Sunday, December 27, 2015

Deadpool's SPOILER-INFESTED Follow Up On Star Wars: The Force Awakens!!!

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OKAY PEOPLES!!! I have given you all MORE than enough time to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It's been out for over a week, and you don't have to get into online fisticuff battles for tickets anymore. If you didn't see it by now, you probably didn't care about it that deeply to begin with, so I have no hesitation going into SPOILER TERRITORY!!

Yes, that's right. If you go past this point, you are agreeing to reading about all of the spoilery spoils in the history of the world with this movie!! Last chance. No turning back...






Are you ready?






Here it is..







There. I said it.

Seriously though!!! Let me begin by saying that I was one of the unlucky thousands (possibly higher by this point) to have had the f@#king movie spoiled for me a night before the f@#king Thursday premiere, because some f@#king losers thought it would be a brilliant idea to ruin everyone else's fun. Well, it worked you f@#$%^%#^^%#%^#%!!!!!! (Trust me, you don't even want to know what I just wrote there...)

The infamous image that ruined my weekend? THIS little number!!!:

Yes, even if you had that clever Google Chrome extension to block all spoilers, these dickwads were way ahead of you. I wanted to believe it wasn't real, because I didn't want to think I could have possibly had the movie I was waiting 20+ years for spoiled just like that. But it happened, and I moved on... after that guy was dead though, but HEY! Baby steps, right? >_>

It was a painful moment. An uncomfortably painful moment that really freaking hurt. You know what made it worse? Knowing EXACTLY what was going to happen. Seriously, it makes the scene like 20 times more intense. That damn red glow... ladkjsdhjasfkhakjfhadkjd.

But I digress (Does anyone still use that phrase anymore?), the new film was still pretty damn awesome. You can read a million articles about how much the plot parallels the original film (heroes picked up from desert planet, main characters go with Han to a cantina-style place, new giant spherical floating base, veteran character from the previous trilogy dies, new generation picks up the mantle, etc.), but it's what ISN'T the same that causes the movie to shine like Rudolph's hideously deformed nose. Finn was a great change of pace, giving us some perspective from the stormtrooper side of things. He gave us some insight into how they are brought up, and how they became the lovable cannon fodder that can't aim a blaster properly to save their life. In fact, it's no wonder Finn didn't fit in with them! He could actually shoot!!! MIND!!! BLOWN!!!

Now let's talk about Rey for a bit... because she was the best damn thing about this movie besides Han!!! Holy crap!! Between her insanely strong connection with the force (dat Jedi mind trick tho), all the way to her force-grabbing Luke's lighstaber and kicking Kylo Ren's pasty white butt with it, there is a lot to look up to this time around!!! You could say she's a great female role model, but I say she's a damn good role model in general!!! This also completely obliterated the trope of "women builds up strength until man saves her at the last second." A lot of people may not realize it, but this may have been one of the most necessary moments in cinema history this year. SCREW your archaic shizzle; this is 2015 baby!!! Women kick OUR asses now!!! (... Why does that turn me on?)

As awesome as everything I listed above is (and I should know it's awesome, because I listed it), there was one teensy little thing that bothered me about all of this... So Rey was triumphant where Finn sort of failed at the last second (despite holding his own for a quite a long time against that poser... Ah, I mean Sith Warrior wannabe.. Hehe, I still insulted him. I'm going to keep doing that. ;-) ). The one thing that made this scene a bit unfortunate for me as well, is that it took away what could have been a really big heroic moment for him. Don't get me wrong, this guy did some HUGE stuff (particularly when he decided to go full rebel on those stormtroopers, and fight against them!), but it was a bit of a slap in the face for him too. If I were given the opportunity for either outcome, I'd have still picked the one they went with, but I DO sincerely hope he gets treated better as this trilogy continues. I don't think they'd have put a lightsaber in his hands, only to be like "PSYCHE! Now you're a secondary character. Muahahaha!!" Only I would be that evil. Not JJ Abrams. On that note, congratulations JJ!!! We no longer have to consider referring to you as "Jar Jar Abrams" going forward. Seriously, bravo for avoiding this major pitfall.

Alright, I'm going to talk about him now. Yes, that guy. You know the one. Threw a bunch of temper tantrums, couldn't really handle a lightsaber that well, applied a lot of black eyeliner, etc. Yeah, THAT guy. Kylo Ren, the son of Han and Leia. As far as we know, Luke tried training "Ben" to become a jedi knight, but it went completely awry and "Ben" turned to the dark side instead. Luke was apparently so petrified by the entire thing that he just outright fled in disappointment... (Or did he? More on that later.) So now we've got this hipster on the scene, trying to carry on Vader's work, and apparently paying no attention to the fact that Anakin/Vader turned back to the light side of the force in the end. I guess what I'm saying is he'd make a great politician. Okay, yes, I knock on this guy a lot (and I'm going to keep doing so as I please!), but the fact is he was designed as a flawed character. It's the entire point! He's still in need of more training to become a full-fledged villain of this universe. This is why he felt the need to sacrifice our beloved veteran character. I was going to express more anger toward him and give in to my inner dark-side, but the rest of the cast kind of took care of that for me when they busted him up samurai-style!

So Snoke... Who the f@#k is Snoke??? Some theories point to Darth Plageuis, the guy that Palpatine briefly mentioned in Episode III (I know, I know, prequel alert. Ughuhuuuuu.). This theory was brought about when almost the EXACT SAME FREAKING THEME SONG played during his scenes, with some small differences here and there. And honestly, it would make sense. If this guy inspired Emperor Mother-f@#king Palpatine, then that would make him to be some serious business up in here! Now Palpatine thought this guy to be dead (as he sort of hinted that he was the one who killed Plageuis himself), so we should only take this with a grain of salt, though I have never been one to skimp on the salt myself. What do you think goes into those chimichangas, sugar!?... Umm, actually let me try that later and get back to you before I knock it... (Spoiler Alert: This was a mistake.)

There's not much I can really mention about Leia at this point in time, as her appearance in the movie was still pretty brief compared to the rest of the cast, but it was clear she could actually FEEL Han die, which made everything about 50,000,000 times more painful to watch. I feel for her in all the feels that a feely one can feel. Honestly, I don't even know how I'm going to hold all these feels, the more you continue to toss them on top of me, Star Wars. I'm just one little deformed crazy man, you know!

And then there's Luke... Yes, within the last few minutes of the movie, we finally get to see Mark Hamill reprise his role... only for him to not actually say anything, and for the credits to roll. UGH, they punched me right in the dick with that one! Honestly, you couldn't even get him to say something cheesy, like "I sensed you would come," "Who are you?," or even so much as a "Hello..." in Adele style? RRRR, him and his beard will have to wait. But at least everyone can now finally shut up about the "Luke is Kylo Ren" theories. Or even worse, the "Jar Jar is Kylo Ren" theories. It was funny for like two minutes, guys...

Spotlight characters that did NOT get enough screentime, were of course Captain Phasma and Poe. Yes, Phasma seems to have carried on the legacy of Boba Fett well, and by legacy I mean she too did almost nothing, but is portrayed as the ultimate badass. I hope they're not seriously dumb enough to let that be her only time in this series. Even Boba went out fighting (even if his alleged death was pathetic. Here's hoping that claim that he isn't dead is still true! Until then? Show the body! Yeah, that's what I thought.). There is a good reason Poe's time on the big screen was limited, however... He was originally supposed to die after he and Finn's tie fighter crashed. Bringing him back in was actually a last minute decision; a decision I think will pay off in the end, as he's actually very likeable character. Good move, Disney. You've been learning how to not lose money quite well over the years!

So the only thing left to talk about at this point would be MOAR THEORIES!!! Who else thinks Rey is Luke's daughter, or at least the daughter of someone close to them all? Honestly, I'm not even sure who else she COULD be the daughter of, as there's not exactly a lot of jedi left in the galaxy to pick and choose the dominant and recessive genes from anymore. It would also explain all of those crazy visions she was getting right before picking up Luke's baby blue saber. Also, can we just talk about this guy for a minute?:


Just awesome stuff all around.

So I guess that sums up all of my initial thoughts coming out of this monumental achievement. Whether or not the next set of movies will mirror the originals is yet to be seen, but I have searched my feelings and just know this to not be true (at least I'm pretty sure... kinda?). I only hope Rey doesn't go getting her hand cut off like Luke and Anakin. There's been an annoying tradition of that happening and it's starting to piss me off! Also, has anyone noticed that even though they made all of the Expanded Universe Star Wars books non-canon, yet used a BUTT-TON of material from them? Don't get me wrong, I'm happy about it, but... whaaaat? Lolz.

But yes, to mirror my previous review, I do feel the franchise is finally in good hands again, as long as JJ can continue to pull out more of the unique stuff like Rey's shining moment. Here's hoping! In the meantime, the next movie of any decency coming out will be mine in February!!! Okay, I was lying about the decency part, but you knew what this was!!! Catch you on the flipside, you crazy gungans, you. (I'll miss you Han, you lovable nerf herder you! *sniff*)

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Deadpool's Intergalactic SPOILER-FREE Review Of Star Wars: The Force Awakens!!!!!!!!

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Alright, ALRIGHT!!! I have heard you all LOUD and clear, and have made my decision... Well, okay. That loser Justin made the decision, but I'm humoring you all with it! So as agreed, this first blog will be completely SPOILER-FREE, so you can all shut the hell up about "Oh no Deadpool, I didn't see it yet!" That's THE POINT, SHERLOCK! It's not supposed to give anything away. After that, I'll give you all a week before I (force) unleash my completely spoiler-riffic follow up, so we can talk about all the naughty bits. Kapeesh? (Is that how you even spell that word? I swear, I have never tried to spell that word in my life and MS Word is currently telling me I'm wrong, so I don't know... Maybe YOU'RE the one who's wrong, MS Word!)

So obviously the amount of things I can talk about here are really limited (Thanks again, Justin! Seriously, I'm throwing my favorite finger up in the air at you as we speak; and it's NOT the pinky!). That's okay though, even with this handicap, we can still cover some serious ground without having to cause a change of pants... yet. So yeah, holy crap!! NEW STAR WARS!!! Are you freaking kidding me!? Is this real life!??? Yes, yes I'm pretty certain it actually is! And this is Episode VII baby!! Am I using enough exclamation marks yet!!!!!!!!!???

So I'll start by going over how much we already knew from the trailers, without mentioning any of the actual events in the movie yet, aHAHAHAHAHA!!! (I'm sorry, I just realized I made a funny joke, putting "holy crap" after that last part about a change of pa-never mind.) *ahem* So, we know that there are multiple new cast members, including John Boyega as Finn, and Daisy Ridley as Rey. We've also got your old favorites, Harrison Ford as Han, Carrie Fisher as Leia, and of course, Mark Hamill as Luke. And we've got some other new players into this game, though going into their details might be a little much. I'll mention one more though, as you can't talk about this new movie and not mention him in some way: Kylo Ren is a villain with a badass helmet. He has a funny looking lightsaber that seems to go against the laws of lightsaber physics, according to random nerds who suddenly claim to be experts in that field.

Let's talk "look and feel." Not like that, you pervs! (Save some of that for MY movie next year!) I mean the look and feel of the movie of course. As in, does it LOOK and FEEL like Star Wars? The answer is of course, HELL TO THE YEAAAAAH! JJ Abrams was careful to make sure they would capture everything we know and love about this universe. For starters, instead of going CGI-rabid like... practically every movie in general lately, they chose to use actual set pieces for the full effect. And the soundtrack? Well, who else but John Williams to lead us to galactic salvation, am I right folks? While I will be the first to point out there weren't really any memorable tracks to come out of the score this time, it was still very much a Star Wars score, and a very welcome one at that. I swear, if you didn't get goosebumps once the logo came up on the screen and the music began blasting, then you don't have a soul. There, I said it. I don't care. I tell it like it is!!! (At least saying that has been working for Trump so far, right? >_>)

Your next thoughts are going to be, "That's great and all Deadpool, but what about the actors and the plot!? Ugh ungh ugggggh!!!" First of all, you're spoiled as hell and I hate you. Secondly, I am doing these one paragraph at a time, so sit your Angle-Side-Side down, and listen for once in your miserable life! The next thing I'm going to delve into is the actors. All of the new actors in this film turned out to be pretty brilliant. I'm especially fond of Rey. This is a character who is clearly going places. Finn's character was also a lot of fun. He provided a lot of comic relief, while also coming off as a bit of a fanboy (basically making him the most relatable character in the movie when you stop and think about it!). We've also got a new droid friend! YES, BB-8 is the most painfully adorable thing that you wish you came up with first. I imagine more merchandise of this droid selling than anything else the entire line of toys and products. I am not kidding. He's basically already taken over the world, much to Oprah Winfrey's dismay (though I'm still quite positive she will have rule over us by at least 2020. Have you SEEN the things she stuffs under chairs and gives away??? Future ruler, right there.).

As if it was even in question, the returning cast from the previous movies are just as amazing as they've ever been. If seeing Han smile and say "Chewie... We're home." doesn't fill you with glee, then I once again question your- Oh right, we already established that you don't have a soul. Mentioning the amount of screen time each actor/actress gets and their roles in the film would be saying too much right now, but know full well that they are back and it's as if they never left us in the first place.

The plot? Yeah, that's the one we're going to have to sit down and have a big ol' discussion about, because there's a lot to go over (even though I'll be saving it for the spoiler-riffic talk in the next post. Seriously, you'd better not forget about it). You're going to hear one main, common complaint amongst some Star Wars fans. They're arguing that the plot of this new movie is too derivative of the previous original trilogy (especially A New Hope, like, 110% A New Hope). I can see where these people are coming from. Obviously, there were a lot of similarities thrown in, with some feeling a bit forced (pun ridiculously intended) and for no other purpose, other than "Hey, remember that thing!? *wink wink nudge nudge*."

Going into the plot also brings up a discussion on whether we should consider this a reboot, more than a sequel. I still say it's a sequel (for obvious reasons), but this was definitely made to work as a reboot for the up-and-coming young generation, who is just being introduced to this stuff for the first time. For what it was worth, I very much enjoyed it, even if some scenes were more predictable than others. I feel I should warn you though... This is by FAR the most bloody and violent Star Wars film to date. If you thought Revenge of the Sith was crazy with its PG-13 rating, wait until you see THIS one with its PG-13 rating in action! Oh, and there's also... No, no we can't talk about that yet. It's too much right now. If some asshole on Facebook didn't already spoil the major plot details for you, then I won't do it here either. Just know there's a reason I can't say anymore about Kylo Ren's background just yet. (Hehehe, see that? I've got 'em in the palm of my hand!... Oh crap, I forgot you can read my thoughts here. Umm... "These are not the thoughts you are looking for... Move along. Move along." >_>)

JJ Abrams had one hell of a goal to work on by picking up this project. This guy has literally now directed reboots of both Star Trek AND Star Wars now. Can you say ultimate nerd paradise dream? Hnnnnnnngh, that is how envy is formed my friends. I really feel he did a great job with this one. Keep in mind he had to find a way to make this both accessible to newcomers, AND satisfy the old fans with a taste of something new. In that regard, I definitely feel he succeeded. Also, can we take a second to point and laugh at the fact that someone was dumb enough to approve releasing the new "Alvin & The Chipmunks" movie on the SAME FREAKING DAY!? AAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! You can't even make this crap up!!!

8.5 Overused Tropes Out Of 10

And that's it for now folks. Tune in next week, same Deadpool time, same Deadpool channel, when we'll talk about "Whoa, did they really just do that!?" and "No... No, it can't be!!!! HOW COULD YOUUUUUU!?" all in one crazy blog. Happy landings, and may the force a day keep your constipation away!! (That sounded a lot better in my head...)

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

My Updated Vinyl LP Collection

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It's been a while since I've posted this; quite a few years in fact! Don't ever let it be said that I'm not a sucker for the wax! I first list all of my 33 1/3 RPM and 12" records, followed by my 78 RPM and 10" records, and then finally my 45 RPM and 7" records. Enjoy!

(As a note, I've been slowly updating my list with the pressing info of each record as I place them on this list. It's a little difficult to simply go through my entire collection, but I do plan to actually finish it someday. If you have any questions about one I don't list the info for, feel free to ask!)

33 1/3 RPM and 12”s

The 101'ers - Elgin Avenue Breakdown (Revisited) (RSD 2015, RP1 170036, Red Vinyl, 1 of 7500)
AC/DC – Dirty Deeds Done Cheap
AC/DC – Let There Be Rock
AC/DC – Highway to Hell
AC/DC – Back in Black
Aerosmith - Aerosmith
Aerosmith – Toys in the Attic
Bryan Adams – Reckless
The Adicts – Songs of Praise (1982 UK re-issue, Fall Out Records)
The Adicts – Sound of Music
Against Me! – Against Me! Is Reinventing Axl Rose – (Blue, white, and purple swirl; 19th pressing?)
The Allman Brothers Band – Beginnings (First two albums)
The Allman Brothers Band – At Fillmore East
The Allman Brothers Band – Eat a Peach
The Allman Brothers Band – Brothers and Sisters
Anti-Flag – Underground Network
Asia – Asia
Asia – Alpha
The Association – Greatest Hits
Rick Astley – She Wants to Dance With Me (Lol, my cousins Rick-rolled me by getting me this XD)
At The Drive-In – Acrobatic Tenement
At The Drive-In – Relationship of Command
At The Gates - Gardens of Grief (RSD 2015, Century Media, CMR91673, Colored Vinyl)
Bad Brains - Bad Brains (Reachout International Records, RUSLP8223)
Bad Religion – How Could Hell Be Any Worse? (Red vinyl)
Bad Religion – Into the Unknown (Red Vinyl)
Bad Religion – Suffer (Red Vinyl)
Bad Religion – No Control (Red Vinyl)
Bad Religion – Against the Grain (Red Vinyl)
Bad Religion – Generator (Red Vinyl)
Bad Religion – Recipe For Hate (Red Vinyl)
Bad Religion – Stranger Than Fiction (Red Vinyl)
Bad Religion – The Gray Race (Red Vinyl)
Bad Religion – No Substance (Red Vinyl)
Bad Religion – The New America (Red Vinyl)
Bad Religion – The Process of Belief (Red Vinyl)
Bad Religion – The Empire Strikes First (Red Vinyl)
Bad Religion – New Maps of Hell (Red Vinyl)
Bad Religion – The Dissent of Man (Red Vinyl)
Bad Religion - Christmas Songs (Epitaph Records, 87276-1)
The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds (Capitol Records, T 2458)
The Beatles – Please Please Me
The Beatles – With the Beatles
The Beatles – Introducing… The Beatles
The Beatles – Meet the Beatles
The Beatles – The Beatles’ Second Album
The Beatles – A Hard Day’s Night (UK and US pressing)
The Beatles – Something New
The Beatles – Beatles for Sale
The Beatles – Beatles 65
The Beatles – Beatles IV
The Beatles – Help (UK and US pressing)
The Beatles – Rubber Soul
The Beatles – Yesterday and Today
The Beatles – Revolver
The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
The Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour
The Beatles – The Beatles (aka The White Album)
The Beatles – Yellow Submarine
The Beatles – Abbey Road
The Beatles – Hey Jude
The Beatles – Let It Be
The Beatles – 1960-1977
The Beatles – Love Songs
Jeff Beck – Blow By Blow
Jeff Beck - Wired
Bioshock – I Am Rapture, Rapture Is Me (Soundtrack)
Black Flag – Damaged (1981 1st Press with “Anti-Parent” Sticker)
Black Flag – Damaged (SST 007 Repress)
Black Flag - Everything Went To Black (SST Records, SST -015)
Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath (Warner Bros. Records, 1970, Green Label)
Black Sabbath – Paranoid
Black Sabbath - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (Warner Bros. Records, BS 2695)
Black Sabbath - Sabotage (Warner Bros. Records, BS 2822)
Black Sabbath – Never Say Die!
Black Sabbath – Heaven and Hell
Black Sabbath - Seventh Star (Warner Bros. Records, 25337-1)
Blind Guardian - Beyond the Red Mirror (3272-1, #017/300, Red Vinyl)
Blood, Sweat, and Tears – Blood, Sweat, and Tears
Blue Öyster Cult – Some Enchanted Evening
Boston – Boston
Boston – Don’t Look Back
Boston – Third Stage
The Bouncing Souls – Comet
David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (Stereo LSP-4702)
David Bowie - Changesonebowie
Brendon Small – Brendon Small’s Galaktikon (Picture Disc)
Johnny Cash/Tammy Wynette -The King – Johnny Cash/The Queen – Tammy Wynette
The Carpenters – The Singles 1969-1973
Chicago – The Chicago Transit Authority (Rhino, R1 76171)
Chicago - Chicago III (Columbia, Stereo, C2 30110)
Chicago - Chicago VI (Columbia, Stereo, KC 32400)
The Clash – The Clash (US and UK Pressing)
The Clash – Give ‘Em Enough Rope (US Pressing)
The Clash – London Calling (US Pressing)
John Coltrane – Blue Train
John Coltrane – A Love Supreme (Impulse Records)
John Coltrane – For You to Play – Volume 27
John Coltrane – Countdown
Cream – Fresh Cream
Cream – Disraeli Gears
Cream – Wheels of Fire
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Chronicle
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Déjà Vu (Atlantic, SD 7200)
The Cure – Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me
The Cure – Disintegration
The D4 – 6Twenty
Daft Punk - Discovery (Parlophone Music France, PRL1-496065)
Daft Punk - Alive 1997 + Alive 2007 ‎(Box, Comp, Dlx, Ltd + 2xLP, Album, RE, Whi + 12", ) (Atlantic, 0825646225354)
Danny Elfman - Batman: The Animated Series (Mondo, Mono-42-A)
Danny Elfrman - Superman: The Animated Series (Mondo, Mono-048)
Miles Davis – Miles at Newport
Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit and the Rotting Vegetables (1st pressing, Orange Cover)
Dead Kennedys – In God we Trust Inc.
Dead Kennedys – Plastic Surgery Disasters
Dead Kennedys – Frankenchrist (w/ Giger poster)
Dead Kennedys – Bedtime for Democracy
Def Leppard – Pyromania
The Descemberists - Picaresque (RSD 2015, Jealous Butcher Records, KRS425/JB-053, Red Vinyl, 1 of 5000)
The Descendents - All
The Descendents – Everything Sucks
The Descendents – Cool To Be You
Devo – Freedom Of Choice
Diamond Head – Lightning to the Nations (UK 2nd pressing, 1 of 1000)
Diamond Head – Borrowed Time (MCA Records, 1982 US pressing)
Ronnie James Dio – Holy Diver
Ronnie James Dio – The Last In Line
Ronnie James Dio – Killing the Dragon (RSD 2011, #2088/2500)
The Doors – The Doors
The Doors – The Soft Parade
Dream Theater - Images and Words (ATCO Records, MOVLP780)
Dream Theater - Awake (Enjoy The Ride Records, ETR-90126)
Dream Theater – Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory (#2050/3000)
Dream Theater - Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence (Music On Vinyl, MOVLP781)
Dream Theater - Octavarium (Atlantic, R1 83793)
The Dresden Dolls - The Dresden Dolls (RSD 2014, Red-Marble Vinyl)
The Dropkick Murphys – Do or Die
The Dropkick Murphys - Sing Loud, Sing Proud (Hellcat Records, 80430-1)
The Dropkick Murphys – Going Out In Style
Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (Mono)
Bob Dylan – The Times They Are a-changin’ (Mono-CL 2105)
Bob Dylan - Blood On The Tracks (Stereo-PC 33235)
Bob Dylan – Slow Train Coming
The Eagles – One Of These Nights
The Eagles – Greatest Hits Volume 2
The Edgar Winter Group – They Only Come Out At Night
Electric Light Orchestra – ELO 2
Electric Light Orchestra – Eldorado, A Symphony
Electric Light Orchestra – Face the Music
Electric Light Orchestra - Olé ELO
Electric Light Orchestra – Out Of The Blue
Electric Light Orchestra – Discovery
Electric Light Orchestra – Xanadu
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Tarkus
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Pictures at an Exhibition
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Trilogy
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Brain Salad Surgery
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Works Volume 1
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Works Volume 2
The Ergs! – Upstairs/Downstairs
Europe – The Final Countdown
The Explosion – Flash, Flash, Flash
The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (Warner Bros, 530200-1)
The Flaming Lips – And Heady Fwends (RSD 2012)
The Flaming Lips - 7 Skies H3 (RSD 2014)
The Flaming Lips - Imagene Peise: Atlas Eets Christmas (RSD 2014, Red Vinyl, 1-545311-1)
Fleetwood Mac – Fleetwood Mac (1975)
Fleetwood Mac – Rumors
Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards – Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards
The Gaslight Anthem – Sink or Swim
The Gaslight Anthem – The ‘59 Sound
The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten
Genesis – From Genesis to Revelation (London, 1969, UK Pressing)
Genesis – Trespass
Genesis – Nursery Cryme
Genesis – Foxtrot
Genesis – Selling England by the Pound
Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
Genesis – A Trick of the Trail
Genesis – Wind & Wuthering
Genesis – Spot The Pigeon (RSD 2012, Blue Vinyl)
Genesis - … And Then There Were Three
Genesis – Duke
Genesis - Abacab
Genesis – Genesis
Genesis – Invisible Touch
Gentle Giant – Three Friends
Gentle Giant - Octopus
Gentle Giant – Interview
Gentle Giant – The Missing Piece
Gentle Giant – Giant for a Day
Gentle Giant – Civilian
Gloryhammer - Space 1992: Rise Of The Chaos Wizards (Napalm Records, NPR 621)
The Gods - Genesis (RSD 2015, PSX 6286, Mono, Splatter Vinyl, 1 of 5400)
Gong - Radio Gnome Invisible Pt. 1: Flying Teapot
Gong - Radio Gnome Invisible Pt. 2: Angel's Egg (Virgin Records, ORL 8369)
Gong - Radio Gnome Invisible Pt. 3: You (Virgin Records, VR 13-113)
Gong – Shamal
Green Day – 1039/Smooth
Green Day – Kerplunk
Green Day - Dookie
Green Day – Insomniac
Green Day – Warning
Green Day – American Idiot
Green Day – 21’st Century Breakdown
Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction
H2O – H20 (15th Anniversary Reissue)
Half Japanese - Volume 1: 1981 - 1985 (RSD 2014, Boxed Set)
Half Japanese - Volume 3: 1990 - 1995 (RSD 2015, Boxed Set)
George Harrison - All Things Must Pass (Apple, STCH 639)
Heart – Dreamboat Annie
The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced (Reprise, RS 6261)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Axis: Bold As Love
The Hives – Barely Legal
The Hives – Veni Vidi Viscious
Hoodoo Gurus – Mars Needs Guitars!
Hoodoo Gurus – Blow Your Cool!
Hoodoo Gurus – Magnum Cum Louder
Human Sexual Response - Fig 14
I Fight Dragons - In The Near Future (#003451)
Iron Butterfly - In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Iron Maiden - Iron Maiden (Sanctuary Records, BMG14005V)
Iron Maiden - Killers
Iron Maiden – Number of the Beast
Iron Maiden – Piece of Mind
Iron Maiden – Powerslave
Iron Maiden – Somewhere In Time
Iron Maiden - The Book Of Souls (BMG, 538153511)
Michael Jackson – Thriller
Jesus Christ Superstar – Soundtrack
Jethro Tull – This Was
Jethro Tull - Stand Up (Stereo 6360)
Jethro Tull – Benefit
Jethro Tull – Live At Carnegie Hall 1970 (RSD 2015, RP1 171187, 1 of 9000)
Jethro Tull – Aqualung
Jethro Tull – Thick as a Brick
Jethro Tull – A Passion Play
Jethro Tull - War Child (Chrysalis, CHR 1067)
Jethro Tull – Minstel in the Gallery
Jethro Tull - Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die! (Chrysalis, CHR 1111)
Jethro Tull - Songs From The Wood (Chrysalis, CHR 1132)
Jethro Tull - Stormwatch (Chrysalis, CHR 1238)
Jethro Tull - Under Wraps (Chrysalis, FV 41461)
Billy Joel – Piano Man
Billy Joel – The Stranger
Billy Joel – 52nd Street
Billy Joel – Glass Houses
Billy Joel – The Nylon Curtain
Billy Joel – An Innocent Man
Billy Joel – The Bridge
Billy Joel – Songs in the Attic
Jorma Kaukonen with Tom Hobson - Quah (Grunt Records, BFL1-0209)
Judas Priest – Rocka Rolla (Gull Records 1974 1st Press)
Judas Priest – Sad Wings Of Destiny
Judas Priest – Sin After Sin
Judas Priest – Stained Class
Judas Priest – Killing Machine/Hell Bent for Leather
Judas Priest – British Steel
Judas Priest – Hero, Hero
Judas Priest – Point Of Entry
Judas Priest – Screaming For Vengeance
Judas Priest – Defenders of the Faith
Judas Priest – Turbo
Judas Priest – Priest… Live!
Judas Priest – Ram It Down
Judas Priest - Painkiller (BOBV234LP)
Judas Priest – Nostradamus
The Protomen – Act I (The Protomen)
Kansas – Kansas
Kansas - Masque
Kansas - Leftoverture
Kansas – Point of Know Return
Kansas – Monolith
Kansas – Vinyl Confessions
Kansas – Power
King Crimson – In The Court Of The Crimson King
King Crimson – In The Court Of The Crimson King (40th Anniversary)
King Crimson – In The Wake Of Poseidon
King Crimson – Lizard (Atlantic, SD 8278)
King Crimson – Islands
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black
King Crimson - USA (Atlantic, SD 18136)
King Crimson - Discipline
King Crimson – Beat
King Crimson – Three of a Perfect Pair
King Diamond – Abigail
The Kinks – One for the Road
Kiss – Hotter Than Hell (NBLP 7006, 1974)
Kiss – Kiss
Kiss – Alive
Kiss – Dressed To Kill
Kiss – Destroyer
Kiss – Alive II
Kiss – Love Gun
Kiss – Dynasty
KMFDM - Naïve
Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin II
Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin III
Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV
Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy
Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti
Led Zeppelin – In Through the Out Door
Led Zeppelin - Presence
Led Zeppelin – Coda
Liquid Tension Experiment – Liquid Tension Experiment 2 (RSD 2013)
John Lennon – Imagine
John Lennon – Double Fantasy
John Lennon – Menlove Ave.
Living Colour - Vivid
Madvillain – Madvillainy
Makeup and Vanity Set – Presents: The Protomen
The Mars Volta – De-Loused in the Comatorium
The Mars Volta – Televators EP (#0322/5000)
The Mars Volta – Octahedron
The Mars Volta – Noctourniquet
Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 – Mix Tape (1 of 200 pressed)
Wynton Marsalis – Hot House Flowers
Mastodon – Blood Mountain (RSD 2010, Red Vinyl)
Meatloaf – Bat Out Of Hell
Megadeth – Peace Sells, But Who’s Buying?
Megadeth – Rust in Peace
Mercyful Fate - Melissa (3984-15306-1)
Mercyful Fate - Don't Break the Oath
Freddie Mercury – Mr. Bad Guy
Freddie Mercury – Barcelona (Picture Disc)
Metallica – Kill Em’ All (1st Press, Megaforce Records)
Metallica – Ride the Lightning
Metallica – Master of Puppets
Metallica – The $5.98 EP
Metallica - … And Justice for All
Metallica – Beyond Magnetic (RSD 2012, Silver Vinyl)
Metallica - Lords Of Summer (RSD 2014, Blackened Records, BLCKND023-1)
MF Doom – Operation Doomsday
The Misfits – Static Age
The Misfits – Walk Among Us
Molly Hatchet – Flirtin’ With Disaster
The Moody Blues – Days of Future Passed
The Moody Blues – In Search of the Lost Chord
The Moody Blues – Seventh Sojourn
The Monkees – The Monkees (COM-101, Mono)
The Monkees – More of The Monkees (COM-102, Mono)
Motorhead - Ace of Spades (SAN3205)
Nirvana – In Utero
NOFX – The Longest EP
Off! – Off!
Opeth - Watershed (RSD 2014, Double Green-Marble Vinyl)
Operation Ivy – Energy (Lookout #10, 1989, Berkley California Address)
Ozzy Osbourne – Bark at the Moon
Owl City – Ocean Eyes
Phish – Junta (RSD 2012, #4567/5000)
Phish – The White Tape (2nd Pressing)
Phish – Lawn Boy (RSD 2013 #1215/7500)
Phish - A Picture Of Nectar (Jemp Records, JEMP1081)
Phish - Rift (Jemp Records, JEMP1085, #008315)
Pink Floyd – Meddle (SMAS 832, Harvest)
Pink Floyd – Obscured by Clouds
Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
Pink Floyd – Animals
Pink Floyd – The Wall
The Pogues With Joe Strummer - Live In London (RSD 2014, Red-Marble Vinyl)
The Police – Synchronicity
The Protomen – Act I (1st Pressing)
Queen – Queen
Queen – Queen II
Queen – Sheer Heart Attack
Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody (Virgin EMI Records, 050087331771)
Queen – A Night at the Opera
Queen – A Day at the Races
Queen – News of the World
Queen – Jazz
Queen – Live Killers
Queen – The Game (Both Holographic and Non-Holographic Covers)
Queen – Flash Gordon – Soundtrack
Queen – Hot Space
Queen – The Works
Queen – A Kind of Magic
Queen – The Miracle
Queen – Innuendo
Queen – Made In Heaven
Queensrÿche - Queensrÿche
Queensrÿche – The Warning
Queensrÿche – Rage for Order
Queensrÿche – Operation Mindcrime
Merry Christmas New York From the Radio City Music Hall – Soundtrack
Rainbow – Long Live Rock n’ Roll (Polydor, 1978)
Rainbow Ffolly - Sallies Fforth (RSD 2015, PPMC 7050, Mono, Splatter Vinyl, 1 of 5000)
The Ramones - The Ramones (Sire Records, 8122 79766 7)
The Ramones – Road To Ruin (SRK 6063, 1978)
Rancid - … And Out Come the Wolves
Rancid – Let the Dominoes Fall (RSD, Boxed Set 2011)
Ratt – Out of the Cellar
The Replacements - The Twin Tone Years (Rhino Records, R1 548944)
The Replacements - Pleased To Meet Me (Sire Records, 25557-1)
The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers (with Zipper Cover)
The Rolling Stones – Tattoo You
Run D.M.C. – Run D.M.C.
Rush – Rush
Rush – Fly By Night (Mercury Records, 1975)
Rush – Caress of Steel
Rush – 2112
Rush – A Farewell to Kings
Rush - Hemispheres
Rush – Permanent Waves
Rush – Moving Pictures
Rush - Signals
Rush – Grace Under Pressure
Rush – Power Windows
Rush – Hold Your Fire
Rush - Presto (Atlantic, Anthem Records, R1-83736)
Rush - Roll The Bones (Atlantic, Anthem Records, R1-83737)
Rush - Clockwork Angels
Joe Satriani – Surfing With the Alien
The Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols
The Shins - Oh, Inverted World
The Shins – Chutes Too Narrow
Paul Simon – Still Crazy After All These Years
Skrillex – Scary Monsters and Sprites (RSD 2012)
Skrillex – Bangarang (RSD 2012)
Slade – Keep Your Hands off My Power Supply
Slayer – Show No Mercy (Metal Blade Records 2009 Pressing, Grey-Marble Vinyl)
Slayer – Reign In Blood
The Smiths - Complete (Box Set, Rhino Records, 2564665908)
The Specials – The Specials
Billy Squier – Don’t Say No
Billy Squier – Emotions in Motion
Billy Squier – Signs of Life
Billy Squier – Enough Is Enough
Ringo Starr – Ringo
Steely Dan – Can’t Buy a Thrill
Steely Dan – Countdown to Ecstasy
Steely Dan - Aja (ABC Records, AA 1006)
Steely Dan – Guacho
Sticks and Stones – The Optimist Club
Storm Corrosion – Storm Corrosion
Stray Cats – Built For Speed
Subhumans – EP-LP
Subhumans – The Day the Country Died
Supertramp - Even In The Quietest Moments... (SP-4634)
Tchaikovsky – First Piano Concerto
They Might Be Giants - Flood (RSD 2014, Green Vinyl, Asbestos Records, ASB100)
The Toasters – Skaboom (1987 Pressing)
Tool - Opiate (Volcano, 61422-31027-1)
Tool - Undertow (Volcano, 61422-31052-1)
Tool - Lateralus (Volcano, 61422-31160-1)
Tomorrow - Tomorrow (RSD 2015, PPMC 7042, Mono, Splatter Vinyl, 1 of 5300)
Type O Negative - Slow, Deep and Hard (RSD 2014)
Ultraman – Freezing Inside
The Unseen – The Anger and the Truth
Stevie Ray Vaughn – Texas Flood
Van Halen – Van Halen
Van Halen – Van Halen II
Van Halen – Women and Children First
Van Halen – Fair Warning
Van Halen – Diver Down
Van Halen – 1984
Various Artists - Frozen: Deluxe Edition Soundtrack (#1188, D001988101)
Various Artists - Metropolis (Soundtrack)
Viktor Vaughn – Vaudeville Villain
War of the Worlds – Original Broadcast
Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
West Side Story – Original Broadway Cast
The Who – Who’s Next
The Who – Odds & Sods
The Who – It’s Hard
The Who - Tommy (DXSW 7205)
The Who - Tommy – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (UK Pressing)
Steven Wilson – Luminol/The Watchmaker (Demo Versions) (RSD 2013)
Steven Wilson – The Raven that Refused to Sing (And Other Stories)
Steven Wilson - Hand. Cannot. Erase. (KScope, KSCOPE875)
Stevie Wonder - Innervisions (Tamla, T 326V1)
Swans - 12" EP (RSD 2015, YG-47, Young God Records)
World Inferno/Friendship Society – Red-Eyed Soul (Bankshot! Records)
World Inferno/Friendship Society – Addicted To Bad Ideas
World Inferno/Friendship Society – The Anarchy And The Ecstasy
Wu-Tang Clan – Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
Yes – Yes
Yes - Time and a Word (Atlantic, SD 8273)
Yes – The Yes Album
Yes – Fragile
Yes – Close To the Edge
Yes – Tales from Topographic Oceans
Yes - Relayer
Yes – Going For the One
Yes – Tormato
Yes - Drama
Yes – 90125
Neil Young – Neil Young
Frank Zappa - Hot Rats (Bizarre, RS6536)
Frank Zappa - Chunga's Revenge (Bizarre, MS 2030)
Frank Zappa - 200 Motels (Bizarre, UAS 9956)
Frank Zappa - Shiek Yerbouti (Zappa Records, SRZ-2-1501)
Frank Zappa - Joe's Garage Act 1 (Zappa Records, SRZ-1-1603)
Frank Zappa - You Are What You Is (Barking Pumpkin Records, PW2 37537)
Frank Zappa/Captain Beefhart/The Mothers - Bongo Fury (DisCreet, DS 2234)
Frank Zappa - Zoot Allures (Warner Bros. Records, BS 2970)
The Zombies - The BBC Radio Sessions (RSD 2015, Varèse Vintage, 302 067 361 1)
The Zombies - Odyssey and Oracle (RSD 2014, 1 of 2500)
The Zombies - R.I.P. (RSD 2015, Varese Sarabande 302 067 266 1)
ZZ Top - Eliminator

78’s and 10”s
The Animals – The Animals Is Here (RSD 2013)
The Animals – The Animals Are Back (RSD 2013)
The Animals - The Animals (RSD 2014)
The Animals - The Animals No. 2 (RSD 2015, 8302-1)
David Bowie - Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime) (RSD 2014, #4576, 8887502870)
The Flaming Lips - Bad Days (RSD 2015, 547929-0, Green Vinyl, 1 of 5000)
The Flaming Lips - This Here Giraffe (RSD 2015, 547930-0, Orange Vinyl, 1 of 5000)
The Flaming Lips - Brainville (RSD 2015, 522472-0, Yellow Vinyl, 1 of 5000)
Judas Priest - 5 Souls (RSD 2014, Red Vinyl, Epic 88875013871-51)
The Mars Volta – The Bible and the Breathalyzer
Nightwish – Trials of Imaginaerum (RSD 2012, Picture Disc)
The Replacements – Alex Chilton EP (RSD 2015, R1-547286, 1 of 9000)

45’s and 7”s

The Beatles - Long Tall Sally (RSD 2014, Parlophone, GEP 8913, SCP 24370a)
The Brimstones – Go Ape
Deep Purple - Black Knight Speed King (RSD 2015, R7-547362, Blue Vinyl, 1 of 8000)
Flogging Molly – Don’t Shut Em’ Down (RSD 2011)
The Gaslight Anthem – Senor and the Queen (Limited Edition Gold Vinyl)
Gorilla Biscuits – Gorilla Biscuits
Green Day – 1,000 Hours
Green Day – Slappy
Green Day – Sweet Children
Green Day – Minority
Johnny X and the Conspiracy – Johnny X and the Conspiracy
Love/Rush - 7 and 7 Is (RSD 2014, Side by Side)
The Misfits/The Lemonheads – Skulls (RSD 2013)
OFF! – The First Four EPs (Box Set)
OFF! - Learn to Obey (RSD 2014)
Only Living Boy – Hide Nothing (RSD 2011)
Opeth – The Throat of Winter (RSD 2011)
Operation Ivy – Hectic
Queen – Keep Yourself Alive (RSD 2011)
Queen – Radio Ga Ga
The Rolling Stones – The Rolling Stones (EP) (Black Friday RSD 2012)
Rush – Caravan/BU2B (RSD 2011, 1 of 3000)
The Sirs – The Sirs
Sticks and Stones – World to Be Saved, Song to Be Sung (1st Press)
Sticks and Stones – Storm Coming
Sticks and Stones – Coupe Flowers Can’t Fail
Sticks and Stones - Cynical

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Since Everyone Is Now Flipping Out About The (Possibly) Episodic Final Fantasy VII Remake Announcement, Let's Have A Talk...

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Okay, okay. I get it. This could be brutal, but can everyone PLEASE calm down for five minutes first? Just hear me out, okay? That's all I ask. Then you can resume to flailing your pitchforks in the air.

So before we get started, let me begin with my personal experience of this game and what it means to me. While Super Mario RPG was technically the first JRPG I ever played, Final Fantasy VII was what actually opened my world to the concept, and for it's time it was pretty good looking (when referring to the battle screens and FMV cutscenes at least!). I didn't own a PS1 when the title first came out, so I ended up renting the console from a local video store, as well as the game, in order to play it. Yes, you read that right. I didn't even have a memory card to play it with, so those were some pretty dark times. Even then, I knew I was going to consider this game a masterpiece, and I still regard it very highly, even today. It's still got some of my favorite soundtrack music in video game history, and I'll be damned if I wasn't completely drawn in to the game's plot up until the end. I spent countless hours leveling up my characters, doing all the sidequests, taking on Ruby and Diamond Weapon, and even working to get that bloody Gold Chocobo. I'm not even sure if I can look back and say the latter was worth it, but I did it all regardless. This was my favorite game at the time (though that honor now goes to Xenogears) and I never wanted it to end. With all of this said, I am certainly hyped for the remake. While not necessarily the popular opinion, I am glad Square is changing up the gameplay, and not simply giving us the exact same game with a fresh coat of paint. The arguments not to do this are understandable, but I just don't see it being a good business decision to not change anything around.

But it's how far the changes are willing to go that is now in question, courtesy of a new press release. The press release is as follows:

"LOS ANGELES (Dec. 6, 2015) - During this past weekend’s
PlayStation Experience in San Francisco, SQUARE ENIX® debuted a
new trailer for FINAL FANTASY® VII REMAKE, the full remake of the
award-winning role-playing game, FINAL FANTASY VII. The new
trailer features the first CG scenes as well as gameplay footage.
FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE will be told across a multi-part series,
with each entry providing its own unique experience."

Naturally, that last sentence raised more than a few eyebrows. "Multi-part series?" What could this mean? The obvious reaction is to say the game will be released in episodic segments, forcing gamers to purchase each separate episode in order to get the complete experience, or wait for the inevitable compilation disc(s) once it's all been completed. The first thing that came to my mind (besides the inevitable "F@%k my life"), was that it was curious how we were able to get such stunning gameplay in such a short amount of time, and this would certainly explain it now. The next thought was that Square Enix is likely doing this in order to get the title out sooner to the people who are foaming at the mouth for it, which isn't so surprising. But things get a bit tricky from this point on.

If the game is placed into an episodic series, how many episodes will there be? How long will they each be? What will they cost? What kind of features will the title even have? A million other questions come to mind too, though these are some of the biggest at this moment in time. While it's easy to start flipping out now, I refuse to do so this early on. I cursed the idea of an episodic series for one of my favorite classic games, but the more I began to think about it, the more sense it made. On top of getting these episodes out in a more timely fashion, this will enable the developers time to work on future installments and listen to feedback as the series is released overtime. One of the biggest complaints about multiple "AAA" franchises as of late (especially Battlefield 4, for example), was the rushed release schedules and deadlines not being met. As a result, many games have been released nearly broken, with developers having to scramble and release patches to fix things up after the fact. For people who have been paying $59.99 per new title, this has been a serious blow, and forced many to reconsider their purchasing habits until reviews come out with more information.

One of the biggest reasons I eventually figured Square Enix would consider an episodic release, is to simply keep interest in the brand alive. It's no secret that outside of Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts 3, Square Enix does not actually have many big titles planned in the near future, and expanding the release schedule of this game over a period of months/years is a perfect way to keep people interested (if only for a certain amount of time at least). Some may see this as a cheap move, but honestly, it makes sense, and from a business standpoint, I can't even say I blame them.

Another question lingering from the announcement has been whether the "unique experience" part is referring to the story sections themselves, or actual changes in the gameplay. I personally don't think it's the latter, but I wouldn't completely dismiss the possibility at the same time. Since the style of the game's travel and combat have been pretty much the same throughout, it's not completely far-fetched to think Square may be trying to find ways to make the game seem less repetitive to those who don't want to grind for hours like they did the first time through. Again, it's too soon to comment about this however, as it's a very vague statement and could really mean just about anything at this point.

One more point I'm going to address (as I'm seeing a surprising amount of comments in relation to this) is people complaining about how the game may not be released on one disc now. "I know it was on 3 discs in the past, but this is 2015 now! We have the technology!" they've all said with such confidence. I don't think the people making statements like these actually understand the scope of the game that's about to be released here. Yes, the original game re-released on PC/PS3/PS4/PSP/Vita has all managed to fit on one major file, but is everyone completely forgetting about the work going into the new title!? The file size of this game is going to be absolutely ridiculous, when all is said and done! When Metal Gear Solid 4 was released, Hideo Kojima purposely used the entire 50 GB of space on the dual-layered Blu Ray disc. That game was not nearly as long to play as Final Fantasy VII, whether going for 100% completion or not. Well imagine a title with just as much work going into the look and feel of everything, but with at least three times the length. That's going to be the Final Fantasy VII remake in the nutshell here. Claiming the game should be on one disc because "we have the technology" is completely ignoring the fact that developers use a drastically larger amount of space when making textures and polygons now. It's simply putting the whole thing in perspective.

So to sum everything up:

We are freaking out about this way too soon!
We don't know enough to make an rash decisions yet.
More time can actually be a good thing in the grand scheme for both developers and gamers who want the content as soon as possible with less flaws.
The space issue is almost a non-arguement, since developers will always use more space to make the better game as it is available to them.

Until we actually know more about the release (price point per episode, length of time per episode, features per episode, etc.), there is really not much more to say at this point and I encourage everyone to calm down in the meantime. We've waited so long for a remake of this game, that it's gotten us all a little antsy (and that's MORE than understandable), but if we hold out a little longer and wait for the rest of the news to come, I'm sure we can all make some rational decisions together going forward.

Hope to talk with you all about this again soon!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Thoughts On New York Comic Con (2015)

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It's hard to believe that New York Comic Con has actually reached its tenth anniversary milestone. I still remember the first time I went out to NYCC. Tickets were available up to the actual date of the event, and it wasn't nearly as packed (though I don't believe there were quite as many activities to participate in either). Now we've reached a point where the number of NYCC attendees has surpassed that of San Diego Comic Con International, the biggest comic/pop culture convention in the country up until this point. So where do we go from here? How do you top what has already surpassed the very top? Why, you expand of course! While the Javitz center is the same size as always, New York Super Week has increased the number and size of events, by hosting them in other buildings all across the city, such as Hammerstein Ballroom. This has also helped with crowd control, as it's caused more and more people to move out into the city, with the only side effect being a few confused NY citizens. With so much to do, it's literally impossible to experience everything the convention has to offer. I also believe however, that if we each share our thoughts and experiences, it can be as if we truly did really get to see it all. That's what I intend to do here with this blog, and I hope anyone reading will be willing to share their thoughts and memories as well.


Unfortunately, the first day of the con was off to a bit of a rocky start for me. This was not the convention's fault, but rather the amount of time it actually took me to get through the city and to the Javitz center. I had to walk for a very long time, and barely made the line for my first photo op of the weekend, Natalie Dormer (of "Game of Thrones" and "Hunger Games" fame). While waiting in the line and cooling down a bit, my girlfriend and I had a nice talk with a man in front of us, all the way over from London England. It's really fascinating how an event such as this can bring people from all over the world together. The photo op line moved a bit slower than it has in previous years, but it still didn't feel like too long of a time, and I think the picture came out great. Natalie smiled and shook my hand, while asking how I was doing. I responded "Great now!" to which she laughed a pretty genuine laugh, and we took the shot. Here's the result:

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I'm not really sure how my girlfriend didn't break up with me that day, but I consider myself to be lucky.

With the photo op over, it was finally time to explore! The show room was as huge as I remember it, with booths and tables galore. I had hoped that the crowds might be at least a bit smaller since it was a Thursday, but the building was definitely as full as it always gets. While dodging all of the crowds, I managed to check out all kinds of booths, from the big giants of "Marvel" and "DC," to smaller tables with classic action figures and autographs. At the Doctor Who booth, I managed to pick up a print, signed by the famous Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker. I also managed to pick up a print of issue #19's cover for "The Walking Dead," signed by Danai Gurira, the actress who plays Michonne on the TV series. After exploring more of the show floor, there wasn't really much time to do more that night, since we came so late to begin with. It was nice seeing and talking with a few friends before leaving though.

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While getting to the convention a bit late (yes, again...), I can say that Friday was a much better day in general. There was no rush to get to any specific panel or photo op for me, so things were much smoother. One of the earliest highlights for me was getting to try out the Street Fighter V demo. It didn't take too long to get to the front, since everyone would play a quick two rounds and let the next person go. While I admittedly got destroyed by a person who admitted to playing the game for over 25 years, it was still a lot of fun, and I can't wait to play it once it's out on PS4 and PC. With another photo op at 6, there was plenty to do before then. There were of course many more cosplayers coming out, and the majority of them were beyond impressive. It certainly put my Star Lord cosplay of last year to shame!
The line for my second photo op (with Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, and Jewel Staite of "Firefly") was thankfully much shorter, and took almost half of the time to get to the front of. The cast was wonderful and friendly to everyone, making the experience all the better. Here's how this shot came out:

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I always wanted to meet the cast of this show, so this team-up photo was a great way to do it, even if it was only for a few seconds.

The end of this night actually began what would become by far my favorite part of the convention; the Artist Alley. With less than 20 minutes before they began to close up for the night, I started to walk down the first row, just to see who was still left. After briefly speaking with Erica Henderson of "The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl," I happened to meet David Lloyd, the famous artist of "V For Vendetta." I nervously asked if he could sign my copy of the book, and he happily took it. We both talked for at least 15 minutes, and simultaneously laughed over the fact that Alan Moore will likely never sign this same copy of the book. He was an absolute joy to talk to, and he invited me to come see him the next day, where he would be drawing sketches. I would happily oblige.


From this day forward, I knew the Artist Alley was going to be a major priority. After not being able to attend the signing of the Regular Show cast (because we were told we needed wrist bands for this event, even though we saw no listing of this anywhere on the website or show booklet), I went over by the Del Ray booth to get my copy of "Star Wars: Aftermath" signed by the author, Chuck Wendig. He was very fun to talk to, and his personality even reminded me of my own friends, if the picture below is any indication:

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To finish up the show floor, I picked up copies of two classic comics, "Howard the Duck (Vol. 1)" #1, and "Kamandi, The Last Boy On Earth" #1, and stopped by the Double Take booth to pick up the "Genesis: 10 First Issues" collection that was being advertised all over the convention. The people there were very friendly, and even asked me to contact them after reading, to let them know my thoughts. I'll be happy to do so and likely blog about it here to give them some more exposure, as indie comic makers need this kind of boost at conventions more than anyone! I also met briefly with the artist and writer of the current "X-O Manowar" comic by Valiant. I told them that this was the book that got me back into Valiant's reboot of their classic series, and they seemed really thrilled to hear it. They gladly signed a copy of the first trade paperback for me.

It was back to the Artist Alley to finish off the night. I was thrilled to meet Carla Speed McNeil of the "Finder" series. "Finder" is quite possibly my favorite indie comic book series of all time, and she was even more of a joy to talk to than I could have imagined. By far the most animated person I chatted with all weekend.

I went to see David Lloyd once more to get a sketch, and it was incredible. He also talked to me about his collection of sharpies, crayons, pastels, etc. that were all on his table, ready for any type of paper that could come his way. I learned about all kinds of experiences he went through as a comic illustrator, and it easily made my night.

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Just before finishing Saturday off, I got to meet Joel Adams, character designer of "King of the Hill." He was also very fun to talk to, and I simply had to pick up his print, with character Dale using a bug spray on Spider-Man, shouting "I'm your worst nightmare!!" He made a very interesting point to me, about how San Diego has gotten less about its comic book roots, and how NYCC was actually much more respectful and accommodating to comic book artists. This made me happy to hear, and was a great way to end the night.


It's hard to believe that things could possibly get any better from this point forward, and yet that's exactly what happened! I went early to see if I'd be able to get in line for the Steven Blum signing. For those who don't know, Steven Blum has voiced all kinds of characters in various cartoons and anime, including Spike from Cowboy Bebop, Zabuza and Orochimaru from Naruto, Jamie in Megas XLR, and many many more! I was privileged to be number twelve in the line, and had a great time chatting with him and getting a picture. He is far and wide my favorite voice actor of all time, so this was very special for me.

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Following this, it was all Artist Alley, all the time! And boy, did I pick a time...

So things started off as normal. I started to walk down through the rows I didn't get to the other days. The first table I absolutely had to stop at was Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels, one of the three members of "Run D.M.C.!" It was awesome meeting a member of one of my favorite old-school rap acts of all time, and even more awesome getting to pick up an issue of his latest comic.

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This alone would have been enough for me, but one more amazing thing happened at the last second. I was walking up to the booth of Ryan Ottely, artist of the comic "Invincible," to see if I could get something signed. There was also a familiar bearded man standing in front of the booth. It took me a second, and then my eyes suddenly started to widen, or at least I imagine they did. I nervously approached him and began to ask "Are you...?" "No no!" he said. "Everybody says I look just like him though!" The men at the booth started to play along. "Yeah, that's Brian. He gets that all the time though, really!" Finally, the charade was up, and he said "Yeah, it's me!" Rob Kirkman, creator of "The Walking Dead" was talking to me! I told him the story of how my friend and I walked past him a few years ago, thinking it was him, but not being entirely sure. We of course found out later that it was him and we had missed our chance. He was happy to take a picture with me and sign the same "Invincible" comic.

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Although nothing in the day was as epic as previous moment, I went onward and got a quick sketch done by Erik Larson, of "The Savage Dragon." Although our talk was brief, he was really positive and very polite. Being consistent with a title like "The Savage Dragon" is no small feat, especially when you're not with a big publisher like Marvel or DC, so it's nice to see people from other publishers getting to live out their dreams as well.

Because I just didn't quite get enough, I also went over to Tim Sale to get my copy of Batman: The Last Halloween signed. He looked like he hadn't stood up all day (which his wife actually confirmed to be true!), but was still kind and happy to sign for me. With that last signing, it was just about time to head out.

While leaving, I realized that while I had spent different parts of the weekend worrying about all of the things I didn't get to do, I never stopped and really thought about all of the things I DID get to do in the process. I didn't bother with any panels this year, due to wanting to walk around more (and thanks to NYCC's official Twitch page for giving me the highlights), so I can't really comment on the setup, or the wrist band system, which I have yet to participate in, since I never seem to get to the con early enough and get into the panels I would like. But that's all OKAY. The convention experience is what YOU make of it in the end. It's important to go in with a solid game plan, yes. But I learned you still need to remember to have some fun at these things too. I certainly did, even though I didn't realize it until much later.

So I suppose this concludes another New York Comic Con for me. I'd like to thank Lance Fensterman and crew for once again giving us the best comic book/pop culture convention in the entire country, and all my friends that I happened to catch (Nasser, Willie, Tom, Jonathan, Allesandra, Brian, Andrew, and of course my lovely girlfriend Kelsey). For more pictures of the convention, and all of the wonderful swag that came with it, feel free to check out my album on Facebook at the link here.

Thank you all again so much for reading this. Feel free to share your convention experiences as well. I'd love to hear it all!

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Thoughts On A Video Game Con (2015)

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Last Saturday, I attended a brand new convention in Parsippany, New Jersey. "A Video Game Con" just had its first ever run, focused on all forms of gaming, from classic and new. I was also thrilled with being approved to do two panels at this event. The first was "Streaming Video Games 101," a panel focusing on why people like to stream video games, as well as a primer on how to jump into the craze. The second panel, "The Wonderful World of JRPGs," talked about what separates JRPGs from the rest of the gaming medium, as well as examples of games that impacted the US in particular (more on these two panels later).

Those who know me are aware I've been to a pretty large number of conventions at this point, both local (AnimeNEXT, Great Philadelphia Comic Con, etc.) and not so local (New York Comic Con, Walker Stalker Con, etc). I've got a pretty good idea of how these events are typically run, as well as what kind of expectations you should go in with. Over the years, I've found myself enjoying local conventions more than the big-budget ones, simply because there is much less to overwhelm you with while you try to sort through all of the events and decide which ones you'd like to attend the most. They are also much more personal experiences, due to significantly less people crowding up the rooms.

The first thing I noticed when I reached the PAL center, was how quickly the parking lot had already filled up with people, and how big of a line was forming out the door, with the con about 30 minutes from opening. Because I was a panelist (and because I was hosting one of the first panels of the entire day!), I was allowed to come in before the line to setup. I happened to see my good friend (also named Justin) waiting in line, and found out I was being given an extra badge, just for being a panelist. Naturally, I gave the pass to him, so he could come in early with me and help set things up (because LORD knows I needed the help!). The center was a pretty reasonable size, with the exception of a few narrow hallways. It didn't seem like anything too overwhelming at the time (though keep in mind, this was before the place started to really fill up).

I didn't get much of a chance to check the place out before we had to head right in and set up for the first panel, "Streaming Video Games 101." The team who helped me set up (Keith and Anthony in particular) were invaluable in getting the speakers and projector to work. I'd have gotten nowhere if it wasn't for these two running around and fumbling with everything, so that we could be ready in time. Unfortunately for me, my own hardware wasn't quite up to par. My laptop actually crashed on me 3 times before the panel was done, as if I wasn't nervous enough already! I tried to recall everything I had down on my slides as best as I could, and even try to come up with some new dialogue as well. The crowd wasn't very large for this panel, but that was mostly due to how early it was in the day, and the people who did come were very nice and a pleasure to talk to. I hope they felt the same about me! (They all took my business cards, so that had to be a good sign, right???)

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After this, my friend and I were finally free to explore! We headed down the first narrow hallway that we saw when we first came in, and scouted all of the dealers and merchandise they all had to sell. Wow, what a selection! I was finding everything from classic Atari and NES/Famicom games, all the way to the recent (but sold out) Metal Gear Solid V Collector's Edition. This was one of those times where it was extremely difficult not to just throw your money at everything around and pray you didn't overdraft after the fact! I ended up getting excellent copies of Final Fantasy VII in its original black label (my original copy was lost/stolen), and Super Metroid, which I've never owned the original cartridge for until now. A good, albeit small haul if I do say so myself.

By the time 12:30 began to fast approach, my friend and I made our way to the 'SomecallmeJohnny' panel. For those who don't know, SomecallmeJohnny is a now famous YouTube personality, who is known for hilarious playthroughs and online reviews of classic and current-gen video games. He is more or less in a place I'd love to reach someday, so it was very insightful to listen to Johnny and his crew talk about some of their past experiences, as well as the hard truths, such as "It doesn't happen overnight, and may not happen for years at that." While I admit I haven't watched many of his videos in the past, I did enjoy the few that I've seen, and having such a great and funny personality is definitely making me want to go back for more.

After that bit of fun, and a trip to the Burger King across the street later, we came back to try out some of the playable areas. There were two (relatively large) rooms for this type of setup. One had a large amount of TVs hooked up in rows with different games from multiple eras (about the size of a school gym), and the other (about the size of a standard auditorium) with multiple arcade machines coiling around the room, and a big stage on the other side. We thoroughly examined both rooms, and had some fun playing the Dreamcast version of Garou: Mark of the Wolves, my favorite game in the Fatal Fury series. There was a section of the large gym room that had some projects from local indie developers, mostly still in development. I tried out a game called "Boris: Hero of the Universe" by Suave Games for a few minutes. While it was obviously nowhere near completion, it was also far from unplayable, and I felt like I could definitely get a grasp of what the developer was going for in the look and feel. I had a good conversation with George Yockachonis (their CEO) about all of this too, and wished him the best of luck.

I had heard that Bill Mitchell, the famous gamer known for breaking multiple world records in classic games like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, would also attending the convention. What I didn't know was that not only did he come and play on multiple arcade machines during his visit; he even managed to break his own Donkey Kong record in the process! While I unfortunately did not get to witness this legendary event, someone was kind enough to make a video and put it up on YouTube. You can watch it through the link below.

By the time my friend and I got to enter this room, Bill was long gone, but we got to see most of The Schwam's performance. They were a great mix of punk/ska, and their covers of songs from Super Mario to Toy Story were a blast to listen to! I didn't expect to get a really fun concert at this event too, so I was quite surprised. It also didn't hurt that three of the band members were cosplaying as Tingle from Zelda, Gohan from Dragon Ball Z, and Donkey Kong from... Donkey Kong. Really entertaining stuff.

After everything listed above, as well as meeting with some old friends of ours, it was only a matter of time before my second panel would begin. Such a matter of time in fact, that I actually read my schedule completely wrong and was almost 10 minutes late!!! Luckily, a kind staff member remembered me from my first panel, and she even went to find me and let me know what was happening. (I don't know where you are right now Elyse, but if you ever find this blog, know that you were my hero that day!)

So how did the second panel go, you ask? Thankfully, MUCH better than the first! The laptop didn't crash on me once, and the crowd was HUGE! Easily the biggest (and loudest!) I've ever had in the few panels I've hosted so far. They were an absolute joy to talk with, and we all exchanged quite a few laughs at the expense of all the things we love and hate about JRPGs. Afterward, people even came up to me after the panel was over, just to talk more. One girl even came up to me, just to say how happy she was that I had mentioned "The Last Story," one of her personal favorites. Little moments like that make everything even more worthwhile. I hope this isn't the last I see of all these amazing people.

I didn't get to stay for the night events following (sorry Lily, I heard your show was amazing, and I have no doubt it was!), and there was a bit of a mishap with getting out (due to some idiot's car blocking me from getting out), but thankfully the staff was more than welcoming, and one even helped fit my car out of the tight spot! One more detail I had to add is that this was easily the most friendly staff of any convention I've ever been to. No one acted rude or condescending, and they genuinely cared about if you were having a good time, on top of simply following procedure.

So that's about it from me. For a local convention, I found this to be absolutely amazing. Sure, they'll need more space in the future, but that's only testament to how well this whole event came together, and I'm honored to have been a part of it as well. Special thank you to all of the staff and whoever was crazy enough to approve my panels! Another shout out goes to the cosplayers. While there were not very many of you, you were all truly great at what you do. And finally to all of my friends, who kept me feeling upbeat and confident in a time where I was incredibly nervous. You all make these events worth coming to. Here's to next year's AVGC!!!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Deadpool's Really REAL Movie Review Of Straight Outta' Compton

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Alright everyone, let's face it: I'm not the most politically correct person on the planet (being the "Merc-With-A-Mouth" will do that to ya). Being as Deadpool-y as I am, this also makes my character completely sexist, until I'm not, for unexplainable reasons other than "New writing team, ermahgerd!" With all of that said, how could I NOT be enthused to run out and see 'Straight Outta' Compton' as soon as humanly possible!? This is the group that put gangsta rap on the MAP people!

This film works in more of a biopic style, just to give you an idea of the strength of street knowledge you are about to witness (bonus points if you just said that in Dr. Dre's voice!). Even more interesting was that Ice Cube's part was actually played by Ice Cube's son! How awesome is that!? I'm sure daddy was real proud of that one, as he did an excellent job with the part. Hell, pretty much EVERYone did. There wasn't a bad actor among the bunch, just some that got to shine more than others here.

The movie is directed by F. Gary Gray. If you don't know why that's a good thing, then you haven't seen 'Friday' nearly as many times as I have. It's basically the greatest movie about nothing, ever, with lots and lots of puffing... No, I don't mean the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man; Jesus! Unlike 'Friday' however, this film also has a lot of depth and emotion. Whether they're tears of joy or tears of sadness, you'll be crying them; make no mistake!

Whether or not you're into rap, this is simply a well-made movie regardless. Sure, it left out some... uncomfortable things involving Ice Cube and Dr. Dre that we won't talk about here (even though that should have been obvious since the two of them produced the damn thing!), but not even so much as a mentioning of said "thing" in the film brought some disappointment with it. It may be a little thing to some, but to others it's a very big thing and for good reason. Again, I'm not going into it. I'm just talking about how I'm not going into it for a whole paragraph instead. Seems to get the job done! (Now everybody who understood all of this is nodding their head slowly, while everyone else is running to Google to search for clues like Scooby and the gang!)

Details aside from the bit above, the film was an overall great representation of the history of this group and legacy, as well as their impact on gangsta rap in general. You want to know where "F@#k Tha Police" came from? You're going to f@#king learn where "F@#k Tha Police" came from! When you think about it, it's a miracle a movie like this even came out! When was the last time you remember Hollywood approving a project as sensitive as this one? Go ahead, I'll wait... Yeah, that's what I thought!

An interesting bit of trivia for you: The group and filmmakers all had to have real security on site at all times. During filming there was even a drive-by shooting and a hit-and-run. This stuff is real folks. Real-er than all the fourth-wall breaking I do. REALLY F@#KING REAL!

So do yourself a favor. If you do claim to know the history of the group and have any interest in their story or music, see this. If you do not possess any of the above qualities, see it anyway. Why? Because you just might learn something about the harsh realities of the world that you never have to see (I'm talking to YOU, white people!).

8 Dope-Ass Lyrics Out Of 10

I'm going to request my movie have some type of free-style rap segment. Since I can literally do ANYTHING in my comics, I see no reason why my movie can't function the same way. Oh, right... Money... Son of a-

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Deadpool's Powered-Up Movie Review Of Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F'

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MOAR DEE BEE ZEE!!! Every time you think it's over, more of it comes back to slap you in the face and call you horrible names behind your back. I have to say, it's a complete shock to me (even a few years later!) that we're still getting more Dragon Ball Z at this point. This series had 293 epic... -ally drawn out episodes with action, shouting, and declarations of who the greatest warriors in the universe are. And fans are STILL NOT DONE! On top of these new movies (of which we are now on numero dos), there is also a new series called Dragon Ball Super, which appears to be the same story of these movies, but longer and more drawn out, so you can all continue to live out that "To Be Continued..." fetish that you love so much. But one glorious testosterone-infused thing at a time here, people.

What's this new movie about? I'm glad you asked... FRIEZA IS BACK MOTHERF#&KERS!!! That's right folks. That no-good, whiney, angry, lies-about-his-"true final form," "behold-my-circular-ears," "longest-five-minute-fight-ever" crackpot has returned, and this time with a new death metal theme song! I'll try to go into more details about how any why he came back later, but for now, just know it's all pretty damn outrageous. Did I mention he's now sporting a new form made of GOLD!? That's right! Hot off the cat-walk, here comes Frieza, sporting the latest in menacing Japanese villain attire. "You got the gold chains?" "Bitch, I AM THE GOLD!!!"

I'm sure I'll come up with more jokes regarding gold later, but for now, let's move on. Goku and Vegeta (after the events of the last movie) have been training hard with Whiz, that blue person who is way too happy to just watch the world(s) burn. Beerus is there as well, but plays no major part in this movie, other than eating a lot of food and complaining about irrelevant things, usually involving said food.

Because we cannot seem to get Emperor Pilaf out of these stories, he and his gang are still around, trying to find the dragon balls (again). They are then apprehended by a former minion of Frieza's, Sorbet (because why WOULDN'T that be his name!?). Sorbet's icy delicious goal, is to revive Frieza with the dragon balls and use their technology to put him back together; after Future Trunks went all slicey-dicey on his then cyborg-ass. Somehow, this actually works, and Frieza is back to taunt us about scouters and power levels all over again with his then scaly ass!

Where would a Dragon Ball Z storyline be, without the main heroes of the story being thousands of light-years away from the danger happening on Earth? Well, they'd be outside of the realm of clichés for once, that's where. Unfortunately, that's where this movie starts out... and stays... for a long time. But in some ways, that's okay. I mean, let's face it; did you really come to this movie theater and sit through that crappy pre-show for any reason other than to watch Goku and Vegeta beat the ever-living crap out of Frieza's now golden ass!? That's what I thought. Well you get that and more here! Yes, Akira Toriyama listened to the complaints about the first movie having such a short amount of fighting in it, and decided to completely up the ante. This time, the movie has almost ALL fighting and less of a story, don'tcha know.

And again, it's O-KAY if the fighting is the only reason you came. This is Dragon Ball 'Effing Z, is it not!? If I come into a new Sailor Moon movie, it'd better have Usagi flirting up a storm with Tuxedo Mask, while shooting magic beams out of her tiara, or I'm asking for my damn money back! It's just the principle of the thing. In this case, you expect shouting, grunting, powering up, and changing hair colors. That's their thing. It's what they do.

So was the movie ultimately satisfying? Yes, I'd say it was. It hit all the right notes that you look for in this type of series, even if it didn't speak much regarding the grand scheme of things, and where in the hell this is all going. Perhaps by the next movie (and yes, there WILL be a next movie!), we'll have a clearer picture of where this is all going. In the meantime, feel free to re-watch Frieza getting destroyed again and again in glorious high definition!

8 Out Of 10

This was another fun romp, but this series needs to stop resorting to the same old tropes, or else people are going to get bored real fast. Luckily, we haven't reached that point yet, but jeez, I don't want to either!!! But seriously, where can I pre-order that new Super Saiyan God Goku figure? >_>

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Book Review: "Armada" By Ernest Cline (2015)

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I can't say I know of many people who haven't come out of Ernest Cline's first novel, "Ready Player One" with less than sheer enthusiasm. It managed to be both relatable (in the sense of the main characters, their actions and motivations, etc.) and fun/exciting all at once. I read a quote, describing the book as "Willy Wonka meets The Matrix," and I'd have to say I agree with that statement. Cline's next novel, "Armada" is now out for all to jump into, but does it live up to the hype of its predecessor? Strap yourselves in folks; this is going to be a bumpy ride.

"Armada" stars another young boy, named Zack Lightman. Zack is a gamer (like his father before him), who starts seeing spaceships in the sky, thinking he's gone completely insane as a result. As if dealing with school bullies and his widowed mother wasn't enough, Zack also has to fight with conflicting feelings as he tries to convince himself not to believe what he is seeing. He frequents a game called "Armada," in which he is currently ranked #6 in the world. The skills Zack displays in this game eventually lead to a sequence where he is asked to join a Federation, in order to use his abilities to aid in protecting the planet from an oncoming invasion.

If bits of this sound like "Ender's Game" or "The Last Starfighter" to you, that's because it's more or less supposed to. Cline makes no hesitation to list his inspirations throughout the story, and they make plenty of sense in context. Here's where things are also about to get a bit rocky however. If you've read the stories that Cline mentions throughout the book, then you're likely going to end up a bit disappointed by the lack of actual surprises in the plot. Every time I had hoped I was going to be wrong about a direction the book was taking, it ended up going exactly as I had predicted. Others may go for this type of set up, but as someone who's already read and watched way too much science fiction in my day (which seems to be the target demographic for this book anyway), I was hoping for a little more than I actually got.

That's not to say this is a bad read by any means, but after the success of "Ready Player One," I thought we'd be able to hold Cline's writing to higher standards by this point. It turns out, this second book actually should have been proofread a few more times, as the writing style/grammar was a bit off-putting in places. Cline throws in all kinds of references to media of the past (just like in "Ready Player One" once again), but unlike the author's first novel, the use of these references feels much more forced this time. It's a shame too, since this was one of the factors I loved the most in "Ready Player One." While I'm glad the author still likes to throw these into the pot, it just doesn't prove to be purposeful or relevant in any way this time around.

The characters are mostly likable on their own (especially the crew that Zack later teams up with), but none of them get any real time to develop beyond a few small conversations. I had read through about 3/4 of the book, beginning to wonder why more wasn't really happening by that point.

Unfortunately, pacing is another big issue I had with this title. While it's great to be very descriptive of your environment and sciences (Isaac Asimov was brilliant at this concept for example), things just didn't seem to come together very well here. The dynamic and the events themselves all seemed to simply "happen" for no real reason or significance. I hate to say that the ending (without going into spoilers) didn't really add much to the story either, other than giving us the notion that there could be more to come someday.

Perhaps it's the concept of the book itself that disappointed me the most. It's not a unique concept by any means. It's been done before multiple times, and better in many cases. This simply did not live up to the hype of predecessor. While it is still an enjoyable read and a great way to spend a couple of lazy afternoons, it won't make you want to jump for joy like "Ready Player One" did. This does not sway my positive opinion of the author in any way however, and I will happily read more as Cline decides to write it.

While most people aren't likely to assume "Armada" would be a better story than "Ready Player One" before reading it, I think they are also going to come out with some sense of disappointment here. It really doesn't have enough ground to stand on its own, besides the author's name. Do yourselves a favor: Read "Ready Player One," as it is truly an incredible debut novel and ode to geek culture of all types. Only give this one a shot afterward, if you desperately feel the need (like I did). You'll be glad you read it once, but you likely won't see much to come back to a second time around.

6.5 Out Of 10

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Deadpool's Bite-Sized Review of Ant-Man! (Spoiler Free) (2015)

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I just saw a movie about Ant-Man!!! Seriously, who would have ever imagined 10 years ago that we would be seeing a movie about FREAKING ANT-MAN!!!? I'm still in disbelief that this really happened, and I wasn't just dreaming the whole experience.

So what the hell are we looking at this time? Well, as far as my eyes could tell, we get the story of two major Marvel characters, Henry (Hank) Pym, and Scott Lang. Hank Pym was on to some pretty dangerous technology, involving a suit that could potentially shrink and give its wearer an insane amount of strength, ala-ANT-style! Naturally, Pym realizes that this is completely bats@#t insane (not just because of the impossible science behind it!), and attempts to keep this out of the hands of anyone... No, seriously, ANYONE; even people who could potentially use it for something good. But this movie wouldn't be much fun if we didn't get to see it in action...

Meanwhile, we've got Scott Lang on the other side of the spectrum. He's a professional thief, ah, I mean burglar, trying to go clean after getting out of prison and support his daughter in any way he can. Trying to restart after already having a criminal record is not the easiest thing to accomplish however (as yours truly can attest to!), but Scott is determined! That doesn't really pay the bills at the end of the day, but he's DETERMINED dammit!!!

So how the hell do the paths of these two cross? Well, it would be too spoiler-y for me to tell you all the details, but know it's mostly the fault of Scott and his three hilarious friends (no seriously, they're amazing). Things go down and Scott is eventually asked by Pym to dawn the suit, suspiciously similar to a Kamen Rider outfit (If you don't know what that is, then how are we even friends in the first place!? Oh right, normal people things... Yeah, I guess I can do those too). What follows from this point on is PURE CRAZYNESS!

The effects and overall thought process behind the events in the movie are really something to behold. Seeing someone shrink down and actually gain super strength is just plain silly to look at, and the writers obviously knew this (of whom there are many, but more on that in the next paragraph). While the movie certainly has its cute and serious moments, like the dynamic between Scott and his painfully adorable daughter, it's really all about the comedic aspects. And that's okay! We don't need a "Winter Soldier" or an "Avengers 2" every single time. If anything, I found this to be insanely refreshing after going through all of that drama. (Seriously, you won't find any of that crap in MY upcoming movie! Was that DMX I heard in my trailer? Hell yeah, it was!!!)

Now, in the paragraph above, I promised I'd talk about the writers, so far be it from me to not follow that procedure. Edgar Wright (of Shaun of the Dead fame) and Joe Cornish took on the massive script for this outrageous film..., until they didn't. In May of 2014, Wright announced his departure from Marvel and the project, due to "differences in their vision of the film." This pretty much jabbed a proverbial stake into each and every one of our hearts, but all was not lost! While the script was then taken over by other people, like Peyton Reed and Adam McKay, it was confirmed that it would still be heavily based off the draft submitted by Wright and Cornish previously. And they weren't lying! There are multiple scenes that you can simply tell were written by those two if you're a big enough fan of their work. I breathed a heavy sigh of relief after reading that, and an even heavier one after seeing it for myself. By this point, I believe the person sitting next to me thought I was having a sex or something and proceeded to run away really fast. Joke's on him! I haven't had sex in years! Ha ha... ha...

The movie isn't perfect by any means either. Some of the jokes fell pretty flat, while other scenes that were supposed to be serious really weren't so serious. This didn't ruin any of my enjoyment of the movie per se, but there were multiple instances where I had to question if some of these people have ever told jokes out loud to anyone before. I was also basically being told to feel for characters who I did not have enough time to properly invest in. A shame, but then I remember that this movie has a tiny man riding a flying ant with an army of more flying ants to take on a villain and suddenly I stop worrying about all the little things (pun COMPLETELY intended!).

By about 3/4 of the way through the film, I actually stopped and turned to the person next to me, just to say "This is insane. This is absolutely insane!!!" They then proceeded to stare at me funny and slowly back away into another seat, but I think that was more the scars and burns than what I said necessarily. At least I'm pretty sure that was it... Yeah, that definitely had to be it. Anyway, I'm saying the later parts of this movie were complete and utter FUN! Any flaws you may have discovered over the movie's first half are all decimated by this point. I will NEVER f#$k with Thomas the Tank Engine ever again, and NEITHER SHOULD YOU!

8 Terrible ANTony Jokes Out Of 10

It's going to be insanely difficult holding out until 2016 to get more Marvel Cinematic Universe goodness. While waiting for next year's new releases, we'll just have to be good little kids until that time. And if you don't heed my advice, just remember this: Baskin. Robbins. ALWAYS. FINDS. OUT. Peace!

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Graphic Novel Review: Superman - The Men Of Tomorrow (2015)

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Superman has always been a bit of a hit or miss read for me. Depending on the writer and the story taking place, I've found some stories to be excellent and thought-provoking, while others have left me either underwhelmed or completely baffled in the end. It's caused me to be more selective with the stories I've chosen these days, as comic book prices continue to rise every year. I'm sure everyone has their own opinions on what makes for a great Superman story by this point. In my case, I tend to prefer the stories that are more reflective, and less action-y, outside of the more crucial moments. The calm and sympathetic Superman, who acts more human than any of us sometimes, despite being from another planet altogether. I had a feeling I would want to read the issues contained in "The Men of Tomorrow" due to some factors that didn't actually have to with its story (as I knew nothing about it prior to picking these up).

For one thing, I knew Geoff Johns would be on writing duties, which was an immediate plus for me. This is the man who single-handedly got me interested in Green Lantern again, from his "Rebirth" storyline, all the way to present. I had also heard that John Romita Jr. was on the pencils this time, which has resulted in more hits than misses for me, especially since his artwork in Amazing Spider-Man was some of my favorite during the JM Straczynski run. I understand his art style is not everyone's cup of tea, and I don't like every last panel he's ever drawn, but overall, the good outweighed the bad in my experience with him. These two factors were enough to get me on board, at least to see if it would be worth our while.

So what's it all about anyway? Well, there are of course multiple plot threads to consider (as this IS a Geoff Johns story after all), but the main story really focuses around a new character, Ulysses. He draws many similarities to Kal-El in that he was allegedly transported from a dying world, and brought to our own, with powers of flight, super strength, and others. Part of the fun of this 8-issue story arc was slowly uncovering the truth about Ulysses origins, as well as seeing how he and Kal-El continued to interact, the more their differences became apparent.

There's a lot of heart in this story too, and that may be the strongest aspect of all here. From the joy of Ulysses seeing his parents again, to the small, subtle moments like Clark looking through a photo book to represent his current state of loneliness, you really felt for every one of these characters throughout. It's only made more painful as the story continues and we start to realize that not everyone is going to come out of these events scot-free.

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As I said above, Geoff Johns has been known to "fix" a lot of problems in the DC universe and bring things back to a state of former glory again (before messing around with it further!). This arc was no exception for him, as he immediately brought Clark back to working for the Daily Planet, came up with a solution about Jimmy Olsen and the large amount of money he inherited, and addressed many other situations that fans were complaining about previously.

But there was plenty of new to go with the old as well. For starters, we have a new villain called The Machinist, who ends up having a deeper connection to Supes than I was initially expecting. It all flows into the grand scheme of things very well. This is a villain that manages to make you feel uneasy almost every time you see him, which is really saying something when it's not just some big brute that can smash a lot.

One thing I definitely have to bring up is that Superman now has a new power as a result of the events in issue #38. For spoilers sake, I won't go into what it is or how he got it, but it's already added another element of story that is sure to shake things up in the future. Let's just say that between this and Dragon Ball Z's Goku getting a new Super Saiyan God form, we've still got whole new bits of life to look forward to from these legendary franchises.

I'd like to mention one other moment that I believe is noteworthy; the final issue of this story, issue #39. This serves as more of an epilogue to the story than anything else, and yet it provided some of my favorite moments of the entire arc. The dynamic between Kal-El and Jimmy in this issue is completely genuine, and we once again see more of those "human" moments that you don't get in too many Superman stories these days (though I'm hearing the latest issue of Action Comics is right on the money with this concept and I for one can't wait to read it).

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This story arc could more or less be made into a movie (or at least an animated film); it's that good. Geoff Johns is at his best here, and I deeply regretted hearing he won't be writing any more stories for this title (at least for now, as far as we know). The artwork became a little less consistent near the end (if the cover of issue #38 is any indication), but this is hardly major or off-putting in the least. If you've been avoiding any New 52 stories like the plague, you may want to give this a try. I've never been a major Superman fan by any means, but I would be if there were more stories like this one out there. Pure gold.

9 Out Of 10