Saturday, March 31, 2012

Wrath of the Titans 3D Review

Wrath of the Titans is the sequel to the 2010's Clash of the Titans, a remake of the cheesy 1981 version. If you remember there was a backlash to Clash since it was a quick 3D conversion designed to take advantage of 2009's 3D blockbuster Avatar. Moviegoers felt cheated because there was nothing special about the 3D effects. And frankly, it did well enough as a 3D movie that it started a stream of 3D conversions to make their way to the theaters. Clash also did well enough for Warner to make a sequel. And get this, they had the chutzpah to make the sequel a 3D conversion.

Liam Neeson is back as Zeus. This time he comes to his son Perseus (Sam Worthington) with a problem. It seems that the Titans, the forerunners of the gods are breaking away from the Hades prison of Tartarus. Perseus refuses to fight since he is now a peaceful fisherman. In an attempt to stop the Titans, Zeus enters Hades. But he is captured by his son Ares (Edgar Ramirez) , god of war and Hades. (Ralph Fiennes) Ares and Hades plan to release Kronos, the father of the gods. And well since Kronos will probably destroy every human being on earth, that just isn't good.

What convinces Perseus, is a Chimera attacks his village. After Perseus dispatches the monster, he goes to seek the help of Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) who he saved in the first movie. She and her Greek armies are at war with the monsters being released from Tartarus. With the help of Poseidon's demigod son Agenor (Toby Kebbell) , they travel to find god Hephaestus (Bill Nighy) who knows the way to Tartarus. Once there, they find the only way to defeat Kronos is to form a superweapon from Zeus' Thunderbolt, Hades' Pitchfork and Poseidon's Trident. All three form a magical spear.

To be honest, I was enthralled with the first twenty to thirty minutes. Peseaus' battle with the Chimera was a big WOW. But director Jonathan Liebesman makes the same mistake that filmmakers make when filming a maze scene. Much of it is first person or behind the backs of the actors to show the audience that our heroes are lost. And it's the maze to Tartarus that is where the movie gets lost. It's confusing and that drains the energy.

Still, writers Dan Mazeau, David Leslie Johnson and Greg Berlanti have crafted a good story. They inject some funny lines. I wish there was more of Hephaestus. There were some logic issues. I mean I don't remember from mythology that gods could die. One wishes that the writers and Liebesman could have put more of a climatic battle at the end. I mean the two headed warrior monster thing was cool. But there really needed more of them.

With a movie like this, it would have been easy for the actors to play their parts with a wink in their eye. Thankfully, everybody takes their parts seriously. Neeson and Fiennes are powerful as Greek gods. Sam Worthington knows when to deliver a funny line and when to play it straight. Bill Nighy steals every scene he's in with his goofy Hephaestus. And Rosamund Pike is regal and lovely to look at.

Director Liebesman previously stated that the movie would be shot in 2D and while it was being shot, care would be taken to set up the 3D effects. It shows to a certain degree. The lighting is better than most conversions. CGI effects have depth. It's good as conversions go. But you cannot make a 2D movie look as good as one shot in 3D. The technology cannot replicate every nook and cranny of an object that light casts on it. There's nothing in Wrath that made me say 3D was worth the extra bucks.

There are nice doses of action and humor in Wrath of the Titans. It's not going to make anyone forget Jason and the Argonauts but it's still a fun time at the theater. The grade is B.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Mass Effect 3 Ending Controversy

IF you're a Mass Effect fan, you've probably heard of the backlash by some gamers of Mass Effect 3's ending. The protests range from the rather dour end to the lack of differences in the ending to the story finish being unfulfilling. I'm going to tell you the real problems with the ending and why the protesters are ultimately wrong.

SPOILER ALERT. If you don't want to know the anything about the end to Mass Effect 3, stop reading. Additionally, I'm going to assume that if you want to know about what's wrong with the end and why the protesters are wrong that you have finished the game. That way I won't waste too much time explaining how your Shepard gets to the finish.


The Catalyst gives you three choices on how to stop the Reapers. To get all three choices, you must have a high enough Effective Military Strength. (EMS) This score must be higher than 2800 according to Mass Effect Wikipedia's article on the Priority: Earth mission. Catalyst opens three paths for you. By the way, there is a point of no return. If you go too far up one path you cannot change your mind. Here are the choices.

1. Destroy All Synthetic Life. This requires you to go up the right ramp. Shot the power conduit. That destroys it and cause an explosion. Red energy bolts from the Crucible. The Reapers are killed but so are the Geth. i'm also guessing that EDI won't make it since she does not come out of the wrecked Normandy. According to Mass Effect Wikipedia, if you have at least 4000 EMS score, Shepard survives or at least looks like it. Since you see his chest take a breath. Some label this the Renegade path and I can see that but the other two must vie for Paragon since one is more diplomatic than the other. Video below.

2. Control the Reapers. Ah, this is the Illusive Man's idea, only this time the Catalyst won't control you but allow you to control the Reapers. Go up the left path and access the control panel. You control the Reapers and order them to retreat. Blue energy bolts from the Crucible. You also end up dying in the process. Some consider this the Paragon ending. Video below.

3. Syntheis. Go down the middle and jump into the beam, combining your DNA with the... oh, I'm guessing with synthetic life. A green bolt of energy erupts from the Crucible. Reapers retreat. You have combined organic and synthetic life. Unfortunately, you die in the process. Now here's the best part. When Joker emerges from the crashed Normandy, he's with EDI. They look at the new planet and hug. I consider this the true Paragon ending since you create harmony among organic and synthetic life. Video below.


The first problem that I have with the ending is more with the writing than the actual ending. I don't have a problem with the somewhat sad endings. After all, didn't Halo: Reach end on a sad note? The exposition is lacking. First, Catalyst should tell the player how to execute the ending. For example, he could have said "Access the control panel on your left. You will control the Reapers." Yeah, they showed you what looked like Anderson shooting at the power conduit and the Illusive Man accessing the control panel. Still, it was confusing. I went to explore and was locked into an unwanted decision.

Second, the lack of exposition with the Normandy is a problem. I thought the bolt of energy from the Crucible only effected Reaper forces. Still, there's a scene where Joker is piloting the ship and trying to get her out of the way of the energy bolt. Okay. But why not have some dialogue to tell us what's happening. Then there should be a scene and dialogue where he makes jump to light speed and crashes the ship on a planet not earth.

Third, the game penalizes the single player. Look, if you want the ending where Shepard might live, you have to get a high EMS number. EMS is calculated by multiplying War Assets times the Readiness rating. Multiplayer gamers can get the Readiness rating up. For single player, your Readiness rating will be at 50 per cent. Obviously, the higher the Readiness rating the higher the EMS number. A single player must depend on collecting as many War Assets as possible.

If BioWare were thinking about changing anything, it's in this area. More exposition would be nice. And find a way for single players to get higher EMS scores.


I believe video games are art. The Mass Effect series is an epic game series. But more importantly, it's a platform to tell a story. It's no different than a science fiction novel. This is writer Mac Walters game or if you will, novel. While he must respect his audience, he must be allowed to tell his story free from pressure of the masses. That way, his ideas have integrity.

There is nothing wrong with the way Mass Effect 3 ended. The whole game had a feel of desperation. Why? The Reapers were romping all over the galaxy and it seems nothing could stop them. The protesters can't honestly think that a sad ending may not happen. Think about how diminished Casablanca would be if the audience demanded Ilsa go with Rick. I commend Walters and BioWare for not pandering for the need for a Hollywood happy ending.

As for the lack of choices in the ending, I urge those protesters to try all three endings. The Renegade ending may kill all the Reapers but it eliminates the Geth. Controlling the Reapers may not stop the problem in the future. And if you combine synthetic life with organic, you get a new galaxy of new life forms. Those are three endings with different consequences.

I liked the ending. The world was in real trouble. It looks like civilized life was over. And over for many planets. You or Shepard did something heroic. He sacrificed himself for the greater good. Check out the hopeful epilogue with the Stargazer and the little boy. (End of the first video above.) I love the use of the original, meditative music from the first Mass Effect. It has a lovely warmth. Perhaps that is the happy end that some of you want.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Stephen Colbert and the TacoCopter

Stephen Colbert does a very funny piece on the idea of delivering tacos by little robot helicopters. Check out his hilarious video piece.

Stephen Colbert takes on gun buying hysteria

Stephen Colbert takes a look at the right-wing hysteria over President Obama's alleged desire to take away our guns. From the head of the NRA to all the crazy people trying to buy guns because they believe in some liberal plot by Obama to destroy the Second Amendment, Stephen Colbert in his funny way tells the conservatives that there is no proof. That's because Obama and the Democrats haven't pass any anti-gun legislation. Check out Stephen's funny video.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Hunger Games Review

The executives at Lionsgate must have salivated when they decided to make The Hunger Games. It has the Twilight formula. Take best selling young adults book. Set said movie in a science fiction- fantasy world. And here's the important part, make sure the heroes are teenagers and have a love story with them. Voila. Hollywood blockbuster. Of course, it isn't that easy. A crappy teenage movie may not sell.

The Hunger Games is based on Suzanne Collins' best selling young adult novel of the same name. Taking place in the future, the government has divided the country into twelve districts. Because of a past rebellion, the government orders each district to send a male and female teenager from 12-18 to compete in "The Hunger Games" in which the teenagers fight to the death. The games are broadcast nationwide, with cameras everywhere in the wooded arena. It's part reality show, and gladiator contest. The games have their own obnoxious talk show hosted by Caesar Flickerman. (Stanley Tucci) And overseeing this dystopian future is President Coriolanus Snow. (Donald Sutherland)

District Twelve is a dirt poor district where mining is a primary source of income for the residents. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is adept at hunting with a bow to provide food for her indigent family. When Katniss' younger sister is chosen, she volunteers to take her place. Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) is also chosen from the district. Training them is alcoholic Haymitch Abernathy. (Woody Harrelson) He teaches them more than just how to kill each other, he teaches them about being popular so they can get sponsors. Sponsors are those people who may fly in medicine on a parachute if a contestant needs it. Peeta plays the game well, when he tells Flickerman on his show that he is in love with Katniss.

As I was watching the movie, I wondered what was the rebellion about that caused this dystopian society. I thought why would these games have a calming effect on the masses. After all, wouldn't this barbarism cause an uprising more than once? And that is one of the problems with The Hunger Games. We are not thinking but reacting. Director Gary Ross (Dave, Seabiscuit) knows how to pull the heart strings. But his movie lacks smarts. Then there is the uneven make-up, costumes and art direction. The District Twelve scenes look they belong to The Coal Miner's Daughter not the future. And what about that make-up, and hair? Elizabeth Banks character, Effie Trinket, looks like she was dipped in seventeenth century foppishness. Flickerman's blue hair looks ludicrous. Yeah, it might be in the book but it's a bad idea for the movie because it's too over the top in a distracting way.

But even with those problems, the movie takes off during the training scenes. It's all set up by a video flashback where a previous winner is looking at a bloody stone used to kill his final competitor. Director Ross gets great performances from his actors. There's a tension to them. And that comes across the screen. You feel dread because except for one, all these kids will die. When the game is on, Ross' direction is tight. He certainly knows how to stage a scene. The movie occasionally makes a mistake like a flashback in the middle of the game but those missteps are few.

Don't go to The Hunger Games looking for cerebral moviemaking. The gladiator type conflict was done much better in the original Star Trek episode, "Arena" because it was smarter. The Hunger Games is a teenage version of Gladiator. (2000) Still, The Hunger Games is an emotional thriller. The grade is B.

Hell freezes over; Bengals hire more scouts

Holy sh*t. The Cincinnati Bengals added two more scouts. Owner and defacto GM Mike Brown usually ignores what other people say he should do, like hire more scouts. A little over a year ago, I wrote that the Bengals suck because of Mike Brown; lack of scouts and a lack of creativity on offense. And since then the Bengals added Jay Gruden as offensive coordinator. He's still unproven but he seems to he more creative than Bob Bratkowski. Now the Bengals have added two scouts. Now that's something that many NFL experts have said the Bengals needed to upgrade. What next? A GM instead of owner Mike Brown? Super Bowl Championship? One can dream. One can dream.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Ads attacking Romney as the Etch-a Sketch candidate

You've heard Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's adviser describe Romney like an Etch-a-Sketch for the right-wing views that will be discarded during the general election. Well the left has produced two ads. One from the Democrats and one from American Bridge. They use Romney's own words to demonstrate his serial flip flopping for political expediency. Look to see protesters at Romney events with Etch-a-Sketches.

DNC ad.

American Bridge

The Etch-a- Sketch Candidate

A couple days ago, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's senior adviser, Eric Ferhnstrom, was asked if the pressure from the his conservative opponents has forced Romney to tack so far to the right that he can't get elected. Ferhnstrom got into trouble when he said the campaign could be reset "like an Etch-a-Sketch." Of course, this led to attacks from his fellow Republican right-wing opponents Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. It also led to Democratic criticism.

This comment should come as no surprise to anyone that has heard Mitt Romney. Prior to 2008 he was pro-choice, now he's a born again right to lifer. He supported the Massachusetts health care plan which is basically Obamacare as a model for the country. Now he says it won't work for the America. He believed in global warming now he questions it. He's absolutely shameless when he's pandering.

This led Rachel Maddow to call him a liar. Tough words. But if you view the flip flopping as saying one thing when you don't mean it, then you could call him a liar. Check out Rachel's piece below.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mass Effect 3 Disappearing Citadel Missions

Hopefully, you've been warned that certain Mass Effect 3 side missions will disappear if you don't play them right away. So far, I count four. "Grissom Academy." (Don't miss this one, if Jack is still alive after ME2. Good to see Jack again.) "Tuchanka Bomb." "Ardat-Yakshi Monastery." "Rescue Cerberus Scientists." Now if you fail to finish certain Citadel missions, those may also disappear.

So far I've lost two Citadel missions. There was the "Missing son" mission where you look for Ambassador Osoba's son. And yes, I found out he was dead by picking up his dog tag in the "N7 Cerberus Abduction Mission." Came back to the Citadel and the Ambassador was gone. And the other one was "Ismar Frontier: Prototype Components" mission. The salarian who wants those components disappears after awhile. I'm sure there are a few more but I completed them.

There seems to be one triggering event. It's the "Cure the Genophage" Priority mission. If you complete that mission, it will cause the "Citadel" priority mission to be played if you try to land on the Citadel. That mission is where the Citadel is under attack by Cerberus. Once you complete the Citadel mission, everything changes and you can collect new assignments on the Citadel.

Here' my tip and I'll update this post if it has negative consequences. Complete as many side missions, N7 missions and Citadel missions as you can before you start the "Cure the Genophage" mission.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Republicans shouldn't blame Obama for gas prices

Republicans get it wrong by blaming President Obama for higher gas prices. Yesterday on Hardball with Chris Matthews, Congressman Ed Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts put it this way. Domestic oil production has gone up (an eight year high) and demand ( by 7 per cent) has gone down. Note that Jo Ann Emerson, a Republican congresswoman from Missouri makes the argument for more drilling but she can't promise gas prices would go down. Higher gas prices are the result of speculators and OPEC. IF you watch the video, Congresswoman Emerson concedes that speculators and outside factors can drive up gas prices. Lower demand for gas will cause the prices to go down. Check out the Hardball video below.

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Javik of Mass Effect 3 is cool

I've read from commentators that Javik, the Prothean you get by completing the DLC mission "From Ashes" is ugly. I disagree. The lizard like skin and four eyes are cool. That's what an alien should look like. He's pictured above.

Mass Effect 3 Scanning Solar Systems Tips

Mass Effect 3 has replaced the dreadful mining from Mass Effect 2 with a scanning pulse from the Normandy. When you pick up something, EDI will tell you that you found something. They will be either raw materials, assets, or fuel. The rub is that sending out a pulse alerts the Reapers. It takes about three pulses before the Reapers enter the system and will destroy your ship. You can tell when they are about to arrive by the red alert bar on the left. If it fills up, here they come. Here are some tips to help you avoid the Reapers and make this a snap.

1. Orbit the planet with assets if Reapers are in the system. Say Reapers are already in the system and are chasing you. Make a beeline to the planet with the assets and orbit it. You can scan the planet and get the assets without being killed. Now, here's where you need to be careful. Once you break orbit, the Reapers will chase you. Fly like a bat out of hell to the green line which exits you out of the system and to safety. This also works with orbiting wreckage.

2. Save game and make a trial run with sensors. This is the best way to avoid Reapers in a solar system with assets. Save your game before you are to enter a solar system. Enter the system and scan away. Eventually the Reapers appear. Keep pinging away. Find the assets while avoiding the Reapers. Remember the location of where the assets are located in the system. Exit the system. Now reload the saved game. Maximize the sensor range and scan the areas where the assets were found in the trial run. It may take you two pings and the Reapers won't enter the system due to your economical use of the sensor. Easy.

Mass Effect 3 "From Ashes" Tip

Here's a tip for the last part of the DLC mission "From Ashes" for Mass Effect 3. This tip is for the normal difficulty setting. Okay, after you activate the Prothean's pod, you come under attack from Cerberus troops. At first there will be two waves. Stay in cover and wipe them out.

Once they're all dead, you get a message from your squad mate telling you that you should get ready. Move to the building in front of you and replenish your ammo. Remember how you got here? Yeah, you moved over the roof of this building. So head to the building 's ladder and climb back up. Bring the squad with you.

Now when the third wave of Cerberus troops arrive with the Atlas. you're at an elevated position. There's also cover up on the roof. The Atlas can't climb ladders. So rain down fire on it. You eventually put them all down with little effort.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Here are the Chieftains and the Corrs.

"From Ashes" DLC for Mass Effect 3 Review

In a controversial move, Electronic Arts has released a DLC (Downloadable content) on the same day that Mass Effect 3 has come out. Which means they want you to pay an extra ten bucks for the DLC or pay an extra twenty bucks for the Collector's Edition in which the DLC is included for free. The complaint from consumers? Why didn't EA include this DLC on the game disk since you've already paid sixty bucks? The DLC mission isn't that long so why try to milk an extra ten bucks from the customer? But the ultimate question is should you pay for the extra mission?

"From Ashes" is a mission which is available as soon as you first get back to the Normandy. You're instructed to go back to Eden Prime, the place where it all started for Shepard or you if you really identify with your character. It's here where he made contact with a Prothean beacon in the first Mass Effect. The Protheans were a race that fought the Reapers but were defeated. Their light vanished from the galaxy fifty thousand years ago. You are to recover a Prothean artifact. But here's the rub. It's not an artifact. It's an actual Prothean named Javik. He's in cryogenic freeze so you have to find the codes to safely thaw him out. Of course it isn't that easy because Cerberus forces will try to stop you.

It's a short mission. It will take you about two hours to get through it on the first playthrough. But it's not the gameplay that will keep your interest. It's the story of the Protheans as told through flashbacks. And when you get a chance to talk to Javik, you find some surprising things about the Proteheans. If you complete the mission, Javik becomes a member of your crew who can accompany you on away missions. With that, he brings his special "Dark Channel" power which is like Singularity without the lifting of an enemy. You can also use his assault rifle which is like the Collector Particle Beam but not as effective since it overheats.

But should you pay the extra ten bucks for this mission? Well, I hate to say it but just bend over and take it. Yeah, you don't need Javik. But if you're a fan of the game, you get great dialog with him. And the cutscenes of the Protheans downfall are compelling. I found learning about their culture from Javik, a fascinating and interesting experience. The grade is B +.

Santorum's Safe Sex

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has called for a war on pornography. On his website, he says, "It contributes to misogyny and violence against women" First, let's talk about the futility of doing this. The porn industry is a multibillion dollar industry. All of those people watching aren't all perverts. He cites no facts that porn cause violence against women. And what about the cost of prosecuting the hundreds of porn providers? Here's how hard it is to get a conviction on obscenity these days. In Cincinnati where porn king Larry Flynt was prosecuted for obscenity, he now has a Hustler store downtown that sells hardcore pornography. The world has changed and the Internet has led that change.

But this leads to Santorum's bigger problem regarding sex. He's out of touch with overwhelming majority of Americans. First, he opposes contraceptives. Yet, he ignores the fact that 99 per cent of sexually active women have used it at some point. He's against gay rights. Once, he said that gay sex was akin to man on dog sex and incest. On abortion, he opposes it to such a degree that he would not allow a woman who got raped be allowed to have an abortion. So, a woman would be hurt twice. Once for the rape and forced to take give birth to the rapist's child.

On pornography, he has no conception about what most Americans think about it. It's a multibillion dollar industry for one reason. Most Americans are okay with it. And I'm not talking about child pornography which is despicable. You see Americans believe in the right of privacy. Santorum doesn't. Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall put it this way when the court struck down a law prohibiting possession of pornography. "[I]f the First Amendment means anything, it means that a State has no business telling a man, sitting alone in his own house, what books he may read or what films he may watch." Stanley v. Georgia, 394 U.S. 557 (1969)

Rick Santorum doesn't want to return us to the fifties, he wants to return us back to the nineteenth century when it comes to sex. I find it laughable when Republicans scream about freedom that they can't get out of our bedrooms. For Santorum, the only safe sex is one sanctioned by the Catholic church.

Stephen Colbert on Santorum's Google problem.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Stephen Colbert on a sane Pat Robertson

When loopy televangelist and former Republican presidential candidate Pat Robertson makes lucid comments, Stephen Colbert theorizes why. And check out his commentary about a new reality TV show about rich Persian Americans. Get this. One of the cast of the show is gay. Here's Stephen's very funny video piece.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Go Rick Santorum

Yesterday, Rick Santorum won the Alabama and Mississippi Republican presidential primaries. Go Rick Santorum. You might ask why I want Santorum to win the Republican presidential nomination since I'm a liberal.

Easy. He's so far right on social issues that in the general election, he won't get liberal, moderate and independent votes. On abortion, he believes life begins at conception. So he's anti-abortion. But he's more radical than that. He wants to criminalize doctors who perform abortions. There would be no exceptions for rape if Santorum had his way. If a woman is raped, she will be punished twice. She will suffer the crime of rape and be forced to carry to term with all the pain and suffering of childbirth. He doesn't support contraceptives and let's face it folks. Under his draconian abortion views, you can see why. If a contraceptive prevents a fertilized egg from becoming implanted, it's probably murder to his view. And Santorum's views doom him with one major force of the electorate. Women.

If Rick Santorum wins the GOP presidential nomination, the party that once had Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Gerald Ford will have moved so far right that it no longer represents the large majority of the population. That means President Barack Obama gets re-elected for another term.

Jon Stewart tells Fox News to shut the BLEEP up

Yesterday, Jon Stewart of the Daily Show took on Fox News for its defense of Rush Limbaugh. Specifically, he took on Fox's conservative martyr complex which accuses the "liberal" media of double standard. You see they compare Limbaugh's remarks about Sandra Fluke in which he called her a "slut" and "prostitute" to liberal comedian Bill Maher's insults hurled at Sarah Palin. Sigh.

A quick few points here. Bill Maher is a comedian. Things he says are jokes. He makes no claims about leading a political movement. Whereas Rush Limbaugh is not a satirist or comedian. He wants to be taken seriously. Why do you think, he speaks to conservative groups like CPAC? Why do you think conservatives want to be on his show? He's not doing a stand up routine. He's so big in the conservative movement, that Republicans are scared to criticize him. He is the de facto leader of the conservatives. And by the way, Limbaugh's comments can be imputed to all women of sex bearing age who use contraceptives and want their insurance to cover the cost.

So Jon Stewart of the Daily Show had some things to say about Fox News' defense of Rush Limbaugh. Check out his piece.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Crazy, crazy Herman Cain, part 6

Holy crap. Herman Cain's PAC has issued an insane avant-garde political ad. It's not original. It's a take off of the "your brain on drugs" ad. Except it is the economy that is suffering from the economic stimulus in the form of a dying goldfish. Well, Stephen Colbert has issued a parody of the ad. And it's hilarious. Check it out.

Stephen Colbert takes on Eric Bolling's Secret Gas Price Plan

Fox News' Eric Bolling has a solution to the rising gas prices. Here's the rub, it's a secret that Bolling keeps in a manila envelope. And to trap President Barrack Obama, he only wants him to call him. But why doesn't this idiot just release it to the public so we can relieved of these high gas prices? Yeah, Bolling is a real patriot. NOT? Anyway, Stephen Colbert had a lot fun with this. Enjoy his hilarious video piece.

Is Obama a socialist?

Conservatives like to call Obama a "socialist." But is he? Jessica Williams of the Daily Show interviews some real socialists to find the answer. And well okay, the answer is he is not. But enjoy her funny piece.

Jon Stewart calls out Sean Hannity on the Obama Tapes

The right has been salivating over an old Barrack Obama tape which shows him giving a speech praising Harvard Law School professor Derrick Bell. The subject of the speech at a protest was about the "radical" idea of diversifying the faculty at Harvard. Well, Jon Stewart of the Daily Show takes on Fox News' Sean Hannity for hyping up the so called radical tape. Check it out.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

John Carter 3D Review

John Carter is the first of the big budget, epic science fiction movies to come out this year. Produced by Walt Disney and directed by Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo), it's based on Edger Rice Burroughs book, A Princess of Mars.

John Carter starts out with a prologue detailing a war between two city states Helium and Zodanga on Mars or as it is called by its inhabitants, Barsoom. The film then moves to 1881 where a wealthy John Carter, (Taylor Kitsch) a former Confederate cavalry officer, has summoned his young nephew, Edgar Rice Burroughs (Daryl Sabara) to his mansion. Once there Burroughs discovers that Carter is dead but has left his diary to him.

Burroughs starts to read the diary and the movie flashes back to Arizona in 1868. Carter is a man who is wanted by the Army to fight Native Americans. He refuses and escapes into the dessert where he discovers a mysterious cave. Once there he is attacked by a Thern, a race of mysterious shapeshifting aliens. Carter kills him but accidentally activates a device which transports him to Barsoom.

Once on Barsoom, he is captured by Tars Tarkas, (Willem Dafoe) a member of a race of tall, six limb aliens called Tharks. Carter discovers due to Mars' lower gravity, he has superhuman strength. Yeah, he can leap tall buildings in a single bound. Meanwhile Matai Shang (Mark Strong), a Thern, has forceed the evil leader of Zodanga, Sab Than (Dominic West) to end the war by marrying the beautiful princess of Helium, Dejah Thoris. (Lynne Collins) The purpose of the marriage? It wold force an alliance. She refuses and flees in her ship which is attacked by Than. John Carter saves her. Seeing his ability to fight, she wants him to fight for Helium. However, Carter wants to return to earth. Whew.

Director Stanton uses his experience from Pixar, the animation company, to good effect. He lets the story dictate the shots and the action. There are few camera gymnastics. The result is a movie that shows a strange new world and weird creatures. I found Basoom, an interesting planet. There are also nice touches of humor.

Taylor Kitsch does a good job as the reluctant hero, John Carter. Mark Strong as Shang does his usual fine work which is to portray any character he has with beautiful diction. Willem Dafoe is unrecognizable as Tars Tarkas. And by that I mean his voice sounds nothing like him. Lynn Collins makes Dejah, a dedicated leader of her people but also is a stunning woman who commands the screen.

The score by Michael Giacchino deserves mention. It's epic and romantic in the "Lawrence of Arabia" way. And it has touches of "Planet of the Apes." It's another great score by Giacchino.

But where the movie stumbles is the screenplay by Stanton, Mark Andrews and Michael Chabon. Starting the movie with Burroughs plot device is nice homage but it takes away from the main part of the movie. There's a lack of exposition in the middle of the film. I mean you have to be an uber geek to get who the Therns are. And the discovery of a mysterious machine was confusing. This cloudy narrative hurts the movie.

As for the 3D version, skip it. It's a conversion from 2D to 3D. While I admit the conversion is good, there's depth in many of the scenes, it's still inferior to a movie shot in 3D. On any conversion, you get this pop up book feel. There's no way artists and computers can fill in the blanks of 3D objects. And worse, it's too dark. That's the price of converting form 2D. The movie was shot in 2D so the lighting probably was not adjusted for the 3D polarization. Scenes at night look like mud. Save the extra bucks if you want to see this movie, and see it in 2D.

John Carter is a romantic science fiction movie. It's enjoyable. The grade is B.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog at the Westminster Dog Show

There are times that I wish for Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog to tell me about something that he wants to poop on. You see, Triumph will compliment on something like say a city and then say it's "for me to poop on." Example. "Pittsburgh is a nice city... for me to poop on." Anyway, here's a classic video from Conan O'Brien's show where he makes fun of a subjective competition, the Westminster Dog Show. Subjective competitions are nice contests ... for me to poop on. I keeed. I keeed. Anyway enjoy the video.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

New Mass Effect 3 trailer

Check out this new Mass Effect 3 trailer posted by GameSpot. It looks like it uses in game graphics. And it kicks ass.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Rush Limbaugh apologizes

Rush Limbaugh apologized to Sandra Fluke today for calling her a "slut" and "prostitute." Here's the story and Rush's words.

"For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week. In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.

I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit? In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone's bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level.

My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices."

Does that sound contrite? I'll quote Fox News, you decide. Or did somebody take Rush to the woodshed and tell him that they were losing sponsors and he had better apologize.

Play ball! Baseball starts.

Hooray, the 2012 Major League Baseball season has started. Today was the first spring training game for the Cincinnati Reds. They played the Cleveland Indians to a 6-6 tie at the Goodyear Ballpark in Arizona. Two home runs by the Reds should be noted. First baseman Neftali Soto blasted one to right in the fifth. If he pans out, there's going to be less sting with the Yonder Alonzo trade. And Todd Frazier hit one out in the bottom of the ninth. Frazier as a utility player or back-up to shortstop or third has some pop in his bat. Here's the story.

Rachel Maddow questions whether Rush Limbaugh or Mitt Romney understand contraceptives

Rachel Maddow on Friday's show talked about Rush Limbaugh's comments on Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student whom he called a "slut" and "prostitute." She then questioned whether Limbaugh or Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney understand how hormonal birth control works. With Romney she points out that with his position that life begins at conception, he would ban birth control. Reason? Birth control can stop a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. Hence it would be murder under Romney's definition and contraception would have to be banned. Anyway, here's Friday's piece and the piece on birth control she did on October 20, 2011.

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October 20, 2011 piece

New Orleans Saints rewarded for hurting opposing players

The NFL has just conducted an investigation in which it discovered that for the last three years, the New Orleans Saints have rewarded its players for injuring opponents. They would pay $1000.00 for "cart-offs" and $1500.00 for "knockouts." Cart-offs were defined when a player was carried off the field. "Knockouts" are when a player cannot return to the game. Here's the story.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Leader of the conservatives calls a woman law student, a "prostitute"

You've probably heard conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh call a female law student who testified before Congress, a "slut" and "prostitute." Her name was Sandra Fluke. She was testifying on the need of employers to cover the costs of contraceptives in their health insurance plans. To be fair to Rush, here's the exact words:

"What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex -- what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex."

A couple of things here Rush. Many women use contraceptives. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi stated that ninety percent of Catholic women of childbearing age use birth control. I have not seen any Republican dispute that fact. So that makes these women sluts? Regardless, nobody is paying any woman to have sex when you cover their birth control medicine. That comment about prostitution is just plain spurious. Second, if you heard her testimony, contraceptives are also used for non-sexual purposes, such as their ability to stop the growth of cysts.

Now, let's face it. Limbaugh is the de facto head of the conservatives. That also makes him head of the Republicans. They don't challenge this guy. Remember in 2010, when he called liberals a bunch of "retards?" Sarah Palin who has a special needs child called out former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel for using the term but defended Rush as being a satirist. Which by the way was hilariously lampooned by Stephen Colbert. Video below. This stuff about Limbaugh being an entertainer or satirist is nonsense. He gives speeches and writes books which espouse the conservative philosophy in a serious manner. Conservatives want to be on his show, not to be laughed at but to talk about their conservative views. He's not a comedian.

Yeah, there are some Republicans who are critical of Limbaugh. But it's nowhere near what needs to be done. And that is to call his remarks reprehensible. Presidential candidate Rick Santorum merely called his remarks "absurd" and referred to him as an entertainer. Sounds like Palin. House Speaker John Boehner office called the comments "inapropriate" which is woefully inadequate. Now, a small group of Republicans, including Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) have demanded an apology. That's a start but not nearly enough response from the Republicans.

I've been robocalled!

Checked my voice mail yesterday. I've been robocalled by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's superpac. I feel like Bill Murray in Ghostbusters. I feel like I've been slimed.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Modern Republicans have moved far right

I have said that there are no more moderates in the Republican Party. Gone are the Gerald Fords and Nelson Rockefellers. Now you can add moderate Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) because she's quitting. The reason? She complains how hard it is to get anything done. And let's face it she's out touch with the modern Tea Party dominated Republicans.

Want proof? This is why I love Rachel Maddow. She finds facts to support her argument. Yesterday, she did a story about a University of Georgia study that shows starting in the late seventies, the Republicans have shifted to the far right. Moderates are gone. The study shows that Democrats are staying where they are at. That means it's the Republicans who have gotten extreme. Here's the story.

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How you can tell if you're watching 3D in the movie theater

This has happened to me twice. I go to a 3-D (3D) film and the movie theater is running the movie in 2D. One theater caught it and gave me a pass. The other theater I had to get my money back after twenty minutes. So how do you know if the movie you are watching is in 3D? Here's two ways to tell.

1. Effects should pop. Now understand many conversions, movies converted from 2D to 3D, look unimpressive. But the first scenes of the studio logo are usually produced so that they pop. That means they stand out. For example, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012) had the CGI logos of New Line Cinema and Warner Brothers pop. I felt I could touch the logos.

Here's more examples of the popping effect. Later in Journey 2, there's a scene where broken glass stands out in front of a character. A closeup of the eye of a character has depth. Again it's easier if you catch the logos at the front because you maybe watching a conversion. The great thing about Journey 2 is that it was filmed in 3D and it gives you that impressive pop.

2. Without 3D glasses the picture should be out of focus and have ghost images. During the movie, take off your 3D glasses for a few seconds. While viewing the movie without 3D glasses, the image should look out of focus. There should be ghosting of the images on the screen. If there isn't ghosting and you can watch the movie without 3D glasses, chances are it's not being run in 3D.

Conclusion. You want to determine whether a movie is being run by the theater in 3D right away. Once you determine it isn't, complain to an employee. If they don't stop the film right away to fix it, I would demand my money back. You pay extra money for a 3D movie. You should get to see it in 3D.