Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The King's Speech

ENTERTAINMENT - I give The King's Speech five stars out of five. I saw it on the weekend with my girlfriend and we both thoroughly enjoyed it.

A bit of warning, its a happy tearjerker, so bring a kleenex.

On the Oscar front The King's Speech has received 12 Oscar nominations (including Best Picture) and for once I actually agree with their choice. The closest rival, The Social Network, received only 8 nominations.

I also give True Grit five stars as well. If I had to choose between the two, I think True Grit would win Best Picture.


1. Best Picture: “Black Swan,” ''The Fighter,” ''Inception,” ''The Kids Are All Right,” ''The King's Speech,” ''127 Hours,” ''The Social Network,” ''Toy Story 3,” ''True Grit,” ''Winter's Bone.”

2. Actor: Javier Bardem, “Biutiful”; Jeff Bridges, “True Grit”; Jesse Eisenberg, “The Social Network”; Colin Firth, “The King's Speech”; James Franco, “127 Hours.”

3. Actress: Annette Bening, “The Kids Are All Right”; Nicole Kidman, “Rabbit Hole”; Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter's Bone”; Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”; Michelle Williams, “Blue Valentine.”

4. Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, “The Fighter”; John Hawkes, “Winter's Bone”; Jeremy Renner, “The Town”; Mark Ruffalo, “The Kids Are All Right”; Geoffrey Rush, “The King's Speech.”

5. Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, “The Fighter”; Helena Bonham Carter, “The King's Speech”; Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”; Hailee Steinfeld, “True Grit”; Jacki Weaver, “Animal Kingdom.”

6. Directing: Darren Aronofsky, “Black Swan”; David O. Russell, “The Fighter”; Tom Hooper, “The King's Speech”; David Fincher, “The Social Network”; Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, “True Grit.”

7. Foreign Language Film: “Biutiful,” Mexico; “Dogtooth,” Greece; “In a Better World,” Denmark; “Incendies,” Canada; “Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi),” Algeria.

8. Adapted Screenplay: Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy, “127 Hours”; Aaron Sorkin, “The Social Network”; Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich, “Toy Story 3”; Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, “True Grit”; Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini, “Winter's Bone.”

9. Original Screenplay: Mike Leigh, “Another Year”; Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson and Keith Dorrington, “The Fighter”; Christopher Nolan, “Inception”; Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg, “The Kids Are All Right”; David Seidler, “The King's Speech.”

10. Animated Feature Film: “How to Train Your Dragon,” ''The Illusionist,” ''Toy Story 3.”

11. Art Direction: “Alice in Wonderland,” ''Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1,” ''Inception,” ''The King's Speech,” ''True Grit.”

12. Cinematography: “Black Swan,” ''Inception,” ''The King's Speech,” ''The Social Network,” ''True Grit.”

13. Sound Mixing: “Inception,” ''The King's Speech,” ''Salt,” ''The Social Network,” ''True Grit.”

14. Sound Editing: “Inception,” ''Toy Story 3,” ''Tron: Legacy,” ''True Grit,” ''Unstoppable.”

15. Original Score: “How to Train Your Dragon,” John Powell; “Inception,” Hans Zimmer; “The King's Speech,” Alexandre Desplat; “127 Hours,” A.R. Rahman; “The Social Network,” Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

16. Original Song: “Coming Home” from “Country Strong,” Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey; “I See the Light” from “Tangled,” Alan Menken and Glenn Slater; “If I Rise” from “127 Hours,” A.R. Rahman, Dido and Rollo Armstrong; “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3,” Randy Newman.

17. Costume: “Alice in Wonderland,” ''I Am Love,” ''The King's Speech,” ''The Tempest,” ''True Grit.”

18. Documentary Feature: “Exit through the Gift Shop,” ''Gasland,” ''Inside Job,” ''Restrepo,” ''Waste Land.”

19. Documentary (short subject): “Killing in the Name,” ''Poster Girl,” ''Strangers No More,” ''Sun Come Up,” ''The Warriors of Qiugang.”

20. Film Editing: “Black Swan,” ''The Fighter,” ''The King's Speech,” ''127 Hours,” ''The Social Network.”

21. Makeup: “Barney's Version,” ''The Way Back,” ''The Wolfman.”

22. Animated Short Film: “Day and Night,” ''The Gruffalo,” ''Let's Pollute,” ''The Lost Thing,” ''Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary).”

23. Live Action Short Film: “The Confession,” ''The Crush,” ''God of Love,” ''Na Wewe,” ''Wish 143.”

24. Visual Effects: “Alice in Wonderland,” ''Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1,” ''Hereafter,” ''Inception,” ''Iron Man 2.”

Monday, January 24, 2011

Magic the Gathering SUCKS

ENTERTAINMENT - Now by saying that Magic the Gathering, the collectable card game, sucks, what I am also doing is admitting to previously playing the game.

Truth be told, an ex girlfriend in high school taught me how to play the game. On her bed. That was 13 years ago and I have gone through periods where I played every day and periods where I didn't play for years. Its addictive, but for the wrong reasons.

But enough about that, lets discuss the game itself.

#1. Magic (or MTG) is a game wherein new card sets are always coming out and players can collect the cards, trade them and play with them. The collecting part can be quite addictive, because the cards have fantastic art on them and I can definitely appreciate the artistic elements.

#2. As a card game however Magic has a variety of different formats one can play. Classic, Extented, Standard, Freeform, Broken, Multiplayer, Two-Headed Giant, Three-Headed-Giant, and so forth. This was you can play against a friend, against multiple friends, in teams, etc.

#3. There are 6 basic card types: White, Black, Red, Green, Blue, Artifact and Land. You need land to play the other cards in your hand against your opponent. You can only play 1 land per turn normally. The different colour of cards have different affinities (things that they do well). White tends to be soldiers or birds, black tends to be undead, green tends to be elves or forest creature, blue is sea creatures or birds, artifacts are magical items that are useful, and land you just plain need to use the other cards.

#4. However, the goal of Magic as a card game is to defeat your opponent. This is where the game runs into some serious issues. Its basically designed to turn you into an a$$***e. You play the game long enough and you will become a prick and a scoundrel, and then you will wonder why you don't have any friends. Worse, you become addicted (its a weird egotistical thing) to being a prick. You become obsessed with defeating your opponent in the first 3 rounds of the game, or defeating them in such a way that its embarrassing for them. If you lose, it just reaffirms your commitment to trying to get revenge on them. IT IS NOT A FRIENDLY GAME.

#5. I have determined over the past 13 years that I will no longer play Magic in any competitive way. I still have a huge collection of cards, but they're more like an art collection now. I only play with friends on rare occasions, and even then its purely as "a for fun only game" and the decks I design for such occasions are designed with that in mind. I keep them simple too, that way hapless players who are just learning don't have a steep learning curve.

#6. There is also Magic the Gathering Online, which is even worse on the prick factor because you're not even playing with friends, you are playing against other pricks online. Their goal there is to see who can be the biggest prick. I tried that out too and can confirm that the people on there must have no life because they make the most boring decks I've ever seen (I swear they just try to bore you to death).

(There is an amusing clip from a TV show where Osama bin Laden dies and is awarded with 40 virgins... unfortunately it is 40 virgin men all playing Magic the Gathering Online.)

There are much better games out there to be playing if you want to play fantasy games. ie. Munchkin is always hilarious. Traditional AD&D (with pen and paper) is always fun, and there is also Dungeons and Dragons Online, which is free and won't cost you a cent. DDO is a much better game, far more exciting and its emphasizes friendship and teamwork. That is the kind of game I would much rather play.

Magic the Gathering is for losers who don't have any real friends. :p

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