Month: April 2016

Reel Geek Review Time: Quantum Break

 

Greetings fellow geeks, this past weekend I finished up the new video game Quantum Break, from the makers of Max Payne 1-2 and Alan Wake, and figured I’d share my thoughts on the experience.  No spoilers, for those of you that haven’t played.   So, without further adieu, here we go.

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So, since Alan Wake, Remedy’s last game, the studio has really been influenced with the episodic nature of genre shows,  that cliffhanger, binge worthy nature that good television has, and this game takes that combined with an innovative, albeit, short action thriller.

The plot of Quantum Break gets a little convoluted, but it’s nothing that people familiar with time travel shows or movies won’t be able to follow.   It starts out with Jack Joyce played by Shawn Ashmore (X-Men, The Following) returning to his hometown after some years away to visit his friend Paul Serene, (played by Aiden Gillen of Game of Thrones fame) who’s had a breakthrough in his latest experiment, well his and Jack’s brother William (Dominic Monaghan from Lost and Lord of the Rings) have completed a time machine.

After testing the time machine on himself, Paul Serene emerges but 17 years older, grayer, a bit more evil than he was prior to the machine, and from there all hell breaks loose.   As it turns out, the machine’s turn on started a fracture in the fabric of time which will eventually end all of time itself.  Some goons with guns burst in, and Jack and Will are on the run.  It turns out also that this same experiment also gave Jack special abilities to manipulate time, rewinding some aspects of it, freezing time, and essentially super speed not too dissimilar from the Quicksilver scene in X-Men: Days of Future Past.

And along the way some allies are met, and some alliances formed, and the game play is fun, fast, and only a little bit frustrating at times.     The game is divided up into Five episodes, with each episode of game play taking roughly about an hour or so.  After each episode is complete, well the first four at least, you’re presented with a section where you play as Paul Serene, and using his own time abilities, you’re given a choice as to what Monarch (the evil company that Paul runs)  is to do next, which affects how the game’s story plays out, and then once that choice is made, we’re presented with a short live action segment, a mini episode of Quantum Break:the series, where some of the ramifications to the action in the video game portion, and your choices as Paul come to light, and that part of the game is just as entertaining as the video game part.

Lance Reddick of The Wire and Fringe frame plays the mysterious Martin Hatch in both the show and the game, Paul’s colleague who may be more than he seems.   The other actors in the show portion aren’t any name actors, but they all deliver great performances, the show is just as binge worthy as anything else you’d find on Netflix.

And that’s about all I’ll say on what the game is, it’s best left for you to see for yourself.  As far as my judgement goes, it’s an overall, fun, albeit short game, maybe 12 hours max, but it has a lot of replay value, to see what different choices do to the story, and to hopefully answer some questions that for me were still unanswered when I finished the game yesterday.       The controls are smooth, graphics are fantastic, especially in the cut scenes, had some uncanny valley stuff going on there for a few seconds.  Only thing I really didn’t like about the game was that plot wise it left some things unanswered, and could really have benefited from a fifth episode of the show wrapping things up rather than the ending the game presented me with. Some minor plot holes towards the end as well, and unanswered questions that I’m not sure are the result of JJ Abrams style writing (leaving things unanswered for a later season, or in this case game) or just that I need to play it through again to get these questions answered.  Overall though I’ll give Quantum Break an 8/10.  In a world of clones of the same thing over and over again, it’s nice to see something refreshing hit the game market, albeit a flawed one.

 

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How To Be The Best You That Ever Is, The Best You That Ever Was, The Best You That You Will Ever Be: Using Pro Wrestling As Inspiration For Self Improvement

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So, Wrestlemania just came and went yesterday at the time of this writing (4/4/2016), and it as always was a great show.  ( Could have been better in parts, but a lot of memorable moments happened, as they do every year.)   But that’s what Wrestlemania is, it’s the showcase of the best talent that WWE has to offer each year, and they work their hardest all year long to get to that moment, the Super Bowl of professional wrestling essentially.    I’ve been a fan of the ‘sport’ all my life, since the days of Hulk Hogan telling us to say our prayers and eat our vitamins, up through to today’s “PG Era”.    And it’s been some great, and not so great entertainment all these years.

You’re probably saying to yourself, what does this have to do with improving yourself?  I don’t even like wrestling.  Or the ones that do, are probably asking, why do you have a picture of Daniel Bryan at the top of the article?, He wasn’t even there yesterday, he retired!  Well, that’s because his story, like mine, like a lot of you, is that of the underdog, the person that nobody really believed can make it in the thing that you’re trying to do, but somehow overcame the odds, and did it.  Yes, his story was scripted, but there’s lessons to be learned in all stories, wrestling included, and what inspired me yesterday, and really recently, in general, was to put this article together for you, to maybe inspire you, and give you some tips and tricks for your everyday life that can be gleaned from the stories of professional wrestling, and give yourself an extra boost of non liquid confidence and courage when you need it.     So, without further adieu, I give to you, a few tips on how you can use professional wrestling to become the best you that ever is, the best you that ever was, and the best you that you will ever be.

 

1. Make a ‘gimmick’ for yourself.

One of the many conventions in the world of pro wrestling is that everyone has a gimmick, this goes back to the old days of wrestling, where all the wrestlers played different characters.  You most likely remember, (if you’re around my age or slightly younger, the very gimmicky early 90s era of WWE, where everyone had occupation based gimmicks for the most part, your garbage men, race car drivers, and dentists to name a few.

In more recent years, from the Attitude Era on, the more successful wrestling gimmicks were that of the Superstar’s actual real life personality, just cranked up to 11.  You can create this kind of gimmick for yourself, and use it in your everyday life when you need that extra bit of confidence.

You can create this by getting a notebook, I’d reccomend starting a journal for yourself, doesn’t have to be a daily diary type thing, but a book where you can write down your ideas, thoughts, plans, and goals as you begin your journey to be a better you.   In this notebook, on one page, write down three of your best qualities you think you have, for example, mine would look like:

  1. My heart (I care about a lot of things, and a lot of people, wearing my heart on my sleeve has always been my main operating system, no matter how many times I get burned by it, me becoming permanently cynical is just something that will not happen)
  2. My determination. (When I get into something, a tv series, a video game, writing, and now working out/running, I will accomplish what I set out to do, in some cases that’s more productive then others, but I refuse to let anything come between me and my goals, especially when my main obstacle is myself)
  3. My resiliency. (I’ve been defeated more times, in as many different areas of life, including love, more times than I’d care to recall, but each time, I get back up and I throw myself back out there, I bounce back like a three year old that just fell down and scraped his knee.  I’ll cry for a minute, feel sorry for myself, but I get back out there, and return to whatever it was I was doing before.

 

So, I’ll take those three elements of myself, and create an alter ego, which is still me, but with these elements in the forefront of myself.   I’d be Mike ‘Rebound’ Keskeys.   You can only keep me down for so long, before I bounce right back, and I’ll keep at it until I win.

2. Find your ‘Entrance Music’ – Since the Fabulous Freebirds in the early 80s, every pro wrestler worth his/her salt has had entrance music, some catchy or awesome tune that plays when they’re on their way to the ring.

Your own entrance music is a song you’ll play, either on your phone or in your “mindPod”, as I called it getting songs in my head in boot camp to pass the time, that gets you pumped, and ready to take on whatever it is you’re about to take on.   Mine is “Heroes” by Shinedown.

 

Great song, right?  It gets me going whenever I’m about to do something ‘big’, trying to break my run distance, or just before a job interview, or big test.  It’s my song that gets me in the mindset that I’m going to go out there and kick some ass.

 

And the next and last step I have for you today is  cut a promo on yourself.

Wrestlers since the dawn of time, part of the job is being awesome in the ring, the other part is being great on the mic, being able to talk yourself up has made even mediocre wrestlers like Heath Slater more entertaining to the fans.    Some of the best ‘talkers’ in the history of the business have been CM Punk, The Rock, Chris Jericho, Macho Man Randy Savage, Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair..for the sheer insanity of the promos, The Ultimate Warrior.  You get the picture.

 

 

 

And to use this technique yourself, when you’re home by yourself, in your room, or in a private bathroom, talk about yourself in the mirror, tell ‘the world’ why you’re going to do this thing that you’re trying to do, tell them who you are, why you’re there, and that you’re the best there is at what you do.   Yes, it’s similar to the Stuart Smalley character form SNL from back in the day, that “You’re good enough, strong enough, and gosh darn it, people like you” but in a more awesome fashion then that.  You kick ass, dammit.  Never forget that.    And then, when you’re done with that, put on your entrance music, and get out there, and do what you’re trying to do.  Get that job, run that mile, ask that girl/guy out, just be yourself, but a better version.  Now get out there, and be awesome.

The Dresden Files: The Best Damn Book Series You Haven’t Read..Yet

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10 years ago, when I was in the Navy, I was looking through the Navy Exchange, trying to find a book to read while I was on duty, and I stumbled across this paperback novel called Dead Beat.  A novel of The Dresden Files, the cover informed me.  I’d never heard of this thing, but the way it was described on the back cover intrigued me, “Buffy The Vampire Slayer by way of Phillip Marlowe”, it was advertised as.    I picked up the book, and, even though I’d never read a book in the series before, it felt like I was right at home.  From the witty first person narration from Chicago’s own, and only Wizard Private Detective Harry Dresden, to the cool villains, to a great action scene that involves a spectrally animated T-Rex skeleton, I was hooked, and wanted to know more.

My next time out at the local mall there, I was on a mission to find one specific book, Storm Front, the first novel in the series. Found it, and while it was a little bit different in tone than the other one, more mystery novel with bits of magic and horror thrown in for extra flavor, it was still a great, quick read, and soon enough I’d purchased the first 6 books in the series to accompany Dead Beat on my book shelf.

And I’ve been hooked ever since.  Shockingly enough though, as far as I can tell Dresden fandom isn’t as big a thing as I would imagine it to be.  In the years since I’ve started to read the series, I’ve met maybe a small handful of people who share in my obsession with these books.    Thankfully though, these same people haven’t heard of the crappy Syfy Tv Show they tried to make off the books.

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The less said about that, the better.  To be fair, Paul Blackthorne (Capt. Lance from Arrow, these days) did make a pretty good Harry, but that’s about it.  After a few random episodes, they attempt to condense the first novel into an hour’s timeframe, with half the budget it should have had.    It was mercifully cancelled after a season, but I still say this book series could make a great tv series, if they did it right.

Now, you’re probably saying to yourself, why should I invest in another book series this random person on the internet is telling me to read?   Well short version is, because it’s amazing, but secondly because it really has everything you could possibly want in a series of stories.     If you like any of the following things you will like The Dresden Files

  1. Mysteries
  2. Strongly written awesome female supporting characters
  3. All around strongly written characters
  4. Magical Dimensions
  5. Crime Bosses
  6. a war between Vampires and Wizards
  7. Werewolves
  8. Epic reanimated T-Rex mount
  9. Witty knowledge spirits that live in skulls
  10. Pizza
  11. Polka

And once you’ve read a few, or if you’re already a fan, tell me your favorite Dresden file character or moment from the series?   Til next time guys, be sure to keep it Reel.

 

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