Tuesday, August 18, 2015

John Oliver skewers greedy, corrupt televangelists

John Oliver destroys slimy, greedy televangelists who advocate a belief called prosperity gospel. Basically the belief is that getting rich is God's favor.. So these televangelists get people to send them money with the hope that those people will get wealthy. Here's John Oliver's funny piece from HBO's "Last Week Tonight."

Heidi Klum trumps Trump

Conservative Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump told the New York Times that model Heidi Klum is "no longer a ten." I wonder what happens to Trump's third wife, Melenia, should she no longer be a "ten" in the Donald's eyes. Watch out Melenia, he likes blondes. See former wives, Ivanka and Marla. He was also interested in Princess Diana! (People.com) Anyway, here's Heidi's response via Instagram and courtesy of TMZ. Oh, yeah Heidi. You are beautiful in my eyes.

Donald Trump repsesents the conservative Republican

According to a recent CNN poll, super rich guy, Donald Trump is leading Jeb Bush by a whopping thirteen points. Trump 24 %. George W.'s brother er.... Jeb at 11%. CNN: Donald Trump sinks GOP's 2016 Dream Team.

Come on conservative Republicans, accept who you are. Trump represents your values. Don't think so? Let's again do a little deduction ala Sherlock Holmes. The GOP has purged moderates and liberals from the party. How's New York governor Pataki doing? And the Party according to Gallup, is overwhelmingly white. It's also supported and dominated by men. Pew Research. No stretch to say that the Republican Party is the party of white men. No stretch to deduce that Donald Trump is the candidate of the conservative white man. So stop whining conservative Republicans. Donald Trump represents you.

Enjoy that Gjallarhorn while you can, Destiny fans

I hope those of you who bought the Gjallarhon from Xur last week are having fun with it. Because it's one cruel joke from developer Bungie. You see they're going to nerf it soon. See Destiny Weapon Tuning 2.0.

By the way Bungie this blows up your specious rational for nerfing or weakening the weapon. You argued that people were being excluded from Raids and Nightfall strikes because they didn't have it. Now, I imagine a lot of people have it. So there is no longer any reason to nerf it. But here's my opinion. Bungie must extend the game to Destiny 2 and also get players to buy the September DLC, The Take King. Nerfing and making year one Legendary weapons obsolete pushes players to purchase the DLC with the promise of more potent guns. Of course, I've got a fist full of Glimmer to bet that you will have to find those good guns, and level them up. Look, the weakening of all first year weapons doesn't help the gamer. It does help Bungie milk every last dollar from the gamer.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. review

It's that eternal quest for Hollywood studios. Find a movie franchise that can rake in the money for shareholders. Sometimes this means raiding beloved old TV shows when the studio suits can't take a risk on anything creatively new. Mission Impossible. Bewitched. What next, The Beverly Hillbillies? Um, never mind on that one. Well, Warner Brothers has just released a feature film, based on the sixties TV show, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and given it the same title. What did you expect? "The Search for More Money Affair?"

This new movie takes place during the Cold War, roughly 1962-1963 as we constantly see TV clips of President John F. Kennedy. CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) is in East Berlin trying to extract Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander) who's nuclear scientist father has gone missing. The fact the guy can build a nuclear bomb is disturbing to the Americans. The Soviets have dispatched KGB agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) to also grab her. Solo succeeds in getting her out. However, the Russians and Americans believe that the father has been kidnapped by Nazi sympathizers Victoria Vinciguerra (Elizabeth Debicki) and her husband, Alexander. (Luca Calvani) The Americans and the Russians team Solo and Kuryakin to infiltrate Vinciguerra's company, find Gaby's father and possibly get his plans for the nuclear bomb.

Director Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram's script is okay. I mean it's got some good jokes and nicely sets up the sixties Cold War spy story. But what's the purpose to use the U.N.C.L.E. organization in name of the movie since the film is almost all about how Solo and Kuryakin met and their first mission. Oh, yeah, it's that franchise thing.

There are problems. It's Ritche's direction that deflates parts of this movie. First, let me talk about the music. I was expecting to hear Jerry Goldsmith's iconic spy theme from the TV show. I can barely recall it being in this movie. Then Ritchie uses some strange and novel music. Some of it is sixties pop that doesn't fit and some of it is weird electronic music. The movie would have been better served with orchestral spy type music. Other times, there were scenes that cried out for music. The romantic scenes needed it.

Needed much more of this type of music and theme, Guy.


And that brings us to Ritchie's handling of sex scenes. They're not very sexy. Those scenes feel as if they were shot by a virgin teenage boy. They're unsure, and seem to be cut so the movie easily fits a PG rating. I'm kind of amazed this movie was a PG-13 rating rather than a straight PG.

Ritche also mishandles the action set pieces. As with today's modern filmmaking, he lets the editor fast cut his way to generate excitement. The result? Not very exciting since it can get confusing. Then Ritchie uses split screens during a military assault on the villains base. Very difficult to figure out how the attack went and there weren't enough shots of the heroes leading the assault and firing their guns. Let me put it this way. James Bond movies did it better.

But what saves this movie are two things. First, I love this cast. Henry Cavill is suave as Solo. Arnie Hammer gives his Kuryakin a hot headed passion driven by the injustice done to his family by the Soviets. It's his best work since The Social Network. (2010) Elizabeth Debicki steals the movie. She has grace and reminds me of Audrey Hepburn. All three are beautiful and sexy. They're just great to look at.

Then there's the style of the film. Ritchie's movie has just enough color drain to make the movie feel as if it's from the Sixties. The sets, the mannerisms of the actors all feel genuine from the period. And let's not forget the costumes. Wow. Kudos to Joanna Johnston for her clothing designs. It was as if I was looking at Vogue magazine from 1963. The result of all this excellent work is that one feels that they were transported to another time and place.

Elizabeth Debicki and Henry Cavill strike a pose.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a good movie with problems but is carried by its groovy style. It needs more of the U.N.C.L.E vibe to be more fun but perhaps we can look forward to that in a sequel. The grade is B.



Thursday, August 13, 2015

Conservative Republicans must own Donald Trump

You'll see conservative Republicans fret over the rise of Donald Trump as the possible Presidential nominee. (Washington Post article, August 8, 2015) He's made racist, misogynistic and crazy comments. It's obvious his extreme views would most likely doom the GOP's chance at winning the White House.

But conservative Republicans must own Trump. His large leads in the Republican Presidential polls reflects the GOP. I mean they'e purged the moderates. Have you heard any candidate say he's a moderate and do well? And it's not the party that has guys like former, late President Gerald Ford anymore. It's a a very conservative party which has a heavy Tea Party influence.

Let me put it this way. Where is Trump's support in the Republican Party coming from? It's not coming from liberals. It's not coming from moderates. Because both don't exist in the party. It's coming from conservative Republicans. And here's my guess. I don't see a whole bunch of African American women supporting Trump. It's angry white male, conservative Republicans.

Bungie's Big Mistake by making Legendary weapons obsolete

The upcoming DLC for Destiny, The Taken King does not allow you to upgrade existing Legendary weapons and that sucks. It demonstrates developer Bungie's contempt for gamers. (See Game Informer report, August 4, 2015.) Along with the nerfing of favorite weapons like the Gjallarhorn, this last disrespect could be the "nail in the coffin" for Destiny's projected ten year run.

To demonstrate Bungie's contempt for you the gamer, I pose this question in the spirit of the late President Ronald Reagan to the fans of Destiny.

"ARE YOU BETTER OFF BY HAVING YOUR FAVORITE WEAPON MADE OBSOLETE THAN WHEN YOU OBTAINED IT?"

Of course, the answer is "no." Let me explain. Let's say you obtain that hard to get hand cannon Fatebringer from the difficult raid, "Vault of Glass." It is possibly the best hand cannon and one of the best weapons in the game because it has explosive rounds, the perk Firefly and Arc damage. You ascend it in late May to the maximum attack rating of 365 due to that month's DLC, "The House of Wolves." You begin to use it and start to rock your enemies. Your Destiny gaming is easier and more fun. That's assuming you like your gun to do damage and not be a BB gun.

Flash forward to September's release of the DLC "The Taken King." Just four months or even less, your beloved Fatebringer is now obsolete. All that hard work to obtain this magnificent weapon is now wasted. And I mean hard work. You must reach level 20 to use it, must obtain the weapon as a RNG drop, level it up AND obtain the difficult to get Etheric Light to get this gun to the maximum level.

All of these changes to weaken favorite weapons are designed to get you to try the new weapons from the upcoming DLC.

“I definitely feel like some of our players are ready to play with some new toys,” says (Bungie) creative director Luke Smith. “And we’ve built a whole bunch of new toys. There are definitely some weapons that you are going to find better versions of – there’s going to be something that replaces that sniper rifle that you love.” Game Informer article, August 4, 2015.

And how do you get to those new weapons? Buy the DLC for a whopping forty bucks or more depending on what version of the game you get. Look, I get the idea to make a buck but it's way too early to make favorite weapons obsolete. At this time, the game is not even a year old. We're a long way from Destiny Two so why weaken Destiny One weapons roughly every three months? Yeah, it's a way to milk every last buck from the gamer but it does not benefit them. And let me respond to Luke Smith. Those great weapons he talks about in The Taken King will probably not be available right away. I'm guessing from older DLCs, you will have to get those from complicated Raids and difficult tasks such as playing The Prison of Elders on harder levels I also question whether the new primary weapons will have elemental damage right away. If not, the Destiny player is in a weaker position at the start of The Taken King because his powerful gun from the Destiny One is now obsolete. It's going to be more pain and suffering.

Finally let me answer those who support the changes. If you read articles about the obsolescence of Destiny year one weapons, you get this feeling that some of them are for it. Here's David Thier of Forbes writing if is for the best. Okay, my fellow gamers, those that support it are usually the guys who write for the organizations that support big business, the gaming industry or depend on their survival to the success of Destiny. I, my fellow gamers, do none of that. I'm a gamer. So, I've got no financial motive for supporting Bungie's decision to weaken or nerf favorite weapons or criticizing it. Let me make this clear. I do not support Bungie's garbage. And as I have demonstrated, making your favorite Legendary Destiny wepons obsolete stinks.