Friday, December 23, 2011

This Relationship Corner: Your Landmark Traditions

There are many vital ingredients that make up a good relationship, and today I'm focusing on traditions. This isn't about having a traditional relationship and adhering to traditional values, though feel free if that's what you want. No, I'm talking about the traditions that the two of you create for big, landmark occasions, including holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations, traditions with the kids, and even your traditions for handling bad news.

Every long-term couple develops habits and patterns, and it's important to take a look at the most important habits and patterns and make them a regular part of your relationship. While sometimes you'll just let the tradition happen, it's very important to actively nurture and develop your them so they make your relationship better.

Six Couples Who Didn’t Kill Their Show

Sexual tension is the bread and butter of many dramas and sitcoms. Week after week, the two characters trade barbs and tease the audience with “will they or won’t they” situations in which they come so close to getting together but never quite take the leap.

The classic example of this show is Moonlighting, starring  Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd. Much of the series’ appeal was the tension between the two leads, and the show was never more popular then when they were bickering.

Six Sequels Better than the Original

I spent two columns railing against sequels that weren’t just bad, I try to pretend like they never happened. I'm sure that any of you who watched these movies would love to remove them from your memories, if not the canon entirely.

What really irritates me about bad sequels is that it’s entirely possible to craft a great sequel. A good sequel isn’t just more of the same and hoping it works like the first time. It’s being able to continue the story in a direction that’s credible, deeper, and worth investigating. The best universes take the world established in the original and give us something more, something new, and at their best, they give us a better movie than the original.

The Ten Best Human Performances in a Muppet Movie

I don’t know about you, but I was very excited to see the Muppets back on the big screen. In fact, you can see how excited I was by reading my review of The Muppets here. This was a great movie and worth your time and attention.

It was very nice reuniting with our old friends Kermit, Fozzie, Rowlf, Gonzo, and Miss Piggy. However, when it comes to Muppet movies, it’s more than just the Muppets themselves.

Jason Segel, Amy Adams, and Chris Cooper will join a long and proud history of actors who shared a screen with the Muppets. While some actors in Muppet projects just saw it as a paycheck, and barely disguised their disdain for working with them, other starts understood what these movies were about.

Eight Games That Made You Want to Smash the Controller

Some games are works of wonder and beauty, and playing them reaffirms our humanity. When life is hard and stressful, those games make us forget our worries and allow us to relax, giving us a rejuvenating boost that allows us to face another day.

These are not those games. These games make our urge to kill rise just a little bit each time until we prove critics right about video games causing violence by hunting down the level designer and throttling him. Instead, though, we have to stifle those murderous urges, especially since we’re more likely to take them out on our poor controller.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Three Best and Worst Live-Action 3D Movies

I think we can all agree that 3D is now officially a thing. It comes and goes every decade or so and is usually a passing gimmick, but this time it seems to be here for the duration. For now.

When it comes to animated movies, the 3D is usually pretty good, at least from a visual standpoint. However, live action is a whole different animal (probably a lemur) and it’s a lot more hit and miss. And when it misses, you’re sitting in the theater wearing silly glasses wondering whether paying almost double for tickets was really worth it.

My focus is on the 3D itself, as that’s the point of seeing one of these films. I’m there for the spectacle, as are many of you. Thus, this one time I’m going to give other factors a pass.

Great Skulls in Entertainment

I love Halloween, and every time the tail end of October comes around, it means several things: The Great Pumpkin will air, stores are already putting up their Christmas decorations, and you’re going to see more skulls.

As a species, humans are obsessed with skulls. And why not? They’re very cool and scary. We are both fascinated and repelled by our mortality, and you never see a skull unless someone has died. To gaze upon a skull is to see death, which is why Death is often characterized by a skull.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

More Sequels I Pretend Don’t Exist

After my last sequel article, I received a lot of feedback on what was left off the list. (The feedback wasn’t on this site. It was on a site in Canada. You wouldn’t know it.) The observations were fair; there are plenty more bad sequels that aren’t just mediocre follow-ups we tolerate, but movies that ruin the franchise.

You'd think that movie-makers would know why we loved the movie the first time and give us more of what we want. You'd be wrong, and a lot of these sequels jettisoned what we liked and replaced it with truly awful dreck.

It's also possible that this was supposed to be the script of another movie entirely and they wound up taking that script and making it the sequel. Or, the studio just didn't care about the integrity of the franchise and just saw dollar signs, figuring that the general public would pay to see an awful sequel.

Sadly, that last one has proven itself true again and again, which is why we can't have nice things.

The Most Well-Written Video Games of the 90′s

I started playing video games in the good old days of the NES. And after I performed the usual ritual voodoo to get the cart to work (you had to blow on it, tap it three times, and sacrifice a squirrel) I was usually treated to writing that consisted of “Thank You, Mario, but our Princess is in another castle” and “A winner is you!”

However, as the 90’s became a reality, and not just the setting for post apocalyptic movies, the writing for video games took a great quantum leap forward. We now had interesting characters, fantastic plots, and a desire to see how the story ended.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Best and Worst Cartoons for Adults

If you grew up in the 80′s or the first part of the 90′s, you know that Saturday mornings were a sacred time. Before Saved by the Bell ruined it for everyone, Saturdays were a time for cartoons. It was a great time to be a child, and it cemented my lifelong love of cartoons.

Fortunately, I’m not alone, and in fact, I’m part of a huge demographic of adults who like watching cartoons. However, not all attempts to satisfy said demographic have been successful. Today I’m going to explore the many cartoons made for us grown-ups.

I’ll first discuss the horrible abominations that prove the devil walks among us. Then, because I like to end on a happy note, I’ll talk about the cartoons that make the case for a kind and loving God.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

This Relationship Corner: Where to Spend the Holidays

The Holiday season is now upon us, and whether you're celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Festivus, Boxing Day, New Years Eve, or any of the multitude of holidays in December, you and your significant other will have one huge issue: where do you go to spend the holidays?

Remember, when you enter into a relationship, it's with more than one person. Both of you also get each other's families. Most of the year, visiting your families isn't a terribly stressful proposition. You go when you can, and if you are busy or live far away, they usually understand if you can't visit that often. However, when the Holidays roll around, visiting family is another issue entirely. You may expect to visit your family, as usual, and simply bring this new person along. But what happens when your partner has the same idea about his/her family?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Begun, the Christmas Wars Have

I've discovered two other inevitabilities besides death and taxes. Mention Star Wars, and someone will talk about how George Lucas ruined the series with the prequels. Mention Christmas to politicians and they'll go on about this "War on Christmas."

Given that is it Christmastime, the War on Christmas rhetoric is going strong, doubly so because people are running for President. Believe it or not, this reminds me of the one thing Lucas got right in the prequels.

While the answer to how Anakin became Darth Vader was mostly annoying, I was far more intrigued by how a once free Republic became the evil Galactic Empire. If you've never seen the prequels, I'll sum them up so none of you have to put up with a certain Gungan who will remain nameless. A massive droid army began blowing everything up, and only with the help of an army of clones was the Republic able to stop it, thus starting the Clone Wars. In order to maintain stability throughout the crisis, Chancellor Palpatine was elevated to the position of Emperor.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

This Relationship Corner: Don't be a Martyr

The great thing about being in a relationship is that you have an extra set of hands. While it would be really cool if those hands were attached to you Doctor Octopus style, allowing you to both drive and eat your sandwich at the same time, you have to settle for the second-best option: hands attached to someone you love. These aren't just any hands, they are helping hands, and when you need a favor, big or small, they are the hands you call first.

This perk isn't just one-way, though. Your partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, Imzadi, might also need a favor, and you will be the first responder. It will be your job to help reach things on a shelf, pick up something while you are out, help clean a mess, bring them something they forgot, or one of a thousand other small favors. While you won't be able to fulfill every one of these requests, because no one is that good, you'll do your share. And when you do, I have one suggestion to ensure a healthy relationship: don't whine about it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

How I Met Your Mother: "Symphony of Illumintation"

Quick Review: When it's not blowing your mind, it's pulling the rug out from under you. 

Episode Synopsis: Robin hears bad news, but hides it from everyone; and Marshall hangs Christmas decorations with a little help from his neighbor. -tvguide

Spoilers ahead, so watch the episode before you proceed. Seriously, there are some big things happening, so make sure you've seen the episode. Trust me.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

When 'Veggie Tales' was a Cult Classic

Back in the late 1990's, you could use a predictive theorem at any gathering of college-aged Christians. If the crowd numbered greater than 500, and if there were giant video screens in the vicinity, the probability of seeing a Veggie Tales video approached 100%. And as soon as Larry the Cucumber popped up in a towel and lamented his lost hairbrush, the crowd would go wild and immediately song along.

It was an undeniable truth. College-aged Christians in the late 90's loved Veggie Tales. Maybe not all of us, but plenty of us loved those videos enough to pay $15 for a 30 minute VHS. At fifty cents a minute, you'd hope it was worth it, and yes, Veggie Tales back then were more than worth it. In fact, to have a Veggie Tales video in your collection made it elite, for it was evidence of a long and harrowing journey.