Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Final Thoughts (BEDA 31)

Well this is it, Blog Every Day August has come to an end. And so to send us off, I figured I'd give some of my final thoughts on this little challenge. Firstly, man am I glad that it's over. For this entire month, almost every waking moment I didn't spend writing was spent wracking my brain trying to come up with a topic for my next blog. I've mentioned it in previous posts, but after a while, the well really does start to run a little dry. So I'll definitely be happy to be rid of that added stress.

But blogging every day has served as good practice blogging about topics other than movies for a change. And while I was going through a rough time, it helped take my mind off of things for a bit. So in that way, this challenge was really beneficial, and even therapeutic at times. Also, it was nice sort of being a part of the blogging community, keeping up with everyone else's blogs throughout the month, and even gaining a few new readers myself. Hopefully those readers will stick around, as I intend to do so with their blogs after this event.

That all said, I highly doubt that I'll be doing this Blog Every Day thing again. I just feel like it's way too much all at once, and that it clogs up my blog way too quickly. There were certain posts throughout the month that I really wanted to highlight in particular, yet now they're lost in the clutter. Plus, I'm really not a fan of short, pointless posts for the sake of posting, which I admittedly had a few throughout the month. That comes back to the whole having something worthwhile to blog about every single day, which I suppose didn't quite end up being the case with me.

So in the end, this was an interesting experience. I actually did learn quite a bit about myself, both as a blogger, and as a writer. It also leaves me pondering how I'll approach these types of monthly writing challenges in the future. I came to somewhat of a realization about myself a while ago regarding these challenges, but it took this particular one to really open my eyes. But now that I see just what kind of writer I am, I think I have a better idea of where to go from here...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

So... (BEDA 30)

... after today, there's only one more day left in this Blog Every Day August thing, right? Right! Well alright then, see you guys tomorrow!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Why Movies? (BEDA 29)

So the idea for this blog came to me last night as I was looking at the upcoming Zelda game, Skywayd Sword. Based on everything I know about it, I'm certain that, no matter how good it may be, I'm not going to even bother with it this time. The fact that this one is completely based around motion controls is only one solid reason, but it's this next reason which is what I'm here to discuss today.

I own, and have played, all of the previous major Zelda releases. The series has always interested me, however, one thing that they all have in common is that I have never been able to complete a single one. I've probably gotten the farthest in either A Link to the Past or The Wind Waker, which is why I hold those two in higher regard than the others. However, even with those two, I still wasn't able to beat the game.

And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is one of the big reasons I'm not into gaming these days, because there is rarely a game that I'm actually able to see through to completion. Whether this is due to the fact that the game just gets way too hard, or because it just becomes so boring and tedious, either way, this has happened with so many games that I finally have lost all interest in playing most games. My backlog of incomplete games has become so long that it's just frustrating to even think about.

And then I gave it a little more thought, and I realized that gaming wasn't the first hobby for this to happen to me. When I was a lot younger, I used to be a big reader. But then it came to the point where I was only reading halfway through books before putting them away, because they were just so overlong and drawn out that they failed to keep my attention. Reading became a chore, and after obtaining a library full of half-read books, none of which I had any intention of ever returning to, I just decided not to even bother anymore.

Every now and then I would still pick up a book that interested me, but it was always the same. I could never make it further than about halfway into it before I just had to slam the book shut and put it on the shelf, never to be opened again. It's a hobby that had lost all its fun, and it required far too many hours in the day to just sit there and force myself to read through something I was no longer having any fun with. In fact, A Game of Thrones is the first book I've actually finished on my own since middle school, and is also by far the longest book I've ever completed. And the only reason I finished it is because I watched the show first and knew that it would be worth the struggle.

But that brings me to my point, which is why I love the film medium so much. Film requires no real effort on my part. Even if the movie I'm watching is bad, it's still only two hours, and then I'm done. That's it. I've never walked out of a theater in my life, and other than James Bond (aka, the most boring series of films that have ever been produced!!), I can't think of a single movie that I willingly started to watch where I wasn't able to sit through it.

And not only that, but you can't beat the replay value of a good movie. I can name the number of games I've replayed on one hand, and I've never been able to bring myself to re-read a book, no matter how good it was. However, I rewatch the same movies all of the time. Hell, I've even gone back and rewatched movies in theaters several times. That's how easy the movie-going experience is, and it's one of the main things that really appeals to me. It's something that I know I can revisit if I like it enough without having to sacrifice anything more than a couple of hours before I'm done.

I really think that's the reason I love movies as much as I do. It's a hobby that's never been too much for me to handle. The more I've fallen out of other mediums, the more appreciative and devoted I've become to film. And now, anytime I dive into any other medium, whether it be TV, books, comics, or games, the first thing I always think about is how this could be adapted into a good movie. As such, I'm constantly editing things in my head as I read or watch them, editing them down to a two hour movie format. Because there's just something about that format that strikes me moreso than any other. And I'm not saying that other mediums can't be great as well. They most certainly can. But there's just something especially captivating about a good, tight-knit movie.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fright Night (BEDA 28)

So I caught Fright Night today, and it was alright. I had heard some pretty good things about this, and justifiably so. This horror comedy movie is a remake to the 1985 movie of the same name, though seeing as I haven't seen that film, I can't say how it compares. Based on reviews I've read, this one's apparently much better in pretty much every way, though I personally don't know that for certain. However, on its own, this one is pretty good, even if it doesn't necessarily do anything to make it stand out.

The plot is simple enough, a vampire moves in next door and starts killing people. See, simple! And the performances in this movie were really fun. Christopher Mintz-Plasse does overdo it a bit at times, playing the lead character's nerdy friend, but he's not around nearly long enough to really damper the movie too much. Colin Farrell looked like he was having a blast as Jerry the vampire, though, but the real star was David Tennant, who is an absolute joy to watch.

The movie does have a few roadblocks, however, particularly as we get closer to the end. The pacing goes all out of wack in the second half for one thing. There's a point near the end where it feels like we're watching the big final confrontation of the movie. However, that turns out not to be the case, as we revert back to even more preparations for yet another final confrontation afterwards. It just felt a little clunky initially, though this honestly may very well be a non-issue on multiple viewings. Also, some scenes do tend to go on for a lot longer than necessary. This movie was almost 2 hours long, though it could have easily been cut down to around 90 minutes, and likely would have been so much stronger for it.

But those were my biggest complaints, and other than that, this is just an overall fun movie. It's completely entertaining, and keeps a very light-hearted tone throughout. It's definitely campy and goofy, and you can tell that everyone in this thing is having a lot of fun with it. But overall, good as it all was, I can't really see this being something that sticks with me personally.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Rock Lee's Springtime of Youth (BEDA 27)

This new manga series debuted earlier this year, but only a few chapters were released before the series went on an extended hiatus. However, as of late, we've finally gotten more new chapters, and so now feels like an appropriate enough time to discuss Rock Lee's Springtime of Youth. It's the official Naruto spinoff series written by one of Kishimoto's own assistants, Kenji Taira, and starring none other than the handsome green devil himself, Rock Lee.

It's much more cartoony than the main series, drawn in a chibi style with a hard focus on comedy first and foremost. Hilarious as the series is, though, I can't tell for certain if all of the jokes will translate well to non-fans, because a lot of the humor comes from seeing characters who are known for being straight-laced and serious all the time (most notably Neji Hyuga) acting out in zany ways that you'd never expect to see from them.

The series is also supposedly targeted at younger kids. Yet, being Japanese, they have much lower standards than we have over here in the States, and as such, the humor is oftentimes quite risque. As a result, I'll be surprised if this series ever officially makes it over to America, and if it does, I'll shudder at the inevitable butchering that'll be in store for it.

We follow Rock Lee and his squad consisting of his rival, Neji, and their sensei, the flamboyant Might Guy. Also in the squad is Tenten, who is quite possibly the funniest of them all. She's seemingly the only "normal" person in this series, and her reactions to everything going on around her are priceless. In this crazy version of the Naruto-world, she's the only one who appears to notice how insane everyone is acting, which in turn drives her insane.

Each chapter is a short stand-alone story, and thus far, every new chapter has been more fun than the last. It's actually sort of surprising just how entertaining this manga has been given its overly-goofy nature. Usually this kind of thing runs thin pretty quick. And honestly, without some extended breaks, that still could very well become the case. But as it stands now, there's been times when I actually preferred the latest Rock Lee chapter over the main Naruto manga. And it's for these reasons why I feel that this series would be perfect for the Naruto anime to refer to when coming up with ideas for future filler arcs.

The quality is so good and done in a format that doesn't interfere with the main plot, so it's ripe for an anime adaptation whenever it comes time for fillers. The best fillers in the anime have been their one-off comedy episodes, and this series is packed full of just that. Plus it would give some actual screen time to the likes of Neji and Lee, much to the appreciation of their fans. And with the way the anime has recently had a tendency to have Naruto act completely out of character when it comes to filler, it'd be a refreshing change of pace to put the spotlight on secondary characters like Lee and avoid further misuse of Naruto's character.

This is a really fun series, though like I said before, you'll probably have to already be a Naruto fan to truly appreciate it. But even if you're not, there's still plenty of humor here that doesn't rely on knowledge of the original source. So if you're a fan of that wacky Looney Tunes style of humor, then you may well be able to find enjoyment out of this manga should you give it a shot.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Another Earth (BEDA 26)

I was pleased to find that our theater was showing Another Earth this week. I went into this movie not knowing much about it, just that it was supposed to be a drama with some sci-fi elements to it. And, really, that's exactly what it is. Our planet has come into contact with another, identical planet. And just as our world stops to take in this breaking news, Rhoda Williams' world is about to be wrecked.

This is the story about a bright young girl who, while drinking and driving, crashes into another car, killing the wife and child of a composer, John Burroughs. After serving a four year sentence, the girl is left with nothing else but to try and cope with what she's done. And so she eventually decides to seeks out the man who's family she took from him. What results is a gripping experience that swiftly snatches your attention and never lets go. This story keeps you wanting to learn more, and you truly become invested in the outcome that our characters will ultimately have to face.

I feel like I have so much to say about this movie, yet I find myself having trouble coming up with the proper words. It's one of those movies where I don't want to say too much, because part of the brilliance of this film really comes from watching the fascinating ways the events in this story unfold. Driving home this fascination are a few key scenes that I can really only describe as strange. At first, these scenes seem almost out of place. Yet they play out in such a natural way that really compliments the themes and gives this movie a more human feel.

Technically speaking, the beginning is a little shaky. The handheld filmmaking takes a little getting used to, and some of the editing initially feels a bit choppy. However, as the narrative plays out, these issues cease to persist. The pacing in this movie is flawless, keeping you thoroughly engaged from start to finish, with never a dull moment. And at times the movie works as somewhat of a silent film, and the musical score accompanying these scenes do a tremendous job of setting the mood just right.

The sci-fi elements play as more of a backdrop, with little bits and pieces of it gradually interwoven as the story progresses. But just like the main plot, the more we learn about this second Earth, the more interesting things become. And by the end, this is a movie that really leaves you thinking. About what? Well, like I said, I don't wanna give away too much. Just know that it's an intriguing story with excellent performances by its leads, and it deals with its themes in a respectable manner. It's a smaller movie, though, so it only got a limited release. However, if you get the chance, this is definitely one movie worth checking out.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Kung Fu Panda Buffet (BEDA 25)

So my buddy in the Army, Derrick, came home today. And first thing first, just as he requested, we went to go eat some Chinese food. Our first stop was, fittingly enough, China First. However, as the place was completely packed, we decided to go elsewhere. So since it looked like Chinese was out, we decided to hit up the old euphoria (aka, the Popeyes on Thomasville, originally named due to the euphoric nature of having a Popeyes and a KFC right next to one another). However, once we made it to the old euphoria, we discovered that a new Chinese restaurant had opened up next door: The Panda Buffet.

We decided to give this place a try, but we never expected the fight we were in for just to get a good meal. As we entered, our waiter showed us to our table. Or, so we thought. He actually pulled us both aside and explained to us their dire situation. See, the Popeyes next door had challenged them to a Kung Fu Competition, and the waiter was especially worried, given Popeyes' history. Apparently Popeyes had shut down KFC after defeating them in a similar Kung Fu Competition not too long ago, and now they were looking to do the same to the Panda Buffet.

So the waiter asked us if we'd help out, and promised us a meal on the house if we did. Now, you might be wondering just why exactly they asked for our help specifically. And frankly, I'm curious to know the answer to that question myself. Too bad I didn't think to ask it at the time. But what I did ask was when the competition was supposed to take place, and the waiter informed us that it was at high noon. I took a look at my cellular pocket watch, and saw that noon was just minutes away. So I looked to Derrick. And he looked back. And with a confident nod, we agreed to help out in this challenge.

Once noon struck, the Popeyes representatives entered the building, and the waiters and waitresses moved all of the tables aside. Popeyes then introduced their champion, none other than the sailor man himself, Popeye! As he downed a can of spinach, I was ready to step up to the challenge, but Derrick held me back. He said to let him handle this. After all, he had just recently undergone some special training in the Army that made him the perfect candidate for this fight.

So the Panda Buffet rang their gong, and the Kung Fu Competition was under way. And really, I call this a Kung Fu Competition, yet there was little to no actual Kung Fu involved at all. Derrick used more of a street brawler style, while Popeye was moving around like a cartoon character. But despite all of Popeye's spinach enhanced efforts, he was no match for Derrick, who finished him off handily with his patented punt to the head.

So the Panda Buffet was victorious, and true to their word, they rewarded us with a free meal. However, as Popeyes picked up their champion and headed back to their own restaurant, Derrick stopped them at the door. He looked the hazy Popeye in his squinted eyes, and he offered the sailor man a handshake. Popeye accepted, and promised that this wouldn't be the last we saw of them.

And so we left, with the two restaurants striving to keep things running prosperously in order to maintain a friendly rivalry. Fried chicken and Chinese food, what a way to come back home to America!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Coming Attractions (BEDA 24)

So it's the end of summer, all the big blockbusters have come out, and now we're just waiting for the huge flood of big name films that are set to release next year. But in the meantime, while most of this year's biggest titles have already come and gone, the year's not over just yet. So right now, we're going to take a look at just a few of the upcoming movies I'm most looking forward to for the remainder of the year.

In Time

This one caught me by surprise. I've seen a few trailers for this movie, and each one intrigues me more than the last. It's a sci-fi film starring Justin Timberlake, Olivia Wilde, and Cillian Murphy. Basically, time is currency in this world. People stop aging after a certain point, and how much longer they have to live depends on how much time they have remaining. The rich can live forever, while the poor die young. It's certainly something different, and one that immediately caught my attention. The cast looks good and the premise sounds ambitious enough, but then again, I said that same thing about this year's The Adjustment Bureau. That movie was alright, but it could have been so much better, and I just hope that this movie doesn't suffer from similar setbacks.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

It's no big secret that I loved the first Sherlock Holmes movie. I didn't particularly care about the plot or the action. And honestly, I'm not even all that impressed by the trailer they've been showing for this one so far. And yet, I'm still certain that I'll be getting my money's worth with this one, and it's all because of the wonderful performances by our two leads. Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law have such a natural, such a fascinating chemistry with each other. Seriously, I could watch those two just banter at one another for hours and hours. It's their constant back and forth that sold me on the first, and it's what I'm looking forward to most with this one. But as much as I'm looking forward to more of Watson and Holmes, there's one movie coming out that's got all the rest beat...

Real Steel

Hell yeah! Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots: The Movie, starring Hugh Jackman! My god I can't wait for this one. I've been seeing previews for this all year, yet unlike other long running ad campaigns (Cowboys & Aliens...), the more I see of this movie, the more I can't wait for it to come out. And yes, I know it'll probably be super cheesy, and it has all the potential in the world to be panned across the board by the film buffs and critics alike. Yet I still can't help but look forward to this one. Even if it is bad, I just know that it's gonna be one of those movies that's so bad, it's good! I mean really, look at it. Wolverine training a robot to fight other robots. How can this movie not be the most awesome thing ever?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My Car Still Needs Repairing (BEDA 23)

Well that was quick. Turns out my car is still having a few problems, so the guys at the shop are coming by to pick it back up tomorrow. Well that kinda sucks, but oh well. Looks like I'm out of a car again. I just hope it doesn't take another two months before they get to it this time around.

And as it turns out, my car isn't the only thing in need of repairs either. Today's blog was also having problems as well, so it looks like I'm going to have to get some work done on that, too. I know, what are the odds, right? But again, all I can say is oh well, and hopefully my blog will be all fixed up and ready to post by tomorrow. We'll see.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Save Me (BEDA 22)

While writing my post last week about Musical Imagery, I really wanted to discuss the band Avenged Sevenfold, but ultimately held out on them in favor of Paramore. However, it's interesting that it came down between those two bands to discuss in that post, since I have a similar history with both of them. I discovered both of them via music video games such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band. In fact, of all the bands I've been introduced to through gaming, those are still the only two that I've actually went out and bought their albums after the fact. After getting into those bands, I also took a look back at their older stuff. And with both bands, I found their early work to be completely unappealing, so it's probably for the best that I got into them later in their careers.

Unlike Paramore, I wouldn't call myself a particularly big fan of Avenged Sevenfold. I only own two of their albums, City of Evil and Nightmare, and of those two albums, while I can certainly listen to them all the way through, there's only a handful of songs on each that I would actually say that I like. However, that handful of songs just happen to be so good that they've kept this band in constant circulation with me for years now.

Their first song that got me hooked was "Beast and the Harlot". The guitars on that song were just alluring. They sucked me right in and haven't let me go since. I loved the song so much that I went out and bought the album without even hearing any of their other work. I don't do that often, but it really payed off this time.

Their guitars have such a haunting style to them, and their drummer is just absolutely incredible. Their singer admittedly takes a little getting used to, though. He has a strange, almost nasally sort of voice, but it works for them. It's certainly better than their earlier stuff, when he used to just scream all the time. Thankfully, he doesn't do much screaming these days. But this is a band that has really evolved their style and matured with every new release, and the quality of their music has increased substantially as a result as well.

This leads me to their latest album, the emotionally fueled Nightmare, which really is their best work to date. The opening track, "Nightmare", kicks us off with a real bang. It has such a rock-and-roll haunted house feel to it, which sounds like it should be cheesy. And honestly, listening to some of the lyrics (especially the chorus), it really is sort of a cheesy song. Yet this song is just amped up with so much energy and kicks so much ass that you can't help but fall in love with it.

And their ass kicking continues through the next few songs as well, before the album suddenly decides to dial it down and sooth us over a bit with softer, more melodic tunes. This part of the album is where it sort of drags a bit. It's not that the songs are bad, it just sort of goes on for too long at this slower pace. However, all of that is made up for and then some when we make it to the final track.

"Save Me" is truly an epic. It really is the culmination of all of the very best that this band has to give wrapped up in a single song. At over ten minutes in length, you never want it to end, yet it always manages to fly by so quickly. This enchanting song starts off slow and builds up to a momentous display of passion. It's an awe-inspiring finale to an otherwise decent album, and one that only gets better with every listening.

It bares saying again that this song is epic. In fact, this one song alone was what I originally had in mind while writing my Musical Imagery post, as this song has done a number on my imagination. But I felt so bad leaving it off that it actually inspired an entirely new post in the process. So if you get the chance, check this song out and let me know what you think. Even if you're not necessarily a fan of Avenged Sevenfold, it has a certain appeal to where I'd still recommend at least giving this song a shot.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Another Sunday... (BEDA 21)

I apparently suck at Sundays. I'm usually good at coming up with ideas for blogs all throughout the week, but then Sunday gets here and all I can draw are blanks. I think if I do this Blog Every Day thing again I'm going to have to change it up a bit. Maybe Blog Every Weekday August (BEWA), or Blog Every So Often August (BESOA). I think that might work out much more favorably.

I'm really not doing much today. I plan on getting some more work done on my novel. We had a workshop yesterday, which was really productive I thought. Some of our regulars sadly couldn't make it, but we did have a couple of new faces show up, so that was good. And I actually brought a piece of my own this week, too, the first chapter in my new novel. I received quite a bit of helpful feedback, so I'll definitely be putting that to good use.

As for a couple of personal updates, I did get my car back last week. It's nice to be able to go anywhere I want, whenever I want, and not have to worry about whether or not I can borrow a car or catch a ride from someone. And also, my buddy in the Army will be returning this week. As he put it, he can't wait to finally come home to America and eat some Chinese food. Wait... what? Anyways, I haven't seen him in about a year, so it'll be great to catch back up with him.

And, well, I suppose that's all I got for now. Another Sunday, another blog post. Yup.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations (BEDA 20)

So I lied yesterday. I said there was a few games that I'm looking forward to, but there's actually not even that many. Nope, only two, and the other one just so happens to share a similar name and premise as yesterday's game. So, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations. Speaking of generations, I've played very few games this gen that I would consider good, and even fewer that I've been able to put more than a handful of hours into before getting bored. But among those few that have truly impressed me was last year's Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2, which took me completely by surprise.

Being a Naruto fan, I've given some of the games in the series a shot. They've been okay, but nothing worth writing home about or anything. So when I went into Ninja Storm 2, I was expecting more of the same, even though the previews looked especially good for it. But that game absolutely blew me away. The adventure mode was gripping, and kept me coming back for more to visit every nook and cranny. Not to mention certain elements from the story mode were actually improved upon from the source material. And the fighting engine, while different from most fighting games, was truly rewarding once you got the hang of it. This game was simply addicting, and I sank more hours into it than I care to admit.

What I also really liked about Ninja Storm 2 was that it really was a game made with diehard Naruto fans in mind. The fact that the Pain portion of that game was a direct manga adaptation, as opposed to an anime adaptation, is probably the biggest token to that. And while Ninja Storm 2 already felt like the ultimate must-own game for Naruto fans, this upcoming one looks to be an even more complete Naruto experience.

Ultimate Ninja Storm 1 covers almost all of part 1 of Naruto, while Ninja Storm 2 covers everything after the time-skip up to the Pain arc. With Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations, this game is essentially combining the first two Ninja Storm games into one, allowing us to play with all of our favorite characters as both their younger part 1 forms, as well as their older selves from part 2. And not only that, they're including some of the glaring omissions from Ninja Storm 1, such as Zabuza and Haku. Plus, since the story has progressed since Ninja Storm 2, we'll also be getting some of the characters introduced since the Kage Summit arc added in as well, making for a much more complete roster than probably any Naruto game prior.

After Ninja Storm 2, I was saying that they really should probably hold off on another game for now. Since the War arc was just getting under way at that time, I didn't want them to just churn out another game with little in the way of new content in the meantime. However, if they absolutely have to release something new, then I think this is definitely the best rout to go. Especially considering that Ninja Storm 1 was only released on the PS3, meaning that I, an Xbox 360 owner, was unable to play it. So in a way, this makes up for missing out on that, and should be a great way to tide over us Naruto fans before they ultimately go all out again with the inevitable War arc adaptation.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sonic Generations (BEDA 19)

There aren't many games that I'm looking forward to. At all. However, of the very, very few that have caught my interest, one of them is Sonic Generations. Now, I've documented in blogs past about my love/hate relationship with this game series. To recap, the original classics are the best games ever, while the 3D games range from pretty good to absolutely abysmal, with just enough glimmers of sheer brilliance radiating out of the crap to keep me frustrated that they still haven't managed to get it right just yet.

Sonic Generations promises to be a collaboration of those two distinct styles. It's a collection of some of the most classic stages in Sonic's history, revamped and updated. Each stage is apparently going to have two ways to play it, either with the classic 2D style of gameplay, or the modern 3D style. I've seen some of the videos for this game, and it's actually kinda funny watching those two different styles played back to back, because it really shows just where Sega kept getting it wrong with the more recent games in this series.

When you think of Sonic, you think speed, right? Must go faster, must go faster! However, if you take a look back at the classic Sonic games, you'll notice that not only were those games not all that fast, but you were actually punished for trying to go too fast. Rush through the stage, and you've got spikes, badniks, and bottomless pits just waiting for you to crash into. No, with those games you actually had to take your time and be somewhat methodical with your actions. Yeah, you had your spin dashes and your loop-de-loops, but you had to be smart with them. You had to time your jumps right, or you'd be paying the price for it.

However, once Sonic left the realm of 2D, Sega said screw all of that. All they remembered was, "Sonic's fast!" And so, they focused solely on trying to make Sonic fast. Levels were designed in a way that focused on getting you moving straight ahead at lightning speeds. And to their credit, this actually worked in some cases. Sonic Adventure 2 actually pulled this off almost flawlessly, even if the level designs and badniks were a bit bland in that game.

But more often than not, they got this style of gameplay oh so wrong. The more open 3D environments makes platform based maneuvering more of a hassle to begin with, and the increased speed doesn't help matters in this regard. This makes for games that are much harder to control and much more frustrating than necessary. The fact that they clearly were rarely play-tested and, as a result, were loaded with game-breaking glitches was just icing on the cake.

Going back to Sonic Generations, watching the gameplay footage available thus far really shows off this stark contrast between the two styles. And with this evidence not only out there, but actually produced by the developers of the game, it really makes you wonder how it was that they managed to get so far off track with this franchise.

But I'm still interested in the game nonetheless. I'm mainly curious to play through the classic stages with their updated graphics, though seeing how they convert these stages to the 3D style will still be intriguing as well. And they're even throwing in a few of the stages from later games, such as City Escape from Sonic Adventure 2. I'm actually not sure if they're planning on doing the opposite and reverting the modern stages to the classic 2D style, or if they're just going to go the Sonic Colors rout and have sort of a mesh of styles for those stages.

So, as with all modern Sonic games, I'll be going into this one with some reservations. And yeah, it's a little more of the pandering to the old school Sonic fans that Sega's been doing the past couple years. However, I'm willing to give it a shot because, while it may not technically be anything new, I'm still interested to see what they come up with.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Camp Catch-Up (BEDA 18)

I've mentioned a couple of times how I'm behind on Camp NaNoWriMo, and, well, that's still the case right now. Doing Camp NaNo and Blog Every Day has been a lot more challenging than I imagined it would be, but I was still trudging along well enough at first. However, due to personal reasons, I've put this project on hold for a bit and have purposefully avoided it for at least a good week. I just really couldn't even think about it.

But this week, I've made an effort to get back in the groove a little. The novel I'm writing this month is actually the sequel to the novel I'm currently trying to get published. I've revisited what I've written thus far, made a few quick edits, and outlined some chapter ideas. And now, I really feel like I'm ready to dive back into this thing and get caught back up on my Camp NaNo-novel. And since I don't really have any plans for tomorrow (today?), I'm going to see if I can't just buckle down and really tackle this thing, and hopefully make a significant impact on my word count.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Musical Imagery (BEDA 17)

So the other day I was talking with a friend about music, and how different songs can form different images in our heads. For some songs, that image may be as simple as just seeing the band on stage performing it. And for others, they may just remind you of certain things going on in your own life. But then there's those certain songs that can invoke such powerful images, songs that, when you listen to them, they almost form their own music video in your head. Lately I've noticed that these tend to be the types of songs that really stick with me after I hear them, and the ones that I make a real effort to seek out.

For me, the images I see feel like an anime opening, only the scenes that are playing out are taken directly from my own stories that I'm writing. Anyone who's read my work can tell how heavily influenced they are by anime and other action cartoons. That's how the images start in my head before I even sit down to write them, like I'm watching them play out in an actual cartoon. And when I listen to these songs, it's like they're providing a soundtrack for those stories. In some cases, I've even gone so far as to edit these songs in my head to accommodate for timing and punctuating key moments in the song in order to better fit the images they've created. Perhaps someday whenever I get my hands on some sort of editing software, I can actually alter these songs for real.

I can't say for certain exactly what kinds of songs do this for me. Sometimes it's the powerful vocals or the lyrics that grab my attention, other times it may be the epic guitar solos or the haunting drum beats that get me. But for the purposes of this post, I'm going to turn my focus on a band who's music has been so consistent in forming these images that they've essentially become the official band for my series. That band is Paramore.

If my novel ever gets big and has a cartoon adaptation and all of that, Paramore would almost certainly have to do the opening theme. Their songs are so catchy and upbeat, yet they have a certain edge to them that really elevates their music. Haley Williams' voice is such a perfect fit, accompanied by those rockin' tunes that truly compliment the drama and the action oriented settings of my story. And when I actually pay attention to their lyrics, I find that they fit a lot of the themes in my story at times as well.

But while many of their songs have stuck with me in that manner, two in particular have pretty much cemented themselves as songs I will always personally associate with my story: "For a Pessimist, I'm Pretty Optimistic", which is practically the theme for the novel I'm currently working on, and "Careful", which would be the theme for the next novel in the series. It's almost fitting that these two songs also serve as the introductory tracks to Paramore's latest two albums. What can I say, they're powerful openers.

I'm not sure if any of what I've just said will make sense to anyone, because quite frankly it was pretty hard to even try and explain. But it's just something I've always done (or, perhaps more accurately, music has always done to me), and when I was talking to my friend about it, I was thrilled to see that I wasn't the only one who did this when listening to music.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Don't Mess With The Hat (BEDA 16)

I suppose the easy rout is to just go ahead and recap last night's Raw. However, I was so indifferent to the whole show that I really don't even have all that much to say about it. So rather than talk about what did happen, I'll instead focus to what should have happened. More specifically, what should have happened in one particular segment.

Here's how it actually went down. Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero were guest commentators during a match between Alex Riley and Jack Swagger. During the match, Vickie takes JR's hat, placing it atop her head as she steps onto the ring apron to cause a distraction. She places the hat on the referee's head, who then unceremoniously tosses it out of the ring. Then, after the match, Dolph Ziggler gets up from the announcer's table and stomps on the hat before placing it back on JR's head. And all the while, JR just sits there and takes it.

Now then, here's what should have happened. Vickie takes JR's hat and places it atop her head. JR is absolutely flabbergasted, but Michael Cole and The King manage to keep him calm. For now. Vickie steps up onto the ring apron, then places the hat on the referee's head. JR is livid, and he's struggling to keep his anger under control. The referee yells at Vickie, pulling the hat off his head and tossing it out of the ring.

JR snaps. He throws his headset off, climbs over the announcer's table, and slides into the ring. The referee tries to ejects him from the ring, but JR shuts him up. He points down at the hat on the floor and shakes his head. He then grabs the referee and tosses him out of the ring and into the crowd.

Riley and Swagger pause their match as all of this is happening. JR is eyeballing Vickie, but Swagger pulls JR around and starts to yell at him for interrupting his match. JR will hear none of it, so he flips Swagger the bird, kicks him in the gut, and delivers a good ol' stunner that sends Swagger twisting and turning through the air like a rag doll. Riley smiles at all of this, and pats JR on the back. JR smiles back, and the two share a brief laugh. The happy moment gets cut short, however, as JR kicks Riley in the gut and gives him a stunner as well.

JR begins to celebrate in the ring, downing bottle after bottle of his famous Bar-B-Q sauce. That's when Dolph Ziggler makes quite possibly the biggest mistake that he will ever make in the entirety of his career. While getting up from the announcer's table, he accidentally steps on JR's hat. Big mistake. JR stares him down. Ziggler stares back, terror in his eyes. Ziggler gulps, then as JR drops down to roll out of the ring, Ziggler high tails it out of there.

JR chases Ziggler all the way to the entrance stage before he catches up. He tugs Ziggler by the hair, dragging him back to the ring and tossing him inside. JR slides in, throwing a barrage of punches as he sends Ziggler to the corner. He proceeds to stomp a mudhole in Ziggler and walk it dry, driving the man down to the mat. But he's not done yet. He pulls Ziggler back to his feet, flips him off, and gives him, you guessed it, a stunner.

JR then looks out of the ring at Vickie, pointing down at his hat and demanding that she return it to him promptly. She does so, timidly stepping into the ring and handing him his hat. He snatches it out of her hand, placing it on his head. He gives Vickie a nod, and tells her to take her trash and kindly exit his ring. She begins to do so, helping Ziggler back to his feet, but then JR stops her. He tells her to wait, he has one more thing that she can do for him to set things right. JR then kicks her in the stomach and delivers a good ol' stunner to Vickie to a roaring approval from the crowd. They hit his Boomer Sooner music, and he goes to resume his Bar-B-Q celebrations, but not before giving one last stunner to Ziggler for good measure.

"Don't mess with the hat, and eat my Bar-B-Q sauce. Oh hell yeah!"

Monday, August 15, 2011

Summer Slam (BEDA 15)

Okay, so Summer Slam. I suppose I'll get the good parts out of the way first, because I may very well end up ranting. The show started off decently enough with a six man tag featuring The Miz, R-Truth, and Alberto Del Rio taking on Rey Mysterio, John Morrison, and Kofi Kingston. This was a match made fun thanks to some high flying antics, with Kofi giving us a standout performance.

Next up was the strong-man match, as Sheamus took on Mark Henry. Since turning face, the fans have really gotten behind Sheamus. This match was entertaining enough, but the highlight came at the end, when Mark Henry drove Sheamus through the barricade Kool-Aid Man style. Oh yeah!

The first really good match of the night was the women's match, where Divas Champion Kelly Kelly defended the title against Beth Phoenix. I've been interested in this recent push of Phoenix, as it looks like WWE is finally beginning to take their women's division seriously again. And now that Kharma's out for a year, it's good timing, too, to get the division in decent shape and looking somewhat legit for when she makes her inevitably dominant comeback.

But concerning the actual match, this was a lot better than I would have thought. I expected Phoenix to pretty much bury Kelly, but Kelly actually put up a fight. And not only that, but she actually looked credible while doing it. I was really impressed with Kelly's performance tonight, this Barbie-doll swimsuit model who I could never take seriously before channeled her inner psycho and pulled off one hell of an upset over Beth Phoenix.

Before our two big main events, Wade Barrett defeated Daniel Bryan in a decent, if fairly forgettable, encounter, and we got a musical performance from Cee Lo Green. After hearing so many cool things about some of his performances, I was expecting him to pull out something memorable tonight, though that sadly wasn't the case. However, a cameo from Jimmy Hart... sorry, little Jimmy Hart, managed to bring some laughs courtesy of R-Truth.

Our first main event was for the World Championship, as Christian defended the title against Randy Orton in a No Holds Barred match. But before the match got under way, Edge made a surprise appearance. In an awkwardly placed segment, he essentially called out Christian for being the whiny little bitch that he's been, and questioned the legitimacy of his championship status. I say 'awkwardly placed' because, honestly, this felt like something they should have done on regular TV leading into the show, not as part of the actual Pay Per View just before the match. So that was odd, even though it was nice to see Edge again.

Onto the actual match, this one was really good. A lot better than their previous encounter at Money in the Bank. They pulled out all the stops, bringing just about every wrestling weapon you can imagine into play, tables, chairs, kendo sticks (Steve Blackman swears he wasn't involved with the preparations of this match). You know, the works.

This was a really fun back and forth match, with nice buildup to all of the big spots, and a satisfying amount of violence throughout. Some highlights include Randy Orton actually managing to put Christian through the announce table, as well as his elevated DDT to Christian onto the trash can. And Orton managed to win the title back in the end as well, surprising Christian with a snap RKO onto some steel steps for the pin.

Now here's where I'm about to get a little irritated. The main event was WWE Champion John Cena vs. WWE Champion CM Punk, a match to unify their two WWE titles and determine one undisputed WWE Champion. And Triple H was the special guest referee. The match itself was perfectly fine. Not quite as good as their Money in the Bank match, but still a really good match, and the crowd seemed to be just as into it as well. These two gel really well in the ring, and their constant reversals are so smooth, really a joy to watch.

So the match itself was good, but then came the ending. Punk pinned Cena after hitting the Go to Sleep, one, two, three. The thing was, Cena's foot was on the rope. I figured this would be addressed, but it never really was, as Triple H just shrugged it off, saying he didn't see it. Okay then, so Punk's champ, right? Enter Kevin Nash, who lays out Punk with a huge powerbomb. But shocking as that was, it still wasn't the biggest shocker of the night. No, that came when Alberto Del Rio's music hit, and he cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase, pinning CM Punk to become the new WWE Champion.

I am not an Alberto Del Rio fan. I absolutely do not understand why he is being pushed this hard by the WWE. He is a midcard level talent at best, and he's perfectly fine in that environment. But everything about him, his wrestling style, his overly scripted promos with that shit-eating grin of his, just his overall gimmick and the way he carries himself, it screams midcarder. He's an up-and-coming wrestler at the very best, and nowhere near the main event level that WWE seems adamant to shove him down our throats as. I don't understand his Royal Rumble win, I don't understand his Wrestlemania World title match, and I sure as hell don't understand why he is currently the WWE Champion.

But he is, and I'm left with a sour taste in my mouth to close out an otherwise good show. After talking with my friend about the possibilities of where they could take this angle, I'm a little intrigued, and just might give them the benefit of the doubt. My gut reaction is that they really dropped the ball, though. But I don't know, I suppose we'll see...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Some things... (BEDA 14)

So since I haven't been able to sleep, I've decided instead to blog. No big elaborate post today, I'm gonna keep things a little simpler and just talk a little about some of my plans for the upcoming week. Typically not the kind of post I like to make, but whatever.

Tonight I'm going to a friend's house to watch Summer Slam. I'm really only interested in one match, that being CM Punk vs. John Cena. And even the WWE seems fairly disinterested in this show, as very few matches have even been announced yet. Unless they're planning on giving that time to the matches that have been announced, which I wouldn't necessarily have a problem with. But it should still be fun nonetheless.

Tomorrow I should be picking up my car finally. One week sure did turn into two months real fast. But hopefully the guys at the shop managed to fix everything up, and my car will be in good working order again. I've missed having my own car, it's been so uncomfortable having to bum rides off of people the past couple months. I swear I'm going to take care of my car this time.

Other than that, I'll be meeting with a friend this week to go over ideas for our group carnival story, and I intend to get started back up on my Camp NaNoWriMo story as well. I think I'm going to bring in a chapter from that story for our workshop this Saturday, too, so I can't wait to get some comments and feedback for that.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Fourth Great Shinobi War (BEDA 13)

Warning for those of you who don't read the Naruto manga, spoilers ahead. And for those of you who don't read the manga or watch the anime, you're probably not going to understand a word of this.

The Naruto anime has just recently started on the same arc currently in progress in the manga, that being the Fourth Great Shinobi War arc. So I figured with that, plus the fact that I've been meaning to make some kind of Naruto related post, now's as good a time as any to discuss it. Basically, the five great nations have put their differences aside to form a shinobi alliance in order to finally take down the Akatsuki once and for all. Meanwhile, in order to take on the joint shinobi army, Madara has joined forces with Kabuto, combining their powers consisting of Madara's Zetsu clone army and Kabuto's collection of legendary shinobi resurrected from the dead.

First I'd like to talk about the anime. Even though the arc has only just started in the past few weeks, I'm already worried about the anime catching up to the manga. The fact that the anime has had a tendency to move along at a much faster pace than the manga only intensifies those worries. But not only that, I'm also concerned about the overall quality. Lately, the anime has been majorly inconsistent. They completely butchered the Pain arc, save for a handful of episodes, and they also recently ruined several key moments in the Kage Summit arc.

So the anime hasn't exactly been dependable these days, so I'm really skeptical as to how they'll handle this upcoming arc. And with the author, Kishimoto, seemingly leaving glaring holes solely for the purpose of having the anime fill them in, I can't help but feel that certain people involved have a little too much faith in the anime team. If they even do fill in those holes, the big question will then be will they be able to do so without screwing something up?

But it remains to be seen how the anime will treat this arc, so with that, I'll shift over to the manga. And so far, this arc has been a bit hit and miss. There's been moments that I've loved, but there's also been several missed opportunities throughout, which I'm going to get out of the way first. The biggest issue I have with this arc is the pacing, which is just all over the place. This arc has managed to feel like it's moving at a snail's pace, while simultaneously feeling like the author is just rushing through things. It's been a jarring experience, to say the least. We'll spend weeks and weeks on flashback chapters or boring, uninteresting fights, but once we finally get to something good, he'll either finish it up real quick, or he'll tease us and move on, leaving things to (maybe) be resolved later.

To give a couple of examples, take the battle between Kakashi's division and the Seven Shinobi Swordsmen. This is one of the first major fights in the war, and we get to see the opening moments, as Kakashi and Zabuza essentially redo their classic encounter from the Land of Waves arc. But once Zabuza's out of the picture and it's down to the Swordsmen, we cut away from that battle. And that was back in January in our time. In the manga's time, an entire day has passed, yet we've still yet to revisit this scenario. He just leaves us hanging, wondering whether this fight is really still going on, or was it possibly resolved off panel?

On the contrary, once the focus shifts to Darui's division, we see that several different encounters are occurring at once. However, of all of the fights going on, we focus solely on probably the blandest one, that involving Kinkaku and Ginkaku. These two characters feel like something straight out of an anime filler. Their fighting style feels out of place in the Naruto world, and their fight with Darui just dragged on and on for weeks. Meanwhile, also occurring in this same area were interesting fights involving the likes of Dan and Kakuzu, both of which happened off panel.

But one of the biggest missed opportunities happened near the beginning of the arc. Before the war officially gets underway, Naruto's about to undergo training in order to tame the Kyuubi. And before he can undergo this training, he has to step under a waterfall which allows him to confront his inner evil. This would have been a perfect opportunity to explore several of the issues that had been haunting Naruto recently. For instance, his ongoing obsession with Sasuke, or Sakura's fake confession, and the strain that may have caused on their relationship. But instead, they use this as an opportunity to revisit an issue which had long since already been addressed, and hasn't really been a concern since the very beginning of the manga, that being the way the villagers used to treat him like crap. This was just a waste, and a rare example of really shoddy writing on the author's part.

Though those complaints aside, this arc has also had several really awesome moments as well. Going back to the fights, before the war gets started, we're treated to three fairly brief yet completely satisfying encounters, back to back to back. First, in a flashback sequence taking us back to the start of the series, we witness Minato's fight with Madara, which lead to his death as he sealed the Kyuubi into his newly born son, Naruto. Next, Guy and Kisame both go all out in the final epic clash in their rivalry. Then, Madara gets pushed to his limits at the hands of Konan in her last ditch effort to try and kill him off. And this is all just the lead-in to the Fourth Great Shinobi War.

And once the war actually starts, it's a lot of the more minor characters who have really impressed. For instance, the battle between the samurai Mifune and the legendary Hanzo was a classic clash of swords and ideals, and a fight that I never imagined would become one of my favorites. Then cut to the emotional encounter between Asuma and Team 10, and it's Ino of all people who steals the show. The same Ino who has been pretty much useless throughout the entire series shows us that she's been holding back this whole time. But she's not the only one to improve, as Naruto himself is already shining in new ways since his entry onto the battlefield. I'm not a fan of how Naruto's new Kyuubi chakra mode looks, but the abilities he's capable of in this form are ridiculously insane.

Even though this current arc has been going on for well over a year now in the manga, it's still far from over. Naruto has only just recently entered the fray, and he and Killer Bee are currently dealing with the dangerous combo of Itachi and Nagato. Plus, we've still yet to see what Madara has in store with his brand new Six Paths of Pain, and Sasuke has still yet to make a move either. So there's still a ways to go, and as it stands right now, this arc could honestly go either way.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sonic Comic Retrospective (BEDA 12)

Yesterday, while reading the latest issue of Sonic the Hedgehog, I had the idea to review the current ongoing arc in progress, which is supposed to be a retelling of sorts of the classic Sega Genesis Sonic games. However, I was so displeased with the latest issue (it's supposed to be a Sonic 2 adaptation, and even sort of starts out as one, but then reverts back to a Sonic 1 adaptation just a few pages in. What?), that I've decided to go back and talk about all the good things that have happened in this comic's history instead.

Sonic the Hedgehog is currently up to 227 issues, making it the longest running comic series based on a video game. In addition to its over 227 regular issues, there have been an assortment of specials and spin-off series, most notably Knuckles the Echidna, Sonic X, and Sonic Universe, which is currently still ongoing. So it's been a fairly successful series, much moreso than I think even the guys over at Archie Comics would have imagined (more on that later).

The comic uses characters based both on the original games, as well as from the classic Saturday morning cartoons. In the early days of the comic, the tone was much sillier and almost Looney Tunes-like, similar to the less popular cartoon, Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. But as the series progressed, it took a more serious approach, much in the vein of the more popular cartoon simply known as Sonic the Hedgehog (commonly referred to as Sonic SatAM by fans). And while the series certainly remained fun, it matured a great deal, both in its plot, as well as its visual style.

I actually got into the series at around issue 38. This was the perfect time, too, as right around the corner were two of my absolute favorite story arcs not only in Sonic's history, but in all of comic books as well. The first big story arc was Mecha Madness, a story in which Sonic the Hedgehog is roboticized by Robotnik and sent to destroy his home village of Knothole. Nobody is able to stand up to him, and so they're forced to resort to their enemy's tactics, roboticizing Knuckles in order to fight Mecha Sonic. This story was packed to the brim with action. But as awesome as it was, it was also respectably hilarious. They really mastered the balance between humor and action in this story, making for an enjoyable read that I've returned to several times over the years.

This is how much I liked this story.

Just after Mecha Madness, we began the buildup to what may still be the darkest, most important arc in the entire series, End Game. Sonic is framed for supposedly murdering Princess Sally, and is imprisoned as such. With Sonic out of the picture, Robotnik moves forward with his plans to destroy Knothole and rid the world of the Freedom Fighters once and for all. It sounds simple enough, yet this story is filled with so many twists and turns, and follows several different threads, taking us on a journey that spans the globe and takes us all the way back to the series' roots. This is the culmination of everything we've seen thus far, and it's all serious business, leaving little room for laughs as we lead into the big final showdown between Sonic and Robotnik.

Here's where I mentioned before that even the guys at Archie didn't know just how successful their comic would become, because at the end of this arc, Robotnik actually dies. That's right, the main villain of the series is killed off, and we're only at issue 50 when it happens. Granted, they came up with a way to technically bring the character back (Robotnik apparently stored his memory on file, which was downloaded into another body), but as it stands, the original Robotnik has to this day remained dead.

After the big End Game arc, the comic sort of floundered a bit, trying to find its identity now that the main obstacle in our hero's path had been removed. Most of what happens after that point is fairly forgettable, and I even grew so bored with the series at one point that I quit collecting for about a year in 2000. Sure enough, when I picked the comic back up a year later, that happened to be the one year that they didn't reprint back issues for. You could order issues from 1998, 1999, and even 2001 and 2002. But nope, not 2000. I've only managed to find a few stragglers from that year in random comic stores from time to time, though that still remains the biggest gap in my Sonic collection.

But since then, the series has had its ups and downs, though the overall tone was dailed down to be a lot more kid-friendly. But I continue to stick around because, well, even when it's not all that good, it's still pretty fun, and I genuinely care about most of the main characters.

In fact, I'd take Archie's version of the Sonic tale over the canon from the Sega games. The comic's characters, such as Sally Acorn, Antoine D'Coolette, and Bunny Rabbot, are much more likable than pretty much every character Sega's introduced since Sonic Adventure, such as the likes of Silver the Hedgehog, Rouge the Bat, and Big the Cat. That's not to say that every original character introduced in the comic is great (I'll never forgive them for Tommy Turtle), but the good ones just have so much depth and history to them. They actually grow and progress alongside the story, and they're so well rounded that, in comparison, Sega's new characters that they force on us with each new video game entry just feels bland.

Anyways, so that's my little look back on the series. It started out really goofy, but reached its peak once it started to take itself (as well as its audience) a lot more seriously. And though it's never quite reached those heights in quality since then, its certainly had its moments, and overall it remains fun to this day. I've only dropped the comic once, but I regretted it so much that I doubt I'll do it again. And I think that's why this comic has remained as successful as it has. Because while it may not have as huge a fanbase as the likes of Spider-Man, Batman, or Superman, the fans that this series does have remain ever loyal to it.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Horrible Bosses (BEDA 11)

The other movie I saw the other day was Horrible Bosses. It was a pretty good movie, really funny throughout, but I honestly don't have all that much to say about it. Because, while it is good, it doesn't really do anything that leaves a lasting impression. Which is perfectly fine. It does its job, which is to be entertaining, and it does it well. But it's one of those movies that, while it's fun when you're watching it, once it's over, you just kind of put it behind you and move on.

Basically, three friends are each having issues with their respective bosses. Jason Bateman works an office job with a complete psycho, played by Kevin Spacey, who makes it impossible for him to advance in his career, pretty much screwing him over. Charlie Day is recently engaged and devoted to his fiance, but he works as a dentist's assistant to Jennifer Aniston (who, as a brunette, has never looked hotter), who literally just wants to screw him. And Jason Sudeikis actually enjoyed his job until his boss' son, a coke-addict played by Colin Farrell, inherits the company after his boss' sudden death. So these three friends come up with the idea to kill their bosses, and thus the fun ensues.

The movie is thoroughly funny throughout, though it won't necessarily leave you in complete hysterics or anything. But the movie is well paced, without much in the way of any lulls, and thus it manages to keep you entertained the whole way through. And it doesn't overstay its welcome either, which is a lesson that certain other comedies coming out these days could surely learn from.

If I had to pick on this movie at all, I suppose Charlie Day does overdo it at times with his hyperactive bit. But that's really a small nit-pick. Also, while funny, none of the jokes are anything worth really repeating (which, depending on your perspective, might actually be a good thing), and like I said before, it's not a movie that sticks with you after it's done. I wouldn't go out of my way to see it, but if you do happen to catch it at some point, then you're at least in for a fun enough time.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (BEDA 10)

This movie was pretty tremendous. I had heard it was good, and I expected to at least like it, but it's seriously one of the best movies of the year thus far. The thing about this movie, though, is that it's really hard to talk about what I liked so much about it without giving away some pretty major spoilers in the process, but I'll give it my best shot.

To give a basis of the story, this is the prequel to the classic Planet of the Apes. While trying to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease, scientists are experimenting vaccination on apes that increase their intelligence. After an experiment gone wrong, the program is shut down, and the apes in the facility are forced to be put down. All except one, Caesar, a baby ape with the cure in his genes, who James Franco's character sneaks out and brings home to raise.

Despite the more action-oriented trailers, this movie really is more of a drama than an action flick. A lot of time is spent building our main characters, really showing the father/son bonds that are present, most notably between Franco and Caesar. As we watch our characters grow and evolve, we really are taken on an emotional experience, from the enjoyment of the simple things in life, the pain of loss, and the desire to find one's place in the world and be free. And when we start meeting more of the apes, the movie even turns into almost a silent film for a while, and yet it still remains completely engaging. You become truly invested in all of these characters, even the CGI apes. And this is all well before we really even see any of the big action set pieces.

And when we do get to the action, it's a whole lot of fun. Caesar has a habit of striking bad ass poses throughout the movie, and he's more than willing to flaunt this habit of his as he leads his army of apes through the city. But the movie goes in a completely different rout than what you'd expect in order to explain just how the apes managed the take over the world. A much fresher and, quite frankly, more satisfying rout, which leaves you actually rooting for the apes.

As I mentioned before, all of the apes are done using CGI. And while it's almost always obvious that those aren't real apes we're seeing there, the CGI is so good that it's never distracting and doesn't take you out of the movie. Some of the shots are simply mesmerizing, particularly some of the scenes of Caesar just swinging around trees. The apes were recorded using the same motion capture technology they used to film Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, and Andy Serkis gives us one hell of a performance as the head ape, Caesar.

But like I said, the things that really make this movie stand out are things that are hard to describe without giving away some of the movie. It's the little things, the subtleties in this movie. For instance, this movie makes several subtle nods to the original film, though how we actually get from this film to that one isn't blatantly explained. This movie doesn't hold your hand. It gives little hints throughout, with just a little more of an explanation during the credits, just enough to help out anyone who may have missed those hints, without being overbearing. And I really appreciated that about this film. Where so many other movies assume its audience is made up of mindless monkeys, this one really treats the audience with respect in that regard.

I really can't say enough good things about this movie. I told my friend I went to see it with that this movie alone is so good, it makes up for all the disappointing movies I've sat through this summer. A lot of people have been skeptical about this movie, and rightfully so. But please don't fret, this movie rises up and delivers the goods in a huge way.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Raw Recap (BEDA 9)

So I watched Raw last night, but most of it was either boring or generally uninteresting, so I'm just going to talk about the good parts. Specifically, the last 20 minutes or so. We had a contract signing segment, hyping the upcoming match between CM Punk and John Cena to determine the undisputed WWE Champion, which Triple H will now be officiating. I was less than pleased when Triple H initially announced that he was inserting himself into the match. However, by the end of the night, both Punk and Cena impressed me so much with their mic work that I'm now looking forward to this encounter just as much, if not even moreso than their previous match.

Punk has been on fire for a while now, and I even said last week that they could just let Punk talk for 2 hours on Raw every week, and I'd be perfectly fine with that. And he continued to be on fire last night, sparking some particular interest by namedropping the recent legit firings of Vladimir Kozlov, Harry Smith, and Chris Masters. But while Punk was just as good as ever, it was actually John Cena who really impressed me last night.

For a while now, Cena hasn't been that good on the mic. He's felt so forced, so insincere. I just haven't been able to take him seriously at all lately. But last night, that all changed. This was a return to form of the old John Cena, the Cena with a little bit of an attitude. It probably helped that he took a page out of Punk's book and started referencing certain "in" things, such as the internet fans' comparisons of him to Hulk Hogan, his "Five Moves of Doom", and his need to channel his "heel persona". But for the first time in a long while, I actually believed what Cena was saying. He actually sounded like he was speaking from the heart, rather than reading from a script, which was such a refreshing change of pace.

These two tore it up on the microphone last night, and now I'm super hyped for their upcoming encounter at Summer Slam this Sunday. I'm still not thrilled about Triple H's inclusion. And as a result of his inclusion, I have a feeling that Punk won't be walking away with the title after Sunday. But regardless, I'm definitely looking forward to the match, which I'm sure will deliver the goods. I just hope that they don't drop the ball in the aftermath.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Taking it easy... (BEDA 8)

I'm still feeling pretty down, so I'm just taking things a little easy right now. I picked out a small memorial statue for Velcro today, and later this week my mom's going to help me plant some flowers around her burial ground. I suppose I can't avoid making this another personal blog, so I guess I'll just discuss a few of my plans for the upcoming week.

I'm going to watch some wrestling tonight. I used to be hardcore into wrestling, but in the past couple years it's sort of lost my attention. Recent events have sparked some mild interest, however, so I've been watching again the past few weeks, and I plan on doing that tonight. Then tomorrow I think I'm going to watch a couple movies with a friend. It'll be nice to get out of the house and take my mind off things, so I'm looking forward to that. And other than that, I'm behind on Camp NaNoWriMo, so I guess I'm going to have to play catch-up at some point.

I do want to thank everyone for all of the love and support you've shown me. It's been hard, really hard, but all of your kind words have helped to ease the pain just a little. It really does mean the world to me, truly.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


A huge part of me just died. Last night, I had to put my cat to sleep. It's probably the hardest thing I've ever had to do. Anybody who knows me, and who knows my cat, they know how much she's meant to me. I've had her for 17 years. I've grown up with her. She's been with me through all the good times and the bad. She's been more than just a pet to me, she's been my best friend my whole life. But she just got so weak, so frail, and I couldn't stand to see her suffer any longer.

Up until just a few days ago, she didn't show her age at all. She was still running around the house, jumping onto high places, and playing around like a kitten. But then it all just happened suddenly. Her body just quit on her. Suddenly she had become so fragile, she had to struggle just to walk to the litter, and it was all she could do to just lie down all day long. She wouldn't eat, and after a while, she quit drinking water. I brought her up to the vet, but they said that it was just her time. Her age had finally caught up with her, and it just happened to come all at once.

I've been pretty devastated for the past few days, but I've tried to put on somewhat of a happy face to mask my feelings. I've had prior obligations to tend to, and frankly, I never imagined that the end would rush up as quickly as it has.

She was a great cat, though. She was basically me in cat form. We had the same kind of attitude. We liked to be left alone. We had problems getting along with our brothers. And yet, we've also been very kind and caring. She somehow always knew when I was feeling down, and she'd come rushing right up to me, rubbing her face against mine as she purred. Especially in her later years, she was almost dog-like in that way. She'd greet me as I entered the house, she'd follow me around room to room, and whenever I called her, she'd pop right up and come sprinting to my side.

And she put up with a lot of crap from me. I used to wrestle her all the time, powerbombing her on the couch, wrapping her around my neck like a scarf. I've even been known to wear her on my head like a hat on occasion. But it was all in fun, and she'd get me right back. When I'd pet her stomach sometimes, she'd wrap her arms around mine and bite down. Then she'd look me right in the eyes and start to lick me instead. That is, until I tried to move my arm away, in which she went back to biting me again.

God we annoyed each other sometimes. But even so, we could never stay mad at one another, as moments later she'd go right back to rubbing past my leg and purring. But I'm going to miss those times. Even the things that really did annoy me, such as her knocking my books off the shelf, or her constantly trying to get into things I didn't want her getting into, waking me up in the middle of the night in the process. What I wouldn't give to be woken up right now and find out that this is all just one really bad dream.

My mom reminded me of the time when I used to ride her around in our small toy Ninja Turtles van, back when she was still just a little kitten. That's when our adventures began, which I've only just recently started writing down in the past few years. I've completed the first novel based on her stories, the one that I've mentioned I've been trying to get published. And I've outlined her entire adventure. She's been immortalized in novel form, and I owe it to her now to make sure her stories get out there for all to enjoy.

But this evening, when she was at her absolute worst, we had no other choice. It was only right, it wasn't fair to let her continue to suffer like she was. So my dad drove me to the animal hospital, and at approximately 11:50pm, she went to sleep in my arms. We came home and buried her in my backyard, right outside my bedroom window.

I just feel so numb right now. I'm so heartbroken, so torn apart, but I know I made the right call. And just as I put Velcro out of her misery, I know she'd hate to see me miserable like this right now. And if she were here with me right now, she'd come running up to my side and start purring away to cheer me up.

I'm going to miss my cat so much. She's been such a huge part of my life. We were inseparable. In fact, that's where her name originated from. The first time I picked her up as a kitten, her claws attached to me like velcro. We were meant for each other from the very beginning. She chose me just as much as I chose her. My mom warned us back then not to have fun with our brand new kitties while they were kittens, only to get bored with them once they had grown up. No, I never got bored of Velcro. Heck, I could never get enough of her, just as she could never get enough of me. I'll cherish those good times. I love my cat, and I'm really, really going to miss her.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Eat Fresh (BEDA 6)

So I'm trying to take a bit of a time out, take my mind off things a little. And what better way than with a nice, delicious sandwich. This one comes courtesy of Subway. It's a tasty foot-long chicken breast sandwich. Sorry, no run-ins with any ninjas this time around. Just me and my meaty, mouthwatering sandwich, with its fresh, perfectly placed veggies, and just a dash of salt and pepper to balance things out. The warmed up chicken on Subway's customary soft, white bread form a perfect texture, leaving my mouth begging for more. And to wash it all down, I've got an ice cold Mountain Dew at my side, complementing every bite, and coming together to make for a nice, satisfying lunch.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Carnival Night Zone (BEDA 5)

So my local writing group is in the process of doing a group project of sorts. I helped write the prologue for an open-ended story that takes place in a carnival. Going off of that prologue, everyone taking part in the project is writing their own short stories that contribute to the overall arc. Their stories can be in any genre, with their own original characters, and, well, honestly, they're pretty much free to do whatever they want with it. That's the main reason we chose the carnival setting, because it leaves you open for just so many possibilities.

So even though I co-wrote the prologue, I've also written my own contributing chapter to the carnival story. I pretty much based it on the Carnival Night Zone level from the video game Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and I take no shame in the fact that I've blatantly ripped off pre-existing characters. So my story is essentially fanfiction in that regard.

I want to shift gears a little now and talk more about this specific level in that game. I've posted in blogs past about how my favorite game of all ever is Sonic 3 & Knuckles. And there once was a time when, while playing through this game, I'd always groan when I came to a certain stage. And that stage was, as you may have guessed, Carnival Night Zone. It's such a loud and obnoxious stage, with so many annoying little spring traps and such. Not to mention the Barrel of Doom that was impossible to get past.

This is the last thing you see in the game.

Who knew that all you had to do was press up and down over and over again? Seriously, it's the only part in the whole game like this! Oh, and the boss of this stage, yeah, you're not going to beat him the first time around. Ever. By the time you actually get to him, you might get in a few hits before "Time Over" kills you, which was always a pain.

However, as time passed on and I played through the game many more times, this stage has grown on me. So much so that now, I think it may well be my favorite level in the whole game. The traditional circus music on loop used to drive me batty, but now I can't get enough of it. And even the Barrel of Doom is no longer an issue. Sure, it's a little screwy that it's the only part in the game that uses that mechanic, but screw it! Once you've figured it out, it's no longer an obstacle, and it's actually a good in-joke to poke fun at. And the same thing goes for the boss. Yeah, I still can't beat him the first try without running out of time, but I go into the stage knowing this up front. So when I get to the boss, I'm expecting it, and as such, I'm no longer annoyed by it.

So I've had a love/hate relationship with that particular level. I used to dread it, but now I can never wait to play through it. Its certainly stuck with me through the years, and I think that's why its been such an inspiration to some of my writing. I guess I failed to mention that this current carnival story isn't my first piece to be influenced by that particular stage.

This is sort of an odd post, I admit. Here I am talking about a random level in a random video game. God I sound like such a nerd (what else is new?). But I guess if I should take away something from this post, it's that you never know where you might find that spark of creativity. Inspiration can come at you from the oddest places.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Random 2011 Movie Review Compilation (BEDA 4)

Well, I was having trouble coming up with a topic for today's blog. But then I stumbled upon Cynthia's most recent blog, where she totally embraced the randomness. And so, going off that idea, I've decided to do something a bit random myself.

Going back to the beginning of the year, I've taken the first sentence of my first movie review, the second sentence from the second review, and so on and so forth. I then put these random, out of context sentences together, thus creating my compilation review of all the movies I've reviewed so far in 2011. And surprisingly, this randomness actually turned out a lot more coherent than I ever would have expected. So then, without any further ado, I present to you, my random 2011 movie review compilation (see if you can tell what movie each sentence is talking about):

I recently watched two movies which were good, but not as good as they could have been had they undergone some proper editing. Holy crap! That said, I'm not entirely sure that this movie was even aiming to be a horror, as the general tone feels almost spoofy at times.

I think this movie benefits tremendously by not being saddled down with an origins story like the first, so they're able to jump right into the action. What's the point of an action scene where I can't see shit?!?!

So we joked that the guy in the trailer who constantly insists that "there is no vampire menace" just happened to have a copy of the graphic novel on hand. It's sad that Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley's characters, who I was originally thrilled to see weren't returning, were actually very much missed, and the new characters introduced completely failed to fill the void they left behind. Makes you wonder why they were even included in the first place. The references just become groan inducing.

However, the big scene from Erik's childhood comes off as really corny and over-dramatic, which was a bit of a let down. It sounds like the stuff that a bunch of kids would actually say, which really helps ground the movie and give it a more realistic feeling. But here, it did absolutely nothing for me, and that's sort of how I felt about all of the action.

At times this movie almost becomes a drinking game. Sure enough, just as we're all thinking that, the woman recognizes him, and all is well again.

This movie has no such excuse. I was really not looking forward to these earlier scenes going in because they looked so bad, but they seriously fixed him up for the final film. (If only the latest Harry Potter could've been nearly this good...)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Magic Hat Moving Services (BEDA 3)

So my plans for today started out simple enough. I was only going to be helping a Queen Sorceress move her things. You know, nothing out of the ordinary. That was, until I got to her place and found a top hat covered in cat hair. There was just something mesmerizing about that hat, something that drew me to it. So I picked up the hat, brushed off as much of the cat hair as I could, and I placed it atop my head. And that's when the fun began.

With the top hat on my head, myself and the Queen Sorceress' brother started moving her things out into the blistering heat and into our cars. We soon realized that not everything was going to fit in the cars, and that's when an idea just miraculously popped into my head. I took off the hat, looked inside of it, then glanced over the Queen Sorceress' remaining things. And then I thought, "hmmm."

So I gave my idea a go, and the Queen Sorceress' brother (I'm sure, being the Queen Sorceress' brother, he possess a title of his own, but for the life of me I don't know what it is. So from here on out, I'll merely refer to him as 'Bro') watched in amazement as I began stuffing the Queen Sorceress' things inside of my hat without even so much as the slightest struggle. It's as if the hat had an endless amount of space within. And yet, despite all the added weight, it still felt light as a feather as I placed it once more atop my head.

Well that was certainly easier than expected, though we still had one issue remaining. The heat. Bro had an idea to deal with it, coming across a magic staff stuffed away in the Queen Sorceress' things. He gave it a go and attempted to make it snow. It didn't work for him, so I asked him to let me try. Seeing as I was wearing this magic hat, perhaps the staff would respond to me. So I raised the staff into the air, and in a flash of blinding light, white flakes of snow came pummeling down from the sky.

That's around the time that the Queen Sorceress herself arrived, and she stepped out of her car and asked us what the hell was going on. Sure, the nice cool air felt good enough for a minute, but it wasn't much longer before we were quickly reminded of just how much we hate cold weather. So, with another wave of the magic staff, I made the snow disappear, and it was back to the good old heat and humidity for us.

So anyways, we brought the Queen Sorceress' things to her storage place. By the time we arrived there, the heat had driven us mad, so it was fitting to see that the elevators leading to her storage unit were lined with padded walls. But alas, we somehow made it to her unit in one piece, and as I dumped all of her possessions out of my hat, Bro and myself began to wonder just how the Queen Sorceress intended to fit all of her things in this small, crowded place.

"Stand back," she commanded us, and we watched in amazement as she played a live-action game of Tetris, right before our very eyes. She matched up her things perfectly, and they seemingly disappeared into thin air as they formed row after row. As I watched, I was reminded of the time when she casually solved a Rubik's Cube, and that's when I knew that her powers were not to be taken lightly. She had truly earned her title of Queen Sorceress.

And so everything fit nice and snug, and as payment for my help, she allowed me to keep the magic hat. So yeah, just another ordinary day, right?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Blog Every Day August (BEDA 2)

For those of you not in the know, you might have noticed the little (BEDA) in the title of yesterday's post. What that stands for, as if you couldn't already tell by the title of today's post, is Blog Every Day August. And what that means is (again, as if you couldn't already tell) I'll be posting a new blog every day throughout the month of August.

In the past, my blogs have had a tendency to be kind of all over the place, though most recently, I've tried to give them a little more focus. Lately I've mainly stuck to writing about movies, with the occasional personal blog here and there. Reading my old, old blogs, I came to the realization that I didn't much care for a lot of my personal posts, because, well, I had a tendency to be kind of whiny and obnoxious in a lot of them. So whenever I do make a personal post these days, I try to keep it as upbeat and fun as I can.

As for what I intend to post throughout this month, well I kinda doubt that I'll be able to keep it strictly movies for an entire month, and I'm not even sure that I want to do that. For instance, I'm also participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month, so I'm sure I'll speak more on that at some point, among other things. Basically, I'm allowing myself the freedom to jump all over the place should I see fit, before re-focusing myself again once the month is over.

So that's what's going on with the blog this month. I'm already enjoying reading all of the other BEDA participants' blogs, and I hope you'll all drop by here from time to time as well. And please feel free to leave any comments or feedback, I'd love to hear what you all think. Whether you agree with a point I made, have a differing opinion, or even if you just wanna say hi, I wanna hear it!

And since this post has essentially become the introductory post that yesterday was probably supposed to be, I suppose I should go ahead and actually introduce myself a bit. So lets see, a little about me. Well, I recently quit my day job to be a writer. I suppose I've been writing for a while, though it's only in the past few years that I've really started to take it seriously. I write novels, typically of the fantastic variety, and I'm working on getting published, hopefully sooner rather than later.

But while I write a lot, I'm admittedly not especially huge on reading, though George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire has sort of changed that for me as of late. But while I don't read actual books as often as I probably should, I do delve into comics and manga quite a bit, so that counts for something, right?

Besides, I tend to be more of a visual medium kinda guy. And as such, I also like to watch the occasional movie. I get a bad rap for only liking "bad movies", but that's not true at all. The movies I like totally aren't bad, no way. And even if they are bad, then that just means they're so bad, they're good!

Oh, and I like chicken. What can I say, it's delicious!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Cowboys & Aliens. Except, not really. (BEDA 1)

So yeah, Cowboys & Aliens... Well, at least Olivia Wilde looked nice!

No, but really, this movie wasn't terrible, though I still didn't particularly like it. Now, especially given the somewhat "out there" concept, I expected this movie to just be an all around fun time, but instead it's very underwhelming during most of it.

In fact, the only time the movie is ever actually any fun is when the aliens aren't even involved. When it's focused just on the cowboys, it's actually a somewhat competent movie. But strangely enough, anytime the aliens show up, the movie sort of falls flat. There's just really nothing spectacular about them at all. It's sort of similar to Thor in that regard, where essentially only half of the movie is any good. Except that, unlike Thor, the half that's good here doesn't do enough to elevate the movie above its mere mediocrity.

So I didn't like it, and I honestly don't have much to say about it. However, I did see another movie for the first time this weekend that I would like to talk about, and that movie is In Bruges. No, it's not a brand new movie, but you know what, I don't even care. This movie was GREAT! Quite possibly the best movie I've seen this year yet.

It's a dark comedy starring Colin Farrell in probably the best performance I've seen from him. He plays a hitman who, after a hit gone awry, is sent to the city of Bruges with his partner, Mad-Eye Moody, to see the sights and relax a little before awaiting further orders from Lord Voldemort. (If only the latest Harry Potter could've been nearly this good...)

Despite its somewhat dark premise, this movie is laugh-out-loud hilarious. Colin Farrell's overly negative outlook on the situation, in contrast to Mad-Eye's generally warmer reception, provide for many laughs to be had. Their chemistry in this movie is genuine, and though they don't agree on, well, anything, you can definitely tell that they truly care for one another.

And that's another thing about this movie, the characters are so deep, and feel so real. And as the plot moves along, they become more and more conflicted by their situation, leading to moments that manage to be gut-wrenching, yet sadistically light hearted at the same time.

I think that's why I liked this movie so much, because of the way it plays with your emotions. It works in the comedy so fluidly without diminishing the impact of its more dramatic scenes. It'll have you feeling sad and depressed one moment, and then laughing hysterically the very next. And this perfect mesh of drama and comedy culminates all together for one of the most satisfying conclusions I've seen in some time.

This movie was just great all around. The dialogue is outrageously funny, the characters are all enjoyable in their own way, and the plot is tightly knit, and a joy to watch unravel. I really can't recommend it enough.