12.30.2009

My New Hero

There is a gentleman (I assume it is a guy, anyway) on youtube that goes by the handle kalleanka71 that has given the world one of the greatest gift's imaginable. He has taken the theme songs from some of the best shows of the 80s and mashed them up with images from the original, non-shitty Star Wars films. I have made the A-team mashup the youtube spotlight, but check out his other videos, as well. They are all pure genius.

11.07.2009

Beep. Boop. Beep. Boop.

So on a recent outing to Target, I was surprised to see the first season of 24 on sale for thirteen bucks. I was a huge fan of the show when it first came out and have been wanting to go back to get this set despite the series going way off the deep end in the subsequent seasons. Thirteen dollars is about as good a deal as you are going to find on a six disc season set, so I snatched it up. Thus far, we've made it through the first two episodes and it has lived up to my memories. While there are instances of truly horrible forced exposition (Tony, we get it, you're fucking Nina and you're jealous that Jack fucked Nina, too), most of the writing feels pretty solid. It's got that Tom Clancy thriller kind of feel that I can never bring myself to read but usually love to watch. I have no plans to come back here and do a play by play of each episode, but the first two episodes reveal a couple of points I felt were worth mentioning that I know carry on throughout the season.

The first thing is the technology. Did anyone ever feel like you were watching an episode of the 1960s Batman series when they watched this show? I mean, seriously, I think Apple was inspired by 24 when they started designing the iphone. No matter what problem arises in the world of 24, you can bet your ass that "there's an app for that". The mobile scanner in the second episode kills me. "Switch from optical to magnetic." Wait, what? I can't pull out specific examples for the rest of the season, but I know they exist. If any really good ones crop up, I'll probably drop a post in.

The second thing I noticed is that CTU is probably the most disorganized bag of shit I've ever seen. Jack gives an order, no matter who he gives it to, and is greeted with questions and insubordination. What kind of shit is that? I don't even work for the government, but if my boss tells me to do something, I do not make him explain why. I do my job and move on. On a day when they think a presidential candidate is going to be assassinated, you can bet your ass that there will be no tolerance for little whiny shits. Not on 24, though. Jack spends far too much time explaining himself to his subordinates for my tastes. I understand it was a way to build up various red herrings over the course of a season, but I would have loved to have seen Jack bust Tony in the face and tell him to shut the fuck up. Just once.

Truth be told, though, 24 never excelled at storytelling. It excelled at delivering hollywood level action set pieces rife with tension and excellent gunplay. On that level, the first season seems to still hold up and from what I recall, the over-reliance on convoluted storytelling is what sunk the later seasons for me. This is especially true of the second season, which is some of the worst TV I have ever had to sit through. I will close with this, though; Mia Kirshner is fucking awesome in her small role at the beginning of the season. Hot, deadly and bad ass.

10.14.2009

Who Am I Here?

So I've been RSSing It Made My Day for awhile, now. It gives me little grins on a daily basis, but I read one today that just about killed me.

The Stepdads

Read 'em and win.

10.05.2009

Dollhouse - Season 2 - Episode One

So Dollhouse is back for round two, much to the shock and awe of many, including myself. Season One was hit or miss, to say the least and I was one of the many that would not have been surprised if the show'd gotten canceled. So it was with no small amount of trepidation and just a touch of excitement that I tuned in to see what Whedon and company had to offer for Dollhouse 2.0.

Vows maintains the psuedo-prostitute vibe that so dominated the first season, but it had the one element that was so terribly lacking through many of Season One's lesser episodes; actual character development. The directions they went with Saunders following the reveal that she is a doll were pretty inspired, I thought. The psychological implications of what they do to these people are trippy enough, but what would it be like to be fully aware that you are not, in the truest sense of the word, a real person? Her little mind games with Topher were hilarious and a tad creepy. At the same time, they were also terribly, terribly sad.

As for this week's engagement, the only thing remarkable about it to me was seeing Apollo with a British accent (apparently, his natural one). The accent and the silly shaggy hair do left me in a pretty constant state of WTF every time he was on screen. Other than that, I wasn't too into the undercover bit. I did, however, love the way it all wrapped up. Her going all Robocop 2 on everyone was reasonably awesome. Still, tucked away in the lackluster spy story was, again, some fairly interesting character development. The reveal that Ballard was actually a clent using Echo to nail the evil gun runner was only surpassed by Ballard's induction into the fraternity of handlers.

Echo's walls are breaking and I hope we see more of it as the season progresses. It's what I wanted out of the first season but never got. They topped the episode off with Echo and Saunders discussing her days as Whiskey, once again revealing more hints of darkness beneath Amy Acker's ever cute exterior. For some reason, seeing someone that sweet going native is always infinitely more frightening. Alan Tudyk as Alpha in the first season had the same effect on me. Loving the darkness, though. Bring it on. I'm ready.

9.21.2009

Wolverine

Seriously, I just don't get it. There are a wealth of great X-men stories out there and when we finally get a Wolverine movie, they shovel out this garbage? They turned Deadpool into Adam from Buffy for god's sake!! What really kills me is I really liked Liev as Sabretooth, a LOT. He brought an intelligence and ferocity to the character that was sorely lacking from the first X film. I even got a giggle out of what they did with Blob, if only because I have always thought that character was ignorant. Gambit? Wasted. You don't give a cameo to a character with enough charisma and backstory to carry his own film. You give cameos to Colossus or Toad, but not freaking Gambit. That'd be like doing an X-men movie and having Lady Deathstryke be a voiceless assassin with no connection to Wolverine. Oh wait, they did that.

Before anyone labels this as mindless nerd rage, bear in mind that I like Jackman as Logan. A lot. The look is all wrong, but for the most part, he had the attitude I needed in the first two X-films, when people with talent were driving the franchise. I am not against modifying characters to make them work on screen, but shitty storytelling is shitty storytelling, my friends. If you are going to change something, have a good reason for doing it. There is no good reason to waste Gambit as a cameo and it is downright criminal to take the biggest smartass in the Marvel Universe and then take away his god damn mouth.

9.12.2009

Back In [Glossy] Black

I am back, bitches, and I brought a pretty sweet new laptop with me. Picked up a Dell Inspiron 1545, which came in the mail, yesterday. I am super pleased with my purchase. I have been using an older laptop my mom gave me for a little while, now, to do some work from home, but it is just not cutting it. Plus you have the whole "tired of using old and busted" thing going on. The 1545 is very much the hotness. I especially appreciate built in WiFi and no damn latch on the lid to fiddle with when I want to open it. I just wish it had a number pad.

Naturally, because I want this for working at home, one of the first things I did was get the programs I need to accomplish that installed. The second thing I installed? World of Warcraft. I had to. I am pleased to report that new hotness runs WoW pretty damn well. Not as well as my main PC, mind you, but well enough to kill some time with, now and then.

I have to say, for 450 bucks, this is an impressive little rig. I almost wish I had sprung for something fancier when I got my PC instead of getting that. Laptops have come a long way from how I used to view them and I am quickly becoming addicted to the mobility they offer. I used to take old and busted to work and blog on my lunch breaks, so I want to start doing that, again, with new hotness. I find myself constantly thinking of things to write about, but never have the time to do so.

7.25.2009

Under Construction

So I went out and got a fancy pants template to spruce the Inuit Homestead here. Tomorrow, I will go through the motions of getting it all straightened out, but I have to say, I like this a lot better than what I had. It has spots for banners, which I think I will use as additional link space as opposed to actually trying to run ad banners, which I hate. It would be neat to see OTC and GGTMC banners floating around up there.

As you command......

I give credit to Kotaku for telling me this existed, but now my life has a hole in it that can only be filled by a 150 dollar toy. What you see is the 25th Anniversary Edition San Diego Comic Con exclusive Deluxe Soundwave. Not only does Soundwave himself look amazingly bad ass, but he also comes with four of the tapes. Seriously, what the hell are they trying to do to me? It's not like I don't have enough expensive shit on my list of wants that I can't afford. They have to go and release the coolest edition of Soundwave any ever thought of. I thought the deluxe edition of Starscream looked sweet, but that ain't nothing. The only thing that could make this Soundwave better is if the tapes played the Transformers theme song when you popped em in.

A couple of years back, I discovered a company named Revoltech that makes mostly anime inspired action figures that are about as awesome as can be. I mean, just look at it. It's a poseable Optimus Prime! The Megatron and Starscream figures they did are even better. Megatron looks like the cartoon version and Starscream's gun is Megatron in gun form, like they always used to do in the series. Bad ass, I tell ya. They've been on my gotta get em list since I saw them, but they're like 50 bucks on amazon. One day, though, dammit. I am just cheap and hate ordering shit online.

All this Transformers nostalgia made me bust out the Commerative Edition Prowl I got for Christmas a few years ago and put the stickers on him. Kids today have it so bad, as far as Transformers go. These toys were just so much more well crafted and frankly, they just look damn cooler. If nothing else, the robot has a discernable face and you can tell where the body sections start and stop. Even the toys for the movies look like mechanical vomit. Not only that, but the new toys don't work worth a shit. My nephew got one of the Transformers Animated toys and that piece of crap won't even stay transformed. In any of it's forms. It was a shame because the toy looks really cool. In fact, I love the look of Transformers Animated, a lot. Too bad the toys are crap and the show is yet more wannabe anime garbage.

7.09.2009

Micheal Bay Hates Me

I was inspired to rant, as I so often am, by a post on a message board I frequent. To get the full jist of what was discussed, go to this post on the forums for The Gentleman's Guide To Midnight Cinema over at Popsyndicate.com. My post stands on it's own, well enough, though, so I wanted to preserve it on ye olde blog.

Every time I hear that if you didn't like Transformers, it's because you didn't grow up with the cartoon and toys, I want to stab the person in the face. I am a devout and I mean devout fan of the original cartoon. These were shows written most likely by interns and college kids for scale at best that had animation that was churned out from bottom dollar animation farms that often times got the coloring wrong on the robots. This lead to Starscream's voice coming out of Thundercracker's body on more than a few occasions. Even under those conditions, the storytelling in those old shows was leaps and bounds beyond the word vomit that was spewed forth for the first Bay film. They were simple stories of good versus evil, sure, but they were honest to god stories with characters and plot.

Transformers repulsed me because it was painfully obvious that Bay knew nothing and cared nothing about the original characters. No effort was made to tell anything resembling a story and the robots were treated as window dressing instead of actual characters. On top of that, the robots looked like garbage. Actually, the first time I saw one of Bay's bots, I said it looked like someone vomited up a Radio Shack. Bay's excuse was that the screen tests they did with boxy bots that mirrored the old cartoon looked too fake. I call severe bull(*&^ to you, sir. A college kid did a CG short of a new Beetle transforming into a robot and that looked amazing 8 years ago. Several years and many millions of dollars later, Bay can't manage to come up with something even remotely close.

Sammy made my anti-"It's a summer movie" argument, so I'll leave it at that, but to agree. "It's a summer movie" and "it's for kids" is not a free pass to make films with no soul. Just ask Jaws and any Pixar film. All HUGE blockbusters. All with wonderful creativity behind them. Chris made the argument that we need Michael Bay and I disagree. He reaffirms the idea that you don't need creativity to make a blockbuster film. What we need is more studios like Pixar that seem to understand how to make blockbuster films of superior quality. We need more directors like Sam Raimi and Jon Faveraux that prove you can give fan service without alienating new viewers and make a popcorn film with an intelligent story. Micheal Bay's idiot fan boys will eventually tire of his drivel and stop going to see it, by which time everyone will be in full swing of trying to emulate his success. When that happens, the film industry will implode, again, and everyone is fucked.

Another example of using name recognition to cash in on fan boy nostalgia? GI Joe. I was excited at the idea of this movie. I loved the cartoon and toys and figured it would be something that would easily translate to live action, given it's general basis in reality (most of the early toys were genuine military equipment and prototypes of same). Then I watched the trailer and I couldn't tell anyone apart. As fast as everything moved and because they are all wearing the exact same outfit, none of the characters had any kind of identity. It's funny because the key point to GI Joe's appeal was that each character dressed in a manner that reflected their station, personality and role in the team. It's the same complaint I had about X-men when that come out, but Singer managed to overcome it. I don't feel that GI Joe will fair as well.

Basically, Micheal Bay and his ilk make me feel like Hollywood hates me, which makes me not want to see movies in theaters. Explain to me how that is good for the industry?

6.16.2009

I Thought He'd Be Bigger

I bought the DVD for Road House a long time ago on a whim, simply because it's easily one of my favorite action movies from the 80s. I think I watched it once, after I bought it and then was content to let it sit there on my shelf next to American Ninja and Revenge of the Ninja, advertising to the world that, hey, this guy liked Road House enough to buy the damn DVD. Patrick Swayze as the mother of all bad ass bouncers (excuse me; "coolers") with Sam Elliot as some kind of red neck Yoda to Swayze's back woods Skywalker? What more could a teen age boy from Texas in the 80s possibly want from a movie? Nothing, that's what. Well, ok, fine, a strip tease from the absolutely stunning Julie Micheals didn't exactly sour the movie's appeal for me. In the early 90s, I wager I watched Road House a few dozen times, at least. Something about the country boy charm of Dalton and the badassery that is compulsive throat ripping just really clicked with me. So it was with no small amount of excitement that I broke out my Road House DVD to introduce my wife to the seedy world of high stakes bouncing and cooling.

The funny thing about watching it with my wife, apart from us both having a good laugh at the movie as a whole, is how many interesting thoughts popped into my head as I watched it. For one thing, it occurred to me that you could pull the entire Brad Wesley "save the town from big bad evil man" plot line out and you would actually still have an interesting film. I find the idea of someone coming into a hell hole of a bar and progressively weeding out the filth unreasonably fascinating. I have often heard jokes that Road House is the Godfather of bouncer films and watching it with that in mind makes you kinda understand why. Everything that happens inside the Double Deuce (that doesn't involve Wesley's flunkies) is something I have actually seen go down in my years of bar hopping around Dallas. So I find myself pondering if someone wanted to make a serious movie about bouncers that got outfitted with Al(abama) Capone and a far too pretty lead actor, instead.

Wouldas, shouldas and couldas aside, though, an evil corrupter of all things pretty and sweet is what we get in the form of Brad Wesley, played to the nines by Ben Gazzara as a cross between Al Capone and Tony Montana mixed with a little bit of Deliverance for flavor. Not coincidentally, I am sure, Gazzara actually played Capone once, but I digress. Wesley, to me, is a character that makes no sense. If you want to be a crime lord, why in god's name would you pick some back water town in Kansas? Not only that, but if you lived in said back water town and realized you had a guy like that trying to do what Wesley was trying to do, why would you stay?? It's Kansas, people! Pack up your kids, burn down the house and drive to the next back water Kansas town, which I feel pretty confident will be very much like the one you left only minus a redneck gangster and his reject from the village people "enforcer", Jimmy.

Speaking of Jimmy, who the hell would be intimidated by a guy with that much hair gel? At one point, he has Dalton in a half nelson and utters the classic line, "I used to fuck guys like you in prison." Dude, you look like you were fucking guys like him, last week. Maybe that was the reason Jimmy was so angry; Dalton wouldn't give up the booty. Now that I think about it, maybe when he yanks Denise away after she hints oh so subtly to Dalton that she may be attracted to him, it was jealous rage behind those eyes. Jimmy simply did not know how to express his love. It's either that or he is just super pissed about being a red neck white guy with every bad fashion trend from the 70s and 80s wrapped up in ONE outfit. That's right, he had a jerry curl, a mullet, a button up "chest hair exposing" shirt and jeans that should have precluded him from being able to produce offspring should he ever decide that he likes women. Even his name is weak. "Run! Jimmy's coming!" See? It just doesn't work.

The icing on the cake is Dalton. The zen bouncer with a philosiphy degree from NYU. Nothing against bouncers, because I have made friends with more than a few, but guys with degrees from NYU do not choose to be career bouncers. Even if you like beating people up and acting like a bad ass, there is more money to be made in security and, personally, I'd rather keep teenage girls from molesting Justin Timberlake than manhandle drunken rednecks six nights a week. I am just weird, that way. Not our boy Dalton, though. He absolutely lives to share his bouncing philosiphy with other would-be bouncers. God help you if you're pissy, dealing dope, skimming the till or fucking bar sluts in the back room on your break, though. Bouncing is serious business and there will be no shennanigans on his watch. As Dalton says, "There's always barber college." Poor Terry Funk. If only Dalton had taken the time to get to know him as a person. Then, again, maybe Morgan would have pulled a gun on him and then Dalton would have had to rip his throat out.

Wait, what? That's right, folks, you pull a gun on Dalton and he'll fuckin kill ya. Not by beating you to death and not by taking your gun away and shooting you with it. No, none of the myriad ways a person as well trained in the art of mortal combat as Dalton seems to be will do for you, sir. You pull a gun on him, he's gonna rip your throat out. The absolute best part of that, though, is the look on his face after he kills Jimmy. I never picked up on it, before, but he has that "Oh, shit!" look that we all get when we've done something we didn't mean to. Ripping people's throats out isn't just a weapon in Dalton's deadly deluge of death; it's a certifiable compulsion. There he is with bits of Jimmy's throat flesh under his finger nails, going "Aw, shit, not again!!" My question is simple - How?? What path did his life take that at some point, his mind decided the only responce to a fire arm is to remove the weilder's larynx though the most direct route? In the climactic showdown between Dalton and Wesley, Wesley pulls a gun and Dalton summarily kicks it out of his hand, moving in for the big finisher. His hand goes up, forms "The Claw" and then he hesitates. You see the emotions going across his face as he battles his sick addiction to giving manual trachiotimies. Again, I have to ask, how fucked in the head are you that this is a tough compulsion to break?

One might argue that this has been entirely too many words about a movie as terrible as I know Road House to be. Fuck you. My blog. The truth is, I think I have a couple more paragraphs of silly observations about this trashy piece of cinematic gold that I won't even get to. Why didn't he take his friend to the hospital, where he was going, anyway? How did "I didn't see nothing" keep the six people standing over Wesley's shotgun riddled corpse out of prison? Why the hell was the car dealership show room filled with ten year old station wagons? Yep, I could go on for pages. I can't though, because I think the polar bear in the corner is in danger of toppling and there's no way I'd be able to get out of the way in time before it fell on me. You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.

5.21.2009

Don't Be A Stupid Zealot

I was driving home the other day and I saw a bumper sticker that completely floored me. "If Mary were Pro-Choice, there would be no Christmas!" Reading this made me physically angry on many levels and I do not know why, exactly. If you are going to run around on a moral high horse, at least have some sense in your fucking head. I mean, it's one thing to act like your superior to everyone, but when an idiot does it, I just get pissy.

First off, being pro-choice does not mean "abort every baby ever conceived". I know that is what the lifers would like everyone to believe, but rational people that are pro-choice simply believe it is a decision each woman or couple should make for themselves. Otherwise, they'd call themselves "Pro-killallthebabiesyea!" which honestly does not have the same ring to it. Not everyone in this world should bring children into it. In fact, this world would be a much better place if abortion were more common, accepted and acceptible. 9 out 10 stillborn crack babies agree.

Second, I would assume that your intent was to make stupid people lament the absence of presents, Christmas trees, Santa and the other pagan traditions Christians usurped for what we now call Christmas. Based on how few of the holiday traditions are actually inspired by Christ, it seems to me that all we would lose out on, really, is the nativity scenes in front of our local churches. Personally, me not being a Christian and all, I wouldn't care, either way. If you really think the majority of people in the world celebrate Christ's birthday on December 25th, you are deeply delusional.

Last but not least, what your bumper sticker should have said is "If Mary were Pro-Choice, there would be no Christians!" That is really the only thing that would change. Take away Christ and our society would have found some other annual bullshit reason to hang out with relatives we don't even talk about the rest of the year, much less go to visit. I am not saying I wish Christians did not exist, because if they didn't, some other religion would be number one and it wouldn't be terribly different. I am simply saying that based purely on what most of the Christmas traditions we observe have absolutely nothing to do with Christ. So how much would removing him from it really change things? It's not like Jesus is at the end of every Christmas parade, waving at kids in his big red suit.

For the record, this is not an attack on Christians in any way. It's directed purely at idiotic zealots that spout outrageous statements to get their point across. I've read a decent chunk of the Bible in some form or another and I spent my formative years going to church on a regular basis. I believe Christianity, like all religions, has a lot of good qualities and ideals that are worth living by. I also believe that most of the people I have met that call themselves Christian do not come anywhere close to the virtues of the man they claim to idolize. Unless you think trying to eradicate other cultures that do not subscribe to your beliefs is what he would want. It is actually possible to be a good person without being a Christian. Scary thought, I know.

5.14.2009

The Alpha and the Omega

So Dollhouse is done for the season (possibly forever) and I haven't posted my thoughts on the show since Episode 7. That means I have 5 episodes of stuff to cover without turning this into some massive nightmare of a post. So what I am going to do is give brief thoughts on episodes 8 through 11 and wrap it up with my take on the finale and the season as a whole.

Episode 1.8 - Needs - Pointless filler, in my opinion. It opened a couple of doors, I suppose, but overall, I couldn't see that anything actually got resolved. It was actually kind of neat until I realized it was all another bullshit mind game. When I thought it was Alpha or someone on the inside screwing around, I was actually semi-interested. That's if I am even remembering how it went down, properly, because I may not be. This one just really felt like a waste of my time just to watch.

Episode 1.9 - A Spy in the House of Love - This was good stuff. This was what Dollhouse desperately needed more of. From the opening scene when we see someone in the treatment room getting shot all the way through to the end when you find out who the spy is, I was riveted. I knew Dominic was fishy, but his full motivations surprised me in a good way.

Episode 1.10 - Haunted - Again, more pointless filler. What would have saved this episode would have been if you get to the end and find out she died of completely natural causes. It would have been well in line with her obviously high state of paranoia and could have resulted in an ending that was actually interesting.

Episode 1.11 - Briar Rose - Don't look now, but I think I see a point to all this mess! I will refrain from spoilers at this point as to who Alpha is, just in case you are reading this but have not watched it, yet. Suffice to say the appearance of Alan Tudyk as the bumbling, neurotic genius that designed and helped build the Dollhouse was a nerdtastically awesome surprise, as was the ultimate full appearance of Alpha on the scene in the midst of Ballard's rescue mission. Again, this show needed more episodes like this.

So that brings us to the showdown that is episode 12 - Omega. I suppose I can discuss this without spoilers, as well, as far as who and what Alpha is. The nice thing about this episode was that by the end of it, we did in fact know exactly who and what Alpha is and that knowledge made this season worth wading through. The revelation that part of who the dolls are seems to be permanently ingrained in them from who they were before was pretty damn awesome. The finale demonstrated exactly what makes this show remotely intriguing in that all of it revolved in some way or another around the inner workings of the Dollhouse, itself. Seeing Dushku put on a different hat every week is boring. Been there, done that a hundred times and most of those shows weren't that good, either. How Alpha came to be what he is was interesting. Who Alpha was before he came to the Dollhouse was interesting. Watching a bunch of dolls pretend to escape was not interesting, at all.

Next week, we will supposedly find out if Dollhouse is going to live to fight another season. To be honest, if it does not, I will not be shocked. I am not even sure I will be that sad. Whether it was Fox gumming up the works or Joss, himself, this show took entirely too long getting to the point and only about half of this first season was even remotely compelling. Someone needs to tell somebody else that everything that makes this show an entertaining watch begins and ends with the Dollhouse, itself. The assignments are, for the most part, boring and add little to the overall plot, in my opinion. However, the people inside the Dollhouse and why they do what they do, I find absolutely fascinating. Give me more of that and less Alias/Quantum Leap in the second season and I will tune in, every single week (and by tune in, I mean buy the episode off Itunes). Keep filling my brain with pointless fluff, though, and I will not even make it to Season 2.

5.12.2009

Ju-Jitsu as a Metaphor for Life

I watched Redbelt, last night. Due to my adoration for Chiwetel Ejiofor, it's been on my radar for awhile now. The problem is I have to be in a certain mood to watch dramas or I will simply not enjoy them. Being that I went home early from work, yesterday, feeling none to well, I figured what the hell. So I laid back in ye olde recliner, queued up Netflix through my 360 and Redbelt just called to me. I have to say, I am glad it did, as it was an excellent ride the whole way through. I am going to get a little spoilery, but I will try not to give away any of the big shockers.

Mike Terry (Ejiofor) is a Brazilian Ju-Jitsu instructor that approaches the form with a level of zen and admiration I haven't personally seen in films in a long time. Unfortunately, passion for your work doesn't keep the lights on and Mike is out of money to pay his bills. What transpires as the movie progresses is, to one extent or another, a save the rec center film taken deathly serious. It has all you major plot points of such a film. You have the teacher who doesn't want to sacrifice his values to pay his bills. You have the betrayal by someone close to you. Finally, you have the hero painted into a corner and forced to compete against his wishes so the evil man can get paid. Seriously, from a purely plot point of view, you have seen this movie a thousand times.

What made Redbelt so compelling for me, though, was Chiwetel. The guy is captivating to watch and I do not think I have ever seen him in a role that I didn't feel convinced by. From Serenity to American Gangster to this, Ejiofor is an absolute chameleon of an actor. You never see him as an actor playing a role; you just see the character, every time. It seems like so few actors do that, anymore, and I am noticing that a large percentage of those that can are not American. I don't know if it's because Europe is a place where theater is still appreciated by the masses or what, but a lot of my favorite actors, right now, originate from across the pond.

To a lesser degree, I also want to give credit to Mamet and his script. The lack of any insultingly obvious exposition was refreshing to say the least. People seemed to talk the way people really do talk, which is bad if you aren't good at some basic comprehension, but good if you are. One scene in particular showed two people talking with the camera at a distance and when their conversation ends, you know exactly what was said despite the fact that we weren't allowed to hear a word of it. If you've been paying attention to the movie, you didn't need to hear it. I liked that simply because I am sick to death of being spoon fed everything in movies, lately. Give me something to figure out on my own so I can keep my mind engaged.

I won't go so far as to say Redbelt was a great movie, but I can say with certainty that it's in my top ten "Save the Rec Center" flicks. The plot isn't anything ground breaking, but the execution by all involved was good enough that you never get bothered by that fact. I liken this movie to something like Punch Drunk Love, wherein someone took the character Adam Sandler always plays and made him grounded and real. Redbelt is like that, except that idea is applied moreso to the plot. Taking something that is overdone and cliched, only to make it feel fresh and interesting is an admirable feat in my book.

5.06.2009

I Got Your Lance Right Here

So the Argent Tournament has come to the World of Warcraft. Words can not express how excited I was for this event. New mounts, new pets, new purplez to earn and JOUSTING. I was seriously ecstatic at the concept of mounted combat and the day the patch went live, it was the first thing I went to the Tournament grounds to do. In truth, I didn't completely hate it until I got to the Valiant level. I got through Aspirant ok but by the time I got to Valiant, I threw my hands up and just quit. I finished off Valiant doing the quests with the exception of the last jousting match to get to Champion. As a Champion, I have one victory and only a few more matches than that to my name. It is simply not worth my time to take part in so poorly designed a game mechanic.

The reason I hate jousting isn't that I suck at it. I am actually pretty good at it. When lag isn't stacked against me, I can do ok and come out on top, but that is seldom the case. Even when I win, it is still not fun. The monotony of trying to keep their shields down and yours up is so life drainingly dull that it makes me want to stop playing the game. The problem I have with it is that the whole thing revolves around a set pattern that must be adhered to if you wish to win. I have this same issue with the Aces High daily in Coldarra. There is no room for improvisation, whatsoever and that just sucks. Not only that, but if you have lag issues, you can forget it. I can not tell you how many times in jousting I have gone from 3 stacks to no shields at all in what seemed like seconds. Same thing with Aces High. I have been at full health and had the shield going strong and then bam, I am all of the sudden almost dead. Thankfully, we are getting more methods to earn seals in 3.2, so getting the mounts and pets won't feel like such a grind, then. At least, that is my hope,

The worst part is it does not even feel like jousting. You ride in a circle because your mount turns like a 63 Cadillac and just hope you get in position faster than they do. Actually, it feels like a naval battle with how slow you manuever. I want to joust, not play battleship. Then, to add insult to injury, they incorporate this horrible mechanic into a quest in a zone where everything respawns almost instantly. If you want any hope of killing the Bone Commander, you have to pull up the stairs where you can have fun fighting him and the camera. I read somewhere to clear around him and then pull him. I tried that. The gargoyles respawned in the middle of the fight and drained my shields. The only saving grace on that one is I can have a guildy help me beat him down. If Blizzard decides that is a bug someday and fixes it so you can not attack them on your mount the way you can not help in the jousting matches, I may just give up on this Tournament, altogether.

What sucks is I want to like this whole jousting/tournament thing. I love the idea of it and I just wish they could figure out a way to make it more fun. A wider variety of abilities when you are mounted would be nice. I actually think if they took away the shields and just made it a jousting death match, I would love it. It would rely a bit more on luck and feel a lot less tedious. I would like it more, though. In every other facet of WoW's combat, luck is everything. If you go into a fight and all your attacks land in the low end of the damage spectrum and none of them crit, the fight will be a lot tougher than if the opposite happens. Throw in weapon procs and just procs in general and yea, luck can have a huge impact on any one on one fight. These vehicle fights all feel very cold and mathematical to me. You do it this way and you will win, if you do it exactly this way at exactly the right time. No margin for error, no room for a little good luck. Until they change it, though, I will keep killing Chillmaw and stomping Commanders with my guildies for my 4 seals a day. So far, I have my awesome Gnomeregan Bonechopper and I will keep grinding away for my pets and mounts.

5.05.2009

Throwing Me Off Balance

At this point, I've made it through arcade mode on Easiest with every character I need to beat it with to unlock all the gimme characters and Akuma. All I have left to unlock is Gouken and Seth. So far, I am really digging Abel and once I've gone through arcade with everyone and seen the intro movies and other story bits, such as they are, he is one I am gonna focus on. As it turns out, though, he is also part of one of my major gripes about the AI in this game and, really, the one major complaint I think I have pretty much always had about every fighting game I have played; throws are absolute bullshit. Abel in particular, when fighting him in single player, throws constantly. That wouldn't bother me so much if his throws didn't take about 15 to 20 percent of your health off every time. Zangief is the same way only some of his throws take close to half your health away. One move that requires one button press should never be that rewarding. Yes, I know I can spam throw when he is in range and I am getting better at defending against it, but that's not the point. Throws have always been insultingly cheap in the SF series to the point that I think there was a home version of the game that allowed you to disable them, entirely. I could be wrong on that one. Either way, I hate throws, have always hated throws and will always hate throws.

My other major complaint about every Street Fighter since Street Fighter 2 hit arcades is balance. As in, they don't even try to. I would be interested to know how many SF Tournament matches didn't have Ken or Ryu in them. Based on what I saw playing it online, not too damn many would be my guess. Don't get me wrong, I am terrible at this game and will always lose because of that fact. However, it would be nice to lose to someone other than Ken, Ryu, Guile and Sagat. Funny enough, all four characters have a ranged "fireball" attack. What a coinkydink. Maybe if I can get to non-suck stage, it won't be as frustrating, but it sure is tempting to grab Ryu or Ken and go wreck shop, because I know I probably could. 15 years of doing the same moves means I don't have to think with those guys. That's no fun, though. I always thought Ken and Ryu and the other Fireball dudes made the game too easy. I want to beat someone senseless, not spam special moves for 90 seconds. I fought a guy online that used Sagat and literally spammed that Tiger throw thing the entire time. How is that fun?

To bring it all together, I give you the crown king of imbalance and throwing; Seth. Without question, the worst boss in any fighting game I have ever played. All he does is special moves for the entire second and third round. It's infuriatingly cheap and on top of that, the fucker can teleport. They took the worst aspects of every Street Fighter character and crammed them into one dude. What was wrong with Bison? If Capcom didn't want to come up with a new boss, just give us Bison or Akuma, again. Better yet, give us Gouken. You take a character that never existed, give him life as the ultimate symbol of fan service, and sequester him to being just another unlockable? Are you shitting me? I keep hoping news will come down the pipe that we are getting a patch that gives us a boss that doesn't suck, but I know it will never happen. What a shame, too, because he mars what is an otherwise amazing game.

4.22.2009

Gamers Are A Whiny Lot

This is in response to a comment I saw on WoWinsider.com. Not that the comment I replied to was the only time I have ever heard this, but that is what sparked this post, today. For as long as I have been playing WoW, I have been looking at Forums for the game. Starting with the official forums and now reading the comments section on WoW Insider which I visit, daily. There are a lot of smart people that play this game, but there are also a lot of really, really dumb ones. There are also a lot of really smart people that make really dumb statements. The most common one that gets my goat is the "I'm in the software business so I know what's up" reply. That's like saying you know what it takes to fix a Ferrari because you can fix a Ford. All software is not created equal and without sitting down and looking at the source code, you are basically talking out of your ass when you say you know what it takes to make it work.

Someone made the statement today that they felt like the incremental patches were getting out of hand and I found this humorous. Patch 2.4 had three fairly substantial incremental patches. Vanilla Wow had 12 major patches plus a few incremental patches for those. People keep acting like WoW hasn't changed much since launch, so the patches should go more smoothly, but that isn't the case. Blizzard has consistently pushed the boundaries of what an MMO can be with each expansion and, to some extent, with each patch. The more complex your software gets, the harder it is to catch every little flub and bug. You would think someone in the "software business" would know that. I am not even in the software business and I know that. My programming experience is limited to Qbasic and Excel. No matter how much you test it, giving it to the public will reveal exploits and bugs, every time. So yea, Blizzard releases slightly buggy patches, but I can think of very few instances where a patch actually broke the game, completely. It made certain specific areas of the game more annoying, sure, but the majority of WoW usually runs fine.

To date, I still think Blizzard's biggest clusterfunk was the Ahn'Quiraj launch. Nothing they've done has gone as poorly as that did. Servers crashed repeatedly for days on end for the first dozen or so servers that opened the gates. I remember logging into WoW to find out the Kalimdor server was down again and hoping one of my alts logged out in Eastern Kingdoms. Hell, I remember not being able to go into any dungeons for a whole day because the instance servers crashed. I think that was the Black Wing Lair patch, though.

Sure, patch day sucks and the month or so following patch day is sketchy as the last of the minor bugs get ironed out, but WoW as a whole is no more or less stable than it ever was. I just think people's memories of vanilla WoW are tainted to the point that they don't seem to remember all the zany issues we went through back then. Not to mention the fact that PVP sucked for non-raiders and, truth be told, there wasn't much offered to people who didn't want to raid at all. For myself, every single patch and expansion makes WoW that much more awesome and enduring. As it stands, they will have to close the servers to make me stop playing and that will be a sad day, indeed.

4.18.2009

Pacass

I do not like reposting things I have seen on other sites, for the most part, but this one has to be documented so I can revisit it at my leisure. If you've seen Jackass, this video is "What if Jackass played a game of Live Action Pac-Man?" Thanks to Kotaku for bringing this into my life.



The genius behind this video is a guy named Remi Gaillard. You can see more of his zaniness over at N'impotre Qui which I will certainly be doing later. He apparently did a Mario Kart video.

4.17.2009

Vay to the Motherfuckin Cay Home Boy

So I took three days of vacation this coming week for my 3rd wedding anniversary. Not planning on doing too much, overall, because that's my ideal vacation; going to the house, playing games and drinkin some beers. We will of course do something for our actual anniversary, but when I would tell people at work that I was taking some vacation time, the immediate response was "Where are you going?" The answer I always give is "Home." Maybe I am silly, but I think sitting at home and relaxing is a fine vacation. I suppose as I get to where I have more and more free time, I may change my mind, but years worth of working weekends to make ends meet have drilled into my head how nice it is to just wake up and not go to work.

4.13.2009

Wrath's First Real Patch Day

Tomorrow is Wrath of the Lich King's first real patch. I am freaking stoked, to be honest with you. Fishing Dailies are finally coming to Northrend, Argent Tournament gives me access to new pets and mounts and they are making cooking and fishing both generally less annoying to level (hint: you should be able to go from 1 to 450 on the dock in Northrend, now). The funniest thing to me, though, is it's the first time in a long time that my chosen class, the Mage, gets little to no love as far as class changes go. I am not complaining, so much, as observing. Most of the other classes get a page and a half of sweeping changes and we get Replenishment. WOO HOO! Ah well, that's cool, I still can't wait.

Maybe by Wednesday, I will actually be able to log in. Oh yea, bring on the server resets!

4.11.2009

360's D-pad Is Complete Crap


I bought Street Fighter IV. Overall, I have to say it's a pretty damn outstanding game. If you've played it, you know that and if you haven't, you should. I am pretty shocked that the jump to 3D hasn't hurt the series or even slowed it down the way I just assumed it would. Visions of Street Fighter EX haunted me until I finally saw some videos of IV in action. This game makes every bit of the 700 bucks I blew on my LCD TV worth it.


Something else I felt compelled to purchase along with this awesomely kick ass game is a Mad Catz Fightpad (aka the Genesis Fighter Pad with an Xbox Guide Button on it). That brings me to my first batch of complaints. Why, Microsoft, do you insist creating a controller with the worst D-pad in the history of gaming? To add insult to injury, you also will not allow third parties to make wireless controllers. What does that mean? It means that in order to make Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter II HD Remix playable, I have to buy a 40 dollar corded controller. Corded!! Why in the wide world of sports am I being forced to use a corded controller? The PS3 fightpad is not corded, which definitely makes me wish I owned a PS3, to be honest with you. I would have passed up the 360 version of SF IV just so I didn't have to deal with the hassle of a corded controller. That said, the fightpad is just freaking awesome. Seriously, I tried played Street Fighter II HD Remix with the 360 controller, which I am an absolute fan boy for and it's just not right. Analog stick is not equal to arcade stick, contrary to what some people apparently think. Since I can't afford a nice 150 dollar arcade stick, though, I went with the next best thing.

I actually have a lot of thoughts on this game, so I think I am going to space it out to give me something to post about. I still haven't touched on my thoughts on Seth, throws or the fact that Ken and Ryu are apparently the only two fighters anyone online wants to us. More on all of that in the next few days.


4.02.2009

Oh Noes, You Stoled My Wolverine!

An interesting discussion sprung up over at the forums for Outside The Cinema regarding the fact that Wolverine ended up on the interwebs a full month before it is scheduled to hit theaters. For the record, I won't be downloading it. Furthermore, I won't be seeing it in theaters, either. It's a Wolverine movie rated PG-13. You can suck my fat ass if you think I am going to pay to see that. That said, I wanted to repost my thoughts on the subject here for posterity. Click the link above to check out what everyone else had to say on the matter.

People are always going to take the path of least resistance. Always. This is not new and it is not shocking. How many 30 plussers had a collection of dubbed tapes in the 80s? I had an entire 80 cassette case full of dubs. When I was growing up, very few people I knew owned legit copies of movies. You rented em from your local video store and you dubbed them off. The music and movie industry fucked itself when they developed recordable consumer media. Media that was developed with the intention of bending you and me over, by the way.

Do I agree with people that never buy anything? Nope. To be honest, I just don't get it, because I am a fan of packaging. Always have been, always will be. It's the one thing I miss about LPs; poster size album art was the bomb. Do I think music and film piracy have done any real damage to those industries? Nope. Most of the people I know that steal music and movies are stealing stuff they were never going to spend money on in the first place. I have a friend who tries to tell me he would have bought this or that if he hadn't downloaded it first, but then every time he downloads something and REALLY loves it? You got it, he buys a copy. I can't think of the last album he downloaded and listened to nonstop that he didn't buy. Then you have the next question; would he have bought it if he hadn't downloaded it? That one never seems to make it into these piracy trials, I bet.

Stealing movies off the internet is not the same experience as going to a theater and that is why people go to the theater; for the experience. If all I cared about was seeing the movie, I'd wait for DVD which is what I usually do, anyway. The movies like Dark Knight that I go see in theaters, I go to see because I want to see it on the big screen and experience it, that way. That is why I don't buy this movie piracy is ruining the movie industry crap. Ticket sales are down because it costs 50 bucks for a couple to go to a movie now if you get drinks and popcorn. It's become a major financial decision and let me tell you, it takes a special breed of movie (or a horror flick that Barb drags me to) to get me to plop down that much dough.

The movie industry and the music industry both have been raping their customers for years and the customers have responded with their wallets. By that, I mean they stopped buying, not that they started stealing. I have always found it interesting that the most downloaded movies, music and games are the ones that also sell the most copies. So to all the execs, I say don't be scared when a billion people steal your crap. Be scared when it's leaked and no one bothers to download it.

4.01.2009

Breaking the (High) Tension

There has always been much ado about the ending to High Tension. It's one of those topics that really seems to divide people into the requisite love it/hate it camps of life. I can not tell you how many times I have heard that the ending to the movie completely ruined the film for someone. I can sorta see their point, I suppose. Up until the ending, you are watching what amounts to an excellent new age slasher, the likes of which hadn't been seen in years when High Tension came out. Then you get to the end and at first, it feels a little cheap. You feel like you've been tricked and you're left ultimately pondering what the fuck the point of the head scene at the beginning of the film was. Well, I can't answer your questions about that. I can however share my insight into the rest of the film. In case you didn't get it, by now, I am going to have to spoil the hell out of this movie, so please stop now if you've passed on it.

The film basically opens with Marie sitting in a Doctor's office and the Doctor says "Why don't you tell us what happened?" That line right there is the key to unraveling this whole mystery. You see, Marie is what psychologists refer to as "nanners". The entire movie from beginning to end is her twisted recollection of how her fractured psyche perceived the events. I don't care if that isn't how split personalities and dissociative disorders work. If Fight Club can get away with it, so can High Tension. The point is that while most of the events that we are shown do happen, they do not happen the way Marie thinks they did. That is why whenever Marie and Alex are alone together in her room or in the truck, Alex looks absolutely terrified of Marie, instead of having that pleading "save me!" face you'd expect from someone in her situation. It also explains why this adept, meticulous killer could manage to never notice there was a victim-in-the-making within 50 feet of him for half the movie. The truth of the matter is if you take away the twist, the movie REALLY stops making sense.

I do not expect everyone to like the big twist and I completely understand your disappointment, because Phillippe Nahon played an absolutely stunning killer in this. For someone to be that menacing and not have to resort to costumes and parlor trick kills to get there is mighty impressive. So I feel your pain. What bugs me, mostly, is people saying it doesn't make sense. To those folks, I say ye "Watch it, again". Much the way Fight Club seems like it beats you over the head with the truth upon multiple viewings, I feel Aja did all that he could to let us know Marie was our killer without ruining the fun and coming out and saying it. It's not like High Tension pulled what the My Bloody Valentine remake (which was bad ass, by the way) did. Watching it multiple times really lets you see just how obvious it is. From the terror in Alex's eyes to the "You're the only person here, you crazy bitch" look the gas station clerk gives Marie. All the signs were there. They were just subtle enough that you didn't see them if you weren't expecting a twist.

3.30.2009

This Drug Tastes Like Band Candy

Joss Whedon ripped himself off. There, I said it. Echoes, at it's heart, is Band Candy all over again with a darker, more twisted Dollhouse spin. I feel a need to get that out in the open so that no one can say I did not notice or mention or care about the fact that the core of this episode was plucked from one of the best episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, ever. So I mentioned it. Yes, I noticed it. No, I didn't mind it. If I started hating on artists that cannibalized their own material, I would never be able to read another Stephen King novel. Yea, that would suck, a lot.

So beyond everyone getting giddy and childlike (Topher in his skivvies was more hilarious than I would have thought), did we get anything new out of this here yarn? I think we did, yea. We finally got the answer to the question we have all been pondering by seeing how Caroline ended up at the Dollhouse. I had long suspected she was an activist of some kind, so that part wasn't terribly shocking. Getting a taste of just how big this Dollhouse thing really is was a nice touch, though. We now have a face to put on the big bad evil that has to be taken down. Basically, I foresee Rossum as the Wolfram and Hart of the Dollhouse world. We also saw the ultimate motive behind them faking Millie's attack, which wasn't what I'd assumed, at all. I just knew they'd faked the attack to get her in closer to him. Last but not least, we got a big fat dose of "they aren't wiped THAT clean" when the dolls start having acid flashbacks of their happy fun times.

All in all, it was a successful mission for me. Two straight weeks of actual solid character development topped off by Eliza Dushku in thigh highs for 40 minutes. Yes sir, that's a winner in my book. Seriously, though, these last two episodes have really been home runs for me, all around. I am fully and truly excited to see where we go from here and I hope Whedon can maintain this energy for the rest of the season. It's about time for Alpha to start gumming up the works, again, by the way. I am dying to see who it is that's playing our mystery psycho nudist, because I just know it's going to be a Whedon alum that will cause all manner of nerdgasms to go off.

3.23.2009

Who is NOT an active, these days?

I will go ahead and say that there be spoilers in here, because I still feel like no one who isn't already watching Dollhouse will actually read this dribble. Not only that, but all the best moments in this episode that aren't "Porn!" related are extremely spoilerrific (fuck you, spellcheck, that's a real word!). To say that Whedon was very much at the top of his game with this episode would be a huge understatement.

So in the first of a few big shockers in this episode, we find out that all is not well in the house of the dolls. Ok, fine, we already knew that, so what? What we had all expected was for Echo to eventually get her mind back and go all Alpha on their ass. What I personally did NOT expect was for someone to tamper with the personality imprints and use the dolls as erstwhile messengers after they finish kicking the living crap out of someone. The big reveal that there are people trying to bring the Dollhouse down from within was cool. The bigger reveal that there are multiple Dollhouses and that there are ulterior motives beyond trafficking in programmable sex dolls was just awesome.

Then you have Mellie. Damn you, Whedon, I called it in my review of Episode 3 and I was totally sure of it until they marked her for termination. So then my heart swung the whole other way and I felt really bad that this sweet girl was about to die and our intrepid hero was going to have his shot at happiness raped out from under him. You know that sicko was going to. That dude was jacked up. Then the phone rings and it's DeWitt's voice on the line. I knew where it was going before it even happened, but it still caught me as off guard as it did Hearn. It does raise an important question, though; What if Ballard plays the message with Mellie sitting there? Would she proceed to whip his ass? Could be that the second command nullified that set of mental programming, but it's still an interesting point, I think.

You brought me back from the brink, Joss. Now the question is, can you hold it? I hope you can, but this is Fox and Fox likes killing good shows at their peak. I doubt they'd blink at the prospect of killing what has been an uneven show that's been more down than up, so far. Whatever the case, I will be back, next week and I will buy the next episode off Itunes like a good little fanboy. Here is hoping this episode starts an uphill climb to awesome.

3.18.2009

The Hour of the Blind

Does it piss anyone off that I don't title my reviews with something obvious like the title of what I am reviewing? I wonder that, sometimes. Ah well, fuck em, this is my blog. I promised to share my thoughts on the last two Dollhouse episodes and by god, that's what I am going to do. Rather than go through the mundane task of synopsizing this for people that already know what the show is about because they watch it, too, I am going to just spend a couple of paragraphs sharing my thoughts on the last two weeks of a show that I think is coming into it's own, slowly but surely.

Gray Hour had an awesome start. I can honestly say I completely misread where the scene with the head of hotel security was going, so big ups to Sarah Fain and Elizabeth Craft for sneaking that one in. Dollhouse has been building most of the johns (let's call them what they are, here) up to be scumbags all around, so the pretense that one was smacking Echo around wasn't hard to swallow, at all. I liked Alpha being able to wipe Echo with a cell phone, but you have to question his motives here, considering what he did could have easily gotten her killed. Unfortunately, beyond that little tidbit, we didn't seem to get much else in terms of new info in Gray Hour that I recall. Maybe that's why I wasn't in a hurry to write up on it; it was a pretty middle of the road episode for me.

True Believer, on the other hand, brought me tons of joy. The scene with Dr. Saunders and Topher looking at the shower tapes almost made the whole series, much less this episode, worth watching. "Could you zoom in?" will forever make me giggle. Perhaps I am easily amused. On top of that, again, the show did not go how I expected it to. I assumed the cult leader to be a fraud using the religion angle to have an excuse to have sex with as many women as he so desired. When it turned out he was a genuine religious nut job, I have to say I was impressed. This episode also gave me the line, "God brought me here. He has a message for you. And that message is MOVE YOUR ASS!" which I will be forever grateful for. Still, while this week's episode was better than last week's, I do find my patience waning.

We've had three episodes now that end with some little bit of foreshadowing. The first one being Stage Fright and the nod between Echo and Cierra. I thought for sure that was going to go somewhere the following week and got nothing. Two episodes since that nod and still nothing. No further evidence beyond them ending the last three episodes with some allusion to Echo remembering bits of her jobs. At some point, you just want to grab Joss and scream "Get on with it!" I worry about this show's future because frankly, I only keep watching because the premise intrigues me and it is Joss Whedon. The show itself has not lived up to it's potential, at all. Sure, we've had a few shining moments of witty banter, but the fact is no one cares about the jobs Echo goes on. How could you when the Dollhouse is right there, looking all mysterious and intriguing? The Dollhouse absolutely fascinates me and I really wish we'd get to the part where we find out how they came to be. Echo getting a memory implant to become a high priced whore or a safe cracker does absolutely nothing for me. I will say the same thing I said about both Terminator sequels. You know what we want. You know you aren't giving it to us. Just fucking do it, already.

3.05.2009

I Have Joined The Cult of Music Gamers

So tonight, the wife and I were perusing the local Gamestop (yea, that's right, I don't hate Gamestop like most folks seem to claim to, these days) and we were looking at the various music games. The idea of dropping 170 duckets on one of the full band games is a little daunting for me, so I was looking at maybe just getting a copy of one of the Guitar Hero games and a guitar. In the end, I bought a used copy of Guitar Hero 3 for 20 bucks and a wireless 360 guitar for 40. 64 bucks out the door for one of these guitar games ain't half bad, I don't think. My only misstep is I had it in my head that I was buying the standalone Guitar Hero 4 guitar, which was what I wanted. It's actually just the wireless Les Paul Guitar Hero 3 controller. Still a nice controller, but it kind of puts a hole in my plan to slowly piece together one of these band kits over time. Ah well, if I end up really loving it, I will just buy the Guitar Hero 4 band kit later and we'll have two guitars if we need them.

As for my enjoyment of the game, my first ten minutes or so wasn't very fun, at all. I didn't play worth a crap and it was pretty rough on my hands, so I had a bad feeling I wasn't going to be able to stick with this thing. That's one of the reasons I wanted to find the cheapest route I could to playing one of these music games, because I had fears my hands would give me fits. I took a break for awhile and then I remembered a friend of mine saying how much more fun it was for him playing it standing up. So after letting the wife have a turn for awhile, I tried it that way. I am on the 4th set list, now. haha. Played through the first set and got the encore of Rock and Roll All Night, Got to the Morello Boss Battle and kicked his ass and then made it through to the Paint It Black Encore and called it a night. It's probably not a game I need to play for long stretches, but I definitely had fun.

3.03.2009

A Tale of Seven Brothers

After hearing the review for Shotgun Stories on Gentlemen's Guide to Midnite Cinema, I knew I had to see this movie. Just listening to them talk about it dredged up moments from my past that I figured would give the movie a lot of weight for me. While my own stories of family stress are nowhere near as heart wrenching as the events depicted here, a lot of the sentiments carried over well enough to say that, yes, this movie hit close to home on a few different levels. The fact that Jeff Nichols directed the film in a manner that let the story breathe on it's own only served to add gravitas to the events as they transpired. From the very first scene of Son getting ready for work, you know this isn't going to be a happy film. In fact, you could say the whole feels like you are in mourning with these characters the whole time.

Shotgun Stories tells the tale of seven sons born of one man and two mothers. Son, Kid and Boy born of the first wife and Cleaman, John, Mark and Steven born of the second. While the events that led to the first divorce are never detailed, we are made aware that the father all but disowned the first set of boys to start a new life with wife number two. The event that sets things to a boil is best left to be a surprise simply because it had a tremendous impact on me when I saw it. Suffice to say that something transpires that sets the two groups of sons against each other and begins a struggle that is the crux of the plot progression for the rest of the film. I know I am being almost frustratingly vague, but this is most definitely a movie where the less you know going in, the better off you are.

What really struck me about this movie was, as I said before, the subtlety of it all. There is almost no melodrama to be found here and the story unfolds in a way that feels very natural. The characters all look and act like people I knew in my life and in some cases, people I still know to this day. The character of Shampoo, whose only purpose, as far as I can tell, is to push people against each other just to see the sparks fly, rang especially true. Sure, I suppose you could call him a plot device, but I literally was in a situation where a person like Shampoo was going back and forth between myself and a third party doing everything they could to get us to fight. It just seems like some people get off on that kind of thing. The other characters mostly had traits that I recognize in my friends and family, but Shampoo was like an embodiment of someone I knew put to celluloid.

Another thing I wanted to mention was the way characters in Shotgun Stories grieve. They mourn the dead the way real people do; by getting on with their lives and gritting their teeth through the pain. No outlandish scenes of tears and declarations of "Why, God, why???" Just people that looked like the world has ended going about their daily lives the same way they did the day before tragedy came knocking on their door. Again, this hit home, because it is a reflection of how I grieve, as well. You almost feel worse for the mourners as you watch them go through this, because it seems weird compared to what we are used to in films. Almost as though you are going through the time with them as opposed to simply watching the events transpire.

I don't know that I can throw particularly high praise at Jeff Nichols as a director for this film, simply because he doesn't show you much to get excited over from the directorial side. What I will give him credit for is having the balls to give his film room to unfold at it's own pace. In this day and age of two second cuts and way too much dialogue, the scene in the hospital, with it's long takes and almost no dialogue, pleasantly surprised me. I will say that the writing was fantastic, though, and for me, that's almost enough to satisfy me and keep me coming back. I will definitely be watching out for his upcoming projects and I hope that he continues to hone his craft. He has the patience needed to become truly great. Time will tell if he has the skill.

3.01.2009

Another WoW Milestone

I mentioned before that when I saw the dragon mounts for Outland, I said to myself, "I must have one". Well, when I got to Northrend, I saw something that gave me that same feeling; the Mammoth Mount. The first one I saw, of course, was the Wooly Mammoth that you can buy in Dalaran along with the Traveler's Tundra Mammoth. The Wooly requires a ton of Heroic Instance runs and the Traveler's 20,000 gold. Neither are really optimal for my poor and lazy ass. Then I got to Storm Peaks and found The Sons of Hodir.

At Revered, the generous giants offer up an awesome looking Ice Mammoth and guess who hit Revered, this week? My wife. Nope, just kidding, it was me. The Ice Mammoth is neither 20k gold nor does it require a bunch Heroic Dungeon runs. Just a wee bit of faction grinding and 850 gold is all it takes to have an elephant that is much cooler than the fairly underwhelming Elekks the Draenei get. Not only that, but at Exalted, if I so choose, and I will so choose, I can get a Grand Ice Mammoth. While it isn't as awesome as the Traveler's Tundra Mammoth due to it's lack of vendors, it does share that mounts ability to carry two other passengers. That will be freaking awesome for helping friends level alts. It is also half the price at 8k gold at Exalted. I can't help it, I love huge, redonkulous mounts. Wow should have more of them.

2.28.2009

Freedom Costs A Buck Oh Five

I am going to try and temper the statements here, as best I can. This episode has multiple surprises, which I obviously will not discuss, but it's the last shot that did me in and pretty much guaranteed that I am here for the long haul. How much power is there in a simple nod of the head? That is all I am going to say, I guess. In the case of Dollhouse, a simple nod of the head was enough to glue my ass to the seat for at least the rest of this season. Call me a Whedon devotee, but I have a suspicion that the further we get from the pilot, the closer we get to his plans for this show.

Criticisms first, though. Since I know Joss Whedon is sitting around his fancy home, waiting to hear what some douche bag on the internet has to say, I will help him out by putting the negatives right up front. I have to say I was a little disappointed to see Faith show up for this episode. Dushku has been doing a respectable job of trying to break out of the "tough chick with an attitude" mold in the first two episodes, so seeing her fall back into that comfort zone was unfortunate. I thought Jaime Lee Kirchner was terrible as Rayna and I am not sure that Enver Gjokaj's Russian accent could have been less convincing. Truth be told, I really thought the pop star that hates her fame angle was just a bit too heavy handed, as well.

Those gripes aside, this episode was very much awesome for the two or three new wrinkles we got in the plot. Again, I will not go into them here, but anyone that wanted a little more intrigue and plot development than what has been trickling out should be reasonably happy with this installment, in my opinion. Amy Acker got a bit more screen time than she has been getting and that's always a plus for me. She never fails to deliver for me, so I can only hope she becomes a bigger part of this show as we progress. Apart from that, we didn't get much new info on the rest of the cast that I can share without spoiling. All I can say is I really can not wait to see what's next for our merry little band of actives. Who thinks Ballard's neighbor is an active? Raise your hand.

2.27.2009

What The Hello Kitty?

Posted for barb because I know she will die when she sees this.

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

2.26.2009

Target Acquired

I have been putting off sharing my thoughts on Dollhouse 1.2 - The Target. After two straight weeks of hearing unfavorable reviews everywhere I turn, I feel the urge building to champion this show and I do not want to do that. It's far too early in it's run to say it is worth championing, but at the same time, the people that have written it off completely after two episodes absolutely baffle me. I find the premise intriguing and I think this show brings something different to our TVs, right now. While it may still lose me at some point, I am hooked in, for now and really want to see where Whedon takes me.

1.2 finds us with Echo being sent on another engagement that, I'll be honest, I find unsettling. I know that Whedon's intention is to make it very clear that the Dollhouse is not some secret society of do-gooders out there righting wrongs, but damn, these guys could give Wolfram and Hart a run for their money. The people running this place are evil, right to their core, and that is honestly what I find so intriguing. Any other series would have started out by introducing us to the good guys and then layering in the villains, a little bit at a time, but not Dollhouse. No sir, we are thrown right into the viper's nest from the get go with almost no one to like, save for possibly the FBI agent with serious drive to bring Dollhouse down. Why is that, by the way, Mr. Whedon?

Speaking of our only real "good guy" in this show, I kinda wonder if Ballard was something Fox forced onto Whedon, because he really feels the least fleshed out of the characters. By that, I mean his dialogue is a lot more forced than most of the rest of the cast. That could be that the actor is simply not into the role, though. I don't know. Regardless, the exchange outside his apartment with his neighbor was pretty painful to see. He might as well have said "Hello, Ms. Exposition Device, how was your day?" On the other hand, I really like Langton, a lot. As Echo's handler, you can tell he is very much not OK with what is going on at the Dollhouse. That raises the question, of course, "Why does he stay?". Perhaps he is making an insulting amount of money or maybe he has ulterior motives entirely. Not sure. Want to find out. Going to keep watching so I can.

You may notice I haven't discussed the plot for this episode. The reason for that is I can't without spoiling pretty much the whole episode for those that haven't seen it. Leave it to say that I personally am a big fan of this type of storyline and always will be, so this episode hit the mark for me. More action than the first episode and also more signs that maybe the Dollhouse's grip on Echo may be slipping. The thing is, though, what's the exit strategy here? If Echo realizes who she is and runs off with Alpha, then what? Does the Dollhouse fade back and become the requisite villain to Echo's hero that you're half expecting it to be? Will Echo and Alpha team up and take the whole place down? If so, does the show then change it's name to Echo and Alpha Save the Day? Not sure. Want to find out. Going to keep watching so I can.

2.23.2009

The Eyes Are The Windows To The Soul

Yea, as with many youtube videos I have seen, I really have few words for this. This was shared with me by one of my Twitter friends. I do not know whether to thank him or shun him, to be honest, but this dog's eyes are just insane.



Hell, you don't even have to watch the video to see it. Everything you need to know is right there in that freeze frame.

2.21.2009

Jason Does Not Need An Underground Lair

Friday the 13th is an interesting animal, when you think about it. No series has met with more derision and, at the same time, more die hard loyalty than the exploits of one Jason Voorhees. Everyone knows who Jason is, even if they do not know that much about the character. In fact, if it wasn't for the first Scream film, there would probably still be people out there that did not know that Jason's mother was the killer in the first film. I am sure there are still people that aren't aware that Jason did not get the iconic hockey mask until part 3. Yet here he is, in our psyches and our daily lives, the literal poster boy for the slasher film. In all honesty, making a new Friday film should have been the easiest thing in the world. The sequels did not set the bar high and the character has only the barest of bones when it comes to a back story. So I ask what other reviewers and fans of this series have been asking for the last week, now; how the hell do you fuck up Jason?

Do not get me wrong, I did not hate the new Friday the 13th. There were a lot of shining moments that I will forever remember. There are select bits of dialogue that were awesome and specific scenes that really hit the mark. Overall, though, the whole thing felt like a mish mash of previous Friday films and it never seemed to decide what kind of slasher it wanted to be. Did it want to be funny like Jason X and Freddy Vs Jason or did it want to be scary like the first four Friday films were? It wasn't really either of those things, but it tried to be both and just kept falling flat on it's face at every turn. I had the same problem with the much hyped Hatchet. The comedy was mostly not funny and the movie was never genuinely scary.

One of the reasons Jason worked in the early films, in my opinion, is they showed him sparingly and they never kept him on screen for any extended length of time. Someone on Bloody Good Horror said it best when they said Jason is a force of nature. In the first four films, he was still very much alive, but he never felt human. When you saw him, it was usually about 5 seconds before someone was going to get grotesquely fucked up and then he disappeared into the wind, again, like some kind of redneck ninja with a machete fetish. Let's focus on that for a second, shall we? Did someone forget to tell Platinum Dunes that one of the major draws for the other Friday films was the gore and the kills? There is not one moment in this new movie that can compare to the arrow through the throat from the first or the machete to the face (of the guy in the fucking wheelchair, no less) from the second. I didn't even really like the dock kill everyone else seems to like. It made me laugh uncomfortably, to be honest.

Ok, fine, so we didn't get much gore to speak of, but did we get tits? Oh yea, we got scary fake tits. First we get orange fake baked "enhanced" tits (I think it was at least a real woman, though). Second, we get mannequin tits while some dude talks about her taking his virginity?? Yea, weird. Next up, we have naked wake boarding. Wait, what? Have you ever been skiing? I have not. However, I have been tubing on many, many occasions. To say it was a jarring experience would be an understatement. You get jostled around, a lot. Somehow, though, Willa Ford's knockers never moved. They sat stone still like someone had glued rocks to her chest and painted on nipples. My assumption is that the skiing scene was partially digital effects since no woman in her right mind would ski naked. Ouch. When we do finally get a nice pair of non-freakish breasts, they are accompanied by some of the most insulting comments I have ever heard in my life. "Stupendous"? "Perfect nipple placement, baby"? Are you kidding me?

This has to stop at some point, so I will just mention there was no suspense, either. Jump scares, sure, but no tension. What I did like was two separate lines in the movie; "You almost hit the start button on a whoop-ass machine" and "Where the fuck are you gun". I also laughed at Trent randomly shooting at everything that sorta made a noise. "Ah, shoes! Get em!" I thought Aaron Yoo was hilarious as Chewie and Arlen Escepeta did a good job toying with conventions as the token black guy that was painfully aware that he was the token black guy. Last but not least, I found Jared Padalecki to once again be immensely charming and likable, just like I do when I watch Supernatural. Everyone else in this movie was completely forgettable because there were too many characters involved to build up more than Jason and Clay. Truth be told, they spent to much time building them up, too.

2.17.2009

Regulators! Mount Up!

After a few months of semi serious effort, I accomplished one of my main goals in WoW that I have had since the introduction of flying mounts; I got my first dragon mount. Meet my new pal, the Albino Drake When 3.0.2 went live and I saw the 50 mount achievement, I knew what I had to do. Then Blizz pulled a whammy on me and took away race restrictions for faction mounts with 3.0.8. I think that was what really spurred me on. After 3.0.8, all I did for the most part was grind one faction or another to get mounts. First Gnomeregan for their Mechanostriders and then Kurenai for the Talbuks. Hell, I even ran Strat a few times hoping to snag the Deathcharger's Reins to no avail. Getting the Talbuks got me to 48 mounts. I started but did not get close to finishing the grind for the Netherwing Drakes, but I knew that was going to take awhile, so I said screw it and made the Armored Brown Bear number 49.

The choice for number 50 was easy. I have been saying since they introduced flying mounts for engineers that tailors should get flying carpets. Making the Flying Carpet was the first thing I did at 77 after I got Cold Weather Flying, so it felt right to make the Magnificent Flying Carpet the one that caps me off and gets my dragon. Boy, is that thing awesome in motion, though. A mage zooming around on a flying carpet just feels right. Anyway, there's no sense in making this overly long, but just for giggles, I listed out the mounts that got me to the 50 mount total after the break. I doubt anyone cares, but that's why this is my blog and not yours.

6 Elekks (3 normal, 3 epic)
6 Sabers (3 normal, 3 epic)
6 Horses (3 normal, 3 epic)
6 Rams (3 normal, 3 epic)
7 Mechanostriders (4 normal, 3 epic)
1 Black War Tiger (epic)
7 Gryphons (3 normal, 4 epic)
8 Talbuks (all epic)
2 Flying Carpets (1 normal, 1 epic)
1 Armored Brown Bear (epic)

50 mounts. I did it. I can now quit WoW, as I have won the game.

2.15.2009

Welcome to the Cliche

I bet you half the people that posted about Dollhouse referenced Welcome to the Dollhouse in some way or another, so who am I to buck a trend? No one, that's who. Still, you can't deny that the expression rings true as the pilot episode is very much an introduction to the latest world created by Joss Whedon, the master of girl power television. While some might say that a show about women that are essentially kept as mind-controlled slaves sent to do the bidding of whatever client chooses to pay for their services is hardly the definition of girl power, I have no doubt that Whedon will take Echo down the hero's path as she eventually struggles to free herself and stand on her own. You know, that old chest nut. I'll try not to spoil too much after the read link.

I admit that I have my doubts about the show's premise and have since it was announced. The obvious creep factor of someone being brainwashed and pimped out to someone who doesn't know she's been brainwashed disturbs on multiple levels. Then I watch the pilot and they manage to take it a step further. It turns out that the new memories and personalities are grafted from real people. So not only do these girls think they are someone else; they think they are someone else who actually existed. Yea. Creepy. I respect Whedon's intentions here, because we are meant to dislike the organization pulling Echo's strings, but damn, the boy went all out on the sleeze factor, this time. Here's hoping I don't get so creeped out that I dread watching the show, each week. It's a thin line that Whedon will have a hard time treading.

Then we have Dushku. Yea, sure, she's smokin hot and all, but for what this show is intending to do, we are going to need some serious acting chops. After all, she will essentially be playing a completely different person, week in and week out. That's a big difference from the other show that people are going to instantly compare Dollhouse to, which is Alias. In Alias, Sidney was always Sidney. Different clothes, different assignment, but the same woman. Echo is a blank canvas with essentially no life experiences to draw from except the ones they give her. If all we get each week is the same old Dushku with a new outfit, this show is sunk. That said, I thought Eliza did an admirable job in the pilot. She sold me on the vulnerability of the character, as well as the intelligence and confidence. She didn't look and act like Faith in a suit and wasn't popping wise every other line. If she can do that, every time, I may be able to get behind Dollhouse.

Which brings me to the overall feel of the show for me. The staff at the Dollhouse are sufficiently slimy, which will work in Whedon's favor, since, as I said, we aren't supposed to like these people. That handler that cares too much was a tad more cliched than I would have liked, simply because these stories always have the handler that cares too much. I recognize that it's a tried and true plot device, but it tells me far too much far too soon about where this show is headed. I also like that they introduced Amy Acker's character with a nary a word about the numerous scars on her face. They just put them out there and left it to the viewer to decide if that was interesting, which it certainly was, for me. I won't even mention the last scene of the episode, but all I can say is it did exactly what the last shot of a pilot should do; it got me excited about seeing episode 2. Whether or not I will be along for the full ride remains to be seen, but they've got me for one more week, at the least. Bravo, Mr. Whedon. Bravo.

The Gates Are Now Open

I did not realize there was a captcha when you leave comments. That is lame and, as such, has been removed. I still require some kind of ID, for the sake of minimizing spammers, but you won't have to decipher a goofy distorted picture, anymore. There are probably other settings I can adjust over time, but I am not going spend large blocks of time digging through every single feature of Blogger. I will just adjust things as stuff that bugs me pops up.

2.14.2009

End of An Era?

So I went through the rigmarole of cancelling nakedeskimo.com, tonight. I can't say I'll miss it. I think whatever I need to do, I can easily do from this site. I suppose I need to sign up for a flickr or photobucket account. Not sure which is the better option or if it matters, even. Regardless, I am going to need a photo hosting site, now and then. It also just occurred to me that I really like embedding youtube videos, so let's see if that works here. hmm.



Looks like it's a winner. Sweet. Yea, I could get used to this, pretty quick.

Blogging From My ipod

Testing out an ipod app to post to my blog from this little toy of mine. The internet has become a strange and wondrous place.

Dawn of a new blog

Quick introduction, I suppose. I am not an eskimo. I also did not realize eskimo is a bit of a racial slur, so if I manage to offend someone, I am sorry. At this point, though, I am sticking with the name. It has a nice ring to it and people know me by it. My main purpose for this is to dump my web site because I just don't feel like paying hosting fees for something I never use to it's full potential. Beyond that, we will see where this goes.

1.29.2009

The Rats aka Deadly Eyes

This is a repost of a review I posted to the Gentlemen's Guide to Midnight Cinema Forum over at Pop Syndicate. Hence the backdating and it's appearance before my "first post" on this blog. Check out the original thread here

I mentioned this one awhile back as one of the very much out of print flicks that I procured off the interwebs. I saw this movie once when I was a small child and it left one hell of a lasting impression on my psyche. Going back at 32, I fully expected to absolutely hate or at least have fun mocking what I expected to be 80s cheese. After all, to get the giant rat look, they put costumes on dachshunds. How in the world could this not be silly to a fault knowing that going in? To be honest, I don’t know, but silly it was not. In fact, much to my surprise, this flick was pretty damn effective.

Quick premise for the uninformed, which is probably just about everyone. The Health Dept. quarantines some grain that it suspects contains steroids and other contaminates on a dock for several days. In that time, of course, rats make meals of as much of the grain as they can until it is eventually ruled that the grain be destroyed. Upon destroying the now jacked up rats’ food source, the guv’ment unwittingly unleashes hell upon an unsuspecting NYC. Naturally, it’s up to our two main characters to save the day, but who honestly cares about the people in this movie? The point of watching this is to feed the fears of anyone with a rat phobia.

I won’t lie and say the writing is awesome or the acting inspiring, but I will say this; this movie had f*ckin balls! The first human to die in the entire movie is a baby. Not a young child or even a pre-teen, but a damn still-in-a-high-chair so-cute-it-hurts little baby. Followed shortly thereafter by her poor unfortunate sister that follows the grisly blood trail from the toppled high chair into the basement. To say the least, I was impressed. Everyone knows kids are almost always off limits in horror movies. Until they are teenagers, you can’t touch them. The other rat attack scenes were equally unnerving, including a scene in a theater that made me stop putting my feet on the floor as a youngen for a good, long time. Still, that first one was pretty shocking and just sets the tone for the rest of the film. No one is safe. Nothing is sacred.

Like I said, I was impressed. I am really hoping someone will eventually pick this up for a DVD release, but the biggest name in this whole movie is a cameo by Scatman Crothers. Not only that, but I actually think if you cleaned this up for a proper DVD, the movie would lose a lot of it’s punch. What I have is a bad VHS rip that is probably darker than they ever intended and that really helped the atmosphere and creepiness. It also did an excellent job of masking the fact that the giant “rats” were cute little doggies. I guess it’s kind of like vinyl is to music. Some midnight movies are just better on VHS.