Have A Black Tooth Grin and Getcha Pull!!!

Getcha pull, muthafucker!!!
I can't even believe that I ended up on the wrong day with this.  I thought it was the 10th, but it was really the 8th.  What's that mean?
Two days ago and four years past, the world of rock 'n' roll had a tragic day set in stone, as Dimebag Darrell was murdered in cold blood over stupid shit.  As a Texan, there is more than just pride and respect here.  There is statesmanship.  This was a man who was dedicated, outgoing, and more than almost anyone out there, the kind of person that knew where he came from and never took that for granted.  He brought a lot of life and great times into peoples' lives the world over as the guitarist for Pantera, but more than that, he was the kind of rock musician that almost anyone would've loved to hang out with.

Everyone has a story about Dimebag, and each one is special.  When I was going to tech school in Phoenix, AZ, I was lucky enough to see Pantera perform on their last Ozzfest tour during the release of their last album, Reinventing the Steel.  My friend Travis was in attendance, and it was a day of memorial for him already.  His friend Mark had been killed by a drunk driver in a car accident, and he had been so excited to finally get to see Pantera, his favorite band.  Unfortunately, that didn't happen.  Travis and a couple of other folks with him had shirts made for Mark, and they wore them to the show so Mark could be there in spirit.  To see Pantera live was unlike any live show ever.  As Pantera devastated the crowd with an amazingly played set, Phil (the lead singer) noticed a guy holding up a shirt.  He got on the mic:

"Hey, what's that?  What's that guy holding up?  Tell him to come up here...make some room, muthafuckers.  Come on up here, man."

He was talking to Travis.  Travis got on the stage with Phil, and he told the audience about the tragedy him and his own friends had been through that week.  Phil grabbed the shirt from him.

"This was your friend?"


"Then he didn't miss a fucking thing, brother.  He's here with us right now."

He tosses the shirt over to Dime, which Dime then puts on and starts up the opening riff to "Cemetary Gates".  Phil announces that they are changing their set up a little bit for Mark.

It sent goosebumps down my spine, as even after listening to hundreds of performances of that song live, the different renditions on albums and soundtracks...I have NEVER heard Dime play that song with so much emotion.

That is what we ended up missing out on.  Whether you dig metal or not, and whether you care or not, Dimebag Darrell was the kind of dood that would give the shirt off his back (and did on several reported occasions) to anyone just for the Hell of it.

On December 8th four years ago, a dood that I looked up to growing up and made me wanna learn how to shred an axe was gunned down by a supposed fan who thought he was the reason that Pantera broke up...

...and nothing can replace him.

So celebrate this life and your own with a Black Tooth Grin and getcha pull!!!

Chess Club Massacre - Episode 2: Sidewalk Salad

Some folks in an apartment in Waco, Texas hunker down to talk to you about the latest in music, movies, and games so you don't blow your money on the wrong products.  You'll also get some rants, rambles, and a few laughs (hopefully).  In true Texas fashion, this is all done with alcohol and pizza involved as well!


On this week's episode, jakob187 and bellybear review:
  • Transporter 3 starring Jason Statham
  • Guns 'n' Roses' new album, Chinese Democracy

In the meantime, they rant about Black Friday, old action heroes being updated, the proposed story for Beverly Hills Cop 4, and MUCH MUCH MORE!!!  (also, as a P.S., jakob187 would like to apologize for his mental retardation when trying to talk about football.  He promises to never talk about sports in a podcast again...unless it's golf...because he loves golf.)



iGames Warhammer Online Video Contest

iGames.org is having a video contest right now for the PC MMORPG Warhammer Online.  Six gaming centers from across the nation have entered into the competition, one of which happens to be an entry that I made for Lansharx Gaming Center, where I work.  Part of the contests' judging points is based on (and I think it's stupid, but whatever) public views.  So, I figured I would share the playlist with you guys.  Leave your comments, ratings, and such (but don't be assholes, please).  All of these game centers spent quite a bit of time prepping and getting ready for this stuff, most with little to no equipment to actually make a video.



Chess Club Massacre 11/28/2008 - Episode 1: The Dirty Hawk

Some folks in an apartment in Waco, Texas hunker down to talk to you about the latest in music, movies, and games so you don't blow your money on the wrong products.  You'll also get some rants, rambles, and a few laughs (hopefully).  In true Texas fashion, this is all done with alcohol and pizza involved as well!

CHESS CLUB MASSACRE 11/28/2008 - Episode 1: The Dirty Hawk

On this week's episode, hosts jakob187, bellybear, and poofox review:
  • Quantum of Solace, the new James Bond movie
  • Kanye West's new album, 808s and Heartbreak
  • Left 4 Dead, the new game from Valve
  • Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, the new game from Ed Boon

In the meantime, they rant about the Star Trek trailer, "Citizen Soldier", last week's AMAs, the over-usage of "Lil" and "Young" in rapper names, Bond in years past, and MUCH MUCH MORE!!!


Also make sure to add us if you are on MySpace.  http://www.myspace.com/chessclub_massacre

Blacker Than The Blackest Black - Friday is Coming Soon!!!

I've never been to a store on Friday of African-American Descent*.  As a matter of fact, I've done everything in my power year after year to AVOID it.  I never seem to have money around that time, and more often than not, I have no desire to wait around with a crowd of people trying to get in a door for an item.

Until this year...

I recently bought a computer from my cousin for $150.  Nothing super special, just an HP to do some movie editing and music stuff with it.  It already has a copy of Cakewalk Music Creator on it, which is the primary reason I got it.  Nonetheless, he's selling it to me without the monitor.  So, with Friday of African-American Descent* coming around, and the fact that I've actually got cash to spend for Black Friday, I decided to check out the ads.  Best Buy was my first place, and after finding what I wanted, it's the only place I'll be going.

Acer 19" widescreen flat-panel
This sweet little thing comes in at a total cost of $99.99 plus tax.  Definitely worth spending my money on.  The response time is eh (5ms), but it's a nice 700:1 contrast ratio and 1440 x 900 native res.

So, that's gonna be my big thing this week.  This will definitely help me to get my Warhammer Online video edited together in the privacy of my own home, and overdubbed with voiceover, in time for Monday's video contest deadline over at iGames.  I'm prayin' for that big money, folks.  $1500 first prize, and even if I get fifth, that's worth $200 bucks.  I'll get half of whatever we win (my boss gets the other half since it's his gaming center).  The last video I did for our launch party of Civilization Revolution, which was rather basic, put $250 in my pocket...and I'm going a bit more conceptual with this new one.

I'm also hoping that, with this new monitor in my place, I'll finally be able to start doing some of the things I've wanted to do for a while.  Me and my cousin, bellybear, are going to start doing a weekly or bi-weekly show where we discuss music, movies, and games...and with the Music Creator program, I should be able to start doing a regular podcast.

The other big thing is that with the free camcorder that I got from my boss + this computer + all my editing software, I might FINALLY be able to do the one thing I've wanted to do forever:  make a movie and submit it to SXSW.  I don't even really care if I made a movie and it didn't get picked for show, but it would be nice to just make one and finally say "I did this".  It's the same way that I finally bunkered down with bellybear and started writing some music that ended up getting recorded, despite the fact that it was in my mom's dining room.  lol

So, what about you guys?  Are you goin' out to get some doorbusters on Friday of African-American Descent*?  What are you lookin' at?  Pictures encouraged, as always.

Until next time, piece.

*EDIT - Thanks to HandsomeDead for correcting my utter racism.  How could I DARE call it Black Friday?


WOOT! MK vs DCU!!!

We just got a copy of MK vs. DCU in the store today, so I'm gonna get to play it finally without having to go out and rent it.  I'm really hoping and praying that this game rocks my socks off so I can go out and spend some dough on it.

I'll have some opinions and a user review out sometime this week, I'm sure.

Oh Gravedigger, When You Dig My Grave...

...could you make it shallow so that I can feel the rain?

I've put down Left 4 Dead (which I posted a user review for finally) over the last couple of days, mostly due to the fear that my head might explode from how fucking awesome that game really is.  I haven't felt that energized and psyched about playing a game since Vagrant Story back in the day, and before that, it was Duck Hunt!  Nonetheless, it means that I've been doing the usual achievement whoring.  What has that led to?

Writing you guys an achievement guide for Call of Duty: World at War, of course!!!  You're welcome.  It's not completed as of yet.  I still need to get video footage done for the Death Cards (although rather vivid descriptions are already in the guide), as well as a video showing all the tower and bunker locations on "Blood and Iron".

This leads me to offering a follow-up of my previous World at War blog.  The campaign just hasn't sat well in my stomach so far, and I haven't really been able to pinpoint it...but then something hit me.  I plugged in my copy of Dave Matthews' Some Devil (great album to relax to).  "Gravedigger" is the first track on that album, and man...the tone in it just really fit how I felt about World at War's story.  It made it all come together for me.  There's just this underlying sadness in World at War that wasn't in the previous games.  I was already pissed about World at War going with this edgy M-rated route when all the other games were rated T for Teen...and it worked perfectly fine for them.  Okay, Call of Duty 4 was M-rated, but it was for language mostly.  There's not really any gore in that game.

I understand that WWII wasn't all pretty and non-bloody, but at the same time, the CoD series has always had magnificently well-done single player campaigns that tell amazing stories.  World at War...doesn't do that.  While war is nothing more than senseless violence for the most part, this game's campaign really DID feel like absolute senseless violence...and that's just not very Call of Duty, now is it?  I mean, I can't find one single character in the entire campaign that I honestly LIKE.  I never really felt like anyone was doing anything truly heroic, but there was this great passage at the beginning of "Downfall" that ***SPOILER*** Reknov is reading from Chernov's diary after he is killed at the end of "Heart of the Reich", and I thought that it was kind of insightful:

April 30, 1945 - When he first spoke of Demetri, Reznov told tales of a hero...someone we should all aspire to be like.  At times, I have seen him show mercy, but at others, act with complete brutality.  I do not understand him.  Perhaps heroes need not question their actions.

So now, I look back at the campaign and think...as dirty as I felt playing that game, and as downtrodden as I was by the end of it all, was I actually doing heroic things?  I mean, I didn't really enjoy the campaign at all from a technical standpoint, but it felt like Treyarch really grabbed me by the balls with a story that didn't impact me until a day or two later, all because of Dave.


Don't Feel Like Writing Out A Review...

...mostly because I don't want to throw that much profanity into a review.

Either way, consider this as much of a review as you will get for Call of Duty: World at War from me.

Single player isn't nearly as epic as the past games.  Too much flamethrower shit.  Rocked co-op with my boss last night since we couldn't pick up Left 4 Dead until later today.  The co-op worked okay, but after playing the Gears 2 co-op where I could have separate difficulty settings, I don't think I can go back to regular co-op that isn't Left 4 Dead anytime soon.  You play across two campaigns, and neither one is very stellar.  You use the flamethrower a whole lot, but really, all you need to know is that I just didn't know how to feel about Harry Truman picking Jack Bauer of all people to lead me into the battlefield and yell "get your fucking ass moving, soldier".  I remember when this franchise was rated Teen and didn't have to rely on blood, gore, and/or strong language to tell its story...and I'm getting to the point that I PREFERRED it that way.

In about 10-12 hours of gameplay over the past couple of days, I busted the multiplayer rank up from 1 to 30-something (I think 32, but I'm not at the Xbox right now).  Kind of sad to think that it didn't take that long, but given that I can 55 a CoD4 profile pretty fucking quick, it's not completely impossible to think.
One of the things that everyone has complained about is the maps in multiplayer.  There are quite a handful (I would say about half at least) that are way too fucking big.  There were times I was wandering aimlessly around a battlefield looking for a fight, and nothing was in sight.  However, I started thinking about it...really thinking about it...and I see where the problem for this is...

When Call of Duty 4 came out, a lot of people complained that on the PC, the maps for it were way too small for supporting as many players as it did.  Well, with World at War coming out, Treyarch made a lot of the maps bigger...but they didn't think about the console market that ate up CoD4...I would assume, at least.  In turn, the consoles got to bite the bullet this time around.

Overall, there are three maps that I found to be worthwhile:  Upheaval, Makin, and one of my new personal favorites in ANY multiplayer game, DOME!  That map is absolutely incredible and very well made, and to think that Treyarch was able to create something that astonishingly fast-paced and fun gives me hope for them yet!!!  lol  I adore Dome like I adore Karkand on BF2.  Other than that, it has a few memorable maps outside of that, like Cliffside or Asylum.

My biggest problem with the multiplayer is a continuing problem in many multiplayer games:  tanks.

WHY THE FUCK DO WE NEED TANKS IN AN INFANTRY-BASED SETUP?!?!  The fact that they have armor on the outside of them that has to be penetrated, followed by about 3-4 rockets after to kill one of them...and that's if you are hitting an exposed area....is ABSOLUTE HORSESHIT!!!  There is NO reason for tanks to EVER be in CoD games, and for some reason, Treyarch has put vehicles into BOTH of their games.  It's so damned stupid.  It single-handedly ruins maps like Outskirt, Seelow, and Roundhouse!!!  Roundhouse would've been perfectly fine if it were a bit smaller and had no fucking vehicles!!!

I'm just baffled, that's all.

Besides that, the game just isn't as memorable as any of the previous CoD games, and it definitely does not live up to the pinnacle of single and multiplayer that was set by IW's Call of Duty 2 and Call of Duty 4.  I enjoyed CoD3's single-player, but the multiplayer was just god-awful.  World at War, though...is that game you will play in your off-time from CoD4 until IW comes out with a new one (and let's just PRAY they finally go to Vietnam!).

Of Course America is Fat! There's No Phys Ed Classes!


Above is a video of Jim Rome talking about a ban against tag from Colorado schools in 2007.

My alma mater had a strict P.E. program in place, and within three years after I graduated, the school had completely gotten rid of it.  The only form of phys. ed. left in the system was the Athletics program.  I'm not necessarily skinny, but I sure as Hell wasn't always a fattie (and when it comes down to it, I ain't fat by accident...down South cookin' is hard to resist!).  Nonetheless, it seems that using an EXTRACURRICULAR activity to replace a MANDATORY P.E. class is kind of...well...bullshit.

What about you guys?  Are there regular P.E. classes in your schools?  If so, what's the standard of these things nowadays?

I'm hoping people won't use this as an opportunity to flame people because of weight and other shit.  I want to use this as a chance for people to seriously discuss what the fuck is wrong with our school systems that they can fuck up soooooo easily.

Sukiyaki Western Django - Movie Review

For those unfamiliar with Takashi Miike and the worlds he creates, just plug in a copy of Audition, Ichi The Killer, or Imprint and watch the gruesome brutality and subversive subtlety in every frame and movement he makes.  With a reputation for bloody and vulgar violence mixed with saddening emotion, he paints a vision that must be seen to be believed.  It's no wonder that he ends up being considered by the underground film world as one of the most influential directors in Asia.  Despite the visual attack that he barrages any viewer with, there is always still a slight melancholy to his work that is hard to get past, potentially causing the movie to lose some appeal upon further viewings.

Sukiyaki Western Django is the latest film to come from the mind of Miike, and while it takes many cues from the great spaghetti Westerns of our time, it also mixes just enough Eastern culture to create something compelling and comical.  At the same time, that same melancholy that infects his other films shows up a bit more often in Sukiyaki, causing the movie to be only for the most diehard of his followers...and maybe for the diehard Western fans as well.

Yusuke Iseya plays Yoshitsune to perfection
The journey through Sukiyaki is not an easy one to follow, and for good reason:  the times that Miike focuses too hard on one character in any given time, he lets too much of the character show, dissolving away any mysticism they may have carried.  The prime of the story focuses on a "War of the Roses", so to speak, as the Genji (aka Whites) and Heike (aka Reds) gangs have taken over a small mining town in the hopes that they can recover a huge treasure box full of gold while surviving the constant feud.  The leader of the Reds, Kiyomori, is more interested in gunning down anyone in his way while focusing on being called Henry after reading Henry VI by Shakespeare.  Meanwhile, the leaders of the Whites, Yoshitsune, has developed a perfect balance of combat, excelling at both the gun and the sword...and it shows.  Played with perfection by Yusuke Iseya (Casshern), the character of Yoshitsune is a very well-developed character that allows for breathing room with a subtle but effective performance.  

There is also the lone Gunslinger that wanders into town to settle the feud by offering his services to find the treasure, but he soon becomes embroiled in a larger plot that involves murder, greed, lust, vengeance, and discovery.  It's through the eyes of the Gunslinger that we see the truth, but so much is given away about the characters' past and emotions that it's hard to really get attached to him for long.  From here, the bevy of characters can get rather entangled:  

  • The local eye-candy temptress, Shizuka, and her son Mura who is incapable of speaking after watching his father murdered before his eyes
  • The mysterious older lady, Ruriko, with an unforgettable past
  • The messenger, Toshio, who is in love with Ruriko but won't admit it to her
  • The sheriff, Hoanka, who suffers from split-personality disorder
  • The white man, Ringo (played by Quentin Tarantino), who has a greater hand to play in everything than is to be believed at first

All of the stories tie together far better than a movie like Crash or Babel could ever pull off, but only 2 of those characters really get a chance to develop into something worthwhile.  The rest just dissolve into the background and play their parts.  This was something that never happened in Ichi the Killer, and the lack of overtly unnecessary characters also created an eerie yet oddly romantic setting for Audition.  Unfortunately, just comb over pieces like Visitor Q and The City of Lost Souls, and you will find that the excess of uninteresting characters creates that melancholy you can't escape.  Whether it's something that Miike does on purpose or not, it causes the viewer to become detached easily and lose interest when they need to be focusing harder.

One of the most visually amazing scenes...and it's at the end of the film
The visual effects for the film are well done, and many are used in a way that enhances the story.  Flashbacks are shot with extreme exposure, while current day pieces are shot with vivid color and fluidity.  A throwback to John Ford-style Westerns opens the movie, using an obviously painted skyline (especially obvious when blood splatters on it and stays)...but the whole part feels absolutely necessary in the way it is shot.  More impressive feats, like watching an arrow fly through the hole that used to be someone's stomach and into another gang member, really show off just how talented the post-crew working on this film is.  One of my favorite moments comes near the midpoint of the film, as Kiyomori has gotten his hands on a rather impressive weapon.  Yoshitsune, however, catches up with him and fires strategic shots from his pistols in order to hit Kiyomori.  There are so many little things in those scenes that make them far bigger than they would've been otherwise, such as seeing the bullets flying through the air (frame-by-frame shows a remarkable amount of detail put into each shot for added realism) and the actor's reaction to each shot sell the CGI that much better.  There are tons of subtle effects added as well, and unless you put them under a microscope (such as some added blood effects and even smoke), you could swear to God almighty that they were full-on live action shots with no CGI manipulation.

The bummer of the movie comes in the fact that character development isn't dispersed very well amongst everyone, causing you to lose interest in some of the people you should care about the most.  Rape and murder shouldn't be easy things to see in a movie, and this does happen to be the one time Miike held back on the rape part quite a bit.  Even during those scenes, there's almost a lack of caring...which proves to be quite sad.  There is so much focus put onto this war between the Whites and the Reds that they could've probably cut half of the characters out completely and just used the Whites, the Reds, the Gunslinger, and Ruriko and had a superb film.  Instead, Sukiyaki Western Django comes off as yet another Miike film that will cater more to his diehard fans than the average viewer while stirring up fond memories of Corbucci, Kurosawa, and Leone.