Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

New Laptop!

Guess what's playing on the TV: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)

Well, that didn’t take long; did it?

As a young man, and a blogger at that, the idea of living without a computer to call my own was one I just wasn’t going to entertain for another day longer.

I tried to get by using mom and pop’s computer for only a few minutes a day, only to find that the load times were so severe, that I found the process of shopping for a new computer online to be utterly unbearable.

Because of that, I ended up truckin’ it down to Fry’s yesterday to take a look at their wares, hoping and praying that the sales staff there would be able to help me find what I was looking for.

As it so happens, the salesperson I ended up working with was quite knowledgeable, and if I can take a moment to be a chauvinist pig; very cute as well!

Sorry about that, I don’t get out much…

Anyway, I ended up getting a slightly outdated Sony Vaio laptop with Windows 7, a Blu Ray drive, and 512 graphics card.

Given that I’ve got friends that I intend to be doing a lot of HD video editing with, I felt I made a good choice in terms of catering to functionality in this area.

Imagine my surprise when I walked out of there only $750 (before tax) lighter!

As of now, I’m still familiarizing myself with Windows 7, as the last OS I worked from was XP; as well as busily re-acquiring and loading the majority of essential programs I had on my old computer.

So far the only hiccup I’ve run into with my Vaio, is that the wireless speed seems pitifully slow.

It’s probably a driver issue, or failing that; something way the fuck over my head as is the case with pretty much everything that has to do with computers.

Anyway, ‘imma get back to playing with my new toy and watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.

See you tomorrow, hopefully with a legit post on my new computer!

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Azn Badger’s Computer(s) = FUBAR


The sequence above comes from the (slightly) under-appreciated cop flick, Nighthawks.

In scrounging through the recesses of my movie reference laden memories for a clip that could summarize my feelings at this moment, I could find no better example than Sylvester Stallone belching out savage/manly utterances while cradling an injured Billy Dee Williams.

Seriously man, it’s a Billy Dee/Stallone tag team; definitely worth you’re while.

Lando/Rocky awesomeness aside, I’ve had 2 computers turn into bricks in as many days, and believe me; I’m none too happy about it.

Anyway, even though I’m aware my computers are not people; and therefore bear me no ill will, rest assured, the phrases

“I’m gonna’ kill that sonofabitch!”

and

“YOU’RE FUCKIN’ DEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAADDDDDDD!!!!”

were thrown around in reference to them in the past 48 hours.

That being said, after so many “technical difficulties” posts; I’m guessing it was about time I looked into a new computer anyway.

See you tomorrow, but don’t expect anything special for awhile; mom and pop’s computer is really fuckin’ slow…

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Thoughts On Tron Legacy

I went to see Tron: Legacy in theaters today.

No, I didn’t watch it in 3D, and no; I was not at all excited to see it.

The original Tron was a movie that I never really had any sort of love for.

Sure, it was an astounding technical/visual achievement for it’s time, but that doesn’t mean it was all that good a movie.

To be perfectly honest, even as a kid I found the original Tron to be a muddled, confusing, and downright boring film.

“Boring” is a powerful word when used to describe a film consisting entirely of flashing lights and pretty colors.

As I sat in the theater today, I couldn’t help but feel that this Tron for the new generation; seemed to share many of the problems of it’s predecessor.

The film wasn’t bad, it was just sort of mediocre; and horribly paced to boot.

If ever there was a film that lost it’s way in the second half, it would be Tron: Legacy.

The basic plot of the film involves Jeff Bridges’ character from the previous film, Kevin Flynn; becoming trapped inside the digital realm of his own design, The Grid.

While doing whatever the fuck he does in there, he creates a digital program copy of himself, named Clu; and instills within him a “simple” directive of creating a perfect world.

As seemingly all computer-to-man exchanges seem to turn out, Clu ends up obeying this command to a fault, going so far as to usurp his creators position of power to achieve his goal.

It’s a fairly interesting set-up, that sadly is introduced to us far too late in the game to garner any significance to the audience; nor does it amount to any sort of dramatic pay-off.

Make no mistake: Tron is not a writer’s film.

Anyway, as you may have guessed, the little tidbit of the plot I just gave you is not something made apparent to the audience right off the bat.

Instead, we get treated to an introductory segment wherein our would-be protagonist, (he kind of gets shoved to the side… As does everyone else once THE PLOT gets dropped on us in the second act) Kevin Flynn’s son, Sam, (Garrett Hedlund) shows off for the 3D cameras through a series of EXTREME activities.

Truth be told, I found myself snickering through all of this, (as well as most of the film) as I couldn’t help but feel that it was the filmmaker’s way of justifying Sam’s physical prowess during the action sequences in the grid.

We see him ride his motorcycle, WRECKLESSLY, thereby showing he can drive a light cycle.

We see him do some hood jumping over cop cars that looks curiously like free-running, showing he’s not a feeb.

And on top of that, we see him do some fancy computer hacking, showing he is indeed computer literate enough to solve the mystery needed to START THE FUCKING MOVIE.

The reason I found this humorous, was the fact that I kept wanting them to show us a scene of him playing some Ultimate Frisbee in the park, y’know; to justify his awesomeness in Discs of Tron.

I’m jus’ sayin’, if you’re gonna’ take the time to cover your bases so artificially, you might as well cover them all.

Just so we can all say I talked about the plot, (Tron has a plot?  Since when?) the whole thing starts out sentimental and heartfelt, then it turns into a chaotic mess of (decent) action scenes, then THE PLOT comes crashing down, stopping the film’s momentum dead in it’s tracks.

From there we lose any sort of affinity we might have had for any of the characters, Michael Sheen acts faggy, and the whole thing ends with an anti-climactic bang.

Without exagerrating, the story progression felt like it was written by a 5 year old with A.D.D.

People, places, and essential plot devices seem to manifest at will, all in an attempt to streamline the process of getting the characters from point A to point B.

Despite the convenient nature of The Grid’s layout in regards to the central plot, it amazes me that somehow the film is still boring, and manages to throw us in the doldrums for more than half it’s running time.

Rest assured, most of the breadcrumbs of dramatic tension that the film attempts to sprinkle in the early goings are either ignored, or… No, actually they were all pretty much ignored.

Anyway, from an acting standpoint, I felt that everyone did alright with what the script had to offer.

Jeff Bridges was “fun,” I guess.

His retro dude-isms were decidedly out of place, and therefore worthy of a smile or 2, but for the most part his character, along with most everyone else; felt anemic and devoid of any real character.

Even so, Jeff Bridges has an inherent inviting aura of gravitas to him, so it’s hard for me to say anything bad about his performance.

I will say this though:

The digital mask used to portray Clu as a young Jeff Bridges was a pretty decent likeness, especially in profile and from over the shoulder, but the lips of the damn thing just looked wrong to me.

A friend of mine and I were joking that the “Digital Bridges” bore a resemblance to Bill Maher, such that we both felt Maher should’ve been cast in the part.

It was most apparent when he was speaking, particularly when yelling, (watch out for the speech sequence, he looks like shit…) but otherwise it was a decent attempt.

Good try, but we haven’t breached the uncanny valley just yet folks.

I feel it’s worth mentioning, that Michael Sheen will likely go down in history as the foremost authority on playing faggy Brits.

Seriously man, take one look at the man’s imdb, and you’re likely to find like 20 fuckin’ listings of him playing “Faggy Brit #4.”

While it may sound like I’m making fun of him, (I am) one should also note that Sheen’s just happens to be the only real notable performance in the entire film.

Watch out for all the cut-backs to him during the nightclub sequence, his posing and dancing were truly inspired.

And faggy.

Moving on, coming into Tron, Garrett Hedlund was an unknown item to me.

Despite having just seen him as one of the lead actors in a multi-million dollar film, I have to say, the man is still a nobody in my book.

‘Nuff said.

Olivia Wilde’s performance in the film was decently entertaining, bearing a wide-eyed inquisitiveness that made her a bit more endearing than most characters; however her place in the plot was somewhat lost to me.

She was apparently of vital importance to the story, as well as to the human world outside The Grid, however the explanation as to why felt inadequate.

Oh well, maybe I just couldn’t hear it over the FUCKING DAFT PUNK MUSIC!

That’s right folks, Daft Punk did the music for Tron: Legacy!

Not only that, they’re also in the fucking movie!

Did I mention Daft Punk did the music for Tron: Legacy!?

In case you couldn’t tell, the above statements were an example of sarcasm on the part of the Azn Badger.

Daft Punk’s score for Tron: Legacy is actually quite good.

There are some fairly inspired themes, particularly in the film’s quieter moments, and the whole score gels well with the aesthetic of the movie quite nicely.

My only real issue with the soundtrack, is probably more the fault of the editor and the director than Daft Punk, and that’s the fact that, like Inception; I felt the soundtrack held too large a presence in the film.

Much like anything in this world, if you pollute your film with too much music, no matter how beautiful; it will end up being detrimental in the long run.

Anyway, let’s get to the one part of this review that I’m sure everyone is here for:

The visuals.

Tron: Legacy is a very handsome film.

The artistic design is striking and beautiful, as well as imaginative and inventive to a fault.

The color palette is decidedly bleak for the most part, with black (as opposed to white in the first film) being a constant in most of the designs, and other colors being used as a highlight.

Rest assured, in classic Star Wars fashion: Red = Bad, Blue = Good.

To the credit of the digital artists, I found myself genuinely at a loss when it came to determining which props and sets were real, and which were digital.

Unlike in George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels, wherein the sets bore an artificiality to them that made the actors “pop” out from them, many of the railings, floors, and walls in The Grid were lit/rendered with such attention to detail and texture, that I honestly couldn’t tell if they were real or fake.

Speaking of texture, I want to thank the design team of Tron: Legacy for going the extra mile to design actual costumes for virtually all of the characters in the movie.

You all probably know how I feel about the upcoming Green Lantern movie, and how silly the digital Lantern suit looks to me; so it comes as a surprise to me that Tron would contain actual physical costumes, and quite good ones at that.

Everyone sort of looks like Dark Knight Batman/ninjas in The Grid, and while that doesn’t really do it for me personally, I have to say; they were stunningly well-designed.

On that note, the whole film has a very cohesive look to it that was clearly meant to reflect the orderliness of a computer system, however the metaphor seems to have stopped there.

Many of the design choices, while all wonderful to look at, are a little bit silly; even by sci-fi/fantasy standards.

In the world of The Grid, there are drunk hobo “programs,” (in the form of people wandering the “streets”) and there are dance clubs.

The streets of The Grid are perpetually covered in puddles of “water,” and programs carry umbrellas to shield themselves from “rain.”

Not only that, planes in The Grid show a tendency to stall when pushed too hard.

They’re little things, I know; but purposeful oversights to an imagined world’s continuity for the sake of art always make me giggle just a little.

In summary:

Tron: Legacy is a fantastical visual experience, just don’t expect any sort of depth to it… Or any entertainment value above the level of “mediocre.”

Well designed and imagined, the film is simply lacking in the one area that usually matters most in any film:

Writing.

That being said, if you do go see Tron: Legacy, make sure to look out for shades of Star Wars in Jeff Bridges costuming, as well as some of the events during the films final act.

When Jeff Bridges told his son to hop on the gun of their escape craft, I nearly cracked up waiting for him to tell the kid, “Don’t get cocky!” while he was shooting down TIE fighters, er, I mean “Tron Planes.”

Anyway, thanks for reading!

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Global Operations: The Best Game Ever

What Global Operations is all about: Bruthas' with guns...

Global Operations is a Counter-Strike clone.

Plain and simple.

Despite this, the important thing to remember is that it is a damn good Counter-Strike clone.

Unlike this pile of fail...

Counter-Strike had already been out a few years before the release of Global Operations, and while the former may indeed have ended up being the better game, I personally had more fun plugging away at terrorists in Global Ops.

Looks kind of familiar, don’t it?

Familiar, but AWESOME.

Counter-Strike was, and in some ways, still is a phenomenon in the realm of online first-person shooters.

It’s legacy stretches on for miles, and yet anybody can see after only a few minutes of playing, that the game has it’s fare share of problems and issues.

The round-based respawn system is a pain in the ass.

Oh, man... Now you have to wait 10 minutes on account of all the campers...

The weapons, while nicely varied, are very distinctly grouped into a frustratingly polar system of “good” and “bad” types.

Well okay, maybe none of them are as bad as the Bio-Rifle in Unreal Tournament...

The fact that hopping around was a viable combat tactic was downright mind-boggling.

Global Operations addressed all of these issues and then some, resulting in a fun and fast-paced game that, while lacking the online community of Counter-Strike, was always a good time, both online and off.

The most important change that Global Operations brought to the table in terms of gameplay, was the addition of a Team Fortress-esque class system.

Unlike Counter-Strike, where the players were only differentiated by their equipment, Global Ops both restricted and endowed the player with abilities based upon which class they selected.

In all there were 6 classes altogether:

There was the basic Commando, who could handle virtually every weapon in the game except for complex explosive devices.

The Sniper, who could handle long range rifles.

The Medic, who carried a cache of healing hypodermics that could be used to restore the health of himself and his comrades, as well as resuscitate incapacitated soldiers.

The Heavy Gunner, who could handle heavy machine guns.

The Demo Man, who could handle complex explosive devices, both in terms of planting, and disabling them.

And finally The Scout, who came equipped with a multi-directional heartbeat sensor that when pointed at enemies, would display their location on the entire team’s radar.

Aside from The Sniper and Demo Man, who I honestly didn’t play as all too often, I found pretty much all of the classes in the game to be quite distinct, and very fun to handle.

Who the wouldn’t like to be able to go one round as the Heavy Gunner, tearing the opposition to shreds, only to change it up by switching to The Medic on your next respawn and play a more supportive role?

Well okay fine, I'm sure THIS GUY would ALWAYS play as the Heavy Gunner. Y'know, 'cause he's EXTREME.

It was this sense of variety that made Global Ops hard to get bored of.

Now, I mentioned a lot of issues I had with Counter-Strike, how’s about we take a look at how Global Ops addressed, eh?

When it came to the issues that players may had with the round-based respawns of Counter-Strike, Global Ops fixed it in just about every one could.

When a player is killed in Global Ops, they don’t necessarily die right away.

"There's a big difference between mostly dead, and all dead..."

Instead, players are incapacitated, whereupon they can call for a Medic as their health bar’s total value continually shrinks.

Once the bar is empty, the player dies.

Alternatively though, if the player is aware that there is no Medic around to save them, (often the case when they themselves are the Medic) they can simply choose to bleed out immediately and respawn.

Respawning in Global Ops places the player in a helicopter, or other such transport vehicle in the company of all their fallen comrades.

Yup, just kickin' it in the afterlife here with my buddy Steve...

You see, every spawn point in Global Ops is continually reinforced on a strict schedule, resulting in the occasional lucky death that results in a near instantaneous respawn.

It is during this down-time in the chopper that the player has access to the plethora of weapons and equipment available in Global Ops.

In short, Global Operations had a shit ton of weapons ranging from basic pistols, to savage-ass grenade launchers.

Can you guess all the guns?

Perhaps more importantly though, Global Operations went the extra mile by allowing players to customize their equipment with various attachments.

Like setting your Glock 18c on full-auto?

Buy an extended magazine for it.

Hell, it worked for Larry Fishburne.

Like blinding motherfuckers before you open up on ’em with a shotgun?

Slap a flashlight on that bad boy.

Good times man…

Anyway, in addition to the massive variety of weapons in Global Ops, each of these weapons were remarkably balanced.

You know any other games (besides the original Halo) where cruising around with nothing but a pistol is actually a good idea?

Oh wait, I forgot about The Specialists:

Finally, in regards to Counter-Strike’s hop-happy gameplay, Global Operations went ahead and made the gameplay more, how shall we say, “grounded.”

In fact, that’s really the only gripe that comes to mind whenever I think of Global Ops.

The bot AI was pretty good for the time, the sound effects were powerful and of great quality, the mission types were nicely varied, but the movement controls were a little sluggish.

Jumping in Global Ops resulted in what amounted to little more than a barely noticeable bit of screen jitter, as if your character was glued to the floor, but would mysteriously be struck with bouts of palsy whenever the player saw fit to tap the space bar.

Dude, that's not a wink. That's palsy...

I know, it’s a small gripe, but worth pointing out regardless.

Anyway, Global Operations was a big part of my high school days (and any time I spend hanging out with my Get Stingray cast mates), and as such I felt it deserved to be mentioned on this blog.

Indeed, wrecking people’s shit with the FAL, followed by mass sessions of spamming the “I need a Medic” audio command, were some of the best times I had on my PC…

"Medic. I need a medic. I'm hurt, and need assistance. Medic. I need a..."

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