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C. T. Murphy

Part-time writer, sometimes blogger.

More D&D Character Ideas

We still haven’t started a new D&D campaign. I continue to spend the time thinking of new characters to potentially play. Here are a few more:

The Psychopomp

A psychopomp is a type of spiritual guide. I have always liked the idea, so I wanted to try and create a playable character equivalent. Without making things too original, I decided to use established D&D lore for the Shadowfell or the Plane of Shadows. I also wanted to use the Raven Queen, a mysterious deity often associated with memories and death.

Since I am still learning about these elements myself and you, dear reader, may not be anymore knowledgeable than I (or are more so and I risk embarrassing myself), let’s ignore further defining these elements for now.

Here’s my short background to introduce the character:

Not all souls are chosen to walk in the plane most suited to their spiritual alignment. There are a number who go unclaimed. Of them, many fiercely cling to the virtues and vices of their living days, no longer able to satiate their mortal desires or move on to immortal oblivion. Thankfully, there is a place for these souls to find help.

Deep in the Shadowfell, there is a large grove that attracts the unclaimed dead. Called the Shadewalk by the Shadar-Kai who live there, they serve the Raven Queen by helping strip these lost souls of the memories that bind them to a material world they can no longer return to and help them move on to eternal nothingness.

Pomp, youngest of the order and most naive, ventured out of the Shadewalk and the Shadowfell altogether. He journeyed to the material plane, land of mortals, a place he had never been before. He figured why wait for the souls of the living to come to him. He could teach them his order’s ways long before their deaths: the self-destruction of the self, rising beyond pain and pleasure to a state of boundless bliss, unencumbered by want or need. Better educated, the living would have no need of him when they die.

He was ill prepared for the vices and virtues of the world himself. Try as he might to serve the Raven Queen, every attempt to aid those in the mortal realm pulls him one step closer from the grey thoughts formed in his grey head born of his grey world resplendent in all its grey glory.

Will he be the teacher or will he be the student?

In summary, he is a person from a place of limited emotion and almost no enjoyment whose only purpose in life has been detethering wayward souls from whatever keeps them from moving on from their lives into the planes beyond. I am a sucker for a good fish out of water story and I love the idea of a Buddhist monk in reverse (going from what is essentially a variation of a state or nirvana to absolute hedonism).

He will be a Warlock, of course.

The Atheist

More often than not, Druids are not Humans. Fantasy tends to depict humanity at its worst. Humans are shortsighted, cruel, and selfish. Rarely is Human civilization depicted in fantasy as an ideal. Similarly, Druids are often depicted as purer for their love of nature and frequently get stuck with Elves since Elves tend to be purer as well. Obviously, I wanted to make a Human Druid.

At the same time, I wanted a more militant Druid that wasn’t just a Progressive Liberal driving their electric vehicle to rallies and protests nationwide. When I decided wanted to try an atheist character in a world where gods are known and knowable, the Druid seemed like a perfect fit.

For this character, I don’t have a background written up, but here’s a quick and dirty version of what’s in my head:

Character born in small village. Village is very religious. He is bullied at a young age by the son of the church leader. While being bullied out in the woods one day, the bully is attacked by a wild animal. The character hesitates to stop the animal, not out of fear, but because he is really tired of the bullying. A woodsman spots them and comes to the rescue, but the bully is nearly dead. When both children are brought back to the village, the church leader pleads with the village god to save his child and the god does. Character then begins his journey to forsaking all gods and religion, running away when his parents punish him for his thoughts, and joining a druid clan.

He is an atheist not because he denies the existence of gods, but because he denies their sovereignty over the natural world. He believes in survival of the fittest, but believes gods to be an alien corruption who defy the natural order to inflict their will on the world, which is sacred and pure ot him. Regardless of the gods alignment, he is vehemently opposed to the spread of any ideals foreign to nature. He’s a cosmic libertarian/materialist.

The Chaser

Finally, my last character, like the first, grew up in a different plane. In this case, he grew up in the Feywild. If you are unfamiliar, imagine every story about evil fairies, good elves, will-o-the-wisps, fae, etc., were true and all of these creatures – good or bad – arose from and lived in one place. That place would be the Feywild.

As a huge fan of the game Planescape: Torment, I am also a big fan of the Lady of Pain character. Her creation was inspired by the poem “Dolores” by Algernon Charles Swinburne. Not that I am talented enough to create the Lady of Pain, but as the game made me a fan of the character and the character made me an even bigger fan of the poem, I decided to revisit it for inspiration.

In the poem, one of my favorite parts is:

O garment not golden but gilded,
O garden where all men may dwell,
O tower not of ivory, but builded
By hands that reach heaven from hell;
O mystical rose of the mire,
O house not of gold but of gain,
O house of unquenchable fire,
Our Lady of Pain!

I have long had the idea for a petulant, overly romantic elf character who falls into an unrequited love with a chaotic force that decides to take advantage of the situation. I wanted to play on that idea in fantasy of the perfectly faithful hero figure whose one true love is waiting for him though he has to prove himself for her or her father or to his own self so he knows he is worthy.

Rather than a princess in a castle, my elf character stumbles upon a beautiful woman trapped in an unbreakable magic prison at the heart of a swamp. The two fall instantly in love with one another. He yearns to break her free of her bondage so they can be together. She’s perfect, she’s virginic, the only name she can recall for herself is “The Mire Rose”, and she is horribly, terribly evil.

At first, she sends him on trivial errands. She has been stuck in her prison for many years and no suitor yet has come close to surviving what she believes she needs to break free. She’s grown fond over that time of seeing would-be heroes never return or return altered or scarred by the trials and tribulations she gives them for her own amusement.

In this character’s case, he is more talented and more persistent than the rest. He manages to survive and she decides to give him tasks in earnest in hopes they will free her. All the while, she flirts and promises a happy ending.

He isn’t completely hopeless. He has doubts and suspects their may be foul play, but gets himself in too deep to abandon the quest. That’s the arc of the character though, so seeing him start off as a sappy romantic who asks birds to send his Mire Rose tidings of his love or bring her tokens of his affection and grow bitter/concerned over time will be part of the fun.

Netflix’s Castlevania Is Fantastic

This last week has been Castlevania heavy for me which is a real treat. I started playing the series when my brother wanted me to try Symphony of the Night on Playstation. Hard to go up when starting off on the greatest game in the series and one of the greatest games of all time, but I persist. Despite having no love for vampires or vampire-related mythology, Castlevania continues to have a strange hold on me and that includes the animated series on Netflix.

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If you haven’t watched it, do so now. Diane didn’t take to it, but she isn’t keen on gore to begin with and has no experience with the games. Without question, Netflix’s Castlevania is the greatest adaptation of a video game series to another medium yet. It goes its own path, but always with an eye on bringing any lore from the games or adding in Easter eggs to keep fans happy. It is hard to describe exactly, but unlike so many other adaptations of other games, this one doesn’t feel stupid.

It isn’t a perfect series. As much as I love the art, sometimes it falls apart. The first season is far too short. The second season, easily the best thus far, bogs down a bit in the middle as its introducing new characters and their backstories. The fight scene in the penultimate episode is worth it though.

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The second season rapidly expands the scope of the first. If you are only casually familiar with the video games, then you probably know Belmonts are good, Dracula is evil, and Alucard is a bad ass. In the second season, however, we are introduced to the hierarchies and power struggles in the vampire world beneath Dracula. I loved every second of the scheming and plotting of the new characters. Even when it felt painfully slow (largely because Castlevania, on the whole, is extra snappy with its half hour episodes), I enjoyed all of the new characters and what they did to broaden the scale and make way for the series to continue beyond the end of the season.

I do have one major complaint about the series though: it should’ve been live action. In the near-wake of Game of Thrones, every network and streaming service has announced their attempt to bring the next big epic fantasy series to our television. With season one, Castlevania was perfect for animation, but with season two and its intrigues, I wish this had been Netflix’s answer to Game of Thrones. I think it would work well, at least if given a budget.

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In addition to binging on the second season of Castlevania, I broke down and brought Castlevania: Requiem on Playstation 4. The includes Castlevania: Rondo of Blood and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. It’s a no frills port, but Konami can get away with it because I am sure most all of us would pay for similar ports of the excellent Game Boy Advance Castlevania games.

This is my first experience playing Rondo of Blood. Outside of having one of the best subtitles in the series, I only knew of it. Thus far, I am welcoming the challenge. I am really, really out of step with these kinds of games. Sure, I did play and beat Hollow Knight not too long ago, but both games (especially Rondo) are far less forgiving and much more limited.

Symphony of the Night is still perfect, of course. This is either the third or fourth time I have purchased the game. I rarely enjoy replaying games I have been, but this one is a classic that I never mind retreading.

With plenty of Castlevania left to play and season three of the series renewed, I have more than enough to look forward to! If Konami could just do a collection like Capcom has done with Mega Man, I’d be most pleased.

WB Top 100: A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

During the 2017 holiday season, I got a great deal on the Best of Warner Bros. 100 Film Collection. Diane and I haven’t seen most of these movies, but we are committed to watching one a week and writing a short review.

When it came to finally seeing 1951’s “A Streetcar Named Desire”, neither Diane nor myself knew what to expect. It is one of those movies that virtually everyone has heard of, but, in our case at least, we had never seen it. I thought it would be more jovial or at least be a lighter film. It is not. As its unlikable characters did unlikable things to one another in an impoverished New Orleans tenement, it dawned on me that what I was in for was yet another example of the Southern Gothic literary subgenre. With that realization, my dread of what to come gripped me tightly as we finished watching the film.


New Orleans shines through the entire film even though the characters rarely go outside the apartment.

I do not pretend to be a scholar on all things Southern Gothic, but I am a big fan of the short stories of Flannery O’Connor. Not to digress to politics, there is a certain Conservative way of thinking – a bubble all-encompassing in modern Southern life – that seems equal parts naive and destructive. All my life, I was exposed to people who had little while thinking they had a lot. Any attempt at change or any battering against tradition was the utmost evil. Southern Gothic works are treasonous to that line of thought as they seek to expose the darker culture of a people who live in a ruined place and a lost time, the Antebellum South, without grasping fully the modern world as it has changed around them.

Vivien Leigh plays Blanche DuBois, a teacher whose ancestral home has been lost to debt and poor judgement. With her, she brings all of her worldly possessions: fine clothes and jewelry. She also brings the air of a Southern aristocratic family used to having far more wealth and like minded folk equally obsessed with manners, honor, and dignity. At her heels, a mystery chases after her as she suddenly appears at her sister’s one bedroom home in New Orleans. The sister, Stella, welcomes her openly despite the ill tidings and the odd mood, while Stanley (played by Marlon Brando) is instantly wary of his sister-in-law’s arrival.


Vivien Leigh plays crazy perfectly.

To an extent, the film feels like a melancholy successor to “Gone with the Wind”. Vivien Leigh’s Blanche, much like Scarlett, relies on Southern virtues like honor and duty and manners to anchor herself in a fictional reality. Her life lacks these virtues, however, and her inability to come to grips with that fact drives her mad. Vivien Leigh plays crazy incredibly well. From the start, her character is troubled, but as the movie progresses and she gives one high minded speech after another you begin to realize the depths she has already sunk.

Likewise, Marlon Brando’s Stanley was equally mesmerizing but rather than the piteous Blanche, he was terrifying to behold. This was our first exposure to Marlon Brando the actor rather than the person of pop culture myth. As with the jokes I am used to hearing about Brando, we too had trouble understanding what he was saying half the time. I thought at first it was because every scene had him eating but no. I was also shocked at just how handsome a man he was when he was younger.


I wish I looked that cool drinking alcohol out of a mug that no one likely cleaned since its last use.

“A Streetcar Named Desire” is a difficult film to watch. There is little joy and no real character to root for. Kim Hunter’s Stella was the only redeemable character but she often blended into the background while Vivien Leigh chewed the scenery or the shadow of Marlon Brando obscured everyone else as he stalked violently from one room to the next of their one bedroom apartment. There’s a Hollywood ending but no on screen punishment for Stanley. I do not need a movie to end tidily and happily, but after that largely being the case for so many of the films in this series, I half expected “A Streetcar Named Desire” to follow suit. The fact that it doesn’t and that its 125 minutes of human misery ends of only more human misery felt both modern and depressing.

Beyond the acting and the sadness, I found the script to be really interesting. I am unsure how much of the dialogue works in a film. Some of the longer speeches felt ripped from a novel. I am sure they work well in play form, but with film, I expect the characters to talk a bit more like actual people talk. I do not recall the specific lines, but a few made me chuckle at how overwritten they seemed when read aloud.


One of the saddest scenes was when Stanley returns home from the hospital early and finds Blanche dancing around in her finest clothes and talking about a rich suitor that wants her to accompany him on a cruise.

I do not think either of us loved the film. This is art, less as an expression of joy or entertainment, and more as an attempt to make the audience feel emotion. Love falls short of how I would describe my feelings toward “A Streetcar Named Desire”. Appreciation seems to be more accurate. I appreciate the film because it took me to a place I never wish to go to again. I do not love how the film made me feel: hopeless, sad, intense dread. I appreciate the excellent performances of Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando because, without them, I would not have found this film to be so compelling. I appreciated the movie, but I would love to never see it again. I still feel icky.

For other reviews, make sure to check out the Warner Brother’s Top 100 Film’s page.

WB Top 100: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

During the 2017 holiday season, I got a great deal on the Best of Warner Bros. 100 Film Collection. Diane and I haven’t seen most of these movies, but we are committed to watching one a week and writing a short review.

“The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” is the last Humphrey Bogart film on this list. It is also his best. Diane and I both loved this movie. While the first quarter of our list has had its ups and downs, this film is an incredible start to our next set of movies.

The film follows the down on his luck and homeless Fred C. Dobbs (played by Bogart). As he begs his way around the Mexican city of Tampico, he meets Bob Curtin (played by Tim Holt), a man of similar prospects, and a gold prospector named Howard (played by Walter Huston). The three eventually decide to pool together all the money they have to leave civilization behind and go search for gold in Mexican bandit country.


This newspaper is actually in Spanish too. Muy authentico!

As the first Hollywood film shot on location in a foreign country, “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” bleeds authenticity. But, before we get into our praise and appreciation of the film, let me get through its one blemish. In the movie’s later act, it leans too heavily on the white savior trope and it really took me out of the movie. Despite this, I felt the movie did a good job of depicting Mexicans and other native peoples without dehumanizing anyone or deeming them savages or less civilized.

Blemish aside, the overall arc of “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” is perfect. Early on, the film foreshadows its themes of greed and it also begs the question, “When is enough wealth enough?” Dobbs and Curtin are lured into a job by an American labor contractor who ends up skipping out on paying them. Their free labor helps improve his bottom line and with the oil boom in Tampico attracting more and more people looking for work, there’s always another sucker.

Despite falling for the contractor’s trap, Dobbs and Curtin eventually corner the man in a bar and steal from him what they are owed after a fight. By modern standards, the fight scene was lackluster, but for the time and in comparison to what we have watched thus far, it was incredible. I loved how the camera stayed panned out the entire time. Rather than a flurry of closeups and cutaways, the fight felt more real despite the punches obviously missing because you could see all the actors. The camera let the actors do the work rather than adding the action for them.


Easily my favorite fight scene yet in this series. Panned out camera, relatively few cutaways or cuts, and it lasts about as long as an actual fight.

Before the fight, Dobbs and Curtin met Howard, a gold prospector, at a hostel. Here is where we first encounter the film’s theme of greed. When Howard goes on about the perils of gold prospecting and how dangerous it is to go with others, Dobbs remarks that he would only take enough and not an ounce more than he needed to minimize the risk. Compared to the greedy contractor who repeats his scheme of extracting free labor from idiots despite the risk of getting cornered later, Dobbs holds himself up as a man capable of knowing when enough is enough and sticking to it.

This is in contrast with Dobbs as the story has already presented him. While no character gets any background, Dobbs spends the first 15 minutes or so of the movie begging for money. In a humorous twist, he ends up begging the same man three different times and each time the man gives him a peso. However, though the movie doesn’t call your attention to it, each time after Dobbs is depicted spending the money in a wasteful way. He spends some on a lottery ticket, some on a more extravagant meal, and some on a haircut. To me, Dobbs seems exactly like the kind of man who has no idea when enough is enough. He is content drifting from pleasure to pleasure on any dime he can get to do it.


“I’d only take what I needed,” is a great setup to any story about greed.

With what they are owed burning a hole in their pocket after the fight, the pair find Howard again and the three agree to prospect gold in the remote mountains. The movie plays it funny while Dobbs and Curtin have several comedic scenes of falling behind the older but more fit Howard as he easily climbs hills “like a goat”.

Once they finally strike gold, the movie truly begins. Dobbs and Curtin thought it would be hard to find the gold and easy to leave with it, but the opposite is true. Howard has them setup camp so they can start a small mining operation. Dobbs and Curtin eventually take to the work, but early on we see Dobbs drifting into paranoia. The three men trust one another enough, but because of Dobbs, they decide to hide their portion of the gold they mine each away from one another.

I won’t ruin everything, but Dobbs slow descent into madness is fantastically depicted in “The Treasures of the Sierra Madre”. Humphrey Bogart does a fantastic job. In all of the roles we have seen him in thus far, he has played the romantic lead while also being handsome and intelligent. Once the haircut from early on in the film gives way to Bogart, bearded, sun-baked, and covered in mud, the transformation is nearly complete. By the end of the film, Dobbs is a tragic figure, akin to Gollum, in Lord of the Rings who allows his greed to swallow him whole and gives himself over to madness completely to protect his precious gold.


I really loved all three of these characters and for entirely different reasons.

From the cover art, I had expected something more in the vein of an adventure film, but “Sierra Madre” is a Western film with depth and substance. In addition to Bogart’s turn, Tim Holt as Curtin does a fantastic job garnering your sympathy as he maintains reason and loyalty to nearly his own end. Walter Huston’s Howard nearly steals the show from both of them with his perfect depiction of a crazed, old prospector. In a sense, Howard’s arc is the reverse of Dobb’s as he initially seems quite mad, but turns out to be a reasonable, intelligent, and kindhearted fellow.

In addition to the compelling story, great characters, and great acting, “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” is shot beautifully. This is one of the few films thus far that has extensively used the location in which it was shot and it shows. It gives the movie a timelessness that painted backgrounds would not have.


Maybe I need to make a D&D homebrew for Patron of the Great Joke, a warlock always on the regrettable end of fate or destiny.

As you can imagine, Diane and I both recommend this movie. It easily tops “Casablanca” as my personal favorite Bogart film and does a great job showing his overall range which we have only seen in his role as a supporting actor (“Dark Victory”, for example).  The fact that he is surrounded by a great supporting cast and the film has a compelling story to tell only adds more to its value. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre”.

For other reviews, make sure to check out the Warner Brother’s Top 100 Film’s page.

WB Top 100: Best & Worst So Far

Diane and I had a little bit of time while awaiting Hurricane Michael to discuss the first 25 movies of the WB Top 100. We decided to each pick our top five and our worse five, along with a lovely soundbite as to why.

My Top 5

#5: Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) – “I really dug the music and Cagney was charming. He did dance like an idiot but better than I could ever do.”

#4: Citizen Kane (1941) – “Still good a second time.”

#3: Best Years of Our Lives (1946) – “I found the movie’s ‘Hail Hydra’ moment to be deeply unnerving, especially given its proximity to the end of World War II.”

#2: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) – “Incredibly fun and easily one of my favorite versions of the character. I don’t know why Hollywood keeps trying.”

#1: Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) – “That captain was the smuggest bastard ever put to film and I absolutely loved him for it.”

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Diane’s Top 5

#5: Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) – “Was not sure who to root for by the end – a real testament to the actors.”

#4: Cimarron (1931) – “Fooled me into thinking this movie was about a man when it was really about a racist woman becoming less racist. Also, that opening scene.”

#3:   Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) – “Fun and a far cry from the previous role we saw Cagney in [Public Enemy]. No grapefruits were harmed in the making of this film.

#2: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) – “Incredibly influential and stands the test of time. Pretty much anyone can enjoy this movie.

#1: Best Years of Our Lives (1946) – “Calling out able-ists since 1946.”

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Our Worst 5 (Combined)

For the most part, we agreed on our least favorite films. Since we had such an easy back-and-forth about our particularly strong feelings, I am combining the two lists for emphasis. Also, I am reversing the order (starting with the worst) since that is where our conversation began.


#1 – Me: Broadway Melody of 1929 (1929) – “Fuck this movie.”

#1 – Diane: Broadway Melody of 1929 (1929) – “Yeah, fuck that movie.”

#2 – Me: A Night at the Opera (1935) – “Fuck this one too.”

#2 – Diane: The Philadelphia Story (1940) – “No, fuck this one first. A Night at the Opera had that one scene.”

#3 – Me:  The Philadelphia Story (1940) – “It was pretty irredeemable …”

#3 – Diane: A Night at the Opera (1935) – “But also fuck this movie.”

#4 – Me: Wizard of Oz (1939) – “No, I still hate it. I will always hate it. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” can be listened to without watching this terrible movie.”

#4 – Diane: Wizard of Oz (1939) – “Fuck Glenda for withholding information. I never get over that fact.”

#5 – Me: The Maltese Falcon (1941) – “Film noir movies are sports movies for /r/niceguys candidates: The male protagonist is always the nicest, smartest man in the room. Every woman wants to fuck him. Chads all want to be him. Oh and everyone wears a fedora.”

#5 – Diane: The Life of Emile Zola (1937) – “The most that movie did for me was help me answer a crossword puzzle. Just plain boring.”

WB Top 100: The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

During the 2017 holiday season, I got a great deal on the Best of Warner Bros. 100 Film Collection. Diane and I haven’t seen most of these movies, but we are committed to watching one a week and writing a short review.

“The Best Years of Our Lives” returns us to the subject of World War II. This 1946 film follows three returning servicemen who are back home in the United States after the war’s end. Each have difficulties adjusting back to civilian life and reintegrating with their families. Despite being over fifty years, “The Best Years of Our Lives” feels poignantly current and it helped contextualize our current cultural climate in a way that no other film on this list has managed thus far.

The film follows Fred, an Air Force bombardier; Homer, a sailor who lost both his hands and now uses prosthetics; and Al, an infantryman returning to his wife of twenty plus years and his two kids who had to grow up without him. It is a hard movie to describe. At times, it feels almost like a comedy. Laughs are weaved in and out to break up the emotional tension and turmoil. Otherwise, it is a romantic drama.

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To paraphrase, “He lost both his hands and he is okay with that and you are just going to have to get over it.”

There is a modernness to “The Best Years of Our Lives” that makes it feel fresh despite being a movie that neither of us had heard of before. The romantic aspects are pure Hollywood, but they do nothing to distract from the very real subject matter. Al can hardly handle being home for more than a couple of hours before he feels the need to escape from a world and family that have evolved without him. Homer, more or less accepted by his fellow veterans, is stared at by his family. Fred, the film’s romantic lead played by Dana Andrews, can’t even find his wife since she moved out of his parents’ home while he was gone.

Also contributing to its modern feel, much of the film’s subject matter is still relevant today. We both found it off-putting how bluntly some of the civilian characters commented on the veterans. Growing up in the South, here in the US we are taught to respect our troops to the point that the phrase is cliche and meaningless. To see characters openly disrespect veterans was astounding. They used the same language targeted at immigrants in the US today: they are taking our jobs!

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The post-war imagery, including the many, many plans being demolished, was stunning to me.

A modern remake of “The Best Years of Our Lives” might be a good idea; that, or more attention given to the original. As I said, supporting the troops is an eye-rolling cliche these days, but this movie not only presents an era where it wasn’t, but it does so in a way that helped me personally better appreciate the sacrifices of our uniformed men and women. It gives me a context for so many of the bills and laws we have in the USA regarding veterans. For our foreign readers who may have different experiences in their own countries, in the US, when applying for a job, nearly every application asks about your veteran status because we as a society have placed more emphasis, attention, and value into making sure veterans are given equal opportunity. I imagine it is far from perfect, but it is fascinating to see some of the origins of these laws.

Another especially relevant scene revolved around a man at the drugstore. While eating his sandwich, the man notices Homer’s prosthetics and begins to strike up a conversation with him.  The stranger openly states that the US fought on the wrong side and that he sympathizes with the Nazis. Though the man ultimately gets a nasty punch and a fall through a glass display for his trouble, the film plays it straight in a way that, frankly, chilled us. Until recently, the idea of anyone being pro-Nazi seemed like the fringiest of ideas. Nazis, for me, were always historical villains used to great effect in some of my favorite video games (I played a lot of Wolfenstein 3D as a kid). “Nazis are evil” is one of those ideas that comes as naturally as breathing. Hearing a character openly talk about being pro-Nazi after World War II has already been won made us both realize that this is not a new idea nor is it one that ever went away. Like chickenpox, it remains dormant in our system until we all get hate-shingles.

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Homer, scaring away prying kids, does a great job of expressing his vulnerability despite not being the best actor.

Speaking of Homer, it was powerful to see an actual handicapped man play a leading role in a movie. Played by Harold Russell, the real-life man lost both his hands as an Army instructor teaching demolitions work. He is one of two non-professional actors to win an Academy Award (his was for his work in this film as a support actor). Though he had limited screen time and was obviously not a trained actor, the character of Homer was one of the film’s most compelling. His arc primarily concerns his inability to accept how his family treats him and his worry that his long-term fiance will be wasting her life if he lets her marry him. His journey alone could’ve made up its own movie, and I wish it had.

Beyond Homer, the other two characters go through their own trials. Al’s involvement shrinks as the movie continues, but his position as an individual who was already financially well-off returning to an even better job at the bank offered another important point of view. As a loan officer, he is put in the position of turning down veterans who have no collateral yet who also have no way of rebuilding their lives. Despite the “good financial sense” he was hired and rehired for when he returns from the war, he believes that veterans deserve to be gambled on by his bank. The thread gets dropped without an absolute resolution, but I liked that better since it was obviously not a resolved issue culturally and Al vows to keep fighting for what he believes in.

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Fred’s wife was the worst.

Finally, we arrive at Fred and his romance with Al’s daughter Peggy. Teresa Wright, previously seen in “Mrs. Miniver”, returns as yet another patriotic girl next door with eyes for a soldier. Despite their story making up the majority of the film, it wasn’t my personal favorite. I did think it was a good romantic drama plot, especially when compared with some of the others we have seen in this series as of late, but its only real purpose is to entertain while I feel “The Best Years of Our Lives” works best when it does more than simply entertain.

Diane and I did have one complaint: it felt long. At nearly three hours, “The Best Years of Our Lives” is packed. There were some parts that could’ve been tightened up, but I personally thought it was shot and cut beautifully. While not my favorite movie-as-entertainment, I can easily this film as being one of the more historically interesting from a cultural point of view. It’s a shame it isn’t shown more in school. The way it handles veterans stands up well and hasn’t lost any of its importance. The only concerning scene for me was where Al gives his son a Japanese sword, but, given the time, perfectly reasonable. If you haven’t seen it or haven’t seen it in a while, we suggest giving “The Best Years of Our Lives” a watch.

For other reviews, make sure to check out the Warner Brother’s Top 100 Film’s page.

Battle for Remember to Go to Azeroth

Since my last post on the subject back in August, I have been unable to return to Azeroth and finish leveling my character. Why?

First, MMOs only tend to work when they can keep my attention. I knew already that Battle for Azeroth was not doing a whole lot for me, but, to make matters worse, I got distracted by other things. Mostly, I got distracted by other games.

Like a bad relationship, time apart does wonders. For me, it stopped the moment-to-moment hooks that dominate the genre – completing an area, experiencing more troll stories, advancing my character, etc. With those out of heart and mind, I was left remember a game that honestly and sadly was boring me to tears.

Despite being a lot earlier than expected, I am giving up on the final month of my three month foray and calling it quits on an expansion in which I couldn’t even cap out one character. I enjoyed playing my Warrior not more than I enjoy playing newer, fresher games. A different character may have helped but to what end? Similarly, I can get the feeling of progression and advancement elsewhere as well. The only remaining draw for MMOs for me these days are the social aspects and they are all significantly watered down from the earlier days of the genre.

It is a shame. I hate wasting the money and I hate knowing I did it on a troll-heavy expansion. It failed to satisfy me, but in a “vote with your dollar” world it can be hard for a company to sort out why people leave a service versus why they played a few extras than they should’ve.

It also furthers my disillusionment about MMOs overall. These days, I can scarcely raise a finger to type a rant about the next big genre-ending trend. Not that there is much to rant about when no one makes these kinds of games again.

At this point, I am unsure what it would take for me to play a MMO again. Too often I feel like a tourist, rather than a resident, and I go back to other games that hook me for hundreds of hours without question. With MMOs, there are always questions. And, frankly, I have run out of answers.

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