Oscar Movie Mix 2012

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The “much coveted” door prize of our annual Oscar Party featured a DOUBLE CD filled with musical scores and lyrical jams from some of the best pictures of the year. And then a few that weren’t recognized by the academy, but stole our hearts anyway.

These tracks were lovingly compiled by myself and my buddy Smalls.

Here they are, in very particular order.

PART ONE

1. The Avengers Theme – Alan Silvestri (The Avengers)

2. Django – Luis Bacalov and Rocky Roberts (Django Unchained)

3. Horn of Plenty – James Newton Howard (The Hunger Games)

4. At The End of the DayLes Miserables

5. Fate and Destiny – Patrick Doyle (Brave)

6. Come Away To the Water – Maroon 5 (The Hunger Games)

7. Lockdown – Paul Leonard-Morgan (Dredd)

8. Breadcrumbs – Thomas Newman (Skyfall)

9. Skyfall – Adele (Skyfall)

10. Fire in the Blood/Snake Song (feat. Ralph Stanley and Emmylou Harris) – Nick Cave, Warren Ellis and the Bootleggers (Lawless)

11. Under Hill – Howard Shore (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey)

12. Gotham’s Reckoning – Hans Zimmer (The Dark Knight Rises)

13. One Day More – Les Miserables

14. Tha Mo Ghaol Air Aird a Chuain (My Love Is On the High Seas) – Julie Fowlis (Brave trailer)

15. Gone – Ionna Gika (Snow White and the Huntsman)

16. Misty Mountains (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey trailer)

17. A Future for the Krogan – Christopher Lennertz (Mass Effect 3)

18. Learn Me Right – Birdy and Mumford & Sons (Brave)

19. Song of Mor’du – Patrick Doyle (Brave)

20. Blunt the Knives (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey)

21. Cups – Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect)

PART TWO:

1. Look Down – Les Miserables

2. Brass Buttons – Howard Shore (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey)

3. Grand Bazaar, Istanbul – Thomas Newman (Skyfall)

4. Who Did That To You? – John Legend (Django Unchained)

5. Why Do We Fall? – Hans Zimmer (The Dark Knight Rises)

6. I Dreamed a Dream – Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)

7. Plus Que Ma Prope Vie – Carter Burwell (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part Two)

8. Bellas Finals – Pitch Perfect

9. White Light/White Heat (feat. Mark Lanegan) – The Bootleggers (Lawless)

10. Healing Katniss – James Newton Howard (The Hunger Games)

11. Cover Your Tracks – A Boy and His Kite (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part Two)

12. Silver Lining Titles – Danny Elfman (Silver Linings Playbook)

13. Kingdom Come – Coldplay (The Amazing Spider-Man)

14. End Crawl – Nick Cave and Warren Ellis (Lawless)

15. Freedom – Anthony Hamilton and Elayna Boynton (Django Unchained)

16. Touch The Sky – Julie Fowlis (Brave)

17. I’m Proud of You – Sam Hulick (Mass Effect 3)

18. Misty MountainsThe Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I am too lazy right now to create a YouTube playlist, but each track is linked to its corresponding video if it existed (for as long as that is up on the internet).

I ended up with extra physical copies of the mix if anyone is interested. Send me your address and I promise to mail you a copy in a totally non-stalkery weird way. 🙂

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2013 Nerd Year’s Resolutions

Holy crap, this blog is a ghost town. I’m not gonna ride in with promises like every other time I’ve restarted this venture. But I’m gonna post an entry today. And see how it goes from there. How does that sound?

HERE WE GO FOLKS:

1. Enter the Rose City Comic Con Costume Contest with a Mass Effect related costume. 

This should be pretty obvs but I really want to build N7 armor this year and yeah…this needs to happen. Hopefully a second job will mean reasonable income and I CAN DO THIS.

2. Join the Vaginal Fantasy Book Club. 

BECAUSE IT’S CALLED VAGINAL FANTASY BOOK CLUB. And I watched one of their video-chat-meetups and they are hilarious ladies whom I aspire to be. Which is sad because they’re my age (or younger) and they’re rich and famous and smart and motivated. I am sad and humbled. So I’m joining their book club to be more awesome like them.

3. Read at least three comic book titles a month. 

I’m not usually into odd numbers but three is better than one and more reasonable than five. My problem with comics has always been TOO MUCH. I get amped up and overwhelm myself with titles and then I can’t afford them or can’t afford the time.

4. Play a new video game series. 

I’m in love with several franchises, but I need to expand my horizon a bit. I’d like to find at least one new game that really moves or inspires me this year and add it to the collection. I’m sure muh spouse and my good friend will help in achieving this goal.

5. Make another tattoo appointment. 

It’s time. My poor Phoenix has been patiently awaiting new ink for the entirety of the 2012 year and received nothing in return. In fact, I think 2011-2012 were pretty barren years for her in general. I’d like to change that. At some point this year – I would like to get back in the hot seat and finish up my ink.

6. Purchase and start having artists create pieces for a sketch book. 

It would be cool to have my own personal book, one for Dan, and then another that we both share. I was thinking Phoenix, at first, because of the tattoo but now I’m really drawn to drawerings of Thor. Mass Effect is probably a bit too obscure for most artists. Dan would probably choose Hellboy. MAN, I really want to do this now. ECCC is coming up in March and kicks off the convention season in the Pacific Northwest. We’d need to get on the ball with this one.

7. Take the comic writing class from Brian Michael Bendis.

Finally. Put my mouth and money where my heart is. Or my heart where my mouth is. Either way, it’s gonna cost money.

8. Join up with a writing group/workshop. 

This sounds much less nerdy than the others, but is blog and comic book and author related, so I’ll let it remain. It would be nice to have a group of people I don’t know helping me improve my writing. YES PLEASE.

Done. Even if more are floating around in my brain…eight is enough. This entry is enough. I hope to be around a lot more this year. I hope to be better at life this year. 2012 was kind of weird and shitty.

Dragon Age Origins Playlist: For the Grey Wardens

Dragon Age Origins header

After dusting off the blog and posting this week, I thought the Mass Effect playlist seemed a little lonely, and was reminded I’d crafted a similar item for Dragon Age: Origins.

This is mostly effective towards the Alistair/Warden camp, but feel it could be appropriate for most FemWardens and their love interests. Perhaps. I dunno. Sheeit.

Here it goes:

1. White Blank Page – Mumford and Sons

2. Breath of Life – Florence and The Machine

3. Run Boy Run – Woodkid

4. The Next Time You Say Forever – Neko Case

5. Dark Moon, High Tide – Afro Celt Sound System

6. Poison and Wine – The Civil Wars

7. Lodestar – Sarah Harmer

8. Gray Stables – Iron and Wine

9. Grown Unknown – Lia Ices

10. Lovers – David Gray

11. Gold Dust Woman – Fleetwood Mac (for Morrigan)

12. Road – Nick Drake

13. Good Woman – Cat Power

There’s also a YouTube playlist for those interested parties. And while I’m at it, I’d love to suggest reading the Dragon Age: The Silent Grove comic book which is supposedly a bridge story between DAO, DAII and the next installment. It features characters from both series, introduces some newbies and has, as promised by the title, DRAGONS. I spotted in TFAW in hardback form while picking up a beautiful, gorgeous Garrus Vakarian action figure. Yes, had to name drop Garrus. Frakking stud.

Assassin’s Creed: Five Years Later

I’ve embarked on an incredibly awesome or incredibly lame journey (you decide) to replay all the Assassin’s Creed games up to the release of the “third” installment of the series. I began this quest on my 30th birthday and ended the first game this weekend. 

It was a pleasant surprise to return to the original and refresh the story a bit.

Assassin's Creed - Altair

Here are a few ruminations from a second helping of Assassin’s Creed:

1. Altair’s Voice: Is the first thing you notice. Or at least, the first thing I did. It’s so…wrong. It sounds like a blonde Californian man strolled into the middle east straight off the University of California Berkeley campus. It doesn’t seem to bother the majority of fans, but it does rankle me. Especially when all the other characters surrounding Altair HAVE middle eastern accents. I just…it makes no sense! Every time I hear him speaking, I can do nothing but think of Paul Walker from the Fast & Furious franchise. It’s terribly distracting.

2. Throwing Knives: Granted, it’s been multiple years, but I didn’t recall the glory of the throwing knives quite so much the first time around. This is a delightful trick that was seriously under-utilized in most of my other play-throughs, including the entire Ezio saga. Ah, to leap across rooftops and fling knives effortlessly to destroy guards and enemies. Woooot.

3. Desmond Miles: I got a little more mileage (heh) out of him this time. The last go round I didn’t steal Vedic’s pen or hack my way into the conference room. I don’t really even remember reading anyone else’s emails besides Lucy’s. Knowing the culmination of all this information, it’s intriguing to go back through the series and see how everything lines up. So far, so good. Anywho…I hung out with Desmond more. If the series suffers from a lack of anything, it’s Desmond. He’s an interesting character who gets side-lined by his assassin ancestors a bit too much.

4. Repeated phrases: Wow, does this game suffer from limited dialogue choices. “Thief, you are filth!” Has been a common phrase uttered around our home recently. The priests all rant about the same stuff. Even the same lines are recycled when you rescue the victims from the constant torment of the guards…speaking of which.

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Mass Effect vs Dragon Age: The Typical Male Love Interest

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*SPOILERS YA’LL*

It would be more than fair to say that roughly 50% of my interest in RPGs come from the ability to romance different characters. Indeed, some of the worst parts of the gameplay (the Mako in ME1, the Fade in DA:O) are over-ridden and muddled through strictly because I know some gooey romance scenes await on the other side.

I am shameless and give no fucks about this particular aspect of my gaming life.

For my first playthroughs of both games, I decided to be classicly boring and stick with the relatively white bread, stoic, heterosexual male/female pairings. Because those were inevitably going to be canon and being canon is it’s own compelling force. And romancing a woman seemed like fulfilling fanboy fantasies, rather than developing a deep emotional relationship between two same-sex characters (I’ll comment more on same-sex playthroughs later, but I was proven wrong).

Anywho, here I am, a racially indistinct character in both playthroughs and my options are British ginger Alistair Thierin and Kaidan Alenko who has dark hair, eyes, and dark skin. Sort of a Russian last name. I’m sticking to my guns that Ashley and Kaidan are POCs. So, I guess that kicks the white breadness to the curb as far as ME is concerned. Overall, ME is much more populated with POCs and Aliens. Space racism doesn’t seem to exist 200 or so years from now. GJ humanity.

But there are so, so many white people in DA:O. Anyone who isn’t a Qunari, Elf or Dwarf is a white person. Aside from some questionable accents (Zevran Arainai sounds like Antonio Banderas) most of these different species are portrayed as having white facial features.

OK, now that we have race out of the way…

What else makes these dudes so incredibly typical and basically boring?

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Mass Effect Mix: Good Shepard

Mass Effect 3 Female Shepard

I’m back…for now. I was sucked into a Bioware vortex for the last month or so and played through the entire Mass Effect trilogy *twice* and also chalked up both Dragon Age games as well. Sooo, writing and a social life and basic hygiene have really suffered.

No really, I’m clean and in relatively good mental health now (though I still spend a ridiculous amount of time stalking the Garrus tag on Tumblr). And, as with all great fandoms in which music plays a key role (or none at all), I have emerged on the other side of this month-long hedonism with a pretty frakking awesome playlist.

Here goes:

1. One Beat – Sleater-Kinney

2. Bad Girls – M.I.A.

3. You’ll Find A Way – Santogold

4. Raspberry Swirl – Tori Amos

5. 3rd Planet – Modest Mouse

6. Machete – Moby 

7. Body Below – Mirah

8. Y Control – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

9. Get Some – Lykke Li

10. Bad Reputation – Joan Jett

11. Gold Guns Girls – Metric

12. No Light, No Light – Florence & The Machine

13. He Said She Said – Joe Purdy

14. Standing in the Way of Control – The Gossip

15. Idioteque – Radiohead

16. C’est la Mort – The Civil Wars

You can also listen to the YouTube playlist here, if you are feeling so inclined.

This is not to disparage the most amazing video game soundtrack ever (with Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood coming a close second) or all the amazing fan-made music I’ve stumbled upon and loved in the last month.

There is so much great art being made for this fandom, and I’ve even met some cool new local artist peeps in the process. So, life is extraordinarily good right now, which means I have no excuse to NOT blog.

Making a playlist has helped purge me of some of my angstier ME feels, and I’m not ashamed to admit I’m on a third playthrough will full intentions to romance Liara. But…I still might end up with Garrus. He’s my space husband. I guess Liara is my space wife? I think I might cheat on her in ME2. Because Garrus.

I’ve been keeping tabs on Tumblr about some of my game-play antics, but since this is my “official” blog, it might be nice to capture some of the insanity here too, in which I’m not copiously fangirling over pictures of Garrus drinking tea or making cupcakes or canoodling in bed or…ahem, you get the idea. Here is where logic and order reigns supreme. Where things are liberally dissected.

I’ll put up a couple posts with brief reviews of my first two playthroughs this week and maybe next week some thoughts about Dragon Age vs Mass Effect. It will be fun kiddos, I promise.

Clearly, I’ve had a lot of time to consider my re-entry into normal life. So here’s hoping I can be a regular blogger again. 🙂

The Hunger Games Trilogy: Catching a New Director

Gary-Ross-Catching-Fire

It was almost impossible to ignore the swirl of controversy exploding on the internet a week ago when rumors leaked that Gary Ross, the wizard who magicked the film version of The Hunger Games into the world, would not be taking the helm of Catching Fire the second film in the trilogy (or four-ogy, if you count the two-parter ending). While it was tempting to become mired in the drama, I patiently set it aside, determined to have a productive and happy weekend.

Giving in to rumors has been a bad habit in the past.

Sadly, even after petitions and trending-twitter-tags and a great effort on the part of the fandom, Ross announced he really, truly is leaving the franchise on the grounds of “not enough time to write and prep the movie I would have wanted to make because of the fixed and tight production schedule.” I mean, what a lame excuse right? J/K ya’ll. This is serious business.

Gary Ross is suffering what I like to call The Catherine Hardwicke Effect. No, I’m not suggesting her as the next director. Her campy, lulzy take on Twilight and super sexed up Red Riding Hood were a bit too strange and not emotionally charged or serious enough for the content of Catching Fire.

Not only 24 hours later and the internet is already abuzz with rumors or judgments about who should take the helm. Since absolutely no one has asked my opinion yet, I will give it to you anyway.

Here are my top 5 picks for a new HG director (in no particular order, mind you):

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Emerald City Comic Con 2012: The Costumes

My apologies for the Mindy overload here, had to jump in a few pictures with these awesome folks.

Slideshow of the great costumes at Emerald City Comic Con 2012:

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Emerald City Comic Con 2012: Top 5 Highlights

Emerald City Comic Con poster

We booked our hotel and registered our tickets for Emerald City Comic Con 2012 months ago. I was especially excited about the prospect of meeting Katee Sackhoff AND Edward James Olmos, so I didn’t spend much time prior to the convention planning or even reviewing the comic book guests. Decided to use this as my pop culture/media frenzy event for the year. A few weeks ago when Sackhoff cancelled her appearance due to acting engagements, I was more than a little bummed. Still excited to meet Edward James Olmos, but was *this* close to having both those items crossed off my nerd bucket list.

With considerably less enthusiasm, I downloaded the Guidebook App and went through their schedule of events, plotting out a handful of interesting looking panels. I think we averaged about one panel a day, but again – they were mostly for media guests so you won’t find any breaking news items here.

Top 5 Highlights from Emerald City Comic Con 2012:

5. Ready Player One Panel. For me was the most interesting panel we attended because the author of the book series, Ernest Cline, not only discussed his enduring love for Star Wars but the Hollywood process behind the making of his original screenplay Fanboys and the years long journey to publish “Ready Player One” which has now been optioned for the big screen. We didn’t stay for the Q&A session, but he delivered an inspiring few sentences on the writing process which have given me a long, hard look at my novel.

Ernest Cline, Author of Ready Player One

Ernest Cline, Author of Ready Player One

4. Meeting Wil Wheaton and Witnessing his Awesome Hour. In which he plugged his table-top gaming series on Felicia Day‘s recently released Geek and Sundry YouTube Channel. I’m certain Dan and I will check it out. He also wrote a book Memories From The Future, Volume 1 about his experience with the first season of Star Trek The Next Generation we will hunt down as well. He was very gracious when we snapped pictures and was super complimentary about my tattoo.

Mindy, Wil Wheaton, and Dan

Mindy, Wil Wheaton, and Dan

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Movie Review: The Hunger Games

Is this movie better than the book? Very few movies are. The book really needs to be bad and the movie really needs to be good in order for this rare occasion to present itself. It’s the unfortunate mishap of film. It’s never long and full enough to capture all the scenes, nuances and character development allowed in the text of a novel. 

The Hunger Games Poster Katniss arenaDoes The Hunger Games the movie capture the several moods and moments within the book that make it what it is? Yes. It does that. And more, it adds elements lacking in the story because of the limited first-person narrative.

THE GOOD

The acting here was solid and the casting, though contentious in some circles, was ultimately spot-on (though I will always have a different Peeta in my brain). The costuming was exquisite and some of the set pieces insanely iconic. Specifically, The Reaping scene. Each time I watched it, it inspired chills and horror. The entire mood evoked by the score, the lighting and the focus of the camera was ultimately somber. I wouldn’t say the audience leaves the theatre with a feeling of “wasn’t that so awesome?” but rather, a feeling of having witnessed something horrific and, like the main characters, survived. Like Katniss, we’d like to forget some of the more disturbing aspects of The Hunger Games.

THE BAD

Unless you count a few unruly audience members during the first and second viewings of the movie, there wasn’t much to complain about here. The 2.5 hour run time seems to breeze by in 45 minutes (unless you have a full bladder). The few complaints I have seem silly and could be said of many movies or many adaptations, so they’re almost not worth uttering. I would have rather eliminated a few of the “behind the game-makers scenes” and done with some more moments between Katniss and Peeta. Or with Katniss remembering Gale. Or Katniss remembering Prim. OR fully drawing out the bread scene.

Shaky cam within the first 15 minutes really distracted me. When you are trying to orient yourself in the beginning of a film, so much shakiness is almost painful to bear witness too. But, the shaky cam and quick cuts added to the heightened emotions and documentary/reality feel that made the Reaping so powerful and memorable.

THE AWESOME

Jennifer Lawrence effortlessly carries this film. I’ve been so wrapped up in The Hunger Games mania for the last few months, it didn’t even register until after the second viewing that I was sitting in a theatre full of people of all ages watching a film centered on a female protagonist who is not overly sexualized. Sure, the full figure of Lawrence is clothed in a few tight-fitting outfits during some scenes, but there are no heaving chests and thigh-high slits. Even the romantic angle was tamed and given heroic threads – her love for Peeta was wrapped up in healing and protecting him.

Audience members of all ages, genders and races are turning out to see Katniss, regardless of her gender, race and age. That’s a pretty awesome phenomena, no matter how you feel about the content. Yes, I will address you Battle Royale parallelists – the concept of people forced into death battle for entertainment existed before Battle Royale. It’s ingrained in Western culture from Greek and Roman times up through stories/films like Running Man and No Escape.

THE CONCLUSION

It’s easy to get lost in the hype and forget about the foundation making this story so moving and engaging. Luckily, the film doesn’t stray far from these themes and it’s seemingly impossible for the audience to ignore them either. The Hunger Games is about the tragedy of oppression, kids killing kids, and the horrors of excess when so many are feeling want. There is a conversation about the nature of humanity and what we are willing to do in order to survive.

There’s important content here, and my greatest fear is it will all be lost in the rush of a $153 million opening weekend and attractive box office stars. Indeed, I had some small hope Lionsgate would use the opportunity of the release of “The Hunger Games” to combat hunger. You know, address the themes present in the art.

Maybe that’s just my brain constantly crying out for social justice on some level, but I was disappointed there was no effort to collect extra funds for food banks or to even invite local food banks to collect donations at theatres. Is it weird my mind should go there? I don’t think so, not given the story being told. My greatest complaint is that the entertainment industry missed an opportunity to do more than just collect millions of dollars in cash. It could have connected the dots in a more profound way.

Bechdel Test“The Hunger Games” features more than two female characters with names who converse about something other than men and therefore DOES PASS the women test, DOES PASS the men test and features more than two minority characters who have names, but do not speak to one another so it DOES NOT PASS the race test. 

LINK LOVE:

Racist Hunger Games Fans are Very Disappointed

What Hunger Games’ Success Means for Women in Action Films

The Gender Neutral Games

Twilight vs Hunger Games: Why Do So Many Grown-Ups Hate Bella?