Jurassic World is here

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Although the theater where I first saw Jurassic Park no longer exists, I still vividly recall that warm Sunday afternoon after church, when my parents and I went to the Biltmore Twin, a second-run theater in the South Forest Shopping Center.

I had just turned five and hadn’t even started kindergarten yet. And like most kids, I’d come down with a full-blown case of dino fever. I’m not sure how many of you remember, but the release of Jurassic Park was an event.

I remember going to a huge dinosaur exhibit at the Biltmore Square Mall. I don’t remember whether it was directly connected to the release of the movie, but it was certainly there because of it, complete with an animatronic tyrannosaurus rex, among other giant lizards.

However cool, the animatronics couldn’t match the excitement of the resurrected dinos that were living and breathing in Jurassic Park. Twenty two years later and that movie is still just as good as the day I first experienced it. Continue reading

Kinda Funny

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For those who don’t know, Kinda Funny – the single greatest YouTube channel in existence – is the culmination of the charisma, insight, creative genius and passion of Greg Miller, Colin Moriarty, Nick Scarpino and Tim Gettys, and it is unrivaled.

They’re four of my best friends, and they want to be yours, too.

As a long-time reader of IGN, I’ve known these guys for years, through their writing, podcasts and videos. When they started their own weekly YouTube podcast, The GameOverGreggy Show, in late 2013, I was there. These guys became a regular part of my everyday life.

So around five months ago, when I first learned they were leaving IGN, as I ate lunch in the break room at work, I was devastated. Immediately after reading Greg’s tweet, which simply said, “I quit IGN,” tears began to roll down my cheek. I hadn’t yet processed what was happening, so my only response was to cry.

Little did I realize that the departure of these four individuals meant I’d actually get to spend even more time with them, as they have gone on to form Kinda Funny, where they create web content for their fans (their best friends) full-time. And this past weekend, I got to spend time with them, in-person, at MomoCon in Atlanta.

And let me tell you, it was freaking surreal. They are every bit as genuine, gracious, down-to-earth, funny and kind as they seem in their videos. They don’t take their success for granted. It’s obvious they care that we care.

When I first approached them, I introduced myself and said they might recognize my Twitter picture from my incessant tweeting at them. Before I even pulled up my profile to show them, Tim asked, “Are you the Doug guy?!” and as I proceeded to show them (my pic is Doug Funnie with a Braves cap), Tim shouted, “I was hoping you’d be the Doug guy!” And because of my Twitter pic, they all knew me.

That blew my mind.

Later that evening, along with other Kinda Funny fans, I got to hang out with them and actually have real conversations. Nick Scarpino, the Producer/Seducer, actually came up to me and spent an inordinate amount of time talking to me, one-on-one. IS THIS REAL LIFE?!

These guys are my heroes, and the fact that they not only know who I am, but wanted to talk to me, was almost beyond (Beyond!) what I could comprehend. They work so hard, and it’s absolutely appreciated.

The fact that I left Atlanta this afternoon having gotten two hugs from Greg and two hugs from Nick, a handshake from all four of them, visual recognition of who I am from all of them, some real conversations and their signatures is more than I ever dreamed. The fact that I got Greg to yell “Oi!” is just the icing on the cake.

As I write this, I have a couple of tears in my eyes, because I can’t wait to hang out with them again.

Kinda Funny is made up of best friends, and those best friends are family.

Kids are cool.

There’s a little boy who comes into the store with his dad about once a week or so. He’s about four or five years old and wears big blue glasses.

His name is Graham, which I only know because his dad is constantly saying things like, “Graham, stop that,” “Graham, come back here,” and, “Graham, put that down.”

He’s a super cute kid, and the things he says and does crack me up, but you can tell his dad – who’s a very nice guy, and looks like he’s just trying to find a minute to browse – is always a little on-edge because of what Graham is liable to say or do.

Months ago, during the transition between summer and fall, when it’s cool in the morning but warm in the afternoon, Graham and his dad were wandering through the store. Suddenly, Graham blurts out, “Dad! When can I take my pants off?! It’s really hot, I’m itchy, and I’m going to Chick-fil-A!”

Noticeably startled, his dad retorted, “What?! No! Never!” with a horrified look plastered on his face that said he’d probably done it before and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.

I had to spin around and cover my mouth to conceal my giggling.

Last week, Graham was tagging along behind his dad while slurping on a straw stuck in his juice box. He stopped to look at something that had caught his eye before scrambling to catch up to his dad who was moseying through the movies. It was at this point he spotted me and spouted, “Dad! I’m gonna go talk to that boy about the Ninja Turtles!” We’ve shared our mutual love for the Turtles a number of times in the past, so he’s always got something new (TMNT-related) to talk about.

This time, he had me follow him to the TMNT DVD’s and asked me about the original animated cartoon (1987) and the first live-action movie (1990) because he’d never seen them before. He only knows the newer CGI series on Nickelodeon (which is pretty good, by the way), so the older stuff is brand new to him. I explained that the old stuff is what I grew up with when I was his age, which he seemed to think was pretty cool.

He asked me who my favorite Turtle is (Leonardo) and then told me that he’d been a Ninja Turtle for Halloween. When I asked which Turtle he’d dressed up as, he quickly responded with, “Michelangelo! He’s my favorite! He LOVES pizza and I LOVE pizza!”

Already at eye level from kneeling down to look at the DVD’s with him, we high-fived and I said, “Excellent choice. And I LOVE pizza, too!”

Trying something new.

Recently a friend of mine encouraged me to do some creative writing.

I’ve thought about it before, but I never knew what I might possibly write about. I enjoy writing. I have a degree in journalism, and although I have very little interest in being a journalist, I wholeheartedly appreciate the foundation all those journalism classes helped develop. I believe I benefited more from being a journalism major than if I’d been an English or creative writing major.

That said, I’m not some sort of literary genius. I often receive unsolicited praise for my writing, which is always flattering, but I know I could benefit greatly from the discerning eye of an editor.

Anyway, I decided to follow my friend’s advice and start writing something original. I typically write from a place of personal experience or just as a way to express my thoughts on an issue weighing heavily on my mind, so I’m new to the practice of developing something from scratch.

I’ve only been at it a few days, mostly in the time after I get home from work, but I’ve written six-ish pages. And I can tell that my heart is in it, because tonight, when 10:00 PM rolled around, I’d forgotten all about the new episode of Better Call Saul (thank God for DVR).

Anyway, I’m interested to see what I can do with this new endeavor. Best-case scenario: I become a better writer.

At some point, I might share some of what I’ve written, so if you’re interested, keep an eye out.

If Netflix does follow through with a Zelda series, here’s what I’d like to see.

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Around two weeks ago, The Wall Street Journal broke the news that Netflix and Nintendo are purportedly working together to develop an original series based on The Legend of Zelda. The source, however, is named only as “a person familiar with the matter,” and neither company has responded to inquiries about the claim.

The “person familiar with the matter” claims this is to be a live-action series, and that Netflix – who’s still looking for writers – is describing the premise as “Game of Thrones for a family audience.”

If these claims are true, and Netflix is in talks with Nintendo to start a series based upon the Zelda franchise, there’s still no guarantee it will ever actually come to fruition. Nintendo is very protective of its properties, having been burned in the past by poor adaptations like the Super Mario Bros. movie and the Legend of Zelda cartoon, so I imagine Netflix would have to really impress Satoru Iwata and Shigeru Miyamoto (among others) to move forward with this.

If this does end up happening, I have some ideas about how I’d like the series to be developed. Continue reading

At least one Ninja Turtle is paying attention.

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I never did get around to detailing my thoughts on the Michael Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but I did discuss it a fair amount with my friends, and the single biggest complaint I had was that it never slowed down. It was a frenetic and frenzied blitz from start to finish, never really allowing itself to breathe or let its best assets (its characters) marinate in your mind.

That’s actually a big reason why I feel the original Turtles movie (1990) was – and remains – so great. It wasn’t a movie with nonstop action, worried that dialog might bore the audience. It has a strong sense of deliberate pacing, which allowed the four brothers to appropriately display their differing personalities and show off the ways in which they interacted with one another.

So I was delightfully surprised by a comment from Jeremy Howard, who plays the role of Donatello in the newest Turtles flick, that indicated he felt the same way. In an interview with Comic Book Resources, Howard said, “I’d love to see more interaction with the Turtles, more quiet moments where we get to see how they think and what makes them tick.”

Considering I wasn’t really a fan of much of anything in 2014’s TMNT, this is a promising thought from someone directly involved. It doesn’t mean that’s what we’ll get, but at least someone’s acknowledged it.

Hybrid Showdown!

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You know that scene in the movies where two souped-up muscle cars pull up to a stoplight, side by side, and start revving their engines loudly as the tough-guy drivers stare each other down before peeling out and racing off once the light turns green?

Now imagine those two muscle cars are actually fuel-efficient hybrids, which are completely silent when idling. And instead of trying to impress/intimidate one another with loud engine revving and intense eye contact, the two drivers are actually just a couple of socially awkward nerds who are staring a hole in the traffic light and pretending not to notice one another until the light turns green and they quietly drive off in opposite directions.

Because that’s pretty much what happened when a Honda Insight pulled up next to me in my Toyota Prius on my way home from work today.

Imagination and reading between the pixels.

With talk of Majora’s Mask getting an overhaul as it heads to Nintendo 3DS in February, I started thinking about Ocarina of Time and its debut on the handheld.

Ocarina of Time 3D was a beautiful remaster of a classic, but there was always something special about its original incarnation. I’d venture to say kids today don’t quite understand the imagination conjured by our games back in the ’90s and before, but with the ridiculous popularity of Minecraft and its exceptionally rudimentary aesthetics, maybe they do. Maybe kids today do understand where I’m coming from.

When I was five, I got my first Game Boy, which came bundled with Link’s Awakening. It was my first experience with a Zelda game, and it thoroughly confounded me.

It was the first game that really required me to think, because it wasn’t a linear game set in two dimensions, based on jumping around and going from left to right. Continue reading

Thanks for reading in 2014, upward and onward in 2015

I haven’t been posting nearly as much as I’d like in recent months, but I suspect that will change soon (which sounds like a promise every blogger has broken at some point).

I appreciate every single view I’ve received and want to thank everyone who’s cared enough about my opinion to read what I have to say.

I look forward to engaging with you all even more in the coming year. 😀

Internet Fatigue

Nastiness on the internet is something we’re all far too accustomed to. We accept it because ‘that’s just the way it is.’ The anonymity and openness of platforms like Twitter allow for some truly disgusting exchanges between strangers, but even on social media where real names are required for a heightened sense of accountability, people are still just as blatantly hateful.

It’s gotten to the point that I dread clicking on anything from a news outlet because there is always – literally always – someone with something awful and disparaging to say. And this is even on posts that shouldn’t garner any negativity.

But, not to let any stone go unturned, the degenerate denizens of ‘teh interwebz’ make sure to leave their mark the same way many animals do – by dropping big piles of crap wherever possible.

Everyone’s angry about something. Everything’s an outrage. Everyone’s an expert on everything. Everyone’s got an unsolicited opinion.

Don’t agree? “WELL THIN YOUR A MOORAN!!!1!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

These miserable goblins (who look a whole lot like people) crawl out from under whatever bridges they’re living beneath and sniff out, track down and stomp out humanity, empathy, compassion and civility wherever they may be.

It bugs me that I even pay this crap any attention, but it slowly grinds away at me each and every time I see it. I learned a long time ago that it’s not even worth the keystrokes to respond to any of these cretins because no amount of reasoning or logic will help them reach enlightenment – plus, it just increases the severity of the cringing and facepalming when they’ve focused their attention onto you.

Lately, I’ve been turning off my phone when I’m at home, and I’m trying to limit the amount of time I waste scrolling through social media. Being so plugged-in and connected all the time is exhausting, and I’m not sure it’s healthy. Some days I just want to cut myself off from society entirely and just go live in a shack in the woods. I just don’t want to participate, even as a bystander.