Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 5 Games and Movies of 2010

Being that the year is coming to a close, I thought I'd take a look back at the video games and movies that I enjoyed over the past year. When it came time to filming, I actually found myself quite sick. So instead of actually recording dialogue, I used the narrator program on my computer to speak for me. Much like the Nostalgia Critic's review of Alone In The Dark. It's not that I can't speak, but the way my voice is, my audio equipment wouldn't have picked it up. But the show must go on, so here's my top 5 games and movies of 2010. Enjoy.

For those of you who want to know what was being said in the Japanese commercial, here's a sum up (note - I don't actually know Japanese fluently, but I do know a few words - fortunately this commercial featured them.)
The suave boy asks the girl to come with him. When there alone he says he wants to ask her something; she says "what?" just then the little boy springs from the cardboard box. And says "I want you to join me" (or something to that effect)
The girl asks "me?"
But the little boy motions to the suave boy.
Suave boy, "me?"
Little boy nods. Then we see them both inside the cardboard box playing MGS:PW This commercial illustrates that the game is co-op by showing the two of them in the box, which is an aspect of the game itself, while still being hilarious like many Japanese commercials.

Like so many other critics and opinionated persons, Beanie has decided to put in his 2 cents and share his favorite movies and video games of 2010. When going to film, Beanie got ill, but was able to use a voice-over program to speak for him. So here's Beanie's Top 5.
Like the list? Disagree with it? Post a comment.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Alpha's Magical Christmas

It's Christmas Day and Beanie wants to review a Christmas Special from his childhood. Bundle up and sip your cocoa as he presents his very first full review episode. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

(edit) Despite what the date says, this was posted Dec 25th. BlipTV was being touchy and not wanting to work. And the run time is just under 30 minutes, not 3 hours. I don't know what BlipTV's problem is.

You can also view this episode on my youtube channel in 3 parts.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tron: Legacy

I feel a great sense of both pride and alienation because of where I fall in my generation. Growing up I was exposed to awesome old movies like TRON, Flash Gordon, Conan, and the like. I remember them all with a feeling of nostalgia. Compared to my peers I feel that my childhood was awesome. My dad was a Trekker and a member of the KISS Army. Because of him I was exposed to awesome Science Fiction not just from the 80s but from the start. One of my favorite TV shows is the original Star Trek series and my two favorite movies are Flash Gordon and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. This is just a roundabout way of saying I'm a geek and damn proud of it.
As for the alienation, it seems that there aren't many others in my age group with this same upbringing of Star Trek, D&D, comic books and video games. Most of my peers I've been around have no knowledge of the awesome 80s movies, and music I grew up with. (Which is why I make it my sworn duty to educate people) I feel like I'm in a generation gap some times. I hang around with people older than me, because I feel more akin to them, when I talk to people my age or younger and find out they have no idea what I'm talking about I have to face palm... but enough about me.

While the original Tron came out before I was born, I was exposed to it because of my dad. We had it on VHS tape, and I would watch it along with Star Trek, Flash Gordon, Heavy Metal, and Robo Jox. I loved Science Fiction, and when I heard they were making a sequel to Tron, I freaked. Finally!

My dad and sister joined me at the theater where we saw the movie in 3d. But first we sat through 30 solid minutes of trailers. I know people joke about trailers , but it was seriously 30 minutes. There was a group of 3+ minute long trailers then there was the "please put on your 3d glasses" screen, followed by another group of 3+ minute long trailers. And finally, the movie began with possibly the best opening logo for Disney ever.

The movie itself, while have a paper thin and (frankly) predictable story, had awesome effects, superb acting, and a pumping soundtrack fitting for the mood. Everything had an 80s feel, from the source music in certain scenes, and the hammy (yet not over the top) acting. In one scene, Sam Flynn (Kevin Flynn's son) turns on the power in the arcade from the first movie. As the lights blink on, the dozens of games come to life echoing with the familiar jingles and sounds. But that's not where my geekout began. In the opening scene we see the original Tron poster on Sam's wall. Boom. Right from the get-go I was exploding with nostalgia.
And of course this movie is full of nostalgic moments for sci-fi fans. Disc battles, lightcycle battles, familiar sights, sounds, and... Bruce Boxlietner. Oh, yes Bruce Boxlietner reprises his role as Tron from the original. Oh...hell...yes! The look and feel of the movie (to me) had a sleek cyber punk look. Cyber punk being my favorite subgenre of Sci-Fi, I loved that. The costumes were great, the atmosphere was awe-inspiring, and the action was fun to watch.

Now before I seem like there was nothing at all to complain about, let me talk about what I saw as negatives.

There's barely any Bruce Boxleitner. He reprises his role as Tron, but only in brief flash back scenes. The computer generated face on younger Jeff Bridges(Kevin Flynn) is starkly noticeable. The plot is predictable; in my first screening I was literally able to speak the next lines of dialogue before the on screen actors did. Characters are set up, but then never seen nor heard from again. near the beginning we are introduced to the Encom board of directors who have ruined (gone in a completely selfish direction with) Flynn's company; among them is a smug programmer who really seems to be made out to be a great antagonist for Sam.... never seen again. And the plot revolves around the possibility that the villain, a digital copy of Kevin Flynn is bent on crossing into the real world and taking over. This (to me) raises the obvious question of how a digital being can exist in the real world (you know, without a projector or connection to the internet) We're just to assume it's possible with flynn's data disc. No explanation is given. There is a pretty thick analog for Kevin Flynn being God; he's called "the creator" and Sam (his son) arriving to save the world from CLU (the evil version of Flynn) some of this I don't mind, because technically Flynn did create (or at least laid the building blocks of) the Grid.

But I loved Tron: Legacy. I highly recommend seeing it. It is a fun ride from beginning to end (there's not much suspense, as I said it's predictable) The graphics are amazing, the acting is supurb, and it pays tribute to the original in so many ways. Finally a belated sequel worth seeing. Plus Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxlietner!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Beanie Tries... Oreo Candy Cane

In the festive spirit, Beanie tries a candy cane flavored Oreo cookie. Will he like it?

Note* Beanie is lactose intolerant. He drinks Silk.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Holiday Traditions

People all over the world have different holiday traditions. Whether it be decorating a Christmas tree or lighting a Menorah. Giving each other gifts is a constant norm around this time of year. For me, it's a bit more unconventional. Every year around the Christmas holidays when my sister is out of school, we watch each season of Viva La Bam on dvd. It started a few years ago when she would get the dvd sets as presents on Christmas day. We would watch them all day, and as she got the seasons, we would start over from the beginning. And now its moved to our yearly marathon to when school lets out, rather than waiting for Christmas day. While I was in college, we waited until both of us were done, but now I've graduated; yet the tradition lives on, and I can't see it fading away anytime soon.

What are your holiday traditions? Please comment. Share your stories, your friend's stories.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Day of the Ninja

The wind howls violently, and the air is filled with thousands of cherry blossom leaves, slowly drifting downward. Nestled in the Utagawa Mountains, a fortified temple stands watch over the world. Standing sentry atop the long stairway, a man in black robes peers to the distance. Another man approaches from behind and kneels.
"Master, I received your summons and arrived as soon as I could."
"You have done well, these past years at my side, 5." spoke the old man, "Such loyalty, and strength."
"I live to serve, master."
"And now it is time for your service to take you far away from this temple."
"I will be leaving this place soon, and I do not want you to spend your life wasting away within these walls."
"But master, you can't mean..."
"It is quite alright, 5." smiled the old master, now helping 5 to his feet, "I have lived a most fulfilling life. I have no remorse, no regrets."
Tears began to well in 5's eyes.
"Now, now, all is well, my child. I will always be with you."
The old master inhaled deeply and slowly began to walk away.
"But master, where will I go? What am I to do?"
"Follow your heart, my son, and all answers will be revealed." As if carried by the cherry blossoms, the old master disappeared into the night sky, leaving his humble student alone atop the steps.
For some time, 5 remained at the temple, wandering its vacant corridors. Staring at the zen garden where Master taught him his first lesson, his mind dwelt on his master's last request.
Eventually, 5 left the temple. Looking back one last time, he remembered all the years he'd spent there. It was his home, and Master was like a father to him. And now, what was there. Just emptiness.
Walking down the long stairway, he put the past behind him. He would probably never see it again. Finally reaching the bottom, he found himself in a city. People walked past without taking notice. Everyone was in a bustle, trying to buy and sell all manner of products. Many of them of low quality.
"Is there a way for someone to tell them of their futility?" 5 thought to himself.
"Man, don't buy that!" shouted a strange man in a tight skullcap, "It sucks, you should try this instead."
5 took notice of this man. Once he'd finished his verbal assault of the random pedestrian, 5 approached the man.
"Greetings," said 5, struggling to find a name for the man, "Beanie."
"Beanie?" replied the man, "heh, I like that. What can I help you with, Random Ninja?"
5 smiled at this moniker, "How would you like to help me? I think these people really need to hear what's good and bad about the things they buy."
"They need someone to tell them what they need to know. I know just how to do it."
"The internet!"
Together, Random Ninja and Beanie started a blog site and produced videos telling their viewers the good, the bad, and the ugly about popular media.
That day would come to be known as the Day of the Ninja.


December 5th is the National Day of the Ninja. So here's a video depicting the everyday life of a ninja.

note. is being touchy again and I was forced to upload a lesser res version. for a better one check out my youtube channel

Saturday, December 4, 2010

1000 Views on YouTube!

I was checking out my youtube channel when I discovered that one of my videos had reached over 1000 views! I view this as a personal triumph. 1000 people have seen my work. True its only one video and the rest are no where near that, but it's still an accomplishment. It was one of my earliest videos; an Anime Music Video where I used footage from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and combined it with both "One Note Song" by Tenacious D and a cover of "Die, Die, Die, My Darling" by Aiden. Enjoy.

Here's a link to another AMV also featuring GITS:SAC and Tenacious D; this time with their audio track "Drive-Thru"

And finally my magnum opus of AMVs (as of two years ago anyway) again with GITS:SAC but this time I use many audio clips. My theme for this one, was that the Laughing Man, an antagonist character from the show, has taken control of your screen and is replacing the audio with other sources. I hope you enjoy.

Thanks for all the views and the support.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tuesdays With Morrie

The curtain opens slowly to a darkened stage in a quiet theatre. Softly a spotlight pierces the black and introduces a figure sitting at a keyboard.
"The last class of my old professor's life met once a week, in his house, by a window in the study where he could watch a small hibiscus plat shed its leaves." said the man at the piano, "The subject of the class was The Meaning of Life. It was taught from experience. There was no required reading, but many topics were covered: love, work, aging, family, community, forgiveness... and death. The class met on Tuesdays and had only one student. I was that student. This is Professor Morrie Schwartz."
More lights came on, revealing an aged man dancing to the music being played by the other. Morrie Schwartz danced his way down the stage, and into the hearts of the captivated audience.
Tuesdays With Morrie is a one-act stage-play based on the bestselling book of the same title, and tells the real life story of Mitch Albom, a sports journalist, and his reconnection with his estranged college professor, Morrie Schwartz. In the play we begin both by the two's meeting on graduation day at Brandeis College and their first meeting. The two reminisce about their first meeting, and how they spent the years becoming close. As, Mitch is leaving school, he promises to stay in touch with Morrie; however, he breaks that promise, and it's a further sixteen years before they see each other again.
In that time, Mitch has changed a lot. Not doing anything with his sociology degree, he attempts to become a jazz pianist. This falls short as Mitch is emotionally struck by the death of his uncle. This gives him the revelation that he needs to do something with his life, and he returns to college. He graduates with a degree in journalism, eventually becoming the famous sportswriter he is today with books, radio shows, TV spots, and his newspaper columns.
One day, Mitch is watching TV when he catches an interview of Morrie Schwartz on Nightline with Ted Koppel. He learns that his old professor has contracted Amyotropic Lateral Sclrosis (ALS) commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Mitch decides to call up his old professor. They meet one day and have an awkward sit down at Morrie's home. One meeting becomes two, and eventually, Mitch is coming to visit Morrie every week on Tuesday.
He starts bringing tape recorders and notepads. Mitch learns a lot about life and death from Morrie in their time together. As the meetings proceed, Morrie's health slowly wanes. At their first meeting, he needs to use a walker; at the second, he's in a wheelchair; then he's resigned to a comfortable chair; and eventually, at their final meeting, Morrie is bedridden.
During their time together, we see how their relationship goes from estrangement to love, and all the ups and downs in between. We learn of Morrie's take on life; "There is no point in loving. Loving IS the point." Along the way, we learn of how both Morrie and Mitch wish they had the courage to say goodbye to long lost loved ones before it was too late; Mitch with his uncle, and Morrie with his mother.
"If you wait til the last minute for the famous last words," said Morrie, "you'd better have great timing."
I was brought to tears in this scene, not only from the emotional revelation of the characters, but by the emotions it stirred in me. We've all been in this situation. For me, it reminds me most of my Grandmother, who passed recently. She had been sick a long time. She also had alsheimer's. The last time I said goodbye to her, I'm not certain she knew who I was. I didn't visit her when she was in the hospital after she got bad. In my mind I was torn. I loved my grandmother, but part of me kept convincing my mind that she wouldn't recognize me anyway, so why go? Finally I was determined to go visit her the next time my mother went. Only then, it was too late. She had passed away that same night. I missed my chance. I was never going to get to say goodbye to her properly.
And here it is, half a year later, and these feelings are being drawn out by the words of these two men; however, the play was not over just yet.
Along with the deep philosophical conversations, there is an abundance of humor. Little moments sprinkled all throughout the show, really made me laugh out loud. Morrie attempts to pour himself a glass of water, when he spills the pitcher all over the floor. Having lost almost all motor function, he can't pick himself up. At the same time, Mitch enters in a tiff about the weather. He storms past not noticing his old friend hunched over the seat, unable to move. After a long rant about how hot it was outside, Mitch finally sees Morrie in distress.
"JESUS, Morrie!" he shouts as he helps the old man back into the seat, "What happened?"
Morrie looks at Mitch and says, "I was playing hockey."
Later on, Morrie asks Mitch if he wants to watch the World Series on TV. Mitch questions Morrie's knowledge of the event.
"Everyone knows the World Series," proclaims Morrie.
"Yeah?" asks Mitch "Who's playing?"
There is a pause, where Morrie searches for the answer, but finally says, "Two baseball teams."
There is a well designed mixture of drama and comedy in the production. In a scene where Mitch's wife, Janine, accompanies Mitch on his visit, Morrie lets slip that he was once in Detroit, the same city that Mitch and his wife live; however, previously, Morrie stated that he'd never been there. Mitch questions this, but Morrie ignores him, and we are treated with the angelic voice of Janine as she sings to Morrie.
"His body was stiff as a sandbag," says Mitch, "but he was dancing."
Shortly after, Morrie health gets bad. He is bedridden, and Mitch arrives for his final visit. It is here that Mitch learns the truth about Morrie's trip to Detroit. Years ago, when Mitch's writing career first took off, Morrie had gone to Detroit in hopes of seeing him. He wrote a letter expressing that wish; however, Mitch, once his new life started, had thrown it away without a second glance along with any other invoice from Brandeis College. This revelation hits Mitch hard. Had he known about the letter, the past sixteen years may have turned out much differently. He would have still been in touch with Morrie the whole time, he wouldn't just now be reconnecting with him.
"Forgive everyone, everything," says Morrie, tears beginning to well, "I forgave you. Now you forgive yourself."
Mitch asks, "Why'd you let me come back?"
Morrie answers with an old Yiddish saying, "Farhaltnisht deine licht unter a shorten. Don't hide your light under a bushel."
He is talking about the light within yourself.
Morrie has one last request of Mitch. Once he's gone, he wants Mitch to visit his grave, every Tuesday and bring a lunch, just as he did for all of their meetings. He wants Mitch to talk to him about his problems and his life.
"You won't be able to talk back," says Mitch.
And Morrie replies, "You talk, I'll listen."
With that, the two say goodbye in the only way they know how, by saying, "I love you."
Morrie died shortly thereafter, and Mitch reflected to the audience.
"I finally figured out what Morrie knew that I didn't. If you lead your life as Morrie did, with people as the priority, making memories, giving of yourself, then when you die, you're not really gone. You live inside the hearts of everyone you've ever touched. So when they visit a cemetery or they're walking alone or when they're playing the piano you taught them to play. They can hear everything you've ever given them. The next time I visited the cemetery, I brought a blanket and some food and laid out a picnic. Morrie was right. It was a lovely spot. 'You talk, I'll listen.' I tried doing that and, to my surprise, the conversation felt almost natural. I realized why. It was Tuesday."
Mitch sat down and began playing the piano. As softly as it appeared, the light faded away and the stage returned to black. Lingering in the air were thoughts of Morrie and the beautiful song that we know he was dancing to.
Much weight is carried on the two performers and the crew supporting them. Quite a wide span of time is covered in this piece, and many emotional journeys are taken. To aid this, the lights and sounds, along with the various set pieces, are meticulously honed to draw out the audience's response. The highly skilled technical crew are able to change the set pieces without the aid of a closing curtain. Everything is done through the use of light and shadow. As the light is on one of the actors, set pieces are being moved in total darkness, creating a seamless effect which holds the story together.
This story is quite moving, touching not only the heartstrings but the funny bone. It makes you laugh, makes you cry, and you learn something about yourself. The message in this play is appropriate for everyone. How you deal with death is just as important as how you deal with life. The two walk hand-in-hand.You go in to see a performance, and you leave a better person.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mighty Morphin Random Ninja

A disturbance has been detected by the command center sensors. Alpha 5 and Zordon need to find a new champion to help the planet.