Monthly Archives: January 2010

24: Season 8


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24 has been a staple of my adult life.

From watching season 1 on DVD in pretty much a single sitting, to various fights and “plant activites” with Vanlandw, the awe-inspiring fate of Nina Meyers, and Edgar’s famous “CHLOE?!… AAARHRH” scene – The list of memories goes on and on.

But, for as much amazing and compelling drama as this show has produced; it has produced at least the equal amount of complete BS and sheer annoyance.  This trend seems to be correlated with each new season that has been released; with the exception of perhaps season 5.  With seasons 1 and 2 being near perfection; I think it’s almost a shame what this show has now become.  So begins my hatred and critique of Season 8.

I somehow managed to watch all of season 7.  I SOMEHOW looked past zombie-Tony.  I somehow looked past the over-use of “Oh… Are you going to torture him Jack?”.  I somehow looked past the constantly changing good/bad/good/bad Tony.  And, finally, I would say I was able to look past the annoying women characters.  Read: President Taylor; Renae; Chloe; President Taylor’s bitch daughter.  Really, the show is physically incapable of producing a female character that I do not hate with fiery brimstone furiousness.

I was going to try to reserve judgment on this season to let it get at least half way through – but it’s just not possible.  The list of complete BS that I feel the need to call out has grown past the tipping point and the spillage shall begin.

  • Chloe:  Why this show continues to kill off interesting and relatable characters whilst keeping this permanent annoyance is just beyond me.  I guess it may help female viewers relate to the show, but she adds merely a layer of stupid woman for all the action and real drama to fight through.  I hate Chloe.  In fact, I hate Chloe so much that I have vetoed it as a possible baby name even though it is my wife’s favorite.
  • Dana Walsh:  Apparently the top counter terrorism agency in the country just fails year after year to do standard background checking procedures.  I’m so sick of the mole/badguy/general shady person plot line in 24.  Dana Walsh apparently has some sort of questionable past that she’s running from.  So, she’s apparently used her amazing level of intelligence to create a new identity and get a new job with CTU.  Her hair is always waved over one shoulder.  And, her face just really bothers me.  Her existence enrages me even further since she’s the fiancée of Cole “Freddy Prinze Jr.” Ortiz.
  • Cole “Freddy Prinze Jr.” Ortiz: He is played by Freddy Prinze Junior.
  • Renae Walker:  Imagine this line being spoken in a Swedish Chef type of voice; Cus that’s how I’m saying it.  “Ooooh I’m Renae Walker and I’ve had such a tough couple years that now I’m a female Jack Bauer.”  Poor Renae.  She had it rough and now she’s an outcast who gets by and gets things done via her renegade attitude.  24 Doesn’t need a female Jack Bauer.  She shouldn’t be on this show in this season.  OH…. MAN… THERE IS A RUSSIAN CRIME SYNDICATE INVOLVED AND APPARENTLY THIS FORMER FBI AGENT JUST HAPPENS TO BE THE BEST RUSSIAN UNDER-COVER OPERATIVE ON THE ENTIRE PLANET!>!>!!>!11..1.>.    bs.
  • CTU Itself:  Chloe.  Mole/badguy.  Blue-tool headsets.  “We have our suspect, this is the only possible scenario – even though strong evidence points otherwise”.  Dumb.
  • The Plot:  The assassination plot has been done before.  The nuclear threat has been done before.  Apparently now they are mixed into the same season.  Jack can’t say the work nuclear correctly.  I hate when people say nuke-u-lar.

So far I am really not impressed with 24, and I’m really doubting I’ll be able to watch it through the rest of this season 8.  CTU feels like a high-school in the valley.  Not a high tech counter-terrorism organization.  This is a pretty big fail.  I don’t like any of the new characters.  I don’t like the ones they’re choosing to bring back.  So far I don’t like the plot.  The only thing I’ve enjoyed this season thus far has been Jack’s kill by way of axe to the chest (Vanlandw where is bauercount seriously!).

In my opinion this show has long since run it’s course…  There have been quick glimpses of good television at points over a couple of the most recent seasons – but overall they have become fewer and farther between each other.  I’m growing tired of 24, and that is a very difficult thing to pen.

XboxLIVE – Mission Victor Charlie: Success

The mission that I am dubbing “Vacation Catch-up” has been completed as a success.

As Vanlandw was away this week enjoying a much needed and EXTREMELY overdue vacation – I took it upon myself to catch him in gamerscore.  At the beginning of the week, I was almost 4,000 points behind him – so it was a pretty vast undertaking.

Originally I didn’t even think it would be possible; but as previously posted Vanbergs and Myself found a solution to that.

Vanlandw and I are tied for the time being; and I’m sure he’ll fly past me in no time.


Van won

LoRD Defeated

Today was a pretty impressive Monday.  I apparently defeated the elusive and destructive beast that had been terrorizing “town”.


The Red Dragon approaches.
Your skill allows you to get the first strike.
Your Hitpoints : 1,737
The Red Dragon’s Hitpoints : 15,000

(D)eath Knight Attack (4)

Your command, Vanberge?  [A] : D


After exchanging blows & blocks for nearly a minute, The Red Dragon
gets too fancy, and as a result an attempt to jump a low swing results
in the severing of your enemy’s left leg.  His remaining leg slips in

You hit The Red Dragon for 2535 damage!

** The Red Dragon hits with its Swishing Tail for 739 damage! **

Your Hitpoints : 998
The Red Dragon’s Hitpoints : 12,465

(D)eath Knight Attack (3)

Your command, Vanberge?  [A] : D


In a swift move you have The Red Dragon by the neck and begin to
exert huge amounts of pressure.  You hear a sickening crack.
You hit The Red Dragon for 4005 damage!
** The Red Dragon hits with its Swishing Tail for 670 damage! **

Your Hitpoints : 328
The Red Dragon’s Hitpoints : 8,460

(D)eath Knight Attack (2)

Your command, Vanberge?  [A] : D


In a swift move you have The Red Dragon by the neck and begin to
exert huge amounts of pressure.  You hear a sickening crack.
You hit The Red Dragon for 4062 damage!

** The Red Dragon hits with its Swishing Tail for 213 damage! **

Your Hitpoints : 115
The Red Dragon’s Hitpoints : 4,398

(D)eath Knight Attack (1)

Your command, Vanberge?  [A] : D


You duck an uncontrolled swing, and retaliate by slicing a wide gash
under The Red Dragon’s belly.  You feel sick as steamy intestines
slither out into a pile at your enemy’s feet.

You hit The Red Dragon for 4407 damage!

The earth shakes as the mighty beast falls.

You find a Gem!

You have defeated The Red Dragon!

XboxLive Gamerscore

This weekend has turned into a massive achievement fest for Vanbergs and myself.

I’m not exactly sure when it happened; but at some point within the last 6-8 months I have become completely OCD about my gamerscore and rep on Xbox Live. I don’t spend countless hours getting every achievement in every game that I own; but I spend plenty of extra time hunting down worthwhile achievements trying to boost up my score as much as possible.  I’ve desperately plunged into the multiplayer arenas of Halo 3 and Modern Warfare 2 in search of 5 star rep.  I’ve begged and pleaded my friends and foes to “prefer me”.  The list of XboxLive addiction shame just goes on.

I’m not enough of an achievement whore to use cheats/godmodes/glitching to blast an easy 1000 points out of my games.  I do maintain a certain level of purism – but, at the same time, I am definitely enough of an achievement whore to seek out and destroy games that give an easy 1000 g. Oddly enough I blame Vanlandw at least partially for starting this: Back on my birthday he purchased me “Avatar – The last Airbender” for my birthday (not to be confused in any way with James Cameron’s Avatar film); this is easily the simplest/easiest achievement booster game known to man. You literally get 1000 gamerscore in less than 2 minutes. (youtube vid)

Fast forward to this weekend. I notice on my XboxLive account that Vanbergs has magically come within just a few points of my 9,000 point gamerscore.   Somehow he magically discovered through a coworker that the entire slew of the “2k6” sports game franchise offer ridiculously easy achievements.   These NBA/NHL/NCAA/MLB 2k6 games I think must have been developed so early in the pre-launch days of the Xbox360 that they just didn’t quite understand how the achievement system was supposed to work.  Instead of having 40-50 achievements that add up to the 1,000 points, they offer FIVE… this results in each achievement being worth hundreds of points compared to 5, 10, 20 points in “normal” Xbox games.

The achievements are for things like:

    • Score 50 points with a player
    • Make 15 three pointers with any team
    • Get 6 blocks with any player
    • Score a goal with a defenseman

    Vanbergs and I teamed up each scouring various Game Stop locations for these used games and were able to come up with a pretty darn complete collection of easy 1,000 point games.  In addition to the 2k6 series, we got Fight Night round 3, Madden 2006, NBA Live 2006, Prey, and King Kong.

    So far I’ve done done the 2k6 sports games only, and am working my way up to the others.  The games are just ridiculously easy.  Playing allstar teams against the worst teams in the league results in an easy 1,000 points in a single exhibition game.  Sliders can be adjusted to basically make the opponent team play like 4th grade girls; even if the difficulty is set to super star level.  Playing Duke vs. Princeton in NCAA 2k6, I seriously won 238 – 0.  The Princeton team did not score one basket.

    Now – there are a couple achievements in here that I did have to work fairly hard at.  It’s no small feat to get 20 rebounds with a single player, especially when the team doesnt hardly shoot the ball.  Or, to get 6 blocks with a single player.  Or, to score a goal while you have 2 players in a penalty box.  But I was able to find tactics that covered each achievement and do it in one single game.  I would just shoot half-courters to get my own rebounds, intentionally hack/slash the other team to get penalty box time, and jump around like a mad man at hopes of blocking shots.  etc etc etc.

    I must admit that I do feel a little bit cheap after this weekend’s activities thus far – but I take solace in the fact that I am not cheating whatsoever.  I haven’t entered cheat codes.  I haven’t entered any god mode codes.  I haven’t glitched any games, even though there are published glitches on a few games I own that COULD result in easy 1,000 points.

    I’m simply reasearching and finding games that have easy, high yield achievements – and I’m playing them legitimately.  In fact, it was a pretty frickin’ impressive amount of work to find and procure all of these games!  It was pretty satisfying though.  I paid $2-$5 per game getting them used.

    Could I make more of a sport out of this by playing the games at my actual skill level and not making it painfully easy?  Sure.  Does it take some of the pride and prestige away from blasting past 10,000 points for my gamerscore?  Yes it does, to be quite honest.  Would I do it exactly this same way if I had it to do over again?



    I would like to add a disclaimer at the start of this post with 2 primary points:
    1 – Spoilers are coming. If you haven’t seen Avatar and care about the story, then stop reading now!
    2 – I am very picky and admittedly over-critical of cinema.

    With those 2 points out of the way, I submit my review of the movie “Avatar” directed by James Cameron.

    I do not like this movie. I don’t hate it… But I REALLY did not like it.

    The effects, look, and composition of this film are certainly noteworthy. Is it going to change the way films are done for the near and foreseeable future? I don’t think so. For me, given the visual stimulus and photo-realism of the CGI are nowhere near enough to save this film from its plot and lack of several important aspects.

    My first and most significant gripe with this film is the lack of a backstory. What was Jake Sully doing before the Avatar program? Why did he blindly agree to it? Why is he paralyzed? What is he FIGHTING for? With Jake’s character I have no idea what motivates him through any of his actions without saying “oh, he’s just a good person”. This is simply not enough for me in a story such as this.

    It’s also frustrating because it would seem so simple to bridge this gap… With a few small lines of dialogue it could be determined that Jake is disgusted and angry with his physical disability and the Military’s lack of support or empathy for his situation. Maybe that scenario makes him jaded. Maybe once he sees now the Na’Vi don’t do that he attaches on a deeper level to their culture and way of life. Or, maybe he just falls in love with the queen to be in a typical teeny-bopper fashion; leaving him with a weakly formed bond to their culture (in my opinion).

    Another example of the lack of backstory/plotbuilding is the rushed nature in which we learn there is a precious resource on Pandora. I dont remember the name of it – I’m not even sure if they said it. I don’t know why it’s precious; I don’t know why it sells for so much money “per kilo”. Is it a drug? Is it a fossil fuel that can further satisfy the greedy industrial appetite of the evil human race? WHO KNOWS. Giovanni Ribisi does I guess. It’s even further annoying to me that I feel a lack of story to any degree on a movie that is pushing 3 hours. Sigh.

    Aside from the lack of these important pieces (again, in my opinion), the next most disappointing thing about Avatar is it’s “Typical-ness”. Vanlandw has commented on this very same thing to me, and it is with good reason. The TYPICAL love story pulling the TYPICAL protagonist through the TYPICAL war-monger’s evil intentions with TYPICAL results.

    The movie was overall just too predictable… “Oh, look Jake Sulley – there is this crazy huge dragon that nobody has ridden in 1 hundred trillion millenniums!!!” Gee – I wonder if Jake Sully is going to ride it!? Of course he is. From the humans villainous intentions, the love story, the “final battle”, and the end of the film; nothing seemed original to me. Sure, the setting of Pandora and the Na’Vi are original ideas and are note-worthy. But the storyline is exactly the opposite.

    To summarize my experience, I really didnt even like the 3D effects. The movie had a sort of grainy and fuzzy feel to it in 3D. It seemed to lack some saturation in certain parts so I can only hope that minus 3D the film will actually look better.

    Am I being overly critical due to this movie’s insane level of hype? Probably. Should I / Will I watch this movie again? Sure I will. Is Cameron leaving out an intentional level of detail and plot so he can give us a couple sequels? Probably. But, even so, I didn’t like this film. I gave it 2 stars out of 5 on the Netflix scale.