Archive for August, 2013

As I speak, children everywhere are crying out in misery as they are being forced back on the bus and back off to school. I myself shall resume my studies here in a few days, but for now, I shall cherish these last few days of summer. For me, that probably means steak, some adult beverages, and a few more movies. My Summer Movie List has also seen it’s finish. So without any further basking in the glory of the final summer hours, let’s get on with it.

Fittingly, we shall begin with…

The World’s End

Poster designed by Alex Pardee

Poster designed by Alex Pardee

Five friends from high school are brought back together by nostalgic Gary King (Simon Pegg) decides he wants to get the gang back together for another go at a legendary pub crawl, all culminating at a pub called The World’s End. Due to a series of events, the gang comes to find out that there home town has become overrun by robots, and their only chance to make it out alive is to blend in and complete their journey to The World’s End.
This is the third installment of what has come to be known as the “Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy” of films directed Edgar Wright and featuring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Also featured in this film are Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddy Marsan, Rosamund Pike, and even a few brief cameos from Pierce Brosnan.
This flick was full of quick-witted laughs, and the unabashed gore and violence was on point, but something felt kind of off. I felt like this film was written to follow its’ two predecessors, instead of to really stand on its own. The film felt reliant on the humor and fan base of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz to keep its’ audience grounded. I feel what I’m really trying to gripe about hear is that the film didn’t bring anything new to the trilogy, and as a stand alone film it borrowed heavily from the past works of its creators.
It’s still a great film, and you’ll laugh all the way through, but don’t expect any new life to be breathed into it.
The World’s End – 7 out of 10

I also happened to see another movie this past weekend that wasn’t on my list…

Two Guns
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When I first saw the ads for this flick, I honestly wasn’t that excited. It looked like kind of a generic buddy cop movie, so I guess the marketing just didn’t quite do it justice. A DEA agent and a Naval Intelligence officer team up team up to recoup some money, not knowing their partner’s true identity, or who the money truly belongs to. They end up stealing money from the wrong people, and must figure out how to work with one another, and get each other out of their unexpected situation. Mark Wahlberg made this movie for me. His character was just so quick-witted, and loved to run his mouth…I was unexpectedly laughing my butt off in a couple of places. Washington‘s character had a pretty smart mouth on him too, but not near as snarky as Wahlberg’s. The unexpected brief nudity was also rather nice. I didn’t know it going in, but Paula Patton very briefly bares her chest for all to see. Very brief, if you blink, you might miss it. The story wasn’t very original, but you’re not really expecting innovative with a buddy cop flick. It’s good, it’d definitely get the intentional walk at the Roman Coliseum.
2 Guns – 7 out of 10

Well, with that, we’ve come to the end of what I would consider the summer movie season, and have entered the Fall season for movie releases. From here until next summer there is a drop in the volume of movies, and we also begin to see movies of a different caliber. Ever since Jaws, summer is the season for big hollywood blockbusters, and in between summers are we see more indie films, dramas, and documentaries.
The following list are the movies that stand out in my mind for the upcoming fall season.

Riddick – 9/06
Vin Diesel reprises his role as Riddick, the enigmatic and reluctant last son of the Furyan people. In his last film, Riddick just wanted to be left alone, now all he wants is revenge. Every bounty hunter in the galaxy is out get him, but for Riddick, that’s just part of the plan. Still directed by David Twohy, we can probably expect the same caliber of story and story telling that we’ve come to expect from the previous two movies of the franchise.

The Family – 9/13
Robert DeNiro is a former mobster turned witness against his former mafia clan. He and his family are forced to move to Normandy, France in the witness protection program to keep the mob from finding them. They must learn to live in their new surroundings while keeping a low profile so the mob doesn’t catch wind of where they’ve been relocated. I almost didn’t add this to my list, this just looks like it’s going to fall flat. I think this is going to end up being one of the huge bombs that Relativity Media has built a poor reputation on. I was surprised though by 2 Guns, so I decided to throw this in there.

Prisoners – 9/20
Two little girls go missing, and the only lead is a ratty looking old RV parked on the same street that the girls live on. The driver is arrested, but with nothing to hold him on he is soon released. With time wearing on, the father of one of the girls (Hugh Jackman) decides to take matters into his own hands. How far will he go to get his daughter back?

Machete Kills – 10/11
The Mad Mexican named Machete returns, this time under the employment of the U.S. government. His mission is to go deep into Mexico to take out a cartel leader and a billionaire arms dealer. An army will stand in the way to his objective, but they’ll have probably wished they brought more guns.
I never saw the first Machete, or the short in between the 2007 double feature, Planet Terror/Grindhouse…for which I am reluctant. Just never got around to it, but I’ll probably make the effort before this comes out. The cast here is star studded; Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez, Sofía Vergara, Amber Heard, Jessica Alba, Mel Gibson, Antonio Banderas, Lady Gaga, Carlos Estevez…yes, Carlos Esteves. Charlie Sheen has decided for the first time to drop his stage name and use his legal name. What role is he playing? President of The United States…this is bound to be good.

Carrie – 10/18
Under the torment of her peers, a sheltered high school discovers that she has telekinetic powers, and unleashes them. This is a remake of the 1976 classic under the same name. Chloë Grace Moretz stars as the title role. (Still too early to say she’s hot? Still 16? Crap.) Julianne Moore will play the role of Carrie’s overprotective mother. You know I’ll go and see this.

Bad Grandpa – 10/25
Johnny Knoxville stars in this 4th film of the Jackass franchise. Instead of the usual crazy instincts of the entire crew, this film will center on the character created for him, Irving Zisman…or Bad Grandpa. It seems a strange turn for the Jackass guys to make a movie about one person, and a “character” at that, but supposedly this movie will still be very grounded in reality, and the interactions and reactions of others. I’ve still never seen a Jackass film in theaters, and may wait for the DVD to come out, but let’s see what’s going on that weekend.

Ender’s Game – 11/01
The film adaptation Orson Scott Card’s 1984 novel is finally being brought into the light! The script has technically been ready since 2009, but Lionsgate didn’t pick it up for distribution until 2011. I’m torn here; I’ve read one of the books which it is based on, and I can tell you from a sci-fi perspective that Card’s vision of the future is amazing…but from a socio-political standpoint it’s catching a lot of flack. Card evidently has a very heavy bias against the LGBT lifestyle and movement, and a strong boycott movement has been aimed at the film. Lionsgate is trying to distance themselves and the film from its creator, but I guess we’ll see how well that goes. I’m a real fan of the story, and I feel like despite Card’s personal views, the story should speak for itself.
The story: after barely fending off an attack from an alien race called Formics, more commonly know as Buggers, the world’s military strategists begin training children from an early age to one day be proficient enough to lead Earth’s forces against the Buggers. But, is there enough time to get these children up to speed, and at what cost to the children?

Thor: The Dark World – 11/08
One year after the events in The Avengers has passed, Thor finds himself in a fight to save the 9 Realms from an enemy older than the Cosmos itself…and no, the Chitauri and Thanos are in no way involved with this film. The villain[s] of this film are Malekith the Accursed, and his Dark Elves of Svartalfheim. The Marvel Universe has such a huge catalog of villains, it’s hard to keep up with them. Since getting into the modern Marvel Avengers franchise, I’ve become interested enough that I’ll most likely go and see it.

Catching Fire – 11/22
The sequel to the mildly loved Hunger Games is on its way. Jennifer Lawrence, and Josh Hutcherson step back into their roles as Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, having just returned from their victory at the 74th Annual Hunger Games, and having to set off on a victory tour of the the other districts. Revolution however brews on the heels of their victory, and everyone can sense it. The capital however remains firmly in control though as the President prepares for the 75th Annual Hunger Games: the Quarter Quell. The downfall of this film, like its predecessor, is the film’s rating. PG-13 is not an appropriate rating to properly convey the events. Hunger Games was supposed to depict children killing one another, extremely brutally in some cases. The only way to accomplish this in a PG-13 movie is to quickly cut away from the action. I fear that Catching Fire will target itself at the same audience, and ultimately end up suffering the same fate. An R rating could save this franchise. In reality though, I’ll hope for the best, and expect the worst.

My list ends at the end of November. I know that Texas rarely ever gets a true winter, but it still doesn’t feel right grouping December flicks in on the Fall List. Like I said though…not much. There will be even fewer once my Winter List comes out.

While on the subject of upcoming movies, there was an announcement this past week that’s had the info tubes up in a huge tizzy. Warner Brothers and Zach Snyder have cast a new Batman in the new title, Batman vs. Superman, slated right now to be released in July of 2015. Ben Affleck is the man that has been chosen.

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Everyone is having an extremely visceral reaction to this news, and though I really don’t want to rush to form an opinion on this too quick, I really do want to talk about it. I’m pretty sure that most of the people that are responding negatively are remembering his portrayal of Daredevil back in 2003.

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I’m sure I speak for…the majority when I say that it wasn’t good. I’m pretty sure that even Affleck himself said after Daredevil flopped that he would never play a superhero again. 10 years have passed between then and now though, and he’s had a lot of time to grow as an actor. Anyone who saw Argo (2012) will know that he is very capable of powerful dramatic roles. Stepping into the role as a superhero again is a big step, but I think he’s ready for it.
Let’s not forget either, the huge backlash that occurred when Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker in The Dark Knight. People were outraged at that news, and his performance of the villain went on to be the one that most everyone will agree as the best in the history of the role. I think Affleck will surprise us, and actually put on a good show. I’m honestly more interested to see if there will be a Robin.

I want to say that this next thing is big news as well, but it’s more speculation of big news. Rumor has it that on September 10th, Apple will unveil their next range of new products across the whole spectrum with which they operate.

Apple Sep 10

They will supposedly unveil the new iPhone (the 5s or whatever they want to call it), and also a cut-down, lower cost version of the phone, for those that want a smart phone on a budget. iOS 7 has been beta testing for a few months now, and it’s reasonable to assume that the new phones will come with the final build of that. It is also expected that Apple will also launch, if not at this event then sometime extremely soon, the new version of Mac OS X, referred to as Mavericks (I guess they’re getting tired of the big cats motif). I’m just guessing here, but maybe they’ll have a new iPad as well? We’ll see I guess…2 weeks and some change, let’s see if I’m right.

How about some real news? Video games save lives. This isn’t what you normally hear in the news. You usually hear about video games killing cops or shooting up schools. Well, about 4 weeks or so ago, the tables turned.
In Colorado, a 10-year-old boy named Gryffin was the passenger in a car with his younger brother and 74-year-old grandmother. The grandmother passed out at the wheel for unknown reasons, and young Gryffin, thinking quickly, seized the wheel of the 60 mph car and directed it into a muddy ditch before the car could veer into oncoming traffic. When asked where he learned to do what he did, his response was Mario Kart. Thorough training in the Nintendo racing game decreased little Gryffin’s reaction time, and increased his decision-making ability. Confusion or panic could easily have been Gryffin’s instinctual reaction, but his training took over and he jumped behind the wheel.
Thanks to video games, Gryffin was able to save the life of his grandmother, his little brother, and himself. We should be thankful though that he didn’t have any banana peels or tortoise shells to contend with.
It’s nice to see something positive about video games popping up in the news from time to time. Thank you Gryffin, for breaking the stereotype that video games are the bad guy.

Finally, a good story with which to end this post. I guess that means I’m at my stopping point for the day. With school starting back up here this week, I’ll try and cook up some school related material for next week. I’m having a thought. Something that I used to do for my roommates was put together a schedule of big college football games for the week, so that we’d know at a quick glance where and when big games were being played, and try plan accordingly. If time permits, I may try and work that into blog here.

Alright lads and lasses. It’s been fun. Till next week…

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

– CVSleen

Scratching the Itch at J Sushi in Denton

Scratching the Itch at J Sushi in Denton

Welcome back interneters, how’s the net been? Good I hope, it can be weird out there. Well, I have entirely too much stuff to get through this week, so I’ll probably be picking and choosing from this weeks internal list, and shoving a lot of it off until another. First and foremost though, I have a little bit of somewhat breaking news, so let’s dive in.

Microsoft announced this past week that the one last problem that people were still complaining about with the Xbox One has been solved. “Chief Xbox One Architect” Marc Whitten spoke with IGN last week answering questions about the console when the topic of the Xbox Kinect came up. Whitten first spoke of all the interesting  and innovative interactions that the Kinect allowed you to have with the console, but went on to say that it in fact could be completely shut off, to where it would only be functional for IR blasting. Further, the console will still function if the Kinect were to be unplugged, except for any features that specifically require its use.
In essence, the Kinect is no longer required to be always on, you can now unplug it and the system won’t complain at you. The console will be sold with the Kinect as part of the included package, but no longer is it a required component for most core functionality. IGN’s original interview with Whitten can be found here.

While I’m on the subject, Whitten also announced late last month that every Xbox One will be able to be used as a development kit. Usually and classically, development kit consoles are only available to licensed game developers, but Microsoft has said that they want everyone to have that ability to create in their new environment.
Development functionality will not be a feature at launch, but will be added at a later date. Microsoft says that more details will be revealed at gamescom later this month.

At this point in the game, with all the concessions Microsoft has made to their fans and customers, it should be clear that they have their sights set on delivering the best product possible to their audience. They have listened to their feedback and adjusted the the product accordingly to how they feel that their community will best enjoy it. I’m really glad I’ve chosen to stick with Microsoft in this case, they’re continually showing me that they are not only committed to making the best product possible, but they are also listening to what their consumers have to say, and taking that feedback to heart.

Moving on, I’ve seen the next couple of films on my summer watch list, bringing me very close to the end, so let’s go ahead and get those out of the way.

Elysium
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Science fiction writers have the unique ability to give us a vision of what the Earth of the future could be like, so why is it that so many see the planet in ruins or complete upheaval?
Neil Blomkamp gives us a vision of the world where in the future, almost everyone has become the slums. If you’re making any kind of a living at all, it’s as some sort of slave to the people of Elysium. Matt Damon, when given his own expiration dates, reluctantly steps up to become our hero.
Like some sort of sci-fi Jesus Christ, Matt Damon has risen to cleanse us of our disease and our sins. Yea, I just went there. I saw a lot of religious allegory in this movie, and probably let a lot of that implication weigh on my rating of the film. I saw the Halo/Citadel like ring world(Elysium) as a metaphor for heaven turned hell, with everyone living there in their lavish ignorance of the poverty on Earth. I also saw Sharlto Copley‘s character as an inverted archangel, like an evil Michael or Gabriel. Maybe Jodie Foster could then be Lucifer could then be trying to gain control over the mantle of Heaven.
I’m probably the only one that has read in all the religious implications into the movie, but I couldn’t get it out of my head the whole time. Blomkamp’s view of the battle for heaven…I don’t know, my imagine was working on overdrive in this flick.
The visuals were amazing, and looked completely believable. It had the same aesthetic quality that you’d expect from a Blomkamp film after seeing District 9. Everything from VFX down to the lighting felt completely natural.
The acting was great, nobody under or over performed. Jodie Foster was a perfect asshole, and I mean that as a compliment. I rarely see her play a villainous role, and she executed it so well. I haven’t seen Sharlto Copley play a villain either, and wouldn’t have thought that he had it in him, but he was so fabulously creepy, and sinister. Come to find he can wear it like a glove. I wanna see Matt Damon do evil. I wonder if he could handle it. As a good guy, he usually seems pretty…well, vanilla. If there was anything weak about this movie, and I’m shocking myself saying this, but it was him. He just felt like he was such a bland hero. Then again, if you ever were going to make a sci-fi Jesus, you really wouldn’t want to give him any kind of an ego, would you?
Elysium – 8 out of 10

Kick-Ass 2
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Is it still too soon to say that Chloë Grace Moretz is hot? Still 16? Well, crap.
This is the sequel we have been waiting for. I said in my writeup earlier this summer about how everything just worked so perfectly for the original; the casting, the acting, the story, the visuals…everything. I was worried that with Jeff Wadlow as the new writer/director, that the sequel would fall well short of the original. Nope…just as before, this film hit on all cylinders, everything just worked here; the casting, the acting, the story, the visuals…everything. Almost all of the original cast returned. The only change I could find was Todd, the third member of Dave’s group of friends.
Everyone was kind of wondering how Jim Carrey‘s role of Colonel Stars and Stripes would turn out, and I’m glad to say that he fit it just perfectly. Now, I haven’t read the original Kick-Ass comics, so I don’t know how well the role correlates to the original, but he just fit. Christopher Mintz-Plasse apprising the new role of The Mother Fucker, incredible. It was hard to imagine how, after they set up Chris D’Amico in the first movie, he could truly rise as some sort of badass, but they did, and like everything else, it just worked so perfectly. It also felt weird to imagine that even though Aaron Taylor-Johnson‘s role as Kick-Ass, despite getting his act together and saving the day in first film, could still be anything more than the wannabe nerdy hero in the follow up. They somehow though turned him into a muscled down badass with actually fighting ability…that still retained the lovable nerdy awkwardness that defined his role. I mean, everything just worked, I don’t know if I can say that enough.
At one point in the film, I thought they might have slipped up with the story a little, when they started getting into Hit Girl’s journey through high school, and learning how to act more like a girl. I started to sigh when they started with that plot line, but Jesus does it pay off.
What is one thing that you would love to see in a [super]hero movie? A battle royale between a giant group of heroes and villains, right? Well, not to give anything away, but that’s the climax right there. Everything comes to a head with a gigantic showdown between the forces of good and evil. I was literally gripping my seat. I even started cheering in one notable scene.
This film could have fallen so completely and horribly flat, and at the same time so much potential for this film to soar in every way possible. It is so gratifying to see a film live up to its potential, and shatter all your expectations.
Kick-Ass 2 – 10 out of 10

We’ve just about gotten through my Summer Watch List at this point, with only “The World’s End“, which comes out on Friday. Given that, I’ll probably have a review for it next week. I missed a couple of movies, but I still got around to most of them. Something I wanna try to do for next week, it addition to “The World’s End” review, is try to put together a Fall Watch List because…why not. I’m torn as to whether or not I want to identify my favorite movie for the season, or just wait until the end of the year, and do like an award show for it or something. I think that’s what I may do…yea, keep an eye out for that in December.

At some point after I did my first Nerds of the Future segment, I started wondering about designing the perfect car…designing the car of the future. And then I remembered, I’m not an engineer, I should stop that line of thinking right there. I can’t design the perfect vehicle…hell, I can barely even draw. It takes days of effect to even sketch up a simple floor plan. There are a lot of other people out there though that that have designed a lot of really cool vehicles that give us visions of the future. I began wondering, if I could choose any vehicle from any work of fiction, what would it be? Here are a few of the options that I came up with.

The Normandy SR-2 (Mass Effect 3)
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Enough room for your friends, family, and a full set of crew members. Faster than light speeds, radar/ladar cloaking, terrestrial descent capability…full kitchen, bar, med bay, and communications suites. She ain’t the fastest ship in the galaxy, but she’ll get you there in style. Oh, and it also comes with a fully functional A.I., EDI

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There’s truly not much she can’t do…I did say fully functional.

Serenity (Firefly and Serenity)
Serenity ship

She may not be the most elegant ship out there, but she’s made with love, and that makes her a home. Serenity has a lot of hidden nooks and crannies, which makes her idea for smuggling. She’s got two shuttles for running errands or reconnaissance, a roomy cargo bay, and lots of common space, but then again, so does the Normandy. The Serenity though is geared for running with a smaller crew than the Normandy is; probably 5 or 6 people could suffice. She doesn’t have the same kind of offensive and defensive capabilities that warships do, but with the right man at the helm, she can dance like a leaf on the wind.

The Flutter (Mega Man Legends 1 and 2)
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This is more of a nostalgia choice, as she isn’t that reliable, and she spends most of her time being broken down. She was a very clean running green ship though, running on refractor shards. It’s surprisingly roomy, given its’ appearance from the outside. Despite it only being 60 feet long by 60 feet tall, it still has 3 bedrooms, a bridge, engine room, r&d area, a cargo hold, a kitchen, and a common area. It’s not capable of space flight, but it’s gotten every job done so far, and even saved the day on a few occasions. Minimal crew required, you can probably get by with 3 or 4.

Millenium Falcon (Star Wars Episodes IV V and VI)
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She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts. Here’s another one that can be operated with a minimal crew, but this one was actually built with offense and defense in mind. She has top and bottom situated laser gunner mounts, concussion missles, and directable deflector shields. The captain boasts that she can make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, but that’s more of a function of the navigation computer than the hyperdrive. Bunk space is limited, she can sleep 7, but they’re pretty small bunks. Small galley, small common area, large cargo bay. She’s here to do the job…not much else. But she’s definitely the best ship for the job.

Maybe you’re in the market for something smaller though, something a little bit more personal, we’ve got a few options for that too.

The Warthog (Halo Series)
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Seating for 3, off road capability, 4 wheel steering, M41 anti-materiel gun, wench, easily flip-able. Extremely fuel efficient, and the chain gun has a seemingly limitless supply of ammunition. The only issue with it that I can see is that you need a friend to operate M41.

Tachikoma (Ghost in the Shell Manga/Anime)
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Your very own A.I. loaded multi-legged tank. It can fire guns, drive at highway speeds, climb buildings, cloak itself to become invisible, and be your friend if you know what fuel to feed it. Plus, it can do all that with or without you in the cockpit. Don’t be surprised though if it spies on you from time to time, they’re very eager to learn.

Still too big? How about this…

The Iron Man high-tech prosthesis (Iron Man comics/cartoons/movies)
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Single occupancy, form fitting, flight capable, and more firepower than half of the above options. Comes with a very friendly British virtual operating system named Jarvis, who could run this suit himself if he had to, but knows that you probably got into the driver’s seat for a reason. Depending on the model, it might require a little finesse to remove the suit.

I realize, looking up at this list, that it is highly autobiographical. As always, I’m sure there are a crap load of things that I missed. What are the vehicles that you’re yelling that I overlooked? Drop me a comment and let me know what I left out.

Ugh, this is why I usually don’t say what I’m going to do for the next week. Stuff comes up, and I end up spending half of the post talking Xbox One and movie reviews. I’m not making any promises for next week, but you can probably expect a review of “The World’s End”, a Fall List of Movies, maybe another Nerds of the Future installment, and…I don’t know what else.

Oh, before I go, TWC and CBS are still at each others’ throats. One development is that lawsuits have been filed against TWC by its’ own customers, for breach of contract and such. They’ll break, trust me…they’ll break.

Alright guys, see ya back here next week for…stuff.

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

– CVSleen

Omelet Sandwich on a Blueberry Bagel

Omelet Sandwich on a Blueberry Bagel

I didn’t really know what kind of shenanigans I’d be getting myself into this past weekend, otherwise I’d have made mention in my previous post. But, I actually got to do something pretty cool this past weekend…attend part of the opening weekend festivities of the new Alamo Drafthouse in Richardson.

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For those of you that don’t know, the Alamo Drafthouse is, in their words and I agree, a theater franchise made by movie fans, for movie fans. The hallmarks of the Drafthouse that make it great are…
1) Absolutely no talking or texting once the lights go down. In most theaters it’s just frowned upon. Here, you get one warning before you’re ejected with no refund.
2) No kids, get ’em out. They’re okay at certain movies, but for most…find a baby sitter.
3) Good food, original beverages, and an aim at supporting local breweries.
4) Exceptional presentation quality, the Richardson location, for example, has 4K projectors in its’ theaters. (Highest resolution available at this point)
5) This is a home for cinema classics and special events. They know who their audience is, and know that doing classics and unique showings will keep the cinephiles at their doorstep.

The lobby of every Alamo Drafthouse has a lobby unique to the atmosphere of the area in which the theater is located. For Richardson, with the Texas Instruments HQ virtually just next door, and the mid-century modern architecture of the surrounding area, the Richardson lobby has been given a post-modern technology feel to it. And attuned to that, the theme was set for the special movies and events being featured on their soft launch weekend: Robots! Special titles and events featured this past weekend included The Master Pancake Theater‘s take on Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), The Iron Giant (1999) in 35mm, Robot Jox (1989) in 35mm, *Batteries Not Included (1987) in 35mm, Short Circuit (1986), The Transformers: The Movie (1986) in 35mm, The Terminator (1984), Logan’s Run (1976, filmed in Dallas), Forbidden Planet (1956), and finally, the one that I got to see, Fritz Lang’s The Complete Metropolis (1927) with 25 minutes of long lost footage, and orchestration by the Dallas-based improvisational ensemble: BL Lacerta.

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In my eyes, this was pretty much the Sci-Fi movie that opened up the Sci-Fi genre. Metropolis was certainly the first full feature-length Sci-Fi film, running 153 minutes in it’s original condiiton. It featured one of cinemas first robots, and arguably cinemas first android. A sizable amount of the film had been lost over time, but in 2008, an original cut was found in a cinema museum in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The film was slightly degraded, but most of the film was salvaged and adequately restored to include up to 148 of the original 153 minutes of film. Metropolis was a German silent film, with title cards and accompanying orchestration. The version I got to see was adapted to have English title cards, and some summarization for the parts that couldn’t be restored well enough to be included. It’s a shame that this film wasn’t respected near enough as it should have been when it was originally released. I guess German expressionist science fiction just wasn’t that well accepted back in 1927. I’d have thought that audiences would go for Brigitte Helm though, even by modern standards she’s pretty foxy.

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Having the BL Lacerta Improvisational Ensemble there was such a treat. They completely made up the score as they went along, and even though, in my opinion, it took them about 10 minutes or so to gain a little bit of traction, they made the whole experience breathtaking. 10 years ago, I wouldn’t have thought that any film made before 1986 could give me goosebumps, but with BL Lacerta driving the movie forward, I certainly got them.

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There will literally never be anything like it again. Like I said, they were making it up as they went along.

Adding an experience like that onto my film résumé is a once in a lifetime experience for me. I mean, I got to see the original Alien (1979) in theater at Cinemark earlier this summer, but that’s just not the same thing at all. This is arguably the Holy Grail of Sci-Fi films, the progenitor of the genre. Films like this aren’t going to cross my doorstep that often, but the great thing about Alamo Drafthouse is that they’ll certainly try to do it more often.

I also saw Elysium while I was out there, but as I’ve already gone on a long exposition on the Drafthouse and Metropolis, so I’ll save that review for next week. I’d have added a score to my little trope through Metropolis up there, but that movie is honestly well above me. It’d feel wrong for me to render any kind of judgement to a film so classic other than awe, so I’ll just say that it broke my scale.

It’s no secret, I love my Sci-Fi movies. It’s a big love of mine. I love it even more when I find out that quite a few movies that I enjoy have little Easter Eggs hidden in them. It’s a fairly often occurence nowadays, and most people know to look out for them, but not a lot of people know where the term or the practice of including Easter eggs came from. The term Easter Egg, as it applies to movies, can be attributed to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. One day, for whatever reason, they decided to have an actual easter egg hunt on set, and some of the eggs were hidden so well that they weren’t found by the time they had to resume filming the next day. Some of those unfound eggs found there way into the shots of the film, and into the final cut.

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So quite literally, the first Easter Eggs in film were actual easter eggs. Easter Eggs have become a little more elaborate, deliberate, and figurative since then, and I wanted to account a few of my more favorite ones that I’ve seen crop up in films I like.
Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (1999) Okay, yea, I lied. Not one of my more favorite films, but it does have an awesome Easter Egg in it. When Queen Amidala calls for a vote of no confidence in Chancellor Valorum, the shot moves around to look at the reaction of various other species and nations. If you’re looking closely, you might notice something.

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Don’t see it? Look a little closer…

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Yep, those are the Extra Terrestrials from Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (1982). That little bugger that Elliot was hanging out with in 1982 probably had Yoda on speed dial.
I Am Legend (2007) At Comic-Con earlier this summer, it was announced that Superman would return in 2015, facing off against rival superhero, Batman. This was a graphic they provided at the announcement…

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For many, this graphic looked very familiar…very very familiar.

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They may have predicted it to happen about 5 years too early, but the I Am Legend filmmakers had it spot on. I mean, I bet when someone from Zack Snyder’s Batman vs. Superman camp were coming up with promo materials for Comic-Con this year, someone was like, “Hey, they had a good poster in I Am Legend…let’s use that.” The awesome thing about this, is that it didn’t become an Easter Egg until 6 years after the film’s release.
Star Trek (2009) There were a lot of mixed emotions when J.J. Abrams was appointed as the Director of the upcoming Star Wars Episode 7, mainly lots of people, myself included, that didn’t want to see someone that has had some influence of the Star Trek universe to have the same influence over the Star Wars universe. The fact is though, Abrams has already allowed a little mixing of the two universes. Many of you may have missed R2D2 popping up for a split second in the 2009 Star Trek, but he was there. When the Enterprise emerged from warp into the debris of the fallen Star Fleet ships around Vulcan, this little guy popped up in front of the view screen…

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Yep, that’s R2 in all his glory bouncing off the windshield of the Enterprise, tossed aside like a bug off windshield wipers. ::Sigh:: You’ve actually got the pranksters at Industrial Light and Magic to thank for this. Apparently they like to toss R2 into a lot of the projects they help out with. Supposedly R2 also popped up in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen when Optimus Prime was gearing up towards the end. Who knows all where the ILM boys stuck that little guy.
Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and Temple of Doom (1984) You might be shocked to hear that the Easter Eggs that has been found in Indiana Jones are ones from Star Wars. What Indie failed to realize while digging around for the long lost Ark of the Covenant, that he’d already found it…perhaps in a previous life, a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…from anywhere else. What Dr. Jones failed to realize while tomb raiding were a couple of his old friends immortalized in the hieroglyphics behind him.

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There’s also another one that pops up in the Temple of Doom right in the beginning. The night club that Indie finds himself in, where he first meets Willie is none other than, Club Obi Wan.

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Lucas and Spielberg were pretty tight back in those days.
I’ve got one more for you, and it’s really a bit of a stretch, so bare with me.
Iron Man (2008) When Tony Stark finally escapes captivity and returns to America, he asks for two things: an American cheeseburger, and a press conference. A cut or two later, when Stark steps out of the car and is greeted by Obadiah, he has a Burger King cheeseburger in hand (I would love to provide you with a screenshot, but the internet has actually failed me this time, you’ll have to watch it for yourself to confirm). The Easter Egg here is the BK cheeseburger, if you know enough about Robert Downey Junior‘s life. In 2003, before RDJ had turned his life around, he was driving around with what he described as “tons of f—ing dope” in his car, and decided to stop for a burger…at Burger King. He said that the burger was so terrible, that he felt that something terrible was going to soon happen, so he tossed all his drugs into the ocean, and decided then and there he was going to turn his life around. He credits Burger King for being the catalyst that got his life back on the right track, and the inclusion of the cheeseburger scene in Iron Man was RDJ’s way of making a metaphor of his own life, as having the cheeseburger was the last thing Stark did before announcing he was turning his company around.

I remember when I watched that movie for the first time. Seeing RDJ, with his courage steeled and his mission understood, suiting up in the red and gold Mk. 3 armor for the first time. That first viewing is a feeling you can’t ever really recreate. There are plenty of movies and games out there whose turning points make the initial viewing infinitely better than any following occurrence. I would like to venture a ponder out there, and make an inquiry to my audience.
What game or movie would you want to play through/watch again, with no memory, just so that you could have your mind blown for a second time? I’ll go ahead and start us out.
Mass Effect 3 (2012)…the franchise marked the first console games that let you carry on a storyline through a line of games, and was a unique game in that most people who played it chose to design their own character, instead of using the default. You genuinely got attached to your character, and all the supporting cast that you picked up along the way. It was known well ahead of time that this franchise was a trilogy, 3 games and done. So much anticipation was built up around the release of Mass Effect 3. If I could go back and live through that anticipation, and the playthrough to find out how the characters resolve all their conflicts after nearly 5 years of built up dedication…that would be so cool.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)…seeing a childhood favorite cartoon brought into live action for the first time was about as exciting as it gets for a kid.

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Childhood joy is beautiful. But the pure manic drooling excitement of a 4-year-old is something altogether fearful…but innocent. I miss having that same raw enthusiasm. And to think that Megan Fox is now going to be dirtying up the role of April O’Neil…

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::Sigh:: Michael Bay is like a battered wife. He know’s that she is nothing but bad, but he just keeps going back to her. Had I been consulted for the casting of the new TMNT, I would have just dropped this on Michael Bay’s desk…

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He could have done so much better with Miss Winstead.
Speaking of M.E.W. I’ll go ahead and wrap up this exercise with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010). I remember going and seeing this movie in theater on opening day. I had literally no idea what to expect; I hadn’t played the game, nor had I read the mangas. Within the first five minutes, with the video game sound effects, the dry humor, and the lead-in to the title sequence, and I found myself leaning over to my buddy and whispering, “I think I’m in love.”

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Then I saw Mary Elizabeth Winstead playing Ramona for the first time, and I felt an odd tingling somewhere behind my man tackle. Seeing her for the first time with that pink hair, well…it lit my fire. I still think she looks ravishing, but nothing really ever compares to seeing a girl for the first time that matches your proposes specifications for sexy angelic perfection.

Film Title: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

I’m getting caught up in the fair skinned muse. The movie itself was kind of a homage to everything that I love in life; music, video games, beautiful women, bass battles, hidden Easter Eggs, and over the top imagination and creativity. For me, everything little thing in this movie worked, and seeing it come together for the first time in theater, well, I was  writhing in my seat, I’m pretty sure.
Unfortunately, we can never go back, but it’s a nice exercise in nostalgia. So, I ask you, what are some movies, games, and various other media that you’d love the opportunity to experience again for the first time? I’m sure I’m leaving out plenty of good ones, so let me know what I’ve forgotten.

Alrightly then. Before I go, I’d like to make a short Public Service Announcement about Monster Cable®s, for all of my fellow musicians out there.

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I was perusing through one of my favorite news aggregators, and I came across a thread talking about how Monster Cable®s’ instrument cables are essentially ripping your instruments and other hardware to shreds. The way the rumor goes, and it has been confirmed by several other independent sources, is that Monster Cable®s’ 1/4″ instrument cables can range anywhere from .001 to .0015 inches larger in diameter than other 1/4″ cables on the market. That doesn’t sound like much, but when no other cables are capable of making a connection, let alone staying plugged in to your equipment. Let’s compare your guitar regularly functioning individual of the feminine gender. Have that lady deliver a child, and that’s how your guitar is going to feel after a Monster Cable® has had its’ way with her. I for one want to preserve the functionality of all my fair ladies’ holes, so my use of Monster Cable®s will cease today.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for today. Next week I’m thinking of doing another Nerds of the Future segment, talking about the downfall of the Beatles, majestic red meat, and some fancy rides of fiction. I may throw some other stuff in there, but those are the big talking points I’ve got planned right now. Until then…

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

– CVSleen

Balsamic and Garlic Marinated Pork Roast

Balsamic and Garlic Marinated Pork Roast

I usually like to lolly gag around for the first couple of minutes here, but we’ve got some legitimate news, so I’ll jump right into it.

Time Warner has dropped CBS and its various programming from its’ lineup. I’ve heard of service providers and content providers getting in disputes before, we probably all have, but this is the first time I’ve of heard of a major network getting the boot. From what I’ve learned, content providers always…ALWAYS win out in these kind of disputes, because they’re the ones ultimately supplying the entertainment, and because the worst industry for brand loyalty, it would seem, is television providers.
I’m not 100% sure on what the hubbub is about, but I think it has something to do with TWC being unwilling to pay CBS affiliates retransmission fees in the larger markets. The affected markets that I know of right are NYC, LA, and DFW. I also heard that parts of Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, and Pittsburg coverage areas might be affected, but I can’t confirm that with any hard source.
Time Warner has some serious brass balls, and if they’re not feeling the backlash now (which I’m sure they are), they are really going to be feeling it once football starts back up in September.
I’m gonna make a prediction. I’ll give it a month and a half, though I’m sure it won’t really last that long, but within that time, Time Warner will crack. Whether they give in and give CBS what they are asking for, or they end up not being able to stay afloat without being bought out. I heard a little while back that they might be entertaining an offer from Charter to be bought out, but I didn’t think that really went anywhere. Regardless, I don’t think TWC is above being put in a position where they’ll do a little struggling. They don’t have the cards to stay in this battle for long…they’ll fold.
Neither party is really the bad guy in all this…or rather I should say that neither party is really the good guy here. The ultimate reason why any of this is going down is greed. Both sides want to point fingers here, and PR on both sides of the fence are throwing knives.

On that note, I want to change gears and move on to something else. I’ve got another movie review for you…and with a transition like that, what else could it be.

The Wolverine
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I’ve been a little iffy about going to see this one, with the way the last Wolverine-centric movie went over. I’m happy to say though that this installment of the X-Men franchise definitely hits the mark. So, The Wolverine picks up at the end of where all the X-Men flicks left off, X-Men: The Last Stand, before they started going back and screwing with the timeline and origin stories.
I was hoping that they would begin addressing some of the discrepancies in the timeline cause by those…prequels of sorts, but they were only glossed over at best. I guess they’re leaving all those timeline repairs for X-Men: Days of Future Past…we’ll come back to that.
In this installment, Logan finds himself dragged out to Japan to grant the dying wish of a friend he once made back in World War II. I was worried that this movie would get drowned by ninjas and samurai…and ridiculous classic Japanese imagery. It kind of does, but somehow, it ended up feeling strangely appropriate. Seriously, there were samurai, ninjas, yakuza, and references to ‘gaijin’…and somehow I never ended up feeling that they were going over the top. All of the Japanese imagery felt very balanced with a strong story.
Within the story woven through this movie, we find Logan battling with his trust issues more than ever before, and that coupled with him coming to terms with his mortality (or lack thereof), made for a strangely strong narrative.
The casting didn’t have any weak points either. Hugh Jackman just seems to be beyond reproach these days. He can’t really do any wrong. And once again, the filmmakers are pulling these extremely talented actresses seemingly out of nowhere. At least if you go to their IMDb pages, there’s a black hole beyond a year or so ago. Rila Fukushima plays the role of Yukio, Logan’s unofficial sidekick of sorts, and friend/sister to Mariko (Tao Okamoto), the potential heiress to a great fortune and Japanese business empire. Both of these ladies played characters whose personalities were fairly reserved, but became dynamic when pushed to action. They didn’t steal the show by any means, but they did play their rolls extremely well.
The visuals were also very strong, and well suited for the flick. As an X-Men flick, I was anticipating a myriad of over the top sci-fi effects, but what they actually delivered was a much more visually mute flick. Not that they didn’t have some outstanding effects, it just wasn’t the constant visual onslaught that we’ve come to expect from the X-Men franchise, and summer blockbusters in general. It was pleasant.
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The only thing that I felt was kind of weird in this movie was an odd romance that Logan develops in the film. Jean Grey keeps popping up as visual delusions for Logan throughout the film, to which he professes his love for, while at the same time he becomes strangely involved with another one of the female characters. It may have suited the film, but it just kind of felt out of character for Logan.
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I really didn’t know how Logan’s trek out to Japan was going to turn out, but I ended up being really happy with the results.
The Wolverine8 out of 10

Everyone might be wondering if there were any little surprises at the end of the credits. Nothing at the very end, but after the first set of visual credits (kind of like how they did The Avengers credits), there is a small scene where they setup Days of Future Past. Mind blowing. If you nerd out over X-Men stuff, your jaw will drop. That’s all I’ll say.

I see an opportunity here where I can make a small gripe at movie theaters and how they do things. So, if I may indulge myself here…

I saw The Wolverine in 2D. Any movie that comes out with the option to see it in 2D or 3D, I will always see it in 2D. I used to complain that 3D would give me headaches 100% of the time, but I saw Iron Man 3 and Star Trek: Into Darkness at the beginning of the summer without getting any bad headaches, so that’s not an excuse anymore. I still will choose 2D pretty much every time, and here’s why. You all pretty much know that I’m a 4-eyed fellow…and I wear my glasses pretty much constantly. I can’t do contacts…I just don’t like that feeling of stuff in my eyes. I feel like it’s stupid at this point that if I want to watch something 3D, I’m still having to to wear these dumb plastic 3D glasses over my regular glasses.

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Shouldn’t there be a better solution at this point? This isn’t hard. They actually make sunglasses that are made to be worn over prescription glasses, and while they aren’t the most stylish shades in the world, they do comfortably get the job done.

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And if we’re just talking 3D glasses for movie theaters, you’re not keeping them, you’re tossing them in a box once the film is over, and no one will ever see you wearing them out in the wild. I think the lenses in these are actually bigger than the lenses in existing 3D glasses, so you’d be getting a bigger viewing area anyways. Please, somebody, DO THIS! It can’t possibly be that hard to cheaply manufacture larger 3D glasses. Ugh. I can’t be alone here.

I’ll end my rant of that, and pick up with X-Men again. I feel like speculating about a few upcoming films, so…Days of Future Past.

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From what I can gather, this film will bring in Days of Future Past plot from “The Uncanny X-Men” Issues #141 and #142 where a version of the future has mutants incarcerated, and the U.S. run by Sentinels. The casting of Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask cements the involvement of the Sentinels, a series of powerful robots tasked with eliminating mutants. Beyond that, I’m having a hard time following how this movie might play out. It sounds so disjointed, evidently Kitty Pride’s future self sends her mind back in time to warn her past self about the future or something to that effect. Toss in past, present, and future versions of Xavier, Magneto, and Wolverine (really no difference there), and I have no idea how this movie isn’t going to be a visual representation of what A.D.D. is like. This movie is going to be weird.
X-Men: Days of Future past is a hard movie to have not heard at this point, but I wanted to talk about a few more that might not be on y’alls radar at this point.

There is currently a treatment circling around for an “Untitled Blade Runner Project”. In other words, ideas are currently being entertained for a “Blade Runner 2“. I really don’t want this to happen. Blade Runner is, in my humble opinion, the best sci-fi film in existence, and the bar is set ridiculously high for any kind of sequel to try to live up to. I honestly don’t think that it could be followed up. I wouldn’t want any half imagined sequel to sour the reputation of such sci-fi gold…neigh, sci-fi platinum. Ridley Scott, please, just say no.

Not that I’m trying to tell Ridley Scott what to do, but I think he should instead spend more time focusing on the rumored Prometheus 2. Supposedly a script has been written, and casting is in progress. I got to the end of Prometheus wishing that they had provided a more clear connection to the original Alien, so I was really happy to hear this announcement a while back. Now, I feel like Alien is another one of those movies that is really high up on my list of amazing sci-fi movies, but it has already had so many sequels and spin-offs that the integrity of the original isn’t really being brought into question anymore.
And by original, I mean Alien, not Prometheus. Did anybody else like Prometheus? I feel like I’m a singularity here, most everybody I know saw Prometheus and thought it was crap for a variety of reasons. I thought it was pretty cool, in fact my only complaint really was the fact that they showed the xenomorph alien at the very end. I felt like that was kind of a cop out, as if they were trying to say, “If the rest of the movie didn’t get the point across, this should show you that this is an ‘Alien’ movie.” Whatever, everyone knew what they were watching.

Alright, that’s probably enough film speculation for the day. It’s probably getting close to time that I start talking about the films coming up for the fall, the same way that I did an in-depth post a while back on what movies I was planning to see over the summer.
I also think that at some point here, once I’ve gotten through my summer list, I should talk about my favorite movies of the summer, and maybe see if my opinion of the movies stack up against what the public thought about them. You know, compare my ratings against Rotten Tomatoes or whatever.

Before I shut this down though, I wanna talk about something that I saw come up on CNN earlier this week. I was in Schlotzsky’s earlier this week eating lunch, when a story popped up on CNN that I honestly had to stop eating and give my full attention to.
Back in January, Italian teenager Carolina Picchio committed suicide after feeling the torment of cyber bullying.

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A video of the 14-year-old appeared on Facebook in which she seemed to be quite drunk and disoriented at a party. This video resulted in a non-stop stream of hate mail and cyber bullying that Picchio eventually felt too much to handle. She wrote a note to her tormentors saying, “Are you happy now? Have you hurt me enough? Have you had your revenge?” before jumping out of her bedroom window and falling to her death.
This is truly a sad story, and cyber is a crime that needs a lot more mainstream attention, but that’s not what I really wanted to talk about here. What I wanted to talk about was what came afterwards, when CNN went on to say that Carolina’s family may be try put the blame on Facebook, for not acting to remove the harassing comments directed at her.
Okay…do you know how many people are on Facebook? Billions…literally billions. Can you imagine how many complaints and content removal requests they must handle on a daily basis? I don’t want to even try, the number must be astronomical. The point is though, Facebook can’t be expected to be able to respond to each of these incidents as they happen everywhere around the world. The fault is on the individuals that hide behind a profile page and an IP address to fling there insults around. People are the problem, not services, not inanimate objects. This is a problem that is pervading everywhere. I’m talking about drunk driving incidents being blamed on car manufacturers, or the beer industry. I’m talking about school shootings being blamed on gun control legislation, or violent video games.
No, people are at fault here, real people. Grand Theft Auto did not shoot that cop with an assault rifle, Budweiser did not run that teen down with a Ford truck. Facebook did not drive Carolina Picchio to her death. People did these things, and these people are who need to be held accountable. I’m not trying to be an unfeeling asshat here, I just want the right people being brought to justice for their crimes.
It just infuriates me when people want to look for some big conspiracy behind an incident to try and bring some kind of meaning and sense of justice to its resolution. People don’t want to blame some messed up kid for the death of their little angel, they want to go after a corporation or an entire industry to make the death meaningful. Stop, just stop.
Again, I’m not trying to belittle the tragic deaths of these individuals, I feel for them. Just, make sure that you’re pointing the finger in the right direction.

Alright, I’ll put Political CVSleen away for a while. I usually tend to avoid these types of subjects, but this one really grinded my gears, and had to get that off my chest. I can’t leave y’all on that note though, so let me ask y’all a quick question.

If you could bring back any discontinued food or drink item, what would it be? The most common answer to the question that I see is Surge.

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I wouldn’t go with Surge, but even though I don’t drink soda anymore, it would be a soda that I would bring back if possible. Pepsi Blue.

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What would y’all bring back?

Also, to answer my question from last week…I think that I would pick the Green Lantern Ring. I went back and forth for a while between this and the Lightsaber, but you could make a Lightsaber with the Ring…and so much more. Disagree with me, tell me why?

Till next week guys.

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

– CVSleen

Pappadeaux' Sautéed Crawfish

Pappadeaux’ Sautéed Crawfish