Monthly Archives: June 2015

Mad Max: Furiosa Road

Mad Max: Fury Road was a complex movie. Or at least it stirred a lot of complex thoughts in me. I’d heard a lot about how it was ‘really feminist’, and/or ‘much more feminist than the original’. I was curious to see how this panned out, as I’d never seen the original (aside from scattered memories of desert movie scenes when I was very young, and the Thunderdome at Burning Man). This will be a number of scattered thoughts.

I’d recently watched the Fallout4 trailer, which had stirred some of the sadness of the post-apocalyptic situation, and I think that carried over into watching this movie. So much of it felt like needless fighting and grandstanding, when they really should have been working together (but I guess that was the point, that when you have a warlord culture, it all becomes about penis size, instead of actually solving problems).

In a literal and figurative sense, it felt somewhat like watching a car wreck. You know that there will be at least some small part of hope at the end, but you know that there will be a lot of death on the way, of people on the side of helping others dying to try to purge some of the madness. (The Postman (the novel) had some of this.)

That being said, the film was quite engaging, and I actually enjoyed it a lot. (It made me think, so it was def. worth it from that perspective. 🙂 )

It even passed the Bechdel test, even with the small amount of talking in the movie. I found the conversation about, and then the passing of the seeds very touching, but then again, I might be a druid. I also liked how the main character was a badass woman who was 10x as badass with her artificial limb.

It’s been said about the movie that it’s really about women finding their own way, and carving out what they actually want in a mad/male dominated world. What would the movie have been like without Max? If Furiosa had solved it on her own, or perhaps with one of her companions finding more of her voice along the way. But then it wouldn’t have been a Mad Max movie, and might have been much more difficult to sell…

Anyways, protagonists. The movie was billed as being about Max, even named after him, but he was really an active character for very few points in the movie. The protagonist was clearly Furiosa, who had a very specific thing she wanted. Oddly, both Furiosa and Max were antiheroes, with her discovering more bravery and him discovering his selflessness by the end of the movie.

Also, his madness was really only an issue at the beginning, but perhaps that’s because he’d gotten back on track.

It says something about Hollywood that they didn’t think that Charlize Theron could carry her own movie (even though she did), and only half/kinda named the movie after her character, and gave her second billing.

Thinking about this some more, there is actually a bunch of hope at the end of the movie, with some (more) sensible people now in charge of the main resources

Other things:
– I liked how even when everything was going sideways, with all the cars mired in well, the mire, the drummers were still going. This shows a dedication to music that is important to a culture. 😀 Also, the fire-shooting guitar rig was totally in canon, as that’s what you’d expect from a showboating warlord not so sure of himself.
– There were a lot of nice tying things together, such as the gift of blood transfusion after being a ‘blood bag’ for the first third of the film
– Speaking of that, I found the first third of the film difficult to watch, with Max being a passive character, then being not sympathetic at all.
– I found it sad how much science had decayed in the film, but perhaps there was a kept caste of scientists to keep the green and windmills going…
– Susana Polo at Polygon said that the avoidance of gore and objectification made for a stronger movie, the former because it allowed for more audience reaction when it dd happen, the latter because it made for a stronger movie, where the female characters could actually be conscious and active actors.

Some inconsistencies:
– How did society decay that fast, so that Max who was a cop before the apocalypse would be 40 or less? There would have been barely enough time to grow a generation up in the new religion that had formed.
– Is there anywhere in the world that you can drive for 160 days and not hit ocean? Even going from Kamchatka to Lisbon is only 9427km, which is a leisurely pace of <60km/day. Those must be some slow motorbikes. (Also, there's no way you could carry enough to sustain you for 160 days on a motorbike.) You could almost walk across Australia in 160 days. At 5 hours/day at 5km/hour, you could do the 4000km in 160 days. Maybe they meant 16 days? - How did no one ever run out of gas in that movie? - If the huddled masses are fighting over that much water, how often must it be released? (Also, what a waste, to throw it down into the dirt, rather than handing it out...Perhaps the warlord had just come into his power?) - How did they do the test for blood type? (Thinking about it, it's a pretty simple coagulation test.) - How would a warlord not leave any defenses? Relying on fear that much?

BOF VI: The Chemist in me:

UPDATE: to address tormuse’s comments below.

This discussion came out of a comment I made about the usage of ‘cis’ to refer to people whose gender identity is more matching with their gender assigned at birth*.

I said:

“The chemist in me is glad that this word is being used in this way. :)”

And DM replied, asking about the ‘difference between Cis–trans isomerism and chirality’.

Not knowing if this was a serious question, and not wanting to derail a trans- issue conversation with chemical pedantry, I’m putting my answer in this blog post:

Don’t know if this is a serious question, but I’ll bite. Cis/Trans isomerism (generally) has to do with two Carbons connected by a double bond, with different things at R1/R2/R3/R4.:

R1     R3
  \   /
  /   \
R2     R4

R1     R4
  \   /
  /   \
R2     R3

These two molecules have the same chemical composition, but because the C=C bond is rigid and does not rotate, they can have different chemical properties.

Chirality is a little bit more difficult to explain using 2-D ASCII Art, but basically:


(With r4 at the back, behind the C, with R1/R2/R3 sticking out slightly from the page. #limitationsof2d)

Contrast with:


Which is a non-superimposable mirror image in 3-D. Even if R1/R2/R3 rotate around the r4 axis, they two molecules will never have exactly the same chemical characteristics (cf. Thalidomide)

*I’m sure I’m using some of these words incorrectly or imprecisely. Please comment to correct me!

Poolrad Savegames

This is an .ods of my knowledge of Pool of Radiance Savegames when I started playing this iteration. This knowledge may evolve as I get further into the game and my characters gain more experience:


This is the .html for those of you for whom a .ods is…well…odious. 😀


Interesting notes:
– There are a bunch of parts of this file I have no idea what they are. Hopefully as I play, differences will show up and be obvious.
– The game designers seem to have included more races and classes than originally thought, though not fully implemented. Druid, Paladin, Ranger, Bard all seem to be present. Half-orc also makes a brief appearance
– Many of the attributes (think saving throws) were implemented up to level 10.
– There seems to be a hard limit of 21 memorized spells
– Casting seems to be based on what the character had memorized. Memorization seems to be based on class levels, not stated classes
– Many other smaller comments are included in the spreadsheet. Take a look!

Also, I just learned the Ctrl-F5 DosBox Auto-screenshot! This is the last piece I needed (aside from a good WordPress photo gallery)!

Let me know what you think.


Pool of Radiance. The name conjures up that magical time, when you opened your first ever PC game as a christmas present. That magical time when you were still figuring out how games worked, and min/maxing was not something you did as easily as breathing.

My parents were kind enough to get me Pool of Radiance and Curse of the Azure Bonds as a Christmas present probably in 1990 (when the third game in the series, Secret of the Silver Blades came out), and I immediately set out to play probably for the rest of the holidays. I remember making my first journey with a lead character with the same name as myself. It was incredibly jarring to have the game tell you that you have died when it’s using your name. I quickly restarted with my name reversed. (This has been my online handle ever since.)

My first party was FFFCMT, all human, complete with names out of legend: Arnold, Conan, Merlin, some names not quite so famous: Keef, and some you have probably never heard of: Nayrb, Bogarth. (Zigomar was a late arrival to the party, probably in Curse or Secret.)

We ran through the game, confused by the pyramid, missing all kinds of things, and eventually meeting and conquering the big bad after the big reveal.

I have so many nostalgic memories of this. Figuring out how the Manual of bodily health worked, mostly by accident, maybe thinking that waiting would work if my character was ‘reading’. Then also accidentally discovering that regeneration was possible for my characters, stumbling around Valjevo castle with only that character at close to full health.

Being endlessly confused by the pyramid, possibly until I prevailed on my dad to take me shopping at the computer store where I chanced upon the Clue Book! (I still have it on my shelf, with some of the same notes in it.)

Pool of Radiance was the first game I cracked. (I think I couldn’t find the code wheel, although I still remember the codes for ‘BEWARE’ and ‘TEMPLE’, with the ..- and strange Leo-constellation-like figure.) I did it by the simple expedient of hexediting zeroes over the part directly after where the game asked for the code. I have no idea why this worked.

It was also the first game where I hex-edited characters (I think). This will be important later.

All this is as a long-winded way to say that this is the final playthrough, to finally make right by the Forgotten Realms, to complete the original Gold Box four once and for all with the same characters.

Some rules I set for myself:

Since the point of this runthrough is to make it through all 4 of the original gold box games (Pool of Radiance, Curse of the Azure Bonds, Secret of the Silver Blades, and Pools of Darkness), and most importantly the final battle in PoD…

The characters can be edited for attributes and class.

The plan is to have them edited to 25/25/25/25/19*/25. I don’t think all of these work properly (the spell immunities for Int/Wis >19 for sure don’t), but the large amount of fighting in the game is much more bearable this way.

*This is so I can copy Manuals of Bodily Health, and gain regeneration for each of them. My experience is that regeneration, at least in PoolRad is not exactly correctly handled, but science will have to be done.

I’m currently only planning to copy the Manual of Bodily Health, as well as spell scrolls. (The first because regeneration is so much easier (and cooler!) than healing, especially in PoolRad, before FIX, the second is because it makes more game sense to be able to copy scrolls between characters.)

I won’t be using cheats like “give all your gems and jewlery to an NPC, then kill them”, or “restart to get lots of gold” or “restart to make the initial quests easier again”. I’ll also try not to copy the dust of disappearance in Curse. (I discovered the item copy cheat first in Curse by accident when removing and adding characters to my party. I think I had been restarting to get a LS+3, Frostbrand for each of my characters when I discovered it.)

(I also tried ‘long sword + 100’ while doing Death knights of Krynn, just because the half-damage-from-swords skeletal knights were so annoying. A fun reversal of this was ‘The Summoning’, which had weapons break if they did too much damage, so that if you hex edited the damage of one of your weapons, it would just break.)

Other than that, I’m not planning to copy items. I may or may not cheat to bring my items through Limbo. We’ll see how the large bits of Moander are.

One last thing. I always found it constraining that you couldn’t be more classes at once, or that you had to have such low levels. I’ve done some experimentation, and it seems that race and class are saved separately in the savegames for all four games.

(Interestingly, the PoolRad savegame (which I will cover fully next post) has one hex for class, and 4+ others for level in each class. So, you can be a Fighter/Mage/Thief with Cleric levels. I’m not sure exactly which skills are dictated by each of these. Again, science. The other games seem to have these totally independent, probably because it was easier than dictating all of the many options with Ranger being added to the mix.)