Month: September 2016

Reel Geek’s Food Reviews: Local Spotlight Bodacious Pizza

 

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The Chipotle Sausage Pizza from Bodacious Pizza

One of the rising trends in food service in the past decade has been the food truck.  It’s quick, great food that a lot of times you can’t get anywhere else but the food truck.  It’s so popular, Food Network even has a show, The Great Food Truck Race, which has been on the air for the past 6 years and still going strong.   And there’s a reason why food trucks are great, it gives you a chance to try something different than your usual burger and fries or whatever you were initially going to get for lunch.    Now, I’m by no means a professional food critic, but I am a geek who likes food as much as he does working out, so I know what I’m talking about when it comes to good food.

My college, TCC has even started to have food trucks come to campus twice a week to have an alternative to what’s offered elsewhere on campus, and I’m grateful for that.  Today I had the chance to try  a pizza from the Bodacious Pizza Company, and I’m glad that I turned back around, because let me tell you,  this pizza is phenomenal.

Last time they came around, I tried their calzone, which was pretty great as well, but this pizza is something else.  I tried the Chipotle Sausage Pizza from them, as you can see above, and let me just say this meal made my entire day.

For starters, it’s an artisan style, wood fired pizza, so it’s not your local pizza place’s slice and a soda for $1.50, it’s got a great crisp crust to it, because of that, so right off the bat, or, right at the end, depending on how you eat your pizza, you’re in for a treat.  The chipotle sauce has that nice tang, that kind of spicy but not overwhelming the entire flavor of the meal level of heat that blends good with the sweetness of the sausage.  The sausage they used here had more of a breakfast sausage taste to it, but that’s what made it great to me was that it wasn’t your usual sausage pizza.    And the cheese on this pizza was so melty it was amazing to me as a cheese lover.  It really reminded me cheese  of the pizza in A Goofy Movie.    It’s that good.  Here’s a refresher in case you forgot.

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Phenomenal, right?    Great value, that 10 inch pizza right there, only cost me $10.  $1 an inch of amazing pizza, you really can’t beat that.   Looking up on their website http://www.bodaciouspizza.com they’ve been around for a couple years now, starting in 2014, and you should definitely come out and support them if you’re out in the Tidewater area of Virginia.   I look forward to when they come back next time, and we’ll see if I try something else or just get this pizza again, which I just might do, because it was fantastic.

Any other local food trucks or food spots I should seek out?  Leave  a comment and I’ll do my best to get out there and cover it, try to support some local spots, which really are the best spots to get food at really.   Til next time guys, be sure to Keep It Reel.

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Breaking Geek News: Jon Favreau To Direct Live Action Lion King Adaptation?

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Director Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Chef, The Jungle Book) recently posted this image on Instagram, possibly broadly hinting that his next project will be an adaptation of the Disney classic, The Lion King.

Disney’s been on a roll lately with remaking their classic animated and live action films into new movies for new generations to enjoy, while still maintaining the integrity of the original films and stories.  First with Cinderella, then with Favreau’s The Jungle Book and this summer’s Pete’s Dragon.  To be honest I myself haven’t seen either Cinderella or Pete’s Dragon yet, but they look great, and I’m eagerly awaiting next year’s Beauty and The Beast adaptation.

Jon Favreau has already proved himself countless times as a director, and we now, after earlier this year’s Jungle Book that the man can do a great Disney movie that feels new but also familiar as well, if there’s anybody who can do a new version of The Lion King, that beloved childhood classic for 80’s/90’s kids anywhere, it’s him.

Video Update: Appearances and Upcoming Articles

Hey guys, just shot a video promoting my upcoming hosting gig on the Rogue One panel at Hampton ComicCon in Hampton, Virginia.  It’s on Saturday October 15, and tickets are on sale now.  So, if you’re a fan of the site and want to see me and talk about Star Wars with me and some other great people, then you should definitely come check that out.  Or even if you don’t want to see me whatsoever, still come out to the Hampton ComicCon and support it, it’s going to be a great show.   Without further adieu, here’s my video.  *Sorry about it being sideways, my phone shoots things weird apparently.

Thoughts on the WWE Brand Split, And A Few Things They Could Do To Make The Product Even Better

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If you’re a fan of professional wrestling you’re also quite likely a fan of WWE, as they are the biggest game in town when it comes to the wrestling industry.  It’s been that way for years.  For a brief period of time they were the only main game in town after Vince McMahon bought out WCW in 2001.   But nowadays the landscape of professional wrestling, or “sports entertainment”, as the corporate line they like to say is vastly different than it was back then.   There’s TNA Impact making a strong comeback once more with Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan taking the reins of the company.  There’s ROH, getting syndicated tv time, and of course New Japan holding it down from across the Pacific.  And last but not least, El Rey’s Lucha Underground, a tv show about wrestling featuring an innovative new way to showcase the product.

All this stuff, all this competition in a sense going on around WWE and for a while there, it had gotten really stale.  And I say this as an on again, off again fan of professional wrestling going back to my days as a kid watching a Hulk Hogan documentary my mom got me from PPV along with the Survivor Series 1991 that we also got to order and other wrestling shows I’d tape from tv.

When they first announced the end of the brand split back in 2011, I was excited for it.  The first brand split started out amazing.  Seriously watch some of the Smackdown shows from around 2002-2003, when Paul Heyman was in charge, it was when the show was at it’s best in my book, and a lot of other wrestling fans.    But as time went on,  all the cool stuff was happening on Raw, and you really didn’t need to watch Smackdown, was a lot of people’s thoughts on the matter.  Raw was the WWE’s “A” Show, and Smackdown merely a B Plus Player of TV.  It was Thursday Night Thunder to Raw’s Monday Nitro.

Then the brand split ended, and it pretty much kept that same thing going for the next few years.  Smackdown was essentially a Raw recap show with a few matches thrown in.  Raw was where stuff went down, Smackdown was merely filler.  That even carried over to where the show would be broadcast from. Raw would come to us Live from say, Richmond Virginia, and my area, Norfolk, would get Smackdown.  I’d still go to every show I could, but it’d be nice to get  a big show to come here again, and not just The Big Show.     *Sidenote, back in 2004 we had the WWE’s attempt to bring back the WCW Great American Bash ppv, here at The Scope, and I got to go there and see Eddie Guerrero’s last match (as it would happen to be) as champion against JBL.  But since then we get the house shows and b shows, super rarely an ‘A’ show*

This all changed once again with the recent reintroduction of the WWE Brand Split.  Stephanie McMahon would run Raw along with General Manager Mick Foley, and Shane McMahon would run Smackdown (now Smackdown Live) with former wrestler, and leader of “The Yes Movement” Daniel Bryan.    It got really good, on both shows again.   I wanted to talk about it sooner here on the site, but I wanted to wait until both shows had their own individual PPV events first to really judge both shows.    Which is what I’ll do right now, along with some improvements that (as a fan) I think would make the product even better.

Let’s start out with the flagship show of the WWE, Monday Night Raw, and their exclusive division, the cruiserweights.  To me, this is one of the best things that they’ve done in recent years is the return of the cruiserweight division, there’s so much good talent out there, with these lucha style wrestlers, that the fact that they stopped doing cruiserweights at all is kind of crazy to me, because it’s something different, a cruiserweight match is something completly different than anything else you’ll see on the match card.  It’s exciting and fun to watch, this is part of what makes Lucha Underground so great is they have these guys that can do those type of matches, and now once more WWE does too.

I’m not a fan so much of the Raw heavyweight title, or the Universal Championship, as it’s officially called.  They literally just unified the championship titles a few years ago.  They could have kept the old rules, with the champ being able to go between shows, that would have been better.  At the least, if they had to pick a new belt, they could have gone with something that looks better than this.

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There’s a billion and a half other belt designs they could have gone with.  But, what I do like in this is the wrestlers they’ve put the belt on so far.  Finn Balor before he got injured, and now Kevin Owens.  That is spectacular booking right there.  This “New Era” they keep referring to is definitely just that.   And that alone has shaken things up and made them really fun to watch.

It’s still a three hour show, which, in this new format they have found ways to keep the show moving at a pretty good pace most weeks, but this brings up another fault between both shows.  Repeated titles.

I’m not a fan of repeated titles, so each show is like it’s individual own thing, two heavyweight titles, two sets of tag team titles, two women’s titles, etc.  What would have been a better decision would be to split up the divisions.  One show gets the women, one show gets tag teams, if you want to see this particular style of wrestling, well then you need to tune into show A or show B, respectively.   Repeated titles make the whole thing feel kind of cheap in my opinion.

Overall in a lot of ways though, Smackdown has had the better shows since the brand split.  They do more with the two hours allotted to them than Raw can do in three a lot of the time.  And this is a lot in part to the different energy that they’ve brought to the live show.  They do these cold openings a lot now before the show, with Daniel Bryan and Shane discussing the events of the last show, leading into what’s going to go down this week,  and then we follow them through the backstage onto the stage, and it’s this totally different style of a show opener than I’d seen in a wrestling show, and that’s fantastic.

Each brand has had their own ppv event now, so let me talk about those, we get one ppv every two weeks now, which is kind of cool but can still feel maybe a bit like overkill.  During the last brand split it would just be like each alternating month was a different show’s event, with the “Big 4”, Summerslam, Survivor Series, Royal Rumble, and Wrestlemania being co branded events, and that worked out ok.  But in this age of the WWE Network, I see their reasons for having as many special events as possible.  It can just be a bit of overkill, so that’s something I might look into.

Overall, I’d say that right now, Smackdown is the better show these days, but we’ve only just seen the beginnings of the cruiserweights on Raw, so they could definitely spice up the show a bit, only time will tell which will be the better show in the end, or how long it’ll be before it’ll be time to shake things up again and unify the shows again.  If they keep going at the rate they’re going though, they won’t need to do that for a long, long time.  Between just all this stuff, and then the other options wrestling fans have these days, it’s a fantastic time to be a fan of professional wrestling right now.

 

Reel Geek Review: Gotham Season 3, Episode 1

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Gotham returned for it’s third season last night, and I for one am loving the direction the show is going in.   It’s come a long way from it’s beginnings a few years ago with it’s heavy handed references of things to come later in the story of Batman.  They’ve really figured out how to do a Batman series without Batman essentially.

In this episode we pick up 6 months after the events of last season’s finale, wherein the resurrected with mind control powers Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett-Smith) and an assortment of unnamed freaks, criminals who were mutated into monsters or given superhuman abilities by Hugo Strange (B.D.Wong)  escaped from Arkham Asylum and have been set loose upon Gotham City.   Basically the setup to the Knightfall storyline without Batman of course.

Jim Gordon (Ben Mckenzie) still has yet to return to the police force that we know he will one day become Commissioner of, and now works as a bounty hunter, collecting the Arkham inmates in a deadly game of Pokemon Go.  At the start of the episode we see his encounter with a not quite all the way mutated Killer Croc, which was a nice little easter egg.

Also introduced this episode is the new love interest for Jim Gordon, reporter Valerie Vale (I’m guessing Vicki’s aunt or cousin in this version of the story) played by Jamie Chung (Once Upon A Time), she’s on the trail of a hot story, and as will be the case for Gotham City from here on out, there’s no hotter story than the freaks the city has to offer.   I really enjoyed the chemistry between her and Gordon, it works better than the chemistry the past season with Lee, who we see get written out of the show in the opening moments of the show.

We get more into the developing Court of Owls story that was started to be touched upon last year, it seems that these guys will be the big bads of the season, with Fish and Company offering as secondary villains, which is fine by me, I’ve been a huge fan of the Court of Owls since they were introduced a few years ago in the comics.  For the uninitated, they are a cult who secretly has run Gotham City since the beginning.

I like where the show is going, it’s a definite twist on the Batman mythos, but a welcome one.  Traditionally it’s always been assumed that it was Bruce Wayne’s eventual donning of the cape and cowl that led to the rise of the supervillains in Gotham City, but here it seems more likely that the freaks will be the ones to inspire Batman himself to put on the suit, which I hope we get to eventually if this show keeps running.   There’s still plenty of monsters to catch and plenty of stories to tell in Gotham City, and I look forward to seeing where they go with this one.

Why Coca Cola Freestyle Machines Are Ruining Soda

 

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The Coca Cola Corporation in 2009 started rolling out these new style, touchscreen, soda dispensers, with all of their products being able to be distributed from one central machine in a restaurant.  This of course, phased out (in a lot of places at least) the old school, soda fountain that most of us grew up on.   In theory, this is a fantastic innovation for technology and soda consumers.  Unlimited combinations of flavors, the machine promises, and it does deliver on that, but what it also delivers on is it standardizes soda everywhere.  So no matter where you go, a Coke will taste like a Coke will taste like a Coke.  And this is great, again, I say, for the company itself.  It’s a standard flavor that people worldwide are familiar with and love, hence why they’re bringing in a $3.45 billion dollar profit (MSNBC)   But, in all of this, it loses something that’s near and dear to this particular writer’s heart, true flavor.

What I mean by this is, I remember a time, growing up in the 1980s, 90s, and the 00’s, is a time before the Freestyle took over.  When how good a Coke tasted depended on location.  Some places, like movie theaters, the syrup was a bit thicker, or it was more syrup heavy and it gave their version of Coca Cola a more addictive flavor to it, a really sweet almost impossible to describe if you’ve never had it but it made paying the expensive fee for movie soda totally worth it.   Or you’d go to a certain fast food place, because they had the better Coke,  and some places their soda machines would be kind of shitty, so you wouldn’t go there.  It was all in the amount of soda syrup to water ratio that makes a good Coke a good Coke.

Cut to today, where, thanks to the Freestyle revolution, soda tastes the same no matter where you go.  That $9 movie theater Coke tastes exactly the same as the $3 one from the fast food place.  No matter where you go, it all tastes the same.

Which is also kind of a good thing because really soda isn’t healthy for you at all, and you should drink more water, and all that stuff, but sometimes you need a soda.  It just pairs better with a burger and fries, it’s practically an American tradition.    And I miss the days before they standardized how soda tastes.   Now, there are still pockets of revolution here and there, certain locations still have the old school soda fountains, the kind where the syrup to water ratio isn’t the same.   I can tell you from personal experience the Steak and Shake in Hampton, Virginia still has the old school style fountain, and their Coke was heavenly.  It was like the purest of the purest soda I’d had in 6 years.

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I mean, that’s pure soda ecstasy right there.  Look at me.  You don’t get that level of enjoyment from a mere soda anymore.  It doesn’t happen.  Because IT. ALL. TASTES.THE.SAME.NOW.   And this isn’t right.   But nobody except me and maybe a few other people I’ve mentioned this phenomenon to really care.  It’s all about the new thing, and 100 flavors.  While yes,  being able to have a Grape/Strawberry Sprite is a wonderful thing, at what cost to the pure flavor of good Coke?

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, maybe I’m just getting old, pining for the old days when soda tasted different in different places.  Sometimes standardization is great, but not when it comes to flavor.     Maybe this is all a rigged thing to get people to drink more water, all I know is, I miss the old school soda machine.

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Looking back on Star Trek at 50 from a mostly Star Wars fan perspective.

 

When I grew up, in the 80’s, it was a pretty binary time for fandoms, all across the board. It was one, or the other.  Beatles or Stones, Marvel or DC, Nintendo or Sega, and the most important one one of all, Star Wars or Star Trek.   As I mentioned before, my first memory as a child that I still recall to this day was seeing Return of the Jedi opening day back in 1983.  So, I was already well set in my ways, it was Star Wars, all day, every day.

I never really hated Star Trek though, I’d seen and enjoyed the Wrath of Khan, even had the book and record set.

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But even still, Star Wars was the primary source of space adventures growing up for me. Even though I did really enjoy Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.   I remember when The Next Generation was going to come on, I’d read about it in Starlog magazine (yeah, I was a geek even at 7)  and I looked forward to seeing this new version of the show.   I watched it, and liked it enough to have a poster of the new Enterprise in my room, but even still, Star Wars was still my space sci fi of choice.

Years went on, and there was nothing really to keep my Star Wars fandom going save for  a few books and comics that would get published, and Star Trek began to take a little more of a foothold in my geekdom.   The Next Generation begat Deep Space Nine which begat Voyager, and I was eating all these shows up, well not so much Deep Space Nine, the fact that it was set on a space station that never really went anywhere kind of lost me there, it was ok though, in my book.

I’d seen most of the movies too, except for maybe the first Star Trek movie, which I’d heard was pretty terrible, so never went around and watched it, even still to this day.   Yet strangely I recall liking, (at the time) Star Trek V.  I was 9 when it came out, so can’t really be held too accountable for my taste back then)

Star Wars eventually retook that top spot back in 1995 when they released the movies onto VHS in a new box set, and then again in 1997, when I got to see the other two parts of the trilogy on the big screen for the first time in their Special Edition versions, (which, even though they’re not looked upon fondly now, it was quite an experience to see the movies on the big screen, even if George Lucas messed with some of the movie)

But by this point I’d learned to love both Star things Trek, and Wars equally.  It was possible to be just a geek in general, and not pick a side.     I missed the last Star Trek TNG movie, but thoroughly loved First Contact, still think that’s one of the better movies in the whole franchise.

So, it was from this perspective that when they announced JJ Abrams was going to reboot the classic Star Trek series into a new movie, I was more excited than upset that they’d dare re-do my childhood, cause it wasn’t really my childhood.   I did enjoy the loophole they wrote in there and the inclusion of Leonard Nimoy in the movie saying that the old canon still existed, these movies just are set in an alternate timeline, so things can change, but the original stuff is still there both in the canon, and obviously in real life, nobody took your Star Trek from you.

I even really enjoyed Into Darkness, which it seems now gets a lot of hate for some reason for being a bad movie?   I mean, sure the Khan thing could have been handled better, but Cumberbatch killed it in that role, as he does with most everything else.

I just finally had the chance to see the latest movie Star Trek Beyond this past weekend, and it was a blast as well, the new director Justin Lin put some new energy into the franchise, and compared to the overly long last movie, this movie moves at a quick pace, never gives you a chance to be bored, and then you’re out the door.   It’s also dope that Greg Grunberg also joins Simon Pegg now as actors who are in both Star Trek and Star Wars.

Basically what I’m saying with all this is, is that the new movies made Star Trek fun again.  So much so that even a die hard Star Wars guy like myself can get excited and love Star Trek just as much as the other franchise.  It just turned 50 last week,  and I’m glad for it, Star Trek definitely put it’s mark on geekdom, and I can’t wait to see where they go with it next.  In tv, or movies.