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Whiplash: Greatness, At Any Cost

Whiplash starts the only way a movie about jazz drumming can; with a drum-only fanfare. It accelerates, it goes from a slow, foreboding rhythm to a disorienting heart-pounding drum solo. […]

Whiplash starts the only way a movie about jazz drumming can; with a drum-only fanfare. It accelerates, it goes from a slow, foreboding rhythm to a disorienting heart-pounding drum solo. From the moment Whiplash unleashes that fanfare to the very last frame, it doesn’t let up. Every single scene explodes, and if it doesn’t explode, it seems primed to explode in a way very reminiscent of Hitchcockian suspense. It’s as brutal as it gets, and like a hungry beast, it’s only out for one thing: your throat.

The movie follows the journey of one Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller), a 19 year old jazz drummer at a fictional musical academy that somehow manages to wow Terrence Fletcher (JK Simmons) into accepting Neyman into his jazz band, known to many as the first step towards a jazz career. Of course, then it follows that Fletcher and Neyman would build a close relationship where Fletcher molds Neyman into the next Buddy Rich.

But there’s a twist, of course; and it’s that Fletcher is an abusive mentor. Someone who takes his students and tries them by fire. Not the fire of practice, but the fire of fear. Through physical and emotional abuse, he hopes to inspire the next Charlie Parker (who, as the myth often goes, became “Bird” when his band leader threw a cymbal at his face. So he decided to go home and practice until he became a true legend) the question the movie then offers is the idea of whether Fletcher is even close to reasonable or justifiable if he succeeds once.

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November Spooktacular! You Should (Not) Be Playing: Horror Games popurri

Hello and welcome back the Brain On Airwaves podcast. It’s been quite a while since me and Jerry could sit down and talk about things and stuff but we were […]

Hello and welcome back the Brain On Airwaves podcast. It’s been quite a while since me and Jerry could sit down and talk about things and stuff but we were constrained by Real Life, the cruelest of all mistresses.  Either way, we managed to sit down and talk about one of our very favorite topics: horror design in video games. And we got a special guest, Liz!, to join us and hear our shouting about things.

Hope you have a nice sunday and, of course, that you don’t stop being spooky because of a silly date in the calendar.

(download)

(Twitter: Juan: @JuanConde11 | Jerry: @sonofaether | Liz: @deusexignis)

(Tumblr: Juan: thehermesofverses | Jerry: thedrunkenminstrel | Liz: greatjeangrey)

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Birdman, (Or The Unexpected Virtue of Superhero Hate)

I walked into Birdman accidentally and apprehensive. I had planned on seeing Whiplash but there’s only one theater playing it and because of traffic, my friend didn’t make it in […]

I walked into Birdman accidentally and apprehensive. I had planned on seeing Whiplash but there’s only one theater playing it and because of traffic, my friend didn’t make it in time. In order to save the night, we decided to watch another movie. It was a choice between Birdman and something I don’t remember. The reason I was worried I was wasting my time and money was Scott Tobias’ review for the Dissolve, which makes a pretty comprehensive case against the movie and my own personal conflicted feelings about the Marvel and DC empire.

See, I love superhero stories. They’re powerful, meaningful operatic depictions of humanity’s best virtues put on the microscope so that they can be observed at their grandest and yet experienced at their most nuanced. This could be said of all genre fiction, but DC and Marvel’s spin is filled with an idealism and a humanism unparalleled in my experience consuming all sorts of media. I always point to the fact that Guardians of the Galaxy is a movie that ends literally with five friends holding hands to vanquish the antagonist…  As many problems as that movie has, the good moments feel so sincere that I could not look away.

But then there’s the business side of things, Marvel’s current film universe has stuck to a very specific formula and tone. While the films have been wildly varied in milieu, everything about them feels factory made. Taken on an individual basis and when we had few releases, this was tolerable because the outings were still fun. But by the time we reached a mediocre Thor 2 and a flawed Guardians, it was quite easy for me to jump off the bandwagon (and occasionally laugh whenever the train went off the rails) while mourning the death of my love for the genre.

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The Original Resident Evil Is Still A Great Game.

For Halloween I love to revisit old horror favorites so the past few days I’ve been revisiting the initial game of a classic franchise that has sadly become a shadow […]

For Halloween I love to revisit old horror favorites so the past few days I’ve been revisiting the initial game of a classic franchise that has sadly become a shadow of its former self: Resident Evil. It seems difficult to explain the phenomenon of Resident Evil during the PlayStation 1 era to someone who wasn’t interested in video games then. (or maybe just wasn’t old enough) It feels like you’d lose them when you said that one of the biggest games of the era was a horror game. Add that everything about the game from the controls to the inventory to the cramped corridors you find yourself in works counter to how modern gaming works and it just makes things worse. The story is sparse and poorly delivered with voice acting and dialogue so bad they became one of gaming’s earliest memes. The sequels and remake improved upon the formula until Resident Evil 4 completely rewrote it. (a game that Shinji Mikami had remade three times from scratch) There’s a temptation to dismiss the game as a relic only fit for its time: a fossil that has aged poorly and the series to be lauded for how far it moved away from the original formula.

Well strap yourselves in, because I’m going to tell you why the first Resident Evil is still a solid horror game. Its undeniable its sequels and remakes were clear improvements (though the spinoffs have all been varying levels of awful to unplayable) its hard to deny that the games were all built upon a solid foundation that paved the way for five more games until Resident Evil 4 changed everything. Hey, I never said the numbering of these games made sense. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina Shows Archie Continue Marketing To Horror Fans With ‘Great Comics’ Gimmick.

It’s quite a world we live in these days. You can watch movies on the internet, there are places that serve shawarma at three in the morning, and the best […]

It’s quite a world we live in these days. You can watch movies on the internet, there are places that serve shawarma at three in the morning, and the best horror comic on the stands this year was published by Archie comics. Afterlife With Archie was a surprise for everyone. When it was announced I thought everything about Afterlife With Archie felt like a lazy bid to jump on the waning zombie fad. (Maybe if I keep calling it that we’ll move on to something else soon like mummies or werewolves or those Japanese umbrella-eye things) Surprisingly not only was Afterlife With Archie not a lazy comic, it was the most earnest horror comic that has come out in a long time. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s script eschewed any too-cool-for-school self-aware horror jokes and instead gives us a straightforward horror story, all the more powerful for how it stuck to convention. The pencils of Francesco Francavilla certainly didn’t hurt either.

While it may have been a surprise to many comic readers, it definitely isn’t to those that have been paying attention to what Archie comics have been doing. While you weren’t paying attention they have become possibly the most progressive of major American comic companies, being bold enough to have the openly gay character Kevin Keller in an all-ages book and they even had him get married in the pages of Life With Archie, months before the much more hyped gay wedding between Northstar and Kyle Jinadu in the pages of Astonishing X-men. They also adopted digital distribution for all of their titles on the day of release well before either of the big two. Archie has displayed an earnest move to keep up with the times both from a business perspective as well as a moral one. It’s not surprising that they’d work to expand their market line as well with Afterlife With Archie being their first ‘teens and up’ book as well as their first made exclusively for the direct market. (as opposed to the news stand spaces they usually get) The comic was a success, trading off on both its ‘zombie’ and ‘really well made’ gimmicks. Of course they’d decide to expand with the character that made the most sense: Sabrina The Teenage Witch. Read the rest of this entry »

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Slott and Allred’s Silver Surfer Is The Best Doctor Who Has Been In Years

As a comic fan I’ve also been interested in the epic science fiction show Doctor Who. At its highs it can be a clever, imaginative, and exciting show where literally […]

As a comic fan I’ve also been interested in the epic science fiction show Doctor Who. At its highs it can be a clever, imaginative, and exciting show where literally anything can happen, though often that anything is represented by a guy in a suit. The show also has some rather embarrassing lows but on the whole I can still call myself a fan. It seems that so can Dan Slott and Mike Allred because they’ve written some of the best Doctor Who stories I’ve ever read in the pages of Silver Surfer.

It might sound like a backhanded compliment at best and an accusation of plagiarism at worst, but trust me that it’s neither of those things. The comparisons are undeniable though. A mysterious alien having adventures around the universe with a human companion for him to explain the high concepts to? A temperamental method of transportation that only the alien understands? Planets with high concept themes that lead to lots of action? This doesn’t mean the stories are simple carbon copies of the Who formula with names swapped though. Rather Slott and Allred take the things that work about the Doctor Who series and see how it fits with everyone’s favorite interstellar beach bum. Rather than just copying Doctor Who they ask what they can do with this formula that could only be done in a comic starring the Silver Surfer. Read the rest of this entry »

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Outside The Comfort Zone 3: Transformers

Welcome to another Outside The Comfort Zone. For this one we have our senior Moonologist, Anne, reveal her true colors as a Starscream apologist/Autoboctor as we discuss three iterations of […]

Welcome to another Outside The Comfort Zone. For this one we have our senior Moonologist, Anne, reveal her true colors as a Starscream apologist/Autoboctor as we discuss three iterations of Hasbro’s Transformers (Generation 1, Prime and Animated) as well as surrounding weirdness like the Transformers’ shojo manga and Bayformers.

I will say, Jerry and Anne grabbed me and converted me into a person who would be interested in watching more Transformers. So they win. This time.

After this, we will return to discuss G.I Joe’s nuttiness and after that, we will handle Jem. Hopefully you enjoy this and discover the Power of Human Relations.

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You Should (Not) Be Watching: Doctor Who Season 8

Welcome back the other Brain On Airwaves feature podcast as we get (a little bit late) into Doctor Who’s season 8 and we discuss mostly the past of the show and what we […]

Welcome back the other Brain On Airwaves feature podcast as we get (a little bit late) into Doctor Who’s season 8 and we discuss mostly the past of the show and what we can expect based on the season premiere Deep Breath from this season which is shaping up to be better than the mess that we have obtained during the last two years.

You Should (Not) Be Watching will become You Should (Not) Be Playing for our next episode, which will also be a bit of a late doozy as we re-examine our assessment (heard here) of The Walking Dead Video Game’s Season 2 and it turns out that any hope that this game somehow pulled a quality turnaround was misplaced, to say the least.

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Outside Of The Comfort Zone 2: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

It’s Episode 2 of Outside The Comfort Zone. Jerry forced me to watch various instances of the TMNT franchises in honor of the Michael Bay-released reboot and as part of our start […]

It’s Episode 2 of Outside The Comfort Zone. Jerry forced me to watch various instances of the TMNT franchises in honor of the Michael Bay-released reboot and as part of our start of a month-based project to examine certain 80s franchise remnants. Join us as we discuss the 2012 cartoon, the 2003 cartoon and the IDW comic and we consider the value of the Eastman and Laird-created franchise. Hopefully you’ll learn to cowabunga, dude or whatever the hell is Mikey even on about.

During the month of September, we will be examining Transformers and G.I Joe alongside fellow Nerdstocker Anne. It should be fun and you will finally get to hear both Jerry’s 20 page thesis on why Cobra Commander is actually the greatest character of all time and Anne’s novelette on the Megatron/Starscream dichotomy that defines man.

Check it out here via download or streaming.

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#Gamergate, or how I learned to stop worrying and finally speak up against female harassment

The last few weeks have been a tough reminder that we live in a society where people are not allowed equality. It’s also been an even colder reminder that for […]

The last few weeks have been a tough reminder that we live in a society where people are not allowed equality. It’s also been an even colder reminder that for all the talk of living in “the future”, our society in general (and our lawmakers in particular) have not advanced to keep up with the societal change that the internet brings up. For those of you who aren’t in the know, Anita Sarkeesian was threatened for her work (again) but this time, the man (or men) behind it managed to get a hold of her address, thus raising higher concerns than the usual rape/death threats that come with being a female media commentator on mediums perceived as part of “nerd-dom”, such as video games or comics. As well, Zoe Quinn was accused of having sex with a reviewer to get favorable reviews, even though this reviewer did not even write any articles on her remarkable work.

I’m a man. There’s no way around that, I don’t think. So normally, I keep my comments in regards to stuff like “Gamergate” (incidentally, a title that reflects how utterly entitled the people perpetuating this are) to myself or friends, because I’m afraid of screwing up or speaking out of turn. Fears that come from my own personal feelings on, say, white people taking up the fight for me or my own as a man of color. But while I’m always infinitely questioning of white people speaking on race, I constantly question myself while speaking on gender because I am heavily privileged as a man. In fact, I can write this article without fearing repercussions because why would I be attacked? Worst case scenario, people will question me and engage with me in “reasonable” dialogue (read: pseudo-objective nonsense meant to obfuscate) but I won’t get threatened or verbally attacked, probably.

But the fact is, that so many women in the business are (probably and righteously) angry and they can’t speak outside of appropriating their peers’ words, if at all, or in private conversation because of  the nature of the internet (and the twittersphere specifically) as so widespread that it is no longer like shouting at the void. Or at least, not an empty void but a void filled with deafening misogyny. And I may be a man but I’m also a brown man from Colombia living in Canada. While I’ve been lucky and I haven’t been faced directly with the dangers that entails I am also acutely aware at every given moment that if I speak out of turn, that if I do something that society doesn’t deem right for me to do, I would be put back in my proverbial place. And that’s the sort of fear that women like Anita Sarkeesian or Zoe Quinn have to beat every day in an environment where they’re constantly threatened by man-children who have access to resources that allow them to make veritable threats.

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