Thursday, October 25, 2012

Because He's The White Dude? Really??

Okay, I have really had it with some of the presidential campaign ads that I've been seeing recently. I'm sure you've seen them too. The Pro-Obama ads that imply (or sometimes just flat out state) that anything short of messianic love of Obama means you're a racist douche-bag with a swastika tattooed on your left nut who just loves hanging with your KKK pals and jerking off to pics of Hitler ass-raping the minorities before kicking them into a gas chamber. Stuff like an ad asking why someone would like Romney. They list a bunch of his stances in politics (fair game) and then end it with:

"Or is it because he's the white dude and you really HATE Obama?"

Really, people? I have lived in this country my whole life and I've lived through many presidential campaigns, but this is a new low. Despite the admitted problems this country has, the thing that makes me LOVE living here is the core philosophy and ideals which we strive to live up to every day. One of the most famous of those ideals is the first amendment. Amongst other things, the first amendment of the US Constitution gives us freedom of speech, and freedom of religion. Add those two freedoms together and you give the citizens of the US the freedom to believe anything we want to believe.

Now, I'm someone who supports Obama. I firmly believe he's the right candidate for the job. But, I do understand that a coherent and cogent case can be made for Mitt Romney's candidacy. There is an intelligent argument for him to be president. I may not agree with that argument, but it's THERE. If the strongest pro-Obama argument out there is that you're racist if you don't vote for him, then Obama shouldn't win. Why because that argument is blatantly moronic. And, yes, I mean it. Seriously, to accuse people of being racist just because they don't believe that Obama did a good job these past four years is freaking idiotic! Here's how idiotic this is:

The definition of racism (according to Merriam Webster's dictionary) is the following:

Racism (noun):
A belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.

Note that there aren't any racial distinctions there. Anyone, of any color, can be racist towards anyone else of any color. Going by the definition above, the people who created these ad campaigns calling people racist are themselves being racist by assuming that race is the primary determinant of how people will vote in this election!! Get that?

Racist people are accusing others of being racist for not liking their candidate based on his race. 

And the worst part is, because of the politically correct undercurrents in this culture, there are people out there who will change their vote out of fear of being accused of racism (which is getting the same social stigma as being accused of rape). So, we're resorting to fear based ad campaigns in this country?? Really?

It's one thing to accuse the Congress members who dedicated themselves to making sure Obama was a single term president before he stepped foot into the office of being racist. They had nothing but the color of his skin to base their opinions on. And as elected officials, they are to be held to a higher standard while in office and making policy for this country. But now? After four years of Obama being in office? He wouldn't be doing his job right if he didn't piss people off. And those pissed off people have the right to vote for someone else. That's what being in a FREE COUNTRY is about, people!!

Now, do I admit that there are racists out there who want President Blackenstein out of office? Yes, I do. They are out there. And they have every right to be out there. This is a land of the free and we are free to believe whatever we choose, even if its racist. But don't go throwing the baby out with bathwater here, people. The actual racists out there don't account for the ENTIRE republican voting population. They don't even account for most of it. Thankfully, none of the candidates have approved any of the ads that I've seen. I don't want to know what kind of political crap storm would occur if that happened.

Now, this is a land of the free, so I can't stop them from spewing this excrement. I usually just change the channel or skip the ad, but the sheer amount of this stuff that I have to avoid is getting REALLY annoying. And I'm sick of it.

To all you Romney supporters out there, stand strong! This Obama supporter believes that you are good people who are making the choice you believe is right, and not choosing out of any racist tendencies. I have no quarrel with you, and I hope the best man for the job (whomever that may be) wins the election this year. Good luck to you, and God bless!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Get In The Zone...

The first I had ever heard of the Zone Of The Enders (ZOE) was when I was reading an article about the PS2. It seems that, at the time, Sony had come to the conclusion that developers weren't using the system to it's full potential and so they decided to create a game that really showcased what the PS2 could do. They turned to Hideo Kojima (most famously known for developing the Metal Gear Solid series). Taking inspiration from Japanese Robot/Mech anime, he gave them Zone Of The Enders.

I bought ZOE on the sake of curiosity and was pleasantly surprised. The graphics were amazing, including the real time updating "warning" ring", the responsiveness was almost instantaneous and the action was very fluid. I always have issues with flight mechanics, but after a short stint in the training arena I was flying my Orbital Frame (more on that term later) with no problems. The storyline was interesting, but the main character (being a 10 year old kid) was a bit annoying.  Still, like so many others, I quickly fell in love with the game.

About the story, ZOE takes place in the late 22nd century. Humanity has expanded out to colonize Mars and even has some colonies in orbit around Jupiter. This was done with LEVs (Laborious Extra-orbital Vehicles) and a new metal ore called Metatron. Tensions between Earth & Mars escalate (Anyone born outside of Earth were nicknamed "Enders", hence the title of the game.) and give birth to rebel factions on Mars, most notably BAHRAM, who developed a new type of LEV called Orbital Frames making extensive use of Metatron based tech. The game follows this 10 year old homeless kid named Leo who accidentally discovers the Orbital Frame, Jehuty and bonds with it. There's nothing like a story about a kid and his robot. (Don't believe me? Check out Real Steel!)

Anyway, it turns out that the rebel group BAHRAM had built Jehuty and it's opposite, Anubis (the main villain of the game) as keys to an unstoppable weapon that would destroy the evil Earth minions, free Mars from Earthling tyranny, spread candy bars and twinkies across the galaxy and make everyone have a nice day. As events play out in the game, you find out the real deal about BAHRAM's plans. And then there was the sequel, Zone of The Enders: The 2nd Runner.

When I found out that a sequel was going to be released, I was ecstatic! Not so the gaming critics. It turns out that for the game critic community (and a disturbingly large number of gamers) ZOE was "the free game that came with the $50 demo of Metal Gear Solid 2". (It was a marketing thing, Konami wanted to boost the sales of ZOE. It didn't quite work.) To this day, that line pisses me off. GRRR!!!

Anyway, ZOE2 follows a new pilot, Dingo Egret (I know, the name is dumb. Get over it.) who after an accident finds himself physically BONDED to the orbital frame, Jehuty. You can imagine the fun THAT'S going to be for him! Especially when Leo comes back piloting the Vic Viper, (Yes, it's a Gradius reference. That battle was simply awesome! You never realize how powerful that little 8-bit ship is until you have to fight it yourself!) gunning to get Jehuty back. Since ZOE2 takes place only 2 years after ZOE, Leo is still annoying, but slightly less so. The major note for ZOE2 was that the game made a giant leap forward in tech with the seamless blending of actual anime footage into the gameplay. (Paving the way for games like Catherine.)

At the same time, the producers also released an OVA (original video animation) that would serve as a prequel for the video game series AND a new 26 episode anime series ZOE: Dolories, i. ZOE2 was well received by fans and critics but it was overshadowed by other major titles and didn't really do as well as it could have done.So, after all of that, why am I writing about this? That's simple, my dear readers! In about two weeks, they are going to release the Zone of Enders HD collection!!!

They've updated all the interfaces to HD standards, created brand new opening animations, as well as recreated the original opening animations for HD. This release is for the PS3, Vita and for the first time ever, the Xbox 360! And paving the way for critics to downplay this release, Konami, in it's infinite wisdom, decided to include a demo of Metal Gear Rising: Revengance with this collection. If I hear someone call this "the free HD game that accompanied the $40 Revengance demo" I will rip their heart out and sacrifice it to the Mayan god of corn!!

But I can forgive Konami for this slip up. I can. No really, I can. Why? Because the creator himself, Mr. Hideo Kojima himself said that planning has begun for ANOTHER game in the Zone of The Enders series!!! Granted it's seriously early planning, but it's better than nothing!! Now, I will leave you with a clip of the new opening animation for the HD collection.

So, after watching that, anyone interested in the game?? You better be, Anubis is watching you!

Monday, October 15, 2012

New Fall TV...

Everyone who knows me knows that my favorite time of year is the Fall. (In fact, I wrote about my affection for Autumn in an earlier post!) I usually wax poetic about the colors changing and the characteristic weather of the Fall, but there's one thing about this season that usually goes unmentioned: the new shows of the Fall TV season!!

Right around this time is where all the major broadcast TV networks debut new shows to the world! Brand new stories, that the networks hope will light new fires in the minds of their audiences, step out onto the stage and get their chance to shine! And this year there are several new shows out that I've latched on to. Now, because of how many shows are out there, the premieres are usually staggered  throughout the fall, so some shows still haven't started yet, but for the ones that have, here are my personal favorites:

The Last Resort - LR is a military drama about the crew of the US Navy submarine USS Colorado and what happens when they ask for confirmation of a nuclear fire order that they received via a questionable protocol. I know soldiers aren't supposed to question their orders, but DAMN!

I know, I know. I'm making it sound like dried dirt, but trust me this show is INTENSE!! The cast, led by Andre Braugher, has been nothing less than AMAZING so far. I was going through tough times this summer, so I wasn't as vigilant as I usually am about the upcoming TV schedule. I had NO CLUE about this show whatsoever!! Thankfully, my friends know me well enough to keep an eye out for quality tv programming or I would have missed this gem!

Arrow - This show is the CW's darker take on the comic book super-hero, The Green Arrow. Given that I hated Smallville, I had mixed feelings about this show. But the promotional footage was awesome, and I knew the work of one of the producers from another show he did, so I gave the show a shot, so to speak. And it was great!

I do have to admit, I have some issues with the creative choices they made, but the quality of the show did shine through and the story is compelling.

666 Park Avenue - 6PA is a show about a couple who move into a residential hotel, The Drake, located at 999 Park Ave and the supernatural events that occur there. When I first heard about this show, I knew instantly that it was going to be a slow burn. It sounded like one of the main themes of the show was the corrosive nature of the desire to have "the good life". Hollywood has proven time and time again that stories like that work best when the corruption has time to play itself out and from what I've seen of the show, I'm not too far off the mark.

The problem with the slow burn is that it takes awhile for the story to really gain traction with audiences. From the iffy response I've seen the show get from people, I'm not sure the show will last long enough to get to the really great parts of the story. But, given the potential for greatness, I really hope this show stays around for a long, long while.

Revolution - This show is about what might happen if all the electricity on the planet simply stopped working. The brainchild of Supernatural creator, Eric Kripke and produced by J.J. Abrams, Revolution is a very high-concept show and that made me very wary about it. These shows tend go to very bad, very quickly. (Anyone remember Terra Nova? Yeah, exactly.) But, the concept was interesting, and I loved Kripke's first show so, after a long waiting period, I gave the show a watch. And much to my surprise, it didn't suck!

The story was interesting, the progression of the world after all tech stopped working made sense, and the acting was excellent. Before I knew it the show had me very much engaged. I really can't wait to see what comes next for the Mathesons.

Vegas - Vegas is based on the true story of Sheriff Ralph Lamb who was Sheriff of Vegas in the 60s & 70s. From what I can tell, the show is going to be about the clash between Sheriff Lamb and the newly arrived mobster, Vincent Savino. Now, there are some actors who are just born to play a certain type of role. This show stars TWO of them. Dennis Quaid, who is born to play down-on-their-luck stubborn jackasses that you have to respect, and Micheal Chiklis, who was born to embody no nonsense, don't give me bull or I'll turn you into paste, serious mofos. Quaid plays Sheriff Lamb and Chiklis plays the mobster.

You can see why I'm watching this show.

Elementary - The show is a modern day take on Sherlock Holmes with the added kick of placing him in New York City. This show first caught my eye because of the legal battles the producers were having with another modern day Holmes show called "Sherlock" created by the BBC. I've watched "Sherlock" and I believe it to be an amazing show. So, coming into this show, I was wary of what I might see. Despite my worries, the show turned out to be really well done.

Jonny Lee Miller does a very wonderful performance, exhibiting a more true-to-life man in Holmes than the typical "larger than life" intensity that is shown in movies & shows. Another interesting twist is Lucy Liu's performance as Joan Watson. She bonds an atypical vulnerability with Watson's trademark strong will, and intense personality to make an exemplary foil to Holmes.

I have to say that in an era where most shows feature a male & female leads being romantically interested in each other and spend seasons on why they should get together, but delaying the inevitable, it is refreshing to see a show where that isn't happening. From the jump, it was made clear that there was no romantic interest on EITHER side. However, I would like to see an escalation in the complexity of the cases being brought to Holmes' attention. There's only so many times that you can play the "cops messed up because they are myopic and don't consider alternate theories" card before it gets tiresome. 

The Mob Doctor - TMD is about a doc, Grace Devlin, who agrees to work for the Mob to pay off her brother's debt to them and to keep him alive, by providing medical assistance to whomever they demand. I started to watch this show because of William Forsythe. He is an actor who is born to play Mobsters. I think the Mob was invented JUST to give Forsythe an endless series of roles. I like the actress playing Grace Devlin, Jordana Spiro. She is very believable as a surgeon and she portrays the fire of woman who would stand in front of the mob to protect her brother exceptionally well.

The storyline is intense. This is another show playing on the effects of corruption, but this is much less of a slow burn than 666 Park Avenue. The choices are much more blunt and visceral. There are some issues with the storyline, but those aside, TMD is an excellent ride. But out of this list of shows, I think this would probably be the first to be cancelled. I'm trying not to get too invested in it, until I hear the network has picked it up for a full season order.

Those are my new shows this season. If any of them sound interesting, please look them up and check your local listings for when they air. I guarantee you won't regret it.

What about you my dear readers? What new shows got YOUR motor running? Sound off in the comments below!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

You'll Never Stop The Terror...

There is something that I must admit to you, my dear readers. Despite what you may believe, I am NOT a fan of musicals. Either on the silver screen or on stage, musicals just grate against my nerves. They have a shoestring storyline (usually just filler until the next song) and what story they have is exceedingly simple. When I can predict what's going to happen the whole musical just by watching the first 10 min, there is a problem. And then there's the music!! At best, it's just not interesting to me and at worst, the songs make the frantic wailing of a rabid cat strangling on piano wire sound  like Mozart.

In fact, until 1986, the best any musical could EVER do is get me to like ONE song. That's it. In a two hour show, I would enjoy, at most, 5 minutes. So, what happened in 86? I came across a newly released musical called "Little Shop Of Horrors". The concept alone got my attention: a HORROR based musical?? Really?? I watched it and to my surprise, it was AWESOME!!! The story was still very much predictable, but I didn't mind because the movie never took itself seriously enough to make that matter. It had three of my favorite comedic actors at the time (Rick Moranis & Bill Murray from Ghostbusters, and Steve Martin from SNL) and the music was based on 50s and 60s classics that I had been listening to my whole life!!! (All ten years of it, at the time.) It was even sung by one of the ORIGINAL Four Tops, Levi Stubbs! Except for TWO songs, I loved all the music!! Little Shop was simply a revelation to me!

A few years later, I delved into the history of Little Shop and I found it started out as a 1960s cult classic film (non-musical) starring none other than Jack Nicholson! Some Broadway people converted the story into a play and added the music and then Hollywood made the movie. It even made the history books as the first movie to cast an original member of the play! Ellen Greene, who played Audrey I in the play reprises her role in the film!! That was the good stuff. The bad stuff, well that was something else. See I went to see a production of the play and at which point I found out that the play and movie had radically different endings!! The movie had initially went with an ending in a similar style to the play, but test audiences hated it so the ending was scrapped, and they went with a more upbeat ending.

For the sake of completeness, the producers of the movie included a black & white work-print version of the original ending with the original release of Little Shop on DVD, but that was pulled due to the wishes of David Geffen, the head honcho of company that made the film. I searched and searched but I could NEVER get my hands on that ending to watch it. All the files I found were corrupted or just fakes. But now, things have brightened considerably!! Little Shop of Horrors has been released on blu-ray!!! And not only is it released but it's the DIRECTOR'S CUT!!! That's right, they have fully restored the original 20 minute ending sequence (which supposedly cost $3M of the movie's $25M budget) and released it to the public!! My copy is already on it's way to me now!! I can't WAIT to see it as it was originally intended!!! It's going to be EPIC!

Even now, in the midst of my excitement for the new blu-ray release, I can still remember the first time I watched Little Shop. It's been a very long time. Since then, I've gotten a few people hooked on the movie, and gained the eternal hatred of those who hate the film. I've also added a few other musicals to my library: Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Rent, Sweeney Todd, 5 Guys Named Moe, Les Miserables, and Rock Of Ages. But, none of them can elicit the same amount of joy and glee that bubbles out of me when I watch Little Shop. Just thinking about it brings a smile to my face! It's still my favorite musical of all time. what about you dear readers? What is YOUR favorite musical?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Best Rejection EVER....

In reading the title for this post, one might ask how can a rejection be rated "best"? After all, rejection is always bad, right? Well, not exactly. In my job search immediately after I graduated from college, I was introduced to the "good" rejection when I applied to work at data storage company. I didn't get the job, which sucked, but the REASON why I didn't get the job was awesome. The HR guy basically told me that I was too enthusiastic about computers to be happy in the position they were offering. I would very quickly find the job mind numbingly dull and he couldn't, in good conscience, place me in that position. While I left that interview without a job, I also left with an amazing feeling: I was TOO GOOD for someone.

As you're aware, my dear readers, I'm in the middle of another job search. And once again, I got an AMAZING rejection. I applied for a application development position at Company X. At the beginning of the interview, I was told to mull over the things that were about to go over and call them back tomorrow to see if I was really interested in the role. I went through the interview, and spent the rest of the day, and most of the next day thinking about it. I called Company X back and left a message saying that I liked the place and I was definitely still interested in a position there. I figured it would be another day or so before I heard back, so I wasn't really feeling stressed or anything. Corporate hiring takes FOREVER. The only thing slower is GOVERNMENT hiring times.

Much to my surprise, a few hours later the lady from Company X's HR dept called me back! We went over my reactions to the interview, and then she gave me the run down from their perspective. It turns out that I was the last candidate to apply for the position and after considering all of them, they were going to offer the position to someone else. Right then, I was thinking, "Damn, oh well, at least they let me know quickly and didn't drag this out". And I was about to tell her something to the same effect when she continues with this:

"However, because we liked your personality so much and respect what you're doing in trying to learn more about development, we went to the CFO and secured funds to create a temporary position till the end of the year at which point we might get the funds to make it permanent, if you're interested."

Yes, that's right, my dear readers!! They didn't give me the job, but because they liked me so much, they created another duplicate contract-to-perm position JUST to give me a job!! Readers, I'll be completely honest here, my jaw hit the floor when I heard her say that! I accepted the position and I start Monday, October 8th!

This will go down in my book as the BEST REJECTION EVER!!! And I can officially say that I'm once again, gainfully employed!