Well, it has been over a year since I last posted so I think it’s time for a new one. Since the year is new, I figured a good topic is new movies coming out in 2015. I’ll just talk about four movies the interest me the most, in order of projected release date.
Avengers: Age of Ultron. Marvel movies seem to always be entertaining, especially when you combine the best characters in one movie. This one appears to have an evil robot voiced by James Spader, so that’s cool. There’s also some kind of super iron man suit thing for some reason, so that will be fun to watch.
Jurassic World. Dinosaurs! This time there’s actually a working theme park with lots of tourists, so that will be an interesting change. There’s also Chris Pratt riding a motorcycle next to a bunch of raptors, which looks pretty cool.
Terminator Genisys. This one has a weird name and seems to have a confusing plot, but it should be entertaining anyways. Nothing can top T2, but this one at least has terminators fighting each other and stuff. They also got the usual catchphrases in there.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. I only recently became interested in Star Wars after watching all the movies in release order. It should be interesting to see what happens after Darth Vader, and to find out who that guy from the teaser is.
So there’s some thoughts about some movies coming out this year. Thanks for reading!
On Thursday I went to see Pearl Jam at the Viejas Arena in San Diego. I went in with what I was sure were unreasonably high expectations, but I was not disappointed. What I got was the best live performance I’ve seen, removing any doubts that Pearl Jam is the epitome of rock bands.
The show lasted about three hours and had a good mix of new songs, old songs, and a few covers, and they seemed to save the best for last. The sound quality was excellent, especially for an indoor arena. Pearl Jam’s sound people seem to know what they are doing, instead of just turning everything to 11. Eddie did a lot of talking and drank from a bottle of wine between songs (he seemed a bit drunk near the end), even passing a bottle to his mom via audience.
They ended the show with The Who’s Baba O’Riley, Yellow Ledbetter with The Star Spangled Banner guitar outro, and then a great cover of Rockin’ in the Free World. Overall, it was a great set. The only thing missing that I would have liked to see was Jeremy, Daughter, and/or Corduroy.
I saw Soundgarden perform at The Wiltern on the 16th. The performance was excellent, the mixing could have been better (the bass drowned out the leads), and the crowd was mature (someone even brought a young child). Overall it was a great experience. I never thought this would happen.
The Wiltern, named after its position on the corner of Wilshire and Western, was a very nice setting. Entering the lobby was like entering a movie theater in the 50’s. The walls and ceiling had lots of fancy carving and molding to admire while waiting for the show.
Here is the set list. It was a good mix of songs spanning their entire career. Matt Cameron’s son played guitar on Eyelid’s Mouth.
Nothing to Say
Jesus Christ Pose
By Crooked Steps
Room a Thousand Years Wide
The Day I Tried to Live
Been Away Too Long
Get on the Snake
Blow Up the Outside World
Fell on Black Days
Searching with My Good Eye Closed
Beyond the Wheel
Here is a video I found from that night. I was right behind the person recording the video, so this was pretty much my view.
Red State is a great movie. It’s about an extremist religious group killing people and a resulting standoff between them and government agents. The group is similar to the Westboro Baptist Church, only with more murder and lots of guns.
I found it to be totally unpredictable and full of surprises, which is rare in my experience. It was also pretty thought-provoking. At the end, I wasn’t sure who the real enemy was.
It’s extremely violent and pretty gory at times, but if that doesn’t bother you I definitely recommend it. It’s available for streaming on Netflix.
I read a book called Why We Believe in God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith by J. Anderson Thomson Jr. MD and Clare Aukofer (I believe it was Penn Jillette who recommended it). It attempts to explain why humans have a natural susceptibility to believe in the supernatural by describing various behavioral adaptations in our species. It even goes into some of the physiology and brain chemistry involved.
Some of parts I found most interesting were about the evolution of our species and reasons some of the social adaptations were successful. It also includes an explanation for our natural cravings for food high in sugar and fat, which I found interesting. The overly positive reactions in our brain to sugar and fat are leftover adaptations from when these were very difficult to obtain (there were no grocery stores for cavemen apparently).
It also had interesting insights into psychology and several studies of the brain and behavior of young children. There were many less obvious things that were revealed which really got me thinking.
Overall, I found the book pretty interesting. It’s short and definitely worth reading if you have any interest in evolution, psychology, or religion. I’ll close with an interesting quote:
“Children have been described as ‘intuitive theists.’ Children show what is called promiscuous teleology, a basic preference to understand the world in terms of purpose. This contributes to what we now know about children’s belief. Children will spontaneously adopt the concept of God and a created world with no adult intervention. At heart we are all born creationists. Disbelief requires effort.” 
 Thomson, J. Anderson; Aukofer, Clare; Richard Dawkins (2011-06-01). Why We Believe in God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith (Kindle Locations 766-769). Pitchstone Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Super 8 is a film about these kids who are making a movie for a film festival or something. They are faced with many challenges during production including casting, budget, equipment failure, and an alien monster thing. Will they finish the movie? See the movie (Super 8) to find out.
This movie had a style that reminded me of many classic films such as E.T. and Stand By Me. It had a good mix of mystery, action, drama, and comedy and good pacing throughout. I never grew bored of any scene or felt that any part was dragging on. I also liked that it took place in the 70’s which seemed like a fun time.
The focus was on the main characters, so the alien monster thing actually wasn’t that interesting. There was also at least one scene where multiple lens flares took over the screen (how you know it’s a J.J. Abrams production). Other than that, Super 8 is an excellent film and I will probably see it again some time. I give it an arbitrary rating of 92/100.
I’ve been inundated with requests to explain what “Noty” means. Well, I have finally been authorized to release the following information, which will hopefully satisfy the public by explaining who or what is Noty.
Noty is the culmination of decades of scientific research and billions of dollars in funding. The greatest minds in the world have been working in secret since 1973 to come up with the breakthrough technologies behind the Noty device.
Noty stands for Notation Orifice Transitional Yacht. However, despite common misconception, Noty is not actually a boat. While it is incapable if floatation on water, it does have the ability to store information much like a sheet of paper which can be placed on a boat, hence the “yacht” in the name.
Noty takes advantage of the patented process of “making notes.” Many of the details of this process are highly classified, but the process involves quoting parts of text and/or supplementing text with original commentary relating to said text. The Noty device can facilitate this and more.
You can get your own piece of this space-age technology or see a live demo of it in action. That site says it costs $6 or something like that, but I have lots of functional prototypes I’ll give away. Just ask…
Disclaimer: The above statements are not guaranteed to be factual in nature.
The latest update to Team Fortress 2 added Replays. This allows you to save a recording, much like a SourceTV demo, of your current life on servers that have the feature enabled. What separates this from SourceTV demos, however, is that replays are automatically delivered to the client over HTTP.
Once you save a replay, you can view and edit scenes using the built-in editor. The editor is very simple and easy to use, and allows you to capture the action from any angle and save different takes of the same replay. Once you have a take, you can save it as a video or image sequence with several options for quality. This really simplifies the process for making simple TF2 videos without external programs.
The server-side implementation of replays is very unstable currently, with blocking and crashes, but hopefully that gets fixed soon. Setup requires a web server, which can be local or accessible via FTP, and there are example configs provided that make setup very easy.
Below is my incredible entry to the Saxxy Awards. Obviously there is not a chance this will not win…
Portal 2 picks up where Portal left off, preserving the same original concepts and attitude. This time, however, there are more portals, more physics, less portals, more flubber and other goos, and other new surprises. This game is longer and more story driven than the first.
The main attraction here is the puzzles, which at times require some creative thinking. If you have played Portal, you may find Portal 2 puzzles less challenging simply because you have practice. The good news is that there are some new mechanics added in to change things up, like the gels. Also worth noting is that there seems to be less emphasis on perfect portal placement in many puzzles, since valid portal surfaces are limited, and more emphasis on putting all the provided pieces together. Some good news for casual gamers is that there is also low reliance on quick reflexes.
The game also features a co-op mode, extending the game with puzzles requiring cooperation between two players to solve. This drastically increases replayability since you can get a new experience with a different partner. For example, you can find fun and creative new ways to kill your partner. This part is very well done, with gestures, signaling (such as a synchronized count-down), and voice chat. It also appears easily extendable, which might mean more content being added later.
Portal 2 is an amazing science-fiction comedy first-person puzzle action adventure game. The story is brilliant and absolutely hilarious, with lots of unexpected turns. Definitely recommended!
Well my internet connection was down yesterday so instead of the usual internet stuff, I wrote a few movie reviews.
The Adjustment Bureau is a story about a mysterious group that oversees everyone’s fate, making subtle adjustments as needed to ensure things go as planned. A mistake is made, exposing the group to rebellious politician David Norris and causing him to attempt to defy fate by being with a woman he loves. It’s a constant struggle between the bureau and Norris. It’s a very unique film with an interesting concept. I rate it 89/100.
127 Hours is a true story about Aron Ralston, a rock climber who becomes literally trapped between a rock and a hard place via his arm. He’s stranded there for several days until he manages to amputate his own arm with a dull knife. The movie is almost entirely James Franco, stuck in one place, but he does a good job conveying his helplessness. I found the film slow at parts but it manages to stay interesting with some hallucinations. Be warned, the amputation scenes are fairly graphic. I rate it 107/127.
Snatch is several stories all intertwined in interesting and unexpected ways. It’s a comedic account of organized criminals doing various bad and crazy things in London. A large stolen diamond seems to play a part in all of these activities in some capacity. The film is very well crafted with a satisfying ending. I give it an A+.