Gone Girl Movie Review – October’s creepiest movie for all the best unexpected reasons

It’s the kick-off for Oscar season, and what better way to start the spookiest month of the year than with a terrifyingly creepy film?

Although not without its casual (and minor) gore, Gone Girl’s scare-factor isn’t about flying heads and slashing knives but rather something that’s much more frightening – that of the human condition (Yikes!).

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The movie is based on a 2012 novel of the same name and follows the mystery of Nick and Amy Dunne – a couple whose outwardly fairy-tale relationship is disrupted when Amy suddenly vanishes on their 5th wedding anniversary. Over the course the investigation into her  disappearance, a deeply hidden Pandora’s box of marital problems leads the formally sympathetic public and authorities to suspect Nick as the central suspect in her unknown fate.

As the story unfolds, we are given (often conflicting) narration from both parties – Amy’s in the form of a written diary read to us through her voice, and visually following Nick as he struggles to handle the stress of his missing wife and media bombardment.

gone-girl-movie-review-03The film is exceptionally put together and paced – it manages to turn on its heels from a mystery to almost a thriller as an abrupt plot shift mid-way through drags us from our original journey to a completely new one. It’s never boring despite being almost 2 1/2 hours long. Gone Girl forces us to choose a side, and it’s unclear right up until the end who’s worth rooting for, if anyone. In fact, it’s unclear who is telling the truth at all. Unreliable protagonists be damned, someone (everyone?) is sketchy here.

The cast was wonderful – Ben Affleck (Nick) is really in his element as a begrudging husband while Rosamund Pike (Amy) is downright haunting in her role. The supporting cast were all a pleasure to watch, although the secondary characters didn’t demand much (with the exception perhaps of Neil Patrick Harris and Kim Dickens), but the film is very much about Amy and Nick’s relationship more than anything.

Without spoiling the heart of the film, I will say this much – Gone Girl had me and many of the watchers on edge at several points. It brings to light a lot of issues that are downright spooky to human beings – raising a privileged child in the limelight, how often we fake who we are to get what we think we need, whether or not you truly know the people you love, and the pressure to be perfect for the world regardless of what goes on behind closed doors. Also, sociopaths are frightening people.

I would definitely recommend this film, but despite being good it’s not easy to watch. It makes you uncomfortable from very early on, as a result of its realness, and it leaves you feeling almost defeated. But it fits right in with the point of the story, however dramatic the plot may be- the question it’s asking is directed at us.

Diversity Thoughts – The movie’s only notable person of color holds a powerful position, but he’s one in an otherwise largely white cast, so it completely fails in diversity. Female rep is solid, though – head detective is a woman, and the other key supporting actresses play complex and diverse roles. They talk to each other in regards to the case.

 

Posted in Entertainment, Movies

PAX East 2014 Photo Gallery & Videos

Better late than never!

Here’s a compilation of my favorite photos, moments, and videos from PAX East 2014.

I had a blast, and had a great time hanging out with friends.

Can’t wait for next year!

Warning – VERY Media Heavy Read more ›

Posted in Communites, Events, Games, Geek Life Tagged with: , , ,

League of Legends URF review and why it SHOULD NOT be a permanent mode

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Let’s face it – Ultra Rapid Fire was probably one of the most amazing things to come out of Riot recently. This is in no way  discrediting their other, wonderful products and features – but for an April Fool’s Joke, URF just had something magical that the community perhaps didn’t know they wanted.

I had a blast (literally, Karma RQ fo days) these past few weeks playing this game mode and was happy to see that it would be extended through PAX East, which I attended. But it also made me really appreciate the delicate process of champion balance. And now that the mode has been disabled, I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a bittersweet farewell that I felt came just at the right time. URF needs to be put to rest for now, otherwise some severe and long-term damage to League could be inevitable.

Surely, URF will be terribly missed, but there is something extremely dangerous (and broken) about a mode like this staying permanent. A lot of it has to do with the community and player mentality, and a lot of it boils right down to mechanics and being realistic about Riot’s grand plan for League.

Some mechanical reasons are completely obvious, judging by the slowly expanding list of champions who had to be straight up banned from the mode – URF favors a very specific subset of play style while axing a specfic need for control and elegance to game play. This mode severely punished certain champions who general scale better with time and patience – they often got obliterated by those in which cooldowns and energy costs were an extremely necessary restriction to curb their power.

AP champs, for example, start out fairly strong and scale extremely well with items almost immediately. Traditionally, cooldowns and mana restrictions keep them from being able to faceroll at level 2, but not so in here.

If you didn’t know your champion intimately enough to execute their cocaine-infused kits well, you were probably in for a hard time. Tanking and defense become almost completely useless and it boiled down to a race for which team can out damage the other faster, with little to no weight put on other tactics that make League whole. And of course, players started to just take it too damn seriously.

Already there are complaints about the switch back to normalcy – everything feels slow, and in some extreme cases completely less enjoyable. This is the result of prolonged exposure to handicaps in a game. Lots of players, especially ranked, are opting to take a break either completely or to settle with normals for a while until they can re-train their fingers and brains to normal play.

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Outside of the technical, there’s also the issue of popularity. Obviously, queues for ranked, normals, and arams dropped considerably during URFs reign, and there was a big risk that URF would just be more favorable in the long-run to any other mode. And why not? It’s fast, powerful, and chaotic enough to be the perfect storm for addiction, and I feel that would take away from the other very delicately created worlds Riot has set up for their community.

This obviously isn’t doomsday it won’t take long for fans to get back into the swing of things, surely, but I think URF’s was a drug that’ll be harder to shake for a lot of players.  I’ll be glad to see it come back in the future, but for now I am relieved to see it take a breather and to get back down to normal

To The Readers How did you like URF? Love it? Hate it? Miss it? Do you want it to be permanent? Why or why not?

 

Posted in Games, League of Legends

League of Legends PAXEast Skin Giveaway!

varus

ENTRIES ARE NOW CLOSED. 

varusThe guys over at Riot treated us fans to some great skins as usual this PAX! I snagged a few extra to give out for free to my fellow players.

I have a few copies of Arcade Hecarim – Riot Blitzcrank – Arctic Varus – Riot Ward Skin

I’ve done this before, though, so to avoid scammers, instead of just posting codes online, I have a quick and easy entry method below.

In the comment section, please leave your summoner name / region with an in-game screenshot showing your profile which skin you want,  And, of course, a method to contact you (email or twitter).

Winners will be selected by the end of the week. Feel free to follow me @izziebot if you have any questions, concerns, and the like!

Sample entry:

Summoner Name: izari
Region: NA
Twitter/Email: @izziebot
Screenshot:

lolentry

Good luck!

Posted in Games, League of Legends

PaxEast 2014 Report – Pre-Pax Shenanigans Pt.2

Thursday is always the unofficially official “Day 1″ for any expo – most attendees have landed and checked in and are looking for ways to connect and have a little fun before the actual convention starts.

There were a slew of options for anybody who wanted to have a good time yesterday! I partook in Curse’s happy hour at the Harpoon Brewery and, of  course, the chaos that is the annual Pokemon Pub Crawl!

The Curse happy hour was pretty fun – a big divergence from their usually big affair, but I appreciated the cozy intimicy of the event.

The food was spectacular and we got to try a bunch of Harpoon’s beers on tap (their coriander cider is freaking phenomenal!)

The swag was humble – a few bottle openers, cute bag, and beer cozy. Read more ›

Posted in Communites, Events, Games, Geek Life Tagged with: ,

PaxEast Report 2014 – Pre-Pax Shenanigans Part. 1

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One of the biggest pros to being a local in a host city (or earlybird) for PAX is the ability to partake in all the great pre-expo events put on by the community – and boy do they know how to kick things off right!

There’s a plethora of pre-PAX events to go to, more than an attendee can reasonably partake in, that gives the opportunity for old friends to reunite or newcomers to meet new people.

Down side to being a local is justifying taking the entire week off – but many events are still post work hours and can be enjoyed regardless.

pre-paxeast-2014-01I kicked off my expo week Tuesday night at the annual Pre-PAX gaming night at JJ Foley’s. The meet-up is also a monthly venture for local PAXers to keep up with each other, but the one before a convention is always a pleasure – far more active and populated!

This year the crowd was a bit smaller than previous, but it was still a good time. I got to play two awesome new games – Tsuro and Buffalo – and an old favorite in Qwirkle.

 

The festivities continued Weds night with the annual Pig Roast at Citizen Public House. While expensive, the roast is an AWESOME experience to share with friends – more food than you can even imagine and a good time with out-of-towners stopping by to catch up.

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Tonight is a big one, as Thursday is a popular travel day for attendees to come in and get settled and adventure out. Some companies will be having some pre-PAX parties and tonight is also the ever-popular Pokemon Pub-Crawl, in which decorated and drunk geeks effectively take over and terrorize locals for a few hours. I’ll be hitting up the Curse Party as well as the Crawl tonight! Look forward to some crazy photos!

Posted in Communites, Events, Games, Geek Life Tagged with: ,

Game of Thrones – Arya and Sansa – Why love one but hate the other?

GOT Show spoiler warning. Relatively book-safe, minus some excluded scenes.

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Two sides of the same coin.

I’ll start by saying that I love both Arya and Sansa as characters – both are refreshingly complex and multidimensional young women who are deeply explored and beautifully acted in this epic series. I believe very strongly in Ned’s words that his daughters are two sides of the same coin – both have been thrown into an impossible situation, and have to use their at times wildly different personalities to adapt and survive.

The big issue, however, that I see within the GoT fandom, book and show alike, is the raging hard-on for Arya’s rebellious tomboyism pitted against Sansa’s feminine stoicism. I have a MAJOR problem with that, because both girls are flawed, both girls have moments of weakness, both girls are whiny and clueless at times, both girls have a level of self-absorbtion, and yet Arya is forgiven for this while Sansa is largely disliked for having similar issues. I can’t help but wonder if it’s her very girlishness that’s the cause. Is the universal love of Arya because she likes swords over songs? Is that even fair?

The Flaws of the Stark Girls

Sansa from day one is ridiculed for her girlish “naivety” – her desire to be a wife and mother, and live as an eventual queen. Meanwhile Arya is loved from day one for being cheeky, boyish, and wild. It’s interesting because within their universe Arya is the naive one – Sansa’s dreams are very realistic with what’s expected of women in Westeros, and that’s something that our modern minds absolutely hate, apparently. Read more ›

Posted in Entertainment, TV Tagged with: , ,

How the internet has made us immortal.

Via: http://www.enterrasolutions.com/2013/12/advances-in-cognitive-computing.html
Via: http://www.enterrasolutions.com/2013/12/advances-in-cognitive-computing.html

Via: http://www.enterrasolutions.com/2013/12/advances-in-cognitive-computing.html

Amid the chaos that is the battle for privacy in regards to just how much info on each of us is out there and who has access to it, there is one little silver lining, a teeny tiny blossom poking through the smog, that I think a lot of us haven’t really thought much about, if at all. Despite the legitimate concerns and problems of late, the internet has effectively made us immortal. That is brilliant and terrifying in one breath.

I had a conversation with an atheist friend on the meaning and value of life when you don’t believe in an afterlife. Bouncing our opinions back and forth, I joked about all the weird things people might find out about me if they went through my computer and online profiles, and then the thought occurred that… well, they’d find out a lot.

My grandfather was an artist, like me, and along with some of his ability, I inherited a few of his crafts and domino set when he passed away. I didn’t know him well – the fact that I spoke little Spanish and he little English caused communication barrier which never allowed us to really bond. I still know next to nothing about the man he was; just what my family told me and the little I saw of him. A thin, frail man who was always sick and would hit us upside the head for no reason. Allegedly a terrible father but a brilliant thinker. An artist who belonged out in the fields with no shoes, not at home with six kids. That’s all I know. However my grandchildren, should I have them, will know me so much more even if we never speak a word to one another.

The Privacy Wars of Today May Become The Immortality Tools Of Tomorrow Read more ›

Posted in Geek Life, Internets

League of Legends Vel’koz Review

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With Vel’koz being free last week, I finally got to play him a few times in ARAM and found myself surprisingly delighted with his unique play style.

I was skeptical at first since Riot pins him as difficult to play, but after a few rounds of messing with his combo order it turns out he’s not nearly as bad as I expected and really, really fun. I got the hang of him faster than other complex combo-oriented champs, like, say, the tragedy that was my first Orianna try (spoiler alert: it was brutal).

Plasma Fission's mechanics makes for some interesting, creative moves with practice.

Plasma Fission’s mechanics makes for some interesting, creative moves with practice.

To make solid use of his kit, a perfect combo feels to be be EWQWR. In ARAM this is a really powerful execution due to the limited space teams have to maneuver around his potent spells. E (Tectonic Disruption) is a knock-up and slow that sets enemy champs up to get caught in his W (Void Rift). His W is  a lined blast with initial and delayed aoe damage, and Q (Plasma Fission) is a quirky 90° angled blast that does a good job catching players who make use of side-to-side movements for escape. Finish that up with another go at W (it has 2 usable charges) and massive damage gets put out over time.

His ultimate (Life Form Disintegration Ray) is fun as hell as well – the laser follows your mouse for a few seconds, blasting everything in its path. It makes a great clean-up tool if the enemy team has taken a lot of damage already. I do feel that it’s a little underpowered right now, though, but fits with the philosophy of  champion whose style is about putting out sustained damage rather than being a spiker.

I find as far as team synergy goes, Vel shines when there is a good initiator on your side, either a bruiser or a tank. When another teammate can soak up enough distraction time and if they’re good at rounding the other team up, you can get a great combo chain off. Without a tank / bruiser, though, he has a hard time getting his abilities off fast enough to catch the other team well. I found that Q gets caught on minions a LOT, so practice with aim is pretty key (similar to Karma, in my experience).

In ARAM, heavy AP / Magic Pen via runes and masteries makes him strong early on, combined with his good range. I found in most cases he doesn’t seem to scale as well later than other AP carries, like Lux or Veigar who dominate Howling Abyss.

Still, his kit is REALLY fun and not nearly as difficult to get the hang of. I plan on grabbing him as soon as I get back up to 6300ip!

Boom Goes the Everything

Boom Goes the Everything

Champion Spotlight | Official Release Information

 

Posted in Games, League of Legends, PC

Frozen’s Elsa Character Analysis – We Are All Elsa

(Warning: Mild Spoilers. )

I want to talk today about one of the most amazing characters to be cranked out of Disney.

Queen Elsa.

Afraid of the world :(

Afraid of the world :(

Though she has definitely been embraced by the LGBT community, in a very strong way she also represents anyone who has ever had to suppress a part of their true nature. Perhaps as simple as having to push aside artistic drive because we’ve been told it’s a fruitless endeavor, to as complex a scenario is having to hide sometimes crippling emotional anguish, a lack of self confidence, depression, and so on. The creative team has confirmed that this was all intentional. And though perhaps saying we are all Elsa is a bit of a stretch – there are probably a lot of Anna’s out there – we’ve all had a point in our lives where we’ve felt we’ve had to hide something about who we are, out of fear of rejection, social outcasting, or failure.

Elsa’s entire existence is this very basic human tale. She’s spent her entire young life hiding, isolated in a room with an intense fear of human contact enforced by less-than-stellar parents whose decision was to lock her away rather than find ways to explore and control her gift. That inner storm may rage more intensely for some than others, but it’s still an extremely relatable conflict.

That brings me to “Let It Go”, and why a song that is so upbeat and empowering could also bring tears to people’s eyes. That’s because the song revolves around a very alluring yet very frightening concept – complete freedom of self. Read more ›

Posted in Uncategorized