Thursday, June 28, 2012

Avatar: The Last Airbender - Martial Arts

The Art of Bending
Avatar: The Last Airbender has the moniker of Nickelodeon's "Last Great Nicktoon" that was produced in the Orlando Studio FL before the studio was taken down. People who knows the show still argues whether it is "anime" or "cartoon". I don't really care because what Avatar: The Last Airbender is. All I know is: It's Excellent! But for the sake of this post I will refer to the show as an "animation." To me "anime" or "cartoon" are two of the many categories/styles/techniques in the "animation" medium of story telling.

The setting of Avatar: The Last Airbender is heavily influenced by Asian culture. The characters of the show practices real world religions and philosophies such as Hinduism, Taoism and Buddhism. At first glance Avatar: The Last Airbender seems like a kid's show full of slapstick humor and mindless action used as a platform to sell toys. These are misconceptions. Especially the toys bit. There are yet to be a cool Avatar action figure! Believe me I've looked :( The show introduces four nations in its world. Each nation representing a philosophy, personality, martial arts style and element. The Fire Nation was founded by people who can wield fire by focusing their energy with mental and physical discipline. This nation has a very Northern Chinese feel to it which reflects in their martial arts. On the other hand The Earth Kingdom founded by people who can bend earth, gives off a Southern Chinese vibe in their culture and martial arts. It is not often to have an American produced show to have such a heavy Eastern theme WITH respectable Asian references. The creators of the show definitely did their research with much respect. With that said, Avatar: The Last Airbender is not dominated by Eastern culture. It's well balanced with diversity. Some of the costume designs and buildings gives off an Eastern feel but it's mixed with true to life cultural references from all around the world. The show's creators, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, did a great job balancing the different cultures represented on the show as well as successfully mixing the kiddy fun with some of the more mature themes. If they lived in the Avatar: TLA I guess their speciality would be "story bending."

One of the resources the creators of Avatar: TLA used is Sifu Kisu. Sifu Kisu is a an Executive Protection Specialist for celebrities. He was brought onto Avatar: TLA as the fighting instructor and consultant. With his extensive knowledge of Martial Arts and the philosophy behind them, Sifu Kisu brought depth into the show's action sequences. The fights are not just mindless action, they are full of conversations, inner conflicts and philosophical debates. A good example is when Aang was able to solve a puzzle with his airbending by pushing a door open. The act was simple but it required the character to develop confidence. As the characters grow in Avatar: TLA, so does their ability and this reflects the hard work and sacrifice one could acquire by committing to a discipline. Avatar: TLA conveys a valuable message of: to be good at something, whether it'd be martial arts, dance, music, painting or writing... patience and dedication are essential values. Being able to represent these values and still being a fun show is what makes Avatar: TLA one of the best shows on television within the last decade. That and lots of cool martial arts! I know, it's a bit long winded to get to this point but, I wanted to praise the show a bit more before talking about the art of element bending.

One more thing before the "JUMP!" here's a compilation of videos of Sifu Kisu talking about the four featured martial arts styles used on the show. The four videos can be found in the special features on the Avatar: TLA DVD's:

More on the Arts of Element Bending (and spoilers) after the JUMP! >>>

Monday, June 25, 2012

Street Fighter IV Tournament at Game On! (2012)

Back in my day, I took a 30 min bus ride to Captain Nemo's at Kenmore to challenge people at Street Fighter II. We didn't have 32bit systems back then. We didn't have Xboxes or PS3's... We didn't have the internet or online gaming back in my day. We challenged our opponents face to face. Usually one machine per venue, two men (or women, I'd seen girls playing Street Fighter II) insert coin, one man gets KO'ed! By machine I mean arcade cabinet just in case you youngsters don't know what I'm talking about. If the machine was already occupied by 2 players, I'd place my quarter on the nook at the bottom of the screen to show that I'm going next. Sometimes real fights would break out when people go out of queue order or if they felt like they'd been defeated in a cheap way (the jab and throw technique was considered cheap). Back in my day, neither rain, snow nor sleet I'd make my trek out to Kenmore to challenge people at Street Fighter II.

On Saturday, June 30, 2012 Replay'd is bringing that experience back in the form of Street Fighter IV. For me, I'm geeting a whiff of nostalgic pizza while "shoryuken!" and "sonic boom!" is ringing in my head. This time I won't be challenging anyone though. My time has passed, it's a whole new world now. I'm not as good as I was during the Street Fighter II days. This time the game is more well known, the venue is bigger and the stakes are higher. The Tournament will be at:

Game On (Fenway)
June 30, 2012

Game on is literally right next to Fenway Park. And I think the prize is money or something like that. Back in my day, my only reward was to crush my enemies and see them driven before me! Also, I'd be happy if I had enough bus fair by the end of my Street Fighting day.

Below are links to information for the Replayd SFAE Tournament in Boston at Game On. Game Underground of Framingham, MA will be there but, correct me if I'm wrong, I think the sponsor is Replayd of Allston, MA. I'm not sure how to register tournament. Maybe give Game Underground or Replayd can help with that?

In the mean time check out this pretty good web series about a former Street Fighter player getting back into the game. Kind of reminds me of Rocky:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Twilight Zone Marathon July 4th 2012

Hello TWZ fans! SyFy will be marathoning The Twilight Zone on July 4th again this year. Of all the weird decisions that this channel makes, I am glad that they keep the tradition of The Twilight Zone Marathons. Let's hope this tradition will continue. Although, during the TWZ New Year's Marathon the episodes were heavily edited and there were a ton of commercials in between. Some of the endings were even cut before Rod Serling could finish his closing narrations. Then there were times when the closing narrations were played along with the audible advertisements which splits the screen and overshadows Rod Serling's voice. If we stop watching and supporting the TWZ marathons because of the annoying ads, will SyFy stop showing the ads or will SyFy cancel the The Twilight Zone altogether? Maybe another channel might be interested in picking this up? I wish I have enough finances to start my own... a TRUE SCI-FI CHANNEL! Anyway, the TWZ Marathon on July 4th 2012 will start at 8am EST on SyFy. Probe 7 Over and Out will launch us into the 5th dimension. The marathon will end at 5am EST July 5th, after the conclusion of The Little People. Below is a link to SyFy's July 4th schedule. I recommend not clicking on it unless you necessarily need to see the schedule because, the ads play automatically with sound (there are flash blockers out there to prevent this).

The Twilight Zone Marathon July 4th 2012 schedule on SyFy: schedule

For approval, I submitted a bit of trivia on Ray Bradbury's I Sing the Body Electric after the "JUMP!"

Sunday, June 10, 2012


I'm going to start with listing some of the Prometheus flaws that I've heard:
  • Being a prequel to Alien, it doesn't answer enough questions
  • It's too open ended
  • Too slow
  • Not the movie that was advertised
If you are looking for the action that was introduced to the series by James Cameron and continued on with Paul W.S. Anderson, chances are you will not like Prometheus. The trailers and promos are sort of misleading and strangely enough, it gives away a lot and at the same time it doesn't spoil anything. Even after watching Prometheus, I am left with more questions than answers. Ridley Scott had left most of the ideas introduced in this movie to be vague and open for interpretation. It's really tough to talk about the movie with the mindset of not spoiling anything while, I'm not even sure if there's anything to spoil. With that said, I'm going to have a spoiler section after the review at the "JUMP!."

I found more strengths in Prometheus than flaws. With most Sci-Fi stories, more questions are asked than answered. This is the same with the original Alien movie. The first act introduced a lot of questions which some were finally answered 33 years later in Prometheus. Then there was Blade Runner, we didn't get answers to the replicants' story until it was analyzed many times over since the movie's premier in 1982. What about 2001: A Space Odyssey? Some of the ideas from that movie is still a mystery and it is considered one of the best Sci-Fi movies ever if not one of the greatest films of all time. I consider Prometheus not being a true prequel as a huge plus. The movie introduced a lot of concepts which expands upon the universe that the Alien Series is a part of. This gives the stories more depth and makes it richer. The Star Wars Prequels were sorely missing this. The universe is a BIG place, if you have every single thing connected in the saga, this makes it feel like a small community and not a "saga." When I first heard Ridley Scott say that Prometheus is not a prequel, at first I thought to myself, "yeah, ok. Have you gone insane? How can it not be a prequel? This is set on the same planetoid that the Nostromo in the original Alien film explored (Update: actually, according to the Prometheus website, the moon the Nostromo crew landed on was designated LV-426 while the Prometheus crew explored LV-223)." I finally realized what he meant after watching Prometheus. The movie is set in the same universe as the Alien Series. Weyland Industries funded Prometheus' expedition. The space jockey  (Update: I found out that there's a strong chance that this might not be the same Space Jockey in Alien) A space jockey (called an "Engineer" in this movie) made an appearance; which answered some of the first movie's mysteries and also interjected more ideas. Xenomorphs invaded (raped) and terrorized the expedition crew. Xenomorphs, not necessarily THE Xenomorph. Those are the connections that I can remember. The movie opened up a bunch of concepts and veered off into a tangent that moves sideways from the Alien Series.

What the hell am I talking about? Well, let's go with what Prometheus is about. Simply, it's about searching for the origin of life. As you can tell from the trailers, Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Halloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discovered a star map from the art of Earth's ancient civilizations which pointed towards a distant moon, LV-233. Once they touch down on the moon the crew of the Prometheus discovered what they didn't expect and had their faiths shaken. Impressively enough, even the android's, David's (Michael Fassbender) faith as well. Surprisingly enough, even the "Engineers' '" faith was put into question. Essentially, Prometheus is about procreating and the relationships between Parents and Children. What the hell am I still talking about? Actually, I don't really know what I want to say, especially without giving away too much of the movie. Let's see, how is it not a prequel? Again, there are xenomorphs in this movie which are different from the ones we are used to in the previous Alien movies. We were introduced to, what I can best describe as a parasitic type of organism that breaks down DNA and reconstructs it into another type of being. Hmmm... that still sounds like THE Xenomorphs. Let's start from the beginning then. I don't think I'll give too much away talking about the beginning of the movie. There is no secret that human DNA comes from the "Engineers." All the trailers had introduced this. So, the movie started with who I like to call Prometheus (an "Engineer"), standing on a cliff, near a waterfall on Earth. He drinks out of a vial, the contents causes his body to break down immediately. Eventually, he falls into the waterfall. As his remains washes down river, the camera zooms in and gives us a look at his DNA string. It breaks apart and reforms and then the camera zooms out and shows us a familiar cell mitosis. Then the rest of the movie is about finding out why this happened. What was the reasoning behind it? Was there a meaning? Was it deliberate? With these questions being the background of Prometheus, we don't get the survival horror movie or the action movie. We get a philosophical movie.

Prometheus was not what most people expected it to be but, it was still creepy and scary. I liked it a lot and I have a lot of ideas rolling around in my head while I'm still digesting the movie. I was talking to RFblues after watching the movie and he had an interesting observation. Prometheus is a haunted house movie. The characters sticks their nose into where they shouldn't and gets haunted and possessed. To go a bit further, I thought it was like The Mummy from 1932. With the expedition, the infections (cursed), the "Engineer" being... well, I'll touch upon that after the "JUMP!" Is the movie for everyone? No. For me, Prometheus is along the lines of Solaris (both versions), Moon and Sunshine. It's thought provoking, haunting and exhilarating. Sure, there are action sequences in Prometheus but it's mostly built by tension and less of the "Get away from her, you Bitch!" type. It's atmospherically scary and not the slasher movie/cat scares type. If you are still curious, ignore the trailers, and go in with an open mind.

The acting was great as you might have already heard from other critics. Prometheus had an awesome cast which includes Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green, Noomi Rapace, Guy Pearce and Michael Fassbender. Even the minor characters played by Sean Harris, Rafe Spall, Emun Elliott, Benedict Wong and Kate Dickie were really good as well. But Noomi Rapace as Elizabeth Shaw and Michael Fassbender as David, I just need to mention that they were amazing. Noomi Rapace plays an annoying idealistic archeologist in the beginning of the movie which convincingly grows into Perseus by the end (keeping in the theme of Greek Mythology). Michael Fassbender as the android David, stole the show. If you liked Rutger Haur's Battie in Blade Runner you will like David. Actually, there are a lot of parallels between David and the Battie. Hmm... My absolute favorite scene with David was when he confiscated one of the crew member's rosary because he believed it might be "contaminated." At this point in the film the crew member's faith was shaken. When David said it might be contaminated, did he mean physically or spiritually? Keep the rosary in mind because it comes back later near the end of the movie. It's a small subtle scene but, it's a huge statement on faith and the soul.

Ridley Scott is both amazing and insane at what he wanted to show us in Prometheus. His statements on reaching the heavens and finding the creator/s and procreation is both familiar and alien. With the screenplay written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof... Lindelof being one of the head writers on Lost, no wonder Prometheus has a similar tone in mystery and faith as J.J. Abram's TV Show. One thing that absolutely met my expectations were the visuals. Prometheus is such a terrifyingly beautiful movie. Even the weird looking phallic designs were captivating. Was it worth it in IMAX 3D? It was worth waiting one and a half hours in line to get good seats at the IMAX theater. It was also worth awkwardly wearing the stupid 3D glasses over my own prescription glasses for the great atmospheric 3D. If you care about the visuals and not too opposed to 3D movies. I highly recommend watching Prometheus in 3D. There are some great 3D shots: the Prometheus shuttle traveling in space, the storm on Moon LV233, the "Engineers' " star map...those were the scenes that stood out for me. The 3D was not distracting at all. Nothing poking you in the eye. Speaking of atmosphere, the music was built a lot of tension and really sets the mood. It was done by Marc Streitenfeld who also worked on most of Ridley Scott's films like American Gangster and Robin Hood.

Prometheus is a great film and works as a stand alone movie (from the Alien Series). It introduced THE Xenomorphs in a way that allowed the story to veer into another arc. As for the flaws, I really don't consider the open ended ideas as a flaw. I also didn't believe Prometheus is a ploy to create more sequels. I think as movie goers we are so used to the devices that film makers set upon us that we tend to look for gimmicks and it has become hard for us to see pass the cynicism. Ironically, the Prometheus trailers being cut like the Alien trailer was a gimmick to get us back into the survivor horror mind set and it worked. The movie is not entirely different from the advertisements but it is different enough to disappoint certain viewers. It was a bit slow at times but, there's always some sort of mystery and tension. I found the mysteries to be more compelling than an annoyance. It's unfair to judge Prometheus with the same expectations as Alien. The 1979 movie gives off a claustrophobic feel, while the 2012 addition opens up the universe and reminds us why we fear the unknown.. For me, Prometheus is Sci-Fi at its best!


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Prometheus: Happy Birthday Joel!

I thought Prometheus' first David 8 promo video was creepy (Prometheus: More Promos!). This one gave me goosebumps. Check out Fassbender's David 8 crying without emotion at 1:20. No wait, that's not David! It's Joel McHale of The Soap and Community! Well, it's still creepy when Joel cries without emotion at 1:20:

What is Prometheus' flaw? Why do so many critics not like it? The biggest complaint is that it's like the TV show Lost. It introduces a lot of ideas and opens up a lot of mysteries but fails to answer them at the end of the film. In any case, I'm still super excited about Prometheus. I will be watching it this coming Friday (June 8, 2012) at the IMAX 3D. I know I will at least like the art direction and the cinematography... and Michael Fassbender... and Charlize Theron... and Idris Elba... and Noomi Rapace... There's a TV spot with TIme Magazine calling Promethues "The most anticipated event of the summer." I have to disagree with that one. What about The Dark Knight Rises? That's been anticipated since the release of The Dark Knight. No one cared for Prometheus at first and some people still thinks it's superfluous. Also, it's not summer yet! I guess Times Magazine is more excited than I am, they even forgot which season we're in.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

R.I.P. Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)

The highly influential author Ray Bradbury passed away at the age of 91 on June 5, 2012. To label him as just a Sci-Fi author does him a lot of discredit. Being able to convey human nature and emotions through his writing which we can all relate to, makes him one of the greatest authors who ever lived. He had received numerous awards through his huge catalog of creative and thought provoking stories. Even one of the awards was named after him, The Science Fiction Writer's Association (SWFA) Award. How influential can one get?!

A bit on Ray Bradbury on the main page of his site:

I used to hate reading when I was younger and Ray Bradbury was one of the authors who got me into books. I started out watching TV shows based on his writing. Then eventually, I started reading his short stories and books. Aside from Fahrenheit 451 or The Martian Chronicles, I knew him through the original Twilight Zone's I Sing the Body Electric, the 80's Twilight Zone's The Burning Man and the Ray Bradbury Theater. After the "JUMP!" are a couple of Ray Bradbury adapted teleplays that stood out for me (the ones I can find on youtube).

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

PAX East 2012

PAX East was my first convention for 2012. It was also my first time at PAX East and I was totally overwhelmed. Knowing the MA area well, I thought I was smart enough to be able to get to the Boston Event and Convention Center (BECC) with no problem but I got stuck in traffic at South Station and my car crawled all the way from the Turnpike off ramp to the BECC's alternate parking garage. The alternate garage wasn't too far away from the convention center. It was a 10-15min walk (which was a lot faster than driving in traffic). There were shuttle buses but, being a nice crisp, chilly New England day my group and I decided to walk instead. It was sunny, some wind, a bit nippy... spring was in the air...

Monday, June 4, 2012

R.I.P. Eduard Khil (1934-2012)

Hello Youtubes!
This is a somber edition of "Hello Youtubes!" Eduard Khil or better known as Mr. Trololo passed away at the age of 77 from a stroke on June 3, 2012. There's one hell of a band in Heaven with Donna Summers, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Elvis... I hope they're getting Trololo lessons.

Article on Eduard Khil on
Eduard Khil, ‘Mr. Trololo’ singer made famous in viral video from 1976, dies after stroke

A pretty recent Trololo performance by Eduard Khil. Uploaded on January 7, 2012:

Interview with Eduard Khil. Click on the CC (Close Captions) button for the English Subtitles:

The Original Trololo Video:

Also, follow the link below to my 2 favorite Mr. Trololo videos:
Sonic the Hedgehog and Saruman Trololo

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope

Wow! It's been a while since I wrote a review? I was referencing one my movie review templates and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol was the last one? In any case, I had been super busy transitioning to a new job along with a few other things in my personal life. I apologize for not being able to find time to update GroggyBot. A lot has been happening for me. Going to conventions and watching movies has been part of that. Oh, also the NBA Playoffs are on! This year I'm rooting for the Boston Celtics. If they'll get eliminated, which they won't but, if they do, I'm going with the Oklahoma Thunder! Oh right, movie review... here goes...

Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope is a documentary on the convention scene directed by Morgan Spurlock. You might not recognize his name but most likely you'd recognize his work. He's the guy who directed Super Size Me. That's the movie with the guy (Morgan Spurlock) eating nothing but fast food for 30 days from one of the well known burger places; the one with the giant yellow arches. He also directed Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden and a very interesting TV show called 30 Days. 30 Days is similar to Super Size Me but, instead of Spurlock being the "test" subject, it features different people whom are willing to live outside their comfort zone for 30 days; to walk in other people's shoes. I highly recommend checking the show out.

As for Morgan Spurlock's latest documentary, Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope... I went to a special screening at the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, MA where the director himself made an appearance. Morgan Spurlock gave us a brief introduction before the start of the movie and he stayed after for a Q&A session. In the introduction Spurlock gave us an interesting story about Comic-Con Episode IV's conception. Stan Lee (of Marvel Comics) is in the same movie agency as Spurlock. On a fateful day in 2010, Morgoan Spurlock met Stan Lee through their agents. During the impromptu meeting Stan the Man said to Spurlock, "we should do a movie." Spurlock told Stan Lee that he's trying to film a Comic-Con movie. Shortly after their meeting they both met with Joss Whedon and that was when Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope started to take shape. The idea was to get separate camera crews to follow the different type of convention goers at the 2011 San Deigo Comic-Con. Auditions were held and the final cut of the documentary features:
  • The Comic Book Vendor: the owner of Mile High Comics, Chuck Rozanski trying to sell a rare Marvel comic, Red Raven #1
  • The Toy Collector: Camping out in line long before the convention opens its doors in order to get the Con Exclusive Galactus Figure
  • The Attendees: a couple who are seemingly attending San Diego Comic-Con but, the boy friend of this couple plans to propose to his girl friend at Kevin Smith's panel.
  • The Cosplayers: Holly Conrad and her team of cosplayers signing up for the Con's Masquerade and hoping to win first prize. While in the contest, they have a chance to be noticed by effects team and costume departments in the movie and gaming industries.
  • The Aspiring Artists: Skip Harvey and Eric Hanson treats the Con as a job fair. Showing off their portfolios to different comic book companies, hoping they can land a job as professional artists.
The documentary does a great job jumping from one story arc to the next eventually culminating with resolutions. Inter-cut between the stories are talking heads made up of convention goers and guests such as artists and celebrities. Stan Lee, Kevin Smith, Seth Green, Eli Roth, Joss Whedon, Paul Dini and Grant Morrison were some of the more well known people who showed up as the talking heads in Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope. There were a few who got cut out because of time constraints; like Felicia Day and Nathan Fillion.

What I like most about Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope is that it doesn't poke fun at the convention scene or the people who attend. In documentaries such as this, they tend to point out certain people as the "freaks" of society. Spectacles to ridicule and to be laughed at. Sure there are stereotypes at Comic Book Conventions or, at any conventions for that matter. It could be a Car Show, a Garden Show, a Work "Forum" (come on we all know it's a convention), even at Sporting Events. Yes, ESPECIALLY Sporting Events! Why is the "fat drunken guy who painted his body and face in his favorite team's color" different form the "fat comic book geek dressed up as Wolverine?" Why are the fanatics at Sporting Events more accepted? There are always the stereotypes and the super fanatics everywhere you go. We tend to forget about the passion, the devotion and love for the subject and just laugh at what we don't understand. Morgan Spurlock did a great job with this understanding in Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope and my hope as a fan is that the documentary is able to convey the fun side of conventions and that it's more than just a barrel of geeky fish for people like "Men's Fitness Magazine" to shoot down with their derogatory gun. I highly recommend Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope. Not just to people who are into comic books but to everyone. The documentary follows real life people whom we can all relate to and this makes it easy to follow without any inside comic book knowledge. It also impressively explains the different aspects of comic book fandom in under 90 minutes. Again, highly recommended! I'm not sure if the theaters are still showing Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope. It was released in theaters on April 6, 2012. There is no video release date yet. But there will be a DVD full of extras. That was one of the Q&A questions and Morgan Spurlock confirmed it!


Friday, June 1, 2012

Game Of Thrones Opening Metal

Since I just shared The Rains of Castamere Metal Cover... While we're at it, here's the Game of Thrones Opening Metal Cover that White Noise Lab did last year:

Here's the original opening:

White Noise Lab's links:
White Noise Lab on Facebook

Are you excited for the Season 2 Finale this Sunday?! I am! Remember to set your DVR's, VCR's or whatever you are using to record the show 10min longer because the finale episode is extended!

...and while we're at it, there's also these Game of Thrones openings:
Sung by Sansa, Arya and Bran
The Simpsons Game of Thrones Opening

...AND while we're at it, there are more Game of Thrones Opening covers after the jump...

The Rains of Castamere With Electricity

White Noise Lab did another Game of Thrones metal cover. This time it's The Rains of Castamere.

Here's the original:

And who are you, the proud lord said,
that I must bow so low?
Only a cat of a different coat,
That’s all the truth I know.
In a coat of gold or a coat of red,
A lion still has claws,
And mine are long and sharp, my lord,
As long and sharp as yours.
And so he spoke, and so he spoke,
That lord of Castamere,
But now the rains weep o’er his hall,
With no one there to hear.
Yes now the rains weep o’er his hall,