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by Ethos

Scatter Storming. Issue #044

Friday, February 11th, 2011

It took until the horrible month of February, but Scatter Storming is back! Let’s see if I remember how to do this.

I Caved and Bought StarCraft II

Yup, it finally happened. Of all the eSport-worthy games I’ve watched Pogo play – CounterStrike, Warcraft 3, Modern Warfare 2, and StarCraft II – this is the one that got my attention enough to make me want to play it.

Yes, I’m aware that MW2 is too broken to be called an eSport-worthy game, but I’d seen too many hours of it to not count it.

Anyhoo, I’m really trying to watch my cash when it comes to games for the next little bit, but I have no regrets. Just means the 3DS will likely have to wait; it’s definitely the least urgent of the upcoming goodies.

The point is that I’m horrible, but the game is very fun. And very stressful. But it’s satisfying to feel like I’m getting better. Very slowly, sure, but mastering something is one of the finest and most satisfying experiences in life. I’ll keep you guys posted once I exit the practice league and enter the real online ladder.

Ethos’ Confession #3:

Despite being a Zelda fanboy, I have never completed a console Zelda game released prior to Ocarina of Time, and have never completed a handheld Zelda game released prior to Phantom Hourglass.

Modern Family: “Bixby’s Back” Review

Just saw the most recent Valentine’s Day-theme episode of Modern Family, so I thought I’d do a quickie review.

It started off quite weak. Some poor acting, contrived writing, and a non-compelling scenario. I’m glad I stuck it out though, all four stories wrapped up very nicely, and the episode finally started delivering a lot of laughs past the halfway point.

It’s great to see Mitch and Cam continue to drop the “let’s not offend each other” shtick and have some of the better moments. But once again, Gloria wins moment of the episode with her equally oblivious and poignant ridiculousness. Even if the “twist” was a little expected, the delivery was excellend.

I’m a little tired of Phil’s fool/stud/fool rotation. I think this season is missing more interactivity between the families. At least we got Manny with Haley.

The summation? Good save with this episode.

SCORE: 6.5/10

Ethos’ Confession #4:

I’ve never properly played a Resident Evil game.

Ethos’ Confession #5:

I never beat any optional bosses or got Knights of the Round in Final Fantasy VII. Hell, I didn’t even get Vincent.

New Trophy War

The Trophy war I had with Abe80 ages ago obviously died out. Plus, I’m destroying him. But a new challenger enters! Eric J., another former Lusipurr.comian and I have started a war of our own, and it seems to be a much more heated battle.

He best sums up how it started on his site, but now we’re in the midst of coming up with a prize for the winner and/or a punishment for the loser.

We toyed with the idea of the loser moving to the other’s location, but that ended when I came to terms with the fact that I would never move to Michigan. Also that he’d be getting the way better end of that deal. Toronto is a world class city. But we still want a significant prize/punishment. Ideas?

That’s it for now! It feels good to be back. This year is going to be fucking insane for us gamers. It is the calm before the storm.

Whatever

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

Chex Quest doesn’t work on my computer and my girlfriend’s over before leaving for practically a month.

So… this is a gimmick week. I’ll have a Scatter Storming for you next week, however, because it’ll be the last chance before end-of-year Riddlethos madness begins. Believe me, this is the calm before the storm.

In the meantime, said girlfriend spoiled me with gifts including the ability to buy Golden Sun and Assassin’s Creed II. Both are awesome so far.

I’ll try to get a Modern Family review out too because this week was really good. SPOILERS!

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

Modern Family – “Halloween” Review

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Before saying anything else, I should mention that I’m generally apathetic about Halloween and I’ve been a little underwhelmed by Modern Family this year overall. Last year I would say with confidence that Modern Family was the best show currently on television, but I’m more inclined to give that narcissistic honour to Community which has made leaps and bounds from last year. More to the point, however, despite the focus on the holiday, “Halloween” thankfully follows in the footsteps of the premiere and previous episode to make me remember why I love the show.

As usual, the show follows three storylines from the three sub-families, and two of the plotlines are excellent. First is Claire’s obsession with Halloween countered by Phil’s growing paranoia of suddenly being left by his costume-crazy wife. Claire is at her best when she’s stressed, and she’s actually been a surprising highlight of this season by depicting more realistic fights with her two teenage daughters. This episode is no different as Claire’s stress level rises the more things don’t go according to plan, and her reactions to Haley’s slutty costumes and Alex’s reluctance are very amusing.

The sarcastic hardened ol' "Gargle"

Her usually ever-helpful husband ends up being a thorn in her side, however, as their neighbour is devastated by his wife leaving him and this is apparently a novel thought for Phil. Phil and Claire have always been such a secure couple that it was nice – and hilarious – to see Phil have legitimate concerns for the security of his marriage. Not only are his clingy antics and self-fed paranoid rants really funny, but the show does a good job of actually making you bite your nails just a little bit as you can relate to Phil being terrified of being alone and losing the family he loves so much.

Next was Jay and Most Improved Character, Gloria. I remember thinking that I would hate Gloria when I first started watching the series, but she slowly went from annoying to amusing to completely hilarious, and she’s been the best part of season 2. “Halloween” does not disappoint in the Gloria department as she’s at her ridiculous and defensive best when she discovers that she’s not quite as well understood as she thought under her thick accent and dramatic yelling.

The episode – like the season so far – under-uses Manny, but Jay’s attempts at diplomacy with his much-younger wife provides enough laughs for the storyline. I’m also appreciating that Jay and Gloria seem more like a loving couple this season with the honeymoon stage wearing off and the two being forced to make understanding compromises.

The final storyline was the most disappointing. Mitchell and Cameron are usually the most consistently hilarious, but I did not enjoy their plot at all. Mitchell thinks his new workplace encourages wearing costumes – which he adores – but it ends up that only losers dress up, and the boss really hates it to boot. While Mitchell sneaking around in a Spiderman costume is amusing, and I’m reminded of great moments from Arrested Development when he’s forced to wear his suit over the costume, the story seemed gimmicky with no real resolution.

More disappointing, however, is Cameron’s trauma over Halloween. I know that Cam’s a drama queen, but his reasons for abandoning Halloween seem contrived even for Cameron standards. Especially considering that this would be a holiday the writers could have ridiculous amounts of fun with for his flamboyant character.

Despite those disappointments, this is a promising episode with some fantastically hilarious and well-written poignant moments that the first season made the show known for. Coupled with last week’s strong offering, I’m hoping that those other three episodes were just growing pains as the writers need to find new conflicts for the lovable, funny, and believable characters.

SCORE: 7.5/10

Some Semblance of Order and Also: A List!

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Riddles was right, he and I talk a lot about TV. You can witness some of my own indignant, stubborn opinions in the comments for the post below this one. This will not be the last TV Week not only on account of this being a short week, but on account of my attention being elsewhere. I’ve been playing Metroid: Other M all week and feel like I’m close to being finished now, but I need to blitz to make sure you all get a full review by tomorrow. Not only that, but my girlfriend is finally moving to Toronto early next week and I’m scrambling so that she won’t realize that she’s dating a swamp creature living in a pigsty.

So to offset my absence, I’m going to quickly list some shows that I have my eye on for the upcoming season in the order that they interest me.

Gloria gets Most Improved Character. Also: Al Bundy!

1. Modern Family

While nothing on TV has come close to the comedic and calculated perfection that was Arrested Development, Modern Family is definitely the best show on TV since. A large, nearly perfect cast sell subtle moments, genuine character growth and reactions, and more importantly, absolute comic gold. The second season is always very interesting for a show that comes so strongly out of the gate, and in this case, I’m actually a little worried. Unlike Community, which steadily got better, Modern Family was completely consistent, and after a long break, critical and commercial success, and 14 Emmy nominations, I have some fear that the pressure might catch up to them and we might see a stumble. Fingers crossed, though.

2. Community

This was a show that I always wanted to love because of Donald Glover, but wasn’t completely sold on at first. About midway through, however, Community finally found its groove and began to make some really funny television. A lot of the writing is heavily based on pop culture references, so it tends not to be as clever as 30Rock or Modern Family, but its absurdity and endearing characters has made me a loyal fan and I expect the 2nd season to be far better than the first.

3. Mr. Sunshine

This is the only show on my list that hasn’t actually aired any episodes yet. Matthew Perry’s highly sought-after mid-season replacement is a single camera comedy about a 40-year old dude’s midlife crisis. As a Chandler fan, I’m interested in seeing how this ends up.

Hopefully the son character is around just as often in season 2

4. Cougar Town

Speaking of Friends, former castmate Courteney Cox had her own single-camera comedy launch last year to decent success. Which makes sense to me because it’s a decent show. A lot of people are – justifiably – turned off by the name, which is a shame because it’s a misleading title. Like Bill Lawrence’s last show, Scrubs, Cougar Town is more about character and silliness than it is about superb writing and intellect flexing. However, while I quite enjoy it, the show definitely doesn’t have the special place in my heart that Scrubs has. I’m just interested to see where the show goes from here, because unlike Modern Family, Cougar Town’s first season actually felt like a bit of a prelude to a long-running series.

5. Parks and Recreation

I’m surprised that this even made this list, but when I stop to think about it, it deserves the spot. I have not seen any of the first season, and only half the of the second (which I hear is way better anyway), but I found myself more and more endeared to it every time I watched. Not much else to say here, but that I enjoy watching a (not as smart) version of The Office that doesn’t have the same level of incredible awkwardness.

The Castaways

Like Riddles and I have talked at great length about on AIM, I’m sorta off The Office bandwagon now. I was a massive fan, but I feel like it has gone noticeably and drastically downhill and Season 6 barely held my attention. I’ll need to hear a lot of good things about Steve Carrell’s final season for me to care. 30Rock is another show that I really like, but it just seems to exist in the background for me now. I’m not really interested in it, but I haven’t become disillusioned like I have with The Office. I will watch and likely enjoy it, but I’m not doing jumping jacks for it and it doesn’t actively excite me.

Back to Metroid: Other M!

So I beat two games.

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

Nope, I’m not completely useless. Over the past few days when I’ve made Riddles do all the work, I’ve been playing and beating Mass Effect 2 and Darksiders. Also, I’ve been watching all 14 episodes of Modern Family. Man, that show is awesome.

Anyway, Darksiders was sweet, but I don’t think I’ll review it. A little too late. Mass Effect 2, however, is still in that bubble. Let’s see if I can’t brighten up this shitty month just a little bit with my beautiful and insightful truths about the glory that is Mass Effect 2.

My sleeping schedule, once again, is completely raped, so it’ll either go up Sunday morning or late Sunday night depending on how strong my desire is to do the dishes and to play Skies of Arcadia.

One final note, there’s a reason this time why our upcoming weeks haven’t been revealed yet. Aaaand that reason will be revealed shortly as well! Until then, I’m really hungry.
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