SRT – CH19

It’s well into 2014 and I’m still doing these… GYAAAAAAAAAHHH (well, I am bound by honour) It’s Chapter 19.

Thanks to Anonymous Donor to our 2012 Movember efforts.


(right click to download) – Shaggy Reads Twilight Chapter 19 (19m57s, 18.4mb, warning: contains strong language)

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“Welcome to Gotham, bitch!”

Last week I bitched and moaned about a popular TV show not living up to expectations. This week, I’m writing about a TV show that is setting up some pretty high expectations without a single frame of it having been shot. Some time ago, it was announced that a TV series about the Gotham City police force was in the works. Basically, a cop procedural show in Batman’s hometown minus Batman. This past weekend, they announced that Benjamin McKenzie from The O.C. and Southland has been cast as the future commissioner of Gotham, James Gordon. And finally, today they announced some of the other characters who will be appearing – The Penguin, Gordon’s fiancé Barbara, and Sarah Essen another police officer who, at least in the comics, is romantically interested in Gordon. Continue reading

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Ice sucks round 2

This winter, Toronto has had two major weather events.  The first was the freezing rain madness.  The freezing rain on all the trees looked really pretty in the day time until the trees started falling down onto cars and power lines.  At night a lot of the street lights were off and the city almost looked like a zombie apocalypse. Continue reading

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Breaking Bad VS Downton Abbey

I’m a little ashamed to admit this so, before I do, I feel I have to put my TV watching credentials out there. The Wire is my favorite show. I love Battlestar Galactica. I’ve seen every episode of The Shield. I feel like dark gritty shows are definitely in my wheelhouse. People have been telling me for literally years how great Breaking Bad is, and that I should watch it ASAP. Finally, during the Christmas break, I started watching it. My wife and I watched the first three seasons in a little less than a month. Continue reading

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Time to make some comics

Why not? We’ll see how long I keep making NSFW cautionary fables.


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New Star Wars or Old?

The Beatles seem to be the only musicians that everyone likes. Everyone’s heard of them and even if you hate everything about them you still grudgingly like Yellow Submarine. I think the closest equivalent to that in the movie world is Star Wars. Even if you haven’t seen a full movie, you know who Darth Vader is. You know what the Force is. You probably hate Jar Jar Binks on principle.

While the preceding paragraph might be a bit of an exaggeration, it won’t be for long. A couple of years ago now, Disney purchased the Star Wars franchise from Mr. George Lucas so it’s about to become a whole lot more ubiquitous. They’ve announced that they eventually want to release 1 Star Wars movie a year. Maybe a Chewbacca movie. Maybe a Boba Fett movie. Maybe Jabba The Hutt’s high school years. But the main focus is always going to be on the trilogy. Specifically, completing the trilogy of trilogies.

The first step was poaching Mr. J.J. Abrams from the Star Trek film series and giving him the director’s hat for episode 7. Now, they have to work out a story. They’ve already fired one writer, and now Mr. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan (the writer of The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Arc) are working on a new script. There are tons of rumours floating around as to what this movie could be about, and who could be in it. In fact, they’ve all but confirmed that Luke, Han and Leia will be back. What they haven’t confirmed is how big a part they will play.

The latest that I’ve heard is that they will be main characters. I can’t think of a bigger mistake than that. Look, I love those actors. They brought to life a rip roaring adventure that has captured imaginations for decades. But, that adventure ended 30 years ago. Those people have lived extensively, and have changed a lot in appearance. The audience is going to see them on screen and have to mentally fill in those last thirty years.

Harrison Ford got his ear pierced at some point in that time. Am I going to think, ‘Han must have had a midlife crisis at some point and decided to try to look cool.’ Mark Hamill has spent much of the last three decades sitting behind a microphone doing voice over work. Will the audience assume that Luke gave up on being a Jedi to sit around and levitate Twinkies into his mouth? Carrie Fisher’s drug and alcohol problems are pretty well documented- are we going to be wondering if the force Leia’s talking about is cocaine?

I don’t know about you, but I’m not terribly interested in the Skywalker’s adventures in the senior’s home. Maybe that makes me ageist, but I’d be surprised of Disney didn’t also share my concerns. I think the Star Wars movies need to be about the next generation. Sure, a cameo here and there is fine, but starring roles? I think that’s better left to the Zac Efron’s of the world. (Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement of Zac Efron being in a Star Wars movie.)

Graham Becksted is your father. Search your feelings, you know it to be true. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 93rd follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.

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Why I find eSports oddly compelling

What I find interesting about elite gaming is that the top gamers play the game in a way that I never imagined.  I used to play Super Smash Brothers (released 1999) with my actual brothers.  Not knowing anything, I used to think that I was pretty good.  Then one day I heard about this “Isai” guy and saw Youtube videos of him playing.  My mind was blown.

Partly, this is because most games have holes that the game designers have overlooked.  In Super Smash Brothers, you could perform air attacks that would launch the opponent downwards while they are trying to get back onto the platform.  You could beat an opponent with as little as two hits.  I don’t think that the game designers intended for matches to end so prematurely.  (Later versions of Smash made this more difficult.)  You get to see games played in broken ways that the game designers didn’t anticipate.

The second thing that intrigues me about high-level play is the sheer skill involved.  StarCraft has the most obvious demonstration of skill in a player’s APM: actions per minute.

Much like real sports, I can appreciate the difference between elite levels of performance and normal human beings.  Call me crazy but maybe eSports is here to stay.

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Movie Video Games

As video games have grown in popularity over the last decade or so, there have been attempts to make them more appealing to the masses. Games grew in complexity from generation to generation. The Nintendo Entertainment System had a d-pad and two buttons. Three generations later, the Gamecube controller had 7 buttons, 2 joysticks, and a d-pad. The latest generation of systems, though, is trying to subtract controllers all together. Built in cameras allow for motion controls, and now some of the systems also allow for voice control.

Modifying controllers isn’t the only way that games are being simplified. They are also being made less challenging. In fact, it seems to me that the most commercial games are becoming more like somewhat interactive movies. I mentioned in a previous column that I picked up Call Of Duty: Ghosts. I haven’t been playing it consistently, but whenever I do I get the distinct impression that I’m not contributing much to the experience. In fact, sometimes I get the distinct impression that I’m just getting in the way.

In the game, you play the part of a soldier who’s in a small guerilla unit. The computer controlled guys in your squad work completely on their own. In fact, they give you orders. It feels like if I don’t act quickly enough, the team will do everything without my involvement. My character could basically just become a roving camera. I don’t know about you, but that’s not what I play video games for.

I get that there are people who can enjoy video games as a spectator sport. I hear that in South Korea one of the biggest TV shows is people playing Starcraft. The thing is, I doubt even those people would be interested in playing a game where they’re character is just a spectator. Aren’t games supposed to be an interesting escape from the day to day? Shouldn’t you get to make the decisions and be the hero?

On the flipside, I’ve also noticed a trend of video game influence in movies. Specifically Tom Cruise movies. I’ve already written about all the games that Oblivion reminded me of, but the trailer of Cruise’s new movie takes it to a whole new level. It’s called Edge of Tomorrow, and it’s about a dude in a battlesuit who gets stuck in a timeloop. He keeps reliving the same span of time and improves his fighting skills and knowledge of events each time. That’s basically what a gamer is, especially in first person shooters.

Each level is the same every time you play. But, the more you play the level, the better you get at it. You learn it’s rhythm and patterns until you can get through the level without getting a scratch. When I was younger, that’s what I did. I’d play Goldeneye for the N64 until I could play a level blindfolded. I’d try to beat missions in Hitmanas many different ways as I could. And as fun as that was for me, I don’t know how fun it would be to watch an actor try to dramatize it.

Part of the fun of playing levels over and over again is the puzzle aspect of it. You want to do it until you get it just right. Just like a real puzzle, though, it’s a lot more fun to do than it is to watch.

Graham Becksted had pizza for dinner and knows you’re jealous. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 95th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.

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unboxed FINALLY: Animal Crossing New Leaf House

This next new Uber series continues what began in the latest season of TttC. After a year of ording stuff online, I finally get to unboxing and assembling it all, starting with the Animal Crossing New Leaf House & Furnature Figure Collection from Takara Tomy Arts.

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Candy crack saga

candy-crush-sagaCrush Crush Saga is a free-to-play game that starts off innocently enough.  It’s just candy right?  And then you start playing it… and playing it… and playing it.

This is one of the most horrible things that I have been sucked into.  First off, free-to-play games generally offend me.  I’d rather pay for a game then get sucked into a vortex of paying to win.  While you don’t have to pay to win in Candy Crush, the game developers try very hard to entice you into it.

The second thing that offends me about this game is that it feels like hazing.  At first the levels have a reasonable difficulty and some are on the easy side.  It makes you feel like a boss.  And then the hazing begins.  Some levels can only be passed with incredible luck.  Some rounds are completely unwinnable unless you use special candies (which you can pay for).  Playing an unwinnable game is not my idea of fun.

The bottom line?  Don’t do what I did.

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