Marlow Briggs EP10: Marlow Briggs and the Wheels that Make Total Sense

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Aug 27, 2014

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 62 comments

Link (YouTube)

So I guess we’re talking about the 90’s today. Earlier we were talking about my DOOM 2 mods. And now in this episode we talked about the 10,000 Maniacs concert I went to in 1992, and the time I went to see Stargate in theaters. (1994.)


In 1992, 10,000 maniacs were touring to go with the release of their album Our Time in Eden. They played at Slippery Rock, the college my girlfriend Heather attended Also, both of my parents went to Slippery Rock, and that’s how they met. Both of Heather’s parents went there, and met there. Also my sister went there, although she didn’t find her husband. During the concert – right in the middle of their set – this guy screams out at the top of his lungs, “GOD LOVES YOU NATALIE!” (Meaning lead singer Natalie Merchant.)

“What?” she shouted back. She was about to launch into her next song, but apparently she felt like she needed to sort this guy out first.


There was this long silence. She looked at her fellow band members. She still wasn’t hearing him. Finally she took a guess, “Can I juggle?” She shrugged. “Not really.”

There was a pause. The guy in the back didn’t have anymore theological advice for her to misinterpret, so they started playing the next song.

That’s the largest group of people I’ve ever shared a really awkward moment with.

You know how I’m always analyzing plots and nitpicking and demanding that storytellers know what they’re trying to say? Obviously I wasn’t like that as a kid. If I saw a movie and it had lasers in it, then it was awesome. I think Stargate is the turning point. It’s the first time I walked out of a theater and I knew why I didn’t like a movie.

(Can’t remember any of it now, of course. I guess I thought the bit where James Spader figured out how to speak ancient Egyptian in the space of ten minutes was pretty dumb.)

In any case, I think it’s clear we are completely out of things to say about Marlow Briggs and the Whatever of Bullshit Thing.



[1] Also, both of my parents went to Slippery Rock, and that’s how they met. Both of Heather’s parents went there, and met there. Also my sister went there, although she didn’t find her husband.

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62 thoughts on “Marlow Briggs EP10: Marlow Briggs and the Wheels that Make Total Sense

  1. Will Riker says:

    I agree Stargate’s kindof a crappy movie, but I don’t understand this:

    “I guess I thought the bit where James Spader figured out how to speak ancient Egyption in the space of ten minutes was pretty dumb.”

    James Spader(‘s character) was brought in specifically because he was an expert in ancient Egyptian language and culture.

    1. Shamus says:

      I have no idea. I’m just recalling what I thought at the time.

      1. If you’re a fan of continuity, I think you’d like Stargate SG-1. It’s one of the few sci-fi TV series that had humans encounter weird tech and actually try to use whatever doesn’t get blown up when fighting the bad guys.

        In a nutshell: The series starts out with the reactivation of the Stargate after one of the System Lords (main baddies) activates ours and kills/abducts the Air Force personnel guarding it. After many seasons, the Air Force has reverse-engineered enough tech to have their own spaceship with hyperdrive.

        On the down side, the series starts out trying to have the Jaffa (the warrior dudes for the bad guys) wear helmets that look like the CGI ones in the films without using CGI. They’re abandoned not too long after.

        1. Erik says:

          That’s the weirdest reason i’ve ever heard for recommending something. “Because you like continuity” .

          Don’t get me wrong, SG-1 is an awesome show. I just thought there’d be better reasons to recommend it :)

          1. Grudgeal says:

            It’s what keeps Jim Butcher’s fandom going, mostly.

            1. Me-yow!

              As opposed to George RR Martin’s or… just about any other long-running series of novels?

          2. There are other things, but I’ve noticed Shamus’ dislike of plot holes. It’s got a great cast and some fine actors, it’s genre-savvy without being slapstick about it, and it tries to make a nod towards an ongoing mythology as well as changes to the characters themselves.

            This is in stark contrast to shows like Star Trek (pick any) where continuity and coherence over several episodes is a concept more alien than the “forehead of the week” beings. Note: Anyone who claims DS-9 had continuity had better be ready to defend itself against someone who watched Babylon-5 when both shows were airing in syndication on their initial runs, and it was pretty obvious which was aping the other. In the end, DS-9 tried to wrap things up, but it took cancellation for them to get their butts in gear and do something like that instead of having the run-of-the-mill episodic threat from yet another script submitted by a new writer.

      2. RCN says:

        Daniel was the first linguist actually represented in a movie, and figuring out languages is literally a linguist’s job. They figured out the likely structure of the hindo-european language despite no written records existing in the whole world. Heck, despite enterprise’s many, many flaws, at least they copied Stargate and had a linguist in the crew, since they didn’t have their magic universal translator yet.

    2. silver Harloe says:

      “They’re constellations”
      “But it still took us another month to figure out that the ONE symbol on the whole ring that isn’t a constellation might be the key to using it”

      Given the context of the movie alone: why the f. are aliens making a gate which uses Earth constellations as the digits of their codes?
      Given the context of the series: why are the constellations even vaguely recognizable, given that the Ancients (who were from Earth, so that part’s fine) were around millions of years ago?

      Other than that, Shamus was just wrong. It was a good movie :)
      (that’s a joke, people. I know that quality of art is an opinion-based subject, and that opinions vary)

      1. Muspel says:

        IIRC, the constellations were Earth constellations because the gate was built to be used on Earth. The gate on the alien planet had different symbols that presumably matched its constellations. (Also, within the lore, Earth was one of the first two planets that the Ancients colonized.)

        As for why the constellations were the same… it’s very possible that the Ancients designed the gates to update the glyphs over time, since they built their technology to last. I would guess that once you’ve built something that can bore a hole through spacetime, it’s relatively simple to have it update its character set once every few thousand years. Or maybe the Goa’uld updated the glyphs, since they were on the planet far more recently.

        EDIT: From digging through the wiki, it says that the Ancients came back to Earth in 8,000 BC, at which point they also might have updated the Stargate.

        1. HiEv says:

          The gates don’t update their hieroglyphs. This was, in fact, kind of a plot point in one episode, where a stargate dialing code didn’t work because the star had moved too far since the gate system was implemented. They managed to open it after tweaking the code to point to the star’s current position.

          1. Klay F. says:

            IIRC the episode you are talking about: The reason the gate couldn’t connect was because of an oversight in the gate dialing code. The Earth gate never had a dialing device, so stargate command had to make one from scratch. It was simply a design oversight by the people who coded the dialing program, which is later fixed. The original dialing devices built by the Ancients actually do take into account stellar drift.

            Granted this has absolutely nothing to do with the movie. The TV show had to do a lot of handwaving to fix Roland Emmerich’s stupidity.

            1. Emmerich has apparently been given the go-ahead to reboot Stargate as the trilogy he wanted to do in the first place.

              He also said the TV show was not where he wanted to take the story, so fans of the show(s) can take heart in that, I guess.

              That said, the film wasn’t too bad, especially compared to his later movies. I also liked the fact that the people on the planet Abydos don’t speak English. On a side note, the fact that the aliens used humans as slaves at least gave a reason for the galaxy to be teeming with humans.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                “That said, the film wasn't too bad, especially compared to his later movies.”

                This.Im really surprised by all the hate towards this movie,when its science is way more solid than that of many other sci fi.Of course its easy to poke holes in it,but in this one it seems like they at least tried to be more on the hard side of sf.

                1. Klay F. says:

                  I don’t have anything in particular against the movie. I saw it for the first time as a child, loved it almost as much as Star Wars. 15 or so years later though, Star Wars (the original) still holds up for me, and I can recognize Stargate for what it is: A big dumb fun time.

                  It also qualifies as Roland Emmerich’s smartest movie (damning with faint praise, I know).

            2. Gotta be a Stargate nerd… :)

              The Earth’s Alpha Gate (the one in Stargate Command) did once have a Dial Home Device, but it was taken from Giza by the Nazis during WWII, eventually finding its way into the hands of the Russians.

              A Beta Gate found in Antarctica (or there was. It’s complicated and spans several episodes) also came with a DHD, but whatever powers it is spent, so right now (as far as is known) the only working DHD is the computers at Cheyenne Mountain.

              1. Klay F. says:

                Haha okay I did not know the DHD was taken by the nazis of all people. Somehow I was under the impression that the DHD the Russians had came from Antarctica along with the gate.

                1. I thought that, too, but it’s really kind of convoluted. There’s the Alpha Gate (from the movie) and the Beta Gate (from the arctic). I didn’t pay too much attention to the history, but I believe I saw in the wiki that the Alpha was taken off-planet at some point and fell into the ocean, where the Russians got it. Later, I think the Russians also got the Beta Gate, though I recall an Earthbound illuminati-type group called The Trust getting a hold of one as well.

                  That’s what 200 or so episodes will get you, I suppose. :)

    3. HiEv says:

      The problem is that the ancient Egyptian language is a dead language. Nobody knows how to speak it. Furthermore, ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs are not phonetic, with the exception of names, which are placed in cartouches (ovals with a line on one side, the line indicating the direction it should be read) to separate them from the rest of the pictographic text. There is simply no way to take written ancient Egyptian and turn it into a speakable language, no matter how much of an expert you are on the subject.

      Young Shamus was quite correct in thinking that it was dumb.

      1. Will Riker says:

        That’s completely incorrect. Hieroglyphs were used phonetically in some situations, and their phonetic values are well known. However, they only represented consonant sounds (similar to Arabic or Hebrew, which derived ultimately from Egyptian writing), so while we know the consonant values, the vowels are less clear. However, there has been work to reconstruct the vowel sounds as well. Some of that work was actually *used* on the Stargate movie–the Abydosians aren’t speaking gibberish, they’re actually speaking our best guess at what the Egyptian language actually sounded like 3000-4000 years ago.

        1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

          I seem to recall that’s exactly what Jackson says when they ask him how he learned the language “I just had to learn the vowels.”

          1. Here’s more information on that (and it mentions Stargate as well), which I found after seeing this intriguing post about how linguists can suss out pronunciations in dead languages. I’d almost think those methods could be used in a Tomb Raider game or something similar to unlock something and make you feel like an archaeologist.

      2. Jonathan says:

        I recall having the impression at the time that Daniel Jackson’s time in the Sarcophagus included having the language uploaded into his brain.

      3. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Unless you are in the presence of someone who does speak it,and who can slowly teach you what each symbol sounds like.Youll pretty quickly cobble a few simple sentences like that,which is what he does in the movie.That is,before the whole thing gets uploaded into his brain,like Jonathan mentioned.

    4. Henson says:

      I actually like the Stargate movie, quite a lot. It’s much like Star Wars: the science isn’t really that important, it’s all about the adventure and the people you’re adventuring with. Without being stupid about it. Which I don’t think it is (and for a Roland Emmerich film, that’s pretty darn good).

      I don’t think I would like it half as much without Spader and Russell, though.

      1. Alex says:

        I’m actually with you on that. I really liked the SG movie when I was a kid and can enjoy it okay now. Hilariously I kinda thought the show was Boring, dry, and felt fairly low grade(I know for a TV show of the Time the production values were pretty high). Tried to watch Atlantis… got a season in and stopped caring. I liked Atlantis the most, I think, because it kinda accepted a bit of silliness. Then SGU came out and that killed any interest in the franchise for me.

        1. I liked SGU, especially given the demands put on the show (make it cheaper, use unknown actors, etc.). It was setting up an intriguing aspect of the Ancients and what they were up to when MGM pulled the plug.

      2. Humanoid says:

        Explains why I dislike both properties I guess. :P

    5. Blake says:

      To Ruts saying he could never have Stargate, I’m actually going to say it’s still worth trying.
      A few things will seem a bit dated but most of it still holds up quite well.

      I personally don’t think of the show as one of those ‘you had to be there’ types of things.

  2. Tychoxi says:

    Ah! So Natalie Merchant was in this band, huh? I only know her from her solo career.

  3. Matthew Melange says:

    It’s nice that the last level was about water and this level is about water wheels because you can say that the last level is water under the Briggs.

  4. krellen says:

    The only concerts I have ever been to were the Righteous Brothers and Weird Al (twice). I did get to see Weird Al perform Albuquerque in Albuquerque, however, so that was pretty awesome.

    (One guy in the audience didn’t know the song, and was literally the only person in the entire theatre that went “No, we’re out of bearclaws!” before the clerk went to check (we’d been doing an audience response bit there before that).)

    1. Tizzy says:

      I have been to MANY concerts in my life. For a while in my 20s, I pretty much considered that going to concert was the whole point of my existence. Much later, I finally got to see Weird Al.

      Weird Al has to be one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to, even though the one I saw was a sit-down one. He mentioned in a recent interview that he really prefers standing audiences, but few of his concerts are like that, unfortunately.

      His band rocks. They are famously good musicians in their own right, so it’s not that surprising that they sound good in studio, but these guys are not afraid to bring it onstage as well.

      I can’t wait to go back.

    2. Will Riker says:

      I saw Weird Al in Albuquerque and was extremely disappointed that he DIDN’T play Albuquerque at that concert.

      1. krellen says:

        Well, clearly you didn’t cheer enough for an encore then.

        Or it was one of the tours he didn’t do it (it wears him out so he doesn’t like doing it a lot). I’m pretty sure the performance I saw (during his Running With Scissors tour) was the first time he’d ever performed it live.

        1. Now if he’d only finish/officially record this song that (as far as I know) was only performed live.

          He also had a really great “food medley” that included a few lines from his food-related songs interspersed with new ones (i.e. Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love/Lunch”) that I wouldn’t mind hearing.

    3. I saw Weird Al during his “Even Worse” tour, when he played at a kind of community center building in Columbia, Missouri. His jokes about being disappointed in the venue seemed a little more biting than usual, and we agreed with him. :)

      He’s amazing to see in person no matter where he performs. About the only thing that could disappoint at one of his concerts is the opening comedy act (one we saw was just awful, but then again, we weren’t there for him).

  5. Decius says:

    Regarding that .wad:

    Had you seen prior cases where the start of one level was identical with the last room of the prior one? I remember being floored that Half-Life not only had that overlap between levels, but remembered your position in that room (rather than putting you generically ‘in front of the button’.

    1. ET says:

      The first Soul Reaver did one better, and had no loading times. Just one big world where you wandered around doing stuff. Too bad new games don’t try to do this. :S

  6. TMTVL says:

    Regarding Rutskarn’s comment about “cinematic” games, I feel like Devil May Cry (or at least DMC3) gave you the tools to do a lot of cool stuff.

    Oni (by Bungie) too, but they usually didn’t give you enough enemies at a time, aside from the siege chapters.

    1. IFS says:

      I’ll second DMC3 for being good at this, I’d also like to add the Uncharted series. The games have a well deserved reputation for being cinematic and while they are very linear they do still go out of their way to provide numerous options for the player. I still remember the excitement I felt when I managed to successfully stealth through a couple train cars in Uncharted 2 by yanking guards out of windows and running across the roof and so on.

      1. Thomas says:

        I think Uncharted is a little too artifical in its set ips for ruts. I really dug how their train levels actually put you on a train though, with it obviously moving and affectingeverything with the swaying. That made it feel a lot more naturally cinematic than a normal train level

  7. hborrgg says:

    Still not a real scythe. The blade needs to be angled so that it stays parallel to the ground when you swing it. Also it should be much lighter.

    1. Thomas says:

      And not have 3 spikes instead of one blade

      1. Hitch says:

        He’s talking about the “real” scythe on the statue which disappointingly never came to life to attack Josh.

  8. hborrgg says:

    “Ancient Egyption”

    I dont now if that typo was intentional, but if it wasn’t then it still totally works.

  9. Tizzy says:

    I wonder: Has Rutskarn considered whether the fact that Marlow Briggs looks dead inside has to do with the fact that Marlow Briggs is dead inside?

  10. HeroOfHyla says:

    I think Chris and I might secretly be the same person. The only concerts I’ve been to are a Weird Al concert, They Might Be Giants with Coulton opening, and a Weezer concert at a state fair that my friend dragged me to. At the TMBG concert, they commented on how old everyone in Tucson was, and there was a minor flub on the lyrics of Old Pine Box.

  11. Bloodsquirrel says:

    So, to anyone who’s actually played this game, is the combat actually any fun?

    It really just looks boring to me. Like a lot of button mashing against skythe sponges.

    1. Thearpox says:

      The best part about this series is that Josh never actually checked the combo trainer, which lists all the combos in the game.

      So I don’t think watching drunk Josh is representative on whether the game is fun to play.

      1. Bloodsquirrel says:

        I’ve found that the combo systems in these kinds of games are often pretty button mashy themselves.

        It doesn’t really look a whole lot like Josh has to react to what the enemies are doing- just mash attack buttons at them until they die.

        1. Thearpox says:

          Allow me to raise my hand and shout: “Oooh, I don’t know!”

          Albeit I think TotalBiscuit did a WTF on this game, so you can check that out if you want.

    2. Klay F. says:

      Its a God of War clone, but without the marginally interesting enemies that partially mask the godawful gameplay.

      Virtually the only thing the game has going for it is the banter between the protagonist and the mask, something which is beyond pointless in a Spoiler Warning playthrough.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        And the skythe.Oh the glorious skythe.Its just so out of this world.

        1. Klay F. says:

          Honestly, I have the feeling that my sense of what constitutes reasonable weaponry has been irreparably warped by my years of playing videogames, and as such the skythe strikes me as pretty tame by gaming standards.

    3. Cybron says:

      I haven’t played, but I have been informed by friends (who bought when it was on sale for a dollar) that it’s pretty good if you actually learn the combos and stuff.

      Given that I haven’t bought it I clearly am not fully trusting of that recommendation though.

  12. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Say what you will about stargate,but it has aliens that dont automatically speak english.That alone puts it way above every other movie that has extra terrestrials in it.

    1. syal says:

      I guess that puts it right up there with Battleship, huh?

    2. RCN says:

      As a language major I now respect that movie much more than I did at the first time I watched it. Too bad the series literally forgot this by the second episode…

      I mean, in the first episode they needed Daniel to speak with the locals of their first site. Then they get captured and everyone around them suddenly speak English. Except for the Goa’uld who do have their language, and a few other aliens, but that’s peanuts compared how all humans in the galaxy know how to speak a language that was developed thousands of years after their ancestors were enslaved.

      Not that it is the worst offender. Outright ignoring language barriers is an old, old trope. It’s not nearly as bad as when they actually acknowledge it… And then proceed to completely murder the field of linguistics trying to handwave it away, like in Disney’s Atlantis: “oh this ancient atlantean language is probably a root language of French, which means it must be a root language of Latin, meaning it is a root language of English! So of course they MUST understand English!” It is actually impossible to pinpoint what’s the most stupid single point of that rationale…

  13. Jack V says:

    That's the largest group of people I've ever shared a really awkward moment with.


    You know how I'm always analyzing plots and nitpicking and demanding that storytellers know what they're trying to say? Obviously I wasn't like that as a kid. If I saw a movie and it had lasers in it, then it was awesome.

    :) Come to think of it, people are still like that as grown-ups, but about different things. People studying the history of film are really excited by the first film that used some new narrative convention (Citizen Kane?) whether the plot is great or not. If you’ve never seen a film with major characters the same race/sex/sexual-orientation/etc as you, it’s really exciting when you see one, whether it’s that good or not. Lots of books are famous for being the book about X, which is mindblowing if you’ve never been introduced to X. But when you’re 10, most films have stories which are a bit incomprehensible, but are awesome if they have awesome individual scenes. But when you’re 40, you’ve seen a LOT of lasers, and are looking for films trying to do something more…

  14. There are so many moments where this game feels like it was made by guys who watch Spoiler Warning or at least have the same sensibilities. It kinda sabotages the show a little to be honest since the game makes fun of itself just as much as you guys.

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