Friday, May 30, 2014

Discussion Points: Should Superheroes Kill?

There's a trend that seems to come up now and again in comic books regarding superheroes and their tactics.  People keep asking "why doesn't Batman just kill the Joker?"  "Why doesn't Captain America just kill <insert name of Nazi who keeps reappearing here>?"  "Why didn't Power Pack ever kill off Crazy Legs?"

Four white kids killing a black(ish) guy?  He probably had it coming.
Well, let's talk about this, and I'll give my opinion on it.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Review: Yoshi's New Island

It's funny how a well-crafted movie, book, or video game can give you new insight into a character and challenge your opinions of classic characters.  Disney's new movie Maleficent presents a classic fairy tale from the "villain's" point of view.  Valkyrie made you sympathetic towards a group of Nazis who hated Hitler.  And now Yoshi's New Island for the 3DS has me thinking that maybe Bowser had the right idea all along.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ask Erik: Episode Sixty-Six

To Erik:  So, what's been going on with the blog lately?

This wasn't really asked to me by someone else, but it's something I had to ask myself over the past few weeks.

I'll admit, starting a new job got the better of me for a while, and I found myself stuck between trying to make sure my schedule stayed consistent, attempting to get things done around the home, and still doing this blog.  This caused a few projects I'm working on to stall, leading me to not have posts ready when I originally intended them.

This is why you were getting two posts on one day for a while.  However, even that became rather overwhelming after a while, and I found myself needing to skip days just to get other (sadly) more important jobs done.

However, I'm swearing to redouble my efforts to keep this going strong from now on.  I don't get a paycheck from it, and I'm not even really sure how many people look at it any given time (though based on the views per day, I'm steadily going up every week), but this has never been about that.

The purpose of this blog is to keep me writing and keep me mentally engaged.  When work threatens to become my entire life, when I start to feel overwhelmed by everything going on, or when I just need something to focus on so I can reorganize myself and get caught up, this blog is that outlet for me.  I get to practice my writing skills while finally having an excuse to see those television programs/movies/books/etc I've been meaning to for so long.

Now, granted, I could allow ad banners here in an attempt to make a bit of money off of this, but I'm putting that off until I know for sure this thing has actually become something bigger, which, I'll admit, it might never be.  But in the meantime, it serves its purpose.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Really? Ten More "Classic" Video Game Covers?

A topic I've touched on before are some of the more bizarre and awesome video game cartridge covers through history.  I was inspired to do this by oh video games, but the project has since taken a life of its own.

So, I hereby present ten more video game covers that either boggled my mind growing up or make me look back now and wonder how this ever became a billion dollar industry.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Top Eleven Brilliant(ly awful) Rip-Off Products

On Memorial Day, it's a time to focus on the soldiers who were willing to stand up and fight not just for our own country, but to protect the lives of people in other countries.  Soldiers who stood against forces that might not have been 100% evil, but were lead by people who simply wanted to harm, control, or destroy other people.

So, to celebrate, we're looking international to see the top eleven products from other countries that are either rip-offs, broken, or just wrong on so many levels that they come back to hilarious from the other direction.

Major thanks to the website for either supplying the images or inspiring me to find them elsewhere.

#11)  Break So Bad

Suddenly this puts the show's alternate ending into a lot more context.

#10)  Homer Pikachu & Spongebob Pikachu

I listed both of these because I simply couldn't choose which one was more disturbing.  I'm leaning towards the Homerchu, though, if only because I'm trying to figure out how its digestive system works.

#9)  Spider-Man Packing Heat

Okay, first off, is he wearing blue jeans?  Second, does that bit of red text really suggest "enjoying the pleasure together?" I forgetting when Spider-Man low-crawled through bushes with a machine gun?  Was this part of that stupid "Secret War" story?

#8) Game of Thrones Season 2 - Starring Thor

Well, if anything was going to get me to start watching the series, this would probably be it.

"Ymir is coming."

#7) Spider-Man is secretly the Terminator

Now THIS story I remember!

#6) The only two backpacks I ever want to own.

I'm really not sure what's the most impressive item here.  The HOUsE MD Quake III Arena Pikachu Trent Flint From Prodigy Apple Logo backpack or the Harry Potter Obama The Hedgehog Ten With A Urine Stain And Two Flowers backpack.  On the one hand, that's a pretty neat "10" medal "not Sonic" is wearing there, but on the other hand, I'd pay cash money to see Prodigy fight a Pikachu to the death for Apple products in a Quake III arena battle.

#5) The Best Fireworks Ever

With all the success of Godzilla, Pacific Rim, and Cloverfield, maybe we'll finally get that movie based on a giant Chewbacca terrorizing Seattle.

#4)  Power Hulk(?) Figure

I'm sorry, but if I saw a comic book about the Superior Powered Thunderbolt Overlord Top King (or a movie under the same name) I would buy a copy for everybody I knew.

#3) He-Man Alcohol

There's tipsy.  Then there's drunk.  Then there's wasted.  Then there's He-Man wasted, which lets you think naming a character "Fisto" is a good idea.

If anybody ever gets me a bottle of any of that, I will record myself drinking it and post the video online.

#2)  Die Hard.  A movie about footwear.

Based on the text, you'd think that the first movie was a more action packed version of The Devil Wears Prada.

...I never saw that movie, for the record, but I'm guessing Prada is shoes.

#1)  Titanic-Bot (TRANSFORMABLE)

Oh, if James Cameron only knew.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ask Erik: Episode Sixty-Five

To Erik: With the new Godzilla movie out, how has he been portrayed in comics?

I'm so happy you asked.  I really, really am.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Top Eleven: Songs I Forgot About For My Top Twenty List

The problem with attempting to list the best (or just personal favorites) of anything is that there's people who know better than you and can connect you to other things they know you like.  Such was the case with my father, who called me out on forgetting a song I loved since I was young.

So, now in hindsight, I present the Top Eleven Songs I Forgot To Put On My Top Twenty List even though I know that math doesn't work.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Review: Amazing Spider-Man 2

Without symbolism, superheroes really don't have any meaning.  After The Dark Knight came out, people crowed about Heath Ledger's acting and the setting and the drama, but there were also a lot of discussions about how it connected to the politics of today's world (is tapping every cell phone in Gotham justifiable?).  Iron Man symbolizes the dangers of excess, whether alcohol or technology, if people aren't aware of how they're being used.  Spider-Man, of course, represents both the awkwardness of puberty (he hits his teen years and suddenly has strange things happening to his body) and of the importance of responsibility when there's great power involved.

Of course, the fact that they omitted that quote from the first movie should have been a warning sign, but I went in to The Amazing Spider-Man 2 at least hoping for a sensible story and a few cute moments of character development.  Did I get them?

Well, yes and no.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Ask Erik: Episode Sixty Four

To Erik: What'd you do for Mother's Day?

Well, the original plan was to go to a nice restaurant for brunch, but...well, let me get into the details.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Starcrash: Part Two

There's just something truly enjoyable about movies like this.  You could try to enjoy it ironically, but you can't.  To enjoy it ironically (even though it means mangling the definition a bit more) you have to enjoy it for the opposite reasons of why it was created.  Enjoying a movie that tries to be dramatic as goofy is "ironic."  Enjoying this movie is just...well, enjoying it.

And what's not to enjoy?  When we last left off, Stellar Star and a robot named L managed to escape from a giant stop motion Amazon robot by falling down a lot and getting rescued by a ship with giant lasers.  Obviously, whatever mission they're on, the right crew was picked out for it.

So the journey to recover the rest of whatever survivors were left from that ship from the beginning that we know nothing about continues, and we haven't even had a glimpse yet of David Hasselhoff!  Hurry up, movie!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Starcrash: Part One

Every now and again you stumble upon something that shakes you.  Maybe it's realizing that a hero of yours actually hates what they do.  Maybe you learn that a film or television project you loved was awful for everybody involved.  Maybe something you really love was turned into a film by Uwe Boll.

I, for one, had a deep fixation with Star Wars back in the 80's and 90's.  I had action figures.  I had posters.  I had video games.  In fact, I still have, buried in a box somewhere, an R2-D2 phone that chirps and bloops when someone calls.

However, I was fortunate to have a lot of my die-hard fixation on the series squashed when the prequels arrived.  I still enjoy Star Wars, but it's more of a casual interest instead of being able to rattle off every single planet and alien species.  I don't think I could quote the movies all the way through any more.

So, when I realized there's a film out there called Scontri Stellari Oltre La Terza Dimensione, my reaction was to say "huh?"  Then I learned that, translated from Italian, it's Stellar Clashes Beyond The Third Dimension.  So then my reaction was "oh, huh."  Then I heard it was branded for the United States as Starcrash.  My reaction was "interesting...but I'm not sold yet."

Then I was told it has David Hasselhoff in it.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Ask Erik Episode Sixty Three

To Erik: What sounds drive you insane or annoy you the most?

This isn't going to be a very long answer, but I've had this question sitting on the back burner, and while I still get acclimated to my new job, one that doesn't involve a lot of work seems appropriate.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Let's Talk: Prudishness

I don't think I'm a prude.

Of course, to be able to say so, we have to know what the word means.  So, let's dig into a few resources:

Let's go first to Merriam-Webster:

a person who is easily shocked or offended by things that do not shock or offend other people

I don't really get "shocked" or "offended" by things, necessarily.  Sure, there are some things that bother me, particular words in the English language, certain types of behavior, but I don't think I'm "easily" shocked or offended at all.

Let's go to Wikipedia:

A prude (Old French prude meaning honourable woman)[1] is a person who is described as (or would describe themselves as) being concerned with decorum or propriety, significantly in excess of normal prevailing standards. They may be perceived as being more uncomfortable than most with sexuality or nudity.

...okay, I fit a bit more into that definition, I'll admit.  I do care about decorum and propriety.  I think there are certain rules of conduct for how people behave around other people.  I'm not 100% comfortable in large, loud settings with excessive drinking.  I don't get caught up with groups at sporting events and scream my head off or boo an umpire or referee.

I'm not sure what "normal prevailing standards" are, though, since sometimes I seem to find myself around people who don't seem to care what they say or who's around to say it.  Is that the "normal prevailing standard?"  I hope not.

As for the last bit...well, we'll get into that in another article.  For now, let's just focus on decorum.

I do want to point this out, though:

In historical contrast, the word prude was originally a noble compliment. Traditionally, it was usually associated with wisdom, integrity, usefulness, and profit.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The 2014 Cooking Matters "Chopped" Challenge

Over the weekend I had the privilege of being able to attend the "Chopped" Challenge held by Cooking Matters Maine.  Cooking Matters is a program held by the Good Shepard Food Bank and Share Our Strength (which you might know as that program connected to Food Network).  Many restaurants and food stores local to the Portland area were present with samples of their wares, cocktails were five dollars each, and you got to see four great chefs battle it out in a miniature version of one of the most popular shows on Food Network.

Pictured: Karl Deuben, from Small Axe Truck, Jason Williams, from The Well at Jordan's Farm,
Shannon Bard, from Zapoteca, and Chris Gould, from Central Provisions.

The event was hosted at Grace, a Gothic-style church dating back to the civil war that is now converted over to a restaurant.  It was my first time in there, and I was surprised at how well designed the place is for serving food.

While a bit loud on the inside due to so many people talking and visiting (it was a giant social event and fundraiser, of course), I was able to make the rounds and try food and talk to a few people from different restaurants.  I got to watch the chefs compete, though I really appreciate now the advantage of a camera doing all the hard work getting in with the chef and being able to see things up close.

They brought in a special celebrity judge, The Chew correspondent Chef Jason Roberts.  The event was educational in a lot of ways.  One thing I found was that while I might still have doubts about the state as a whole, the food scene in Portland is certainly alive and well.  I had some absolutely delicious food (as well as some just "okay" food) sampled, from having a raclette provided by Whole Foods (picture a wheel of cheese slowly melted and spread over bread), a classed-up corn dog, to quite possibly the best bite of the night, a steamed bun.

However, there was also food that wasn't so great.  Some truffle popcorn was overpowering (and apparently I wasn't the only one to think so based on how much the restaurant had left at the end), and pizza from Otto's, a place I heard people speak very highly of, was cold and rather bland.

Just an example of one of the delicious bites I had.  Well, not that one in particular, but another one just like it.

However, I also learned how tough it is to host an event.  The microphone work needed help, as it was impossible to hear the show unless you stood near the speakers, but one or two people would speak really loudly, causing you to be deafened every time they talked.  Seating was difficult to get, because apparently it's okay to just drape your coat over a chair at the bar and then wander off.  

I think, if I were to organize an event like that, I'd attempt to provide more tables, but I'm not sure how many larger spaces there would be that it could be held in.  The kitchen was slightly elevated, making watching the chefs difficult when a camera wasn't over them (and while having the host give us a play by play helped, there were long periods of time where there was just simply nothing happening).  The judges needed a lesson in how not to mumble into a microphone, and while I understand you thought it was funny, the fact someone donated a two dollar bill doesn't really necessitate a joke about where it "likely came from."

Dude, I got dressed up for this event.  I thought it would be a bit classier.

Overall, though, the event was a lot of fun and I'd love to do something like that again.

Oh, and if nothing else, I won a gift certificate to a high-class doughnut shop.  Score.

(My apologies for stealing all of these pictures from this site.  I didn't want to be walking around snapping pictures with my cell phone the whole evening)

Friday, May 2, 2014

Scribblenauts Unmasked

The nice thing about the Scribblenauts series is you can go into it fully knowing what to expect if you've played any of the games before.  You play a child blessed with a magic notebook that lets him summon anything he can write down, and you use it (typically) to gather stars from maps and beat challenges.

However, when you incorporate the DC Universe into it, things get a bit crazy.