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by Ethos

Call Me Lameish: Grab Bag the First

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Sunday Soapbox: Great Expectations

Monday, November 29th, 2010

So after a 6 year build-up, Gran Turismo 5 finally exploded out of Polyphony Digital’s loins into the face of the public. Some gobbled it all up while others felt it tasted a little bitter or stale. Either way it created a small mess that has all but subsided for now.

But moving away from the ejaculate imagery, game hype is an interesting topic. The quotes I pulled from that IGN review were not the exception, they were the rule. Many people could truly not understand how a game that was in development for 6 years could possibly not be perfect. 8.5 from IGN (a very good score, mind you) and an 8.8 industry average was somehow cause for revolution and an endless volcano of anger.

This might be the extreme, but even in more reasonable people a more subtle version of this rationale exists. Take the Riddlethos community, using Final Fantasy XIII as a prime example. The first proper HD Final Fantasy game, a four year wait, and a very lackluster end result. This was difficult to swallow initially. Even the largest detractors of the game now were forgiving and optimistic in first few days of its existence.

Of course, that’s not a perfect example as it did take a while to realize that the game truly was nothing but a tunnel for the vast majority of its length.

But this is not a Final Fantasy soapbox. The point is that expectations and hopes that a game will be fantastic creates very interesting emotions in the player when the product is either not very good or not widely critically acclaimed. A player almost feels emotionally violated; like her pride is directly linked to the quality of the title or the perceived quality.

I think about games that I was excited for that didn’t let me down: Shadow of the Colossus, Majora’s Mask, Final Fantasy XII, Mass Effect 2. I think about games that did let me down: Twilight Princess, Final Fantasy XIII, Wind Waker, Brutal Legend. It makes me wonder if I should shift the way I get excited for future titles: The Last Guardian, Skyward Sword, Kingdom Hearts III, even Versus XIII.

Like some Soapboxes, I don’t have a grand sweeping point. I’m just curious in the way you all handle hype. While my hype has sometimes not allowed me to fully appreciate a game until later, and I’ve been guilty of being forgiving to games I wanted desperately to like, I ultimately enjoy the fact that I get excited for games. It reminds me that I love this industry and that no other indulgence gets me excited like an impending anticipated title. I guess all I can hope for is to be better prepared for a potential disappointment.

South Park Season 14 Retrospective – The Best Episodes

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Hello, and welcome to part two of my retrospective analysis of South Park season 14. How many parts will there be, you ask? Not sure, actually. At least two. At least three, in fact. But let’s focus on the here and now. Today, boys and girls, I’m going to choose what I believe are the five strongest episodes of Season 14, and rank them accordingly. Subsequently, the lot of you can agree, disagree, and flame to your hearts’ content.

LET US BEGIN.

#5 – Creme Fraiche

After an epic three-part story that delt with everything from the BP Oil Company to dark lords from alternate dimensions, South Park went back to its pure comedic roots to close out season 14. In a season where attempts to deliver morals or social statements often fell flat, or became lost amongst the comedy, it was refreshing to see an episode that didn’t try to be anything but funny. And funny it was – Randy is in perfect comedic form with his  hilarious food fetish, and Sharon’s parallel story involving the phallic Shakeweight device is equally hilarious. Even Cartman has a funny, if brief role as a Jamie Oliver impersonator.

Creme Fraiche
Tags: SOUTH
PARK
Randy Marsh,Sharon Marsh,more…

#4 – Mysterion Rises

Part two of season 14’s epic superhero adventure story was by far the strongest of the arc. While a disgruntled Cartman/Coon travels to New Orleans to enlist the aid of the Dark Lord Cthulhu, Mysterion finally reveals his true identity – and power – to the world. The episode has some strong visual appeal, largely thanks to the fantastic comic book panel montages that are used to relate parts of the story. It’s always good to see the guys at South Park try something new. The episode was short on comedy, perhaps, but even so, it feature a hilariously weird parody of My Neighbor Totoro played out by Cartman and the aformentioned Dark Lord. That alone would make the episode worth watching.

Mysterion Rises
Tags: SOUTH
PARK
Eric Cartman,Mysterion,more…

#3 – Medicinal Fried Chicken

Medicinal Fried Chicken prominently features four of the things I love most in the world:

1.  Weed

2. Randy Marsh

3. Eric Cartman

4. Fried Chicken

That being the case, how could it not make the top five list? Medicinal Fried Chicken was Season 14’s breakout episode, bringing South Park back to form with laughs as well as messages. Both Randy and Cartman are at their best, playing out two parallel stories on opposite sides of a spectrum – while Randy is finally free to smoke weed to his heart’s content, poor Cartman must turn to South Park’s shady underbelly in order to get his KFC fix.

Medicinal Fried Chicken
Tags: SOUTH
PARK
more…

#2 – You Have 0 Friends

While Medicinal Fried Chicken was season 14’s breakout, You Have 0 Friends solidified its competency. And, whaddaya know, it was one of the season’s best. Maybe, possibly, I liked it so much because I could relate to Stan’s resistance to the world of Facebook – for years, I outright refused to make one. Granted, I cracked, and became a moderate Facebook addict (as most of you know) but if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate the episode’s countless cracks on the social expectations and norms that accompany Facebook.

And also, Kip Drordy. Man, I love that guy. I mean, I would never friend him on Facebook, but he provided some intense laughs. And also, the episode gets props for this quote that, while intended to be tongue in cheek, makes tons of sense: “Who is more powerful? The user or the profile?”

Some days, I really don’t know.

You Have 0 Friends
Tags: SOUTH
PARK
more…

#1 – 201

South Park episode 201 is one of my favorite episodes of the entire series. It’s ironic to say, given how heavily censored the episode was, and how much controversy surrounded it. But even with all the countless, elongated bleeps, 201 is simply one of the most epic, involved TV episodes I’ve ever watched. And it’s not short on laughs, either. The team outdid themselves with this one, which makes it all the more painful that we weren’t able to see their full vision for the episode.

201 opens with a hilarious, tongue-in-cheek monologue from “Mitch Connor” – the most recent entity to possess Cartman’s right hand. (ala Jennifer Lopez from the classic Fat Butt and Pancake Head episode.) Together, Mitch and Cartman are out to find out who Cartman’s true father is. We were told that it was his mother, since she’s a hermaphrodite – but it seems this isn’t true.

In the meantime, South Park is on the verge of being razed to the ground. Muhammad is being hid somewhere within the town, and two different factions are demanding he be handed over: Tom Cruise and his gang of disgruntled celebrities, as well as the legion of Ginger Kids, who are led by none other than…

I can’t, in good faith, give it away. A certain character makes a brilliant reappearance. Cartman’s true father is revealed with unparalleled bravado, with a heavy dose of intensely dark comedy – which is what South Park is best at.

Oh, and Cartman ends up crying near the end of the episode. Which is always hilarious. Not sure why, I just love seeing that pudgy little kid cry. Probably because he’s such a dick.

201 is the full package. It’s epic, it’s funny, and even with all the bleeps, a strong message about irrational fears and intimidation shines through. The fact that the episode was so heavily censored, in a way, almost enhances that message. It’s a funny world we live in, where we can’t show a visual representation of Muhammad on television, but we can portray a porn-addicted Jesus Christ, and a coke-snorting Buddha. Again, thank god South Park is there to make sense of it all. In it’s own demented way.

SouthParkStudios didn’t have any clips from 201. Wonder why.

Gran Turismo 5 Reactions (via IGN’s review)

Friday, November 26th, 2010

I thought this was a good excuse to show Venom

Dear Internet, I love you.

I know I hijacked this week to be Gran Turismo 5 Week because Lameish was going to post a CML review of Donkey Kong and I’d already played the game, so I wouldn’t have much to talk about (I don’t think there’ll be a text review). And while Lameish DID post a CML, I’ve held off on Gran Turismo so far. Partially because I’ve been out seeing musicals, partially because I realized that owning Forza 3 and GT5 might be overkill, and partially because of money. Still, I have a soft spot for the series and I’ll probably pick it up eventually, so I don’t want to ignore it on its very own week.

So what better way to celebrate than to select comments from IGN’s review of the game in which they awarded the title an 8.5; around the average score for the title around the industry. I choose IGN because their readers tend to be the most entertaining. There are approximately 2000 comments on the review at the time of this writing, so I will not be able to choose the best, but I will choose the best ones that I see so you don’t have to sift through that bile.

Let’s start off with some of AD-SNEAKY’s poignant words.

Well i have never been a fan of GT but since all the promotion and THE great graphics, I told myself, “you know what lets give it a shot”, and like some of you guys said, I wasn’t expecting less then a 10 out of 10…I always say to my self don’t go by what other people say until you try it your self. LET ME BE THE JUDGE OF MY OWN LIFE!

I love that after playing it, he wasn’t expecting LESS than a 10 out of 10. Was he expecting more? And then he starts rebelling by the end, as if internet reviews are chasing and suffocating him.

Madman300 adds

Wow. 6 years od development and it`s not a perfect 10?

Sound logic. And great spelling.

We all know that gingervitous69 isn’t one to not weigh in!

I love how people keep making the EXACT same commment towards fanboys. The truth is, that an 8.5 for this game is like a 15 for a Forza game.

Oh! So now we know the truth!

And then Robotron2084PS3 had the GALL to say THIS!

even as a GT player from day one,i must call this a fair review.

Oh wait, that’s no fun. Back to the haters!

I believe that colossimaster123 has the best bid for final word.

UNFORGIVABLE!!!!! FUCK IGN (except Greg Miller he’s cool) IT TOOK 5 FUCKING YEARS FOR POLYPHONY DIGITAL TO CREATE THIS GAME, AND IGN GIVES IT A FUCKING 8.5 OUT OF FUCKING 10?????????????????????? I EXPECTED MORE FROM THIS SITE, BUT ALL I SEE IS THAT THIS SITE IS CREATED BY 360 FANBOYS WHO SUPPORT FORZA 3 MORE THAN GT5!!!!!!!!!!! FUCK YOU IGN!!!!!! I WAS EXPECTING THIS GODLY CREATION TO OBLITERATE FORZA IN THE DUST!!!!! BUT NO, YOU’RE SOOO FUCKING BIAS, JUST LIKE YOU GUYS ARE BIAS WITH THE PLAYSTATION MOVE!!!!!!! IGN, GO FUCK UR FACES IN THE FIERY DEPTHS OF HELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(note: this comment does not include Greg miller, he’s the ONLY person on IGN who knows how to review a game, unlike THESE BIAS MOTEHRFUCKERS!!!!!!)

ANY 360 FANBOYS OBJECT ME, I’LL FUCK YOU ALL TOO!!!! BRING IT ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I’LL SHUT UR FACES DOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

*note that the “fucks” were ****’d out in the actual post. I added them back in. No other changes made*

I can’t follow that up. I just wish PS3FTW was an IGN commenter.

Modern Family – “Mother Tucker” Review

Friday, November 26th, 2010

It’s a relief to see Modern Family picking up the slack after a largely lackluster start to its sophomore season.

“Mother Tucker” surprisingly reuses some situations and even exact lines from last season, and I’m sadly getting a little sick of Mitch and Cam’s rinse-and-repeat dynamic this year, but despite those complaints it’s a great episode with a lot of genuine laughs.

The main plot follows Haley’s apparent final breakup with Dylan and the subsequent mixed emotions for Haley that come with having to face moving on from your first love. Of course, the situation is almost as distressing for nutball father, Phil, which is still funny, but I was disappointed to hear him reuse his “What? No!” line in response to the news when it didn’t seem like an intentional nod to his hilarious delivery last season. In any case, I’m really enjoying the show’s focus on Haley this season. It’s adding layers to her previous “dumb teen” personality and setting her up for great dynamics in the future. It may come at the cost of diminished screen time for already-complex middle child, Alex, but she’ll get her due.

Mother Tucker

Phil's "I wrote a song" joke is funny too.

Digressions aside, it was nice to see Haley and Dylan mature from daily “breakups” to a – admittedly still highschool – breakup that actually caused some real introspection from both parties. Also, after some great and not-so-great parenting moments from Claire this season, Phil took over the role perfectly by hanging out with Dylan behind Haley’s back yet coming through and being a great Dad when Haley truly needed him.

In other families, Mitch and Cam have been riding the “Mitch and Cam don’t want to hurt each other’s feelings” train far too hard this season, and it’s getting very tired. The show even seems to recognize this slightly by giving the couple the most number of guest stars in the disappointing Nathan Lane appearance and tonight’s passable introduction to Cam’s mom. I miss when the two would interact more often with other characters. Mitchell and his father was hilarious in season 1 as was Cam’s episode with Gloria. At least Mitchell and his sister had a scene with their consistently strong dynamic, but the rest of the couple’s storyline was cookie cutter and gimmicky at worst and pleasantly amusing at best.

But back to things that this season has been doing well, namely Jay and Gloria. Last year was all about the family’s reaction to their age difference and the cultural clashes they faced with their son Manny. Now that the couple isn’t so new, it’s more about how they actually get along as a family, and their stories have often been the high points of every episode. “Mother Tucker” saw Manny and Jay indulge in some mild internet hypochondria while Gloria called them pussies. Instant recipe for laughs. One of the things Modern Family does best is not place too much importance on predictable plot twists, and even if the plot goes the entirely expected way, the show opts to find humour in the characters’ genuine reactions and not the “unexpected” ending or twist.

I’ve been breathing a sigh of relief the past few weeks as Modern Family has been sinking back into a consistently funny and well-written show that grows with the characters. I’m worried about Mitch and Cam, despite their excellent performances. They were often the strongest part of the first season and they’ve gone downhill fast.

SCORE: 8/10

South Park Season 14 Retrospective – Overview

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

Surprise, surprise! Remember when we said Riddlethos was gonna start talking about TV? We weren’t lying.  As so, allow me to welcome you to our first semi-in-depth TV-centric feature: a retrospective of South Park’s recently concluded 14th season. I’m Oliver “Riddles” Motok, and I’ll be your host throughout this epic multi-part journey.

So without further ado. Let’s begin by doing the obvious: talking about Season 14.

South Park Season 14 is a strong, crowd-pleasing season that keeps the laughs coming. Dud episodes are a rare thing for the show, but Season 14 in particular is impressive in that I enjoyed every episode, for one reason or another. The season also contained a landmark in the form of the 200th episode, as well as some startling reveals – such as the identity of Cartman’s father, and an actual explanation for Kenny’s immortality. Season 14 may be short on the sort of sharp, insightful messages that the show is apt to deliver – be it by choice or not – but it’s funny enough to compensate.

Season 14 kicked off with, perhaps, its weakest episode - Sexual Healing, which parodied the then-recent controversies surrounding Tiger Woods and his infidelity. The episode was clever in its timeliness, though not particularly biting or memorable. Props, however must be given to the unflattering portrayal of Elin Nordegren, Tiger Wood’s Swedish trophy wife. The crossover with EA’s PGA Golf game series was a nice touch as well.

We love to love him.

Episode 2 showed improvement with The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs – dismayed by the tameness of J.D Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, the boys set out to write a more vulgar, offensive book. Butters ends up taking the credit, though, and what follows is a solid, if unamazing Butters-themed episode. It’s impossible not to love the little guy in general, an it’s nice to see him stick it to Cartman, Kenny and the gang instead of the other way around. “The four of you can just suck on my wiener!” is one of the more memorable Butters moments. The episode is no Butters’ Bottom Bitch, but it’s charming enough. Also, I enjoyed the commentary on our culture’s tendency to read non-existent themes into art – it’s a phenomenon that’s always interested me personally, and South Park hits the nail on the head.

With Medicinal Fried Chicken, the guys at South Park attempt to comment on a certain modern-day issue. That issue? Medical marijuana. The commentary? The sort only South Park can provide. When he finds out a Cannabis dispensary has opened in South Park, Randy intentionally contracts testicular cancer in order to get a doctor’s referral for medical marijuana. Meanwhile, a certain Cartman is furious that the dispensary took the place of the only KFC in South Park; recently passed laws have outlawed KFCs in low-income neighborhoods, which forces Cartman to enter into illegal trafficking of the fried chickeny goodness he craves. If you’re bright, you can probably see the parallel, and the commentary that the show is trying to deliver. But, ultimately, the episode doesn’t go far enough in driving its point home, and the commentary gets a little lost amidst the scenes of grown men bouncing about on their cancerous testicles. (Which, don’t get me wrong, is hilarious to see.)  The final moments of the show miss the opportunity to really argue against the ethereal nature of laws regarding marijuana and its limited legality. I feel like the guys at South Park, especially, could have put together a better argument for the legalization of pot.

Would *you* facebook friend this kid?

Would *you* facebook friend this kid?

Episode 4 provides perhaps the most biting commentary of the season, relating to a subject we can all get behind – Social Media, or in particular, Facebook. in You Have 0 Friends, Stan is forced to get a Facebook against his will, and then is forced to rigidly follow the many Facebook non-rules of etiquette that so many of us know too well. Eventually, this culminates in, of all things, a Tron spoof. Throw in a fantastic new character in the form of Kip Drordy, the socially retarded nerd who finally acquires a singular Facebook friend in the form of Kyle, and you have one of the season’s best. But it was only a warmup for what was next.

With its landmark 200th episode, as well as episode 201, (known simply as 200 and 201) South Park made a big splash in more ways than one. After inadvertently insulting Tom Cruise at a fudge factory, Stan incites the actor’s litigous wrath – as well as the wrath of all the hundreds of celebrities that South Park has insulted over the years. To keep the town from being sued dry, the boys must give in to the demands of the celebrities, and hand over none other than Muhammad himself – so that the celebrities can extract his “goo,” and acquire his power to be immune to all insults. Countless familiar faces return, shocking revelations are made, and the epic meter goes off the charts. 200 and 201 are fantastic episodes… which is why it’s a damn shame that we weren’t able to see them all.

For those unaware, after episode 200 aired, quite a few feathers were rustled over the show’s portrayal of Muhammad. And not just any feathers – Islamic Extremist feathers. Like, real Islamic Extremists. An organization based in New York known as Revolution Muslim actually posted threats on their website, claiming that violent retaliation against Trey Parker and Matt Stone “will likely happen.”

Guess who's in the bearsuit

Guess who's in the bearsuit

However legitimate the threat may have been, it was enough to scare Comedy Central. 201 was heavily censored against the will of Trey and Matt; all imagery of Mohammed was removed, and even the word Mohammed bleeped. The traditional ending monologues are all, inexplicably, entirely, bleeped out. Sounds like weaksauce, right? That’s because it is. I’m still waiting for an uncensored episode 201, guys. Make it happen. I know it wasn’t your fault in the first place, but make it happen anyway.

Hot off the heels of controversy saw the return of South Park’s best bad character: one of my personal favorites, Towelie. No longer satisfied with merely smoking weed, Towelie has gone and acquired a meth addiction, a crack addiction, and an addition to cans of compressed air. And he has a kid. Say what you want, but any episode with Towelie is an instant win for me. Crippled Summer is goofy slapstick humor and nothing more, which is precisely what we needed after the previous two episodes.

After the traditional Summer’s break, the show returned in a funny, if slightly subdued style. Poor and Stupid, as well as It’s a Jersey Thing are episodes short on insightful commentary, as well as the unapologetic humor the show is known for. A notable exception is the Al-Quaeda bits near the end of It’s a Jersey Thing; props to the guys for that, especially after the episode 201 shitstorm.

South Park couldn’t let the season go without spoofing the summer’s biggest film; Inception gets its workover in the form of Insheeption. The spoof is good enough, but what’s even better is the first-time look into the childhood of none other than Mr. Mackie. Seeing Mackie as a child is priceless, and it makes for one of the better episodes of Season 14’s second half.

A rare occasion in which you can actually understand what the fuck Kenny's saying.

And then out of nowhere, the guys at South Park hit us with an ambitious three-part story revolving around Cartman’s costumed alter ego, The Coon, and the world-destroying actions of the BP Oil Company: Coon 2: Hindsight, Mysterion Rises, and Coon Vs. Coon and Friends. Seeing The Coon again was an unexpected treat, and it wasn’t the only treat to be found in this epic arc. Mysterion is revealed to be none other than Kenny, and he has a for-real superpower. Care to guess what it is? He can’t die. Yes, after 14 seasons, South Park actually acknowledges Kenny’s apparent immortality. In fact, they even kinda explain it. (Though they leave it open for further exploration.) The episodes are high on action and drama, and surprisingly short on laughs, but in all it’s one of the more unique and experimental South Park stories I’ve ever seen. The ending was a bit of a disappointing cop-out, but, at the very least, it leaves things open for more. I sincerely hope we see the Coon & Friends again, as well as a certain Captain Hindsight – who is undoubtedly one of the best new characters of the season.

The season closes perfectly with Creme Fraiche. It turns out that Randy has an extreme food fetish, and in fact, masturbates to the Food Network. If that’s not hilarious enough, just wait until you see the hot new phallic exercise device, Shakeweight! Randy has a lot of fantastic moments in Season 14, and Creme Fraiche is probably him at his best. Pure, clever comedy is always a great way to end a season.

If this season is any indication, South Park isn’t going anywhere soon. There are undoubtedly highs and lows to Season 14, but it’s enjoyable from start to finish. In an increasingly mad and dangerous world, filled with religious extremists, oil spills, increasingly dehumanized social norms and what have you, it’s nice to know South Park is still there to make sense of it all. In its own demented way.

My final take? 8.5/10

Stay tuned. It’s not over. Get ready for lists.

Happy Thanksgiving, and Stay Tuned

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

To all our American readers, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving with a Peanuts-themed image once again.

Now, even if you aren’t American, you can still look forward to part one of a surprise feature being brought to you entirely by Your Truly. That’s what the “stay tuned” part of the title is in reference to.

What sort of feature? A surprise one. So stay tuned, and be surprised*.

-I make no guarantee that the surprise will be a pleasant one

Wicked, Inception, and the Return of MS Paintjobs

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

I saw Wicked tonight with my girlfriend, brother, and a bunch of friends. It was pretty incredible if you’re into musicals – and god knows I am – but the ending sucked. The entire production sets up a lot of cool themes and interesting questions perhaps best summed up with the statement “no one mourns the wicked”, but then doesn’t pay respect to the ending the production deserved.

In this case, it deserved a tragic ending. But one that is the only way to inspire hope. It reminded me of another horribly stupid ending.

Yes, I resent Inception’s ending the more I remove myself from the movie. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the flick, but that last shot was a pile of horseshit.

It was the equivalent of *mother fucking spoilers* a dude with a monocle smugly grinning at the audience and saying “mayhaps, the entire MOVIE was a dream” and then the entire cast turns to camera and does jazz hands. That was what I was enjoying about Inception, that the movie didn’t NEED that obvious gimmick at the end. That the concept and characters and journey was enough to satisfy and to provoke conversation about motives and themes and emotions. I didn’t need a wink wink nudge nudge guy beside me going “eh? eh? Did I just BLOW YOUR FUCKING MIND?!?!”

Goddamn stupid ending.

Welcome to Gran Turismo 5 Week

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

I’m following through on my promise. Perhaps I have yet to beat and review Donkey Kong, but if that happens, it’ll be the only thing I have to post about the game. More important is Gran Turismo 5. The 5 stands for announced 5 years ago.

Okay, it doesn’t, but it’s been that long. It’s releasing tomorrow, I hope it rocks. I think Forza 3 was really good, so Gran Turismo has competition for the first time.

Refresh the page, enjoy the new banner, and look forward to cars and shit.