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trenton takes

Updated: 2015-09-16T08:59:28.728-07:00


On Cyberpunk Spider-Man.


Anytime I find myself with an extended period of time without responsibility, such during my recent move a few months back or this past holiday season, I find it incredibly difficult to motivate myself to do much besides read and revisit/discover TV shows or movies that have caught my interest. Over the past couple of years, each time I have loads of time, I've revisited various chapters of the DC Animated Universe, which I am sure I have talked about some here and elsewhere. I won't talk about what makes it such a compelling story to me, but something I watched this weekend while doing laundry made me appreciate the storytelling and world-building of the DCAU crew. It's a show that is actually very similar to their own Batman Beyond:Spider-Man Unlimited.For four years, Fox ran an original Spider-Man animated series that was rather ambitious for children's television in the 90s. It used long story arcs, a huge cast of characters from the Spider-Man world, and tried to incorporate the other Marvel characters (many of whom had their own shows) to tell one giant story. I never watched it religiously, but I tuned in more often than not, though they lost me as a 10-year-old when Madame Webb and interdimensional travel made an appearance. In short, it was faithful to the source, but uneven due to mediocre animation and lots of laser guns/giant robots, and through it all was successful during its run. A year later, for some reason, the guys at Marvel thought it'd be a good idea to give the character a new set of adventures in a sequel series and the result was this:I won't say there aren't interesting ideas in even the first five minutes... it's just so jam-packed and terribly paced. First of all, how did MJ return from being lost in some other dimension/time/world? That Spider-Man is disliked by much of New York (the country? the world?) is something that the old show would have taken a few weeks to process, and show how Peter was dealing with being seen as a pariah. Instead, we jump ahead six months where everything has been worked out, and Parker even has a new suit thanks to Reed Richards (no cameo, he stole it at some point we never see). And then there's the space travel and Counter-Earth. For perspective, this is the first of a two-part episode, and already it's moving so fast that it's not worth paying attention. And the icing on the cake: they completely changed the animation style to make it more reminiscent of a comic book and recast the voice of Peter Parker. Yet, they reused his heroic theme. In a sequel series. The mind boggles.Compare the first few minutes of Spider-Man Unlimited to the pre-credit sequence of Batman Beyond and, like me, you'll be surprised by its emotional power: Whether you've watched the previous shows that are in the continuity is irrelevant; the show's creator's were focused on good storytelling, period. It doesn't hurt that the animation style and voice acting remained consistent, but the writing/animation came first. I remember vividly my anticipation for this show. It seemed like a naked cash grab to get kids to buy new Batman toys (a teenage Batman!), and somehow it worked better than anyone would have expected. As a quick aside, it's funny to note that in both of these shows, besides the post-apocalyptic future setting both kind of share, each hero's suit includes a cloaking device. Whereas Spider-Man Unlimited used lavender waves to show you that he's invisible, the DCAU just made Batman clear with some shadows. It's the little details that make all the difference.To be clear, this is really not a "DC vs. Marvel" rant, though I am a bit skeptical about all of the movies Marvel is making and trying to tie them together. It just seems like it will be so easy to make a giant mess, especially considering there all being written, directed, and produced by different people. I hope for the sake of those character's fans that I'm wrong.[...]

Let 'em fight.


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Thanks to the greatest reality tv show ever and Power 99, I will never forget this song. The summer after I graduated from high school, this was all they played.

Gordon Smith.



And yet, his acting is still better in Belly. Given that he was in Hawaii to shoot this scene, is it safe to assume he also ended up on the MBDTF cutting room floor, and we'll hear that tune in the coming weeks?

Trying my best to find my way


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As someone who hasn't truly liked an album by Kanye in about five years, I must say this new one is quite a force. When I was listening to it yesterday, I got to "All of the Lights" and I realized that this album reminds me a lot of Marvin Gaye's Hear, My Dear. I think the reason I couldn't get into Graduation or 808s was I didn't feel a sense of urgency from Kanye; he didn't give off the feeling that his moment was fleeting. Instead, it was always meant to be, and he was basking in it. But with MBDTF, from the lyrics to the production, it feels clear to me that his mother's death impacted a whole lot more than any breakup or MTV incident. One of the things that appealed to me about Kanye the summer he released his first single was that he had so many directions his thoughts could take him, and as he got more famous/isolated, his perspective didn't really match my own. So to hear him, however briefly, mention his bags getting searched on "Gorgeous" or talk about how he relates to what is happening in the world, I remember why I was such an ardent fan in the first place. He's not just angrily venting about his ex, he's trying to work through his own problems, which is much more relatable. To get back to to the Hear, My Dear comparison, the song above is easily my favorite from that album, and comes halfway through a 70-minute kiss-off to Anna Gordy. The trauma of losing a significant other or loved one can force you to reassess your values and trajectory in life, and it's pretty obvious Gaye is concerned with all that as his marriage is crumbling. I haven't watched or listened to any of the interviews Kanye has given, since Matt Lauer is hard to deal with, but does anyone know if he's been asked about his mother's passing and how that influenced his goals with his album? I'd be curious to know if he brought it up on his own, too. Anyway, the way this new album plays reminds me of my own thoughts when I lost my grandmother and my roommate lost a close friend. In sum, it's good to hear Kanye thinking broadly again. Also, Bink!

As good as this thing is, I still don't think Kid CuDi needs to be on here at all. And does Alicia Keys only moan and yell now? Plus, the posse cut combination of "Monster" and "So Appalled" feel rather random in terms of flow, but I like both.



It should be clear by now that I am a pretty big basketball fan. I don't have a TV, nor do I follow the league at all times, but I care a great deal about the players and certain teams/styles of play/uniforms. Basically, I am a sucker for the details. If I learned anything over this past summer, it's that when you feel like mainstream outlets for sports news are failing you in terms of depth or breadth of coverage, go looking for what you want. If I might recommend one source to a few of you, it would be Voice on the Floor. It's a series of podcasts from a bunch of different basketball writers, of various length and tone. I would encourage you all to listen to the first episode, looking at how the Gilbert Arenas episode effected the Wizards. I'm of the opinion that great, long-form reporting on sports and science are lacking in terms of the quantity of resources, so anything like this I can get my hands on, I will cherish. Enjoy.

Also, has anyone listened to the 11-minute Kanye song yet? I haven't heard it, is it worth checking out?

At first glance, I see the merit in this article, but it is also so incredibly frustrating. I need to think more clearly about why it bothers me. Though a quote like this:

FK: When you were reading all these lyrics, did you ever imagine what they would sound like spoken?

SA: It's funny: I mostly imagined them in my internal "textual" voice — the voice I tend to use for all reading. Which is probably a ghost version of my own.

FK: So all the same tempo I'm guessing.

SA: Yeah, basically the same. And then I'd read some of my favorite passages aloud to my wife, and she would laugh at me because it sounded ridiculous.

makes it easy to see why I'm irritated. My emphasis, by the way.

An announcement.



I suppose it's been a while, for which I apologize. I was busy moving across the country and trying to get my act together for graduate school. I suppose the break was good to acquire new music and just marinate over my opinions, but I feel guilty neglecting the site. I'll resume opinions soon, and I may try podcasting provided i make the time to do so. I also started a tumblr about a week ago. I imagine that the podcasts will go both there and here. Some of you may know that I did a radio show in college, and I kind of miss that structured playtime. So why not relive that experience thanks to modern technology? I'll try and get my act together, for all our benefits. Since I don't have much of a social life, I took all of five minutes to come up with a name and "artwork" for this radio show, as you can see. I'm trying to convince my roommate to join me on the show, so look out for that. But it will happen, and there will be music.

blow the whistle.


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We had this conversation last year. Mike Brown, above all, is the problem. He has no actual gameplans, which isn't useful if Bron Bron gets in foul trouble, gets hurt, or has an off night. Having said that, if I were Mr. James, I'd leave Cleveland... who really wants to live there for the rest of your 20s?

and for good measure:


Switch my girls around like 3L-dub


from this:

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to this:

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I've been listening to Grit & Grind all week, so I can't really focus. I honestly need an E 40 Fonzariggadale dictionary.

Mind Control


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We need more of Monch rapping, stat.

Swallow my own nut rap


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These guys did a song together? For that, I am grateful.

Radioactive Spider-man


As I've mentioned before, I've never been one to read or collect comic books. But, as a kid, I watched loads of cartoons based on comics. A couple months ago, I found out about The Spectacular Spider-Man tv show. I know I'm late on this, but I rarely watch tv as it stands, let alone get up for Saturday morning cartoons. Anyway, I'd read comparisons to the great Batman show from elementary school, and figured I would check it out. It is quite good, though I wish each episode were a bit more patient in its storytelling. One thing that shows like Justice League Unlimited, Spectacular Spider-Man, etc. have as an advantage over comic movies is that I always believe that when Vulture is flying around, it's the original character and not a computer generated stand-in. Animation lowers the amount I have to suspend my disbelief, so I can follow the story and not worry about production costs (though I remember that being an issue for the Iron and Hulk shows as a kid, because they were awful). There's also the whole "13 episodes a season" and "hope for 65 episodes total to get to syndication," which if played right, can make for some epic storytelling if planned well. Anyway, after finishing the new animatedweb-slinger show, I just revisited an episode of the old one. Any preferences?

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I think I'm next onto the old X-Men show. I'm a couple episodes in, and as I remember, the story itself is quite mature and very patiently told. The animation however? Yikes. Does anyone recall if it gets better? As a kid, I stopped watching around the Phoenix Saga since it required seeing every episode in order, which is hard to do when by 11 a.m. you're out of the house. I also think I lost patience that it wasn't just focused on one character, which I can now appreciate. We'll see how it goes.



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For reasons I don't have time to get into right now, I find pieces like this fascinating for a number of reasons. To begin with, Steve Harvey, thrice married, is giving relationship advice to women. As soon as I finish up traveling tomorrow, I'll try to expand some on how I feel about this issue, because it seems like it has been coming up more and more recently.



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Big Boi Ft. Gucci Mane - Shine Blockas (Official Video) from SNORT THIS TV on Vimeo.

Can someone explain to me why 1/2 of one of the most popular/successful rap groups of all time can't get a damn marketing budget? Those crackers clearly ain't playin' fair Jive.

Catcher Freeman was a sexy man


Find more videos like this on The Movie Community

I've been re-watching the second season online all week. This episode reminds of when my dad told me my own family history, or at least his side. And then in high school, I learned my mom's family was owned by Martha Washington's, and my mind was blown. In addition:

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Poor life decisions, no. 77



No words.

Loud sounds when the wind blow


I've always loved this song, and I may have played it on one of our old podcasts. I'll have to check. Anyway, I finally got the full album a couple days ago, I'll share my thoughts soon.

We can't even kick it


A couple weeks ago, Noz reminded just how much I used to love the singles by Faith Evans. To my mind, one of the great crimes committed against during her career is Diddy putting Loon on the album version of "Burnin' Up," leaving kids like me to watch the video to listen to the superior Missy version and the great (re-?) remix with Free. But this also got me thinking about Faith's first single from this album:"You can't even be my friend." It is such a cold line, exactly the kind of thing you never want to hear. Anyway, this got me thinking on another tangent about what may be one of my favorite songs from the beginning of high school:I had no business liking this song, but everytime I saw the video, I'd love every second of it. One of my main problems with R&B in the 90s was that I felt like the guys were either hypermasculine, trying to show they were just as tough as rappers, or soft as doctor's cotton. In hindsight, this was a perfect mix of what rap was concerned with 9 years ago with R&B. I'm pretty sure I never heard this on the radio in Jersey, but it was all over MTV2. Seeing as these guys were from Baltimore, could any current/former B-More residents tell me how well received Ruff Endz were? Or did they end up like B-Rich?When I moved down to Chapel Hill, the moving company lost (or stole...) a box of mine that had all my coats and jackets. So recently, I have found myself in a shopping mood, looking to upgrade my little whatever whatevers. Those of you who've followed this site for a little while know that I like my sneakers. So last week, I ordered myself a new pair of Claes:Just how I like them, simple and clean. It's rather odd to live in a college town that, even compared to where I went to school, is sort of in a vacuum in terms of places to go shopping and such without the use of a car. But I'm a lazy person.I swear I've been trying to find new music, I just got caught listening to Here, My Dear for about a month and got pretty disconnected from the rest of the world. The past two weeks have just been me, hunched over, vibing to Dro's first album and Playa, the group Static Major was in while also helping Tim and Missy craft the beginnings of their musical legacy. At some point soon, I'll share my thoughts on at least one of them.[...]

I breeze through Africa just to see the safari


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A couple things struck me while watching this video earlier this afternoon:

-It's not hard to snoop around a site like NahRight and see all these posts of Nicki Minaj. I mostly avoided them because I figured those guys were posting her songs just so they had an excuse to put a picture of her on the site. After seeing her in comparison to the miniscule OJ, all I have to say is she's a big bitch, man. Maybe by saying that, I'm no longer a black heterosexual guy, but I like having the option of hugging someone. Let's just skip her rapping for now, it made my head hurt. Take a lesson from Diddy, and pretend to take ownership of the verse.

-I'm not familiar with OJ's catalogue (or Gucci's for that matter), so I have no opinion on his verse. But, golly, is he tiny.

-Waka Flocka Flames is up there with Shorty Shit Stain as one of the best rap names ever. Partly for reminding me of Fozzie Bear. And his "you're washed up like Shaq" line reminded me of something: why don't rappers make references to sports players anymore? I'm not talking about Kobe or LeBron or Jordan, I mean people like Rod Strickland, Bernard King or Zab Judah? Are rappers now such big nerds that they can only follow the blogs and don't even have a passing interest in any sport? Or maybe the best participants in sports that rappers tend to follow lack personality. Seriously, how long can we go without someone making fun of JaMarcus Russell, or someone saying they've been overlooked like LT. I could be way off base here, and I would truly appreciate anyone pointing me to a good sports punchline/reference/whatever.

Baby Girl.


My blogging hiatus of late has very little to do with my being in a new place or finding music right now boring. I have been out of touch recently, but that had more to do with my previous situation working in a more traditional office environment. It killed my listening habits, as did working Tuesday to Saturday. Now that I am a member of the 9-5 work crowd (kind of... for now), I can spend a lot more time with music. So here's something I've been thinking about writing for a while, I just couldn't work up the motivation to sit down and flesh it out: If you'll recall a little while back, I wrote something about how a Jay/Timbaland album back in '98 or '99 would have been terrific. Now, it is true that Tim brings (brought? I can't get with "Off That" or "Reminder") out the best in Jay, but the reverse, I'm sad to say, just isn't true. For all their highlights, Jay and Tim have only really recorded a handful of tracks together. So where to go for the bulk of Tim's genius? It's tempting to say Missy, just because they as a duo were so successful for so long. But, I've come to conclusion that after Da Real World, Tim started to rein himself in more and more to fit Missy's "I love the old school" vision. I guess the production is still quite good, but it stands out less. Bubba Sparxxx? I love Deliverance, don't get me wrong, but I don't feel comfortable bestowing that honor upon Bubba K. So Petey Pablo and Miss Jade are shit out of luck.That leaves me with two viable choices: Ginuwine and Aaliyah. There's more to choose from with Ginuwine, since Tim handled most of the production of his first two albums. Yet, I get the feeling many of you don't really appreciate something like "Final Warning" or "None of Ur Friends Business." Thus, we are left with "Baby Girl," Aaliyah.First, let's get one thing out of the way: "Are You That Somebody?" is flipping fantastic in every respect. But, when I was a kid occasionally checking out MTV since I couldn't handle the poor production value of BET, I was drawn to her single "One In a Million." You'll have to excuse me if I wasn't checking for her back when she was singing with the Remix Killer on "Summer Bunnies", I was only seven. But I distinctly remember one summer afternoon watching television and seeing this shy, beautiful girl talking about her upcoming album and video. So I stuck with MTV and watched her video for "One In a Million." From that point on, I was hooked.I remember back when LL Cool J made "Headsprung" he mentioned that Timbo was a true producer; working with the artist to make the best music possible. That is so true of his work with Aaliyah. Let's be honest: her singing range is rather limited and it's not as though she's writing her songs. In many ways, then, it was left to Tim and Missy to bring her personality out, or at least something people would find believable. Clearly, they knocked it out of the park. Whenever I listen to Aaliyah/Timbo songs, I always feel like there is some sense of mystery around her. Many of her songs are about her apprehension about entering a relationship, her constantly thinking through what she is doing. Yet, I never get the feeling I know her any better at the end of a song. An obvious contrast is Beyonce, who totally puts herself out to be seen. Maybe it's my own personal taste in women that biases me, but I find the former more appealing (not to mention "Halo," or "Daddy" or some other crap are terrible to me). Anyway, as much as I like the Jay/Tim connection, it's rather sparse compared to the alm[...]

...And I'm being honest


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After a month, I'm finally settled in NC. As for the above songs... it's been that kind of week. I'll slowly work my way to writing stuff again, but I enjoy eating biscuits and, uh, meeting people. Also, why does JD insist on saying "Get Out!"? What does that have to do with anything?



(image) "Nigga, PING! PEWN! PEWN!"

I won't be spending my time or hard drive space listening to this album. I was never a big Jay fan in the first place, but he has his moments. Now, though, it's quite satisfying to watch old fans struggle with what a lame their hero has become. Also, Kanye's pewn pewn/room room/vroom vroom line isn't that bad in principle (think "Get 'Em Girls"), he's just not much of a rapper. The same is true (but less so) for "Stretch work, yoga." All that needs is a Cam ad-lib of "like what?" in the middle, and it's much more tolerable. Sadly, Jay-Z is/was not that kind of rapper.

I may start posting old podcasts of my radio show from last year with my buddy Patrick, as well as any stories that listening to them conjure. If anyone is interested, let me know. In the meantime, I am preparing to move, so I'll give you a hint as to where I am headed with this video.

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Oh my God, I hate Usher!


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"Long-legged half-breed." Wow. Anyway, Watching the video abover reminded me of this moment:

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Hey, praise White Jesus.

Very good, detective.


It's better than this commercial shows, believe me.I am moving in a couple weeks, so my use of the public library system to fetch interesting books here in Boston is coming to a close. In times like this, I start to watch a lot more movies and favorite TV shows. I don't really watch shows that are currently broadcast; for the most part, they bore me. Instead, I stick with my old favorite "Curb Your Enthusiasm." But, about two and a half weeks ago, I saw this post and was inspired to revisit an old favorite of mine as a kid, Batman: The Animated Series. It should be obvious at this stage of my blogging that I am a nerd, and as many of you know, being a nerd starts at a young age. This show, from its design to its storytelling and characters, captured my imagination (as well as my brother's) as a six or seven-year-old. Amazingly, it still does now. I never got into collecting comics, it was so tedious a habit and I always felt that I had to start at the very beginning to catch up and gain some perspective on what was going on in the issue I was reading. Luckily, this show created a world of its own, still rooted in the original comic's mythology, that I could follow along with every Saturday morning. For whatever reason, even though I watched much too much television as a child and there were all sorts of hero shows on the air, Batman has been the only character whose stories I find interesting. Of course, a lot of that has to do with the writing (the shows with Marvel characters were atrocious, as I recall), but I also think treating Batman as a detective made for a more interesting character than a Whiz! Bang! approach. Watching these old cartoons, I can't help but think of Christopher Nolan's recent take on the Caped Crusader. For all the legitimate problems those movies have, at the end of the day, they captured how I envisioned a live-action Batman, in part because the movies are somewhat similar to B:TAS in their treatment of his relationships with Gordon and Alfred, as well as using his detective skills. I doubt many people cared about the scene where Bruce and Alfred reconstructed a bullet using forensic testing, but that scene, more than the costume or his fighting style or anything else, captured what I like about the character. End of nerd rant, I just needed to get that out there.For reference, you should watch this with the volume off ("Who Are You" plays in the background):[...]