June 20, 2018

Spotify Update

I've created some more playlists on Spotify!

Here is what they, and what they're about:

The Joshua Tree (Complete Edition)
The album + its B-sides. Essentially, presents The Joshua Tree as a double-album.
Link: https://open.spotify.com/user/2m9hbatw6n5kp0h2kp4o8k789/playlist/3VDMzAMPok3LfxMKdLK1h6?si=ZMlEF3m2RD2IoD7WxX9hUw


U2: the Best Of (1980 - 2000)
The Best of 1980-1990 and The Best of 1990-2000 back-to-back, including B-Sides.
Link: https://open.spotify.com/user/2m9hbatw6n5kp0h2kp4o8k789/playlist/0BzPSCoOq1p3DsPwPY01m9?si=ECmLML2URzyyuX6xUxRdzw


It's Time To Let the Led Out
All deluxe edition bonus tracks, in order from the first album to the last labum.
Link: https://open.spotify.com/user/2m9hbatw6n5kp0h2kp4o8k789/playlist/55dyRkj2rhAgD6FPAxoDhk?si=8rgQEnpETJiPFbsG39lWzw


The Early Years: 1965-1972
All the content (that's on Spotify) from Pink Floyd's boxed set.
Link: https://open.spotify.com/user/2m9hbatw6n5kp0h2kp4o8k789/playlist/4Nq5HEkIV2ddKyYSK3WzqS?si=rkO93egYRZWtoDWmSWOzhA


Narnia: (TL, TW & TW) Complete Soundtrack
Both the soundtrack and 'inspired by' in one spot, collecting all released music for the film. (TL, TW & TW means The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.). I always have this in my winter listening rotation. 
Link: https://open.spotify.com/user/2m9hbatw6n5kp0h2kp4o8k789/playlist/2gJY03eHEfnyN0E4uc0899?si=ugDOOI57T_-6GavFr-kBRQ


Courage: The Best of The Tragically Hip (1987-2016)
All their singles in one spot. Year Favourites was great....but it wasn't every single, er, single from the band.
Link: https://open.spotify.com/user/2m9hbatw6n5kp0h2kp4o8k789/playlist/0KShYqrEP4eWujQPqpaulB?si=p4uMd_-2QC-xZoGrR_rMvg


The Story of Spartacus
All the soundtracks from the Starz series, that deal with Spartacus (no prequels)
Link: https://open.spotify.com/user/2m9hbatw6n5kp0h2kp4o8k789/playlist/6fEpcvSfZ5RI3cC8tTsPbX?si=b3-4gaK-RTuDVquujPhf9Q


June 17, 2018

Drinking: Tips and Advice

OK, I tend to cover a few comments throughout the course of this blog but wanted to do an overall post about....alcohol! Drinking!

Now I'm a responsible adult, and I indulge in moderation, but frequently, with 'over' indulgences occurring only a few times a year.

That being said, with 'drinking' as a hobby (boy that sounded wrong...) I picked up a few things I wish to share.

BEER

- kept it cold (or better yet, cool) as often as you can. Never stick it in the freezer
- store it vertically, especially if it's corked. If it's not corked and you need to lie it down, then stand it vertically twice the length of time it's been horizontal, just so it's not 'shaken' and everything settles
- keep an eye out on the freshness and best before dates.
- As stated before, keep it cool. That means fridge. don't set your fridge (if you have a dedicated beer fridge) too cold. If you can't store it in a fridge, keep it in the coldest spot you can.
- when storing it, keep it out of the sun.

RED WINE

- Never put it in the fridge
- if possible, kept it out the sun
- Never "fill" a wineglass up
...that's all I can think of in regards to the "nos" of wine

WHISKY

- store it vertically
- keep it out of the sun and heat as best as you can (why do you think whisky comes in a box?)
- keep it in the coldest spot (that;s nit the fridge) that you can)
- Do not keep whisky in the fridge
- if you use ice, don't use more than 2 cubes. 1 cube (the smaller the better) for Scotch


That's pretty much it!

I'm not assuming you don't know anything, but this post was designed for anyone 'getting into' drinking various alcohol, and wants to make sure they keep their investment (whether it's $10 or $1000) good and proper. Hey, if we have a question, someone on the internet has an answer.

Above all else - enjoy! Responsibly, of course...

The Legend of Zelda Wishlist


Without a doubt, Nintendo is hard at work, most likely in the very early stages of the next major Legend of Zelda game.

I doubt it'll be a "sequel" (or "prequel") to Breath of the Wild, but it'll still be a follow-up nonetheless. This post will examine what I would love to go into the next major Zelda title.

OPEN WORLD

One of the things I enjoyed about Breath of the Wild (as well as what I've played of the original title) is a large, vast world to explore. You could pretty much go anywhere you wanted, in (almost?) in order. I'd like to see what freedom return. However, I found Breath of the Wild to be too......empty. Sure there's shrines and towers scattered throughout, but I didn't get the sense that the world was populated. There was after all I think 5 main cities or settlements. In a giant game. That felt a bit....odd to me. I think Nintendo should find a balance of vast exploration mingled with more settlements and 'world' things, such as caves.

A great example of the type of open world approach I'd like to see would be something that we've seen in The Elder Scrolls series. 

This why having a powerful console would be beneficial to Nintendo - allowing them to do more with their games. It doesn't need to be 4K (though that would be nice).

NO GIMMICKS

One of the things I liked about Breath of the Wild was lack of a 'gimmick' or element of uniqueness. In past games, playing music was key to the game, as was turning into a wolf, sailing on a boat, or event travelling through time, or another dimension. For the next big game, I want none of that. Not that Nintendo handled it badly in the past or anything, but because I want a 'pure' / 'simple' Zelda game. I want Link to have the same 'form' (or age) through the entire game, and stay in Hyrule.

ART STYLE
I quite enjoyed the art design and look for some of the more recent titles in the series, such as Skyward Sword and Breath of the Wild. I like the cel-shadedish look, and think it suits the Zelda series well. Also, this makes it possible to render large amounts of data, and big areas to seem bigger.

NO FORCED CONTROL METHODS

What I truly despised about Skyward Sword was the fact that the game was designed to use motion controls, thanks to being on the wii. Another thing that caused major annoyance on my part with Breath of the Wild was that some shrines force you to use gyroscopic controls to solve them. There's an option in-game to disable motion controls....yet, you need to move the controller around to solve some puzzle portions. UGH.

My ideal scenario would be this: motion controls of any kind would be 100% optional. If you want to use them go ahead. If not, that's fine. We should be able to use any controller in this new Zelda title, and not be forced in any way to use a specific type or control method.

MORE RUPEES AND FAIRIES

Another slight annoyance with Breath of the Wild was that you couldn't find rupees and fairies as easily as you could in previous titles. I would like to find fairies more frequently (not "often" but every once in a while would be great!) as well as rupees should be more commonplace. Of course, higher amounts, or higher single pieces being more elusive (green being the most common, silver or gold much more rare)

REVAMPED ITEM STYLE

OK, I get it: weapons break! I didn't mind the fact that weapons broke in Breath of the Wild - I just wish it was handled a little differently. For instance, I'm sure it's part of the nature of the game, but it'd be great to be able to BUY weapons, shields, and bows as easily as you could food, ingredients etc. You could even repair items that are 'badly damaged.' Or, perhaps you could make your own if you wanted to?

Also, in Breath of the Wild, I found much of the exploration was focused on climbing. Have a large open world (as stated above) but Link doesn't need to be able to climb everywhere. This would work for some items like the Hookshot coming back. Now, it doesn't need to be "oh you need to beat this dungeon to get this item in it." That I agree with. But have that type of item return. Also, as wide open as the world may be, perhaps a few barriers would be great. For instance if you're exploring a mountainous region, you may be barred for going further if there's a big gap. Or rocks in your way (bomb, enhanced strength, etc).

Also, bring back bottles! 

MAKE IT "CLASSIC" ZELDA

Please, make it a "Zelda" game, as well as in story mode.

I'd love to see Zelda, Ganon(dorf), Hyrule...all the classic staples. I'm not against ones that aren't, but for the next title a 'classic' (lore-wise in this sense) would be great. I'd also love to see caves, villages and dungeons return, as well as The Master Sword and the Triforce(s). Of course, the targeting system that's been a 3D Zelda staple since Ocarina of Time needs to return, as well.  

In terms of the story, I'd even be OK with a full, complete remake of the original game.

HAVE MULTIPLE METERS

I believe, like The Elder Scrolls, Link should have three meters:
Health / Hearts: hit points. Also have the 'pieces of heart' return
Stamina: allows you to run/sprint, climb, or perform powered attacks.
Magic: allows you to use magic        

HAVE MORE MUSIC

I'm not one of those that's complaining about "no music" in Breath of the Wild. I found the music and sound to be well done and quite atmospheric. However, the next game shouldn't focus solely on nature so much. Having a great 'overworld theme' like Hyrule Field (from either Ocarina of Time or Twilight Princess) would be great, as would something akin to some of the overworld tracks from the Elder Scrolls series. I'd also like to hear familiar pieces as well. I was slightly disenheartened that Kakariko Village didn't have the familiar music. I even enjoyed the re-working of its theme in Twilight Princess.

In Breath of the Wild a few classic pieces came up such as the ranch theme at the stables, and in (and around) Hyrule Castle, which I found to be used quite well. 

In terms of how music should be used, I again point to The Elder Scrolls series.

CONCLUSION

I look forward to what Nintendo does next with Zelda, in regards to a main / core entry. I'd be fine with it not coming out on the Switch, as the game shouldn't be limited by a console's ability. Please note, I'm not saying that The Switch is 'limited', just that the next big title may be too grand for the Switch to handle, and may need to be released on something with more power. Heck, even Breath of the Wild had framerate drops, when docked. And it only reached 900p at the highest. 

I love the Zelda series, and enjoyed Breath of the Wild, however I'd like to see more traditional elements come into play the next go-around.   

June 11, 2018

Failed Franchises: Narnia


This is my first in a series of posts wherein I'll delve into what I like to call 'failed franchises'. This series is about films, or series of films, that have come to an unexpected end, or did not flat-out do well, in one sense or many. There's some slight bias, as this series of posts will cover some films that I personally hoped would do well, and get sequels.

It goes without saying, as you can see above, that I'll be starting with Narnia.

The first film, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, was released in December of 2005. It was quite successful in pretty much every sense in the word. From the first trailer (and just the way the film's logo was designed) you could tell that they were gearing up for a franchise. Disney and Walden Media obviously had hopes to adapt all seven books, in published order. Hence, why they began with the first Narnia book that was published.

Narnia is a series, although it's more 'episodic' in nature, and does not follow one giant plot (like The Lord of the Rings) or even to the degree of something like Harry Potter or Star Wars. The stories are almost standalone.......but not quite.

One thing I enjoyed the first film, was how the merchandising was handled. The same level of quality (or close to it) that went into The Lord of the Rings marketing and advertising also went into the first Narnia film: it wasn't just a 2-disc DVD, but it was nicely packaged. Things like that, for instance.

Next up was Prince Caspian...and here's where the trouble began. This isn't to say that Prince Caspian isn't a good book (or the rest of the Narnia series) but it seems to be the general opinion that The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is the best one, or the most widely known. The problem with Prince Caspian wasn't the film itself. Sure there were a few minor changes, but take a look at the theatrical editions of The Lord of the Rings, especially The Two Towers. Some book purists were not satisfied with it, as they had been with the first film; as well as general movie audiences. No, the problem with Prince Caspian was WHEN it was released.

It was initially supposed to be released in December 2007. For some reason, Disney swapped its release date with another film called The Water Horse, which was slated for May 2008. That was a fatal move for Prince Caspian. And, for that, I blame both Disney and The Water Horse.

Moving Prince Caspian to may 2008 put it up against the likes of Speed Racer, Iron Man, Kung Fu Panda and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Oh, and a few weeks later - Hellboy II and The Dark Knight. What killed Prince Caspian's earnings was other films. People, as much as they may have liked the first Narnia film, flocked to see other movies instead, or first (dropping it's opening week / weekend numbers).

For some strange reason, Disney was surprised that Prince Caspian didn't do as well as the first, or as well as "expected." Here is where I'll interject - if you're doing a franchise of films, how each one does affects the likelihood of the next one getting made. This is why if The Water Horse came out in May, and failed, it wouldn't matter. Sure, it'll suck for the studio, those involved etc....but it's a standalone film. There aren't others in the series 'waiting' to get made; or dependent on its success.

Needless to say, Disney bailed, and 20th Century Fox took over. It sucked that Disney bailed, as they provided funding and distribution for the first two films. It was good that 20th Century Fox took over the franchise, as that meant we would get the next-published book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Dawn Treader was different from the first two films. This is due to another director taking over, new studio producers etc. But it didn't have too much of an impact on the aesthetics of the film: the Narnia stories were episodic, so each one being "different" somewhat works. Design and style (and title logos, etc) it meshes pretty with the first two films. Pretty good on that aspect, considering over the course of (at this point) three films, two studios were involved.

There were more changes to the film from the book than the first two combined. It still made for a decent movie, but not so much in the 'adaptation' department. Oh, and Spanish or not, I wish Caspian (played by Ben Barnes, now on Westworld) kept the same accent throughout the series (he appeared in Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader)

Sadly, Voyage of the Dawn Treader did not do well at the box office, and thus, cemented Narnia's fate.

Slight dovetail here: I've always enjoyed the Narnia films. Maybe not as much as The Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter, but enough to see each one when they came out, buy the soundtrack CD, buy the DVDs when they came out...but I never got "hyped" for them. Again, this is isn't me saying "I didn't like them". I watched the first trailer for each film when they came out, saw the movies when they hit cinemas (but with Dawn Treader I went opening weekend, MAYBE opening night). I got the first film on DVD (2-disc DVD edition) for my birthday, and grabbed Prince Caspian when it was on sale within the first month of it coming out. With Dawn Treader, since the future of the franchise was up in the air, I pre-ordered the DVD. Nothing fancy - just the barest of releases. It was my intent that if they made all 7, I'd re-buy them all on blu-ray, or get the collection. Sadly, the franchise fizzled out.

[End of dove-tail] UNTIL......

The next book in the series (publishing order) is The Silver Chair. It's in pre-production! They're currently working on the script, and even have a director: Joe Johnston, who is most well-known for directing Jurassic Park 3 and Captain America. So these good signs! I'm looking forward to following the film's development as it happens (ie, the first poster, casting, trailer, etc.). So I'll "follow" the film but won't get "hyped" for it.

Given the fact that the film is still far from releasing, and given the Narnia's film history, one would debate if this franchise is classified as 'failed' if it's currently finding new life.

I hope that The Silver Chair does well enough for the rest of the books to get made: The Horse and His Boy, The Magician's Nephew and The Last Battle. I also hope, that any future films have some degree of continuity and consistency. For starters, I hope that all the films have the same film logo. Throughout the years, the Star Wars logo has always had the same font. I'd be great to have Liam Neeson voice Aslan, where and when appropriate. Obviously, at this point Eustace will need to be recast. Getting Tilda Swinton for The Magician's Nephew would be awesome. For The Green Lady in The Silver Chair, I wouldn't say no to Swinton (as the same actress from the BBC production played both The White Witch and The Green Lady) though Eva Green, Kate Beckinsale or Cate Blanchette would be great choices as well (among others).I would love to have Bradley James (Arthur from Merlin) as Prince Rilian.

Possible directors I'd like to see helm a Narnia film would be: Christian Rivers (unless tied down to sequels of The Mortal Engines), Guilermo del Torro (with Doug Jones in a role - Puddleglum, perhaps....?) Alfsonso Cuaron, Jay Russell (he did The Water Horse....that'd be ironic), Robert Zemeckis, Duncan Jones, Wolfgang Petersen...and many others. I feel, with the names provided, if things work out in regards to studios, actors, budget, scripts etc that any of those names would be able to provide a great Narnia film.

Finally, some composers I'd love to hear score a Narnia film: James Newton Howard, Alexandre Desplat, Alan Silvestri, Vangelis, Thomas Newman, Clint Mansell, Trevor Morris, Daniel Hart, Ramin Djawadi, Bear McCreary....there's a whole bunch of talent out there.

As you can see, I admit to having a soft spot for the Narnia films. It's a franchise I've liked, and kept an eye out for, but is nowhere near being my favourite. While not perfect, or a "popular franchise" (in regards to the films, that is) they are still fantasy movies. It's also a series that I'd love to fully brought to screen. Hopefully The Silver Chair happens, and performs well enough to warrant the remaining books to be made, or if in a few years, the entire franchise is rebooted from scratch (I'd be in favour of the BBC (re) doing all the chronicles, or a series of films from Studio Ghibli or Studio Ponoc).

We'll see what the future holds, and how The Silver Chair goes. Hopefully, people will still care by that point.