Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

…I honestly didn’t see this coming.

Don’t worry, they still let me graduate and all that. I’ve got my credentials now…they can’t take that away from me.

IMG_4260

What I mean to say is…I thought that the end of 2013 would bring about a significant amount of fanfare in my life…fresh opportunities and enthusiasm. You think the race is gonna be over…nope. There’s just another one on the other side.

Sorry, that’s kind of a bummer line to lead off with for the first post of the new year. Also…February…January literally just flew by. So what has happened since my last post…

I’ve said goodbye to Denton…not permanently. I’ve still got plenty of people requesting money from me up there, and plenty of friends I want to try and keep in touch with. But I’ve got all my stuff crammed in a corner of a room at my parents place while I try to find my next place back closer to “home”. While I’m talking about it…is anyone looking to sublease a 1 bedroom apartment in Denton…fully furnished and on the UNT bus route? Contact me for more info.
I’d love to get that monkey off my back.
The job search for the career continues. As I thought, my people don’t really advertise when they’re looking to fill a spot…they just ask people if they know a guy. I’ve still got my current job to keep me afloat, but I don’t see this as a long term venture, and I don’t see the promise of them trying to increase my hours panning out. I’ve tried seeing if there are any other positions within my company that are more worthy of the degree I have now (still waiting on that degree to arrive by the way) but the most suitable match lies down in Austin. I’m still doing a lot of searching in the DFW area here, as I’m trying to move into a new place here pretty soon, but if at some point, I need to definitively expand my search…well, so much for my plans I guess.

I also lost my grandfather recently. My grandfather had been in and out of the hospital quite a bit in the final months of his life. Heck, he’d been in and out quite a bit in the last few years of his life…but he always bounced back. He broke his hip several years back…an injury that at his age would have led a downhill spiral in most people. Amazingly though, he got through rehabilitation and was able to go back home and continue to live his life. This last time though…it seemed that all his resilience had worn out. On Saturday January the 19th, we were informed by the hospital that after going in and out of a responsive and lucid state the day before, that his kidneys were shutting down…which, I don’t know how much y’all know about the medical world, but when a person’s kidneys shut down…it’s kind of the beginning of the end. He held on until that coming Monday night, when all of his kids and grandkids were able to gather to reminisce, tell old stories, laugh, cry, and say our goodbyes. While he couldn’t say anything…we know that he heard us, maybe even tried to gesture to us. He passed at 1:15 early the next morning, knowing that he had held on long enough. January 21st…the day that I lost the smartest man I will ever know. I will miss you immensely Grandaddy.

David Martin

Losing him took a lot out of me, but there was some good to come out of his death. It has been near a decade since that side of my family has gotten together as a whole. The circumstances could not have been much worse, but we were finally able to change that, and despite the tears and the heartache, we were able to come together and enjoy our time with one another, and promise to one another that despite our distance, it would not take another act of death or a decade to bring us back together.
In his passing, my grandfather was able to bring together those that he loved in a way that he had not seen in a very long time. I like to be optimistic where I’m able, so I see the silver lining here. We won’t mourn his death…so much as we’ll celebrate his life. I haven’t considered myself much of a family guy in a very long time, and I remember now how much I miss everybody. I can’t wait to see them again.

So yea…the grind of the job search, the search for a new place to call home, and the loss of a patriarch…my 2014 thus far. I still have unfinished business from last year though.
I seem to remember that last post, I left y’all with a trio of polls…my Backstage Accolades for Best Movie, TV Series, and Video Game of the Year. A few of y’all voted. But not quite enough to declare a real winner in any category…we had ties all around. I won’t declare more than one though, so…it’ll just have to come down to me.

Without further ado…the Winner for Best Movie of 2013 is…

iron-man-3

Iron Man 3 was a great movie no doubt…but if it were entirely up to me…I think I’d have gone with Pacific Rim, or Kick-Ass 2. The people have spoken though. My other option here for the actual winner was Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I love me some Jennifer Lawrence, but RDJ just kills it every time.

Moving on…the Winner for Best TV Show of 2013 is…

Breaking-Bad-Season-51

Even though I’ve never watched Breaking Bad, it seemed this was the obvious choice. 2013 saw the final season of the series, and with it some of the most epic moments in TV history…so I’m told. My other options in the tie were The Walking Dead, and NCIS. I watched both shows this year, but I still feel like based on the fanfare around Breaking Bad’s finale season that it is deserving based on reputation alone.

Finally…the Winner for Best Video Game of 2013 is…

pokemon_xy_legendaries

Yes…Pokémon X and Y. Y’all seriously left this category the hell alone…my five votes were the only ones tallied. I honestly have been going back and forth between Pokémon and Tomb Raider, but I haven’t been able to put down Pokémon since I picked it up. I Even though nostalgia was the only driving force for getting this game, I’ve continued to enjoy it for months. Don’t get me wrong…I enjoyed the crap out of Tomb Raider…but once I beat the game, I didn’t chase down the collectibles for very long. Pokémon is continuing to provide me with new entertainment long after I’ve beaten it. Now…since I was alone in the voting for this one, I had three other ties. They were Grand Theft Auto V, Dead Rising 3, and Forza Motorsport 5. I lost interest in GTA 5 after a while, and I picked Dead Rising and Forza as my only real options for the next generation of Xbox. Pokémon and Tomb Raider were the only real games that have come out this past year that have held my interest to completion. And somehow I still didn’t pick Tomb Raider after following Lara Croft’s hot hiney around for about 20 hours.

Tomb-Raider-2013

Nostalgia wins out over sex. Childhood wins out over adulthood. You don’t have to grow up.

Now that 2013 is good and shelved at this point, let’s look forward a bit. I kind of missed the whole Winter Movie season, and I do mean that I missed it. It feels like forever since I’ve gone out and caught a flick. I’m just in time though to look forward to the Spring Movie Season…so what’s coming up in the shining lights of the movie billboards?

300: Rise Of An Empire – 3/07
The legendary 300 Spartans have fought their great fight, and died trying to defend their nation. The nation is now left to defend itself against the imposing Persian juggernaut. Can they hold?
Alright, we’ve got a director here that I’ve never heard of, Noam Murro, and a…let’s be honest…cast of Hollywood D-listers and hopefuls. This flick could go either way…it’s built on a strong foundation, but this crew just might not have the chops to make it everything they want it to be. We’ll see.

Need For Speed – 3/14
The notorious game franchise finally comes to the big screen. Fast cars, and high crime. The thing is…I feel like Need For Speed has already been turned into a movie. I mean, isn’t that what the Fast & Furious franchise has been? I’ve already seen this movie…and I know that Aaron Paul with all his grit from Breaking Bad has a lot to bring, but I think we’re all going to be silently comparing it to the Fast & Furious films, and how it falls ever so short. That’s my guess though.

Veronica Mars – 3/14
This is kind of a shot in the dark here. I know that there are fans out there of the show that made a 3 season run from 2004 – 2007, but I haven’t met any. There was a Kickstarter put in place to try and raise 2 million dollars to make a movie…and bring about some sort of extended closure. Kind of like a Firefly/Serenity type situation. The fans stepped up though and brought in 5.7 million by the time the Kickstarter deadline was up. So…Kristin Bell returns to see her character gets a good farewell. I know nothing of the series, so I have no idea what to expect. Worth mentioning though.

Divergent – 3/21
The books that this were based on became popular after the Hunger Games trilogy started gaining a lot of followers, and with good reason. Divergent is essentially a clone of the whole Hunger Games premise. Expect the same type of action and personality types. Just…maybe not quite as good. I’ve got kind of low expectations here, so I may be setting myself up to be pleasantly surprised by the film quality. I just don’t know right now.

Muppets Most Wanted – 3/14
[Insert basic movie description with first impression opinion here.]
You know, I’m sure someone is looking forward to this.

Nymphomaniac Part 1 – 3/14
This is a 2-part NC-17 flick…it is the story of a woman’s life from birth to age 50, and the numerous erotic adventures that the self proclaimed nymphomaniac has endured. I’m just intrigued by the concept of a 2-part NC-17 film, the second part arriving…somewhere, on April 18th.

Noah – 3/28
The biblical story of Noah who after suffering dreams of a coming apocalypse receives a message from God, telling him to construct a great ship, to save all the animals of the land from an upcoming flood. This is a film by Darren Aronofsky, the Director responsible for Black Swan. Might be interesting to see what he does with a biblical tale…and Emma Watson.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – 4/4
The first Captain America several years back was a bit of a disappointment. But now that we’ve seen what Cap can do in the Avengers, I’ve got a little more excitement built up for him in this chapter. The rest of the Avengers can go home. Stark can go back to Malibu, Thor can go back to Asgard, Banner can go back to keeping a low profile…Steve Rogers can’t go back to WWII era America, where things were simpler…more black and white. So he stays on with S.H.I.E.L.D. to try and figure out how to fit into life in the modern world. Just as he begins to get a grasp on things, threats emerge that bring him back into the fray.
They’ve had time to get it right at this point, and I think I’m going to enjoy this Captain America.

Transcendence – 4/18
Will Caster, played by Johnny Depp, is the leading developer in Artificial Intelligence. After an incident which leaves his days numbered, he and his assistants make the decision to connect his consciousness to the internet before he dies so that he can continue to live in virtual form. AIs have needs though, just like the living…and no one can predict what this new intelligence will do next.
There isn’t a whole lot of publicity for this movie yet, but it’s one I’m really looking forward to. Based on subject matter alone, I’m hooked…but the cast looks phenominal as well. Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, Paul Bettany, I’m excited.

The Amazing Spiderman 2 – 5/2
The rebooted Spiderman franchise with Andrew Garfield  gets its sequel this May. Paul Giamatti plays The Rhino, and Jaime Foxx jumps in as Electro. I’m actually pretty excited to see Jaime Foxx suiting up as a bad guy in the Marvel Universe. I think he’ll do well as a villain, and great alongside Garfield, definitely a better choice for the webbed crusader than Toby Maguire. I’m just left wondering now when Columbia will release the franchise so Spidey can finally join up with the Avengers.

Neighbors – 5/9
Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne star alongside Zach Efron in this story of a couple who have a baby and are forced to deal with the debauchery of a frat house moving in next door. With the same creators that brought us This Is The End, I’m expecting raunchy laughs all the way through.

Godzilla – 5/16
It’s being remade…again. It’s got to be better than the last version with Matthew Broderick. I mean, how can it really get much worse. I loved that movie at the time, but I look back on it now and shake my head. It will be better.

X-Men: Days Of Future Past – 5/23
Oh God yes. X-Men: First Class was so unbelievably good. And we finally got ourselves a good stand alone Wolverine movie too. Brian Singer said it was such a hard job wrangling all the huge personalities in this movie, but that it was so worth it. I don’t know how they’re going to handle the time travel thing, but I don’t care. Jennifer Lawrence…body paint. Ellen Page, Anna Paquin, Halle Berry…eye candy. If there’s one movie I could see this coming season, it’d be this.

Maleficent – 5/30
Disney’s most iconic villain finally gets her backstory told, and with Angelina Jolie playing the leading lady herself, Maleficent. It’s been a good long time since Jolie has lent her talents to the big screen, but even given her hiatus, I wouldn’t have picked anyone else for the role.

That leads us into the summer, and I suppose the end of this installment. My timetable is a complete mess right now, and I have no idea when I’ll be able to do this again. So, let’s just say…I’ll see ya when I see ya.

One last thing though…with a new year, it’s time to change the theme of my closing image. After giving it some good thought, I think I’m gonna go with classic cars. Anything made before I was born is fair game.

In loving memory of David Michael Martin Sr. One of the smartest and most loving people that ever existed. Rest in Peace.

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

– CVSleen

1970 Plymouth Hemicuda

1970 Plymouth Hemicuda

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Late in waining hours of the PM, I find myself with a few minutes and a full mind. I’ve got a theme for this line of thought though today, so pucker your butt holes, and prepare for a wild ride, because this post is all about cars… Accept for the first little bit here. Just a bit of news about the current goings-on. My film class has broken up into 2 different sets of groups. 1 set has begun forming around the Directors from next semester’s class that I listed last post, and the other groups are for the final project we have running at current. Actually, my group is finishing up our go around with the equipment, and will soon move on to the editing process. I’ve just got to say, we’re getting to work with one of the schools RED cameras, the RED Scarlet

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For all you non-filmmakers out there that don’t see the significance of shooting on this camera, let me list off a few movies that are being made, or have been made recently with this type of camera…
RoboCop (2014)
I, Frankenstein
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Thor: The Dark World
Ender’s Game
The Getaway
Elysium
Grown Ups 2
Pacific Rim
This is the End
Star Trek: Into Darkness
…and I’m cherry picking from a huge list here. This is truly professional grade equipment, used by some of the biggest names on some of the biggest titles…in slightly more intricate configurations, granted, but in essence, the same basic gear. We’ll be adding a few titles to that list by the end of the semester…pretty cool. Alright, on with the motoring. I don’t know if I really speak for the ladies out there, but most all guys have a list of dream cars that they would love to own if they got a chance. Some guys have a Top 5, some a Top 10, some just have a list…regardless, most have a mental shopping cart for if they were ever to come into a sudden windfall of millions of dollars. I have a pretty big list myself, that I throw together in no particular order, but I went through the exercise recently of trying to carve out a Top 10 from that list, and I’d like to share it here today. So…

First, an honorable mention. I went back and forth with this and my number 10 pick, so much so that I decided it merited being talked about…

The 2008 Ariel Atom 500 ariel-atom-500-v81

It has a 500HP 3 Liter V8 engine and weighs just over 1200 pounds. It’s power to weight ratio is better that the Bugatti Veyron (just google it, and make sure you have some tissues) and accelerates from 0-60 mph in just over 2 seconds. This thing will destroy your face. Okay, on to the list.

#10, The 1992 Nissan Skyline GT-R (R34) M-Spec Nissan_Skyline_R34_GT-R_Nür_001

The Hero Car of character Brian O’Conner from the 2nd and 4th installments of the Fast and Furious trilogy. It had a twin turbo charged straight 6 engine, which at a factory measured ~280HP has a tremendous amount of speed and power.

#9, The 2014 Koenigsegg Agera S ageras_21-750x500

This car is pure pornography. The twin turbo charged V8 engine in this monster puts out over 1000 horsepower, and has beat the world record, previously held by the Bugatti Veyron, for acceleration from 0-300 km/h (0-186mph) with a blistering 14.53 seconds. The price tag on this one might also be the biggest on this list, 4.2 million dollars.

#8, The 2010 Lexus LFA lexus-lfa-high-res-in-matte-flat-black-primer-style-pain

I don’t have a whole lot of reason for liking this car much more than any other, beyond the fact that it’s just gorgeous. It’s got a 4.8 Liter V10 engine, the body is made mostly of a carbon fiber polymer material, it puts speed down to the ground unbelievably well…crap, it’s just a beautiful car.

#7, The 1965 Aston Martin DB5 Coupé Silver-Aston-Martin--27134_4

This car probably needs no explanation. If you don’t recognize it immediately, then you don’t watch near enough secret agent flicks. This is THE James Bond car. It first appeared in Goldfinger, later Thunderball, it reappeared in Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, and has been featured again in Casino Royale and Skyfall. Probably wouldn’t ever get the chance to sit at the wheel of one with all the gadgets and guns, but it’d still be a pretty slick ride.

#6, The 1969 Dodge Charger 1969_dodge_charger-pic-15882

The most iconic car of any that exists of the historic Dodge lineup. I say this as a Challenger owner, but I know that this car has remarkable prestige. It was the General Lee, Dominic Toretto’s car of choice, it’s 500 and Daytona derivatives put Dodge back on the map with NASCAR…the car has pedigree. Slap a big block blower on top, and some big chunky tires on the back, and you’ve got a drag car that will everyone envious.

#5, The 2008 HSV Maloo E Series 2008-hsv-maloo-r8-ute-2_600x0wutility-holden-maloo-2008

This one is a little bit out of left field. The Maloo is a sport truck that hails all the way from Austrailia. Now we may have plenty of options over here for hot and sporty pickups, but it holds the record for World’s Fastest Production Utility/Pickup Truck at 168 mph, a record previously held by the Dodge Ram SRT10. Whereas the Dodge Ram simply had a V10 stuffed in under the hood, the Maloo was designed with style in mind as well, in other words…it looks the part of an actual speed demon. And it doesn’t hurt that the Maloo is packing the same 6 Liter LS2 412 horsepower V8 motor that the Corvette had. Speaking of Chevy, they had a decent try when they designed the SSR, but, well, never mind. That really wasn’t a decent try…that thing was atrocious. The Maloo…bangin’.

#4, The 1991 Alfa Romeo SZ Alfa-Romeo-SZ-Sprint-Zagato-Experimental-Sportscar-1989-1991-Photo-07

What in God’s name am I doing with an Alfa Romeo on this list? Well, I think it’s gorgeous. As far as 90’s era cars go, this baby is a super model. It wasn’t packing a lot of heat under the hood, a 3 Liter V6…but it didn’t need it, this car was all style. Alfas aren’t renowned for their superb engineering, or their longevity, but for the brief moments that they are fully functioning…they are amazing. I’d love the crap out of one of these for about a week.

#3, The 1973 Dodge Challenger 440 Magnum 1973-dodge-challenger-440-magnum

You can’t tell me you didn’t see this one coming from me. There are a lot of different Challenger body styles out there, but to my eye, I don’t see a whole lot more beautiful than that generation 1 E-body. And of all the engine options offered, wouldn’t you go with the largest? The 440 Magnum and the Six-Pack would be the two options you’ve got, and while the Six-Pack is technically the higher output engine, the Magnum just comes with a little more weight when you let the words slip through your gob. The Challenger is my car, and this is the grandpappy.

#2, The 1970 Nissan Skyline GT-R Coupé (KPGC-10) 1970-Nissan-Skyline-GT-R-S45-2

Whoa…hold your horses their Corey, you’ve already got a Skyline on the list. Yea, I know, but there are some cars out there that are just love at first sight. I’ve loved that R34 Skyline for some time, never having gone back and gandered at that from which it came, but I saw this pop up in Fast Five, and I knew that I had to know more. Even back in 1970, this car just looked mean. A 2 Liter 160 horsepower straight 6 motor may sound relatively underpowered, but these cars weren’t built for straight line speed…they’re corner jockeys. I dunno, I can get wrapped up in the numbers for quite a while, but all I really know is that when I see this car, I want to slap on a set of shades, and go drifting around a twisty-turney mountain road.

Alright, so what can possibly occupy the top spot on my Top 10 List. I’ve already mentioned a Charger and a Challenger, so what can I possibly want more than that. You could venture a couple of guesses, and you’d get close, but you’d probably still be wrong.

#1, The 1970 Plymouth Road Runner (Hammer) 90927_Front_3-4_WebHammer RR r34 1600

This…this is unequivocally the most beautiful car I have ever seen. This is not just any Plymouth Road Runner, but a custom job created by Custom Car Designer Steve Strope at his shop, Pure Vision Design, and was given then name ‘Hammer’. The Hammer is a fusion of European exotic flair and American Detroit muscle. It has a smaller, lighter Mopar wedge motor that outputs an estimated 750 horsepower. Everything is custom…engine, drivetrain, chassis, exhaust, wheels, tires…it’s even been fitted with heating, AC, and power windows. Even aside from the custom Hammer treatment, Plymouth’s take on the Chysler B-body platform, as expressed by the Road Runner/GTX/Satellite models.

1970_plymouth_road_runner-pic-5237141443359146554

Dodge did an amazing job with their B-body models, but Plymouth just stands a cut above in my mind. Yep, the the 1970 Plymouth Road Runner is number 1 in my book. I doubt I’ll ever get my hands on the Hammer that was shown at SEMA, but maybe I can still find me one with a 440 Six Pack.

As it were, I’ve got my Xbox One now, and just picked up Forza 5. I’m thinking something I might try and do, depending on their database of cars, is try to assemble that list.
Alright guys, and dolls if you do it too…if you’ve got a Top 10 Cars list that you wanna share, drop in and lay me some sweet sweet comments.

<Edit>Several of the cars on this list came to be objects of my lust due to their role in the Fast and Furious movie franchise. This past Saturday we lost one of the front men for that franchise, and all around great guy, Paul Walker. He was involved in a car accident on Saturday afternoon as a passenger in his Porsche, driven by his friend Roger Rodas, who was also killed. Walker was the founder of the Reach Out Worldwide organization, and Rodas was hosting a car show for the organization just down the street. Rodas was a very philanthropic man himself, and did a lot to try and give back to those around the world in need.
Walker, aside from his talent as an actor, was very adamant about finding ways to give back to the community. We are at a gigantic loss without this man that helped shape the car enthusiast community. He is survived by his wife and daughter. Rest In Peace Paul Walker, and Roger Rodas.

Paul-Walker-Wallpaper-paul-walker-25716675-1024-768

You will be greatly missed.
Let’s try and get a bit less somber now…</Edit>

I get a lot of enjoyment from a little show imported from over the pond called Top Gear. It’s all about cars and good laughs, and it lets me see a little more about the European motoring scene than I would normally be exposed to over here. I found out about several of the cars on my top 10 list through them. They show a high volume of super cars, hyper cars, and luxury sports, but every now and then they can pull something from way out of left field. The kind of cars where you wonder if the designers had a little crack sprinkled in their morning cereal. In some cases, these make for amazing cars. Others…not so much. I want to take a look at a few such cars shown on Top Gear that rated a 9.0 on my weird stuff-o-meter.

Awesome or Awful

HSV Maloo
2009_HSV_Maloo_(E_Series_2_MY10)_R8_utility_01

Yea, you’ve already seen this ^up there^, I know. I just how well HSV was able to fuse a car with a pickup. I’d like to think that if Chevy made El Caminos that they’d look this good. I feel like I know better though. I think that the SSR was an attempt to try and bank on some of that old magic and…well, I’d definitely throw that one in the awful pile…

2005-chevy-ssr-photo-260198-s-1280x782

The Maloo though, I’d really call that a stylistic success, and it being able to best the Ram SRT10 in transferable power, that’s pretty snappy too. The Ram SRT10 had its own problems though. Trying to put a huge V10 motor in the front without putting any thought into weighing the rear end down too. It didn’t matter how easily you pressed on the accelerator, all you ever did was end burning rubber.
The HSV Maloo – Amazing in my book

Carver One
Carver_One_2007_13_1024x768

It looks like someone fitted a cockpit onto a trike. This thing is more that just a street legal 3-wheeler though. It has a little surprise in store for aggressive cornering. If you were to take a corner in a smooth and leisurely fashion, it would act normally…but start cornering a little more quickly and aggressively, and it gives you this…

Carver-One-manu_06_hr_028

Yea…it will lean in to the turn like a motorcycle, or…if you’re feeling where I’m coming from…like a jet fighter. With a little 4 cylinder 65 horsepower engine that maxes at 115 mph, it’s not breaking any speed records. But just imagine being able to take this thing out and powering and tilting through every corner you encounter. This thing isn’t practical at all, but it looks ridiculously fun.
The Carver One – Amazing in my book

Mercedes-Benz Bionic
BionicCar1

Someone actually intentionally designed a car to look like this. I don’t know why people had to get it into their heads that these clean, more eco-friendly cars by and large have to look like such utter garbage, but that seems to be the trend in the motoring world today. But yes, this was actually designed to look a particular type of fish that has a…low drag coefficient…or whatever…

Mercedes-Benz-Bionic_Concept_Car_2005_1600x1200_wallpaper_0f

Yea, that thing…I’m sure that little guy performs real well in a wind tunnel. So what else is so special about this car, you may ask? Well, it cuts down nitrogen oxide production by as much as 80% by using what they call an aqueous ammonia or urea chemical that mixes with the exhaust gas and pulls it out. Let’s cut to the chase here…ammonia…urea…they’re using sheep pee. Yea, that’s the big innovation there, the car has been injected with sheep wee to cut out greenhouse gas emissions. I’m still wondering why it has to look like an invalid carriage.
The Mercedes-Benz Bionic – Awful in my book

Paramount Group Marauder MPV
Paramount-Marauder-1

Hang on. This picture doesn’t quite do it justice. Let’s keep looking. Ah, here we go…

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That’s better. Do you ever think that you’d see a vehicle that makes a Hummer H3 look like the old Mini Coopers? If you’re wondering what possible reason may exist for the production of this vehicle, the name really says it all…MPV – Mine Protected Vehicle. Like the Hummer itself, it started its life as a military vehicle, and someone in the marketing department said, “Hey, you think we could make any money with a civilian model?” and someone else nodded and cried to the engineers, “Make it so!” The engine specifications to this thing are irrelevant, and fuel economy is moot because it can come fitted with long range fuel tanks. The meat and potatoes of the vehicle are thus: it can stand up to explosions from a 7kg payload of TNT from any part of its hull…14kg if the explosion comes from under one of the wheels. The hulls armor plating can withstand fire from a .50 cal. It weighs 15 tons, and can be loaded down to 18 tons and still pony up to 75 mph. With seating for 10, this is the ideal vehicle for small army starter kits. Sadly though, with a price tag of nearly half a million, you’ll probably only have enough money left to outfit your small army with super soakers.
The Paramount Group Marauder MPV – Awful in my book

Gumpert Apollo
2011-Gumpert-Apollo-S-profile-orange

When Top Gear talked about this car, they introduced it by saying that a man was looking for a super car that was catastrophically atrocious, and that this was his car. Despite its incredible speed, it was unanimously hated for its looks, to which they said something to the point of their photographers not being able to find any one single angle that might flatter the car. From the outside at least, I couldn’t disagree more, I think this is a beautiful car.

gumpert-apollo-1280x960-221

I mean, it’s a little bit flamboyant and ostentatious, but Lamborghinis are designed quite the same way, and everyone thinks they’re some of the most beautiful cars around. So, I don’t get what the fuss is about…until I get a look inside…

gumpert-apollo-interior-1024x768

Oh boy…it’s time to eat my words. That is very gaudy indeed. They really don’t need to color match with the neon paint, but they went and did it anyways. And it looks like they’re just throwing switches and gauges wherever they please, no rhyme or reason involved whatsoever. Oh, and the seats in here, the racing bucket seats…can’t be adjusted. The pedals however can be extended or retracted as needed to fit the drivers height…how back asswards is that?
Ugh, I wanted to love this car, but then you open those ridiculous gull wing style doors, take a look inside, and begin to understand what the Top Gear boys were on about.
The Gumpert Apollo – Awful in my book

Aston Martin Cygnet
Aston_Martin_Cygnet_(82)

I don’t know if there really is a more proper response to this vehicle than stunned silence. Aston Martin has a reputation for debonaire style, British luxury and power, and high social status all rolled up together all rolled up together with a black bow-tie. And then, at the suave dinner party you might expect Aston owners to attend, someone sharts, drops a turd down their pant leg, and this little surprise lands and stains the hand-woven anatolian carpets.
If this car looks at all familiar to you, their is good reason. It’s simply a rebadged and rebumpered version of the Toyota iQ…

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The more appropriate question though is probably why. Why would Aston Martin stain their brand with this little hipster ragamuffin? Well, their is good reason for that too. The European union in the past several years has been cracking down on European car manufacturers to lower the average fuel emissions across the spectrum of cars they make. A lot of manufacturers already had at least one eco-friendly car amongst their lineup, but Aston Martin had never catered to that crowd, and found themselves in an uncomfortable position. They bit the bullet however buy tarting up the iQ’s interior, slapping some new dressings on the outside, and calling it good enough for government work. There is nothing technically wrong with this car, except for the fact that it’s trying to put on an expensive suit and go hobnobbing with the Aston Martin crowd. It should be said though that, testament to its poor looks and forethought, since its production began in 2011, it has since been halted in September of this year. A short 2-year run for it.
The Aston Martin Cygnet – Awful in my book

Spyker C8
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Spyker is a Dutch car manufacturer that began its life as an airplane manufacturer. Since the reformation of the brand name, the C8 has been the first entry into the car market. My only real gripes for the car are that possibly the designers didn’t look at it from all angles before determining that it was hot and ready for development. The back wheels sit out almost the full width of the tire itself on either side, giving it a rather awkward stance. The convertible top also seemed like it was thrown together a bit hastily from a design aesthetic standpoint. Here’s what I’m talking about…

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The top when on just makes kind of a clean drop off in the back, almost giving it the appearance of a pickup truck. And with the amount of window space off the front, the car looks like it has a gigantic forehead when viewed from the front. That’s really all I can find wrong with it. On the inside, it looks fantastic…

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Look at the exposed gear shift linkage, the humble but stylish and informative dashboard, even the attention to detail given to the floor pedals, the inside of this car is brilliant. They’ve even gone and improved the way the top looks on the car when up in subsequent versions of the car, so improvements are continuing to be made to the cars style. This car has a lot of potential to be a real contender in the super car scene; just a few refinements and it’ll be ready to stand up to the likes of Lamborghini, Ferrari, Pagani, and McLaren.
The Spyker C8 – Amazing in my book

Alright, my mind full of cars has at last been exhausted, and I’m going to call it a day. It’s entirely possible that by the next time I post again, I’ll be on to my finals, and a hairsbreadth away from graduation. More news to come as I get to it. I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving, and got to spend some good time with family. Until next time…

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

– CVSleen

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Just an epic pile of bacon

What’s up internetizens? If your week has been anything like mine, y’all have got to be tired. Life needs more opportunities to stop and refuel.

I want to start with a quick conversation about fuel…people fuel. I got a coffee the other day and…well, lets just start at the beginning.

I realized this past weekend that I have a weird social anxiety thing at restaurants. I was hitting up my local breakfast spot, Royal’s Bagels and Deli, and after I got up to the register and ordered my food, I ordered some tea to go with it. The girl behind the register told me that they just ran out, and that it would be about 10 minutes before they could brew another. I ended up standing there for a minute having a fit of ‘um’ing and ‘uh’ing…stuck in internal conflict of what to drink in the absence of tea. On the inside I was thinking, “Crap, I don’t drink soda, so it’s either coffee or water. Coffee or water. Crap.” I don’t know why I started freaking out, maybe I just don’t like being put on the spot like that where busy gets brought to a standstill over a change of decision. Regardless, I ended up choosing coffee…not having drank coffee in years. I really don’t know what I was thinking.

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I don’t know how many of y’all out there are coffee drinkers, but coffee is a hell of a drug, especially if you’re not in the habit of drinking it. My…system, got completely screwed up that day. My schedule was all off.
I used to drink a cup of coffee almost every morning, back in high school or somewhere there about. I don’t know how I used to do that, especially back in my youths.
Those of you that drink coffee, how early did you start drinking it? College, high school, middle school, grade school even? How early these days are we getting ourselves hooked on caffeine? I remember, as a kid, I used to drink about 3 to 5 Mountain Dew‘s a day. I’ve got to think, coffee has to be healthier than that…much healthier.
It just messed me up…was really surprised at how much one cup of coffee can flip your day around.
Coffee…clearly too much for my system. Energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster…nothing, no better than soda really. 5 hour energy shot…cranks me up for an hour or so, then dumps me later in the afternoon (that no crash marketing, load of coddle swap). For the record, sweet tea is what keeps me at my baseline, where there is still a lull in the afternoon.
I don’t want to sleep through the day. I don’t want to have enough energy coursing through me that I feel the need to fight a horse. I don’t want to crash. I just want to be awake enough to carry on. Can we make a drink or a supplement for that? I know we’re all made different, but I feel like there’s nothing out there that, on the worst of days, can’t keep me nodding off. I’ve even just tried supplementing my daily efforts with plain vitamin B trio…nada. Can we work on this? What is that word for, someone smarter is working on this?

While we’re on the subject of people fuel, I want to shift over to a legitimate food discussion.

For the first time in a long time recently, I had a steak that was just…bad. It’s been so long that I’ve been starting to wonder how you can really screw up a steak, but this place I went to brought me back to reality. I’m not going to say where it was that I got it at, because the place was honestly a little off the beaten path and I could tell that the staff was honestly apologetic about it. But the deal was this: the steak had no flavor whatsoever. No attempt was made to season it. No salt, pepper, rosemary, nothing. There was no marinade, or rub, just someone took a bland steak and threw it on the grill. Once they did that, they let it set until it had no life left in it whatsoever. Yea, it wasn’t quite well done, but it was pretty close. I order a medium-rare steak, and I’m a firm believer that anybody that orders a well-done steak, obviously doesn’t like steak and should probably just be ordering chicken.
I’ve seen people that will argue that well-done steaks can be extremely good, and if they’re not than it’s the fault of the chef if it comes out as rough as leather. I call shenanigans. If you cook a steak that much, you end up completely drying it out, really toughening it up. Nah, people who order well-done steaks don’t have any respect for steak.
Unlike these people, I love steak, and I want to take a few minutes here to talk red meat; cuts, preparation, cooking method, etc.
The cut of the steak is where I find the most discrepancy of favorites. I like the cuts that are the most tender, and have the most robust flavor. Given that, I usually go for a Filet Mignon or a Ribeye. Filet’s tend to be the most tender cut, and small enough to where you can do cool stuff with them, like wrap them in bacon.

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You could also go for the Porterhouse (or T-bone, essentially the same difference), which has both a Filet and a New York Strip in it. The Strip is a pretty tender cut, but not near as much as the Filet. The Strip is a much bigger cut however.

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My favorite cut right now however is the Ribeye, cut more from the rib section of meat, which has a lot of fat marbleization all throughout it, making it one of the most naturally flavorful cuts of meat.

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There is another cut of meat that pretty good, that you should give a try if you classify yourself as a carnivore. Find yourself a steak house and order a Prime Rib sometime if you get a chance. Like the Ribeye, it’s also taken from the rib section that has a higher amount of flavor, and it’s usually cooked slow to keep all the flavors intact.

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The Prime Rib is a hard cut to cook at home, because it’s essentially the entire rib section. You pretty much need a heat source that surrounds the meat, like an oven or a rotisserie, so doing it on the grill is a somewhat unfeasible option. Also, since it’s the whole rib section, it’s a pretty expensive cut of meat.
All the other cuts I mentioned are far easier to buy in single and double servings, so you’ve got a lot more options for cooking methods. The way I hear that most restaurants cook their meat is that they sear the outside to get some good char or grill marks and also lock in the juices, and then they pop the steak in the oven to finish it. I like to be a lot more hands on with my steak, so I cook mine to completion on the grill pretty much every time, or in my case (since I’m an apartment dweller) I just pan sear it. I have a cast iron skillet that works really well, but god is it hard to clean…so I’m going to toss it soon and go back to pans.
Everyone I know has a different preparation for their steaks. For some, it’s just some simple salt and pepper, others use a more complex dry rub with various other herbs and spices, some break it down in beer, or some kind of citrus juice, and others still let soak in a marinade for up to a day or so. Personally, I like to put together my own marinade which consists of worcestershire, balsamic vinegar, chili garlic hot sauce, dijon mustard, and a little lime juice. Right before it goes on the grill (pan) I sprinkle it garlic salt and some special steak seasoning. Throw that in the pan on medium heat, at about 6 minutes per side, and that makes for a good medium-rare to medium Ribeye. Perfect.

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That’s my idea for a great steak dinner right there, and was my dinner the other night. Something else you can do which I’ve been doing recently, since I marinade, is pour what’s left of the marinade in the pan after the steak is done, add a little wine or liquor (I’ve got some brandy that I added), and let it deglaze to become nice steak sauce to add. A good steak doesn’t need much, if any, but I like to drizzle on just a little bit to set it off.
I doubt though that I have thrown together the perfect steak at this point. I bet y’all have some good recipes for a delicious steak, so I want to hear how y’all prepare your ideal steak. I know a few of you out there have got to have some skills. Tell me! Show me!

Before I depart from digestibles, there’s a series of commercials on the air right now promoting milk and its’ great advantages to…not drinking milk I guess. In one of these commercials, they show two personified bowls of cereal reacting to milk being poured into one, and orange juice in the other.
I want to stop right there. Do people actually do this? Are there people out there that put anything in cereal other than milk? They do…really? You’re daft…that’s absolutely abominable. I thought they were only rumors…water in cereal, OJ in cereal, coffee in cereal.
If you do this, well, there is something not quite right with your cabeza.

I’ve been known to have some odd tastes, I’ve put hot sauce on chocolate chip cookies before…but you have to know where to draw the line. I have to admit though, that some things…you just don’t know whether they will be enjoyable or not until you see that decision through. One of the things that I really thought that I was going to enjoy when I first heard of it was Riddick. Pitch Black was great, and Chronicles had a good story and great action. With the same writers and director throughout the entire series, it would stand to say that with the first two being very good that the third would follow suit.

Riddick
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The stage has been set for the epic final chapter of the Riddick trilogy to unfold. When we last saw Riddick, he had just become the Lord Marshal of the Necromongers of the Underverse. He had command of a seemingly invincible army. So where do we pick up with Richard B. Riddick? Marooned on some backwater planet…beaten and broken, and being chased by mercenaries, as he always is.
There was so much potential for this movie to be epic, but it just fell so far short. Action would have been the way to go with this movie, but so much of the movie was spent on character development. Heck, they even gave him a dog, and tried to humanize him to some degree. This movie showed us a slightly softer side of Riddick. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still very much a badass, he builds a sword out of what looked to be an animal femur and sharpened talon. But I swear, at one point he shed a tear.
They spent 2/3 of the movie though setting up any kind of real conflict, and once we got to it…it just kind of fell flat. The casting was pretty weak too, the only redeaming quality of the extended cast being Katee Sackhoff‘s character, Dahl.
This was a very watchable movie, but missed the mark for a true Riddick sequel.
Riddick – 5 out of 10

We’re up to week 3 of college football, and again I wanted to give y’all my 5 recommendations for the games to be watching this week. So these are the ones I’d be keeping an eye on.

Thursday Sept. 12th
6:30 PM       No. 24 TCU at Texas Tech                  ESPN
Saturday Sept. 14th
11:00 AM     No. 16 UCLA at No. 23 Nebraska         ABC
2:30 PM       No. 1 Alabama at No. 6 Texas A&M     CBS
2:30 PM       Georgia Tech at Duke                        ESPN U
6:00 PM       Mississippi State at Auburn                 ESPN 2

Well boys and girls, I think I’ll call it quits there for the week. Hope you’re not salivating too much with all that steak talk. Until next week…

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

– CVSleen

Breakfast Pods: Biscuit, Bacon, Cheese, and an Egg

Breakfast Pods: Biscuit, Bacon, Cheese, and an Egg

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.

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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
Elysium-Poster-003

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)
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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