Tuesday, April 29, 2008

XBox Live Equals Love...

With my new bowel shaking Guitar Hero powers, aka my kickassedness on Hard and Expert, I have had a desire recently to test my metal (no pun intended) against other players. Saturday night, I logged onto the online multiplayer for Guitar Hero 3 to put my skills to the test.

I played about 10 songs against other players. Three separate times, I played against the same competitor, who I will call CrazyMonkey for reference. Each time, we were very evenly matched, with him taking 2 wins, and me taking 1. CrazyMonkey used his headset to communicate during and after matches, with normal comments like "Aww man!" when he messed up and "Nice match" when he won, always gracious.

On our fourth and final match, I chose Paint It Black on Expert. I immediately took the lead and for the whole match dominated CrazyMonkey. At the end of the match, I had a score three times greater than his.

Instead of his normal, gracious losing speech, he presented me with this, in a completely matter-of-fact voice: "Whatever dude, have your little victory, I am going to f**k your mom now."

Thank you, internet, for showing me so much about humanity.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Buffy Top 10: Part 2...

Starting my series of mini-reviews about my favorite Buffy episodes. You can read my previous post by CLICKING HERE!

#2: The Body-
Joss Whedon is evil, and I absolutely love him for it. The season 5 episode The Body is the proof. A big part of season 5 is Buffy's mom Joyce going through a health scare with a brain tumor. Buffy, used to fighting off her demons, at first refuses to accept that nothing can be done to help her mom, but slowly accepts the truth. Over the months, Joyce goes through surgery and appears fully healed. In the episode prior to The Body, called I Was Made To Love You, Joyce is back on the dating scene, full head of hair and back at work, full of life and energy. The episode ends with Buffy coming home to find Joyce dead on the couch. The Body starts right where the last episode left off (last scene in previous episode is first here) with Buffy finding Joyce, and it sinks in how evil Joss Whedon truly is.

We spend all season worrying about Joyce, and during I Was Made To Love You, she is back to her old self, doing better in fact than before the tumor! Buffy and Dawn tease her about her hair and outfit, Joyce makes jokes about forgetting her bra in her date's car, and the new guy even sends her flowers the next day. The fact that, for 15 episodes, we watch as Joyce gets sick, recovers, and is then better than ever is what makes her death even more traumatic. If she had just died suddenly, or during her medical scare, yes, it would have been sad, but not shocking. Writing and planning like this is what makes Joss Whedon so incredible.

The acting in The Body is just as good as the planning and writing. Everything from Buffy's jaw gaping slog around her house, her screaming at Giles not to touch "the body", Willow's freaking out about clothing choices, Anya's desperate pleas for someone to explain why Joyce is dead, and Tara's stoic support to all involved are all heart wrenching performances that truly showcase these actor's abilities. And, for the first time, we actually care about Dawn.

There are 4 moments that stand out for me in The Body. The first is when Buffy is on the phone with 911 and has the following conversation with the tech:

(putting her hand on Joyce): She's cold.
911 Operator (pause): The body's cold?
Buffy: No, my mom! Sh-should I make her warm?

Buffy not equating "the body" with her mother shows how she will not accept what has happened.
The second, as I mentioned, is when Giles arrives and Buffy shouts at him as he dashes to check on Joyce, "We're not supposed to move the body!" and slaps her hands over her mouth, finally for the first time truly realizing what is happening. The third moment for me is when Willow and Xander hug in her dorm room. There is nothing special happening, there are many other much more dramatic moments, but the moment these two best friends hug, I lose it. That is my we're-not-supposed-to-move-the-body moment. And finally, Anya's tirade about life and death: "But I don't understand! I don't understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she's, there's just a body, and I don't understand why she just can't get back in it and not be dead anymore! It's stupid! It's mortal and stupid! And, and Xander's crying and not talking, and, and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well Joyce will never have any more fruit punch, ever, and she'll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why."

Visually, Joss did a lot with The Body as well. Some shots are framed so perfectly I have a hard time believing he didn't spend hours on each shot. And more subtle queues like Dawn's art project (drawing a picture of what basically looks like a dead woman's body in the same pose as Joyce) are delightfully dark. And the episode ends where so many directors and visionaries would refuse to let it; right before the big moment. Dawn and Buffy lie on the floor of the morgue after dusting a vampire that was in the room with the other bodies. The sheet that covered Joyce's corpse has fallen, and her cold dead body lies on the table. Buffy is frozen in fear. Dawn is wide eyed and curious and reaches slowly to touch her dead mother's skin, and right before she does, fade to black, the end.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Buffy Top 10: Part 1...

As many of you know, I have been rewatching the entire run of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVD for the past few months. There has been a lot of nostalgia, both good and bad, but rewatching many of my favorite episodes have brought new light to old memories. When it is all said and done, I decided to make a list of my 10 favorite Buffy episodes, both for myself and for others to read about.

My favorite episodes of all time are:
1) Once More With Feeling
2) The Body
3) Hush
4) Becoming (1+2)
Who Are You?
6) Restless
7) Innocence
8) The Puppet Show
9) Tabula Rasa
10) The Zeppo

While 1-3 represent my favorites in order, 4-10 are in no particular order. This being Buffy we are talking about, things get a little different when we talk about seasons and villains. For example, my favorite seasons, from most favorite to least are:
1) Season 2
2) Season 3
3) Season 1
4) Season 4
5) Season 5
6) Season 6
7) Season 7

Notice that the only season 2 episodes on my first list are Becoming and Innocence, but it is my favorite season overall. And no, 6 is not at the bottom of my list, with OMWF and Tabula Rasa on the list, with Life Serial and Gone close to making it. Point to make as well, and that is 7 is not a bad season either, just the least note worthy.

And what about the villains?! My favorite villains are:
1) Mayor Richard Wilkens
2) Faith
3) Spike
4) The Master

Over the next few weeks, I am going to post my opinions on my top 10 episodes, mini reviews of each one. To start with, I already wrote a bit about Once More With Feeling back in November, which you can read by CLICKING HERE! I will write about The Body later this week, then so on and so forth for a little while. If you guys like what I write, I will start doing more on other shows like Angel and Firefly, etc, etc.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

X-Play Nice Children...

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X-Play, G4's flagship show, has received a lot of flack from both gamers and TV viewers, two completely different groups of people who have nothing in common. While many criticisms are valid, 2008 has been a standout year for the show. 4 months into their new format, they are clearly listening to their critics, in obvious ways like shortening a 45 second opening down to 10 seconds, putting a nice Daily Show style spin on the daily gaming news, getting rid of the horrendous in show forum/chat pop up every 2 seconds, but also in subtler ways some people might not take note of, like taking huge segments of time, and dedicating that time to serious topics.

Most recently, Adam Sessler (the reason other than Morgan Webb's boobs that the show lasted during the dark times (that is not a dig on Morgan, just a sad, pathetic truth)) spoke with Dr Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olson of Harvard's mental health and media department about their $1,500,000 government funded study about how video games effect children, which they cleverly titled Grand Theft Childhood. It is a very interesting topic and handled so well by Sessler and X-Play. It would be so easy for the show to be childish and "I told you so" about video game violence with children, but instead, they let the experts do all the talking and make themselves look smarter for doing so.

Check out the segment below:

I am also a big fan of Sessler's Soapbox, a rant on various topics every week or so. You can view his latest diatribe about the Resident Evil 5 racist controvery below:

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Props to Amazon...

Way to go Amazon.com! Long story short, I bought the Buffy Chosen Collection back in 2005 when it was released. I have yet to watch the entire series, in order anyway. Today, ready to watch the 3rd season finale and.... no 3rd season finale disk... Searched and searched, both physically and mentally/memoryally, and really and truly, no disk. I decided to try and call Amazon, see if they would be of any help, low expectations abound. Well, long story story short (didn't I already say that?) they couldn't replace anything, and Fox will only cover for a little while so they would have been no help at all. After speaking with the Amazon dude for a few more minutes, he agreed to pay for half of the cost of replacing the 1 season from which the disk is missing. He didn't owe me anything, didn't have to give me a dime, but he split the cost of replacing a DIFFERENT product from 3 years ago!

Nice work Amazon!