Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Movie Review -- Iron Man

IRON MAN -- 8 out of 10

Thanks to connections from my past life, I got to go to a press screening of the movie Iron Man last night. I'd been looking forward to seeing it since the trailer that Paramount showed during the Super Bowl, and fortunately, it didn't disappoint.

Let's start with the lead character. I'd heard mostly positive comments about the casting of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, but I'd also heard a couple of my comic-book savy friends say that he isn't suave enough. Well, I'm pleased to report that he was absolutely perfect. I think the trailers showed the jokier stuff, but he had plenty of times where he was able to be suave, and the jokier moments never felt hokey. He also had plenty of chances to be a cocky bastard, but fortunately, it's never done in a way that makes you not want to root for him. Downey Jr. also put on some muscle for the role, and while there was no hand-to-hand combat in the movie, he looks like he came prepared. He has a lot of great lines, and I think most men in their 20s and 30s will leave the theater secretly wishing they were Tony Stark ... and that's not a bad thing!

But that's just one of the characters. Fortunately, most of the other actors had enough to do to where no one felt wasted. Terrence Howard is great as Rhodes, and there's even a quick 'War Machine' reference that will get a slight laugh from most of the audience, but will have fans of the comic book drooling over the possibilities of a sequel. Gwyneth Paltrow was solid as well, and had enough to do to where she wasn't just window dressing. There are even some smaller parts that left a lasting impression, including a government agent who keeps trying to schedule a meeting with Tony, but can't seem to get on his calendar. His last line in the film will also have the fanboys salivating. My only complaint performance-wise would be Jeff Bridges, as he felt a little hammy in a couple of scenes, but it's not so bad that it ruined anything. Although I couldn't help but see him drink scotch and imagine that it was a White Russian...

Okay, I know what you're thinking. 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever. How well did stuff blow up?' I'd have to say that stuff blowed up pretty good. The effects were great, but never felt show-offy. That's the best compliment I can give them. The director (Jon Favreau) didn't let the CGI get in the way of the story, and the film is all the better for it. My one concern is that there isn't as much action as some people may be hoping for, and I hope that doesn't hurt it at the box office. However, I think the first X-Men and Spider-Man films had a similar problem, and it didn't hurt them. Also, the action that is there is a lot better than most summer blockbusters because it's on a smaller scale, and there is an amount of pathos that I think most people will appreciate. In fact, this might be the only time I've reviewed a summer blockbuster where I used the word 'pathos,' so take that as you will. Let's just say it's not something most people will notice, but it's there. There's enough going on in the story to where you don't have to check your brain entirely if you don't want to. Again, that's probably the best compliment I can give to a big-budget action movie.

I have to admit that the final 30 minutes are just a tiny-bit disappointing. Favreau loses some steam in the pacing in the final act, but I think this is more of a reflection of how great the first 90 minutes are. It needs to come to a conclusion, and you feel it pushing to get there, even if you don't want it to. The final battle that occurs isn't as SLAM-BANG as some people may be wanting, but I like how it was handled. I won't go to any spoilers, but I'll just say that I didn't feel like the conditions of the battle were forced, because it was all set up properly, so I accepted it with no hesitations.

Overall, it was a very solid film, and a great launch to what will hopefully be a successful franchise. I don't think it will be as big at the box office as Transformers, because it has less action and doesn't have as much franchise awareness, but the action in it is well-done, and the entire film has a lot of heart, which I wasn't expecting. In terms of the quality of recent comic-book origin films, I'd put it slightly behind X-Men, but ahead of Transformers and Spider-Man. I think it will finish around $200 million in the States, which would make it a success. Maybe then we could count on a sequel, which I would welcome with open arms. Bring on the War Machine!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

More Grand Theft Auto goodness

Here's the official TV commercial for GTA IV, just released:

I was up until almost 3:00 a.m. last night with some friends, for no reason other than to cause havoc and destruction. One guy in the game stole a city bus, and then a few of us jumped on with him, broke out some windows, and did driveby shootings at homeless people and cops. I argued with an Australian friend of mine over who called shotgun, and then we shot at each other with shotguns. I tried to run over an old lady while I was driving a sports sedan, and I was so upset that I missed, I got out of the car, knifed her in the face and then teabagged her, all while my passengers were observing and chuckling. We went to an Irish pub and then someone shot an RPG at the liquor bottles behind the bar, and the building caught fire. We then ran outside and found a swarm of cops all shooting at us. Then we high-tailed it to the airport, stole helicopters, and flew around the Statue of Liberty, all the while shooting mounted .50cals at each other. Then I flew mine downtown near the MetLife building, tried to land on top of it, but I broke the propeller blades off, so I then jumped 59 stories to my death.

How many other games let you do these kinds of insane things?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Say 'goodbye' to Lord Bling for a while

Tonight at midnight, Grand Theft Auto IV will be available. Finally, a game that might just get me away from Call of Duty 4.

I've been a fan of the previous GTA games, but not so much for the stories, but for the freedom that they represented. You can go anywhere, and do almost anything. But now that the game is on more-powerful systems, you can do even more. It's not just about shooting people. You wanna go to a pub and have a beer, and shoot pool or throw darts? You can. Wanna surf the internet at a cafe? Sure, it's there. Comedy clubs? It has full stand-up sets from Ricky Gervais and Katt Williams. Strip clubs? Yeah, they have them too. But the best part of all of it is, you can do it online with 15 others. Here's a look at one of the bars you can hang out in:

There are multiplayer game modes galore, but that's not the half. It has Free Mode, where one person starts a room, and up to 15 others can join in. But the room isn't just a text screen, it's basically Manhattan (and three other boroughs). You have the freedom to all hang out and explore the city, or you can all go bowling, or cruise around in hoopties shooting at pedestrians. You can do pretty much whatever you want. If you just want to sit on a front porch and drink beer like you were back in college (or like the Midget still does every day), you can. For all the times I've played previous GTA games with a friend, taking turns destroying the city, now we can cause the carnage together, even if we're oceans apart.

And for once, I'm actually looking forward to the story in the single-player mode. Here's a small peek at the lead character:

It's going to be the ultimate time-waster, and we're less than 24 hours away. If you have an Xbox 360, look for 'Lord Bling' online and we'll have a virtual pint together.

Friday, April 25, 2008

How I can tell you're boring

Going back to college again has given me the opportunity to see how thing really haven't changed all that much in the last 10 years. Aside from having WiFi in the classroom, I am still annoyed by the same people I was annoyed with the first time through. Here is a partial list of the ways I can tell that either you or your parents are wasting thousands of dollars so that you can have the same exact perspective as everyone else, who are all completely different, just like you.

1) People who list Catcher in the Rye as their favorite book - I like Catcher in the Rye very much, but if you're in college and this is still your favorite book, all this tells me is that you haven't read anything except Sports Illustrated since high school. This is a battle cry for the psuedointellectual.

2) "What kind of music do you like?" "Oh, I listen to pretty much everything." Translation: I listen to whatever crap they play on the radio, and I don't have the balls to form my own thoughts and opinions on issues as basic as what type of music I enjoy. I have very diverse taste in music, but if you ask me what kind of music I like, I have no problem sharing my opinion. Apparently, 90% of college students are afraid to admit their taste in music is lame.

3) You're an independent - Have some conviction for Christ's sake. No one with an IQ this side of 70 believes and agrees with every issue that a single political party promotes. Being a member of one party doesn't preclude you from voting for anyone in the general election either. Basically, being a registered independent is just dodging your American responsibility to have an opinion. We're all independent, some of us just like to actually participate in the political process, instead of just being wishy-washy.

Why even bother to go to college if you just want to have the same ideas as the rest of the world? If you fall into any of these categories, here's a friendly public service reminder from Ryan the Angry Midget and Friends:

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ignorant hicks: The other white meat

Here's one group of people who didn't agree with CowboyLaw's earlier post about Obama.

This so-called 'pastor' said the message wasn't meant to be racial or political. O RLY? He even used the word 'brothers,' which has its own multiple meanings. I think he knew EXACTLY what he was doing. So, I'm gonna jump on the bandwagon and make my own church sign:

For the record, I didn't mean for that sign to be racial or political.

Look, I get it. You made a pun. A play on words, if you will. His last name is one letter away from Osama. We get it. We all got it months ago when you and your inbred buddies kept forwarding that slanderous e-mail around. But you fucking hicks don't get to invoke Osama's name whenever it benefits you, but disregard him the rest of the time. Ignore him all you want, but guess what? He's still out there, he still hates America, and he's probably planning another attack right now.

But that's for another post. Let's go ahead and cover the other 'issues' with Barack Obama. His middle name is Hussein. Iraq's former dictator was named Hussein. Big fucking deal. Like he had anything to do with it, just like some poor kid who has to go through high school with the name 'Rupert' or 'Gaylord'. It was his father's name, as there's a 'Jr.' at the end of 'Barack Hussein Obama.' His father was a Kenyan who converted from Christianity to Muslim, who divorced his mother when he was two years old and ended up being a deadbeat who only saw him one other time in his life. Not exactly a role-model for Barack, who is a tolerant Christian and not a deadbeat dad. 'Tolerant Christian' are two words that Pastor Roger Byrd wouldn't understand. Although, to be fair, it may be difficult to be tolerant when you're chainsawing the heads off of zombies:

At the end of the day, I'm not telling you who to vote for, or who I'm voting for, or anything like that. All I'm doing is asking you to not fall into this ignorant hick trap of what Obama's name might mean. It doesn't mean shit. The only time a name actually means something is when you have an Irish last name, and you also happen to be a drunk. Of course, that wouldn't apply to anyone we know...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

An RC car, hundreds of bottles of wine, and a LOT of patience.

While we're on the topic of video game music, we might as well post this video too: - Watch more free videos

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A techno song, or a ride through Oak Cliff?

Kudos to whomever took the time to put this crazy shit together. I don't know if I would bump it out of my trunk while rollin through Oak Cliff, but it's still pretty good.

Actually, who am I kidding? The last time I drove through Oak Cliff, it sounded exactly like this, and my stereo was off...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Ronald Reagan was right about one thing....(UPDATED FOR ACCURACY)

UPDATE: The quote below has been shown not to have been from Reagan. I knew we shouldn't have hired fact checkers from Rush Limbaugh. Thanks to the anonymous poster who shared the link, which you can view under comments for this post. I'm sure those of you who held this blog as a high standard of reliable information are probably smearing your feces on the computer. Bottom line: We should have known better, as Reagan wouldn't have ever said anything this cogent.

If you read this blog, you know I don't think highly of Ronald Reagan. Even people who like Reagan can only use false attributions like "He ended the Cold War", if asked what impact he had during his presidency. As if because something happened while he was in office that it was because of his actions as President. If you do that, my conservative friends, you must also then accept that 9/11 was Bush's fault and that the dot com economic boom was Clinton's fault based on the same very flawed logic.

However, I have to say that Ronald must've been a pretty damn good judge of character, despite the fact that he was otherwise mostly clueless. Here is an excerpt from the Reagan Diaries about our current (awful) President:

"A moment I've been dreading. George brought his n'er-do-well son around this morning and asked me to find the kid a job. Not the political one who lives in Florida; the one who hangs around here all the time looking shiftless. This so-called kid is already almost 40 and has never had a real job. Maybe I'll call Kinsley over at The New Republic and see if they'll hire him as a contributing editor or something. That looks like easy work."

From the REAGAN DIARIES------entry dated May 17, 1986

I can never again say that Reagan was never right about anything. He knew, better than the American people, that Bush is an idiot.

Another friend of RtAMaF just started a blog!

The Blog Train just keeps a-rollin'. Another friend of the site (and frequent comment poster) warm_machine started his own blog this week, called Kitty Crash and Burn. It's dedicated to failure, in its many different forms. As you can see in his first full post, he claims to have been inspired by our blog, and especially Ryan's post about public defecation. Should we be happy that we inspired a blog about failure? And that it was inspired by a post about shit? I say 'Absolutely!'

Good luck warm_machine, and happy blogging!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Why I'm Voting For Obama

I voted for Barak (Hussein, as Fox News would be quick to point out) Obama in the California primary, and I'm hoping I'll get a chance to vote for him again in November. Given the chance, I'd like a chance to vote for him about 25 times in November, but this is California, so I doubt that will be necessary. Obama backers are often asked why we get behind this guy, and Democrats in general need to understand why we should all get behind this guy, so I figured I would put together some simple talking points that everyone can understand. I'll organize the points in the form of rebuttals to the most common arguments launched against Obama.

1. Some people, sadly, just won't vote for a black President.

This is a true statement. There are some among us who won't vote for any black guy or gal for President. But here's the thing: these same people also wouldn't vote for Clinton, and the vast majority of them wouldn't vote for any Democratic nominee. See, Democrats just don't appeal to hard-line racists and bigots. Frankly, we're not trying to. So there's no need to worry that Obama will lose the race for the Democrats because he's black, because the votes he'll "lose" were always going to go to McCain, regardless of who the Democrats nominate.

2. Obama talks a good game, but he's long on rhetoric and short on detailed plans.

This is an unfair criticism of any candidate for President. If American voters have been clear on only one thing in the last 30 years, it's that they HATE detailed policy discussions. What they love is "Morning in America" commercials and Willie Horton scare tactics. American voters elected a guy who used to appear in chimp movies and whose main selling point was "I'm not Jimmy Carter." American voters elected a guy who almost shit himself in amazement when confronted with a grocery check-out scanner (in fairness, it was 1988, and those things had only been out for about 7 years). American voters elected a guy whose only response to most policy questions during the campaign was to drool a bit and smile crookedly. The voters have sent a loud and clear message to politicians: we don't want to hear about it. Just tell us you're going to make everything better, and we'll vote for you. And we want to punish Obama because he's been smart enough to listen and learn?

3. Obama doesn't have enough experience to be President.

People say this like there's a foolproof training camp or educational seminar out there that teaches people how to be good Presidents. Some of our best Presidents (JFK, Clinton) haven't had a lot of comparable experience (a few years in the Senate and a few terms of governor of a state most people enjoy making fun of, respectively). Some of our worst Presidents have had pedigrees which would suggest they were very well-prepared (Nixon, Hoover), yet they still booted the actual job. As far as I can tell, being President is a lot like riding a roller coaster: the only way to get good at it is to do it. No training, no knowledge, can really prepare you for the experience. Also, just between you and me, do you really think he'll be a shittier President than what we've been living with for the last 8 years? Yeah, didn't think so.

4. Obama's pastor's words will be used against him in the election.

Actually, I highly doubt McCain and the GOP will say a damned word about Obama's pastor and his sermons. Why? Because McCain's pastor has said some shit that will curl your hair. First, there’s Pastor John Hagee, who runs an arena-sized megachurch in San Antonio, Texas. Hagee preaches that Muslims have a “scriptural mandate” to kill Christians and Jews. But don’t worry, because according to Hagee, America is on top of this coming showdown with Islam. Writing for the evangelical Pentecostal magazine Charisma, Hagee argued that “The coming nuclear showdown with Iran is a certainty.” In his 2006 book, Jerusalem Countdown, he expanded the first theater of operations for his coming world war to include Russia. This nuclear war, according to Hagee, would eventually end with the second coming of Christ and the whisking away of true believers to the heavens. In a move sure to be inspiring to the Midget, Hagee refers to the Catholic Church as “the Great Whore of Revelation 17,” as well as a “false cult system,” an “apostate church” and, like Islam, an anti-Christ institution.

Then there’s Ohio-based televangelist Rod Parsley, whom McCain identifies as a spiritual advisor. According to Parsley, who recently appeared side by side with McCain at a campaign rally, America’s “divine purpose” is to destroy Islam. In his 2005 book, Silent No More, McCain’s spiritual advisor claims that this country “was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion [Islam] destroyed.” Parsley complains about the growing number of Muslims in the United States (he claims 34,000 converts since 9/11) and the number of mosques in this country (he clams “some 1,209”) as evidence that we are failing in our historic calling as a “Christian nation” and “a bastion against Islam.” Frankly, even the Bushies were smart enough to understand that you had to ixnay the acismray when talking about the arway, so I doubt McCain or the Republicans will want to bring up the pastor issue, given what bad shape McCain is in. All of the above, and more, can be checked out on the ever-useful

5. Conclusion

By way of summary, let me give you one solid reason to vote for Obama (rather than just swat aside all the reasons not to, as above): he makes people excited to vote for him. And, even better than that, the people who get excited to vote for him are the people the Democrats and Republicans are fighting over: the great, Undecided hoard. Obama will eviscerate McCain in the debates, and his message of hope and prosperity, trite though it might sound to cynics like me, is exactly the kind of snake water elixir that voter have been drinking like Jonestown Kool-Aid for the last 3o years. They just can't seem to lay off the stuff. Which makes Obama electable. Which, in case anyone forgot, was the point of the whole primary: to nominate someone who could win in November. Obama's the guy.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Shit is going down the tubes!

This is not a reference to my last post, although frankly it could be. No, according to a new poll by CBS/NY Times, 81 percent of people who were polled said that "things have gotten seriously off track". I'm not sure if they had Amtrak employees write the questions for that poll or what, but apparently things in the US have never been worse. The story even mentions that this is the largest number of people who think we're on the wrong track since they started doing this particular poll of railroad enthusiasts.

There's only one problem with this kind of thinking: the rest of the world isn't exactly a rose garden these days. Take Somalia for example: a quarter of a million people living in tent cities without running water or adequate food. I know the economy is in the tank, and I tried to tell all you assholes that voted for Bush 4 years ago that we would end up here. Get some perspective people.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

You know your Presidential campaign is in trouble when...

Emanuel Cleaver, a Representative from Missouri, went on the record last year as being a Hillary Clinton backer. For his support, she named him Co-Chair of her Missouri campaign, as well as a Co-Chair of her Faith Steering Committee.. So what does it say for her campaign when he predicted today that Barack Obama is going to be the next President of the United States? Or that he'd be stunned if Obama DIDN'T win?

On top of being a black man, Cleaver's district voted for Obama in their primary. So, is Cleaver cutting his losses? Or is he trying to change his bet after the roulette wheel already started spinning?

Excellent advice from a wise man. Just don't ask that wise man for tax advice. When it comes to the I.R.S., some muthafuckas always tryin' to ice skate uphill.

P.S. If you read the CNN article about Cleaver's comments, you may have also noticed his analogy about why he roots for the Chiefs, even though they suck. I thought about making this post about that comment, but then I remembered that my Broncos also suck. They may not suck quite as hard as the Chiefs, but I think you get the point.

P.P.S. Ryan's article about public defecation was the blog's 500th post! Thanks to all of you who still come here to read our ... well, public defecations.