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Sunday, July 31, 2016

What do Rick and Morty and a murder trial have in common?

There was a batsh*t insane murder trial deposition in Mississippi a few months ago. The Rick and Morty crew found it genuinely profound. So they did the only thing they could, cast Rick as the defendant and Morty as the judge. What follows is the most amazing conversation that's ever happened.

I'm genuinely curious if that video stays up longer than two days.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Wait... do I still have Origin?

I completely forgot Origin even existed...

I felt the need to dip back into Inquisition and I realized something. I haven't used Origin in 7 months. I haven't bought a game for it in almost 2 years. What the hell is your problem EA? Is steam some sort of AI hivemind and you're actually fighting a shadow war on behalf of humanity's free will? Because if you aren't, either make games that make your platform matter or I'll... I'LL...

I'll still jump though whatever hoops you need so long as Bioware keeps bringing the goods.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

I just discovered pierogi...

Yeah, yeah, slow news week. But wow, if someone had just told me pierogi was mashed potatoes/anything awesome n' savory in a pastry I would have been on board years ago. I've wasted so much time...

Monday, July 25, 2016

Stranger Things Review: Will the Wise casts Fireball.

Inline image 1
Bring him home.
Right now I'm halfway through seeing Stranger Things.The second time. As soon as I was finished with Netflix's new 8 hour mini series I started it right up again. Stranger Things is made of a lot of moving parts, though sadly, none of those parts are original. Every character and story has been told before in either a Stephan King paperback or a Spielberg blockbuster. Though I'm beginning think that maybe, just maybe, originality is overrated.

It took a while before I was hooked, about 2 and a half episodes. I began to clue into what each of the main stories were referencing and I was ready for the Duffer brothers (fellow Durham natives!) to surprise me. But it didn't surprise me. Except for a few great monster attack scenes nothing the show ever did was "surprising." So what's so good about it? Damn near everything. Every set, every actor, every line of dialogue, every twist in the narrative's road was as good or better than anything either aforementioned Stephen has ever done. I still think a project needs at least a spark of originality to earn a full A+ but this is the most lovable A- I've ever reviewed.

But what's it all about? That's an intense line of questioning. I'm not sure I can even say without spoiling too much, but here goes. When it's focused on the kids and their journey with a CIA experiment, it's ET. When we follow the town Sheriff as he falls further down the rabbit hole of a legit government conspiracy, it's Jaws. There's also a smattering of Pretty in Pink, Altered States, Close Encounters, and you get the idea. It isn't lost on me that this should be a joyless slurry of other artist's better ideas watered down into nothing. But somehow they manage to turn lead into gold.

Would you take LSD with this man?

I'd love to go deeper into the story but it's only 8 hours long and mapping out each main thread would hurt more than it would help. But I'll say this; all the major stuff like the conspiracy, the nature of 11, and the man in the rubber suit are all well above average. It's the little things that make the whole project stand out. Like how all the child actors, even the silent 2 year old sister, say so much with their faces and not just their words. But it's not as if these kids aren't already hitting laugh lines like pros and sometimes even showing up the teenagers. Speaking of, there's also a legitimately great teenage love triangle involving the most 3 dimensional cocky jock character I've ever seen.

Ultimately the aspect that really sets it apart from the competition is it's size and structure. It's  essentially an 8 hour movie with 7 act breaks. That sounds exhausting doesn't it? It isn't. I tore through the first 5 in half a day. The entire season is expertly paced and I know that might not sound as sexy as a show that's more original or better written, but there is barely a minute of fat on it's bones. It's so well paced it forced me to notice how often so many other great shows waste their time. I'll give you an example: a man drinking in a bar has critical information but wises up before telling too much. In a show with 13 episodes the off duty sheriff would resign to the fact he didn't get the whole story and would try again next week. In Stranger Things the sheriff follows him to his car and beats the rest out of him.

If those walls could talk, they'd scream.

There's tons of moments like that where the writing feints a step towards closing the mystery box only to flip the box over and dump it all out. It's such a glorious breath of fresh air after this year's Game of Thrones and Preacher. Both personal favorites, but both prone to sit on their hands far too long than I'm willing to stand sometimes. Now that I'm almost done (again) I can say it definitely holds up. Every plot hole I marked the first time was actually solved by quick stuff I didn't bother to notice. Plotting that was more substantial than a throw away line excusing a short cut. It took two viewings to really pick up how deliberate nearly every scene is. It was designed to be watched again, is what I'm saying.

Guys, there hasn't been a first season this good in almost 6 years. All the heart, mystery, humor, fear, and energy you miss from the 80's golden age of adventure is in here. Good as new, if not maybe a teensy bit better. I'll say it, the Stephens have two genuinely worthy successors on their hands. And they're from Durham North Carolina! Did I mention they're from Durham? Well they super are.

If she doesn't get an Emmy nom, I swear to god I'll......

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Nothing makes sense anymore.

There will a partition in the history of civilization as momentous as the Common Era. The year 2017 will be the first year of PDP. Post Detective Pikachu. I swear I had a dream like this once...

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Here's the opening to Stranger Things:

But not because this is my new favorite thing in the world right now. No... it's for some other reason.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Stranger Things is the best story Netflix has ever told.

This is a Goonies-Halloween-Close Encounters-ET smoothie. It's pretty tasty.

I tell ya what guys, after seeing a few tepid reviews, I did not expect to like ST as much as I do. I goddamn love it. I'm halfway through and I am hooked, do you hear me?, I am damn near flopping on the deck of the good ship Netflix. The actors are good, but the script and story structure are even better. Master class even. It looks like a sappy speilburgian love letter because that's what the Duffer Brothers want you to see. I'll save the rest for a review, but christ guys... this is good TV. 

What the hell, Nerds?!

Miss Jones, I am so sorry.

Sometimes you're in too deep to see it. You're so happy to meet someone else that's played the dlc to New Vegas that you're willing to look past faults in their character. I'm not a nerd because I play and write about video games. I'm a nerd because I can yell about the Mass Effect 3 ending for an hour straight. I'm incredibly passionate about something that isn't main stream. But I would never be this upset if the new ME crew was all women. And I would never ever think about attacking the actor as if they were responsible.

The fact that the new Ghostbusters trailer is the most hated video on the internet is one thing. The fact that the brunt of the vitriol landed at the twitter account of Leslie Jones is a whole new circle of nerd hell. The fact she's had to quit twitter because of the non-stop siege from anonymous racist cowards is unacceptable. I have been so incredibly naive about nerds and gamer culture in general. They can be echo chambers of hate just as effective as tea party radio. I wish it wasn't so, but here we are. A talented comedian gave a critically lauded performance and all some nerds could think to do was call her a n***r.

That's just f***ing amazing, guys.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

I'm... busy.

Sorry about the delay folks. Just haven't been feeling too writey lately. Been picking up some extra shifts, 'cause I got a $1200 dental surgery I don't have the money for. Could be worse, though. it's just the one tooth and the procedure is a grand a tooth. Counting my blessings where I can!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Marco Polo: Mild Horses.

Cut out every scene he's not in and it becomes a better show.

I made it to the end of the second season of Netflix's most expensive show. Most people have no idea it exists... and honestly I can't blame them. There's embers of greatness deep in it's soapy bullsh*t but I did not enjoy the ride a third of the time. So much so, I'm not even bothering to do a formal review.

It's funny when people say game of thrones wouldn't be half as good if it weren't for it's budget. That's now scientifically not true. Marco Polo (which was clearly named "Khan" or something before a suit made them change it) is so maddeningly obsessed with being great that it becomes mediocre. Acting ability fluctuates wildly from character to character and too many of them are pitifully out of their league.

Not that the writing does them many favors but I can now see I'm becoming a bit of a dick. It gets a solid 7 out of 10 but that's only because you can close your eyes and imagine all these pieces fitting together better. The story of the great Kublai Khan should be, and almost is, much more compelling than this.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sometimes work is the best thing.

Breakups suck, but sweating like a razorback hog at work for 20 hours a weekend is oddly
therapeutic. The lunch rush broke the whole damn bakery today and work related mania is just the thing to keep me out of my head. Which, if done for long enough, means I won't remember what I was so screwed up about in the first place.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Look at this fool:

My save got corrupted a while back and so far the only real difference is that my A-squad doesn't show up in the title screen anymore. A fact that bummed me out until I saw this middle aged Hispanic family man in pony tails and ballerina lace skinny jeans. That just made my whole damn day!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

XCOM 2? I'm sorry I yelled.

XCOM 2 is the best game I never reviewed. Because as great as it is, make no mistake it's abso-f**kin-lutly amazing, it ran like crap. Like. CRAP. The gtx 980 was top o' the line and I was pulling 40-50 frames with the fxaa turned off! In layman's terms, the effect that makes edges less jaggy n' ugly was such a prissy performance hog, the forums basically told you to turn it off. That's some beta test version bullsh*t right there.

When the news came out that X2 was coming to consoles I choked on my coffee. This s**t barely ran on a relatively monster graphics card and processor. How in the hell did they get this thing up on what is essentially a couple of 7 year old gaming pc's?

So I checked back into X2... and I am pleased. I mean, I'll need to fork over $450 for a lovely 1070 to get everything running buttery smooth. But this, this is a solid 25% upgrade across the board. I want my nail-biting POV shots to run flawlessly. When my sniper is the last guy to take his turn and he lines up a shot on a faceless barreling toward my panicking medic, I want to be in the moment. The performance level right now gives me that. And thus, I am now content.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Pixar promises to lay off the sequels for a while.

Just one or two or three more hits. Tops.

Pixar has been hitting the sequels pretty hard this decade. While I'd admit that outside of the Cars series not one of those sequels (and even the good dinosaur if I'm honest) are "bad." Hell, I'll defend Monsters University as having one of the most devastating coming of age character arcs... ever. But it seems Pixar's golden years are quickly fading even after coups like Inside Out. Which was tremendous. But the C+'s are staring to out number the straight A's it used to have and I've been worried for years. Disney's chief animation studio, quite frankly, trounced Big P this year with Zootopia. The best film about American racial tension I have ever seen.

We just have to muddle through Cars 3(...nah.), The Incredibles 2 (I'm down) Toy Story 4 (No. Why?!) to get to P's solemn pinky swear it will try as hard as it did in the beginning. Hey, I get it. If I was a creative company with a payroll I'd seriously consider sure bets like Toy Story sequels to keep the great Disney beast fed. But since Disney can stand on it's own 2 feet now, I'm so jazzed Zootopia did as well as it has, Pixar now has the means to fight  the war to win the world's imagination. Again.