How Big is Space? Take a Look for Yourself


Since the world is still reeling from the return of Cosmos hosted by the ineffable Neil DeGrasse Tyson, I figured it would be a good idea to a space related post (mainly because I’m shameless want more hits). If you haven’t seen Cosmos, then go watch it…after you finish reading and telling your friends about my post.

The almost always awesome BBC has put together a fantastic  interactive that allows you pilot a tiny rocket to the edge of our Solar System. That’s over 20 BILLION KM away! That would take you 20 hours to complete if you were on the Starship Enterprise travelling at Warp 1.

Suit up and buckle in for your journey here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbc.com/future/bespoke/20140304-how-big-is-space-interactive/index.html

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Oscars 2104 Predictions


It’s that time of the year again! The Oscars will be happening this Sunday on March 2.

For the most part, I don’t care about the OScars, but tying to predict the winners is always fun. Unfortunately, I tend to get sucked into a maelstrom of anger when my choices don’t take home the gold.

I’ve compiled the top categories below. This year I have decided to do it a little differently. As usual, I predict my overall winner. However, to make things more interesting I have also included my “upset winner” and “wtf winner”. The latter really relates to the Academy’s tendency to, sometimes, go against the grain and pick a totally unexpected winner. That doesn’t mean it’s not deserved, but rather that I didn’t see it coming. Though in Jonah Hill’s case it is totally fucking undeserved!

Without further ado, here are your winners:

Best Actor:

Christian Bale (American Hustle)
Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

Winner: Matthew McConaughey       Upset:Leonardo DiCaprio     WTF: Chiwetel Ejiofor

Nothing can stop the veteran of our beloved Rom-Coms. Leo might take it for his body of work, since he hasn’t won in forever. Chiwetel Ejiofor is a distant third, but the movie and his acting has been praised. Plus it’s based on a true story and the Academy has a hard-on for those.

Best Actress

Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
Judi Dench (Philomena)
Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

Winner: Cate Blanchett           Upset: Amy Adams       WTF: Judi Dench

I went with Cate Blanchett because Meryll Streep has too many awards, but she was amazing in Osage County. Amy Adams for the upset because she chose not wear bras in American Hustle. Judi Dench because she  has way too many nominations, she can’t see or walk anymore and has a lot of praise for her role in Philomena. This is a tough one.

Best Supporting Actor

Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club

Winner: Jared Leto     Upset: Michael Fassbender     WTF: Jonah Hill 

Jared Leto will walkaway with this while looking all pretty. Any rockers ever won an acting Oscar? Fassbender did a masterful job and was downright evil, but there is no contest with Leto. Jonah Hill….just don’t do it Oscars. Please just don’t even think about it.

Best Supporting Actress

Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
June Squibb (Nebraska)

Winner: Jennifer Lawrence      Upset: Lupita Nyong’o     WTF:June Squibb

Jennifer Lawrence is the darling of the awards. She could come in a trucker cap, ripped jeans while smoking a doobie and it would be the next “in” thing. But I think it’s too obvious. Newcomer (?) Lupita Nyong’o has a lot of love going into this and is my favorite to win. June Squibb might sneak in a winner for her body of work.

Best Director

American Hustle (David O. Russell)
Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)
Nebraska (Alexander Payne)
12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)
The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)

Winner: Alfonso Cuaron   Upset: Steve Mcqueen   WTF: David O Russell

I hate to admit it but Alfonso Cuaron will likely win this. He doesn’t deserve it for such a shit film. My money is really on Steve McQueen to take this and it would rectify the Academy’s mistake with Argo and Affleck last year. There really is no WTF here, but I put in a name for heck of it.

Best Picture

American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
Her
Nebraska
Philomena
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

Winner: 12 Years a Slave    Upset: Gravity     WTF:Philomena

I swear I will lose my shit if Gravity wins! This better go to 12 Years a Slave. I would love to see Philomena win, but I don’t think it will happen.

There you have it. Sound off in the comments below and let me know your choices 🙂

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Music Review: Korn- The Paradigm Shift


 

 

Finally! The album I have been waiting for is here. I absolutely loved Path of Totality, and I couldn’t wait to hear what the return of founding member Head would mean for the band. Let’s not waste time with flowery words; instead, let’s get down to brass tacks:

Prey For Me (5/5): A raucous start to the album heralding the return of a revitalized Korn. This song has it all: classic crunchy riffs, slap bass, phenomenal drumming, and powerful vocals. As if the high energy of this song wasn’t enough, Korn absolutely pummel your eardrums towards the end. Everything slows down, the bass raises the tension, and then Jonathan lets loose as he spews  vitriol in all directions. It’s the aural equivalent of a beat down.

Love & Meth (5/5): I’m certain people have heard this song by now. Prey for Me was just the meant to soften you up for the kill. This is the old school Korn fans have been clamoring for as it punches you in the gut. It’s a straightforward song, but it delivers on power. Jonathan’s vocals are soaring in the chorus, and I absolutely love the throaty screams mid way. I haven’t heard him go all out like this in a long time. This is one for the moshpits.

What We Do (5/5): This track is one of my personal favorites on the album because it has that Untouchables vibe to it (think of the song Blame). The song just refuses to slow down as it races towards its conclusion. I guarantee that the chorus will be stuck in your head, and so will the opening guitar. My favorite aspect of the song is the dark haunting background created around the chorus.

Spike In My Veins (4/5): Here is the first dubstep influenced track. It is slightly slower than the first 3 songs, but this is still very much a heavy rock song. The light electronics are merely in the background to add texture and atmosphere to the song. I suspect that the guitar build up before the chorus explodes is going to be a great live moment. At the same time , I don’t think many concert goers are ready for the heavy as fuck drops in the chorus. This is a song that’s meant to be enjoyed loud.

Mass Hysteria (5/5): I love the creepy guitar interplay between Head and Munky on this track. They pull out all the stops with their effects pedals. It also has one of my favorite choruses on the album, and it would feel right at home on Issues. This is a purely a headbanging tune that will have you shouting out “Mass Hysteria!!”

Paranoid & Aroused (5/5): This is my favorite on the album. It is dark and sexy with stellar guitar work. I really think this song belongs on a dancefloor and needs to be remixed. It is infectious with the best verses and chorus on the album. The twisted guitars remind me of Dead Bodies Everywhere. Again, this song has an electronic accompaniment, but it doesn’t overshadow the instruments. This has my vote to be the next single because it deserves to be heard. I can already imagine the video in my head.  One of Korn’s best songs to date.

Never Never (3/5): I won’t say much about this one since everyone has most likely heard it by now. It has by far the most electronics and is much softer than other tracks on the album . I personally don’t hate it because it’s catchy and very different from the tracks before it. People love to hate it, but I admire their willingness to experiment. Overall, it is a decent track that breaks up the monotony and keeps things interesting.

Punishment Time (3/5): This track was a disappointment. I hate hate hate the chorus. The verses and guitars sound dangerous, but the chorus lets the build up to fall flat on its face. It sounds like they glued on the chorus to another song here. The ending is harsh and heavy, but it only makes me think that this song doesn’t know where it is going. It’s an alright song with some great moments, but none that really stay with you.

Lullaby For A Sadist (3/5): I don’t know what to make of this song. I don’t know why it’s track number 9 when it would have served as a great closer for the album. It’s certainly very slow for a Korn song, but it has different levels to it. It’s probably their most “artistic” track as it shifts gears back and forth. The best part is towards the middle when Jonathan suddenly loses his mind (you’ll hear what I mean). It’s a good song with shades of songs like Shoot and Ladders and Daddy. 

Victimized (3/5): Again, this is classic Korn with shades of electronics. It has the tortured lyrics, screams and crunchy low tuned guitars. It has a nice groove to it, but nothing too special to say about it.

It’s All Wrong (5/5): Holy shit! I didn’t think Korn could go this heavy. This track is like being in the middle of a bombardment. It starts off quietly before launching into pure unbridled aggression. The band is truly on form here. In particular, the bass and drums on this song will cave your face in. It’s old school Korn all the way through. It’s a fantastic way to end the album because it leaves you wanting more.

Overall, this is the Korn album fans have been waiting for a long ass time. It builds on the success of Path of Totality and pushes the band’s sound even further. Of course, having Head back in the fold helps things a lot. Listeners will be able to tell right away that he is integral to the band’s sound.  It’s great to hear Head and Munky battling with their guitars again. Fieldy’s bass, which was lost on some of the previous albums, is also back to move things along. Jonathan’s vocals are, as always, a highlight, even if the lyrics at times can be sub par. I personally think the star of the album is Ray Luzier. His drumming on this album is just crazy good. Seriously, focus on the drums as you listen to this album. Is it their best album? Not quite. Then again, everyone has their favorite album from Korn, but it i certainly up there with Follow the Leader and Issues. I’m just happy to see my favorite band back together, enjoying themselves, and making great music again.

Final: 8/10

 

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Grand Theft Auto V Review!


Well, the biggest videogame launch of the year is finally upon us. Some fortunate folks have even received the game early, and they’re currently knee deep in divorce proceedings from neglecting their families. Other have gone back to their basements and abandoned any semblance of a social life. Yes, the game that makes reality look about as colorful as the contents of your belly button has arrived.

Rejoice! Grand Theft Auto 5 has landed!

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to play the game for a while. I’m a devoted PC gamer, so I have to wait for my preferred version to be released (or even announced officially). I’m sure it will be worth it. For now, I have to get by with reviews and gameplay videos from around the net. So for your pleasure, I have linked to some of the latest reviews of the game below. The overall consensus is that Rockstar has done it again.

Kotaku:

“By the end of GTA V, such as there is an end to GTA V, the player will have stories to tell. One is the story of Michael, Franklin and Trevor and follows the main plotline. That one’s ok. The better story to tell will be the one about all the things that happened at the margins… in the streets and alleys, off the airfields and down in the valleys. Much of that was written by Rockstar, too, and some of it was simply enabled by the marvelous chemistry-set of their game world.”

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CVG:

“Part of Grand Theft Auto V’s magic is discovery, and enjoying the thrilling, unpredictable ride the story takes you on. Whether you’re in the thick of a bank heist or exploring the wilderness listening to Johnny Cash on the country station, it always feels tight, refined, and polished. The world is breathtaking, the script is funny, the music is superb (both the licensed tracks and the atmospheric original score), and, most of all, it’s really, really fun.”

Polygon:

“It’s fitting that the game arrives at the cusp of the next generation of consoles. Grand Theft Auto 5 is the closure of this generation, and the benchmark for the next. Here is a game caught occasionally for the worst, but overwhelmingly for the better, between the present and the future.”

Gamespot:

“GTA V is an imperfect yet astounding game that has great characters and an innovative and exciting narrative structure, even if the story it uses that structure to tell is hobbled at times by inconsistent character behavior, muddled political messages and rampant misogyny. It also raises the bar for open-world mission design in a big way and has one of the most beautiful, lively, diverse and stimulating worlds ever seen in a game.”

IGN:

“Grand Theft Auto V is not only a preposterously enjoyable video game, but also an intelligent and sharp-tongued satire of contemporary America. It represents a refinement of everything that GTA IV brought to the table five years ago. It’s technically more accomplished in every conceivable way, but it’s also tremendously ambitious in its own right. No other world in video games comes close to this in size or scope, and there is sharp intelligence behind its sense of humour and gift for mayhem. It tells a compelling, unpredictable, and provocative story without ever letting it get in the way of your own self-directed adventures through San Andreas.

It is one of the very best video games ever made.”

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You Are Being Watched…


Could this game have come at a more appropriate time? If you follow the news, then you will undoubtedly have heard of the whole Edward SNowden vs. NSA scandal where they were revealed to have been “spying” on their own citizens. Placing my personal opinions on the topic aside (i.e. you ave to be naive to think this is some revelation!), I would like to introduce the following game: Watch Dogs.

The game was announced in 2012, but I’m just getting around to writing about it. I try not to get hyped up about games years before they are released. However, Watch Dogs is out on November 19, 2013 and looks bloody amazing.

The plot of the game centers around information warfare and  the interconnectedness of data and technology. It boasts a sprawling alternate reality Chicago complete with espionage,  conspiracy,  hackers, a supercomputer and the requisite antihero of dubious morals. it raise questions of power, corruption and anonymity. In other words, this is Person of Interest: The Game.

I have to say I am excited about the game and it looks to be highly original. Ubisoft usually has strong stories attached to their games, and I hope that this is no exception. From the gameplay videos (above), you can see that there is a lot to do, such as stealing cars, odd missions and hacking. Having said that, I just hope it doesn’t boil down to cheap and tedious mechanics which betray a lack of imagination. For example, in one of the gameplay videos I watched, the hero (Aiden Pierce) has to infiltrate a local security grid before he can gain access to all the technology (phones, traffic signals) within that locale.  This is because it is all connected to the CtOS supercomputer. This is similar to the uninspiring gameplay of Far Cry 3 and Assassin’s Creed where you had to climb towers to “reveal” the area to the player. I really hated that and it drew me out of those games, so I hope this game is more than just that.

The game is out on November 19th in North America for all major platforms from all major games retailers. Pre-Order here.

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