll update this blog.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter (Video Game)

I'd like to start off by saying that I am a big fan of Turok, because it crosses two interests that I've had since I was a little girl: dinosaurs and Science Fiction. Of course, it borrows ideas from Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Lost World, and The Land That Time Forgot, but it mixes those ideas up, and adds other elements that still make it a different and unique story.

I've read a quite a few of the Dinosaur Hunter comics (I even have the first issue), though I haven't been able to read any of the old Son of Stone stuff. I haven't seen the animated film yet, and I've heard mixed reactions, but I'm still hopeful to see it. Here's the problem with the video game series when it comes to the story, though. The first game in the series stays true to the story in the comics. The other games don't quite as much. The second game does okay, but it still has it's problems. It's the third game on that take it way too far out, particularly Evolution. I might review those games some other time, but I just wanted to get that out because a lot of people criticize Turok's story as being boring or stupid, but that usually comes from the people who are only playing the video games. Otherwise, it may be a little screwed up because the series has had a lot of different writers. If you read into the series enough, you'll realize what should and shouldn't be considered canon, thus effectively getting an entertaining story out of it.

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter is the kind of game that shouldn't be played for the story, though the story is still cool. It's not explained in the game, which means no dialog , cutscenes, text, etc., which is excellent because it allows for more gameplay instead of having to sit there watching a movie interrupting your gameplay. A lot of modern games should take a lesson from this game (the later Turok games should have as well). If this game did have cutscenes and the like, it'd be annoying after having such a fun time and wanting more. "Sweet, next lev-oh what the . . . come on, what is this? I want to kill some dinosaurs, damn it!" There's not even a cutscene before you face the bosses. Not even the technologically enhanced fire-breathing, laser-shooting bionic Tyrannosaurus Rex (yes, it's actually in the game). You just get right into the fight immediately after seeing him, and if you don't move quickly, you'll be dead in a hurry.

Speaking of enemies, other than dinosaurs, there are people and various other creatures to fight, such as giant plants and worms, and they all tend to come dashing straight at you. I was shocked to see the first enemy in the game because I thought this game was about killing dinosaurs. It is, but I was also thinking that there wouldn't be any after seeing the next enemy pop up. Then the third one did, a velociraptor. I was scared at first, fearing death early in the game, but I sighed after beating him, not just because I was still alive, but because I finally saw a dinosaur. The thing about the enemies, though, is that they resurrect sometimes. That velociraptor did, and I lost a chunk of my health because I didn't know about that.

The other cool thing about the enemies is that they react quite well when dying. Instead of just dying or falling, they scream, grab body parts that hurt, writhe around, etc. It never gets old listening to bad guys scream when you blow them up. Even when they're dead, they scream if they're hit.

And speaking of blowing things up, we now get to one of the Turok series' main claim to fame: the weapons. The series is well-known within the gaming community mostly for them. You have your regular weapons, like a knife, pistol, bow and arrows, shotgun, rifles, etc., but you also have a gun that disintegrates enemies, a gun that explodes after it's initial shot (like when the T-1000 died in Terminator 2), and, of course, what many fans call "the nuke." They're not actually nukes (they're called a Fusion Cannon and a Chronoscepter), but they're considered to be as powerful as nukes. So, if you're looking for a destructive first-person shooter, this game should definitely be your choice. Here's a video of the weapons in use (thanks to Phrozenbot):

Despite how cool the weapons are, this game is still quite difficult. However, it has what I like to call The Contra Effect, where a game is incredibly difficult, but it's also incredibly fun. The enemies don't drop weapons for you to pick up, but they make up for it by at least having them drop health and ammo pickups (unless you're playing in Hard mode), although they're usually small, which is one reason why the game is so hard.

Another reason is because of all of the exploring that you have to do. In the game, you have to find three keys that lead to the next level. They're not too hard to find at first, but in the later levels, it's a major challenge. That and you're also given the task to find the Chronoscepter pieces, which is even harder to do. It's not necessary, but it helps with the final boss battle. However, he is easier than the T-Rex that you fight not long before him (thought that's my opinion, it may be different for others). The enemies otherwise tend to be easy if they're alone, but get several around you and you'll probably have a hard time, maybe lose a chunk of health in the process.

The controls take a bit of getting used to. You use the C-buttons to move forward/backward and strafe, and you use the control stick to look around. It's confusing at first, but you might, at some point, find it better than Goldeneye's default controls, although you can change Goldeneye's controls to be similar to Turok's.

Don't sweat it if the game is too hard for you, though. There are cheat codes. I know a lot of people don't like using them because it makes a game more fun without them, but that depends on personal opinion. I've known some people who haven't even tried using codes and said that, and most of them had a tendency of not being able to beat their games. Games can be fun even if you can't beat them (like this game), but wouldn't it be more enjoyable to be able to beat them? Besides, after you beat a game and it gets boring after a while, cheat codes can make the game fun again, and this game has more than just cheat codes for invincibility, infinite ammo, etc. It also has codes for big heads and tiny enemies (which make the enemies sound funny), flying around, slow-mo, changeable graphic modes, etc. What's really cool (and it doesn't get old, at least not for me), is using the have all weapons cheat code on so you can blast anyone with the Chronoscepter before you can even officially get it in the game.

So yeah, this game kicks major ass, more so than the other games in the series, and even more so than most other first-person shooters out there. Turok 2 is pretty good, Rage Wars is fun to play, and the new Turok is decent. Turok 2 has framrate problems, and one control issue (looking straight automatically sometimes), and the new Turok game's story sucks (they didn't even walk through a cave to find The Lost Land like in the comics), the weapons are mostly generic, and it's quite easy to get lost for a really long time. Rage Wars is like the Unreal Tournament of the series, focusing mainly on multiplayer aspects, which is still pretty cool. The other two games, Turok 3 and Evolution, aren't too great. If anything, Turok 3 has a bit of merit, but I'd suggest staying away from Evolution unless you're a hardcore fan like myself. Even then, expect to be quite disapointed. Overall, the first game in the series is by far the best, and I consider it to be one of my favorite video games ever. I'd recommend it to anyone, especially people who've never heard of Turok.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Watchmen (the Film)

I mentioned the Watchmen movie in my last post, so I feel like reviewing it now.

I started reading the Watchmen graphic novel about a year before I'd even heard that the movie was being made. I didn't understand it entirely at first, but after reading it a second time and even studying it the third time reading the book, it made complete sense, and I consider it to be among my favorite books ever.

When it comes to the movie, it keeps most of the plot the same (except for the ending), but it doesn't match up in terms of cleverness in visual style or references used. Granted, it does have some, like the reference to The Outer Limits episode ("The Architects of Fear") that's similar to the story of Watchmen in which you see the intro to The Outer Limits late in the movie. It does, however, leave out major things, like delving deeper into each character's moralities.

That's a minor problem, though. The movie is still enjoyable even without all of those obscure references. There are major problems that do detract from the enjoyment, particularly if you're a big fan of the graphic novel.

For starters, most of the supporting characters are either missing or seen for a short period of time, and have no real substance in the film other than to be cameo appearances. I can see why they were taken out for the most part, but they helped make the graphic novel better, as the characters gave more perspectives and interesting backgrounds to the story, thus making the story an even more deep experience. Just for this factor alone, the graphic novel is far superior, because getting rid of the supporting characters removed a pretty big chunk of the story. This goes for Tales of the Black Freighter (a sub comic) as well, but getting rid of that makes more sense because it isn't nearly as important as the supporting characters. One other important thing that was left out was the short portions in the backs of each chapter that gave more (sometimes quite important) background information. That one made sense as well, as long as they put that info into the movie. I can't remember if they did, but either way, it's more evidence showing that the book is much better than the movie.

Speaking of missing things, I mentioned the plot is mostly the same, but there's one major change: the ending (spoiler ahead!). The graphic novel's ending actually is the same, but the way the movie leads to the end is different. Towards the end of the graphic novel, Ozymandias teleports a fake alien created by a creative group. Once it arrives in New York City, it explodes, killing millions of people. In the movie, Ozymandias uses some thingamajigger created by Dr. Manhattan, and energy signatures from the blasts made revealed they were made by Dr. Manhattan. I could go on a rant about that one, but I'll just link someone else's post explain that for me (credit goes to Mark 2000):

But there's more that I don't like about the ending. First off, Nite Owl watches Rorschach die. Then he throws a temper tantrum by beating up Ozymandias and giving a short lecture about what Ozymandias had done (instead of Dr. Manhattan saying "Nothing ever ends"). He does this instead of uniting with Laurie somewhere else in the palace. In the comic, no one except for Dr. Manhattan seemed to realize that Rorschach was dead, at least not at the time. It's kind of hard to explain, but it's extremely awkward.

Like I said, Dr. Manhattan doesn't say the line, "Nothing ever ends" like he does in the graphic novel. Instead, you have Silk Spectre saying that she thinks that's what he would say, and she tells that to Nite Owl. The problem with that is Ozymandias doesn't hear that being said like in the comics. Judging by the look on his face in the graphic novel, the phrase seemed to make him think twice about what he had done. It just makes more sense to say it directly to Ozymandias, and would probably be more convincing than Nite Owl's lecture. If not, it at least has a more powerful and lasting impact on the reader/viewer.

Lastly . . . honestly, what's the point of Silk Spectre kissing Dr. Manhattan before he leaves? She was already with Nite Owl and over with Dr. Manhattan.

Oh, and before I forget, the music's either pretty bad, terribly misplaced, or both. 'Nuff said on that.

Now with all of this stuff that I complained about, I still actually liked the movie overall the movie. Most of the acting in this movie was pretty good, especially that of my favorite character, Rorschach. He's not my favorite because I agree with his morals (I actually don't). I like him because he's the most interesting by far. That and the guy playing him, Jackie Earle Haley, did the best acting job in the whole movie. It does suck that the chapter dedicated to him (Chapter 6) was downsized a bit to fit in a prison fight scene that wasn't even in the comics, but overall, it was satisfying seeing him on screen, especially listening to him give the line (while in prison), "I'm not in here with you. You're in here with me."

Dr. Manhattan was also pretty good, incorporating an indifferent accent throughout the whole movie, just like I imagined. I always imaged his voice would be heavier than it was, though. It seems that a lot of people that have seen the movie, particularly males, complain about seeing his penis in the movie. I don't like penises, either, but they were shown in the comic, and they were there strictly for art purposes. Besides, it would be awkward not seeing a penis there. But guys shouldn't complain; they did get to see the Silk Spectre's breasts.

Speaking of which, that sex scene was not in the comics, so it was really awkward to see that taking place. Great job getting cash value wherever and whenever you can get it, filmmakers.

Everyone else did great, except for the Silk Spectre. Sometimes she was actually okay, but for the most part, I couldn't get into her character. I guess, considering the sex scene, all the credentials that she had to have were a sexy bod. I guess you could complain about the Nite Owl not having to be sexy (I wouldn't consider him to be either way), but he wasn't in the graphic novel, either. Then again, you could make that same complaint for the graphic novel.

So would I recommend this movie? I'd recommend a rental to anyone, but I'd strongly suggest just reading the graphic novel instead (more than once if you're confused), even if you're not a big comic book fan or into reading much. Trust me, you'll get a lot more out of it. There's a reason why a lot of people have said that it'd be nearly impossible to adapt it from a graphic novel into a movie. The filmmakers did a great job doing so, but it still could've been more improved. The director's cut is coming out a little later this year, so maybe it'll be better. We'll have to wait and see. Either way, it's a good movie.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Marriage and Procreation

Read 'em and weep!

Regardless, is marriage really just here for the sake of procreation, or is it here to pronounce a couple's love for each other? It's possible for couples to have sex and have kids without even getting married (I've known people, including some of my own family members, who have had kids before getting married), and trying to stop gay marriages will not stop gays from having families, having sex, and most importantly, falling in love with each other.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Neat Conversation Turned Uncomfortable

A couple of days ago, while waiting for new tires to be put on my car, I sat in a waiting room with an old man. He is a Christian priest who actually thought that religion was a bad thing for the world. We talked about his visits to foreign countries like South Korea and Mexico, our current generation's Rap music and it's influence on our children/teens (we both differed a bit in opinions on that subject), and various other cool things. Overall, he was a nice guy to talk to . . .

Except for one problem: he was against gay marriage because the Bible said being gay is a sin. We got into that conversation because we were talking about interracial marriages, and I asked him what he thought about gay marriages. I didn't tell him that I was a lesbian, nor that I supported gay marriages, though I may have hinted at supporting them. He was at least nice about what he'd said, but it seems the opposition has him convinced. I didn't get a lot of info out of him about his beliefs, but one thing that I learned was that he learned of the story of a church that denied a gay couple. Watch this video for more video:

That whole video is wonderful, I'd suggest watching it all.

Anyway, he didn't know the other side of the story, so he was for the church on this one. I corrected him on it, giving him the truth of the situation, but he still was arguing for the church. I knew at that point that it would just get worse from there, but I tried one more tactic. I told him about parts of the Bible that were questionable, such as the excerpt from Exodus that I noted in my first post. He made excuses that they were old Jewish traditions or some shit like that, which I don't believe. Even if they were, that shouldn't make one bit of difference because it's still crap made up by God, or, more likely, the men writing the Bible. Even if I'm wrong on that, I still find what he said to be quite ridiculous, and it still should be making people question the Bible's morality level, especially, when mentioning the phrase that says it's a sin to be gay, it tells people to kill anyone who's gay. This is literally what it says (NIV version, but it basically says the same thing in other versions):

"If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."

-Leviticus 20:13

But here's the major problem: there are a lot of other ridiculous rules that Christians throw out because they know it's wrong. Well, if you believe in God, and you believe that God's infallible, then you can't just get rid of some of the rules just because you don't think it's right. If we choose to believe that what God told us to do in Exodus 21:7 is wrong, then why do a great number of people still believe what's discussed in Leviticus 20:13? How did we come to that conclusion? If some people just believe that being gay is a sin because the Bible says so, then why do they believe that it's wrong to sell your daughter into slavery? The Bible says it's okay to do so, and that she can't go free like men can, yet Christians throw that one out. They dedicate themselves to following what the Bible says, and yet they don't. This just goes to show that, if we followed all of those awful rules that the Bible states is okay to do or is mandatory, then we'd be living in quite a fucked up society. Don't get me wrong, though. I certainly don't advocate for following everything the Bible says, far from it. I just don't get this hypocrisy.

It still makes me feel queasy knowing the grasp that the conservative/Christian media has. Hopefully, that'll pass some day.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Day Our Dreams Were Shattered

This is my first blog post, and in it, I'm going to tell you a bit about the day that one of my greatest dreams was shattered. Before I tell you that, though, I'm going to tell you a bit about myself.

First off, I am a lesbian. I have liked girls ever since I was almost out of toddler-hood, though I didn't realize it at first. Not until I met another girl in Kindergarten. I didn't think much of her at first. I definitely thought that she was pretty. She always smiles. Big brown eyes that glowed even in the darkness, accompanying her long, wavy brown hair. That wasn't what had gotten me into her. Not long after starting Kindergarten, I was singled out because I was the only kid in the class who had red hair, so I was made fun of. After being made fun of a couple of times before, the girl I'm telling you about came up to me and the two girls making fun of me at the time and she defended me. After a bit of bickering between her and the two girls, the girls making fun of me walked away. The girl and I became quick friends. She had some friends before defending me, but she lost them not long after that.

So it was just us two. We did hang out often not long after that, going over to each other's houses, spending the night some nights. It didn't take long for my new friend to figure out that I liked other girls. I cried and told her one night, fearing she might not want to be friends with me anymore after hearing it. Instead, she hugged me and told me it was okay. She said that even if I liked her that she wouldn't mind. She then said that it's because she likes me, too. We had our first kiss later that night. We were curious what it was like, so we tried it. I'll never forget that night.

I later learned that she's actually bisexual, but now she seems to prefer girls because of our relationship. Regardless, we've had a steady relationship ever since. We also gradually gained more friends over the years, even in the last years of high school. We became the big group of geeks in school, though we had a mix of other people. I might get to a story relating to that in another post. Rest assured, most of us still get together and hang out, though.

Concerning our parents, my girlfriend's parents were perfectly fine with us being together. In fact, her mom said it was so adorable that we had already kissed. My parents, on the other hand, weren't happy. They said they already felt ashamed to know that my cousing was bisexual herself, let alone me being a full-fledged lesbian. My cousin picks me up from school a lot, and one day after picking me up, she even fought with my parents about the issue. My parents, after she left, still felt the way they did. They did, at least, do nothing further than say that they thought it was wrong. I'm glad for that much.

Even the whole school eventually learned of our relationship, though. Most people in the school weren't too bad about it. There were definitely a few people who didn't like us for it, though. They thought it was a sin because a book written by men told them it was; the same book that tells you that selling your daughter into slavery is okay, and that she can't escape like a man could (Exodus 21: 7, for those who are curious as to where I found that one). Is it really a sin to love? Love is a good thing, is it not?

A few years ago, the debate was coming to a head. The president was going to announce a decision made for a bill that would say only straight couples can marry. My girlfriend and I had talked about getting married for a long time, so we wanted to know what was going on. We were in school while the announcement was being made, but not only did my girlfriend and I happen to be in the same class at that time, the teacher was nice enough to allow us to hear the results, and turned on the TV in the room when the time came. Then, not long after, the results came.

My girlfriend and I sat there for a moment, staring at the TV, while most everyone in the class turned to look at us. The teacher figured we heard all that we needed to hear, so she turned off the TV. Not long after that, my girlfriend burst out in tears. Then I started crying while I said, "It's not fair." We hugged, everyone still watching us. Not long after we started crying, a few other people did, too. I guess they felt our pain. My girlfriend and I kept exchanging various bits conversation while we were crying, like, "Why would they do this to us?" and, "This is supposed to be a free country, damn it!" I almost got in trouble for swearing then, but again, the teacher was nice. She knew we were having a hard time accepting this.

My girlfriend's parents felt terrible about it as well. Mine didn't, of course, but her parents were crying, too. They gave each of us great big hugs, and told us that they hope some day that the law will be changed . . .

And they were, at least in a few states, mostly on the East Coast. I can't remember at the moment which states allow it and all of their laws on gay marriage, but I do know that Iowa allows anyone to move right in and get married. My girlfriend and I will probably be moving there some day. It'll be sad leaving this town and our families behind, but that's what my girlfriend and I feel that we need to do. If I remember correctly, my cousin moved there not too long ago to get married, so we might not be without anybody. We'll visit everybody regardless.

Still, I'm hopeful that the whole country will adopt these laws someday. Equal rights for everyone, just like it should be in a free country.

I'll save the various debates for other posts in the future if I have to, but I'm getting tired. Ironic, considering I couldn't sleep a while earlier. If you've read this far, I thank you for bearing with me. Good night.