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The Apathy Pit



Posted by The Present Automaton , Dec 19 2012 · 202 views

Why did we have an "existentialism party" for Christmas in Film Studies this year?
Why did we sit around discussing philosophy whilst drinking coffee?
Why does cold coffee taste absolutely disgusting?
Why did I drink coffee when I don't even like it?
Why were there candles everywhere?
Why were we invited to wear berets? 
Why was jazz playing overhead?
Why were the lights off?


The Top 10 Hottest Dragons in Fiction - #'s 3 - 1

Posted by The Present Automaton , Dec 16 2012 · 1,450 views

Okay guys, this is the moment you've all clearly been waiting for. It's time to reveal those who I consider the top three hottest dragons in fiction.
#3 - Smaug
First appeared: The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien) - 1937
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Of course Smaug goes in the top ten! It was him that made me come up with the idea to do this in the first place so to leave him out would be a cruelty. Largely based off of the "old night-scather" of Beowulf, Smaug is responsible for the events of The Hobbit as 150 years beforehand he attacked and captured the Lonely Mountain. In an effort to reclaim the stolen treasure, a team of 13 dwarves, a hobbit and partly a wizard set off on an adventure with the intention of finally killing Smaug and...well, you know the rest. Obviously one of the greatest dragons in fiction, he also just so happens to be one of the richest fictional characters ever with his huge piles of gold. I was hoping I could use a picture of him as he's meant to appear in the upcoming The Desolation of Smaug but nooo, it looks like the producers are keeping their cards close to their chests on that one. 
#2 - Spyro
First appeared: Spyro the Dragon - 1998
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Naturally Spyro would have to appear somewhere on this list. Once belonging to Insomniac's magical Spyro the Dragon series Spyro brings back fond memories of wandering across the Dragon Realms, travelling through portals and reclaiming gems all with the help of his faithful dragonfly companion Sparx. Then of course there were the sequels that added more story and characters to the franchise, making it all the more charming. Unfortunately after the third game Insomniac sold the rights to the Spyro as there was nowhere else to go with the series and the titular character was "unable to hold a sword". Clearly they've never seen the lion Sora or the Great Grey Wolf Sif. Since Spyro's depature from Insomniac there have been a handful of other games produced as well as the Legends of Spyro trilogy. I played a couple and whilst I wasn't particularly fond of them, I could appreciate the direction they were trying to take it. And then they made this. Oh Spyro, what have they done to you? 
And from #2 we are lead to #1. Just what could it be? Surely the possibilities are endless. Could we have a drumroll please?
#1 - Draco
First appeared: Dragonheart - 1996
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"To the stars, Bowen. To the stars..."
Yes, apologies Tolkien fans but in my opinion, the greatest dragon of fiction has to go to Draco, one of the main characters of the not-entirely-popular-but-still-sorta Dragonheart. Something of a technological marvel for the time, Draco has over 23 minutes of screen time in the film which is pretty impressive given that's more than the T-Rex's of Jurassic Park received. In the story he is the last of the dragons, hoping to find some way of earning passage into the heavens come the time of his death. What he initially thinks to be a good act in the beginning of the film is to give half his heart to King Einon, who would later become the antagonist. His friendship and dialogue with the lead character Bowen is charming and heartwarming and in the end he's responsible for a beautiful ending and one of the most charming tracks "To the Stars". Well, I said he was the last of the dragons. For some reason a few years later they decided to release a mediocre sequel with a contrived storyline and obviously younger intended audience. Because, y'know. All those fart jokes aren't going to tell themselves. But we don't talk about Dragonheart II, okay?
He's also voiced by Sean Connery. What more could you want?
And for those that were great but didn't quite cut it, here are some honourable mentions:
  • Charizard (Pokemon) - You obviously can't have a list about the best dragons without mentioning the greatest starter of them all. (Opinions. Please don't lynch me.)
  • Lizbreath Salamander (The Dragon With the Girl Tattoo) - No, those aren't typos. From the hilarious parody novel we are introduced to this girl, adorned with a tattoo of a strange mythical beast known as a human...
  • Kazuma Kiryu (Yakuza) - Titled the "Dragon of Dojima" (Hah, look at that. I made a funny), he's the guy with the dragon tattoo. He's a fantastic matchmaker, although sadly most of his couples seem to be someone's face and the sidewalk. 
  • Angelus (Drakengard) - I'll confess, I haven't played Drakengard yet. However, it's Angelus' death during one of the games multiple endings that sets off the apocalypse that begins the epic tale of NieR. So thanks for that.
So, there you have it folks. Those are the top 10 hottest dragons in fiction. Will I make another list...egh, maybe. If I've nothing better to do.


The Top 10 Hottest Dragons in Fiction - #'s 6 - 4

Posted by The Present Automaton , Dec 15 2012 · 194 views

Still not like that. You only have yourselves to blame for giggling and making it rude.
#6 - Snow
First appeared: The Adamantine Palace (Stephen Deas) - 2009 
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"Little One Kemir. I am hungry."
Let's face it. If dragons really did exist in our world we all know who would be at the bottom of the food chain. And so it was in Stephen Deas' surprisingly entertaining The Memory of Flames series, until a way was discovered to calm and pacify the dragons with chemicals. Kept in this almost comatose state, the dragons were little more than beasts to tamed and used in battle. That is, until a precious white dragon named Snow escaped long enough for the effects to wear off and regain her conscience. And she wasn't happy. She's a frustratingly well written character, understandable in her motivation for the freedom of her kind yet you're sure you're meant to be rooting for the humans she views as food. It's an interesting split for the audience that makes her a great character to read and me hoping that I find the two remaining books in my stocking this Christmas. 
#5 - Spike
First appeared: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - 2010 (I know, he appeared in generations beforehand...it's just not the same.)
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Okay, first off I guess it's only fair to apologise to all the people tired of seeing the My Little Pony craze that's been sweeping across the internet for the past two or so years. I've no doubt those most irritated are sitting behind their computers, raising their arms and bemoaning "Automaton, you ridiculously handsome machination, why would you fill a space on this oh-so-important list with that thing?". Well, I'll tell you. Spike's always been a personal favourite character of mine, just because of how he works as someone the male audience can relate to. Even before the show's creators expected such a maelstrom of popularity, Spike was claiming how uninterested he was in all that "girly gala gunk", yet secretly wanted to be a part of it. He's telling male kids that if you want to enjoy the show go for it. Just don't be incredibly annoying on internet forums about it. Oh, and he makes for some fantastic comic relief.
#4 - Toothless
First appeared: How to Train Your Dragon (Cressida Cowell) - 2003
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Like Spike, he's changed a lot since his original appearance, though I decided to credit his first appearance to Cowell's book anyway even though I've never actually read it. Though he goes the entire film without saying a single word, Toothless is a dragon most audiences can instantly fall in love with. With the personality traits of both a dog and a cat and a dependence on the protagonist Hiccup of a loyal friend, Toothless can usually make hearts melt come the end of the first showing. I can't count how many times I've had conversations with people about the movie How To Train Your Dragon that have usually turned into a discussion about how much everyone wants a Night Fury. He's an adorable dragon who also gave us that wonderfully directed Forbidden Friendship scene.
So there's 6-4. Tune in for the final part tomorrow, for numbers 1-3 and a few honourable mentions. Let's just hope you don't see my final choices as...too controversial. Not that I can see why they'd be. They're just fictional dragons. 


The Top 10 Hottest Dragons in Fiction - #'s 10 - 7

Posted by The Present Automaton , Dec 14 2012 · 1,197 views

N-No, not like that. Y'know, because they breath fire? "Like a furnace with wings". Not because they're attractive.
So, yes, with the recent surge of "Top (x) (y)" lists, most of which were made for the purposes of being ironic, I decided that I would jump on this particular bandwagon, just before it goes careering off a cliffside. And with the first part of The Hobbit released, what better way than to give a list involving my favourite fantasy creatures of all time? Werewolves! Except I couldn't think of ten werewolves so dragons will have to do. I don't know why I said "in fiction" in the title, though. There aren't that many dragons outside of fiction, as far as I'm aware. Well, there are komodo and bearded dragons I guess. But they don't really count.
Oh and on the subject of things that don't count...You will not see any of the "dragons" of Skyrim. They have no forelegs, people. Those are Wyverns. Carry on with your day. 
#10 - Saphira
First appeared: Eragon (Christopher Paolini) - 2002
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I'll admit, after a while I fell out of favour with Paolini's Inheritance cycle. Whatever happened past Eldest I can't tell you because it was at that point I stopped reading. It was clichéd, dull and I was just building my backlog when I got Brisingr so it looks like that'll be gathering dust on my shelves for a long time. What I won't fault it for though, is Saphira, the dragon that comes to Eragon early in the first book. Of course she did. There wouldn't be a plot otherwise. She was an interesting character, certainly much more so than the titular protagonist, and this being my first real book with a dragon in it when I was younger, the descriptions of her growing and maturing were a heck of a lot of fun to read. 
#9 - Danzi
First appeared: Dragon Keeper (Carole Wilkinson) - 2003
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A Chinese dragon now. Danzi originated (clearly) from a book titled Dragon Keeper, which I just so happened to stumble across once, many years back before I became the avid reader that I am today.  I got it and fell in love with it before almost the first few pages were through. Though the lead character is a girl named Ping, her dragon companion, Danzi, is the real show (book?) stealer here. An enigmatic personality and a great mentor to Ping, he sets off the story as he escapes his life as a pet of the emperor and encourages Ping to travel to Ocean whilst ensuring they never lose sight of a mysterious rock he keeps in his possession. I wonder what that could be... 
#8 - Seath the Scaleless
First appeared: Dark Souls - 2011
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"He's the albino dragon all the other dragons made fun of in high school."
"Aww. So now he's getting, like, his albino revenge."
"He doesn't have legs either! Check that out."
"That dragon has fallen upon hard times."
And so Matt and Pat of Two Best Friends Play fame describe Seath the Scaleless' appearance in the intro cutscene to the sadistically cruel Dark Souls. I wonder if they were so sympathetic when it came to fighting him in a boss battle? I certainly wasn't. Though Dark Souls isn't particularly story heavy (Or at least, it expects you to do your own searching to receive lore and plot details), what is made evident of Seath is that during a battle against the Everlasting Dragons, he betrayed his kind so that he might continue his research on the scales of immortality. He was made Duke by the Lord Gwyn and had full access to a library so that he might carry out his studies. Rumoured father of the Crossbreed Priscilla, he was a particularly vicious boss battle with an area wide attack you need to run from fast if you don't want to get demolished.  He also has some pretty cute fanart
#7 - Blue-Eyes White Dragon
First appeared: Yu-Gi-Oh! - 200...199...Uh...I'll get back to you on that one. The first card got released in Europe and America in 2002. I'll give you that. 
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Aww man. When I was a kid and Yu-Gi-Oh! was the thing all the cool kids played, this was the card you wanted. It didn't really help how much the show bigged it up, but if you had one of these you had it all. If only we realised then that having this didn't really mean much. It just meant that you were able to find a Kaiba starter deck, which proudly displays one of them on the front. That said, if you had three you could then run around pretending you were Kaiba, only without the Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon to show for it. If you had one of those, it was probably fake. On retrospect, now that the game has evolved so much this card really doesn't mean much anymore. 8 stars and it doesn't even have an effect. If anything it'd be fairly quaint if your opponent pulled it out. Quaint, up until the point where you ruin them with whatever new type of card is available these days, at which point it becomes hilarious.
So there's 10 - 7.  Tune in next time for 6-4. Bear in mind that I haven't seen every dragon in fiction so if your favourite doesn't appear...meh. 


Obligatory The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey entry

Posted by The Present Automaton , Dec 13 2012 · 733 views

No, seriously subconscious. Stop doing this to me. I woke up this morning kicking myself because I couldn't remember the film. I had flashes of the beginning in my head, a little bit of the middle and what I presumed to be the end. Logically, I came to the conclusion that I'd fallen asleep during the film. Remorsefully I groaned and started trying to figure out ways to fix this tragic error. Then I realised, oh wait, it's not even out yet. My subconscious is just messing me around again. I swear it has an agenda of its own to ruin me. But I also had a pleasant dream about the comedian Ed Byrne, who came to deliver a ticket to his show personally. So that was nice.
But y'know what else was nice? The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It made for an excellent day. The film was fantastic, the bus trip was cheap, the cinema seats were made of leather, I found a £50 note lying around on the floor, I met a girl who didn't scream at the sight of me and then I got home and was proclaimed king of everything. I might have turned sarcastic at some point in that sentence. But The Hobbit was definitely a lot of fun, filled with cheerful laughs, some amazing special effects and a soundtrack to die for. Gollum's presence had to have been the highlight of the film and Martin Freeman did a wonderful job filling the sho...Hobbit feet of Bilbo Baggins. If you're a LotR fan I wholly recommend you go see it, not that you weren't planning to anyway.
Now I just have to wait a long year for Smaug to rear his draconic face. That I am looking forward to. Next cinema trips will probably be for Life of Pi, Les Misérables and Django Unchained

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December 2012