The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe

One of my favorite videogames(?) of all time. It's literally wandering hallways of an abandoned office. And then not. And then there's some narrative about what games are. There's no point, because nothing has any point, life is meaningless and we just tell ourselves stories to stop/slow down going crazy.

Will I buy it again? Will I relaunch "Stanley Parable Classic" on Steam to get that 5-year cheev?! Maybe! Probably!

[immediate update: I can't run the 32-bit Steam version on my Big Sur Mac anymore! Guess I could unpack the old MacBook.]

I may get the Switch version, it's funny to have a Half-Life mod game on a portable device, so I could go wander hallways anywhere I am.

What I'm Watching: Severance

Well, it's on TV+ which normally I treat like a sub-Disney® quality back-alley shithole gutter of the most boring shows ever conceived by AI to lull Humans into submission before mulching the species (that popular one? That's the one I mean.), but Severance seems fun! Very Office Space, and The Office, and Better Off Ted, crossed with Paycheck (best Baffleck movie; mediocre PK Dick adaptation; worst John Woo), but even more brain fucking and crying. Also some of the Stargate SG-1 episode "Beneath the Surface".

A woman (Britt Lower) wakes up in a windowless underground office, doesn't know who she is. A man (Adam Scott, very punchable face but I'm not sure where I've seen him before) cries and then goes to work and is chipper and kind of pointless. The office job is pointless, maybe relentlessly stupid. Maybe it'll make more sense later? Their outside lives are frankly not that good for the kind of pay you'd expect to get for taking this job.

The office maze is driving me a little crazy. I'm pretty sure it's just a grid. They walk & talk right, right, right, left and are somehow in a different corridor. But they all look the same. The "break room" and "wellness room" are just like the "break pods" at one corp job I had, where it was almost literally a punishment to be sent there if you were having a rough time of it.

The office procedures are repetitive nonsense. The coffee is Rwandan. Literally blood coffee.

The biggest irony of this show is that it looks and acts like Apple already does. If Timmy Apple could do this to people, he absolutely would. Forcibly. With drill holes in the skull. He's already threatening people with their jobs or coming into the UFO-shaped office to catch plague, what's a little endless torture in a fluorescent-lit Hell? How did this get past their own self-awareness and PR?

Also doesn't help that they're promoting in pre-roll fucking ads wecrashed, a documentary about WeWork's cult, rise, and fall, which looks excessively like Severance. This isn't really an SF show, it's just how corporate workplaces already are. The cyberpunk dystopia of my yout' is here.

I'm not a fan of the episode length, nearly an hour. Half inside, half outside; but at least so far the inside is fun, light, gets to the point and tells the story, while the outside is long meandering talks with people that drag on for an endless eternity with maybe a minute of plot. I'm going nuts sitting thru this junk. Half length, and it'd be twice as good, as I often say about these bloated streaming waste-of-hours. I don't get it; there's no advertising, so why make it take forever?

TV+ continues to be the absolute worst app in a long cycle of shitty apps from Apple. I select the show in the main TV+ window, but can't see the title of each ep. Guess the next one's the first unlabelled video blob? Then it opens a player window. Of course you can't even screenshot, I have to use my iPhone camera if I want to take notes or something (like the weirdo keyboard, or the partial floor map). I'm surprised Apple hasn't embedded a "don't take pictures of this" signal in the show. Yet. Just wait until they issue Eyes with content filters.

★★★★☆ so far, aside from the pain in the ass of watching it on TV+.

What I'm Watching: The Adam Project

Time Runner (1993) ripoff, Flight of the Navigator crossed with Last Action Hero. Little kid with smart mouth learns that there is no justice for nerds in school; but then he gets a magical adventure thru time with his dumber but buffer adult self (Ryan Reynolds) to meet his father (Mark Ruffalo), and the kid looks like neither. Mom (Jennifer Garner) is hot but vapid. Future wife (Zoe Saldana) is hot and deadly.

Occasionally busts out a bit of personal growth and philosophy of how we deal with loss and anger. Usually interrupted by scarface mook, villain, and a bunch of masked stormtroopers showing up, and wouldn't you guess, the stormtroopers die and disintegrate, while named characters die offscreen. There's some blood and a wound at the beginning, which is immediately forgotten and nobody uses guns with bullets again until the end, when there's no blood from such bullets, weirdly inconsistent tone going from Unforgiven to Roy Rogers. Mostly they fight with shitty lightsaber ripoffs.

The props and sets are CGI nonsense with glowing blue lights everywhere. The soundtrack's trying to repeat the success of Guardians of the Galaxy with '70s-80s rock, but doesn't really let the songs play loud & long enough. They say the future's bad, but don't show us anything of it except space jets and a few props. Very little attempt at worldbuilding, it's just a bunch of sets for fights to happen in.

Utterly inoffensive, dumb, overly cute kids/family show, and should really have just been PG instead of PG-13 for its main audience.


What I'm Watching: Midnight Mass

I will, of course, always watch vampire shows. If they're even remotely competent, all the better, but the bad ones, too. This is, alas, one of the worst.

A techbro "Riley" (the villain vampire/lizard thing from Metroid… or Zach Gilford, much the same thing) has been released from prison for terrible crimes which are poorly explained until much later (drunk driving/hit & run, he was rich & white so there's zero chance he would've actually been imprisoned for that, just rehab). So he comes back to his shitty New England fishing island home.

Erin (Kate Siegel, last seen in Haunting of Hill House; frumpy old maid look here; thigh boots and skirts are kinda hot, tho) is the ex-girlfriend, pregnant by someone not on the scene.

The locals are various forms of losers, parasites, small-town busybodies. The so-called Sheriff (not Omar) is Muslim, with a son who's not all that keen on it. The one endearing trait about Riley is he's an atheist, on a very very Catholic island. Which is super weird in far north New England; you might expect a smaller church for them, but there's no Protestants on the island? But Riley has to do his AA program with the local Monsignor, "Paul", who has recently replaced the old Father Pruitt. Nothing is subtle about any of this; there's long stretches of preachy misquotes from the Bible (if you look up any of the quotes, they're all taken out of context, it's remarkably full of shit), and Paul trying to minister to an atheist whose eyes can barely stop rolling out of his head, as do mine at this fairy-tale nonsense.

So nothing really happens for the first 3 eps. A couple fake revival-tent-quality miracles. Everyone talks, way too much, forever, about nothing of importance. Feelings. Finally Paul has his, uh, come to Jesus moment, and the actual plot starts. Nobody ever says the V-word, but, uh, you might've guessed what Paul has in his box is a VAMPIRE. And he's not Paul.


So, in this mythology, drinking even a little of the vampire's blood, say in a communion chalice mixed with wine, makes you half-vampire and cures all ills & reverses aging, tho nobody really notices except the two fake miracles. But then if a half-vampire dies, they become a real vampire. Or if the VAMPIRE in the box kills you, you turn right away.

Ep 5 is unique, at the end there's screaming. And she keeps screaming and crying all thru the credits. Which 'flix will try to get you to skip. So the easter egg (not that kind of Easter) is lost on most of the audience.

I get that in most vampire shows, you can't have anyone know anything about vampires. But they are so relentlessly stupid at not seeing evil and the Renfields enabling the bloodsucking parasites. The doctor has figured out there's something wrong with the blood, and blames it on super porphyria, which is funny in Transylvania 6-5000 but less so in a serious vampire series. They know they need to flee, but any minor obstacle they go "Oh, well, we'll just see what happens".

I keep comparing it to 30 Days of Night (both GN and movie, which this greatly, repeatedly rips off), and nobody believes in any of it there either, but they learn fast. Alaskans are not generally considered brighter than New England islanders, but I wouldn't expect anyone here breaks room temperature IQ. Might be inbreeding.

Everyone chooses really stupid times to make a final stand, when they could wait a few minutes and NOT die. They could take vital vampire-fighting gear with them, or just leave it behind for the vamps to use. If the camera can't see something, because it's looking at a character, that character can't see something in their line of sight until the camera whips around to the other side. I am not kidding, they do this "perspective trick" at least 2 or 3 times, someone gets shot or otherwise surprised by something THEY COULD ABSOLUTELY SEE.

I hate almost literally everyone by the end. Couple eps without Riley snarking at everything is just DULL, never kill your protagonist off before the girlfriend or the villainess! The stupid boy & girl (not Adam & Eve, thank fuck) I guess deserve to live because they did the least stupid thing of anyone in the show. I'm impressed that the villainess reinvents Protestantism from first principles right at the end, including the same racism and bigotry as Martin Luther; I guess she can't be misogynist yet, but if she had time she would be.

So, if you're a goddamned shitsucking vampire, and all shelter's been burned, and the Sun's coming up in like 15 minutes, do you:
A) Stand around singing hymns until the Sun burns you up,
or B) Dig holes, flip over boats, find two boards to make a coffin-sized shelter?

99 vamps choose A, 1 tries to dig in the sand without tools and gets nowhere.

The ACTUAL VAMPIRE is a pretty good design. It's Nosferatu ripoff, with some overly complex wing jointing that I don't think makes any sense, the actor does nothing but stand around or leap on things, but OK. Could've been used to make a good vampire movie.

★★☆☆☆ — 7 eps, could've been done in 2, or a 90-minute movie, and told a better story. The writer should be crucified and left to burn up in the sun.

Printing Code Like It's 1989

Which made me laugh, the 2016-2021 dialogue and still not implemented feature in that bug report is everything you love about Microsoft-controlled "open source but not really".

I've only ever printed code from BBEdit in the last couple decades, let's see how other editors fare:

  • BBEdit: Perfect. Print command in menu (it's a native Mac app!), prints headers, page & line numbers, nice margins. Looks perfect, like an old-timey print job. I should probably have switched from dark to light theme, but it'd be fine. ★★★★★
  • Geany: Print command, several settings in Preferences, prints headers, page & line numbers (in settings, choose either headers or page numbers at bottom, or it'll be duplicated). Hideous non-native GTK app and dialogs, but does the job perfectly well. ★★★★½
  • MacVim: Print command, produces a postscript file which immediately opens in Preview, spins a while, converts to PDF. Default has no line numbers, add set popt=header:2,number:y to your .vimrc. ★★★½☆
  • Atom: No print command in the menu, but there's multiple packages 5-6 years old, they work fine. Only shows line numbers, bad margins, it's literally a web page being printed. ★★★☆☆
  • Sublime Text: Print command, but no settings (in the horrible JSON text editor where you do settings) to make it nice. Literally dumps a web page, no page or line numbers. What's the least you could do and check off the feature? That's how subl does everything. ★★☆☆☆
  • Xcode: Takes forever to start. Prints in grayscale, which is nice, but no headers or line numbers. Fail. ★★☆☆☆
  • Panic Nova: … My demo expired, and cleaning the configs out doesn't let me try again, so who knows. Can't even give them a second try without paying $100. Trashed.

I'd be interested in seeing how others fare, and on non-Mac platforms if they have any consistent print command.

Here's a zip of PDF prints - is a silly Python program, but at just 3 pages it's a good test case.