Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Game of Thrones - Audiobook - Discs 1-6 (of 28)

Sweet merciful crap I want to speed up time so I can review this story in its entirety!

I have been listening to it during my commute, and I can honestly say that I have never enjoyed a fantasy epic more thoroughly. Granted, I am only about 8 hours into the 34 hour audiobook, so I suppose it is too early to tell for certain, but here's what I know so far.

If I faithfully continue this series on my commute, I should be finished in about 3 weeks. I might have to expand my listening hours beyond the time stuck in my car in traffic.

The version I have is narrated by Roy Dotrice, who I hear is something called a Shakespearean Actor. What that means for you the listener is that there is emotion in every line of dialog, enough to make even the cold of heart feel tears well up at times.

I started this book because of the new HBO miniseries based on it. I simply love being able to say "the book was better" and I wanted to say that with the knowledge and experience to back it up. I must admit that I am tempted to watch the first episode or two, so I can catch up to where I am in the story, but I worry that I will be weak and watch beyond my current chapter.

So far, this story and its characters seem better than some of my favorites from fantasy, including:

The Malazan Book of the Fallen (Series)
Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn (Trilogy)
The Farseer and Tawny Man (Trilogies)

I realize that this story could still go anywhere, and that my current high hopes could be dashed upon the harsh rocks of disappointment.

If you read my blog, you should eagerly await the full review sometime in May
If you do not read my blog, you should read my blog.

Deadwood - Season 1 (2004)

I will put this as plainly as I can.

After watching the first season of Deadwood, I can state without reservation that it is among the greatest serial dramas of all time.

Set in the late 1800's, Deadwood is the name of the "camp", which is really more like a town, set up illegally in Sioux territory where our cast has come to find their fortunes. The camp revolves around gold prospecting, though most of our characters are not in that trade themselves. Rather, we follow the stories of the saloon owners, shop keepers, doctors, criminals, gunmen, whores, preachers and gamblers who make up the rest of the budding community.

Existing in Sioux territory means that this camp is not a part of the United States, not under it's laws or jurisdictions, not taxed, and not protected. As such, it is a very dangerous place filled with people who would just as soon kill you as pour you a shot of whiskey. There are plenty of shots of whiskey in every episode, ergo...

Now, let me get to what makes this show truly great, the acting. This amazing ensemble is perfectly cast. You love, hate, fear, respect, abhor, and pity the characters because they are portrayed to perfection. I have a hard time picking out a favorite character. The idiots are that stupid, the heroes that bold, the villains that loathsome, the desperate that pitiable, the annoying that irksome, and so forth.

Then there's the cussing. This is the most profane show I have ever seen. It can occasionally harm my suspension of disbelief. Sometimes I have been pulled from the moment to wonder "did they really swear that much, and that way, back then?" I think it may have harmed the reception of the show.

You should watch this show if you are a fan of being completely impressed.

You should not watch this show if the following words offend you: Cocks*cker, c*nt, f*ck. (* = u... in case you are that stupid)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bulletstorm - PS3

So there's a storm, or something, and it's made out of bullets... I guess.

I will hop on the comparison bandwagon, as it were, and tell you straight up that this game wishes it were Gears of War and just plain isn't. Gears has a rich world filled with mystery and horror, amazing game play, impressive scale, stunning art direction and at least halfway decent voice acting throughout.

Bulletstorm has none of those things, but, oh boy, do they wish that they did. There was also no storm of bullets, unless that is an unlockable extra I was too bored to attempt to acquire.

I enjoyed the game on its merits which are as follows:

It is humorous.
It is novel.

After 4 or 5 of the 7 chapters of the game, the humor and novelty had worn off for me, and I was playing out of a sense of obligation to have completed SOMETHING this weekend to criticize.

Alas, putting down grass seed on my .84 acre yard, hauling 4 tons of debris from said yard, then hosting a family event prevented me from spending my time on the greater goal of forming my perfect opinions and sharing them with you for your own personal growth.

I made some small progress, and here' an update on that list from last week.

Akira, Volume 1 - Graphic Novel = returned to library unread, will check out again
Deadwood,  Season 1 - TV show = 1 episode to go
A Game of Thrones - Audiobook = 4 discs down, 24 to go
Echoes of Honor - Novel = 400 pages down, 300 to go
The King's Speech - Movie = no update
Voyage of the Dawn Treader - Movie = no update
Red Cliff (full version) - Movie = no update
The Town - Movie = no update
Robogeisha - Movie = no update, need more beer to attempt.

Back to Bulletstorm

If hearing people yell things like "what the dick?" will amuse you, you should play this game
If you want something with substance or replay value, you should not.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

No time for opinions

Sorry folks, there's been little to no time for me to form my eloquent, righteous opinions due to circumstances once called "an act of God". Today, to keep people from squirming, we shall call it "a catastrophic happenstance". The catastrophic happenstance in question knocked a tree limb the size of Montana onto both my car and my wife's. All is well, but I've not had the opportunity to complete any of the various entertainments I would like. Here's what I am viewing, reading, and hearing this week.

Akira, Volume 1 - Graphic Novel
Deadwood,  Season 1 - TV show
A Game of Thrones - Audiobook
Echoes of Honor - Novel
The King's Speech - Movie
Voyage of the Dawn Treader - Movie
Red Cliff (full version) - Movie
The Town - Movie
Robogeisha - Movie

I hope to conclude the majority of that by Monday, but my weekend is filled with the grueling task of being useful, rather than complete ease of being right about everything.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Cirque Du Soleil, Totem

This was, without questions, the most amazing live performance of any kind I have ever seen, and likely will ever see, in my entire life. The art direction, music, and feats all worked together to melt my face off.

The challenge in reviewing something of this nature is in decided which part is best. There were so many acts that came up to the bleeding edge of what the human body is physically capable of doing, and what the psyche is able to release self-preservation to attempt. Also, they made fun of Italians, and that fills me with great joy.

If anyone has ever said about Cirque: "I can't explain it, you just have to go see it" Trust them. There's a chance that they aren't mentally deficient, it might not be the lack of knowing the proper words. I would say that, at least in the English language, there's no good way to define the extreme heights of live entertainment that the team behind Totem have achieved without dropping excessive expletives, gesturing madly, then just giving up and saying: "I can't explain it, you just have to go see it"

Now that we've covered that, here's the bad, dramatized for your convenience.

Are you sweating from the temperature?
Would you like to spend $6 on a cold water?
How about a "beer"? Bud light is a meager $7
-Thanks, I'll pass...
We've got Stella Artois, $8.50
-Seriously, knock it off. I'm not spending $8.50 on a below average beer
Well, why don't you just go out of the tent to cool off during the 30 minute intermission?
-Finally a bit of good advice... aw, what the hell man? People have to smoke right outside the tent openings? Does the Maryland law about distance from doors apply to tents?
Fine, be that way, Just go sit in your tiny plastic seat that is uncomfortably close to the people on either side of you.

You should attend this show.

 If you are blind, you should not... but I recommend the soundtrack.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pygmy - A Novel by Chuck Palahniuk

When I was an angst-ridden youth, I enjoyed the collected works of author Chuck Palahniuk. He was dark, subversive, and edgy. I read everything he ever wrote up through Diary.  Fight Club, the movie, came out when I was about 17 or 18 years old. I lived and breathed his dark, broken little world.

Then I discovered Kurt Vonnegut. I realized that his works were superior, even occasionally uplifting, and never went back to the author I then dubbed "Poor man's Vonnegut"

I went to my local library in the vain attempt to acquire interesting graphic novels or audio books, since I have plenty of unread novels at home. That last sentence sounds bad when I read it. I have a greater amount of read novels. I just have a backlog of purchased/borrowed books to get through before I delve into new books.

The audio books are my new endeavor to keep my sanity on my commute. I should have started them a year ago, when my commute first began, but I did not. I couldn't find anything from a trusted author, other than books partway into series' I hadn't yet begun. Then I noticed a couple books by Mr. Palahniuk.

This will have to do.

My initial reaction to the prose being read out loud for an hour was: "Sweet merciful crap, what the frak is this?"

“Begins here first account of operative me, agent number 67 on arrival Midwestern American airport greater 'REDACTED' area. Flight 'REDACTED'. Date 'REDACTED'. Priority mission top success to complete. Code name: Operation Havoc.”

The entire book is read this way. All from the perspective of "Operative me" all in broken English. It may break the typical way he writes, but it's still filled with Palahniuk's normal themes. Abuse, rape, murder, sexual deviance, anti-religion, and so on.

The only reason I kept on going was that I had no other audio book as a fall back, and no time for another trip to my library.

In all, the whole story is completely unbelievable. The characters are all hollow stereotypes and nothing of lasting significance transpires. The best parts are the flashbacks to Operative me's early childhood training, and the book could have used more of that and less scenes in the community church.

I wouldn't recommend this in written form. I imagine it would be very tiring to convert the written broken English into concepts. At least with hearing it spoken to you, half the work is already done.

I must praise the reader, Paul Michael Garcia, for doing an excellent job with such challenging writing. His reading helped to keep me engaged.

If it's playing in your car and you have a long commute, don't stab your ears, just listen and pass the time.

If you have access to other audio books, perhaps you should try them first.

Hot Tub Time Machine - 2010

One of the many joys/pitfalls of having a netflix account if the ability to "stream" something you never had any intention of watching. This can work to your advantage when you discover that delightful film or series that somehow flew under your radar, or can just waste your precious time.

I had just finished watching a special episode of Top Gear UK, because netflix increased the total amount of episode that were available on their service, and decided to see what else was new. Hot Tub Time Machine then caught my eye.

I thought inside my brain to myself, mindfully "Oh, a comedy film movie. I like to enjoy laughing at humor jokes"

I laughed once.

I'll even tell you the funny part.


Craig Robinson's character, Nick, figures out how they traveled back in time, then has the titular line. He says "Hot tub time machine" and looks into the camera with an expression that says: "Yes, I just said the name of the movie, make a big deal out of it and I'll kick your ass"

That made me laugh, but probably because if made me think of an episode of Upright Citizen's Brigade.

Say it! Say I had the titular line in Star Wars!

I guess the irony of John Cusak playing a failure who gets to go back to the decade when people gave a rat's ass about John Cusak was also kinda funny... but not "ha ha funny"

If your netflix account is broken and will only let you select this movie, and there is nothing else you can even attempt to do with your time, you should see this movie.

If you can stream episodes of Top Gear UK instead, you should not see this movie.

Monday, April 11, 2011

SMBC - a web comic

SMBC is one of those internet gems that help to kill the drudgery of a long week at work. One of the best points of this comic is that it is updated daily, almost without fail. If you are reading my obscure little blog, odds are you are mastered in wasting your time on this, the series of tubes and you need no help from me to guide you to content that has existed for ages.

I felt the need to review this comic when I read this episode:

I am guilty of using the term "gay" as a pejorative. It's interchangeable in my vocabulary for "lame" or "stupid".  I would greatly miss my go-to word for when something seems unfair, trivial, or boring, but this new definition is pretty hilarious.

As far as SMBC goes...

If you like jokes about science, nerds, math, and erectile dysfunction, then you should treat yourself to a daily dose of internet hilarity.

If your definition of funny is "Family Guy", you might like the erectile dysfunction jokes, but this comic is most likely not for you.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Agricola - A Board Game

Initially, this game was described to me as a farming game. I happen to live in farm country, surrounded by that great industry, and nothing could interest me less than a game that simulates sowing, reaping, and so on.

It should be described as a competitive victory point game, where you compete against your opponents and factors in the game to achieve the most points in 14 brutal rounds.

To be clear, I have only played 4 games of Agricola. One with my brother-in-law as we tried to figure out the game, and then three more with he and a friend. I am far from a pro, and there are aspects of the game that haven't even been introduced due to the number of players and the level of proficiency we currently have.

Many of the reviews rave about this game, and they are correct to do so. It's the best game I've added to my rotation in a while. Aspects of Agricola remind me of Catan and Shogun, both excellent games in their own right.

1-5 players

1-2 hours per game

You should play this if you like strategy, competition, and being occasionally frustrated.

You should not play this if your idea of a good board game is Mall Madness.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dr. Horrible and Other Horrible Stories

If you haven't treated yourself to the Dr. Horrible Sing Along Blog, you must.

Dr. Horrible and Other Horrible Stories, however, isn't worth the 20 minutes it took me to read it. You get a deeper look into the origins of some of the main characters, and how they became the way they are in the Blog, but this isn't something you actually needed.

I would go so far as to say that the comic actually made Felicia Day's character, Penny, completely unlikeable. They took her bleeding heart sensibilities and amplified them to the nth degree.

The other stories weren't as bad, but they don't hold a candle to the original video.

If you were going to spend 20 minutes murdering your neighbor, you should read this graphic novel instead... but you should save the $10 and check it out from your local library.

If you were going to spend $10 on a large Pizza Hut pizza, and 20 minutes eating it, you should just stick to your plan... fatty.

Monday, April 4, 2011


There's only one word to describe this graphic novel - disturbing

It's not good, it's not bad, it simply exists. I've read plenty of end-of-the-world scenarios, and none of them are cheerful. Crossed just takes it too far. I don't think you need to read it, in fact, don't. There's nothing in it that will be memorable apart from the hideous amount of extreme violence.

Halfway into the book, when the "crossed" are eviscerating a child while raping her parents, I caught myself wondering why I was still reading it. It felt like the author was saying "You think The Walking Dead is screwed up? Well check this out!"

You should read this if you are a budding sociopath, it will make you feel moderate.

You should not read this if you are a person.

Paul - 2011

With the grand exception of Freaks & Geeks, I do not care for the collected works of Mr. Seth Rogen. In fact, it's fair to say that I find him completely intolerable. Suffice to say, I had my doubts about Paul when I heard he was voicing the titular role. To my surprise, he's not a bad voice actor. I think it might that the animators did nothing to try to make the character resemble the actor in any way whatsoever, thereby allowing their creation to emote on screen instead of just looking like a vapid pot head.

Vapid pot head.

I absolutely adore Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz. Those were the selling points for me to go see this movie, rather than waiting for DVD release. Here are the answers to the questions that any fan would ask in advance.

Is it as good as Spaced? No
Is it as good as Shaun? No
Is it as good as Hot Fuzz? Yes, better if you are a sci-fi nerd.

The movie was jam-packed with references to iconic science fiction. There were enough to give me a "nerdgasm". I won't ruin any of them for you by quoting here, but a couple of choice moments had me grinning from ear to ear.

It was also nice to see Jason Bateman not playing another Michael Bluth clone. His character in Paul was actually a total badass, and I think he played it very well. I hope for his sake that it gives him more opportunities to branch away from apparent typecasting.

I could praise the film further, but there is a little bad I would like to discuss. It's anti-faith, particularly anti-Christian. I don't know why this trend is so popular among comedians. It feels to me like beating a dead horse.

Dear Atheists,

I know that you don't believe in God, and that you find the faith of other people to be anywhere from cute and harmless, to silly, to the cause of all the world's problems. You've been ranting about it for long enough, I got it already. I don't need another movie, or chunk thereof, to browbeat me with your own thoughts on the matter. I mean, for the love of crap, The Invention of Lying went from hilarious to tedious because Ricky felt the need to preach atheism for more than half of the movie.

I digress. It could just be a pet peeve.

All told, this is a solid comedy road trip movie with a little romance and action throughout.

If you like funny movies, you should see this.

If you think that Paulie Shore movies are funny, you shouldn't.

The King and the Clown (Wang-ui namja) - 2005

I'll admit, I was hesitant to devote a couple of hours to this particular movie. The basic synopsis didn't do much for me.

Here's what it says on imdb:

"Two clowns living in the Chosun Dynasty get arrested for staging a play that satirizes the king. They are dragged to the palace and threatened with execution, but are given a chance to save their lives if they can make the king laugh."

Here's what it should say:

"Two street performers flee their latest company after a botched attempt by their manager to pimp the gentler of them to an old man with a lust for boys. They find themselves in Seoul and soon join a ragtag bunch of performers eking out a living. They begin to mock the royal court, which draws legal attention.

The prime minister, who is impressed by their gall, gives them the chance to perform for his king. He manipulates the troupe to perform plays that expose the corruption and intrigue within the royal court, in a desperate bid to set his king free from the chains that those around him would place upon him. The lives of many hang in the balance, as the antics of the performers draw out conspiracies."

I realize that basically triples the length of the synopsis, but it gets much more into the meat of the story. It has little to do with the clowns saving their own necks, and much more to do with tyranny, corruption, intrigue, and basic human brokenness.

This was not a good movie, it was a great one. The actors all deserve recognition for their performances, particularly Jin-yeong Jeong who played the king.

If you like awesome stuff, you should see this movie.

If you think "awesome stuff" = Michael Bay movies, you should probably watch something else.

If you are homophobic, this probably isn't your cup of tea, or can of Budweiser, rather.

If you can't read while watching a movie, this also might not be for you.

Mission Statement

One of my nearly limitless virtues is my inability to simply like something. I can't just enjoy a good book, TV show or movie, I have to also derive pleasure from knowing that my impeccable taste makes me somehow better than you. The purpose of this blog is to drive home a few irrefutable facts.

Fact 1: My taste in entertainment is flawless

Fact 2: Your taste in entertainment is, at best, a mere shadow of my perfection

Fact 3: The above facts make me better than you, obviously

Fact 4: I've never completed a novel or full length feature film, but I can tell you, with confidence, the merit of other people's creative works.

I will not be limited to new releases. I intend to write about what I encounter. This blog will include, but won't necessarily be limited to, reviews of books, movies, TV shows, comics, and music. On the rare occasion that I attend a play, I might also write about it. Enough about the blog, it's time for some reviews...