Archive | December, 2011

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A Review of 36 Hours of Kindle Fire Ownership

Posted on 27 December 2011 by VinnieAve

So I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas. In that time I’ve been playing with it for a lot of that time. I have not been disappointed by it but really that doesn’t tell you much about it. So I’m going to run down the major things in my book.

Reader Quality: I have nothing bad to say about this, admittedly, I’ve been using this app on my phone for a while so I’ve been used to it, most of what I’ve read has been A Clash of Kings, so really I can’t so much about poetry formatting and such. This may be the most important thing about the Kindle Fire.

Video Quality: It’s not the best, it’s good but it’s not great, if I had to make a guess I would say it’s just fine at SD quality. It will not supplant my computer as a video player but it will be great for time a bus or train. I’ll use it but my computer or Xbox 360 will still be the device of choice. I used Galaxy Express 999, Squid Girl, IT Crowd, How Beer Saved the World, and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic to test this with the Crunchyroll, Netflix, and Youtube. I will say that MLP had the best quality but it also is Flash animation. Of the two Crunchyroll was weaker than Netflix. These are just the Android apps that were listed in the Amazon App Store.

Kindle Comics Reader: So it was a big deal when Amazon and DC announced that graphic novels would be available exclusively on the Kindle Fire, my choice of books to read was Sandman vol. 1. I had wanted to read this before I got the Fire and so I tried to get the digital copy. Sadly, this was only available on the Fire. So yesterday I picked it up. This app was a bit of a letdown. It is very possible to read the entire page at time, however this may require some squinting and other books might make this more difficult. The zoom is not aggressive but it is not the good. You can zoom on a single panel and this will be plenty readable. However, the zoom doesn’t make it that much bigger.

Sound: My biggest problem here is that you really have to use the higher volumes, it isn’t particularly loud but this device isn’t meant to replace your stereo but it would be nice to have a bigger range of volumes.

App Selection: If there was one complaint I would like to make about this device is that lack of the Android Market, or the lack of Google Apps in the Amazon App Store. I would really have liked to have Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, etc. with an app on the Fire, sadly this was not to happen. I hope that in the future that these are added. I think that they wanted this device to be more for entertainment than business and communication. Also there is no official Twitter app, this is just sloppy really but there are 3rd party apps for Twitter (I went with TweetCaster).

Final Comments: The Kindle Fire is a fine machine for $200, it was not meant to beat the iPad but to be a different level of device. It serves the vast majority of my entertainment needs. Also I would like to note that I have not been in an area where I don’t have wifi since Christmas so I cannot say much about connectivity and such, this is a preliminary review and I will tell you more once I test more in my daily life.

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Anime Blogger Secret Santa: KARAS

Posted on 25 December 2011 by VinnieAve

So in the Reverse Thieve’s Secret Santa this year I got Karas to review. I guess I have ignored this OVA for a while now with no particular reason. I wish I hadn’t because this is almost the perfect balance between continuing story but still self-contained and quick to watch. At a length of 6 half hour episodes this is a barely longer The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (and many times better). KARAS is the spirit of the city where both humans and nature spirits exist, except that humans cannot see the spirits because they have more or less been abandoned for modern society.
Okay, now that I’ve set up the world I want to break for a little bit and talk about the release of this by Manga. I mentioned that this is a six episode OVA, well that is until Manga decided to compile the episodes into two movies, I cannot say if they removed anything so I will assume they did not. I have to think that this was a bad idea since as far as I can tell they never got a theatrical release so there was no reason to do this. They could have easily just named the DVDs KARAS: The Prophecy and KARAS: The Revelation. Also the DVD for The Prophecy had one of the worst main menus I’ve seen in a while, they had a large golden wheel and tried to have orange been the contrast for the selector, luckily this did not get carried over to The Revelation DVD.
The first episode starts with a dogfight between jet fighters that will periodically transform into swordfighters; this is a great and impressive way to start the series. However, the rest of the first episode (it’s very easy to tell where one episode starts and the next ends, just making the movie format seem a little more silly). The rest of the episode plays out fairly standardly, honestly the first half of the series is pretty basic and doesn’t do much other the give the most basic aspects of the world. We learn there is another KARAS, Eko, who was the KARAS years ago and is not changing spirits into mikura, which is pretty much robots which is using for his scheme. Eko is doing this since he has seen humanity in the city (that’s all its called, ever) forget their heritage and there he must kill all humans (okay, I didn’t say the plot was that original). The first three episodes are pretty much this happening each episode. The first half has great action and great animation but otherwise it’s not got much going for it.
The second half is so much stronger. At this point Eko has finished getting enough mikura to start and finish his conquest of the city. While the episode format is still present it is not nearly has evident and the movie format isn’t as jarring as it is with the first half. The action is fantastic with the battle and chase sequences. The story is much tighter and effective; it doesn’t feel as much like a few episodes of a show but a well written, well planned story. I suspect that the first few episodes were written to be part of a full series and then the second half was written and had possibly better animation than the second half. You really can’t find a reason for a character to do anything in the first half, they are all just doing things more or less, but the fourth episode starts with an explanation of the major mythology of the show.
As a last note, this show written and directed by Keiichi Sato, who directed this year’s Tiger and Bunny. This is pretty evident since this is a similar setting of a city with more or less superheroes. The action was of the same caliber. The biggest issue I have with the animation is the mix of traditional and CG, which just doesn’t seem to mix well, its better here than it many cases.
The DVD collection isn’t a bad price for two full movies, if you like action anime this is something that you should see. I hope more people see this over time.

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All Geeks Considered Podcast Christmas Special

Posted on 24 December 2011 by VinnieAve

Sorry for the delay, we’ve been having some technical difficulties with uploading these. In this episode we discuss Scrooge (1970), A Christmas Carol (2004)

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Christmas Challenge: A Lot of Catching Up To DO

Posted on 17 December 2011 by DM

Day 8 Rare Exports

Ok wow.  Not only do I have a new Christmas movie to add to my list but I have a new Halloween movie to add to the list.  This was a huge surprise with how much I enjoyed it.  We’ve got an Old Testament Santa Claus and the creepiest elves ever.  I think what really sells this movie though is some talented acting.  This is actually a pretty decent family flick as long as no one in the family scares too easy and you don’t mind seeing too much old man ass.

Day 9 Elf

I had no idea Zooey Deschanel could sing so well.  This is a nice modern day Christmas classic.  Will Ferrell does well in the roll of  an elf-raised human without being horridly over the top as he is in most comedic roles.

Day 10 Miracle on 34th Street

“I believe, I believe, I know it’s silly but I believe.”  Given the vague choice, I of course opted for the original black and white movie.  No modern adaptations for me thank you very much.  I will always love this movie and it will always signify the beginning of Christmas in my family.  Watch it with yours and realize Christmas is not just a day.

Day 11 A Year without A Santa Claus

Ugh.  I know Vincenzo loves this one but it was definitely not my favorite holiday special.  While the Heat and Cold Misers do add something to the mix I found this one a struggle to get through.

Day 12 National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

I will always remember this movie as the one that almost killed me with laughter.  One of the few National Lampoons movies I can get being, Christmas Vacation does well at conveying the Christmas Spirit without getting too…um dirty.  My Grandfather loved to watch this one with us and I watched it with him in my thoughts.

Day 13 The Holiday

A little birdie told me that Vincenzo fell asleep during this one but don’t let that scare you away.  I know for a fact he has very little good taste (except perhaps in friends).  Christmas takes a backseat in this one but there is plenty of kindness love and generosity of spirit to be found here.

Day 14 A Very Venture Christmas

Best line ever, “Hey fancy-pants, I’ve been naughty”  I do like this Christmas special.  It carries the same atmosphere of turning things loved in childhood on their ears as the show itself does.  Plus. Brock!

Day 15 The Snowman

A Frosty the Snowman with some poignancy.  A very under sung special that I definitely enjoyed watching.

Day 16 Star Wars Christmas Special

I should be destroyed for suggesting that anyone watch this.  I am ready for Cthulhu.  I have seen madness and come out on the other side of it.

Day 17 A Muppet’s Christmas Carol

Such a wonderful special to take Lucas’ horridness out of my brain.  I cant believe I didn’t watch this one for the first time until last year.  For more see our podcast.

Day 18 Scrooge (1970)

Eh ive seen better adaptations of A Christmas Carol.  But Vincenzo likes it so maybe give it a try.

Day 19 A Christmas Carol (2004)

A surprisingly good movie.  See our podcast (when its aired) for more.

Day 20 The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (Rankin-Bass Special)

Burn in hell Vincenzo

Day 21 Cosmic Christmas

This was an ok film but coming so quickly off of TLASC it was not my cup of tea.  A bit too much of the religious meaning of Christmas for me as well.

Day 22 A Christmas Carol (Doctor Who Episode)

Wow. This was really really really good.  I might have to try a bit of The Doctor now.  Really really good.

Day 23The Santa Claus

AS much as I question having Tim Allen portray Santa Claus, he really does do a reasonable job at it. In my book this is another modern classic.

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Christmas Challenge: The Finale

Posted on 17 December 2011 by DM

Monday: South Park: A Critter Christmas (extra credit: South Park: Red Sleigh Down)

Tuesday: Olive the Other Reindeer

Wednesday: The Family Stone

Thursday: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer/How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Double Feature)

Friday: A Christmas Story

Saturday: Mickey’s Christmas Carol

Sunday: It’s Christmas Day, go out and enjoy it!

 

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You Should Read Animal Man and Swamp Thing

Posted on 12 December 2011 by VinnieAve

It’s been a while since I talked about comics so I thought I’d give it another go. Last week DC released the 4th issues of Animal Man and Swamp Thing. I have to give each of these book high recommendations. While they are part of the DC Universe (Superman appears in Swamp Thing #1) they could easily exist on their own and have no interaction with other things but each other.

In case you aren’t reading these books, Swamp Thing is about a man who has been dead (as far as he can tell) but is now alive and being told that he the Swamp Thing, protector of the Green, which is essentially the spirit of all plant life. Meanwhile Animal Man has the power to take on animal powers (strength, flight, etc.). He is the avatar of the red, which the spirit of animals and flesh. In each of these books they must fight against the oncoming menace, the Rot, the spirit of unlife.

These books have been building up to a larger combined climax which will be coming around issue 6 or so, I’m guess, which would be rushed if that’s when it happens so I’m hoping they keep it at the pace where it’s going and let it happen when it would work best. Both of these series have had excellent art that manage to link well stylistically with the story, Swamp Thing has great twisting plant motifs throughout the series and animal doesn’t go with flesh motif in the borders (thankfully it doesn’t since it looks like something out the John Carpenter’s The Thing). They rough art used here works for the course animal feel that is going.

These two books are certainly the books that are for the person who likes comics and doesn’t like superheroes but enjoys a more supernatural story.

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Christmas Challenge Week 3

Posted on 06 December 2011 by VinnieAve

So now we’re deep in and I get another chance at the calendar

Monday: Scrooge (1970)
Tuesday: A Christmas Carol (2004)
Wednesday: The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (Rankin-Bass Special)
Thursday: Cosmic Christmas
Friday: A Christmas Carol (Doctor Who Episode)
Saturday: The Santa Claus
Sunday: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (MST3K Episode)

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Day 6 and 7: A Carol Turned On Its Head And A Yuletide Classic

Posted on 05 December 2011 by DM

A Blackadder Christmas Carol: I am not a huge British comedy fan but I have to admit that this one was a keeper.  In fact, my girlfriend, who I venture to say is even less of a British comedy fan than I am, could not stay away from my computer despite having a multitude of things to do.  Well played Blackadder.   This was a nice change of pace in the Christmas Carol genre where we have a pathetically nice Blackadder being shown the benefits of meanness by a ghost of Christmas.  I recommend this to anyone who likes a good Christmas movie and is not afraid to laugh a bit.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town:

This has been a favorite of mine since childhood and continues to be.  We get to see why Santa Claus wears those red pajamas and climbs down your chimney along with all of his other foibles.  I would say that the only part I really dislike about the show is how much more religious it gets than others of its ilk do, but it’s certainly easy to get past and very forgivable.  My favorite part is, of course, The Winter Warlock (Winter to his friends), who steals the show with some nice one liners.  I won’t lie to you on this one though, Santa Claus is a bit full of himself in this show and perhaps just a teensy bit creepy.  Maybe.  Check it out and see for yourself!

More to come tomorrow!

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