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On the subject of self distribution. While he may have been able to handle the sundance situation a bit better, I think its the right direction to move in.

I've always thought that films are generally way too over marketed selling the film to the point where it can even be off putting. And that totally ignores the fact that marketers are so bloody stupid nowadays, they think the best way to sell a film is to give away the entire story in the trailer, do bad 'heads in space' posters and market to Beer Swilling Superbowl Fans. And to think this was all set in motion by one of the best summer blockbusters ever, JAWS.

Look at four big 'out of nowhere' high earners, The Matrix, True Grit, Social Network and Inception. Nobody thought these films would be the respective successes they were (everybody thought they would do 'well', but not that well.) And they generally refused to follow modern marketing rules. Even in their most telling trailers, they kept the greater parts of the story to themselves. This mystery drove the intrigue which helped fuel the success of these movies. These movies succeeded because they didn't go down a typical marketing route. Mind you, it was typical in almost every other respect, but this single shirking of convention is what helped boost their audience appeal.

Smith is the next logical step on this path. Those previous films dropped one aspect of the conventional marketing plan, so he'll slough off the entire system entirely.It will probably mean disaster for him, financially, though, but it will definitely start a movement away from overly costly marketing.

But that's just how it is. The first man to cross the desert is usually the first man to die of thirst.

As for his comments an online critics. I've long held those sentiments before he said them aloud. Modern movie journalism blogs are so terribly yellow (biased and sold out, not cowardly) I tend to get jaundice reading stuff like collider and Badass Digest. Most online critics are so pompous and highly self absorbed with regards to their opinions, that any considerations of their validity comes into question. These people rarely ever actually provide an objective argument for why a film is good or bad and become so inundated with their own personal history, problems, expectations and subjectivity that reviews on these sites tend to be more an exploration of the character of the reviewer as opposed to a review of the film. They also tend to be so horribly biased that if something does not match their exact expectations of a film, they completely and utterly loath it. There is no grey area where a film can be flawed and good. Its just black and white. Look at Devin Faraci. The man is so arrogant and biased that when he decided to compare Alien to Aliens and found Aliens better (a sentiment i share) he then went on to rant (a real rant, unlike smith supposed one at Sundance) about how awful the sequel is and how there is not a single redeeming aspect about it (which is frankly, a load of shit). And I expected this because, for some reason, Faraci utterly loathes Cameron and everything he does. Whenever he talks about him, he shows no respect at all and actually questions his integrity as a filmmaker and his character. He's done this before to Smith, as have many other bloggers. So why should I listen to anyone who is so filled with misplaced hatred and bile that they tend to attack people whose views don't match their opinions?

I am one of the few people who personally liked cop out, despite the script issues. I have no expectations of any movie when I see it and actually wasn't looking for a comedy or parody in it. I find myself able to appreciate it more if I consider the film more of a satire that points out the logical fallacies of 80s buddy cop films as opposed to just making fun of them. My problems with the movie come from Smith not properly making Brooklyn as much a character in the film as Morgan and Willis.

Review: The Island directed by Michael Bay

 I'm going to say this once and only once. I generally don't have a great amount of enthusiasm for what Michael Bay puts out. Nothing against the man, as I do not know him and can not judge his character, but I find that I just don't like or appreciate the films he makes. They are flashy and often nearly seizure inducing in their editing, and often have some very nice effects, but the absolute lack of a coherent story makes me just stop watching.

The most entertaining films he put out to date are the Transformers Movies and the Island. The first transformers movie is pretty good. It's flashy, goofy and has basic story about Robots fighting. Revenge of the Fallen had much better cinematography, fairly convincing effects and some pretty amazing design for a few of the robots. However an almost non existent story and some extremely bad cinematography decisions (the robots look as if they have no size or heft a lot of time, mostly because they are shot from a downward angle minimizing their presence to an almost insignificant level. It ends up feeling like a regular sized robot walking around a miniature set rather than a giant metal behemoth lumbering around the world. This also probably comes from the a lack of human to robot relative scale for the viewer)

But I will say this; of all the films Mr Bay has churned out, most end up being successful and I respect him for knowing what the public wants and generally catering to that need. He fills the gap for stupid action, and though I generally don't like what he puts out, Other people seem to like it and more power to him for it.

Now, on to the review of the Island. The Island represents the one true rarity of Bay's filmography; It is a truly good movie.

What really catches you in this film is that rather than give you some stupid exposition and throwing you directly into the action, Bay builds the world and internal motivations of the surprisingly complex character (for his films) and the intelligent but ultimately naive love interest. It's a surprisingly slow start for one of his films. When the conceit of the film is realized, and the chase part of the film begins, we are well into the films running time. Even then, it still takes extensive pauses to show you the workings of the world of the future (visually, not through exposition.)

A lot of critics say this is where the film devolves into nothing but another bland sci fi chase scene. But the interesting thing here is that there is not brief moment of rest before they have to start running. Instead there is constant escape and success. A chase is always insinuated by the actions of another or the naivete of the protagonists rather than the bad guy just showing up and chasing them again. There is always a reasonable reason for why they are caught and then hunted again. 

The film's story is well plotted, well structured and well thought out. Characters are decent throughout in terms of depth and characterization.

The battles and chases are convincing, while still marked by Bay's showy style. The faster and more dangerous the scenario, the quicker and sketchier the editing and so one. One really amazing chase pitched chase scene is mind numbingly fast.

I'm starting to get sketchy In my description, So I'm going to boil this down. the movie has a good story, good characters, good near future sci fi elements, good art design, decent dialogue, respectable characterization and a fairly satisfying finish. It's a good movie, both intrinsically and structurally. 

Two points about this film bothers me, though. The first is the random and out of place product placement in the movie, which makes some pretty broad assumptions which brands will still be around in the future and some were simply out of date even before the movie came out (the xbox one to be precise) which means they could have thought it out better. 

The other bothersome aspect of this movie is the naivete of the characters. I understand Lincoln and his extreme level of childishness when it comes to interacting in the real world and his growing level of frustration and subversive, rebellious behavior within the clone compound. It is also interesting to muse about the first free thinker in the community insinuating subversive thought and questions throughout the course of the film. The story is very much a bildungsroman in that sense as he goes from precocious child to adult over the course of the film. It is also, interestingly a story about how a character becomes more and more jaded by reality and his vision of perfection narrows and ultimately wavers.

But man is the girl overloading on the naivete. She is so trusting and so unassuming of the world around her that she borderlines on presenting herself as stupid to the audience. It takes a long time for her to basically understand the concept of deception, but the concept of uncertainty and doubt seems to clear that problem up like acne (Bay: don't worry about her, Ewen, she just got a bad case of the stupid, but that should come right off after seeing how fucked up the real world is). She then becomes as ruthless a schemer and thinker as her male counterpart.

Now, if my incoherent thoughts on the film lead to some minor brain bleeding. I do apologize. The breakdown is this;
8.5/10 Great movie. not a classic, but will stick with you for a little while. You can pick it up pretty cheap nowadays, I recommend that you do.

Writing

 I deeply wish to become a Science Fiction Writer and Film Director. Sound's like two separate things, I know but still.

I have written several short stories. But currently feel as if the last one is good enough to publish. It's about a robot race riot. Submitted it to Asimov, 'nuff said.

I have one about ecology, another about crime

I'm also working on a book. It's an Antithesis to the overused idea of world building.
God I hate that term. It lets SF fans get away with excusing a crappy SF book for it's rather rote, cliche, awful or predictable story. It's like if it's sufficiently detailed, it gets a free pass critically. Listen, just because the world is very pretty when described in words, doesn't make it a good story. And just because a book is as descriptive as dune, doesn't make it as good either.

So my idea is to have a wonderfully textured world described in the first quarter of the story. And then spend the rest of the novel pointing out flaws and defects and just tearing it apart critically, conceptually, philosophically and literally. And I would make that the part or driving force of the plot, aside from characterization, philosophical and technological arguments, and speculative technology and its impact .

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My Thoughts on Solaris and… Solaris.

Ah Solaris. That ever evasive and hard to define Science fiction movie from that Russian Film maker Tarkovsky. I want to put some of my thoughts on it.

First. The story is brilliant in its examination of self-destruction and loss. It plays with the emotionality of people in complex, complex situations with utmost reality.

Second. It’s a pretty decent science fiction film. It deals heavily on what is alien and how aliens communicate. There are interesting Ideas like the use of widescreen televisions and so forth. Furthermore, I feel that the master of long takes should have realized that a huge long take of the space station orbiting the planet Solaris would have been supremely emotionally effective.

The story is beautiful and wonderfully thought out in terms of plotting and emotional development. Its ending is frustrating in a good way. I also greatly laud the use of back story with goddamn flash backs. God Damn! How I hate flashbacks.

My main problem with the film itself comes from 3 primary areas. The first is the use of effects. For a science fiction film about a space station, you would have to assume that it would have at least a few more shots of the exterior of the space station or the planet. Also why are the windows on the space station just one colour. A star field or maybe just an image of the planet outside the window maybe. I don’t get the filmmaker’s insistence on avoiding any common realities of the film’s genre.

Secondly. There are some seriously non-diegetic elements to the sets in the film. I get the opening looking like the real world with a few science fiction elements. Hell, I even accept it. A lot of the film takes place in a wonderfully realized, if not fully explained space station. But the goddamn library? It’s some cheap looking 70’s wood paneled den for fuck sakes. I would at least assume there would be some focus on set continuity. I mean, you look out a door in that room and the rest of the space station is there. What on earth could possibly compel the director that that was the idea.

My third and most major problem with the film has to do with the editing. I recognize the artist’s insistence on long takes for emotional effect and it does work a lot of the time. However. There are elements that really bother me. The 10-minute car ride at the beginning of the movie. Extreme long takes that leave the boundaries of emotionality and become grating to watch. I feel about 10-20 minutes could have been shaved from the film to produce something exactly the same in terms of dramatic strength and much more powerful in terms of narrative flow and plot.

On to the remake of Solaris by Soderberg. I think this is an intrinsically better film. I mean, all the aspects that made this film (editing, acting, effects, art design story flow etc) is a step beyond the 1972 original and not in terms of CGI. It is a fundamentally better movie with far more relatable plot and better overall actors. I mean it’s hard to explain this. I like Soderberg’s remake far more than the tarkovsky original. Every aspect of this film is just better. However, the original sticks with you far more than the remake. It seems as if while the sequel is a better movie in every way, the nature of the original and the ideas it presents are far more important on a conceptual and philosophical level than the remake.

This forms a strange paradox. A remake that is far superior to its original counterpart, yet at the same time pales in comparison to its predecessor.

Hmm. I smell a brain aneurism coming on…

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I must warn anyone reading this that this is very weird so stay with me if they think it is interesting

I’ve been working and molding my writing style through the experience of writing itself. What I see is an interesting change and evolution in the design and building structure of my wordsmithing. What started as random aping of particular styles has led to an evolution of patterns (unique styles) in the flowing sea of my internal ideas and monologues.

My first submitted short story was a clear aping of Lovecraft and turn of the century per word payscale writing. Very descriptive, low on dialogue heavy on wordy explanations of even the most trite of events. It was rejected wholly and heartily. I can see why they rejected it now. It was stiff and uninteresting by today’s standards. The early SF was identified by a freedom of thought and concepts from the rigid standards of what was then Victorian era society (on both sides of the pond mind you). And by the end of this, the world had gotten up and moved onto the writing style now refered to as golden age science fiction. 

I went through all of the history of writing styles (golden age, new wave, stream of conciousness) and eventually came up a style of my own. I see it as a fusion of standard 3rd person close style and stream of consciousness. It probably has been done before but I personally like to call it streampunk or daydream storytelling. It is the description of narrative an extremely deep focus on personal thought and perception. As a result, while in the process of writing a narrative ploy, the events which transpires, what your reading becomes increasingly digressive from the straight series of events. Personal thoughts keep bleeding into the narrative as a person becomes increasingly distracted by their own personal thoughts, perception and memories. As they jump back into attention, the narrative ceases to become digressive and focuses once again on the narrative ploy. If their thoughts are pervasive and simply just peter out (IE ceases to be interesting), we leave it for what it is, constant internal rambling and instead just make a temporal schism, better known as a scene break (defined by the symbol # in manuscripts), and then simply jump back to the narrative. This concept of writing is based on two conceits: human consciousness is the cumulative total of all a person’s memories and experiences, thus everything we are defined by our past, personally of course, and  what we see reminds of something we’ve seen before, and everything we perceive (whether dictated by ourselves or our subconscious) is simply meant to engender or force a thought process or stream of conceptual thought.

This may lead to problems of its own in longer fiction, primarily the experience of writing by feel stilted as someone is doing something and then gets consequentially distracted by their own thoughts and perceptions, making the plot increasingly minor to the point where it is episodic bits background exposition between lengthier internal monologues cum musings. I should note that narrative structure will not always be thrown out in favour of a steady stream of internal thought but rather the thought itself will always be told in the context what is happening around her. Situation creates context, context relates to experience, experience’s teachings are questioned and examined, thus resulting in thought. Also, conversation would be incredibly integral as it acts as a primary mode of expression and articulation for the characters. Their words however would be blended with the conversation, creating a box conversation. Two sides are the individuals’ spoken conversations, batting ideas and topics around like some linguistic form of pong and then there is the unheard conversations, ones not spoken or fully known by the conversationalists counter or other but gleaned by them through body and facial expression (telepathy if need be).

What defines this as different from common SoC or 3rd person omniscient is that it is not a continuous stream of something thought based as the method of telling narrative or just narrative description interwoven with personal thought, but rather the narrative sparking digressive, yet still contextual to the plot (and even describing the plot through the intricate and, often times, transcendent pathways that are the natural flows of thought, understanding and examination) as a whole, sparks of thought and imagination. Giving insight to the characters, meaning to the action of the story and, better yet, depth to a singular, brief moment in which characters would be lost in thought.

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To Moviebob

 (this is the full version of a comment I made on Moviebob's blog recently. It concerns an irrational hatred of tyler perry. I dislike him as well but don't see the point of getting so up in arms about it

I'm gonna have to disagree with you there bob (about perry). In fact I really disagree with you. Here's why.

 

I refute the concept of the 'Hack' on the sole merit that a hack would not have the skills to pull off the shlock that tyler perry churns out. Do I like him? No. Is he a shitty director? yes, most definitely. Do i respect him based on the fact that no matter how half-assed he is as a filmmaker, that he IS the only one who is filling that void you say he is exploiting and is profiting for being a bit of a pioneer in african american family drama genre (no matter how much he may suck at it). Yes, I do!

 

It's not that he is a shameless exploiter of a cultural void. he is merely the only one filling that void. his stuff is bad and often shamefully paper thin in terms of characterization and believability. But I'm not gonna go frothing at the mouth like you whenever I hear his name.

 

Listen, to be an exploiter and a hack, he has to be compared to a peer (same subject matter) who is intrinsically and artistically better than him on every level. If there exists, at a point, a competitor that completely outshines him and he does nothing to improve his game because he is comfortable with his economic gross, then I will call him a hack.

 

A real hack is someone who exploits an emotional connection between the viewer and the subject matter of the film instead of actually relying on any substantial form of drama and even directorial skills, thus making them inherently parasitic when considered with the world of drama as a whole. M. Bay or Paul WS Anderson for example. or anyone who remakes a film and attempt to add nothing to the table that is intrinsically interesting (E.X Day the earth stood still. and the opposite (good remakes) being 12 monkeys (remake of La Jetee) and the 70s remake of invasion of the body snatchers with donald sutherland))

 

And this 'seems to have contempt for the audience and the genre' bull you pulled in your comment, I easily refute that. You don't know this man and can't accurately say much about his actual character. you merely dislike his work and, wether consciously aware of the fact or not, feel fit to demonize him in your eyes as punishment for not measuring up to your standards as a film goer. If that were the case with me, there would be dozens of directors I would call hacks.

 

There is no such thing as responsibility of the artist either. Rather, it is the presumptuousness and self entitled aspect of the viewer who expects everyone to bend and conform to their expectations of what something good is. Wether you are right or wrong in your assumptions of what good is of no concern to them or anyone else in the universe. they create solely for the purpose of creating something that is beautiful in their own eyes. If you choose to like them, then good for you and consequentially, him too. If not, oh well back to the drawing board.

 

Also, as another artist (i'm a fledgling Science Fiction writer and one day hope to be a film director too) I am going to say this as a creator to a critic with an actual lot of respect for you (creating a somewhat mind boggling notion of criticism of criticism). I respect your intelligence and understanding of your favorite things (games and movies primarily) and feel that you have some truly insightful things to say about them, especially video games. However I feel you approach the subject matter with a fair bit too much immaturity and anger to whatever displeases you. Rather than approach a matter with logic and reason or better yet, humor, you fly off the handle and spin into childish, incoherent rants about how much you hate them and how much they ruining everything for you and every one else. This alone destroys the credibility of your point and, unfortunately, you as well. Your attempts at sarcasm comes across as too cruel and hateful to get your point across. Listen, Yahtzee from Zero Punctuation is popular for a reason. As blatant, true and all encompassing his criticism is, it still is meant as a source of humor and subtle insight into the nature of games and their design instead of venting mindless anger and cruel judgement on another person. When you do it, you come across as just being mean.

 

I say this with the utmost respect, Bob. But please take my words to heart as someone who wants to see you improve as a critic and rise above the dreck of nerd corps you are surrounded by in the net.

YA fiction and homophobia

 This is taken from a post I made concerning this topic

http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2008/03/mind-meld-make-up-test-orson-scott-card-on-young-adult-fiction/index.html

 personally don't care. I believe literature, art and film of any nature or type needs to become exponentially more bizarre, sexual, violent, psychological etc. The whole idea of sensitivity in teens is manufactured delusions as part of our (i'm 19 and just leaving teenagehood) hormonal need to be the literal opposite of how adults percieve us. In reality we are nasty, inhuman, barely sentient masses of acne ridden flesh and organs. We need a big dose of shock and STFU to knock us out of our delusion and back into the real world. The longer we keep ourselves in our magical pixie land of high school and prepubescent politics, the harder it is to get out of it when we get old enough to do something with ourselves. And if books can get us out of our funk, more power to them.

Also, the limitation of content in YASF/F is a just another symptom of modern society's inherent need to coddle children and make them soft, weak lumps of flesh. And jsut for that, one day, i plan to write the most violent, psychologically and sexually disturbing YA novel ever (mmm. a children's equivalent of blood meridian), just as a response to this bullshit coddling society that made what ever i read (exeption being redwall and harry potter) boring from age 7-13.

This whole matter on Homosexuality and Card is irrelevant to the topic at hand, but i guess i should put in my two cents. Card's basic overall assumption that homosexuality is a sin is also wrong because it bases its foundation in the belief that it is a choice people make that goes against the will of god. See the concept is inherently wrong because homosexuality is not a choice, it is a predetermined factor of a person's being. essentially (it was scientifically discovered not too long ago, i read a paper on it in a scientific journal) there is a gay gene some people have that results in them being more attracted to members of the same sex. Thus to say homosexuality is sin is to say that it is a sin for a person to be who they are. its like saying having red hair or blue eyes or being well endowed is a sin.

The fact that card does not know this simple biological fact says alot about him as a science fiction writer and his relative familiarity of the 'science' part of the genre he prescribes to.

All in all, I feel bad for him. He is truly ignorant and really trapped in the clutches of a virulent, ignorant religion. the idea that you can follow the word of god from a man the mormons themselves call 'a teller of tall tales' (IE a LIAR) is almost as laughable as a religion based on a relatively terrible science fiction author (hubbard). And the fact that so much of mormonology is cribbed from freemasonry, a group that literally prides itself on being all inclusive and non judgemental, that a racist (they thought black people were evil whites cursed by god with 'marks of the traitor' seriously), prejudiced group such as the mormons even existing is beyond even me making a definitive negative statement on the matter. it literally leaves me speechless.

As for Card, if he is listening to a lowly canadian such as me, I hope that he in some degree takes what I am about to say to heart. I have no problem with believing in any form of faith or spirituality. But when you prescribe you life to the tenets of a dogma or organized religion, you limit yourself mentally, morally, and creatively. Please believe, as the son of a Catholic and a Agnostic, that religion is a limitation on the human mind and soul. It is a construct of man attempting to control other men with the fear an invisible omnipotent being. And seriously I don't think god in the infinite universe it created would seriously give a goddamn shit about some tiny remote planet with a tiny remote species where some of us decide that they like members of sex more than the opposite sex. I mean really? Do you really think that it is that important to him? Like he is standing over us, ignoring the rest of the entire universe, and getting pissed that a couple of people like getting it from another member of the same sex? REALLY?

 

 

 

Why do they hate sf so much

 The upper echelons of the literary criticism community often like to make disparaging comments about the science fiction genre. They boast widely on how the genre is often piecemeal in comparison to common fiction. They treat the genre like something that is the cultural equivalent of children's games. They often make untrue statements about the content and skill of the writing and akin it to trash romance novel.

Pointless criticism such as that really makes me irate. Science fiction is not a lower form of literature. Instead I argue that the metagenre is something transcendant of other genres. Modern and historical fiction is largely bound to the confines of the reality surrounding the chosen time period. Things can be used to break the limitations of setting but often end up freeing the genre up very little. These can be manipulating historical events (Angels and Demons), employing something called magical realism (which is fancy speak for doing shit that doesn't make any sense and getting away with it), employing light fantastical elements into the body of the work or pushing the limits of technology to build emotional and dramatic tension (antimatter in Angels and Demons). 

I can sum up their comments with one from a girl I knew in high school. "SciFi? Eww! Isn't that just, like, spaceships and lasers? That's stupid."

Science fiction, comparitively, is not actually bound to the limits of temporal continuity, historical accuracy, narrative structure or social limitations. Writers have the ability to concoct any scenario or society that can aide the emotional and narrative progress of the story. Essentially, the work is liberated from any and all creative limitations with exception of good taste.

In fact, I argue that many of the literati's most discussed works are in fact science fiction. Here are some clear examples

Ayn Rand's Atlus Shrugged: This book is so blatantly social SciFi that It makes 1984 look like a journal of historical events. The book follows multiple characters through the complete collapse of society due to burgeoning socialism and public laziness. The scientific discoveries and impacts on society are both socially believable

Gravity's Rainbow - Look at the genre cyberpunk and then this And i think you'll understand.

others are...
The road
Time travelers wife
anything from kurt vonnegut
the majority of micheal crichton
Dahlgren (i think... I really am not sure)

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Understanding the Future: Utopias

 People look at the world of tomorrow and seem to categorize it as being of  distinct types.

I will go through each type and try to assert why they are mostly implausible and a different approach to the subject matter.

The first type, Utopia, asserts itself as the ultimately positive outlook on the future. Everyone lives free, self fulfilling lives and never worries about anything. This sort of universe was utilized primarily by the 'first sf' writers of the late 19th and the early twentieth century. People back then saw the future in an infinitely positive viewpoint, full of wonder and discovery. The whole universe was ahead of them and they wanted to be the first to predict it. As World Wars drained the human spirit and the species' faith in itself, writers slowly adopted an ever increasing cynical view of the future and those who live in it. However it was the arrival of the A-bomb, Cold War, and Vietnam that broke the camel's back and writers optimism in a truly perfect future.

The inherent realization that such a vision is a pipe dream lies within the name of the universe alone. Utopia by its greek-latin linguistic heritage essentially means a place which does not exist. It is a pipe dream of the delusional and ever hopeful. Human nature is inherently chaotic and prone to destructive behavior. Essentially this means that if the chance for any form of violence, dissidence, cruelty, hatred or anger to exist, it simply will be. No matter how good the future is, husbands will still murder their wives, mothers will still abuse their children and rednecks will still get drunk and shoot each other while fishing. For a world to be perfect, humans would have to be, for lack of a better term, not human.

What I propose in response to the idea of the Utopia, the dream world, is something called the Eutopia. By its greek -latin origin, it approximately means Ideal world. The ideal world is a place where the problems of life and living with others and oneself is as minimized in as positive a way as possible with the removal of the inherent freedoms of being alive. This would be a world without poverty, disease, famine, widespread war, or oppression. You can't have a world without murderers, racists, fundamentalists and criminals. It is a simple impossibility due to the extent of human nature and cruelty. However a world can exist with these problems minimized as much as possible. The rise of useful social programs, permanently stable economies and widespread high quality subsidized healthcare are all steps to creating an Ideal world. This is a world nat will never be perfect, but will be far better than what we see around us today.

Testing, Testing 1, 2, 3

 Just checking to see if everything is working fine