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Sunshine and Popcorn

Given that I'm single (sigh), slightly introvert (sigher), and 2000 miles from home (sigh...est?), my desire to do comforting things is usually pretty high.  Few things are as comforting to me, especially in the summer, as going to the movies for some popcorn fun.  There are few better feelings for me than exiting a cold, dark theater out into a bright, warm, beautiful summer day.  So when summer comes around, I try and spend a decent amount of time taking in the visual orgasm known as the Summer Blockbuster.

Every summer there's a movie that underperforms at the box-office and doesn't deserve it.  Scott Pilgrim fell under this category and the hurt is still fresh.  The latest film to join this is a little unexpected given its star but it still managed to become a big flop.  Edge of Tomorrow does not deserve the box-office it has received.  The shitload of money Transformers 4 will make this weekend?  Yeah, that robot masturbation contest is going to be raking in the cash and proving to studios that all we as an audience need is big explosions, pretty girls, and a simple (possibly invisible) plot.  Edge of Tomorrow on the other hand boasts one of the best action movie scripts ever produced.  Is the movie one of the greatest of all time?  I don't know about that, but the script itself is pure genius.  Any level-headed writer can tell you that adding a time travel element is a recipe for plot holes and problems yet this movie handles it with aplomb.

Another film that handles time travel really well is X-Men: Days of Future Past.  They treat the time travel simply enough that it never becomes overthought and overdone.  It's basic and to the point: whoever goes into the past, whatever they change won't be changed until they leave the past and thus allowing the event to occur.  Confusing?  Yeah, I can't explain time travel for shit.  But see, that's the point, these elements are really difficult to describe and get across and yet these films manage it.  Still, that's not what we're talking about here.  That's just one element.  This isn't a (time) travel blog, so let's get on with something not so complicated.

It wouldn't feel like hyperbole to say that 22 Jump Street is the best comedy sequel of all time.  Before this film, I didn't really even examine the history of comedy sequels outside of a minor footnote.  Really though, what comedic sequel has come out that wasn't a disappointment?  Anchorman 2?  Hangover 2? Ghostbusters 2?  All have varying degrees of success in being quality followups but rarely will you hear anyone say they live up to the first.  Even if someone really likes the film they'll still follow it with "Yeah, but its not as good as the first."  22 Jump Street is as good, if not better than the first and that is rare feat.  It embraces everything that made the first one great and everything that makes most sequels suck.  The common act of rehashing the plot of its successful predecessor is any easy route but also one not taken here.  Hell, they take all of what we're expecting and turns it on its head in a way that makes it interact with the plot itself.  Its self-aware but not to a damning degree.

Later today I have plans to see Godzilla -- a giant monster film where naysayers are complaining about the lack of character development.  That's the type of giant monster film I can get behind.  You may be saying "But Tyler, how can you forgive a film like this but still condemn Bay's Transformers movies for the same thing?"  My simple answer to you is this: plot.  Bay goes to inordinate heights in order to try and explain things in the Transformers movies, giving reason behind the impossible.  This is stupid.  We've just spent a third of the movie being told through various government mumbo jumbo just how these Transformers are real and how it affects us via foreign relations and technological advances.  This is where I just go "Fornicate you, Michael Bay."  You are making a film about giant robots.  Unless you're Guillermo Del Toro and have proven that your action film warrants 2 hours, make it 90 minutes of action and cut the government nonsense.  It doesn't add a sense of realism and get the audience more involved, it's just filler that makes the one-dimensional characters stand out even more.

Disconnection from a Former Love

As I write this there are at least one hundred games at my reach.  Whether it's my Xbox 360, Xbox One, or the massive number of Steam games on my computer, I have access to just about any kind of game that one could possibly want to play.  Yet I have no desire to play them.  I can put any game in and enjoy it for several minutes but I quickly become bored and want to do something else.  Even times that I'm feeling nostalgic and want to go play a quick online game of Halo, I can barely make it through a match without wanting to quit.

Am I getting too old?  I've always been told, and witnessed for myself, that many things we love as children/teenagers start to fade away the older we get.  I was always in the camp of "I'll be playing video games until I die!"  Yet nowadays I can't really spend a day playing video games without it feeling like a massive waste.  Oh so I defeated thirteen levels, brought my character up 5000 xp, and unlocked eight achievements?  Uh... cool?  My brain immediately puts on display -- like a cruel slideshow -- the various activities I could have been doing instead that would have ACTUALLY been productive: writing a screenplay, reading a book, working out, sending out more applications.  I mean, hey, I could have been researching protein synthesis and working out the formulas in order to find the most efficient way to replace torn muscle fibers.  Do I know anything about this subject?  Not even in the slightest, but I could have been learning about it rather than getting my KDR from 1.4 to 1.5.  Fucking lazy, Tyler.

It's odd though, I don't consider gaming to be a productive hobby anymore yet replace that with reading a book and I suddenly see it as having merit.  For me, reading a book for four hours is more psychologically satisfying that playing a video game yet, what is their main difference?  Both are forms of entertainment meant to invoke an emotional response.  So why do I consider one to be a higher form of art than the other?  I think that it's mostly due to age.  Video games are looked down upon in society as being a youth-driven hobby and thus a time waster.  Books on the other hand are for those wanting to put their imagination to the test and become more knowledgeable.  But wait, can't each train of thought be applied to either?

Sure, when the average person looks at a video game, they see nothing more than a way to escape reality.  There is nothing of merit being learned, it is all an escape.  In books you'll be taught various things that will get you through life, but video games?  Time waster.  Except maybe that's not the case.  There was a story of an adolescent driving a vehicle in order to get his sick grandmother(?) to the hospital.  And you know what?  He made it there safely and potentially saved his grandmothers life.  You know what experience he drew from in order to accomplish the task of moving of multi-ton hunk of metal several miles?  Grand Theft Auto V.  No, he didn't think of that time where Kerouac describes starting up the vehicle and driving off down the road with a stick shift, he went to the many hours of driving experience he had virtually.  His grandmother is alive and well because he decided to invest some time into San Andreas.  Time waster?  I think ole grandma might disagree.

It's not all about the perception of it being a time-waster that has quelled my gaming desire though.  I can obviously see the advantages, as stated by the previous paragraph, but I also think something else factors in:  I'm just not as good as others nowadays.  Back when I gamed all the time, I could pick up nearly any game and be good at it.  I was consistently the best Halo or Call of Duty player amongst my high school and college friends which is good, because I hate being bad at something.  I have a winners attitude -- thank you, Dad -- which also means I'm a sore loser -- again, thank you, Dad.  So now when I come into a game that I haven't played in ages, I don't immediately pick up where I left off, I'm not in the gaming mindset and that means everyone is better than me.  They're in high school and this is the escape they have going for them.  They don't have to worry about anything other than their KDR.  I just can't seem to invest in something that feels so trivial thus making me a half-hearted player that gets killed a lot.  A lot.

Now this is not an entry stating the end of my relationship with video games.  Not the case.  I still quite enjoy them and when a good one comes along, I can lose hours in it.  Any form of entertainment can be viewed as art and I'm more than willing to sit down and appreciate an artists hard work.  But I also recognize that I am a grown man and maybe moreso than getting all of the achievements in Watch Dogs, I need to find a job that allows me to pay for a hefty mortgage, vacations, a nice car, and children.  Priorities change, but that doesn't mean I need to entirely drop any form of my previous self.  He liked video games as a stress reliever, so why can't I as well?  Sometimes it's nice to go back and revisit.

Just remember that getting headshots may not be as easy now.

We Use Swear Words

If you follow me on twitter then you probably know that I just started a web series. What's that? You don't follow me on twitter? You found my blog by mistake?  Well...that's rude to tell me that. I think you may be overly aggressive.

Anyway, I started a podcast with my friend Dom Coccaro. Let me get this out of the way: yes, he is my sidekick. I give him the intro just to make him feel better. He really needs it. Poor Dom. Boring supporting characters aside, the podcast is about Dom and myself discussing films, television, music, wrestling, the holocaust, sports, Shelley Winters, the act of podcasting itself, favorite interests, what we ate for breakfast, the color of our bowel movements, and really that's all. Only those subjects.

Having been inspired by various podcasts we both listen to (and I've blogged about here and here), I decided it was finally worth taking the plunge into a field I briefly had my foot in, in high school -- podcasting. I'd always wanted to do it and I knew my wheelchair bound, sassy acquaintance Dom would be more than up for it, so we got it around (when I say we I mean Dom came up with the name and I did everything else. Fuckin Dom...) and here we are today.  Two episodes published, two more recorded and ready to go.  

All dead seriousness aside, I'm really looking forward to continuing this series. Having stimulating conversation every week is enough for me to keep it going but the response so far has been wonderful.  I've received a lot of good feedback and people seem to like it.  Hoping to continue improving it We're up on iTunes and podbean and are planning to spam it around the Internet shortly after our database fills up a little more.  Below are the first two episodes.  Give them a listen and let me know what you think.

Conundrum of all Conundrums

Here I sit with an episode of my new favorite TV show, Maron, on the DVR ready to watch it.  Only there's one problem:  I can't find the remote to save my life.  The past few days have been a daily struggle of cleaning and looking under random things in order to find this piece of machinery that I can't seem to live without.  But I've had absolutely no luck.  I've looked under the couch, in the couch, in my room, under the TV, in the studio, even in the bathroom and still nothing.  It has up and vanished and I feel ill-equipped because of it.  And this is the second time.

Take Sunday night for example,  it was the night of a WWE paperview but also a brand new episode of Game of Thrones.  Being that I treat WWE like a real sport, in that I don't like watching after it's already aired live, as usual (except for when Breaking Bad was on) I chose Rasslin over my Sunday night show.  However, after the paperview was done, I was ready to catch up on the latest adventures in Westeros.  I even had two options for viewing it, I could watch it on the DVR or On Demand.  But oh wait, no remote.  "Tyler," you're saying "don't you have an TV you can control with your voice?"  Why yes, you, I absolutely do and you know how much that helps me?  None.

I can turn on the TV, turn it off, change the channel and go to whatever meaningless apps I want but I can't access the DVR which holds my TV shows on it.  It's almost like I'm being blackmailed by my own remote.  Did I not pay enough attention to you?  Are you jealous of how much you're being neglected in favor of just using voice commands?  Is this how you're taking it out on me?  Am I directly talking to a remote on my blog?

Now, I'm not going to act like I'm a person who doesn't use the internet to facilitate the procuring of certain media items but dammit, I don't want to have to torrent if I don't have to!  But you know what I had to do to watch Game of Thrones, even though I had it on my DVR, had it On Demand, and had access to it through HBO Go through my Xbox?  I still had to torrent that sonuvabitch.  Not having the remote took care of the first two but then HBO Go wouldn't work because Comcast kept having an error everytime I tried to access it.

I had legal means to watch Game of Thrones the night of airing but they were not working.  And social media is a bitch.  I had to resort to illegal torrenting just to be able to watch the episode.  Are they still getting points for me DVRing it?  Yes.  Did I try many different routes in order to watch it legally?  Of course.  Yet if I were to be dumb enough to leave the torrent open and seed out on an unsecure server, I could potentially be sued by HBO.  All because I lost my remote and am impatient.

I really need to go outside more.

Don't Read If You Haven't Seen Game of Thrones S4

Is that title clear enough?  Just in case it's not....


Okay, now that we got that out of the way, I'll be the first to say that last nights episode fucked me up.  Coming from someone who has read the book, it's hard to still be shocked when something happens since obviously I already knew about it.  Not the case with this battle.  If anything the fact that I knew what was going to transpire just made it worse.  There was only one problem: apparently I had forgotten the exact manner of death.  For some reason something in my mind kept saying that the Mountain cuts Oberyn down with his broadsword but instead what happened is something I've been playing in my head all day.

Now, I would consider myself pretty well-versed in the world of gore and make-up effects.  I've been seriously into horror films since a young age so I was long desensitized to violence.  With that said, much like the Red Wedding last season, I found myself becoming physically ill when the episode had wrapped.  Not only had one of my favorite characters bitten the dust but it was done in such a way that it literally upset my stomach.  Seeing The Mountain first shoves his fingers into The Viper's eyes, then full on smash his head between his hands... wow.  That wide shot of the two bodies laying next to each other, Oberyn's head just a pulpy mess, it's stomach churning.

I can't help but think of all the people that not only hadn't read the books but also those that can't handle violence well.  If my own reaction is anything to go off of, this is a scene that should be sticking with them for YEARS to come.  The brutality of it, the shocking twist near the end, and really just everything that's built up to this moment.  We've seen The Mountain in action and know how dangerous he is.  No one else even seems close to him in skill yet here comes Oberyn and he completely controls the entire bout until the end.  But his cockiness gets the best of him and he loses it all.  His screams and that crunch will go down as one of the most pivotal and shocking moments of the series.

The pure fact that the implications of the fight, with Tyrion now set to be executed, seems to be lost amongst the actual fight itself.  That just shows how good this scene is; you're not left worried about Tyrion, you're left thinking "Holy shit, Oberyn just got fucking slaughtered in the worst possible way."  But now as it settles in and we all sit back and think about how Tyrion, aka everyone's favorite character, is now going to be executed, the final two episodes shall have a feeling of tension unmatched which, after The Red Wedding, is saying a hell of a lot.

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