The Nuclear Fire Ramen Noodle Challenge

Of the many things I enjoy watching on TV, nothing comes quite as close to pornography and the Food Network. Watching people cook, or go to all kinds of awesome restaurants, and just eat some of the most scrumptious looking food around. Watching a well topped burger stack up, a pizza with all the fixings get sliced up, a steak sizzling on the grill, or a secret blend of herbs and spices get thrown into a signature dish. More than anything though, I really love a good food challenge.

On the Travel Channel there used to be a show called Man vs. Food, and it's actually been revived with a new host. The host would travel to a new city each episode and hit up 3 of the most popular restaurants in the area. The last restaurant however, there would always be some kind of challenge waiting for him. A 7 pound burrito, a 2 foot tall burger, a platter of 12 loaded up hotdogs, or a plate of hellfire wings...I love the idea of overcoming adversity in the form of a foe from flavortown.

I'd love to take on some of these food challenges, but I don't have it in me to take on in most cases what is the weight equivalent of a plated baby, the dessert challenges all have way more sugar than I feel like taking on anymore. There is something I can do though...

All the heat challenges I see these guys taking on, every time, I sit back and think to myself, "Pfft, I could take that." Every time, they tap out where I'm certain I could keep going, or finish where I'm sure I would have already long crossed the finish line. Well, my time has come.

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The best translation I can find for this, as about 95% of the package is Korean, is the Samyang Hek Buldak Extra 2x Spicy Roasted Chicken Ramen Nuclear Noodles...that's a mouthful. What the internet is calling it though, is the Nuclear Fire Ramen Noodle Challenge.


These are the world's spiciest instant ramen noodles. Clocking in at 8,808 SHU, these noodles are 2-3 times hotter than standard red tabasco. I don't feel very threatened, so when I found a link to buy some of this stuff online, I couldn't get my credit card out fast enough.

The stuff actually arrived the day before we left for Vegas, and though I was quite confident in my ability to conquer the caliente cuisine, I didn't want to know what after effects might be wrought on the plane flight out. So, I waited until the return to put this challenge to bed.

Get some.

I've got more. You want to take the challenge before I finish off the rest?

Better question, do you know of any other spicy challenges out there that I haven't heard of yet? I'm on a mission now, and I'm taking on all challengers. I want to find my limit, because despite the pain I've endured, I haven't found my breaking point yet. I want to take all these hot shots down in a blaze of glory! Bring on your bhut jolokias, and I'll put your peppers to shame! I want to know what you've got. Next time, spice fans!

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

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Sin City...no, the REAL Sin City

Well...

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...here I sit on a plane, heading back home from crossing off one of those truly American life experiences...Vegas. It's been a wild week. Normally when I go on vacation, I'm content to just sit back and relax the time away. Vegas had to be different...especially considering one was popping their Vegas cherry.
So...come along will you?

Luxor

Luxor

Our first night in town, I was pretty tired from the flight, so I wasn't very trigger happy at the Rio where we saw Penn & Teller. The second night though, when we went to the Luxor for the Blue Man Group, I was on the ball.

Luxor

Luxor

The interior of the Luxor was crazy by the way!

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But if Luxor was crazy, the Blue Man Group was even crazier. This was no surprise...I saw them years ago in Chicago on a high school band trip. I guess I had just forgotten how far these guys go.

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It's kind of hard to see what's going on ^here^ because the end of this show turned into a straight up rave. I was honestly kind of worried that all the antics, the pulsing lights, and the barrage of streamers was going to give my dad a seizure or something, but he loved the experience too.

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The Blue Man Group...still one hell of an experience.

Here's some more of the Luxor's crazy awesome architecture. 

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So, my mom tells me that there's more to Vegas than just Vegas. What? What more is there than booze, babes, and the boisterous loss of money?

Oh...I guess the Hoover Dam is close.

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That day was hot, and there was a lot of walking, but it was really cool to see this structure close up, and to finally grasp the scale of it.

The next day was a night on the town. Time to finally get around to the true spirit of Vegas, losing money.

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Bellagio

Bellagio

We ended up gambling at the Bellagio that night. And, while my mom planned things out a little better than me, and broke even, I ended up down about $40. Ugh. That's ok, I'll get it back later in the week.

There's something else in the area that, like the Hoover Dam, you just can't get that sense of awe and vastness of scale unless you visit it in person. The Grand Canyon was also on our Vegas list, and we got to see it in true style.

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This day started with a limo ride. Wish we could have had this one night to just cruise the strip and draw in some hate. It gets better though.

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That picture doesn't do enough justice to the situation of me sitting in a helicopter right here. A fricken helicopter!

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Hey, I've seen ^this^ before!

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After flying in we got set down on part of an Indian reservation within the canyon, and got an opportunity for lunch and photo ops. After that, back to the air for the trip back over the canyon, a pass over the strip, and a return to terra firma.

We decided to hit up Planet Hollywood that night for a little bit more gambling and to try Gordon Ramsay's burger place.

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I really wanted to try craps while I was out there, but the rules sound so confusing, and just watching the action for a while provided no clarification for me on how the whole thing is supposed to work. So I decided that I'd just stick to slots and blackjack.

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I gotta say, Brits can do a damn fine burger.

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A helicopter ride is a surprising assault on all your senses. We all felt pretty tired the next day, so we took it relatively easy the next day until going to dinner, and then seeing Criss Angel: Mindfreak. That man...I don't want to say he is without talent, because he is a fucking crazy illusionist, but Jesus is he high on his own ego. I guess he can back up his own attitude, but he comes off really pretentious. Man is a master of his, don't get me wrong...he just kind of rubs you in a real odd way.
The food that night was great though. Tried some sushi at a place called Rice, and actually won some money on the slots...it would prove to be the only time that would happen over the course of the week.

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On the next to last day of our trip, we decided to hit up Fremont Street...Old Vegas. This used to be the Las Vegas strip back decades ago. Now...it's something else altogether. Something crazy.

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Ha...the D lol. 
I am 5 years old, for reals.

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We ended up stopping here at Binion's here for a while to drop some more dime into the slots. More money swirling in the drain.

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Let's play some "Where's Waldo" in the above pic to find one of the reasons why Fremont Street is so crazy. It shouldn't take you too long.

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Yea, Fremont street is really something else. What started out as the original Las Vegas strip now has a counter culture all its own. It was a fun journey.

That same night we were able to knock out another one of the staple Vegas experiences. The fountain show outside the Bellagio. Yea, we've already been to the Bellagio, but we missed the water show the first time, and didn't know that it actually ran every 15 minutes. Finally made it.

You've probably seen this show a dozen times on the webz, but this is the only version you'll watch that has all that siren fanfare at the conclusion. Yea, that's pretty special.

Our last night in Vegas, we went up into Stratosphere, the huge town that from the top, it looked like we were almost as high as we were when we went up the the helicopter. My ears popped going up the elevator. Even better, there was alcohol at the top!

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All good things come to an end though, and now I'm back at home. I honestly didn't expect to have as much fun as I did. I'm glad I made the effort to get out and try to hit all the sites.

Vegas...√
Hoover Dam...√
Grand Canyon...√
True Vegas Experience...yea, I think we did pretty well.

Well, until next time.

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

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I'm Getting that Deposit Back...Right?

So...one of the big American dreams is home ownership. Being able to live somewhere where you genuinely define all the rules. No landlords or parents that are the true law of the land, nope...that's all you now. No more renting, no more tossing money in a pit from which you will never get it back. Now...now it's in a different pit, where you'll more than likely get that money back...likely, right?

I have made a lot of improvements to this house. Like...a lot. Hold on, let me back up a little bit here...

I never got into it here in the pages, as most of y'all knew about it when it happened, but back in December of 2015, I bought a house...my own place, my own rules, my own investments.
All my own investments...yea. This place is great, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't without the need for a little TLC. This house was built back the 50s, and even though previous owners have done a lot to move it forward, it still needed quite a bit to get it to where it needed to be. I was on the renovation wagon before I even had my furniture in.

The electrical wiring in this place needed a quantum leap, as no one had yet thought to bring it out of the 50s. Seriously, how did anyone get anything done without any grounded outlets or GFIs. Fortunately, they knew what they were doing back in the 50s. While the existing electrical wiring was quite dated, it was still in extremely good condition. Good old copper wiring. A few friends got places built back in the 70s...aluminum wiring...that shit wasn't made to last.

I'm not above or below saying that I've been spoiled in my life, but it'd be nice not to have to hand wash all of my dishes for the rest of...forever. I guess the people that live here previously loved that kind of manual labor, because I definitely had to get a cabinet cut out to have a dishwasher installed. Not only that, but a garbage disposal as well. Did they have to wash their dishes over a trash can. Bah, get with the times guys!

And on the subject of washing, this place had a pretty big water problem. The existing water heater was in pretty bad shape. The pan was corroded, and it took like 5 minutes to get any hot water to the kitchen sink. Replacing the water heater should have been an easy enough operation, if the previous owners, at whatever point they replaced the hvac heating unit, hadn't used all the free space in the utilities closet for a much bigger new hvac heater. Now, there wasn't enough space to get the old water heater out. Ugh, had to knock out a damn wall just to get the old girl out of there. Might as well use that opportunity to widen the door and make it a bit heavier to cut down on noise. A new water heater followed, of course, filling what space remained in that little closet.

All of this stuff was within the first few months of moving into this place, and none of this crap was cheap. Nor was it the end. Earlier this summer, my roof started to come down at the rear of my house. Okay...that sounds a lot worse than it actually was. It was the eaves around the edge of the roof...that part that hangs over a bit. I think because of the way my AT&T lines are anchored to my house the eaves just kind of got pulled away. That was a pretty penny to get corrected.

And now, more...

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Yea, that's not the way that is supposed to look. I'm not really sure how old my garage door is, but this past week it got down to it's last legs. It's been kind of cantankerous at times, but this week it has been particularly unruly...and now I see why. So, Tuesday I arrange for someone to come out on Thursday for someone to come out and give me an estimate. Well, I get back Wednesday to find an estimate already waiting for me. At that point my garage door was still working well enough to manually raise the thing, and I was kind of wondering if the guy that came out had tried to do any adjustments while he was out there. He didn't wait for the appointment so no way to know for sure. Being unsure, I try to lift the door to get my car inside. I guess that was the last straw.

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That's what it looks like now. That fucker just snapped up on me. I was pulling up on that handle in the middle when that breakage that started on the left finally followed through all the way to right, and folded up into itself. Somuhmuhbitch tried to take a piece of me on the way up, and my Flash-like reaction speed was just slow enough to let it take a taste. Ugh...a thousand bucks. That's what the damage is going to be to get this thing fixed.

I had hoped that by the time I was writing this that this would all be in the past. But, I said earlier that I came home Wednesday and already found an estimate. The guy jumped the gun coming out. I ended up waiting at home all morning for the guy because I was told that someone would still be coming, and all I end up getting was a lousy phone call telling me what I already read. If I'd have been there Wednesday, or if the guy would have actually come back on Thursday like they said, I could have been here, and they could have gotten inside to see the full picture. Instead, we scheduled someone to come out on Saturday only to find out Saturday morning that this is a two-person job, and they only sent one. Furthermore, the assistant that should have come out with him is gonna be out for another 3 days.

So...here I sit, still waiting with a jacked up garage door.
At some point I'd like to be done working on this place. The reality though, that I'm coming to learn and accept regarding home ownership, is that your work is never done. Fair warning for anyone out there that hasn't made the leap to home ownership yet...you may be making an investment into your future, but the maintenance fees along the way are going to hurt for a while. I still wouldn't change my current situation, but damn, every now and then my pockets can really ache.

This will get worked out...eventually. I'm just wondering where the next little surprise is going to come from. Always an adventure, home ownership.

<QuickEdit> 
The Defenders was pretty dope. Had some pretty grand ambitions that paid off in some very cool ways. Only 8 episodes though...come on Marvel/Netflix! Stretch it out a little more, give us some more of those Avengers type team-building exercises.
I'd call out Iron Fist for being a naive idiot, but that's the same direction they went in his standalone arc, so that's just Danny Rand being Danny Rand. My only complaint really...is that it was all over too quick. Boo.

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

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Grand Designs...Sort of

Quickly addressing the elephant that just doesn't seem to leave the room, I think I'm too ambitious to try and find meaningful content to post here. Why can't this just be a blog about me and my musings. It can? Cool, let's move past this then.

I'm sitting here watching the first episode of the Defenders...maybe don't expect a review later, but definitely my opinions as I work my way through.

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Stuff to look forward to. Doesn't feel like there's a whole lot of that anymore. I've got this series right now, a few movies coming up later this year, and a few vacations, but those feel like dim glimmers on the horizon. I don't really have that bright guiding light anymore in my life. I've talked about how career wise...well, rut is probably the best term to describe what that is. Love...don't get me wrong, I've got something awesome going on down in Galveston(did I tell y'all about that? Guess not, it has been like a year since I've come here. Yep, I've let a special lady hold my heart, and it actually feels warm and fuzzy now), and it definitely is one of those good-good things, but God...in a state as big as Texas, we almost couldn't be further apart.

I know...distance makes the heart grow fonder...but, fuck that right? Proximity is where it's at. I also know she's reading this. She does an exponentially better job keeping up with me than I do with her. Hey boo...sorry I suck at this whole thing. Anyways...

Right now though, we're both too rooted to be able to reduce that distance in any way. Rooted to what? Our own comfort? The routine? I dunno...I made a big deal when I moved into my house that this is where I wanted to be. I don't really know why other than this is the epicenter of my friends and family, more or less...and close to a job that...well, it pays the bills...bills that link directly to my own roots. I'm going in a circle now, but that's exactly what I'm on about. 

I'm sustaining myself so that I can keep sustaining myself. Feels like I should be doing a bit more living than...maintaining.

By the way, I'm up through episode 4 of Defenders...damn it's a hard place to stop for tonight. It's starting to get epic.

Ugh, I don't know where I'm going with this. Just that, I've lost that light at the end of my tunnel, and I'm really trying to find it again. One way or another, I think I need some kind of major change to make that light flicker back to life.

All my friends are getting married and having babies. Meanwhile, I'm sitting here getting excited about Marvel and D&D. Focus Corey...focus.

<QuickEdit>
Hope everyone had a happy Apoceclipse, and got to see it without searing your retinas.

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Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open...and I guess I'll try to do the same.

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Reviews: Star Trek Beyond, Jason Bourne, Suicide Squad

I've got another hot set of reviews up for y'all. As always, I'll do my best not to get into plot details and whatnot, but

SPOILERS MAY FOLLOW, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK

You have been warned, so let's proceed.

Star Trek Beyond

The third installment of the "Reboot Series", this time was directed by Justin Lin, best known for directing the 3rd through 6th films in the Fast and Furious franchise. The big elements I see being drawn from his work are films that are high energy and very character driven, good elements to bring to the Star Trek franchise. The more interesting note for me was that Simon Pegg was one of the writer's of the screenplay. That's interesting for me because, while I would consider him on my list of favorite actors, I wouldn't count him among my favorite writers, given his work on this film.

This movie felt like it was written by a Star Trek fan. Is that a compliment? If I had said that the movie felt like it was written for Star Trek fans, then I feel like it would have been a compliment. It felt like Simon had taken all the best plot devices and stories that he had grown up with, spun them a bit, and crafted them into this movie. If they were trying to retell a very specific conflict, like the Wrath of Khan, it's alright then that it feels familiar, because it's supposed to. If it's a completely new expedition, as was promised, it shouldn't feel so familiar.
And that is my complaint right there...not that it didn't pack as much action as was needed, not that the acting was bad, not that the graphics or the music were sub par...it was that what was supposed to be the first genuinely new adventure for the reboot crew felt familiar.

They focused on a lot fewer characters this time around. The majority of the Enterprise crew didn't get a lot of action...hell Uhura didn't get more than a hand full of lines. I don't think she had more than 5 minutes of screen time. The focus this time was more around Kirk, Spock, Scotty, McCoy, the new white colored alien chick, the BBEG, and a few of his cronies. Sulu and Chekov got a little more play than other minor characters, but it was really downplayed. That's really unfortunate...R.I.P. Anton Yelchin. Another tragic death in a year when so many lives and careers like his have been cut so very short. I can't wait for 2016 to be over so that we can stop losing so many great entertainers.

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I can't really cut this movie too deeply. They did everything right...they just could have put a plot together that didn't pull so much from the shows, or just the other two movies. I mean, another BBEG with some kind of super weapon? Come on...get a bit more original. And, the motorcycle...what the hell was with that. That's not really much of a spoiler, but yea, there's some kind of ridiculous motorcycle scene.

Anyways, good movie...that could have been a great movie. Flashy lights, pulse pounding speed and action, characters deeply staring into the eyes of another, obligatory Rage Against the Machine song...good movie.

Star Trek Beyond
3 out of 5 stars

Jason Bourne

I don't know if Jason Bourne, the character... not Matt Damon the actor, but the character...was thrilled about "being back". He was given some immensely compelling motivation to take on this last fight, but I still felt like, at any given moment Bourne could have said, "No, I'm done, just leave me alone." The whole movie, he was on the verge of not giving a fuck. The only exception to that being the first 15-30 minutes or so of the movie, where he was exactly at zero fucks given.
I don't know exactly how much that has to say about director Paul Greengrass, but he's directed the bulk of the Bourne franchise(excluding Bourne Identity and Bourne Legacy), so he probably knows the character about as well as anyone does.

I also feel like this movie didn't have a lot of room to breathe. It's action on top of action on top of action. Every now and then we get a break to see what kind of action plan the CIA is putting together against Bourne and who he's trying to protect/ally with, but the action is pushing things forward.

I think part of the reason that Jason Bourne himself looks so ready to throw in the towel, is that he is just looking old. Don't get me wrong, he's still as buff and trim as a middle-aged black-ops agent ought to be who is still out in the field...but he's pushing greys. I'm aware that it's been 9 years since The Bourne Ultimatum was released, but does Jason Bourne ever get to settle down, or is he destined to become Jasold Brittle?

The Bourne Identity - 2002

The Bourne Identity - 2002

The Bourne Ultimatum - 2007

The Bourne Ultimatum - 2007

Jason Bourne - 2016

Jason Bourne - 2016

Given, thousand yard stare, but does that look like someone that would still be a threat in the field? Okay, yea, he'd still put my balls in my throat too. Moving on.

The new talent brought in does a lot to freshen up a franchise that is starting to get some mothballs. Tommy Lee Jones plays the unsympathetic and unfeeling CIA head honcho that is the latest tasked with the question of what to do about Bourne once evidence of him resurfaces. I don't feel like this was a much different performance than what he put on as "K" in Men In Black. You know...he's "seen some shit", so nothing really seems to emotionally affect him that much.
Alicia Vikander on the other hand, they write her in as being relatively green, as far as field work is concerned. Well, unless she's had some kind of special ops training(entirely possible), I'd expect a bit more alarmed of a reaction when shit starts to hit the fan than this...

Alicia Vikander's character looking concerned.

Alicia Vikander's character looking concerned.

That is literally the most alarmed I remember her looking all movie long.
Can we stop putting pretty girls in films just for the sake of looking pretty(Yea, I know, had to check, manhood is still attached)? I mean, if a person has some acting chops, by all means...act. But if we're just bringing in eye candy for the sake of having eye candy...I think we can find someone better. Supermodels don't always make the best actors, nah mean?
Sorry to put you on blast Alicia. It's not that I didn't enjoy your acting, but I just found myself wanting more fairly often. We cool?

This is still a very faithful Bourne movie; espionage, political cover ups, black-ops badassery, vehicular mayhem, and teams of people parked in front of computers in a war room that are continually flabbergasted. It's still a Bourne movie, but the franchise is just starting to strain itself and show its' age.

Jason Bourne
3.5 out of 5 stars

Suicide Squad

I am about to offend a lot of people, I'm sure...but I must do this.

Now, I think I managed to stay away from spoilers on my first two reviews, but I don't know how well I can do on this one, so if you really don't want to have anything ruined for you, and you really want to go into this movie with any kind of optimism...I'd be very hesitant to read any further. So...at your own risk...

When I first walked out of the theater after seeing this, I was relatively alright with what I had just seen. The longer I think about it though, the more and more I pick it apart, and my opinion of it wanes. Where do I begin...let's start with the thing that has received the most criticism, the Joker.

This iteration of the Clown Prince of Crime seems to most closely mirror the Joker from the animated series. The biggest mistake that most want to call out here is Mister J's relationship with Harley Quinn. In almost any iteration of the lore you can find, Harley Quinn is head over heals in love with, and infatuated with the Joker...the man that broke her and built her back up in his own image. From the Joker's perspective however, she is respected just about as much as any of his capable henchmen, but there is no love there...no infatuation. If he lost Harley, we might receive a short sentiment of despair or the like, but the Joker would move on. He certainly wouldn't pine for her, or move mountains to get her back.

That is one of the big areas where most want to say that Suicide Squad failed on the Joker, but I'm also aware that while they were trying to respect their source material, they were trying to do something new with the Joker.
No one has tried to recreate the performance that has preceded them. Jack Nicholson's take was very original, Heath Ledger took it too a dark new place, and Mark Hamill certainly wasn't looking to Cesar Romero for inspiration. Every new Joker has been a new take, so why are we judging Jared Leto's performance so hard for branching away from other sources in such a small way?
I won't say that it didn't bothered me, but it isn't something that I can really judge this movie for...for trying to be original.

In that same vein though, something that I do want to judge, is the use of tattoos on the Joker, which from everything I have heard is mostly the influence of David Ayer. This pulled the Joker as a character out of the movie so much for me. They are so self-referential, like on a Deadpool level. It's like this version of the Joker is aware of his own lore in our, the viewer's world, and is trying to connect with that lore through his tattoos.
Besides, I feel like a psychopath like him wouldn't express himself through tattoos...through art. I'd expect scars self-harm a lot sooner than I would expect the tattoos.

The only other character gripe I have is with Slipknot.
Now, I've danced around a lot of story element with this review so far, but I am about to straight up SPOIL some shit right here, so it you really don't want to know...I'll let you know when it's safe.

***SPOILERS***

Slipknot

Slipknot

Slipknot is a glorified plot device in this movie. He never gets properly introduced until the group is gearing up to go on mission. At which point they have him punch the fuck out of a female correctional officer for "mouthing off" to him. I felt like that was kind of an obvious foreshadow...turning the audience against him so that when he promptly dies to illustrate to the rest of the crew that they do indeed have bombs in their heads...no one so much as sheds a tear for him.
I didn't know much about Slipknot, but I'm sure he deserved better.

Oh, one more tiny thing before I drop the Spoilers flag...Katana...

Katana

Katana

In much the same way that they introduced Slipknot, right as the crew is leaving, Katana walks up and Rick Flagg says to the group something like, "Oh by the way, this is Katana...she has a sword that collects souls...she'll be watching my back." and everyone briefly sizes her up, shrugs, and moves on. And oh by the way, it doesn't get any better for her as the film goes on. After she is introduced as a glorifiedbodyguard for Flagg, the rest of the group is made clear after Slipknot gets the axe, that if Flagg dies, Waller will kill them all anyways. So everyone, really, is incentivized to keep Flagg alive anyways...Katana is a meaningless character in this movie...and I hate saying that, because I'm really like her as a character. This movie just uses her incredibly poorly.
So in essence, they spent time going into virtually everyone's backstory, Rick Flagg and Amanda Waller included, but Slipknot and Katana completely got the shoehorn treatment. As if they were a complete afterthought in the movie.

***/SPOILERS***

There was another scene that was just so poorly written, that it needs to be called out. I won't go into specifics, so as not to spoil anything, but it involves a notebook...with secrets in it. This notebook, after a series of small calamities is left laying out in the open, where one of our main characters finds said notebook, turn to precisely the right few pages to find some knowledge, and then proceeds to drop that heavy knowledge on the rest of the crew in a big, "Really?! This is why we're here?!" type scene.
They could not have been more obvious and deliberate about how that scene unfolded. Sloppy writing...resulting from hasty revisions that tried to balance the wants of the studio and the wants of the director.

I've got to go back to characters, because there is so much wrong with so many of them. Some of them they got right, and I will get to that, but I'm on a train of thought here, and don't want to abandon it yet, so...

Diablo

Diablo

Diablo was a character that they tried to inject a lot of drama and heartbreak into his backstory, but I failed to really connect with it, because of how sparsely they used himthroughout the film. When he finally did something impactful more than three quarters of the way through the film, it still didn't resonate with me at the end of the movie. Poor use of the character, not a bad character himself.

Killer Croc

Killer Croc

Killer Croc on the other hand was just a bad character. He had very few lines, and of the few that he had...he was just a black stereotype. Of note, he calls most girls shorty(if not all, can't remember at this point), and has a funny request involving BET. Other than that, he is brutish, scaly, and doesn't contribute all that much to the team. This was a waste of a character, especially considering how many characters they tried to jam together in this movie anyways.

Captain Boomerang

Captain Boomerang

I actually have nothing bad to say about Captain Boomerang. I thought he was hilarious, and a great addition to the team. My problem was with how little time they actually gave to him to shine. He only had like 2 or 3 really great moments, and in my mind they were probably some of the best spots of the film...but they were so short lived.

Enchantress/June Moone

Enchantress/June Moone

This character suffers from the same problem that Alicia Vikander's character did in Jason Bourne; pretty faces don't necessarily correlate to good acting chops. It looks like the majority of Cara Delevingne's career has been as an English model, and only broke into acting in the last 5 years or so...and it shows. Cara would do well to find herself a seasoned acting coach, because everything about Enchantress/June Moone fell flat. I am slamming this performance, and I hate to do it, because this character had so much potential. The arc that Enchantress/Moone follows is actually a pretty cool one, but Cara just did that arc no justice. I never saw Paper Towns, and I know that one performance is not much to really judge on, but this was just pretty weak.

Now I tell you about what I feel this film did well, and some of this honestly surprises me.

Deadshot/Floyd Lawton

Deadshot/Floyd Lawton

That's right...they did Deadshot well. I'm not going to go into how a black guy pulled off playing a dude named Floyd, but it worked. I wanted to hate this Will Smith version so much, especially because I loved the version from Arrow so much...but Will did well. I can even forgive some of his cheesy dialogue. I can't hate Will Smith's Deadshot, I like it, and that's all that needs to be said.

Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn

Despite the numerous issues I found with Leto's portrayal of the Joker, I can't really pick many faults out for Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn. Really the only thing I might fault is how hyper-sexualized the made Harley. How would they not though with Margot Robbie behind the hair dye, and how am I really going to complain?
I think she nailed all of Harley's mannerisms...the bubble gum fun-loving psychotic criminal cheerleader lived through her. Her New England accent was perfect, as well as all the "Mr. J"s and "Puddin"s she packed in there.

Sigh...this movie had so much potential, but it's faults were numerous and glaring. I initially left this movie wondering what I had just been through...trying to decide whether I was entertained by what I just saw, or not. It shouldn't be hard to be mindlessly entertained by a summer blockbuster action movie, but I sit here now still on the fence about it.

Suicide Squad
2.5 out of 5 stars

You stay classy San Diego...or, you know, wherever.

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open,

A New Form of Crack

On July 6th, a company by the name of Niantic, in a partnership with Nintendo and GAMEFREAK released a free to download mobile application that in just over two weeks is changing the world. The craze is global, so you know that I am undoubtedly talking about Pokémon GO.

For the first few days that the game was online, players weren't doing much of anything except looking at this screen though.

In the week following however, Niantic started getting their shit together and the server issues dropped of immensely. Once people didn't get kicked off every 15 minutes or so, they never left. Pokémon GO has surpassed Tinder in number of downloads, and people are logging more time playing than using Twitter and even Facebook.
People used to talk about a future in which everyone spent every waking moment with their faces down in their phones. Well, the future is now.

In case that doesn't look like a particularly large group, let me try again.

Now...it's not hard to find someone with their heads buried in their phones'. There have already been a few incidents involving people playing the game while they were driving, or playing and walking out unaware of traffic amidst them.
There will always be people that ignore both the games large and colorful warnings, and what should be a screaming sense of self-preservation...but common sense isn't quite so common any more these days.

What's really cool though is what this game is forcing people to do, whether they are aware of it or not. 
The game's core mechanic of catching these Pokémon revolves around your phone's internal GPS signal changing to move your in game avatar around. In other words...you move in the real world, your character moves in the virtual world. These Pokémon can't all be found in one general area, so you've got to get out and search. I mean, sometimes some cool stuff might pop up around where you live...

...but if you live in the Burbs like I do, these are few and far between. A quick look at what other people are reporting in my neighborhood (on another app) shows a little potential...

...but a lot of that is false. The game forces you to get out and explore to be successful. And not just drive somewhere and plant your ass on a bench or something...but actually walk around to trigger the monsters to pop out.
Getting active and getting exercise is the way to succeed. A lot of games have tried to use their appeal to get people off the couch and moving around, but not in numbers like what this game has. Shit...PornHubs traffic has taken a hit. Do you know what kind of events affect traffic to PornHub? The Super Bowl, the World Cup, the Olympics...and now a free to download phone application.
That also speaks to the audience that Pokémon GO has, because...I know we live in a messed up world (Donald Trump is the Republican candidate for the Presidency for Christ sake), but I would like to think that children have other things that they are ignoring now other than PornHub. I can be cynical, but I'm really hoping that that particular dip in traffic came from a slightly older demographic...more like myself. And I know it's true. 

I've gone out...gotten off the couch and tried to go find the best spots, and found others like myself...near 30 and still feel nostalgic of when we first got the original Pokémon Red and Blue back in 1998.
For whatever reason we have to play this game...we are legion, for we are many.

So, despite its truly ridiculous popularity, Pokémon GO is a largely incomplete app. For one, it is built on the bones of another Niantic game, Ingress. Ingress is also an augmented reality type massively multiplayer mobile application, but it has a much more science fiction/secret agent skew to it. The "Pokéstops" and "Gyms" directly tie back to where the "Portals" are in Ingress, and areas of greater Pokémon density tie back to Ingress' areas of high "Exotic Matter" concentration.
There are still a lot of things that Niantic wants to do with Pokémon GO that wasn't already setup and based in something functioning in Ingress, so they rolled Pokémon GO out without it. Things that are staples of the Pokémon brand, like trading and 1-on-1 battles, things that were promised when ads started popping up for the game a year or so ago, are things that we're just going to have to wait for. For right now, all we've got are catching 'em all and quasi battles.

I'd give them flack for rolling out an incomplete game, but I can't really throw stones when I've been playing daily since the Day 1 launch.
I do have a question though, for both Ingress and Pokémon GO...how did they determine the landmarks and whatever else that they were going to use for Portals/Pokéstops/Gyms? Some I understand...churches and places of public interest...sure. But, okay...I was driving back from my parents house the other day taking a longer route home and occasionally stopping at places that looked like they might be more ideal for getting out and doing a little hunting. I saw something strange though...as I was passing by the Moore funeral home and cemetery, where my Grandaddy currently resides in the Mausoleum, over a dozen stops out there...and even a gym(Yes, I already said it, we shouldn't be doing this while we are driving, but I'm scanning the area while at a stop sign or a light. Still not great, but at least I'm not doing it weaving in and out of traffic). A target rich environment at a graveyard? I kind of had to go check it out. So I went out there, made a quick stop by my Grandaddy's spot to chat for a bit, tell him what I was doing, and started making the round.

I'm standing right there next to my Grandaddy's spot, and look at all of those Stops! I know that we have ghost type Pokémon...and finding those in a graveyard would just make too much sense, but I'm seeing more stuff here than I did out at the Parks Mall in Arlington. It's kind of ridiculous.
I'd have thought that graveyards would completely creep me out, but I think I'm going back once it gets a bit late tonight. Don't think I can count on taking out that gym though.

I like what they've done with the little combat that is in this game. It's a mobile application, so they know it can't be as complicated as it is in the Gameboy/DS versions of the game. So they've brought each beast down to 2 attacks; a standard attack and a charged attack. There's also a dodge mechanic, and that's all there is to know about combat. Type advantage can get you pretty far in a battle, but if your opponent is over the top stronger than you...it won't be enough, and that's as it should be.
Gyms can be all over the place in terms of difficulty. If one gym has had its' team training at it for a while, it can have up to 9 trainers to get through before you even touch the actual leader. A gym in a public place is probably going to have all 3 teams going after it, and thusly it will probably be at a low level with only a few trainers inside. Take this gym at River Legacy Park for example that I took down the other day...

...there were only a few trainers inside when I got there, so I had no trouble taking them down and placing Team Mystic(Blue Team) back in control.

That control may have lasted only 5 minutes, but whatevs.

It's a simple game. Put on your most comfortable and supportive pair of shoes, flick some balls at some cute little monsters, prod your way through some gym battles, and have some fun out there.
Pro tip: Bring a bottle of water. In this Texas heat, I'm sweating like a whore in church out there. Keep hydrated folks.

Give it a try if you haven't yet. It's free(yea, I know...but the data!!! I know). Have some fun...I know I am.

My mom wonders if this is supposed to come with the meal.

My mom wonders if this is supposed to come with the meal.

There is an intruder in the house! Get it!

There is an intruder in the house! Get it!

This hospital is filthy!

This hospital is filthy!

This is the only time I haven't freaked out when a bee has flown in my car. (I am stopped at a very not busy stop sign by the way!)

This is the only time I haven't freaked out when a bee has flown in my car. (I am stopped at a very not busy stop sign by the way!)

Accidentally deleted this gem the other night. But with as many Eevees as I find in my area, I've already got a replacement.

Accidentally deleted this gem the other night. But with as many Eevees as I find in my area, I've already got a replacement.

My current top dog.

My current top dog.

And a gym leader...or was, I held this spot for like a full day though.

And a gym leader...or was, I held this spot for like a full day though.

And the team.

And the team.

It's a phenomenon, and if you're not playing, it won't be long until you're in the minority. But whatever...I know it won't be everybody's cup of tea. Just try not to hate on all of us out here having our fun...and we'll try to not run you over while we're trying to catch a Charizard in the car.

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

Reviews: Warcraft, X-Men: Apocalypse, and Now You See Me 2

On the podcast, it was always hard talking about new movies, because we were always having to tiptoe around spoilers. Of all the horrible things that can come from the internet, and I've talked about playing a few games of "just the tip" with the deep web, nothing rates quite as high on the hate list as spoilers...or at least the people doing the spoiling with little to no warning. It's hard not to be that guy. A few minutes is hardly a lot of advanced notice to give, and we can't exactly tell you where to resume listening if you want to skip ahead.

Audio is tricky. Text is easy. All you have to do is go big and bold, and maybe say something like

SPOILERS MAY FOLLOW, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK

...and everyone easily gets the point.

Right? Does everyone get the point? Thought so...so without further ado, on with the show!

Warcraft: The Beginning

I'm going to preface this by saying that I have a strong bias; I've never played Warcraft or World of Warcraft. I had no idea going into this movie who any of the notable characters are in the series, what the idealogies are, or what any of the big caveats are of the games. It was clear that some knowledge of the universe in which this exists was a prerequisite to seeing this. Lothar...Durotan...Khadgar...Gul'dan... ...I spent the whole movie getting these characters confused, as character development seems to have been left largely in the hands of the game makers, who were far removed from the production of the film it seems.

As much as I can gather, this movie is the preface for where the original Warcraft game picks up. Before there was the war between the Alliance and the Horde, there was the Gate, bridging the two worlds of Draenor and Azeroth, fueled by a dark magic called Fel. The Orcs face extinction, as their home world of Draenor slowly dies, and the races of Azeroth now face the wrath of the Orc Horde as they try to claim a new home using the only form of negotiation they know...War.

This is as much as I've managed to gather about the lore of Warcraft from the film, and...I'm going to go ahead and throw this out there...I didn't like it. But, my reasons are obvious, so let's see if I can be objective about this.

My gripe primarily was with the lack of developing the characters, and establishing lore. This was definitely intended as a movie for existing fans of the Warcraft franchise, that already are firmly rooted in its adage and legend.
This movie wasn't made to bring in a larger fanbase, it was more made to cater to its already established fanbase, in my opinion anyways. And while I'm sure this will make some new fans of the franchise, this is a fan service movie.

The special effects were actually very good. I mean, this is CG dominated movie, so it kind of has to be. I think computer graphics haven't gotten to the point now though that that shouldn't even need to be a call out, but it's still something that means a lot to me. It's attention to detail.

The story, once you can finally get your head around it if you're uninitiated to the tribe, is pretty solid. A tale of multiple betrayals, the fall of a hero, the rise of a villain, and the genesis of a franchise.

The action is decent; magic and swordplay throughout. The biggest sets of armor I have ever seen, huge weapons, and large colorful spells. It's good.

The acting felt a little forced. The guy that played Lothar especially; he was all over the place with rage, macheesmo, and disdain. He couldn't find a tone that suited the character, so role had kind of a bipolar feel to it. And Medivh...could we please find a deific character type that has more ab and less flab? Also, someone that didn't look like they just did a line of coke in the green room. Not making accusations, just stating an opinion.

There was one saving grace on the acting/casting side...

Paula Patton is just...she's a lot of yes. Okay, her performance was a bit flat, but I believed more in her character than Lothar.

So, in summary...lacking in a broad audience appeal, and the acting/casting felt hollow, but the story and the visuals held it up quite a bit.

Warcraft: The Beginning
3 out of 5 stars

X-Men: Apocalypse

This is the third installment since they more or less rebooted the franchise with X-Men: First Class. Never mind that Days of Future Past went about crossing two alternate timelines with two sets of actors, and one of the most convoluted plot lines I've seen yet, I'm still counting it as a prequel movie.

Anyways, without giving away much more than what the TV ads did, One of the first of mutants, that lived back in the time of pharaoh era Egypt has been awoken...and he is pissed. En Sabah Nur is the name of this big baddie, reawakened back in the 80s(approximately 10 years past the events that changed the future in Days of Future Past)...and he is looking to rid the world of its'...weaknesses. Where his resistance was minimal in the past, he now has the X-Men to contend with.

We see the reintroduction this time of some of the X-Men staple characters; Scott Summers(Cyclops), Ororo Munroe(Storm), Jean Grey, and even Jubilee finally gets some face time. The only other character that is new to the silver screen is Psylocke(Ok, yes. She was in Last Stand, but I don't think she even had a speaking role, let alone screen time totalling more that 5 minutes, so :p ). Olivia Munn has been a long time favorite for me, so seeing her get the chance to suit up and be a badass is I feel a long time coming for me.

Now, the complaints I hear most about this movie are that En Sabah Nur/Apocalypse is not how he should be. Early renderings released to the public had him looking a lot like Ivan Ooze from the original Power Rangers movie.

They ended up making him a bit darker and a bit more ominous, but the theater version really wasn't all that different.

So yea, many didn't feel like Apocalypse lived up to looking like the badass that he was in the comics. Don't let that fool you though, he is still one of the most powerful mutants I have seen displayed in the movies, and I don't even know what the extent of his powers are.

Ok, brass tax. The action is the most intense I've see in any X-Men movie, and I'm including the first three with Patrick Stewart as the Professor and Ian McKellen as Magneto. The whole world is thrown into chaos. Everyone that can fight makes it out to the battlefield in this one, Charles even goes up against Apocalypse, one-on-one. Top marks as far as I'm concerned.

The casting was also great for me. Regardless of what you think about the visual look of Apocalypse, Oscar Isaac played that role like a fiddle. I've already expressed my approval of the "rebooted" cast of regulars, and they did not disappoint at all. McAvoy I think, is becoming the definitive Charles...I think he's at Patrick Stewart's level. And I mean no offense to Ian McKellan, none whatsoever, but I think that Michael Fassbender brings so much more intensity to the role of Magneto.

Don't even get me started with Mystique. I think you all know that I've got a thing for Jennifer Lawrence.

Just...yes. I mean...hngh. The thirst is strong.

The new guys killed it too. Scott Summers and Jean Grey felt as young as they ought to, and seeing them at that point when their powers were still out of control was really cool.

This is X-Men, so mentioning the graphics is kind of a moot point...of course they're spectacular.

The story is, well, same thing, different spin. It's up to them to save the world. It's not from a super mutant trying to start World War 3, or from there own pasts this time...but from a super mutant from the past that wants to bring about the apocalypse. Original concepts. 

All things considered, I thought this was a good summer movie. It's not going to win an oscar anytime soon, but it was a good couple of hours worth of eye candy.

X-Men: Apocalypse
3.5 out of 5 stars

Now You See Me 2

Right off the bat, this is going to be a hard sell. The obvious assumption going into this movie is that it is a film about magic. Going into this expecting what you got out of The Illusionist or The Prestige...will leave you very disappointed. The same can be said about the first one. Everyone said about the first movie that, if you instead went into it expecting more of a heist movie, that you would feel a lot better walking out that you got your monies worth.

::Sidebar:: Is that a real word, monies? Or is that something that greasy gangsters made up? Like irregardless. It doesn't feel real. ::/Sidebar::

So, the expectation might be then, that with the second movie here with the same thought that it might be a heist move...that our expectations might be much better managed.
Well, maybe...and maybe not. Is there magic...yes. Is there a heist...yes. You'd still be missing quite a bit, but I'm not about spoilers here, so there's not much more to say. I guess what I can say is that there are aspects of revenge, and secret societies at play here, and you're getting pretty close to the whole picture.

Meat and taters. A lot of what makes up the "4 Horsemen's" arsenal of magical tricks is misdirection and slight of hand. So, this is not largely an effects driven movie. Given that, what is used feels very situationally appropriate, and not blown out and overly flashy.

The casting/acting is a bit anomalous for me. I feel like most of these actors are typecast into certain situations.

Jessie Eisenberg: A pretentious know it all, and usually someone I quite dislike.
Dave Franco: A brainless, frat boy like partier.
Woody Harrelson: Adorexic, aloof, uncaring, and often time stoned.
Isla Fisher: Bubble headed, sex driven, and naive.

Well this time Jessie Eisenberg does end up in this same type of roll, but not in a capacity that makes me dislike him...Franco actually has some wit and charm in his character...Harrelson seems caring, concerned, and motivated...and Isla Fisher...has been replaced. Filling her perky, plucky, and titular role this time is Lizzy Caplan. I'll go ahead and say it...I usually am a sucker for redheads, but I didn't miss Isla Fisher with Caplan in her place. She added a zany and scatter-brained charm that was missing from Fisher's role in the first film, and I appreciated the inclusion.

Daniel Radcliffe was also given a role as a motivating factor for our Horsemen, and I've got to say...what the fuck is going on with Daniel Radcliffe?

It seems like all the other kids from Harry Potter grew up to be hot and charismatic. Radcliffe though must have drawn some sort of short straw. He now looks like someone's stereotypical uncle pedorapist. He's awkward as crap in this movie.

The plot and arc are where this movie got knocked down a bit the first time around, and it certainly isn't going to get any points back this time. So...

All things considered

Now You See Me 2
3 out of 5 stars

Until next time.

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

Fantasy and other Genres

I blamed the collective schedule of the group for the down of the podcast...or at least the downfall of it's regularity. That puts equal blame firmly back on my own shoulders though, as well. Where did the time go? What is it about this whole being a grown up thing that automatically means your free time is cut in half? And, can I say, I'm not entirely convinced I'm cut out for that particular job. A lot of days I find myself wanting to turn in my keys, go back to my parents house, and just play games all day.

I find myself spending a lot of time fantasizing about what I would do if I had more time. Back asswards, right? But yea, all the games I would play...all the movies I would see...all the books and scripts I would read...all the scientific research I would publish...all the lands I would conquer. My own mind can be a hell of a drug. Where was I going with this? Oh yea, a smooth transition!

It's that time of year again where E3 comes around and causes us all to fantasize about what games we want for Christmas, Festivus, Carnival, Tuesday...whatever. I've tried to do E3 on here before, but I was so long at the tooth that I might as well have been out there summarizing the whole thing. By the way, if anyone can actually hook me up with that deal, I can do things...normal people have shame.

This time, let's just stick with a few high points this time.

There was a lot that I was expecting to come up this year that evidently mum was the word for. Mainly...I was hoping to hear some kind of update on the Final Fantasy VII remake, and there wasn't even a whisper. So for what actually did show up, is it any surprise that the first thing I'm going to bring up is a Pokemon game? I'll be 70 and I'm still going to be talking about how Squirtle was the best starter.

Pokemon Sun and Moon was probably the best thing I saw this year. They've made a lot of improvements over the last couple of entries, and with this being a completely new generation we will have a ton of new Pokemon to find. Add in a new multiplayer free-for-all battle system, and this will be sure to suck up a few hours of my time.

Oddly enough, the next coolest I saw was also from the Nintendo event...the only other thing...The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

This is going to come as spectacularly unbelievable to some, but I've actually never played a Zelda game. My only real link to the Zelda franchise (link, get it? this fucking guy) is Super Smash Bros. Even I have to admit though that this game looks very cool.

Nintendo is a hard sell for me though...for the WiiU at least. The only game I really play on mine is Super Smash Bros., and I honestly can't remember the last time I played it. So, despite my interest, I may end up passing on Zelda...again.

The only other thing that really caught my fancy from the big E3 conferences was kind of out of left field for me: Ghost Recon Wildlands.

I don't think I've ever played a Ghost Recon game before. Usually I get my FPS fix with more futuristic titles like Halo and Destiny...but this game looks really good. The thing that strikes me most here is the freedom the game gives you to complete your objectives in any way possible. Stealth, high-tech, full-on force; if you can think of another way to accomplish your goal, it looks like the game will let you.

And that's it. 6 big conferences and I only pulled 3 games. It seemed like everybody was making a big push for virtual reality this year, and while a lot of the games being made for it look pretty neat...I'm just not feeling it yet.

Okay, I lied...one more thing. This past year has been a sad time with Hideo Kojima being let go from Konami, and his legacy essentially being stripped away from him. Well, the internet exploded when, during the Sony press conference, Hideo Kojima walked out on stage with a new game that he's about to begin development on. And not just that, a new game with Norman Reedus as the player character, not unlike Kojima's last iteration of Silent Hill that got the boot earlier this year. The game is called "Death Stranding", and though no real production has started on the game yet, it feels like Kojima is giving Konami a well deserved slap in the face...as if to say, "You will not silence me!"

Speaking of Norman Reedus, it's come to my attention that Marvel has reacquired a lot more of their properties that they sold off the film and TV rights to. I'm not sure just how much Marvel has reacquired in the past few months or so, but what I am sure of is the rights to Blade and Ghost Rider.
So, why do I lead off this thought process with Norman Reedus? Well in a recent interview with Uproxx, Reedus was asked about "The Walking Dead", his new show "Ride", and what he thought about playing a different motorcycle riding badass, Ghost Rider. Reedus definitely sounded like he would be on board with playing the spirit of vengeance in a potential reboot. I don't know how you feel about the Nick Cage portrayal of Johnny Blaze, but if you think it wasn't that bad...you're wrong. It was garbage. A Norman Reedus Johnny Blaze...that could be a true badass. Let's make this happen Marvel.

Hopefully we can look forward to that. Pretty please.

I'm also looking forward to hopefully not dying this next weekend. My buddy is having his Dadchelor party...I think that's what you kids are calling it nowadays. We used to just call it a Diaper Party...bring diapers and beer, and a good time will be had. One of my friends is making jello shots, and I'm already feeling the pain. Ugh.

Everyone is having babies...

Until next time guys.

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

Returning from the Great Beyond

I kind of have a feeling right now, that feeling you get when you walk into an abandoned property and find it not torn apart or defected in by squatters. Yes...it's been about a year and a half since I've done anything here, and I'm looking to clear out all the dust and cobwebs. I know I don't know owe an explanation, but I would like to offer one.

I was building something. Something I thought could reach out further than I ever could here. Something that was a bit sexier, and easier to consume. Something with which I could actually enhance on what I do here the the ping pong of actual conversation, versus my monologues. Something...well, just something better.

My return here all but solidifies that that course of action has run.

In my Denton days, whether you're hearing this for the first time or I'm reminding you, I was a member of a podcast, which I left due to differences of opinion in the creative direction for the future. I'm not trying to dump anything negative on my former colleagues; they had a vision they wanted to pursue that I didn't share, and their vision has prospered onto the actual radio airwaves. I'm happy for them and their success.

I had a different vision. A vision that time and distance from the point of that first podcasts' inception did not diminish. The time came that I felt I should act on it...and so I did.

So that's what I've been doing for the past year and a half, operation a podcast filled with much of the same content that I would be talking about here, with a crew of friends that shared my vision. Since around February though, we haven't been able to coordinate our schedules well enough to make a recording. A four month hiatus on something that I was actually able to hold to a fairly regular schedule feels like a confirmation that the podcast can't maintain itself anymore.

We had a good run. But my podcast was built out of sticks and spit from every free service I could find, and I definitely didn't have the resources to pay my cohosts/buy their time to come out and record...this conclusion was inevitable. This was a free time activity, and when there's no free time to spare, well...I'm beating a dead horse at this point.

What's my conclusion here...what's my point? I'm back. I'll figure out how to link to the podcast so that this massive gap in content can be bridged.

Oh yea, I'm forgetting to tell y'all the name: The NerDFW Podcast. Do you sense a theme in the things that I create?

I'll have some more up this weekend I hope, some actually new content.

...I hope that I'm actually back. I hate having all this...whatever in my head and no outlet for it. Yea, I hope that I'm actually back.

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

The Good, The Bad, and the Awesome

Alright fanatics, before I really begin this post, I have a bit of a public service announcement...Wash the absolute crap out of your fruits and veggies!
There has been a bad strain of bacteria going around, called Listeria, that I think I may have just fought off. It's usually a meat and dairy associated bacteria, but it's finding its way around right now on improperly washed fruits and vegetables. I'm pretty sure I just defeated it, because I ate a prepackaged salad from Walmart on Monday, and have been in utter agony from about that time up until late in the afternoon the following Friday. I bet if my doctor knew about it, he could have given me the antibiotics, but was ignorant and just gave me something for the nausea.
Anyways, if you don't want to be laid out and exploding from everywhere, thoroughly wash all your produce you're bringing home.

Enough about the rabbit food, meat and potatoes. I've been out and seen a trio of films recently, and it's time to render my verdict.

Lucy

This one turned out to be a bit of an intellectual thriller, to be frank. I thought that this would be a relatively easy to follow Scarlett Johansson led sci-fi female ass-kicker. The first 30 minutes of it though more felt like a strangely edited documentary through the history of our understanding of intelligence and the evolution of thought and the human brain. And then...enter Lucy. If you've seen any of the trailers for the movie, you know some baddies have put a new form of drug in her stomach, and intend to use her as some kind of drug mule...which all goes awry when the packaging bursts inside her and begins to leak, jump-starting her powers. What follows is an interpretation of what might happen if one were to suddenly and violently unlock all the dormant parts of our brain...interrupted by intermittent bursts of ass-whoopings.
If you're looking for a nice flashy movie to turn off your brain, and vegetate to for and hour and a half, this isn't for you...you're going to need to do a little bit of thinking to follow along with this one. I'm not harping on this, I actually really enjoyed it, the requisite of a little mental give and take to keep the plot moving. This is one of those flicks that might require a second visit to completely wrap your head around, and a second visit I wouldn't at all mind paying.
Lucy - 8 out of 10

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Let me preface this by saying that I went into this movie with significantly lowered expectations...like, I went ahead and took my bar and put it on the floor. I still loathed this movie.  I had heard that the original Chris Evans version of Captain America was pretty bad, lowered my expectations accordingly, and ended up kind of enjoying the movie having done so. This new ninja turtles is absolute rubbish. If you loved the ninja turtles as a kid, they have taken everything and completely corrupted it. I had to pay this movie the ultimate disrespect by walking out in the middle of it (I say the middle, it was probably right at the climax, regardless, I was done). Even though I'm not going to give any spoilers, it doesn't matter...they reveal the entire plot line right at the beginning. What I will tell you is that they have perverted the entire origin story of the turtles (MINOR SPOILERS) into some intentional lab experiment, and have turned April O'Neal into some kind of deific spiritual protector (/MINOR SPOILERS). Oh, and as you could have guessed, Megan Fox's acting was absolutely horrid. Will Arnett was no redeeming factor, his performance was good, but he was far from able to save it. Splinter was bad...no other way to say it, just bad. And the Shredder, there was no mystique to him, he was just some poorly developed baddy that didn't get a lot of screen time. The turtles themselves may have been the best part, and I still want to pick them apart. Johnny Knoxville, to his credit, did an amazing job voicing Leonardo. But, he has such a distinctive voice, all I could ever here was the Jackass member talking at us. Michelangelo constantly felt like a stoner. Donatello was the über nerd that was only given one real chance to be a badass, and that lasted all of about 20 seconds. Raphael is supposed to be dark and rebellious and broody, but Jesus, you almost thought that he was the black sheep, the shamed brother by how dejected he constantly acted.
I would love to sack all the blame for this atrocity on Michael Bay, as I've built up his pedestal so much, but he is not the sole contributor to this tragedy. Nickelodeon seems largely responsible for the revamp of the origin story, and the progression of the turtles into their teenage years. I'm so let down by the network, this is what they've become: destroying from my childhood that which I loved. I'm done, time to put this to bed.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) - 1 out of 10

Guardians of the Galaxy

Thank God that turtle movie wasn't the last one I saw over the weekend. I was able to exit this week with a bad taste in my mouth, but then came Guardians of the Galaxy...and it saved my week. There's no two ways around it, this movie was fantastic. Once again Marvel Studios, this time in the hands of Director James Gunn, has put together a big ensemble cast  movie, and fit everyone together correctly. The casting could not have been more perfect. Chris Pratt was fierce and funny, all at the appropriate times. Zoë Saldana was sexy, strong, independent, and driven. Dave Bautista continues the trend of pro wrestlers/fighters showing us that they can bring much more to the table than just a big set of muscles, but acting chops to boot. Bradley Cooper brought Rocket Raccoon to life, and in fact made me love a character that many months ago I swore I would hate. Even Vin Diesel was able to pack loads of variance of tone, empathy, and emotion into the one line that Groot was forced to repeat. His last utterance in the film...So. Many. Feels. Won't spoil it for you, but I'm sure you'll see it and get it. The secondary roles were really strong too, I really wish Michael Rooker had more screen time as Yondu. Lee Pace's Ronan the Accuser was perfectly dark and unfeeling, and Karen Gillan's Nebula... beautifully oozing with crazy daddy issues. Well casted, and well executed, but there was something else that held the entire movie together, and as an audio guy I am so glad to be able to say this...the music was the gravity that pulled everything together. Given embodiment in the form of Peter Quill's tape deck, and his "Awesome Mix" cassette, the playlist of hits from the 80's both serve as Quill's link to his home and past, as well give small plot points, comic relief, transition, and points of celebration throughout the film. The music is its' own character, and a crucial member of the cast. Guardians of the Galaxy is a good laugh, a fantastic voyage, and delicious eye candy for all to love.
Guardians of the Galaxy - 10 out of 10

Alright friends, family, and followers...it's time for me to retreat back behind the veil of the interwebz. I bid you farewell and adieu. Until next time.

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

Thank You For Smoking (2006), another great ensemble cast movie.

Thank You For Smoking (2006), another great ensemble cast movie.

Sword, Shield, Dagger, or Pistol

I still haven't made it out to "Earth to Echo" yet, which at this rate I may just have to wait for the DVD. Work has just been crazy and all over the place. I didn't want to talk about it last time, hoping that tensions at work would die down...tensions are still high though, and I want to talk about it. 
I'm going to be making a habit out of airing out my more casual day to day business before I get on to the point of my post. So...give me a minute here to talk about work before I explain what "Sword, Shield, Dagger, or Pistol" is all about.

So, a couple of weeks ago now, a prank was played out at my work. Not usually a big deal, we play pranks all the time, usually harmless stuff. This particular incident, not so much. I'll preface this by saying that this went down on my day off, so all the details that I'm delivering here are a second hand account. Moving on, one of our guys over in the general QC area had the cap of his water bottle glued down. Harmless enough, unless the glue wasn't given adequate time to set before...let's call my ill fated peer George...gets back to his water bottle and takes a drink...which is exactly what happened. The end result is that the super glue got George stuck to his water bottle. And, as George tried to remove himself from the water bottle, he ripped his lip (sounds worse than it is, but it still earned him a trip to Concentra). 
What would you to expect to happen after this? The bosses called a meeting for the entire department, our Service department as well. This was essentially a "sus out the culprit" meeting, as well as a "come to Jesus" session to try and get all of us to end our pranking ways. Let's flash forward to now when they have had a chance to review security footage and still not pin anybody as the culprit. Our bosses are still watching us like hawks. George is still accusing my lead of being the culprit (they have a bad history of sorts). And...we're still getting berated with accusations and false evidence. The thing is, we've narrowed down who was in there...and we're pretty sure, as gauged by their reactions to questioning, that at least two of our co-workers over in general QC know who the suspect is, if it isn't one of two of them. One of these guys needs to come forward, if not with guilt than with information, so that management can quit breathing down our necks. Ugh.

Ugh...
/rant

Alright, the Sword, Shield, Dagger, or Pistol...with the movie "The Purge" coming out, it kind of makes me wonder what I would do if put in that situation. If, for half a day, everything was legal and absolutely nothing was off limits, what would I do. The way I see it, we all have four options...the Sword, the Shield, the Dagger, or the Pistol. The tactic that I think most people would take as well as myself, if I'm being honest, is the Shield...

Shield.png

...in other words, hide. Lock yourself up nice and tight. Protect your loved ones, your belongings, and your own well being. I'm think Panic Room style, even better if you could go completely panic house. Best let the rest of the world on the outside be animals and opt out of the mayhem and carnage. Another one of the options that I see a few daring individuals taking is the Sword...

...or, the hero. Yea, I see a few brave people volunteering to stay out in the fray to save whatever poor souls happen to get caught outside when the Purge commences. Selfless, a strong sense of justice, and undoubtedly physically fit. I feel like I'm a brave enough person, but not enough to run headlong into the fray on crazy person night. This is probably a few cops, soldiers, and vigilantes that want to minimize casualties of the Purge. You know...the hero. The opposite of the Shield here is the Dagger...

Maria's_Dagger2.png

...the crazy person, the psychos that just want to watch the world burn. These are the people that you worry about in the Purge, the people for whom the Purge was instituted. These are the people that are out the to kill, maim, rape, and torture the innocent lives they come across. They have waited all year long to slake their bloodlust, held off all year long so that they can have one night to get everything out of their system. They want to do in one night what Jack the Ripper did over his entire hypothetical career. I'm sure if we all dig deep enough into our past, there is someone that we want to feel some kind of repentance. If given the chance, would you want to be the delivery person of said judgement? I'll admit, I have some dark thoughts at times, but thinking of guilt I'd have to live with, and what kind of person could honestly put a night of these horrors behind them like it was just another day, that's not a crew I want to associate with. There is one more type though, the Pistol...

M3-Predator-Pistol_3.png

...more of the opportunist. This is the person that wants to commit crimes of a more non-personal nature. I'm thinking like robbing a bank, or stealing cars...the crimes people commit over wealth and a lavish lifestyle. Hell, how much would I love to walk into a Dodge dealership and steal the keys to a new Challenger SRT Hellcat Edition?

(Answer: Very much do I want to steal the keys to this car. Also yes, this is shameless promotion of my baby Morgan's new little sister.)
This is the person that wants to take advantage of the situation in the most advantageous way possible. That's not saying that there is nothing to gain by staying in, watching a movie and maybe...not dying, but if you could put a little planning a forethought into your specific endeavor, you could certainly stand to improve your position quite a bit. I could see myself as this individual during the Purge, if there was something that I sincerely wanted badly enough to risk my chances of encountering the crazies out there that night.

So, what role do you think that you would fill, the Sword, the Shield, the Dagger, or the Pistol? I'd be very interested to find out what you think you would be doing the night of the Purge. Again, if I'm being honest, if the Purge was going down within like a week or something...as much as I'd love to be able to wake up the next more with a new car in my half driveway and a few more bucks in my pocket, what I'd really be doing is finding out how to best barricade my house shut, so that none of the crazies stand a chance of getting in.
What about you? Are you feeling heroic? Are you feeling greedy? Feeling a little...crazy?

By the way, this post is in no way a promotion for the film, I never saw the first one, probably won't go and see this new one...this was just more of a mental exercise.
Also, if you caught on that the shield, sword, dagger, and pistol were all game elements, bonus points to you.

I know this has been a short one, but I think that I'm going to call it quits there. Hopefully more for you next week. Till then.

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

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Destruction Porn

How's it going friends and followers? Sorry if you were looking for a post last week and I let you down. I've got no energy when I get home in the afternoon, and what energy I do have goes to the fur baby.

It's taken me a while to define my interactions with this puppy, as he is my roommate's and I'm not actually his master. But I'm all he's got for most afternoon, as my roommate gets mostly close-shifts at his job, so I have some mastership over him. This is what I've come up with...This puppy is like a Pokémon that's been traded to me from another trainer, and I don't have the badges yet to control him. And...he has really crappy attacks. Puppy, use your Leer attack on that cat...immediately hides behind me. Puppy, there's a wasp in the casa, use your Fury Swipes...plays with it, it gets away. Puppy, theres a cute girl walking the neighborhood, use your Charm attack...hey, that kinda works!

That, and the weird crap that's been going on at work...I don't really wanna get into it now, I just want to escape, into a good movie or something. Hey, this feels like a good time for a transition.

So, I've seen a couple of movies recently. Godzilla is a little old to talk about right now, but Transformers 4 is still topical, so let's render a verdict on that.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

Oh...kay. So, several years after Optimus, Sentinel, and Megatron destroy Chicago in a battle over the transport of Cybertron to our planet, we find ourselves in a world where all Transformers are being hunted down and eliminated. The truces are over.
Any and all Autobots and Decepticons left have gone into hiding. I guess this was done so the could finally release Shia LaBeouf and Tyrese from their contracts with Michael Bay. Our protagonists are replaced with a garage inventor (Mark Wahlberg), his extremely hot and engineering smart daughter (Nicola Peltz), and her Aussie rally racing boyfriend (Jack Reynor). Marky Mark is supposed to be playing a died in the wool Texas boy, but he maintains his ever-present Boston accent. Wahlberg is like Sean Connery in that respect...he'll never do another accent (you remember Connery in "The Hunt for Red October"...yea, very convincing Russian submarine captain with that Scottish drawl).
I'm not going to reveal any plot points that aren't revealed in the marketing for the film, but let's talk about this movie poster that I posted above: Optimus Prime riding a huge dinosaur shaped Transformer. I thought as many of my friends did, that this was going to be an introduction of the "Beast Wars" bots back into the franchise. Nope, it's the Dinobots introduced in the original 1980's show. They were designed as primally strong but intellectually limited back in the show, but were simply described as legendary warriors in the movie. Anyways, once Optimus "tames" the Dinobots and mounts one (pictured above), I lost all sense of the semblance of plot. Actually, I felt like all plot was abandoned in the last film, "Dark of the Moon", and this is just a continuance of this...destruction porn.
Dark of the Moon made an attempt, which I felt wasn't present here. I feel like someone handed Michael Bay a script for Age of Extinction and he was just like, "Psh, nah, let's just blow 70% of the budget on explosions." The other 30%? It probably went to Mark Wahlberg, Kelsey Grammer, and Stanley Tucci. Thank God for Stanley Tucci by the way...he was the only redeeming factor of this movie.
Alright...I've said my piece, and expressed my disdain for the film.
Transformers: Age of Extinction - 3 out of 10

If I could briefly continue my hatathon on Michael Bay, I saw my first theatrical trailer for the new Ninja Turtles movie while waiting for Transformers to start...

The first thing that occurs to me while watching this, is that the voice acting feels so horribly wrong, especially given what I remember from the original live action movies and the 90's cartoon. Why does Mikey sound like...well, a cholo? And the leader of the 4 brothers, what should be the voice of reason and wisdom...Leonardo...actually being voiced by Johnny Knoxville. Oh Jesus Christ. And William Fichtner as the Shredder. I'm sorry, Fichtner is a great actor, but the Shredder needs to be Japanese and have a martial arts background. Combined with Megan Fox as April, and all the weird crap adorning the turtles themselves...and how about the general monstrous look of the turtles?
[Sigh] I won't lie, I shed a few tears seeing this. I feel like it's destroying my childhood memory of the turtles.
Never forget...

Bay has his heart set on destroying my sense of nostalgia. Our only hope then may lie in the future, and this has been a pretty good summer so far for the box office. Here are the next 3 films I'm looking forward to seeing soon.

Earth to Echo - I know that A) It's only rated PG and most likely geared towards a much younger crowd...and more importantly, B) It is a Relativity Media production, and they haven't had a box office hit since...ever. Seriously, as defined by any movie that earns $100 million or more at the box office, they've never had one, never.
Still, it looks interesting. Thinking I might go and check it out this weekend.

Lucy - The smallest synopsis you could give it is...Scarlett Johansson kicks a lot of ass. Sold. The director is really good at doing the the femme fatale style too, so you know you'll be wanting it up until the second she rips your eyes out (I don't know if that actually happens, so don't take my word on it). Morgan Freeman doesn't hurt the chances of this movie destroying the box office. I'm all in.

Guardians of the Galaxy - Yea, I didn't think I'd want to see this one. I might have even wrote in my last blog how much it's going to suck. I'm coming around though, even for Rocket Raccoon. It looks like there are a lot of good personalities coming together here, including Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper)...kind of seems like Face (A-Team), just really small and furry and with a constant bad attitude. Zoë Saldana as Gamora, what an awesome choice. Marvel is just on top of it's game right now, especially with the success of Cap'n 'Murica 2. 

Alright kids, I'm gonna call it quits. I'll try and get back to you next week, but we'll see what kind of time I get. Till then amigos.

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

More Promise than Past

Welcome back comrades. I'm still here, so I guess no gypsy curse has befallen me. Buena suerte for me I guess, but if I ever see that woman again, so help me God, I'm buying her a liter of cola.

I have to admit. I hadn't done my homework for last weeks debut post. I claim to be the über nerd and I completely passed up the opportunity to make some E3 2014 predictions. I've got a fairly occupied mind these days, despite the fact that my job doesn't consume a lot of processing cycles. Regardless, there were certainly some highlights for me from E3, and I feel like sharing.

Microsoft was the first conference out of the gate, saying that they were going to make their presentation this year all about gaming (whereas it was mostly about the hardware last year). The first game shown was Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. I've sat out the last few generations of Call of Duty, regular and Black Ops iterations. Seeing their take on what the future could hold for warfare technology.

© Activision 2014

© Activision 2014

They moved on to Forza, the addition of the Nürburgring to Forza 5 and the introduction of Forza Horizon 2, an open world racing game kind of more in the spirit of Midnight Club, but with serious performance vehicles. I've kind of set Forza 5 to the side, but I'll pick it up again to test out my rides on the Nürburgring.
Evolve was next, and dang...it looks awesome. Made by the same people that made Left 4 Dead, it's a multiplayer game where four people of different skill sets work together to take out a huge monster, played by a fifth person. It sounds kind of unbalanced, 4 on 1, but with as big, fast, and powerful as the monster is, it actually looks like a pretty even match if the 4 "Hunters" can actually work together.

© Take-Two Interactive Software 2014

© Take-Two Interactive Software 2014

I'll be picking it up this Fall, or holiday season...whatever.
Let's see...Assassin's Creed Unity; set in the French Revolution with 4 player coop, Fable Legends; also with 4 player coop and what looks like a Omniscient mode for the 5th player playing as the opposition, and...ooh Halo!
They didn't so much talk about Halo 5...as they really introduced this nameless Spartan IV (I'm guessing) who has to track down the Master Chief. He has to go through the Chief's history to do so, and as such...they introduce Halo: The Master Chief Collection. That is Halo CE, Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo 4, all in one box, as well as Halo 2 getting the same graphic update that CE did in the Anniversary Edition. Also...multiplayer, every map ever released, running in full 1080p and at 60 fps (if you actually like that...I'm a film guy, it looks too smooth for me), as well as a new set of dedicated servers and 4000 gamerscore worth of achievements for the set of games. Again, all in one box...well, not the servers...I'm sure 343 has those.

© 343 Industries 2014

© 343 Industries 2014

As big of a Halo fan as I am...I'm kind of iffy about this one. I already have all 4 games...not running on Xbox One of course, but have them none the less. We've also learned so far from other games that when there 2 iterations of a game such as with GTA V, running on both the 360 and the X1, that they are mutually exclusive. Meaning, you can get achievements for the 360 version, and also rack up the same achievements for the X1 version. What I'm getting at here is that all the achievements/unlocks/accolades/ranks/stats...none of it carries over to the Xbox One versions...you've got to earn it all back. I did say 4000 gamerscore worth of achievements...I hope you didn't think I meant new achievements.
Anyways...been there, done that, read the book, not sure if I want to see the movie. We'll see. I know it's going to be expensive. Regardless of how old the games are, it's a 4-pack, and a lot of work has gone into optimizing and remastering the titles. So yea, but I didn't mention that the Halo 5 beta will open this holiday season. I'm guessing you have to have the Master Chief Collection to access it, so there's more reason to go pick it up.
Microsoft threw out a small slough more of games after that, the only one that had me at all interested was Rise of the Tomb Raider...what a horribly named game. Good looking, but horribly named.

EA kicked off their leg of the conference talking about a game they've had ambitions for, for quite a while...Star Wars Battlefront. The in-engine footage they were showing off was some of the best game graphics I've ever seen. They made no mention of what consoles they would be releasing for, but I'm praying for some love for Microsoft.

© DICE 2014

© DICE 2014

Bioware then announced in a not-so-bombshell fashion that they were in the early design stages of a 4th Mass Effect game. That's absolutely fantastic news to my ears, but also news that I've seen coming. They confirmed that they are departing from the Shepard and Normandy Crew story arcs that the previous 3 games have followed so that some new life can be breathed into the franchise. I'm happy with that news too. I feel like everything that I wanted to be resolved by the end of the Shepard trilogy had been dealt with. Many were unhappy with the end of the 3rd installment, but it was good enough for me.
They also announced Mirrors Edge 2, and showed some pre-recorded game footage. It looked pretty cool, but I don't have any history with the first game. Hopefully, if it's cheap enough, it's something that I can jump into fairly quickly...whenever that is, no release date was mentioned.
EA also debuted their new Battlefield game...Hardline. It's urban warfare...cops and criminals at the highest level imaginable.

© Electronic Arts 2014

© Electronic Arts 2014

I've been pretty standoffish towards Battlefield games in the past, but this one has caught my interest. The beta is open now for owners of Battlefield 4, and the game itself is set to launch in October.

The Ubisoft conference was hosted by Aisha Tyler, which...awesome. That woman is hilarious, and a huge representative for gamer chicks. Perfect choice for an emcee.

After some brief delightful banter, she intro'd Far Cry 4, and yea...that looks amazing. Never played the first 3, know that I should have played the 3rd, so I'll probably end up picking this one up once it becomes available.
After a brief discussion about Just Dance 2015, they moved on to a new, multi-console game called "The Division". Some of the most amazing graphics I've seen in a game. The whole thing almost looked cinematic. It appears like you're a member of a small organization in some sort of post apocalyptic scenario for the U.S. and you're on some kind of mission given to you from some very high-up entity. It all seemed pretty vague, but beautiful, cooperation dependent, and with very good AI. We'll have to wait until 2015 though.

© Ubisoft 2014

© Ubisoft 2014

After they showed off a racing game called "The Crew", that looked like it had a high level of customization, they moved on to Assassin's Creed Unity, with an extended gameplay demo from what we saw at the Microsoft conference.

Second to the end was the Sony press conference. Confession; I haven't had a Playstation since the PS2. Ever since the PS3/Xbox 360 generation everything has been so expensive...I had to pick a side, and surprisingly (given my hardcore Apple affiliation) I went with Microsoft.
Sony opened their conference with a Destiny trailer, and it looks like they're getting the big exclusives. Kind of funny, Bungie used to be a division of Microsoft...they've kind of jump the ship there. Eh...we've got a confirmed release date...September 9th, 2014. So after several years of having that preorder, I can finally expect something prior to holiday season this year.
I sound spiteful, but I'm really looking forward to this game. Even though Halo took you all over the galaxy, it still felt like a confined and grounded experience. I always wanted to do more exploring, like you get the opportunity to do in Mass Effect. Destiny is looking like a perfect fusion of Halo and Mass Effect, and I can lose myself in those franchises for hours. Add in what looks like insane levels of customization, and I might not be able to put this game down.

© Bungie 2014

© Bungie 2014

© Bungie 2014

© Bungie 2014

© Bungie 2014

© Bungie 2014

inFamous First Light looks pretty cool, as does Little Big Planet 3, but neither would sell me on a PS4. Uncharted 4 looks pretty amazing, but I'm still not sold on coming back to Sony yet.

Nintendo brought up the rear with their conference. They opened up strong with a chaotic battle between US Nintendo President Reggie Fils-Aimé and Nintendo Worldwide CEO Satoru Iwata. That switched over to a Super Smash Bros. battle between both of their Miis. What they're immediately telling us is that the new Super Smash Bros. is making a lot of additions, including being able to beef up your personal Miis and use them in battle. All the yes. October 19th guys!

I'm excited. This title alone might sell the console on me. I had thought since last E3 that it would be such a shame though to have only one fun game for it, but then this E3 happened and changed that.
They went on to introduce Yoshi's Wooly World, a follow up to Yoshi's Island. They have Yoshi looking like he just jumped out of Little Big Planet with Sock Boy. With his new appearance though comes a lot of new "yarn powers". It looks pretty neat. I might pick it up for the new game mechanics.
They talked about a Toad game, as in Toad from Mario, that looked kinda dull, but then they moved on to the new Legend of Zelda game. Link has had some big spaces to work with in the past, but this time around, he has a completely open world to romp through. If you can see it, you can get there. It might prove to be the most expansive universe since Twilight Princess.

© Nintendo 2014

© Nintendo 2014

After that, they started talking pokémon, and played a video for the new Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, which are getting the complete X/Y treatment. It's getting fully updated graphics, Mega Evolutions (with new Mega Evolutions for all the starters), and Primal Evolutions for a couple of the legendaries, which is kind of like a reverse evolution. Don't ask me how that's helpful, they're not really explaining what that means yet. Save the date for November 21st.
Nintendo then talked about a new Bayonetta game, and Hyrule Warriors, which is a Legend of Zelda version of Dynasty Warrior...meh. Then they showed another new Kirby game, Kirby: Rainbow curse. I've never been much of a Kirby guy, but if you are, I can see where this game looks pretty good.
Eventually they moved on to "Mario Maker", in which you can design your own Super Mario levels, which you can switch between either classic Super Mario style, or the new style. It doesn't sound like much now, but I feel like this game has the potential extremely cool, especially if your levels can be shared with others, and you can download other people's made levels. We're waiting until some point in 2015 for this one.

© Nintendo 2014

© Nintendo 2014

After Mario Maker, they introduced a brand new title, called "Splatoon". It looks like a territories game, where you run around using these paint guns to mark your territory. There's a function where you can turn into a squid to move around the map with better mobility, sacrificing your paint gun, and it also looks like as the game progresses, better paint weapons become available. This looks like one of those games that you can play for hours at a time, and never put it down. It'd be a good addition if I end up buying that WiiU this year.

© Nintendo 2014

© Nintendo 2014

Drop mic...walk away.
Pretty impressive showing...from everyone this year at E3, there's a lot to look forward to. If I ever have the money to spend, or the time to play everything, it looks like there is a lot of fun to be had this coming holiday season.

Okie dokie dominokie...that's probably a heaping mound of information for this week, so I'll leave it at that. Till next week.

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

download.png
Haha, just kidding. This is just wishful thinking.

Haha, just kidding. This is just wishful thinking.

Gypsy Danger

After a long hiatus and a few site programming issues, I'm glad to make my return to the Net. It is my pleasure to make my reintroduction...I am Corey VanderSleen, or CVSleen for short, and this...is Nerdebating with CVSleen. A few of you may be finding your way here from my last site, Backstage Conversations on Wordpress, and some of you may be among my audience for the first time. To all of you...

Welcome.

My mission is simple...I'm a nerd, and I want to share that world with you, and maybe make it seem a little bit more accessible to the uninitiated. Music, film, video games, new technology...the things that I care about the most, that is what I want to share with you. Of course, I'll have my own perspective that I place on everything, and I've got my own stories...and that's probably as good a place as any to start this whole thing with, a little tale from recent past in my own life.

"Gypsy Danger, we have a bogey"

My story starts a few days ago, when my dad wanted to come out and meet me for lunch at my work. I love free food, and I'll take the chances that I have to see family, now that I'm out on my own...we'll revisit that at a later date. Anyways, I'm more than happy to oblige a lunch meeting with my dad. If it wasn't for some seriously bad traffic, we'd have ended up somewhere a little bit better, but it probably would have been like 45 minutes in travel alone...so, in the interest of time, Whataburger it was. We got our food and proceeded to chow down, but my dad couldn't make it too long without having to steal himself away to the bathroom. He's on some medicine that has him going to the restroom almost as often as a Chihuahua. It is what it is.
What I didn't mention earlier was that at some point after we sat down, an old lady came and sat down at a table adjacent to us. A little old lady with a shall and a big old bag, quiet as a whisper. She sat down and unloaded what looked like a little book, a pill bottle, and an old Whataburger cup filled with dirty looking napkins. She was content to just hang out at her table and just read for most of the time, but once my dad took the opportunity to go drain the main vein, I guess she decided it was time to make her move.
Not long after my dad took his opportunity, she took hers. She approached me at my table and asked me, very politely I should say, if she could use my drink to take her pills. Now, I don't know what her personal level of hygiene was, but I was guessing that the old Whataburger cup I saw with the dirty napkins in it was some kind of spittoon for her, so I could only assume that she had pirate teeth. My answer should be obvious. I told her no...but I went on to say that she could probably go and ask the employees for another cup for some water. Before I could finish though, she had already turned around and started trudging back to her table. She was saying something...whatever it was, I couldn't tell...it was Romanian or some kind of Eastern European language. I don't know, whatever she was saying, it didn't sound pleasant. Regardless, she returned to her table and popped back down in her seat.
Odd, yea I know...who does that? Anyways, I wanted to capture the moment, for posterity or whatever. I tried to be as discreet as humanly possible, or at least as discreet as I am capable. I silenced my phone and acted like I was looking something up. I quickly turned my phone over snapped a pick...

Not a great pic, I know. I wanted to take another, but when I looked up...I saw her. She was staring directly at with the coldest gaze I've ever seen in my life. I've gotten that 1000-yard-stare from people before, but this was different. I'd heard of this before...the Gypsy Stare. Already fearful that I'd been hexed, I turned back around and faced forward, and put my phone down. Nope...I wasn't going to try again. My dad came back from the bathroom some point later, and I said nothing. I wasn't going to draw attention to what just happened. I didn't look back in that direction either until we were leaving. She was gone at that point...if she was even ever really there at all. 
I didn't know if it was real or not until I left work that day. I had a nail in one of my tires, undoubtedly put there by the gypsy woman's hex. I know what should have happened at that point. Three days. I had three days before I was supposed to be dragged down to hell by the demon Lamia. This was on Tuesday. Five days later at this point, the demon Lamia has not come for me. So what happened on day three then might you wonder? Well, that was Friday...the thirteenth...on the day of the Honey Moon, not to be seen again until 2098.
Well then, it seems that the Fates of Mischief and Matrimony have stayed my decent down to the fiery depths.
I live to write another day. And so shall I, another day.

I will leave you at that as I begin brainstorming for next weeks post. I usually like to conclude with a picture of my choosing. At the beginning of this year I chose to go with vehicles amazement. As I'm making a change of domain venue here, I'll change up my closing image too. For the rest of this year at least, I'm changing it films I like.

Until next time...

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

Drag Me to Hell - Sam Raimi - 2009

Drag Me to Hell - Sam Raimi - 2009