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Review: Magic Mike XXL

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Review: Magic Mike XXL

[Guest Writer: Sara Winchester]

It’s been three years since Magic Mike crawled across a movie theater screen and into your panties. Now after a long, hard wait the next chapter for the Kings of Tampa has come back to those screens today, in Magic Mike XXL.

When the first Magic Mike came out I admit that I was intrigued. Male strippers? Channing Tatum dancing in a g-string? Matthew McWhat’sHisFace in a tiny banana hammock? I was sold before the first trailer even hit.

What I thought I was going to see was a light hearted movie about strippers. For me, the original MM suffered from an identity crisis; I was never sure if it wanted to be a dark and artsy drama or if it was supposed to be the Showgirls for, well, girls. Luckily, Magic Mike XXL has definitely surpassed my admitedly low expectations for a sequel.


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Review: 50 Shades of Grey

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Review: 50 Shades of Grey

Guest Writer: Sara Winchester

There have been few book series that have risen to a worldwide phenomenon since the Twilight series, so it’s appropriate that its successor also started its life trying to be part of the Twilight obsession.

50 Shades of Grey, a nationwide bestseller, started its life as a Twilight fan-fiction. If you are familiar with that universe it has some pretty easy to spot Twilight-esque tropes: shy, plain, ordinary girl Anna who becomes the subject of desire and obsession for the darkly intense Christian Grey. What begins as a seemingly thrilling game of girl-meets-rich-mysterious-bachelor-in-odd-twist-of-fate turns rather dark early on in the film.rs_634x1005-141114095132-10644711_665591963557478_6990185292071945908_n

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Tech Review – Wacom Intous Pro

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Tech Review – Wacom Intous Pro

by Caleb Cleveland

Along with Wacom‘s rebranding of the Intuos line of digitizing tablets for enthusiasts or hobbyists (replacing their Bamboo line), they created the more up-market Intuos Pro line, intended for professional use. Judging from the mid-size tablet I’m reviewing, the Pros are all sturdy and sleek with a black matte finish, and can be set up for right or left-handed use. The active area of the tablet can be used either as a writing surface with the included stylus, or as a touchpad.

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[GDC 2014] Most Interesting Indy Titles

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[GDC 2014] Most Interesting Indy Titles

It was my first time at the Game Developers’ Conference this year. Of course, the hardware was nice, but the most interesting sights for me were showcases of the continuing creativity of the Indy developer scene. I came away quite interested in several major titles either currently available or soon to be released, and here they are.

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To Timidly Go: Are Sci-Fi Film Tropes Holding Back Sci-Fi Gaming?

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To Timidly Go: Are Sci-Fi Film Tropes Holding Back Sci-Fi Gaming?

With souped-up graphics and processing power, Playstation 4 and Xbox One will bring us one step closer to truly “cinematic” video games. But could game developers’ long quest to emulate silver-screen cool actually limit the creative potential of next-generation console titles?

This question came to mind after the recent burst of publicity for Destiny and Titanfall, two of the “most anticipated” next-gen games. They are also both science fiction titles — a gaming genre that leans especially heavily on Hollywood-derived tropes.

A quick glance at the current console era shows just how often such games mimic cinematic sci-fi — and how limiting that approach can be when designers with a blank virtual slate fall back on the constrained conventions of film.

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For Star Wars Fans, Is No News Good News? Why a little less info could be great for the franchise and its followers

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For Star Wars Fans, Is No News Good News?  Why a little less info could be great for the franchise and its followers

When Walt Disney executives refused to release new Star Wars: Episode VII details during last weekend’s D23 conference, millions of (fan) voices suddenly cried out in terror.

In the audience, there were boos and moans of disappointment; on social sites like Twitter, there was an outpouring of indignant rage.

“How are they not even announcing the title of Episode VII? Why isn’t JJ on stage right now? So lame,” one tweeter huffed. Another quipped that “Disney proves they understand the modern Star Wars fan by disappointing them and taking their money.”

Now hold on a minute. Is this just pent-up anticipation, or has the D23 reaction from Star Wars fans crossed a line into something more like “entitlement”? The most outraged complaints seem to assume not only that Disney has an obligation to release new Episode VII details whenever we expect them, but that failing to do so somehow bodes poorly for the quality of the final film.

The past several decades of geek/fan cultural ascendancy (spurred in no small part by Star Wars fandom) have surely contributed to this response. Expectations for constant streams of pre-release news are at all time highs — thanks not just to Hollywood but the gaming and tech industries, too.

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Rush Bros – Review

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Rush Bros – Review

At first glance, Rush Bros. looks and plays a lot like many other great 2D platformers, such as Sonic, Mario or Super Meat Boy. The designs are simple, but fun, stylish and elegant. Our heroes are (theoretically) nimble and acrobatic, able to jump off of walls and perform a slide for a boost in speed. And the shifting environment, changing in time to the music, makes the choice of song actually an important gameplay tactic.

However, thanks to unimaginative key-lock challenges, extremely problematic controls, and challenges that fail to utilize the unique mechanic effectively, much of Rush Bros. is frustrating and feels strangely empty.

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Bioshock Infinite and Privilege – A Response

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Bioshock Infinite and Privilege – A Response

It’s been quite a while since we discussed this, but after the publication of this article on Bioshock: Infinite and privelege, one of our readers chose to write a response we felt merited publication. Enjoy.

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Roughly halfway through Bioshock Infinite, the dispossessed underclasses of the floating city of Columbia suddenly turn from victims to villains, with the working-class minority rebels of the Vox Populi replacing the oppressive, bigoted Founders as the leading perpetrators of violence and terror. In a game that otherwise stands out for its meticulous nuance and daring exploration of tough issues, this transition winds up dodging the meatiest issues of race and class that Infinite initially promises to confront.

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Why Television is Kicking Hollywood’s Arse Right Now (And How to Fix It)

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Why Television is Kicking Hollywood’s Arse Right Now (And How to Fix It)

I’ve spent about two hours walking from one theater to another trying to find someplace showing a film I might actually feel excited to watch. I failed, and now my feet are killing me.

This odyssey took me to five theaters in different places downtown, boasting a grand total of something like 40 different screens – and only showing seven or eight unique movies across the lot of them. Thanks Hollywood. All it takes is for me to be predisposed against the blockbuster of the week, because there are no real alternatives. “I’m in the city, I might as well go see a movie” is no longer a thought that goes through my head, because across the breadth of American film that lands on screens I can no longer guarantee that I’ll actually want to see one of them.

My movie-going habit is withering away, because the hegemonic movie industry (the American one) is going through one of its phases.

Yes, I’m a hateful, spiteful curmudgeon. But I still say Hollywood is to blame. You know why? Because television is great right now.

Not all television. Not even, perhaps, most television. But the cream of the content airing right now makes the summer-movie offerings look positively pathetic.

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Dinner is Coming – A Song of Sugar and Spice

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Dinner is Coming – A Song of Sugar and Spice

If you’re anything like me, you took a little extra time while reading George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire to visualize the passages in which he describes the foods of his world. He pays special attention to describing the meals in loving detail, encouraging my inner fatty to fantasize about shoveling all of that food into my face while sitting next to some of my favorite characters from the books.

Apparently Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer felt the same way, as they set out to recreate the meals described by Martin throughout the novels. The resulting cookbook, A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook, is quite delightful.

These ladies really did their research, converting original medieval recipes to accommodate the modern kitchen. The cookbook itself is organized by the geographical regions in Martin’s world, from as far North as the Wall, South to Dorne, and even across the Narrow Sea to Meereen and Tyrosh.  Where possible, the authors include the original medieval recipe as well as suggested pairings with other recipes to create delicious, authentic meals. I also plan on actually eating all of them – even the Honey Spiced Locusts and Fiery Dornish Rattlesnake.

I will be quite honest and include both opinions of these dishes’ taste and those of whomever I can find to eat these dishes with me. Chelsea and Sariann also have their own blog where you can find some of the recipes they are working on. They also give commentary and pointers on their recipes. I would like to do something along those lines, but you will be receiving advice and commentary from a complete, self-confessed amateur.

Oftentimes when I read a recipe, I find myself wanting a slightly “simpler” explanation of what is going on – the chef who wrote the recipe obviously knows what they are doing, but I don’t always know what they mean! Hopefully knowing that someone out there is picking up this cookbook for the first time, and learning to cook these dishes for the first time will encourage you to buy the cookbook and try it out for yourself!

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