Quick Fix: So, um, about that deadline…

I know I said I had a firm deadline of February 4th for the next retrospective series, and when I wrote that I actually intended it to be 2 weeks from when I made that post. However, when I released it and realized that it was only a week til then I figured “eh, I can probably get it done”… well, unfortunately I’m caught between a rock and a hard place right now. I haven’t had time to get the damn movie even watched, so I’m basically going to have to delay it for a week to the originally intended date. It was either this or break my “at least one update per week” rule, and I’m not about to do that if I don’t have to.

Anyway, in other news I’ve been working on a fan edit of The Hobbit, and it’s nearly complete. Honestly, I like The Hobbit, but I feel the movie gets dragged down by the overly-lighthearted tone and filler sections. I’ve cut out nearly 40 minutes of footage (from the extended edition anyway) and the movie seems to be far better paced, with much less silliness. When I finish it I’ll probably provide a link (that said, fanedits are a major legal grey area so I might not be able to follow through on that).

I’ve also started a DayZ series on Youtube, part one should be up shortly. I have a lot of trouble even connecting to the damn game, but when I can get a major play session in, it’s a lot of fun… buggy as shit though. Pretty much certain that I lost my character too in the latest update, which just sucks because I’d had him survive over 10 hours. Seriously, I’d only legitimately died twice in all of my time on DayZ, every other time I’ve either had my character randomly wiped or I’ve been killed by lag. Yes, lag is so bad in DayZ that it can literally be fatal to your character. Still, I’m enjoying the game in spite of its major problems.

Oh and I can’t forget Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Holy crap that was unexpected, shocking and tragic. It was a senseless waste of talent, Hoffman was easily one of the most talented actors in Hollywood (and unlike most celebrity eulogies, that is not hyperbole). His death really goes to show how destructive addiction is. I was at work listening to Sixx Sense, and Nikki Sixx was talking about how this event really hit home for him because of his past with drugs. Apparently Hoffman had been sober for almost 20 years, but relapsed and… well, this just shows that if you struggle with addiction, you never are fully over it – that shit can come back and kill you if you don’t fight it every day. RIP Phillip Seymour Hoffman, you will be sorely missed.

Quick Fix: Updates!

Just a quick post this week with some updates on life and the blog. First of all, I got a new computer finally! For the last couple years, I’ve been operating off of a relatively cheap laptop which I always considered a stop-gap to a longer term solution. It was adequate for school, but when I wanted to do video editing it could barely handle it – rendering would take hours, video clips couldn’t be more than 720p at 30FPS, etc. Plus it couldn’t handle PC gaming beyond the least-intensive titles (thank God for Civilization IV). Anyway, the new computer is doing quite well for me, with my only real complaints being that I think I need a better network card and that Windows 8 is idiotic. Well, I’m also having some troubles with DayZ, but I chalk that up to my Internet connection and the game’s buggy alpha status rather than the computer itself (by the way, get DayZ, it’s addictive).

Related to the new computer is some paintballing news. My team, The Stormrunners, is gearing up for the 2014 season, our fourth as an organized unit. In anticipation for this, I have put together a video of the highlights from the 2013 season, it should be online soon so keep an eye on my Youtube page for it!

Finally, it’s been almost a month since the last retrospectives series ended, so it’s getting pretty close to the time for the next one to start. I’ve been mulling over three possible franchises for this latest series, but I think I’ve finally narrowed it down to a single candidate. I was considering doing something quite different, but I’ll save that for sometime in the future for now… Anyway, I’m going to set a firm start point of February 11th for this series, so be sure to tune in for that.

8 Celebrities Who Have Turned Their Careers Around in Recent Years (For Better or Worse)

With the Oscar nominees recently announced, one or who names popped out at me as people who, a few years ago, would never have struck me as great actors. On the flip-side of that coin, there are other actors who had promising careers not too long ago, but are now some of the most hated people in Hollywood. Naturally, I’ve compiled a list of these actors for your reading pleasure, although there were quite a few more of them than I expected. Note that this is only listing actors who had major career shifts

Honourable Mentions: Ben Affleck (mostly for directing, although his acting was praised in Argo too… I’ll reserve judgement on this though until Batman/Superman), Adam Sandler (I consider 9 years removed from a decent movie too long ago to be “recent”), Mel Gibson (ditto), Joaquin Phoenix (went nuts for I’m Still Here, but thankfully ended that non-sense and is back to Oscar baiting), Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart (both were major up-and-comers, until Twilight annihilated their long-term careers… however, Pattinson is still in good graces and might just scrape out a career), Liam Neeson (from dramatic actor to action movie badass, although Taken 2 knocked the winds out of those sails).

8) Danny Trejo

Formerly: Ugly/badass extra in every damn movie (especially Robert Rodriguez movies)
Now: Machete, B-movie king

Danny Trejo is a workhorse. Look at his IMDb profile – he appears in dozens of films every year, usually as an extra. However, ever since Robert Rodriguez gave him his first leading man role in Machete, Trejo has suddenly become the go-to bad ass leading man in shlocky, straight-to-DVD B-movies… and honestly, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Danny Trejo seems to be having a blast with his new-found recognition. I remember reading an interview for Machete Kills where Trejo was all giddy because he had to film a (rather tame) sex scene with Amber Heard, and couldn’t believe that he was actually getting paid for that job (which of course had Amber in stiches). And honestly, I’d probably be reacting the same way.

7) Sylvester Stallone

Formerly: Washed up action hero
Now: Modern-day action hero, redeemed actor

The Italian Stallion was one of the biggest names in Hollywood throughout the late 70s and 80s, creating such mammoth franchises as Rocky and Rambo. It should also be noted that he nearly won best actor and best screenwriter for Rocky. However, after a string of terrible Rocky sequels and weak action movies (buoyed only by Cliffhanger), 1995’s Judge Dredd pretty much marked the end of Sly’s career as a legitimate leading hero in the eyes of the public. The movie was an all-round embarrassment and marked the beginning of the low period in his career. So when Rocky Balboa was announced, obviously people were skeptical – Sly was too old, the Rocky sequels generally sucked, etc. Of course, Sly had the last laugh, because by all accounts, Rocky Balboa was extremely well received. After that came Rambo, which was easily the best film in that franchise since the original (and also one of the most brutal movies I’ve ever seen). Then came the Expendables films, which aren’t exactly amazing, but have helped keep Sly popular. He hasn’t been as successful in his smaller endeavours (eg, Bullet to the Head), but for the moment Stallone is definitely back in the spotlight.

6) Will Smith

Formerly: Will Smith, the most bankable star in Hollywood
Now: Will Smith, annoying Hollywood father

Will Smith has a ton of charisma and is a natural leading man. His IMDb profile reads like a list of major hits of the last two decades, with 2000-2008 probably being the height of his career as the man who could have any role he wanted to, regardless of race. Even somewhat shoddy or butchered material, such as I Am Legend, are elevated by Smith’s presence. Anyway, Smith’s career began to turn around with Seven Pounds, a film which was hyped to be the movie to earn him a Best Actor win at the Oscars. However, the movie fell flat (not due to Smith’s efforts however), and Smith decided to neglect his own career in favour of his son Jayden’s. The results haven’t been too good – since shelving his own career, Jayden has put out such dreck as The Karate Kid remake and After Earth, the latter of which features Will Smith in a cameo (which was clearly done to try to piggy-back Jayden to stardom on his father’s name). As a result, Will Smith’s own popularity has been dropping sharply, and if he’s not careful then he might lose audiences’ goodwill entirely.

5) Bradley Cooper

Formerly: Douchebag from The Hangover, Hollywood pretty-boy
Now: Bradley Cooper, two-time Oscar nominee and David O. Russell darling

Bradley Cooper’s career has been rather interesting. He slowly worked his way up to leading roles over the course of a decade until he gained real recognition in The Hangover as the pretty boy opposite Zach Galifianakis (the real break-out star from that film) and Ed Helms. However, this big break was nearly wasted on films such as All About Steve, Valentine’s Day and The A-Team, all of which didn’t display his talents very well. However, he was saved by the major hit that was Limitless, which displayed his leading-man potential. This drew David O. Russell, a favourite director of the Academy, to Cooper for the one-two punch of Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, earning Cooper consecutive acting nominations. At this rate, it seems that Bradley Cooper is like Mark Wahlberg in that he’s as good as the script in front of him, but there’s no denying that he’s a hot property in Hollywood these days.

4) Jonah Hill

Formerly: Fat, juvenile sex comedy star
Now: Legitimate actor (and another two-time Oscar nominee)

Jonah Hill is one of many major Hollywood names to get his big break from Judd Apatow (others including James Franco, Seth Rogen, Steve Carell, Lizzy Caplan and Paul Rudd). For years he was appearing in Apatow sex comedies like The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up before starring alongside Michael Cera in Superbad. Of course, this made everyone associate him with juvenile humour and/or sex comedies, meaning he was stuck with films like Accepted on his CV. However, out of nowhere, Jonah Hill decided to stretch his acting chops and got a Best Supporting Actor nod for Moneyball. Everyone was shocked – the Jonah Hill!?! Since then he has starred in the very successful 21 Jump Street remake, made fun of his public persona (and Oscar-nom status) in This Is the End and even bagged a second Supporting Actor nomination with The Wolf of Wall Street. It looks like Jonah Hill’s star is only going to be ascending at this rate.

3) Ryan Gosling

Formerly: Pretty boy from The Notebook
Now: Legitimate, big-name actor and badass action hero with a sensitive side

Did anyone expect that the pretty faced guy from every romantic’s favourite movie, The Notebook, would ever be seen mashing a man’s head on screen with his foot? Ryan Gosling was a bit of a joke for years after The Notebook, hated by a lot of guys for his pretty looks. However, he was building up his acting chops in the meantime, with an acclaimed performance in Blue Valentine (a film which got further exposure due to the MPAA unjustly slapping it with an NC-17 rating). However, it wasn’t until Nicholas Winding Refn’s Drive that the public woke up and said “Wait… this guy is awesome!” The public hyped Drive up for Best Picture and Gosling for Best Actor (although neither came to fruition), and suddenly Gosling was getting choice roles, such as Oscar-hopeful The Ides of March and mindless actioner Gangster Squad. He lost some goodwill after Only God Forgives, but Nicholas Winding Refn has taken the brunt of that scorn. Gosling says he might be retiring from acting soon, but we will see how his career shapes up when or if that happens.

2) Shia LaBeouf

Formerly: Big-name child actor and major up-and-coming star for the new millenium
Now: Lindsay Lohan, with a dick

Shia LaBeouf got the break of a lifetime with the TV show Even Stevens, which looked like the springboard to a major Hollywood career. And to be fair, it worked – Shia started landing lead roles in such notable films as Holes and Disturbia. However, his major thrust into the spotlight came from Michael Bay’s Transformers, which surprised everyone by just how entertaining it was. LaBeouf’s performance wasn’t exactly acclaimed, but he was fine for the role. However, then Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull happened and suddenly the public turned on Shia. Pretty much everyone hated Mutt Williams, including Shia himself. Then Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen happened, and suddenly Sam Witwicky was irritating as sin. With the exception of Lawless, everything LaBeouf has done since 2007 has been the recipient of public scorn, and even in his private life he has become an object of ridicule. Really, he has become a waste of the talent and potential that he displayed ten years ago.

1) Matthew McConaughey

Formerly: The guy in every terrible romantic comedy
Now: Major acting powerhouse and probably this year’s Best Actor winner

I was too young to remember it, but apparently Matthew McConaughey was a pretty hot property during the 90s. However, I only really knew him as he appeared in the early-to-mid 2000s: the guy who shows up in every awful romantic comedy and slap-dash blockbuster. I don’t know if he was sleepwalking throughout that period, but I saw Sahara, it was stupid, and McConaughey phoned in his performance. However, legend has it that after seeing one of his romantic comedies (Fool’s Gold possibly? Maybe Ghosts of Girlfriends Past? Failure to Launch? Argh, there’s too many possibilities), he woke up and realized that he was wasting his talents and career. As a result, he decided to shape up with films such as We Are Marshall and his hilarious turn in Tropic Thunder. However, he didn’t move into a truly major performance until The Lincoln Lawyer. Since then he has been an annual Oscar contender for such films as Mud, Killer Joe and Dallas Buyer’s Club, while still entertaining the ladies in Magic Mike. Honestly, his career seems to be only getting better, as he is the lead in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. I never thought it was possible, but I salute you McConaughey – you really turned your career around and saved your reputation.

7 Ways AVP Inspired Recent Alien and Predator Movies

So when I wasn’t playing the shit out of Battlefield 4 on PS4, the AVP Miniatures Game I’ve been talking about the last two weeks inspired me to go back and revisit Paul W.S. Anderson’s much-maligned 2004 Alien vs Predator movie. It was actually worse than I remember it being, but while watching it I noticed something a bit… odd. Considering that Predators and Prometheus, the most recent Predator and Alien movies respectively seem to draw plot points and details from AVP liberally. This is especially surprising considering that they have done their damnedest to distance themselves from the AVP films. I’ve compiled seven examples of these instances here for examination.

As a note before we begin, I would like to mention that Prometheus and Predators are much better films than either AVP. I also figure that most of these similarities are coincidental, but find the links interesting enough to warrant mentioning. Oh and it should probably go without saying that SPOILERS ARE IN EFFECT.

Honourable Mention: Two expendable goofballs get separated from the main group and have very bad things befall them… (Prometheus)

I didn’t include this one because it seems more like a genre trope than anything, but in AVP… uhhh gimme a second to look up the names of the “characters” in this movie… umm so Miller and Verheiden get separated from the main characters and begin bumbling and freaking out. Neither have really done anything so far but they try to buddy up to get through things since they’re both “dads” and therefore can’t give up. If only they knew they were in a horror film they might have just turned the guns on themselves… Anyway, both end up getting captured by the Aliens and impregnated.

Meanwhile, in Prometheus, scientists Fifield and Milburn have had enough scary alien crap and so head back to the ship… but get lost like dumbasses despite having a digital map on them. They basically scream and hold each other until Milburn tries to pet a hissing serpent (no homo). They are mysteriously killed and/or weaponized soon after.

7) Predators Hunt in Threes (Predators)

I think there’s some precedence for this development in the Predator and AVP comics, hence why I rank it so lowly. However, to be fair, how often do films series respect extended universe stories? Just look at Alien 3, which took a dump on all the Alien comics which had been written as sequels to Aliens. I imagine that the new Star Wars movies will invalidate all the post-ROTJ fiction as well. In that regard, considering that all prior Predator films featured only a single hunter, this is a pretty interesting correlation.

In AVP a trio of Predator teenagers head off to their ritual hunting grounds to kill some xenomorphs (and any foolish humans who get in their way). In Predators, a trio of Super Predators hunt aliens and humans on their game preserve planet. In either case, three isn’t the magic number as they all get killed.

6) Mysterious Temple of Bad Things (aka Human Killing Grounds) (Prometheus)

Considering that both AVP and Prometheus are horror films, it makes sense that the mysterious, alien-built temple of doom that the protagonists come across would turn out to be something bad in the end. However, I think it’s more than a little odd that Prometheus features this trope at all, considering that it is trying to do something unlike the AVP films. If you really wanted to stretch it you could probably try to make an argument that both structures are pyramids, although the Engineer’s weapon facility looks more like a mound to me. There’s other similarities as well, such as the fact that the protagonists are able to conveniently read and translate the glyphs on the walls which are written in an unknown language. The owners of the temples also end up getting defeated by Xenomorphs/proto-Xenomorphs, both during and prior to the events of the films.

In AVP, the humans discover a temple 2000ft beneath Antarctica. It turns out that it is an ancient Predator hunting ground where humans are sacrificed to create Xenomorphs. In Prometheus, the humans travel to the Engineer’s planet to trace back to the origin of life. They end up discovering a weapon’s facility where the Engineers destroyed themselves with biological weapons before they could purge humanity from the stars.

5) Aliens Are Responsible for Civilization on Earth (Prometheus)

What’s with the recent fascination with the belief that humans were created/improved by aliens? I mean, they have a bloody TV show on “The History Channel” for goodness sake. Oh and of course there are people who think that Prometheus is a true story, but covered-up to look fictionalized (because as we all know, the best way to hide the truth is to give it a $130 million dollar budget and a wide release and then expect that absolutely no one will be crazy enough to believe it). Anyway, both AVP and Prometheus have this idea as a central plot point, even if it doesn’t make all that much sense.

In AVP, the Predators established the early civilizations and taught them to build pyramids so they could hunt Xenomorphs in them. They also apparently did a whole Tower of Babel thing too, because apparently the temple in Antarctica has all of the ancient cultures in its architecture and language, but somehow this singular origin didn’t muddy their own cultures, since they still remain unique (…AVP is really dumb). In Prometheus, the Engineers were the origin of life on Earth through a Christ-like sacrifice. They also came back later and helped civilize humanity, being worshiped as gods by us and leaving behind star maps for us to follow.

4) People Inexplicably Bring Weapons on a Scientific Expedition (Prometheus)

Scientific research is to the Alien franchise as archaeology is to Indiana Jones – if it can’t be shot at then it isn’t worth investigating. Supposed “scientists” in both films don’t do their jobs at all, generally acting like stupid tourists gawking about on their field trip. Also worth noting is the fact that the female protagonist in both AVP and Prometheus says that weapons aren’t needed, but are dismissed offhand. Guns are cool, but seriously… they aren’t really justified in either film very well at all. Of course, the weapons end up being useless anyways. In AVP I think a grand total of… two Aliens end up getting shot by the humans (and one of them was with some sort of sci-fi gun which just showed up out of nowhere). In Prometheus, only one creature gets killed by guns, but to be fair it was more because he ended up getting backed over by a huge-ass car.

As for justifications, AVP takes the cake for being more inexcusable. It’s a scientific expedition to a temple 2000ft beneath Antarctica… there’s not going to be anything alive down there. You could argue that they have the guns in case another team comes to investigate the site, but doesn’t that sound excessive? Obviously the only reason they have the guns is so that Paul W.S. Anderson can have his stupid action movie. At least in Prometheus they are venturing into the unknown to meet a potentially hostile alien species face-to-face… but still, considering that they had no reason to believe they harboured us ill-will (considering the Engineers created us and all that), it’s a tad tenuous.

3) The Hero Teams Up With a Predator (Who Gets Killed for His Troubles) (Predators)

LittleJimmy hates this trope, but I don’t have a huge problem with it myself. That said, Predators should not be seen as good guys, but rather as lawfully evil figures. Predators fits that criteria, while AVP ventures too close to making the Predator a hero. Oh and I could have swore to God that Paul W.S. Anderson was going to make Lex and the Predator kiss, it’s probably the most “WTF!?!!” moment in the whole movie. In any case, both Predators end up getting killed shortly after (is it too much to ask that a Predator actually survive a damn Predator film for once? They must have a ridiculous mortality rate).

In AVP, the humans steal the Predators’ weapons, which makes them get picked off easily by the Aliens. In the end, the last remaining human and Predator team up to bring down the temple and kill the escaped Queen. However, right at the end the Predator gets impaled by the Queen’s tail and dies. In Predators, Royce frees a captured Predator who begrudgingly directs Royce to a Predator shuttle in exchange. The Predator ends up getting killed by a Super Predator shortly after though.

2) Weyland (Prometheus)

This is another odd similarity for a series that was trying to move away from the AVP movies. Why is an aged and terminally ill founder of Weyland enterprises a commonality between the two? Even if you dismiss the rest of this article, this one’s pretty damn compelling to me because we get a really similar character and motivation in both films.

In AVP, Charles Bishop Weyland discovers the temple in Antarctica and wants to lay claim to the find. He is dying and wants to leave his mark on history by making the greatest discovery in human history (read: he wants to become immortal in a metaphorical sense). He also seems to have secret agendas and doesn’t heed warnings that he should let go of his hubris. He gets killed for his troubles of course. In Prometheus, Peter Weyland wants to lay claim to Elizabeth Shaw’s discovery of the Engineers. His crew have a secret agenda which hangs over the entire expedition. It turns out that Weyland was secretly in stasis aboard their ship and is close to death. He wants to meet the Engineers and have them make him literally immortal, even though Shaw warns him that they will kill him instead. Predictably, he ends up getting bitch slapped to death by an Engineer.

1) The Opening Briefings are Nearly Identical (Prometheus)

This is the plot point which really kicked off this article because when I watched it in AVP I thought “wait a minute… didn’t I already see this…?” Both scenes follow the same purpose and structure, they’re at similar points in the film, hell even the details are similar. They’re basically the early exposition dump to get the audience up to speed and set up what’s going to happen. Both scenes open with Weyland’s right hand man/woman beginning the presentation before giving the floor to Weyland himself (or a hologram of Weyland at least) to explain the finer details. The briefings are occurring in a wide-open chamber aboard their respective ships, while the attendees are sitting in cheap folding chairs (!).

The nature of the briefing scenes also create their own problems, because from what we’re shown all of these people apparently didn’t know where the hell they were going or doing until this briefing started (especially egregious in Prometheus). At least in AVP they try to create a sense of urgency, in Prometheus it’s just lazy. The whole scientific angle also gets thrown out the window in Prometheus because Shaw says that they’re on this expedition for Engineers is because “that’s what she chooses to believe”. Umm, good thing for you that Weyland’s a crackpot then I guess. Oh and then there’s another problem – why send a manned team at all? Why not send an unmanned drone to investigate first instead of pouring a trillion dollars into searching for Engineers who probably aren’t there in the first place (as the characters state on many occasions)?

Anyway, despite everyone hating AVP, it seems that it has managed to spread its influence to subsequent Alien and Predator films. Sure, it’s probably entirely coincidental, but the connections are interesting at the very least. I hope you enjoyed. Retrospectives should be beginning next week so stay tuned for that!

Quick Fix: Battlefields, Retrospectives, Aliens and Novels

A bit of a quick post this week on, coincidentally, the 5th of November. Not that I’m an anarchist or even a huge fan of V For Vendetta, but the date has a bit of pop culture significance so it’s notable in itself.

Anyway as you probably know, Battlefield 4 was released a week ago and (predictably) I’ve been playing the shit out of it. Actually, I rented it for 4 days and have since had to return it, but I’m already jonesing to play again. I’ve only gotten ahold of the PS3 version so far, but I’m stoked to see it in action on the PS4. I’m actually surprised at how BF4 turned out on PS3, the beta had tempered my expectations, but it’s fully-featured and functional. Graphically, it’s muddier and has worse textures than BF3, and I think the maps might have been shrunk, but overall if you can’t get any other platform then the current-gen versions of the game are certainly a lot of fun. When I’m a bit more acclimatized to it I’ll probably make a new “Battlefield Tips” post, but in the meantime you can check out my Battlelog profile. I’m also seriously considering buying an Elgato Game Capture HD to record in-game footage, so keep an eye out for that – my Youtube page might be getting updates in the near future… On the negative side though, the netcode needs some retooling, at the moment it’s extremely frustrating getting killed in what seems like a single shot by everyone. I probably need a bit more practice (it took me about 30 hours to acclimatize to Battlefield 3 from Battlefield: Bad Company 2), but hopefully this issue is rectified in the PS4 version, or a patch comes along soon.

I think I’ve also got the next Retrospective lined up, partially out of convenience since one of my brothers owns the whole series on DVD. I don’t have a firm date on when I’ll begin the series, but it should be before the end of the month… actually, now that I think about it, that’s pretty much perfect and should coincide well with future events… and I won’t say anymore than that. Ho ho ho. In any case, I’m thinking of doing something unconventional for the Retrospective after this one, so be sure to keep an eye on the blog in the new year!

This is a bit of personal excitement here, but there’s an AVP miniatures game coming soon, and based on the sculpts it looks FANTASTIC. I’m seriously stoked beyond belief for this. It’s coming to Kickstarter and traditional retail methods soon, so I’ll post up a link when it becomes available and when more info is released. In the meantime, I need some people to play it with on release…

Finally, a bit of exciting news. I have begun writing a sci-fi novel, which will expand into a series at some point. Of course, this is assuming I finish it – I already have an unfinished manuscript sitting on my computer from an abandoned project so I don’t like to count my chickens before they’re hatched. The novel is largely in the conceptual stage at the moment, but I’ve got the basic trajectory of the story developed and have written first drafts of the prologue and about half of the first chapter already. All-in-all I’m pretty excited about it and sincerely hope I actually take the effort to finish the damn thing!

Feminism in Media

In modern North American society, feminists have about as bad a rep as a man goosestepping down the street with a Swastika on his shoulder. That’s not to say that everyone necessarily thinks that women should get back into the kitchen and collectively make us a sandwich. Rather, it would seem to me that both men and women are sick of feminists shoving their agenda down the public’s throat. I’m sure there’s a good deal of failed communication which is at the root of this problem (this is a huge generalization but from my observations, feminists don’t bother to explain their views to the uninitiated and get really angry when anyone goes against them). There’s also the issue that many people think that feminism is beating a dead horse – after all, aren’t women equal to men in society now more or less? I’m not exactly versed in women’s studies so I’ll leave that particular question to someone else to handle.

In any case, despite the stigma which is attached to feminists, I do have to say that I have really noticed considerable sexism and misogyny recently in the media I have been viewing. Three 2013 releases have gotten me thinking about the state of feminism in film today: World War Z, Gangster Squad and (to a much lesser extent) Machete Kills. World War Z is what really kick-started this entire article for me. If you saw the movie, then you probably know what I’m talking about – the entire first half hour of the film features Brad Pitt protecting his useless wife and equally useless daughters who seem to be doing their damnedest to get them all killed. I can guarantee that no one walked out of that film thinking “wow, I really liked Gerry’s wife and kids, they were great characters!” Now I’m not saying that the women should have suddenly picked up machine guns and blown away the zombies while making an obtuse point that women are as good as then men (a la 80s action films). Rather, it would have been nice if they had done… I dunno, anything. Sure, Karen can try to keep her children safe, but she can do that by trying to fight off the zombies sometimes. Or maybe she can not call her husband in the middle of an important life-threatening mission (and subsequently getting a lot of people killed). Oh and when Karen and the kids are holed up on the aircraft carrier, maybe they could try to help out? Hell, read up on the original ending of the film – it was supposed to be even more misogynistic than it ended up being.

Clearly the writers only threw the female characters into World War Z to be plot devices. In a movie like World War Z which feels like it was written and directed by committee, it’s clear that the studio didn’t give a damn about how the women were portrayed in the film or that casual misogyny would affect their bottom-line. In fact, I’m surprised by how well it did and was received in spite of this glaring issue. In a lot of ways it reminds me of Chinua Achebe’s essay “An Image of Africa”, where Achebe decries Joseph Conrad for reducing Africans and the continent of Africa in Heart of Darkness to nothing more than a plot device. While I don’t entirely agree with Achebe on his criticisms, he does make a good point, that reducing people and places to plot devices strips their history and identity away, making them little more than a reflection of the male protagonist.

If World War Z kicked off this article, then Gangster Squad sealed the deal that I was going to have to write about it. I was actually very surprised by how Gangster Squad handled women, although considering that it was a rip-off of The Untouchables I probably shouldn’t have been. I’m not really referring to Emma Stone’s character either, the generic femme fatale love interest (and plot device to add some tension for good measure). Instead, I’m referring to basically the only other female character in the film, O’Mara’s wife, Connie. Like World War Z, the women in the film are reduced to plot devices who the male characters don’t seem to actually be all that invested in. The film tries to be uber-macho, with the protagonist O’Mara dealing with organized crime the only way he knows how – by shooting it in the face. Of course, Connie whines to him that he shouldn’t be risking himself because she can’t live without him. Obviously, the point this puts forth is that violence is a man’s realm and passivity is for women… and according to the film and it’s hilariously hamfisted finale, violence is the only thing that gets results. Of course, the whole movie’s a complete fabrication, although you might have figured that out when you saw some of the over the top action in play. Regardless though, it seems that the whole “action gets results” message the film tries to get across is total bunk, making the entire film even stupider in retrospect. That said, I will acknowledge that Connie does get one surprisingly interesting scene where she actually helps O’Mara pick out his “gangster squad”.

Which brings me to Machete Kills. I actually don’t have a huge beef against it in regards to sexism or feminism or anything like that – it’s a tongue-in-cheek exploitation film and therefore it gets a lot more leeway than a mega-blockbuster like World War Z or “historical” film like Gangster Squad. However, it did remind me of a Cracked article in which the authour stated that women rarely get shot in the head on-screen in American cinema. To sum it up, the article states that “the reason that we so rarely see women getting their brains splattered? Masculine violation of, and domination over, a woman occurs on her body and not her head”. Machete Kills actually seems to subvert this idea, since in the opening minutes a female character is shot graphically in the head, on-screen. However, near the ending a pair of women fight and the more physically domineering of the pair shoots the other in the head, but this is left off-screen. The implications there are interesting, since that character’s actions seem to make her androgynous (not that she’s really overtly feminine anyway). I don’t really have any real profound conclusions to give in regards to that, but it’s certainly an interesting observation that’s worth keeping in mind and mulling over.

Before I close, I’d like to mention another example in a video game I played recently, called Lollipop Chainsaw. Again, it’s a tongue-in-cheek exploitation venture so it gets more leeway, not to mention that video games in general have a pretty big sexism issue. However, while I found the game to be quite fun, there was one annoying aspect which I found very grating and more sexist/misogynist than any of the objectification in the game. This aspect was that the enemy dialogue almost always consisted of gendered insults – seriously, nearly every time an enemy yells at you they call the heroine a “slut” or “whore” and, on one particularly colourful occasion, a zombie declares he’s going to “fist his ass with her face”. Ahem. Maybe if it had happened once it would have been shockingly funny, but when the game barrages you with that sort of dialogue over and over it just becomes annoying (at best).

Anyway, hopefully this little write-up has shown that as much as we love to hate them, feminists do have a purpose in society. Equality is still a work in progress, and media still has a way to go before it is truly adequate. Besides, equality doesn’t have to equal hamfisted morals, it can be an epic and subtle action romp like Dredd (seriously, buy the damn movie already!!!).

Quick Fix: “Fat Shaming”

I was at work the other day listening to the local rock radio station’s morning program. It was the typical somewhat-raunchy banter you’d expect from morning hosts on a rock station, but it helps get through the day. Anyway, as I was listening the morning hosts mentioned that they had posted a photo on their Facebook page which was causing a bit of controversy. This got me curious and so I went and checked it out:

Apparently this photo has gone viral, and I can’t say I’m surprised. It’s clearly ripe for generating debate… although this being the Internet, that really means people screaming at each other and ignoring everyone else’s perspective. On the one hand, the woman who made the picture is coming across as being rather smug. Considering that her job is to be a physical fitness trainer, it shouldn’t be quite so difficult for her to get ripped in comparison to, say, someone who works 40 hours a week in a cubicle. The radio hosts were mentioning that there were people commenting on the photo claiming that it was an example of “fat shaming”, that the woman is bullying fat people and that she should go jump in front of a bus (again, it’s the Internet).

On the other hand, I kind of agree with the picture. I’m pretty skinny, but I wouldn’t kid myself into thinking I’m in great shape or anything. The picture isn’t shaming fat people, it’s shaming anyone who isn’t fit, which pretty much everyone seems to have ignored. But anyway, what’s my excuse for not having a six-pack? It really does come down to laziness. Sure, I could probably look like that if I put the effort in and reordered my priorities, but I don’t have the motivation to do so. Sure some people may physically be unable to look like that and then okay, you do have an excuse. That said, if you’re like me and (I imagine) 99% of everyone else who the image is directed at, then you need to fess up that maybe you don’t have an excuse beyond laziness. Obesity is becoming a major epidemic (not to mention those of us who just aren’t in shape to begin with) and I’m sure the vast majority of us don’t have some sort of incurable malady to give us a get-out-of-shame-free-card. Honestly, instead of being offended, many of us just need to look at ourselves and take the blame for once instead of deflecting it onto others.

Quick Fix: 2013 in Film (aka Bitching About This Year’s Movies)

I’m back! For those who didn’t know, I spent the last week on vacation in Cincinnati and Atlanta and so getting out that last Apes retrospective entry was a bit of an ordeal… that said, I’m back in Canada and good to get back down to business on the blog! Before we get into the rambling meat of this entry, I want to mention that the open beta for Battlefield 4 has been up for almost two weeks now. If you haven’t checked it out yet, then do so ASAP (it’s free)! I’m only able to play it on the PS3 right now (which is extremely inferior compared to the PC beta), but I’m looking forward to playing on PS4 as soon as it launches.

2013 might be the best year for gaming ever. The Last of Us and Bioshock Infinite would both be effortlessly Game of the Year winners if they hadn’t come out in the same year as GTA 5 (although I’m still rooting for The Last of Us). However, the same cannot be said for Hollywood, as it seems to me that 2013 is one of the most disappointing years in popular film in recent memory. Now to be clear, I’m talking about “major” films in the public conscience – there’s always good festival fare and indie darlings, but these usually fly under the radar of the general public. It should also be mentioned that we’re just getting into Oscar season, so the big Best Picture candidates are going to be making their way into cinemas quite soon, if they aren’t there already.

Here’s your Big Five winner right here.

Anyway, as you can probably tell I’m a bit of a film buff. Certainly not as much as some people, but I’ll usually see 15-20 new movies each year (not counting the films I then catch up on in the next year, at which point I’ll be closer to 35-45 movies released in any one year). That said, 2013 has been extremely disappointing for me – I’ll usually see any movie which interests me, but it’s now October and I’ve only seen 8 2013 films (Evil Dead, The Purge, Kick-Ass 2, World War Z, Iron Man 3, Oz the Great and Powerful, This Is the End, Red 2 and Gravity). Of these, I’d only say half were in any way decent, with Gravity being the only one which I thought was actually good (seriously, FREAKING SEE IT!!!). Sure I’m missing some high-profile films, but looking through the general consensus of what was “good” this year, I’m basically just missing Star Trek Into Darkness, Side Effects, The Conjuring, The World’s End and Rush. Unfortunately, these are disproportionately outweighed by the disappointing, mediocre or bad films released this year. Among the major disappointments were Gangster Squad (I seriously was predicting Best Picture when I saw the trailer), The Purge (how the hell did they screw it up so badly!?!) and Man of Steel. Legendarily bad films have all seemed to converge on 2013 like a plague: Movie 43, InAPPropriate ComedyA Good Day to Die Hard, The Host and Scary Movie 5 to name a few. Then there’s the just plain uninspired which was the rule rather than exception during the summer movie season: Jack the Giant Slayer, Olympus Has Fallen, The Hangover Part III, The Lone Ranger. Hell, even high-profile indie films weren’t spared as Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling both destroyed their reputations with Only God Forgives. Sure, there’s always more bad than good films in a year, but this year it seems to me like the good stuff is in much lower supply than normal, and the disappointments were far more high-profile.

I don’t have all the answers for why 2013 has been such a disappointing year in film. However, it has gotten me thinking about one particular issue in Hollywood which I’d like to address (and which is a factor in some of this year’s releases). As usual, Hollywood is concerned with making money, but this year they seem to be taking more of a stranglehold on it and compromising their productions in the process. One of these trends which has reemerged recently is taking an R-rated film and editing it down to PG-13, because PG-13 films have the widest prospective audience. Now obviously this is hardly why 2013 has been a bad year for cinema, but it is a contributor in the downfall of at least one high-profile example. World War Z was totally neutered by its forced PG-13 rating. Now I’m not one of those ratings snobs who believes that every movie would be improved with an R-rating and gratuitous violence and nudity (hell, I agree that Robocop wouldn’t be all that much worse if they cut it to PG-13), but some subjects don’t lend themselves to a family-friendly audience. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but I don’t think that a movie about mass human extinction, cannibalism and visceral violence really would be best served by being PG-13. As a result, then entire film feels compromised, an issue which doesn’t even get fixed by the Unrated cut (the zombies seem to just jump on people, bite them, and then run away). This is a Hollywood trend which has been annoyingly pervasive since at least 2004, with such examples as AVP, Live Free or Die Hard, Terminator Salvation, Priest, Taken and Taken 2. Of course, the upcoming Robocop remake is coming out with a PG-13, which is going to further create backlash against this trend (even if it isn’t as abysmal as everyone is predicting it will be). As someone who loves good movies, I wish that studios would have a bit more faith in their audiences and give their filmmakers a bit more freedom… but that’ll be the day.

On an unrelated note, here’s a picture of some fat cats…

UPDATE: Since posting this I’ve also watched Gangster Squad and Machete Kills, both of which were rather average, held back by disappointing elements (this seems to be the trend with 2013 releases… I’m curious to see what I think about Man of Steel when it comes out on DVD).

Quick Fix: God is Dead?

If you listen to rock music on the radio, there’s a good chance you’ve heard Black Sabbath’s lead single off their new album, 13, “God is Dead?”. On my local rock station, you can be pretty much guaranteed to hear it a few times per day as the DJ gleefully declares “I’m loving this new song, it’s ‘GOD IS DEAD’!” When I first heard the song, I thought that it was just another song decrying the complete evils of religion and how God can’t exist. This actually surprised me because I was under the impression that Ozzy Osbourne is actually Christian (or at the very, very least agnostic), so if he was suddenly preaching that God is dead then he must have undergone a drastic, life-changing event of some sort. Basically, I took the song at face value, something which I imagine many more casual listeners would do – both religious (“Bah, the Prince of Darkness praises Satan once again…”) and atheist (“Woo you tell those religious sheeple Ozzy!”). However, there’s a major component of the song which doesn’t carry over to the radio listener and that’s the question mark at the end of the title. That punctuation mark makes all the difference to the meaning of the song. After hearing the song a couple times and actually listening to the lyrics, I began to detect the ambiguity contained within the interplay between declaration (“God is dead”) and questioning (“Is God really dead?”). Ultimately, I think that the song is leaving the decision up to the interpreter to decide.

Despite the doom-and-gloom tone of the song, it’s actually pretty inoffensive… well, unless you consider any attack on religious fanatics indefensible I suppose. In fact, “God is Dead?” is arguably commendable for a theist since it’s a major mainstream song which tackles one of the greatest philosophical religious questions – if God exists, then why do bad things happen? And why do God’s own followers commit atrocities in His name? In any case, I’m glad to see that “God is Dead?” isn’t the aggressively atheistic song that it appears to be at first glance… and as for Ozzy’s stance on this interpretation, it sounds pretty clear to me.

Thinking about “God is Dead?” also makes me think about religious music in general. I’m sure that there are still many religious people who would write off “God is Dead?” even with this interpretation, despite the sense of hope at its core. What defines “Christian” music? If “God is Dead?” was released by, say, Demon Hunter instead of Black Sabbath, would it be accepted? I’m inclined to think that it would. Why do Christian review sites, like the Childcare Action Project, condemn a very pro-faith movie like Signs for “blasphemy” when said blasphemy was part of the hero’s journey to redemption?* Similarly, there’s the issue of Christian musicians in general, which I think is best demonstrated by, of all bands, Korn. Yes, the Korn that’s famous for such songs as “A.D.I.D.A.S.” (aka, “All Day I Dream About Sex”). In 2005, Korn’s lead guitarist, Brian “Head” Welch left the band because he had converted to Christianity and broke his addition to methamphetamines. He then turned to a Christian music career. Meanwhile Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu, Korn’s bassist, also converted to Christianity but decided that he could reach out to more people if he stayed with the band. This is a very interesting conundrum for Christians in the music industry: Christian music is largely a niche with a very limited reach, mostly concentrated on an already-Christian audience. However, if the artist stays in the mainstream then they risk having their message diluted. It’s a very difficult balancing act and I don’t think there’s a correct approach… but it’s interesting to note that Head’s back with Korn once again (predictably, this has pissed off some uptight Christians who Head soundly trounces on his Facebook page). I’ve never given a shit about a Korn album, but I’m excited to see how The Paradigm Shift turns out and hear if more positive aspects find their way in…

*From their website, they state that “The CAP Analysis Model makes no scoring allowances for trumped-up “messages” to excuse or for manufacturing of justification for aberrant behavior or imagery, or for camouflaging such ignominy with “redeeming” programming. Disguising sinful behavior in a theme plot does not excuse the sinful behavior of either the one who is drawing pleasure or example from the sinful display or the practitioners demonstrating the sinful behavior.” This is just unthinkably stupid. As I showed in my interpretation of “God is Dead?”, context is absolutely everything. This is the sort of inflexibility that makes evangelicals look like total tools…

Quick Fix: Multi-media News

Hello fine readers, thanks for coming back for the weekly update! I was going to write on something more… controversial to say the least, but it’s just not coming to me. Maybe I’ll find the words for it next week, but for now it’s on the back-burner. Anyway, that means that we get to talk about the generally less-heavy news in pop culture instead! As most nerds will tell you, San Diego Comic-con just ended and brought with it some major entertainment news. Probably foremost amongst these is the announcement of a Superman vs. Batman movie. Clearly this is DC’s attempt to kickstart a shared universe much like Marvel studios is enjoying now. Of course, this brings with it its own problems… like how Batman could possibly win against Superman… *SPOILER* especially now that he is willing to kill for the greater good. Again, I’m not entirely sure how this is going to get worked out, but it could be potentially monumental if it can all come together.

Next on the agenda are a couple of potential movies that I’ve been following for some time which are looking for support. The first of these is Dredd 2, the proposed sequel to a movie I’ve been gushing about since it came out. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it yet, do so. It’s amazing, and deserves a sequel. The official news is that DVD and Blu-ray sales of the film have been through the roof and fan support is overwhelmingly high. This means that the likelihood of a sequel being made have skyrocketed. Back around December when I saw the box office figures for Dredd I was aghast – I was certain a sequel would never get made, with a status as a cult classic in a decade or two being the film’s best bet for success. However, it’s now looking quite likely that we’ll see a sequel, maybe 50/50. I just hope the same minds are behind it so we won’t get let down!

The other potential film I’ve been following is a Warhammer 40,000 fan film, The Lord Inquisitor. It was announced shortly after the official 40k movie, Ultramarines was released (to tepid reception) and looks like it will blow it out of the water. The movie’s being made by Erasmus Brosdau, one of the designers at Crytek (a video game studio famous for Crysis and originators of the Far Cry series). The only sad thing about The Lord Inquisitor was that it looked like we were going to be waiting a couple years for a 15 minute short… until now anyway. Brosdau is looking for financial backing to get The Lord Inquisitor turned into a full-length CGI animated movie. I first got into 40k 10 years ago and back then I thought the setting would make for an awesome movie. In fact, I can’t believe it took until 2010 before we saw an official 40k movie… unfortunately that movie, Ultramarines, was a pretty bland representation of the universe. If The Lord Inquisitor receives its backing, it should be a faithful version of what makes the 40k universe so awesome. I’m really looking forward to seeing where this goes in the future.

Finally, the biggest piece of pop culture news all week for me is this picture:

YES. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is well underway and I have little doubt that it is going to be amazing. Matt Reeves directing? YES. Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver are back writing? AWESOME. Andy Serkis is back as Caesar? HELL YES. Hell, even the supporting cast looks good with such big names as Gary Oldman and Kerri Russell. I loved Rise of the Planet of the Apes – hopefully this one will be even better!

Quick Fix: Retrospectives, Youtube and Skepticism

Hey, time for another relatively short and scattered post before I get into my next retrospective series – which, for the record, I am planning on starting by this time next week! It’s going to be a rather diverse and progressively overblown series, so be sure to tune in for that! And speaking of retrospectives, the recent release of After Earth has brought back painful memories. I must confess that in high school I really liked M. Night Shyamalan (enough so that I can spell his name without having to look up the spelling to ensure its correct). This was before Lady in the Water of course. The Village was merely mediocre, but still had promise. However, since Lady in the Water, Shyamalan has been in a massive and destructive tailspin that has annihilated his good name. It’s really just too bad because The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs are all fantastic films and every time Shyamalan comes out with something new I’m hoping that he can recapture the magic. Unfortunately, he has just disappointed me over and over again – the man has serious directing chops, he just needs to get better scripts and maybe some tighter oversight. If you want to try to recapture some of the glory days, check out this Shyamalan article (which, by the way, would make for a great retrospective series some day).

RIP The Great M. Night Shyamalan, 1999-2002.

In other news, Youtube has officially rolled out its new design layout for channels. I updated to it last night and fiddled around with my channel somewhat for the new layout. I actually made a new, scale-able banner for the channel too – it scales to fit your resolution, so you get a different version of it whether you view it on a smart phone, tablet, desktop, TV, etc. You can view the new layout here, and/or watch my latest paintball compilation video below.

Finally, a story that popped up on my Facebook news feed recently. I’m somewhat lucky in that most of my friends don’t post stupid things (although one cousin is a stereotypical conservative gun nut), but it was quite odd when someone posted this article about how Angelina Jolie was duped into performing a double-mastectomy. Of course, this story has been all over the news lately and while I haven’t really taken a strong stance on the matter (due to being woefully uninformed on the medical aspects of the story and some general apathy about the doings of celebrities), I thought the article might be interesting. Turns out it kind of was… although, not for the reasons they might have hoped. I could be wrong, but it looks to me like Real Farmacy isn’t really a completely medically-sound website (reiterated by their legal disclaimer). First of all, Real Farmacy screwed up their facts (or perhaps just intentionally misinterpreted them). For one thing, they claimed Angelina had an 87% chance of getting breast cancer. In actuality, she had an 87% higher chance of getting cancer than an average person, which is a pretty significant difference. They also  claim that you have complete control over whether or not you get cancer, and that this is based entirely on diet and lifestyle choices:

So the whole “chance” argument is pure quackery. There is no chance involved in whether you get cancer. It’s all cause and effect. You are either living a pro-cancer lifestyle and therefore growing cancer, or you’re living an anti-cancer lifestyle and keeping cancer in check so that it never becomes a problem. Cause and effect is what results in either the growth of cancer tumors or the prevention of cancer tumors. There is no “luck” involved.
It’s fascinating, isn’t it, that medical doctors don’t believe in luck or voodoo on any topic other than cancer. But when it comes to cancer, they want all women to be suckered into the victim mentality that cancer is purely a matter of “luck” and therefore women have no control over their own health outcomes. How disempowering! How sick! How incredibly exploitive of women!

Is it just me, or does Real Farmacy come across as the real quack here? They’re disregarding communally agreed-upon medical advice in exchange for their own agenda. I haven’t looked into the website too much, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were selling health food or were sponsored by a major health food corporation. To further call their credibility into question, they seem to think marijuana’s a miracle drug. It’s also worth noting that this article has been copy + pasted across a number of healthy living blogs.

A healthy amount of skepticism is a very good thing to have. I don’t know how much crap I come across on Facebook which I’ve seen people take at face value, but with a 10 second Google search people would find out that it’s total bullshit. Websites like Snopes exist just to stop this sort of stuff. It also really annoys me because people will absorb this information and use it to inform future decisions, which is frighteningly dangerous. Of course, these are also the same people who say that the religious are gullible and simple-minded… *ahem*. Bottom-line: think critically about everything.

Also, who’s going to argue with Angelina Jolie…?

Quick Fix: Pageview Exposion Follow-up and More Updates!

Whoa, where did the last week ago? I can hardly believe it’s been 7 days since my last blog post! Anyway, I probably should have anticipated this, but my last post (in which I mentioned that my page views had shot up astronomically) has actually become one of my most popular posts already. It’s currently my 6th-most viewed post and by far my most commented-on. Anyway the referrer site, “topblogstories”, petered out its referrals a couple days after I posted my last update, although it seems that I’m still getting a few views from them every once in a while. For the record, if you get referrals from them, then do not click on their links.

In other news, the XBOX ONE was announced a couple days ago. I’m not going to weigh in what I thought in too much detail because it’s already being done to death, but I do think that Microsoft really bungled things with the new hardware architecture. Of course, the bit about used games and always online is only confirmed by Wired at the moment, so we’ll have to wait until E3 for a clearer picture of what’s going on. That said, if it is true, then Microsoft is going to take a lot of flak. I think Sony definitely has the initiative at the moment in the upcoming console war (disclaimer: I’m a Sony fanboy, but as you will hopefully note, I do my best to remain impartial). Of course, Microsoft also claims that XBOX ONE’s exact features aren’t complete yet, so they may drop the no used games/always online thing entirely. In fact, maybe the Wired article was an intentional “leak” to test the waters and see if they would include it in the final hardware. Of course, now I’m conspiracy theorizing, and I don’t really believe that myself, but it’s an interesting idea nonetheless.

Also, some more current events have harkened back to an older article I wrote in the first couple months of this blog’s life. 3D printers have been in the news a lot lately, which (of course) brings back concerns about 3D printed firearms. In fact, apparently a group has made a gun which is ENTIRELY 3D printed (if you’ll recall, the only part of the gun which was 3D printed was the lower reciever). That said, this new development is really not that much to worry about… well, yet at least. For one thing, this is just the first working 3D printed gun – I’m sure that, over time, there will be better developments in the technology, at which point it may become a full-blown concern. A secondary concern is that, yes, it costs $10,000 to produce a 3D printed gun at the moment, but soon enough the technology will be far cheaper. Finally, this doesn’t address the gun from my previous post – it is a fully-functioning AR-15 and so it won’t just fire one shot and it won’t melt anywhere near as quickly as an exclusively plastic weapon. So 3D printed weapons are still a bit of a concern, but perhaps not an entirely pressing one.

Quick Fix: Page View Explosion and Updates

Hey, just a quick post regarding something really odd which is occurring on the blog. About a month ago I noticed that my page views were steadily climbing until it became common for them to get around 300 per day, although this soon stagnated to ~50 per day for quite some time. However, I’ve noticed that this seems to be a common trend, and so page views have peaked and dropped as long as I’ve been running this blog. As a bit of a stats-geek, it has actually been quite interesting and it’s fun to speculate on the causes of the peaks. For example, almost half of my total views have been on my Hulk review, and I believe that this is because The Hulk became very popular after the release of The Avengers – as a result, whenever a Marvel event happens (Avengers on DVD, Iron Man 3 hype, etc), its page views seem to go up. Interestingly, Final Destination 3 has been garnering much attention lately, so much that it has become my 2nd-most viewed post (still about 1/9th of the Hulk post, but still quite substantial all things considered), and Final Destination 5 isn’t far behind. If the trends continue, I predict that they might actually overtake Hulk before the end of the year.

Anyway, enough of that. Over the past 2 days, I’ve noticed that my page views have suddenly skyrocketed. I’ve gotten so many views that nearly 10% of all of my all-time page views have been in the last 48 hours. Holy crap.

If you studied the picture above, you’ll see that some website called “topblogstories” is responsible for most of those redirects. Now I’m not sure why I’m getting redirected to from that website, but it would seem that topblogstories.com is… a porn/escort/probably-phishing site. I probably should have guessed. Oh well, I guess that goes to show that if you want to get noticed, somebody has to get naked!

Whatever the case, that’s enough of that. I think I’ll start the next retrospective in mid-June. I’ve got 2 franchises I’m interested in tackling, although I’m leaning more heavily towards one of those for simplicity’s sake… I’m pretty damn busy at the moment, juggling a work and school (why did I take a bloody biology course? I hate science…), so it’s difficult for me to commit to all of that and then find time to watch a movie and review it more than once a week. Whatever the case, I do my best to commit to my “at least once a week” policy and haven’t broken it yet!

Also, I’m going to be paintballing again in 10 days. It’ll be the 3rd straight year my team and I have attended the D-Day Tippmann Challenge at Commando Paintball, and so there will be more footage uploaded to my Youtube channel shortly thereafter. If you want to view my previous paintball videos, click here or on the Youtube channel button link near the top right of the blog.

Anyway that’s it for this post. I’m curious to see how long this topblogstories thing continues, but I just wanted to share that little update with my readers. Hopefully I didn’t bore anyone to tears.

Quick Fix: Updates

I apologize in advance, this is going to be a pretty brief post. I’m right in the middle of final assignments period here, I have at least ~21 pages to write in the next 5 days, so that’s gonna be fun. However, there are a few interesting updates that I want to bring up so feel free to read on.

First of all, I’m paintballing on the 13th of April at the PRZ (Picton Recreational Zone). It’s an amazing field that I’d been wanting to attend for 3 years now – it’s about 2 hours from where I live inside of an abandoned asylum. It’s going to be epic, there’ll be around 400 people all fighting for it, including my team, The Stormrunners, and other affiliated scenario teams, such as Citrus Connection and The Sentinels. I’ll be recording the footage on my Contour HD helmet cam, so if you’re interested, the footage should be uploaded to Youtube around the 20th. You can view my channel here, and don’t forget to like and subscribe!

Secondly, I plan on starting the next retrospective exactly 1 week from now. This gives you a date to look ahead to, and it gives me a deadline. With papers starting to wind down at that point, it should be very do-able for me! Be sure to check them out, this is going to be a very fun series you won’t want to miss.

The last thing to mention is something… disgusting. After writing my post on Project X, I was looking up some more info on the movie when I discovered something horrific. J.B., the useless fat kid who contributed absolutely nothing to the movie, has entered the porn industry. This immediately set off two thoughts in my mind:

  1. I’m surprised that he fell into the industry so quickly, I would have figured that he’d at least get 2 or 3 crappy roles before having to fall back on porn.
  2. The fat kid? Ew. Gross. No. I’m not posting any pictures of that.
WHAT DID I JUST SAY!?!?!
So… umm… yeah. Do your best not to picture that.
Oh God, I can’t not see it now…