Monday, 25 February 2013

The Oscars

In preparation for the Oscars 2013, I did a little video with all my picks on who's probably going to win in each of the 24 categories. Then I challenged all my viewers to contradict me and put up a bet. If I win, they had to do one of these three punishments:

1. Draw a picture of Greenbear! 
2. Write and perform a poem about Greenbear! 
3. Write and perform a song about Greenbear!

The competitors could also offer a reward for themselves (punishment for me) in case they win... which I thought was very unlikely. I got a lot of great suggestions and ideas and accepted almost all of them as suitable stakes for the bet. Most people bet on one category only, for example on Best Picture or any of the other 'big categories'.

Now with the ceremony over, it turns out that exactly half of my predictions were accurate, which gave a lot of opportunities to my viewers. Let's have a look!
Here are all my predictions and the actual outcome:

Best Picture: "Zero Dark Thirty" (Argo)
Best Supporting Actor: Tommy Lee Jones, "Lincoln" (Christoph Waltz)
Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, "Les Misérables"
Best Director: Steven Spielberg, "Lincoln" (Ang Lee)
Best Actor: Daniel Day Lewis, "Lincoln"
Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook"
Best Original Screenplay: "Django Unchained"
Best Adapted Screenplay: "Silver Linings Playbook" (Argo)
Best Animated Feature: "Paranorman" (Brave)
Best Foreign Feature: "Amour"
Best Visual Effects: "Life of Pi"
Best Cinematography: "Life of Pi"
Best Costume Design: "Les Misérables" (Anna Karenina)
Best Documentary Feature: "Searching for Sugar Man"
Best Documentary Short: "Open Heart" (Inocente)
Best Film Editing: "Argo"
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (Les Misérables)
Best Music (Original Score): "Skyfall" (Life of Pie)
Best Music (Original Song): "Skyfall" from "Skyfall"
Best Production Design: "Anna Karenina" (Lincoln)
Best Short Film, Animated: "Head over Heels" (Paperman)
Best Short Film, Live Action: "Death of a Shadow" (Curfew)
Best Sound Editing: "Zero Dark Thirty"
Best Sound Mixing: "Les Misérables"

Now let's take a look at the users who challenged me and how they fared. Since a draw means both sides lose, both competitors have to do their punishment in case of a tie.

  • AlmostDomi - Best Picture: Argo, my punishment: subscribing to her channel
  • CnAFilmsandAnimation - Best Animated Feature: Brave, my punishment: subscribing to their channel
  • DevilMay Pie - Best Picture: Argo, Best Supporting Actor: Robert Deniro, Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, Best Director: Ang Lee, Best Actor: Daniel Day Lewis, Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, Best Original Screenplay: Amour, Best Adapted Screenplay: Argo, Best Animated Feature: Paranorman, Best Foreign Feature: Amour, Best Visual Effects: Life of Pi, Best Cinematography: Life of Pi, Best Costume Design: Anna Kerinina, Best Documentary Feature: Searching for Sugar Man, Best Documentary Short: Open Heart, Best Film Editing: Argo, Best Makeup and Hairstyling: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Best Music (Original Score): Life of Pi, Best Music (Original Song): "Skyfall" from "Skyfall", Best Production Design: Les Misérables, Best Short Film, Animated: Paperman, Best Short Film, Live Action: Curfew, Best Sound Editing: Zero Dark Thirty, Best Sound Mixing: Les Misérables, my punishment: thanking him in an Oscar acceptance speech
  • eevylcheekin - Best Picture: Argo, my punishment: subscribing to their channel
  • FilmAngel11 - Best Picture: Argo, my punishment: drawing her profile picture
  • shutinproductions - Best Picture: Argo, my punishment: subscribing to his channel and singing the Canadian anthem
  • TheRandomPasta1 - Best Picture: Argo, Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Best Animated Feature: Wreck-it Ralph, my punishment: pretending I won an Oscar and thanking everyone who wrote a comment beneath my Oscars predictions video
  • TiniestPrincess - Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Best Animated Feature: Brave, Best Music (Original Song): Les Misérables, Best Production Design: The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey, my punishment: doing a Let's Play of 'The Company of Myself'

  • GazzaPlays - Best Picture: Life of Pie, my punishment: choosing one of the three options I offered myself and doing it for his channel
  • Numring - Best Picture: Lincoln, my punishment: doing a little puppet show with an interesting plot and at least one bear as an actor
  • Nuttylamb - Best Animated Feature: Wreck-it Ralph, my punishment: doing a How-To video on baking cookies 

  • TheMisterJackles - Best Actress: Jessica Chastain, my punishment: letting him interview me and thuthfully answering 10 uncomfortably awkward questions 

I would like to thank all the participants in this little challenge. It was great fun for me and I'm looking forward to the pictures/poems/songs of and about me as well as all the weird little videos I have to do now myself.

Friday, 8 February 2013

The Witcher Is a B*tcher

With the third installment of the Witcher video game series being announced in the most teasing of all teasing trailers ever, Steam decided to put up the first two games for sale. I have bought and successfully played through the first Witcher game after seeing a highly entertaining Let's Play of it done by Veriax, but restrained from getting the second one straightaway after its release, mostly due to the high price but also because I was afraid my PC couldn't handle it.
However, 10 € for a two-year-old video game is not too shabby, so I bought the second adventure of Geralt in hopes of a dark and believable setting, mature characters and decisions that will influence the storyline. All these features made 'The Witcher' to one of the few RPGs other than the Gothic series that I truly enjoyed and had high hopes for the second one.

I'm not very far into the second game now but can already tell you that it is one of the toughest games I have ever played. Sure, it is fun and all, but despite the fact that I already played through its predecessor, I decided to go through the (very badly designed) tutorial with the result of me getting my buttocks kicked and the game advising me to go for 'difficulty level: easy' with a condescending digital smile. 'Easy' of course means 'noob', so I went for 'normal', which turned out to be a bad decision.
The game heavily relies on preparations for a fight, inexplicably forbidding players to drink potions while they are in a combat area. That means even if you manage to run away from the mob that almost killed you, you cannot save your sorry skin, because the game thinks it's not safe to drink a potion before you killed everyone around. Now potions can only be drunk while meditating. So please take the time to find a secure area, sit down in the mud, meditate for a bit, empty a bottle of your choice and then get back up again. Is there an easier solution to quenching your thirst? I don't think so.
But it's not just that. They overhauled the entire combat system as well as any interface in the game, Geralt's looks and every single voice actor I encountered so far. Geralt is invincible during the tutorial, but died at least TWO DOZEN TIMES in the prologue alone before I figured out that bunny-hopping is indeed a proper solution here. Now, that's all fine and well. I prefer challenging games over dumbed-down ones and like to feel rewarded when I finally get the hang of it... but 'The Witcher 2' doesn't reward you. Once you think you figured out how fights work, it throws you into a completely different scenario. For example a dragon attack right at the beginning of the game. Or a fist fight, which requires you to ignore anything you learned about the combat so far and press some random buttons as soon as they pop up on the screen. The term for this is 'Quick Time Event' and right after ladders, bugs and Adam Sandler, this is one of my personal archenemies. They even implemented it in some of the dialogues, making it impossible to actually read through all the available options before time is running out. 
Speaking of different buttons for different actions would suggest that this game was released for PC first, but it rather feels like a console import. Geralt might be the toughest witcher in the kingdom, but he simply cannot jump. Climbing is only possible in a very few, pre-designed spots with the advice to 'jump' or 'climb down' popping up whenever one gets close. Geralt can magically run on the spot at the edge of any cliff without the risk of falling off, but will never be able to commit suicide this way. Ah, well, he could just swallow some potions and intoxicate himself. But only if he finds a secure spot to sit down and meditate at.

Now, despite all my hatred against the difficulty level of this game, I quite enjoyed it so far and will definitely continue playing it. I just hope that they didn't get rid of the infamous girls cards from the first game...

Monday, 4 February 2013

Young Greenbear's Fooleries III: Sweet Sweden

As a little green cub, my parents travelled a lot with me. They were truly in love with the great country of Sweden and while I admit that the Swedes can count themselves lucky when it comes to landscapes, pizza and women, it might be that travelling there up to two times a year -every year- might have somewhat killed my passion for this admirable nation.

About the time when I started understanding the concept of countries, borders and governments, my parents and I were -surprise, surprise!- on vacation in Sweden. Back then, I still enjoyed climbing all over the rocks, pretending I'm a giant who is hunting his LEGO minions. So naturally I was desolate when we broke camp. My mother tried to calm things down by taking me to a local toy store, where she said I could pick one item of my choice and take it with me as a reminder of the fun times I had in Sweden. Little, simple me got really confused about this and memorised it as the fact that the fantastic nation of Sweden granted one toy to any leaving tourist as a token of the superiority of this country. How awesome is that, I ask you! An entire country caring so much for us foreigners they gave us a free toy! Any toy! How about that little car? Or the stuffed animal over there? Or the weird wooden game I don't quite understand yet? Haha!
My joy was turned into tears when I tried to claim my 'tourist toy' at the end of our next visit.

Young Greenbear's Fooleries II: Life Line

Triggered by my last post about my childhood attempt at collecting comics, I was reminded of some of the other rather foolish things I did or believed when I was younger. I thought about putting them all into one video, but it might be wiser to just write them down here for a smaller and possibly more private audience.

Now, before telling you about this first silliness of mine, all you guys and gals need to know that I am a person of mildly obsessive behaviour. Not 'locking the door fifty times' obsessive or 'spitting on the ground and spinning around myself counterclockwise every time someone mentions You-Know-Who's name' obsessive, but still... I like to check once or twice or three or four times before continuing in whatever it is I'm doing. There. I said it. By the way, I checked this text five times now for spelling mistakes, so this better be perfect. Six now. Carry on, Greenbear!
Keep that in mind when going over to judge my younger me and his weird little worldview.

Here we go then. When I was at about the age of five and probably still a proud member of my local kindergarten gang, I somehow talked myself into believing that there was an invisible and untouchable life line going out of every humans back. This life line was very flexible and long and led along all the places one has ever been at all the way back to the actual place where the owner was born. The life line could obviously not be felt or tripped over accidentally or cut by the neighbours lawn mower, so it was a very harmless theory... if it wasn't for my major concern that if a person twists around itself without twisting back the exact same number of twists it has done before, said person would strangle themselves with the bloody life line. Needless to say, the whole matter resulted in me trying to memorise the number of turns and twists I had done every day and then all of a sudden starting to spin around myself in the weirdest locations, trying to save my sorry green skin from a very mysterious death.
I eventually gave up on that theory when my friends kept surviving the merry-go-rounds.