Bleh with Barry

Random with a cynical twist of lime.

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Technology: The Itch

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In the last little while, I have been having a desire to go out and buy something technological. I know that part of it is just because I am looking for a new toy to play with while I’m still in grad school. I’ve been trying to rationalize buying something, and some of the items that I’m thinking about would be more beneficial for me in the long run. However, others would also bring me pleasure as well as being useful.

The Kindle–This is the first of the toys that I am looking at purchasing. Now, I have motives about this that are both for business and for pleasure. One, as a college student, the Kindle would be beneficial because I would be able to upload my books and pdf articles directly to it. This would cut down on the weight of the books that I have to lug around at the present time (the fact that I am an English major makes this a little easier because most of my books are available via the Kindle services). Two, the Kindle would make it easier for me to read some of the pulp fiction books that I read. Again, this would eliminate a lot of the bookshelf space that some of my trashy novels accumulate (by trashy, I don’t mean romances or something…I’m talking about random novels that seem to appear on my shelves). Altogether, I think that this might be one of the more beneficial purchases that I could make because it could be very useful in the long run.

On the other hand, I don’t know that I could get used to the idea of reading on an e-book reader…it’s one of those odd things…I like the feel of paper and the smell of musty oldness that many books seem to have (especially old ones).

Flip Video HD–This video camera is pretty amazing for the price. It has a USB connection, a built-in stabilizer, and 8 GB (2 hours of video) for around $200, give or take. Again, as with the Kindle, I have professional and personal usages that would be good for this item. One, I am currently working on a project during which my partner and I will be interviewing students for a study, and it would be helpful to film them rather than just recording audio since part of our project relies  on physical behavior as well as vocality. The camera would be a nice helpful little tool. Personally, I would be able to play around with the camera and film random things (I like playing with cameras. It’s one of those things). Who knows what could become of this?

Conversely, outside of playing with the video camera and the professional moments when I could use it, I don’t know that I can see much on the outside of this…it could be potentially a powerful tool. Yet, it also could be an expensive paper weight.

Playstation 3–Overall, this is probably the least productive of the things that I currently think about owning. There is nothing here that is for anything other than pleasure. From playing games to watching Blu-ray movies, this system would be a fun thing to own, and I would like nothing better than to have one. However, I don’t know that I can convince myself that this is a good thing simply because I know that I will spend copious hours on it that will come to effect my sleep (which is probably the case…I’m not a terribly good sleeper anyway). Anyway, I know that it would probably bring me a lot of stress relief too. Still, I’m not completely sure about my decision.

So, there you go. Now, all of you have my delima…Moreover, I’m not completely sure that I will do any of the above. Who knows? I might buy a fish tank for the apartment…

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Written by barryr22

February 11, 2011 at 11:13 pm

Year of the Geek: Comic Book Movies of 2011

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I saw somewhere on the internet the other day (maybe it was my homepage…I’m not completely sure which is one of the pitfalls of reading news and such on the internet the majority of the time…but any way) that a lot of people are terming this year the year of the geek due to the excessive number of comic book movies coming out in the theaters this year. Honestly, I am excited about this year…does that mean I am a geek myself. I believe so because I am looking forward to watching several of the movies that will be coming out over the course of the year, and here are the few that I’m most interested in (and alright, I am a Marvel snob to some degree…so forgive me if a lot of the DC or Darkhorse stuff is missing from my assessment).

Thor–Directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman. This movie is promising to be one of the must see movies of the summer months. Following the storyline of one of the most prominent Marvel characters (which all of them are prominent in their own right), this movie is bringing us all one step closer to the promised Avengers movie that will be in theaters in 2012. What I am most interested in in this movie is how they are going to meld the scientific and the magical worlds that Marvel are known for. I know that in the movie trailer they are saying that science and magic are practically the same thing just us dumb humans using another name for something mystical. Yet, I’m still intrigued to see how far they go with this concept.

X-Men: First Class–As most of you know who read my blog on a regular basis, X-Men are the comic book heroes that are near and dear to my heart, so it probably doesn’t surprise you that I am anxious about this upcoming movie.  It does have a few good things going for it though. First, Matthew Vaughn is directing the movie and overall his other movies (Kick Ass, Stardust, and Layer Cake…all good movies). Then, you have Bryan Singer (the man who co-wrote and directed for the first two good X-Men movies) responsible for the story. Finally, you have several actors that are pretty good in the roles of some of our memorable characters (James McAvoy is Professor X, Kevin Bacon is Sebastian Shaw, and many more). I’m still holding my breath on the this one because we all know the debacle of the third movie. However, I’m trying to remain hopeful that this movie might help redeem the series from X3 and the Wolverine movie. Also, another side note, Wolverine will not be in this one unless it is a small cameo (Hooray! I don’t like him that much anyway).

Green Lantern–Okay, so, this is one of the few (if only) DC comic movie adaptation that appears here. I’m interested in this one because let’s face it Green Lantern is a pretty cool super hero. His powers are limited by the strength of his mind…so, yeah, he seems like he would be any intellectual’s go to super hero. Being played by Ryan Reynolds, I think this movie has potential if it is done right because like any other super hero movie it also has the potential to be sooooooo bad too.

Captain America: The First Avenger–Okay, so, I’m not a huge fan of Capt. However, I’m pretty excited about this movie because its release will be the last piece of the puzzle for the afore-mentioned Avengers movie. Chris Evans will be an okay Capt. (I’m not completely thrilled by his casting choice partially because he has already been a character in the Marvel-verse of movies), but I am really excited to see Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull. I think that he is going to be amazing at that. Why? Because he plays evil and off-beat characters well (look at Mr. Smith in the Matrix, V in V for Vendetta, etc)…I’m just excited overall.

So, these are just a sampling of the top things that I”m looking forward to. I’m also excited about Harry Potter and other things of that nature (not excited about Twilight). Looking forward to seeing Paul Bettany in Priest. Yet, I’m also not excited to see some others (like the Green Hornet for instance…I find Seth Rogen insufferable). However, there will be more to come of these other things in following days. Till then, adieu.

Castlevania Lords of Shadow: Afterthoughts *Spoiler Alerts*

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So, I finished the game just hours ago, and I think that I’m going to stick by my previous statements about the game. It’s overall good control-wise and the look of the game is exquisite. Some things were annoying, but I’ll just direct you to my previous blog to deal with these issues. This blog post will be dealing mainly with the story of the game and the possible ramifications of said story. For anyone reading this who might be interested in playing *SPOILER ALERT* from this point on.

So, the end of the game you find out that the main person who’s been helping you the whole game is actually using you as a puppet to assemble his own powerful mask…however, he is being played by none other than Satan himself.  Well, Gabriel, our hero, gets brought back from beyond the grave to stop Satan…epic battle ensues…Gabriel wins (of course) and finds out that the God mask does not truly bring the dead back and that he will never be able to be with his Marie again (tear jerking ending)…*sigh*…however, that’s not the complete ending. If you watch after the credits, you find out that Gabriel has become…*dum, dum, dum*…Dracula, and Zobek (the helper from earlier) is seeking you out to fight against Satan again…also, did I mention this is taking place almost a millenia after the original story?

So, basically, what does all of this mean for the game in general? Well, like I said, it’s a pretty good game. But what does Gabriel becoming Dracula mean? For me, it means one of two things. One, this game is supposed to be a game explaining the birth of Dracula into the Castlevania universe. However, there is a big flaw with this in my mind. The Dracula he is seems nothing like the one from the other games…so, yeah. The second option and possibly the more logical is that Castlevania Lords of Shadow is a reboot of the franchise, and it’s about to get really interesting…

So, I would say to the die-hard fans out there it’s worth a play but expect to scratch your head a little…I just wonder if the next game will continue with this story or if it will go in a completely different direction…

Written by barryr22

December 14, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Castlevania Lords of Shadow

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A few days ago, I began this game. Thus far, I have a few evaluations that I can make about it as of right now. As a big fan of the franchise (I’ve played them since the NES), I find a few things odd about this game. While it takes a look at Gabriel Belmont, one of the first of the Belmont clan, the game itself does not revolve around the Castle Dracula like the other games do. On the contrary, you begin a journey that spans across the country hunting down the Lords of Shadow (big bad evil people) in order to restore the balance to the world and bring back you wife from beyond the grave. This all sounds good in theory and the game’s story is pretty okay for the most part.

As far as the graphics and overall look of the game, I’m impressed thus far. From the contours in our hero’s face to the rocky crags and crumbling ruins of castles, the game is beautiful. I’m playing it on XBox 360 and believe me when I first popped it in I was thrilled by the overall look of the game. The main characters and enemies looks are varied and the locales are engrossing and crisp. It feels like they could come out of the game and exist elsewhere. For me, it rivals the best of Square Enix’s games (we’re talking about the Final Fantasy franchise) in terms of the overall look and appeal of the game visually. The one thing I dislike is the fixed camera angle. I really wish they would have given us free reign simply to make the gameplay easier. As it stands, you get caught in the camera angle at times when large enemies are attacking / killing you.

As far as the story goes, it’s pretty much the classic Castlevania “the evil forces have taken / killed my wife and now I’m seeking to save her” plot. Till this point in the game, I have not encountered anything (and I’m on the second disc) that has made me go “Oh shit, I did not see that coming.” The story is decent and nothing more really. Also, I have a qualm with it lacking the Dracula character who is the central villain of the other games…thus far, I have not even heard whispers of this figure, and I’m almost positive that he will not even make a cameo appearance which makes me sad. However, this is not to say that the game is completely lacking of vampires because frankly that’s not true. Around 20 levels are didicated to a castle board that is filled with vampires, ghouls, skeletons and the like with a vampire lord at the end to be destroyed.

Gameplay is a bit rough sometimes. It’s hard to make Gabriel do exactly what I want him to do all the time. From the sticks on the controller being a bit to sensitive for my taste to other technical issues like that, Gabriel seems to have a mind of his own sometimes and thereby puts the gamer in sticky situations…it’s no fun to be in a heated boss battle needing to attack, but all of a sudden,  Gabriel starts absorbing neutral orbs (I will admit this is partially my fault as the gamer, however, its happening several times makes me believe that it’s also a command/button placement issue). Additionally, the mechanics of the game are a bit spotty such as falling from heights sometimes you’re fine from a 40 feet drop other times you die from falling 10 feet. It’s problematic.

Overall, I would give the game a 7 / 10 at this point in gameplay (I’m about to kill the lord of the vampires) because it’s a fun ride with decent controls. I’ve also played the other 3-D Castlevania games and this one is the best by far because they have ironed out some of the defects that hurt the previous games. With the fixed camera angle and clichéd story being held against it, I think that I would give it better. However, I’m not judging it completely. I’ll give you my final verdict when I finish the game.