Reviewman Face Off 1 – Playstation 4 vs Xbox One

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On 27 August 1896, the British Empire took on the Zanzibar Sultanate in what would go down in history as the shortest war of all time – 40 minutes.  The Brit army had one wounded soldier, while the poor old Zanzis lost three boats, a shore battery and ended up with around 500 killed or wounded soldiers.

In 2013, Sony were similarly merciless and nearly as swift in their 107 minute E3 press conference, brushing aside Microsoft’s limp attempt at a conference earlier in the expo.  Yep, it appears that Playstation 4 has won the Cold War before any live ammunition has even been loaded for the real war when consoles starts launching come November.  So let’s take a look at how they did it based on what we know.

Design

Back in the early 90s I used to love popping a video packed with Transformers re-runs or episodes of Pingu into the VCR.  The Xbox One looks suspiciously similar to that very same VCR, with a few helpings of gloss to try and change it into something that doesn’t look out of place in 2013 and 14.  But as they say, you can’t polish pooh, even by literally applying polish, and this design is a little bit shit.

The Playstation 4 is a bit better.  It’s a got a parallelogram vibe to it.  It looks sharp in more ways than one, simultaneously more aggressive and more cutting-edge than the Xbox One.  In fact, it looks aggressive to the extent that I’m not sure that I’m in love with it…

So it comes down to whether you want a VCR or a super high-tech parallelogram.  For me, nostalgia is nice, but it has no place in the latest console generation.  Playstation 4 takes the chocolates.

Internals

Eight core processors?  Check.  8 gigs of RAM? Check.  500 gig hard drives?  Check.  AMD Radeon graphics?  Check.  Blu Ray drives?  Check.  I’m not sure if the development teams went to the same cafe to discuss plans after work every day, but this is just about a dead heat.  Dig a little deeper though, and you’ll notice that Playstation 4 can commit more RAM to its games (7GB vs 5GB) while boasting faster graphics capabilities (1.84 TFLOPS vs 1.23 TFLOPS).  Playstation 4 wins.

Controllers

I’ve always been a fan of Sony’s controllers, and I’m glad they’ve taken the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach.  That’s not to say things haven’t changed at all.  Along with the same directional and action buttons, two shoulders, two triggers and dual depressible sticks, we have the SHARE button, which I’ll get to later.  Another addition is a capacitive touchpad and a light bar for notifications.

Microsoft have changed precious little, which isn’t a bad thing – I like the heft of the controllers and the chunky, rounded face buttons.  The D-Pad has changed to a four-way design rather than the cumbersome circular abomination of the 360.  The big change is in the triggers, which feature independent rumble motors that can be customised.

I’m giving this one to the Playstation 4.  I don’t know about you, but I’d take a potentially game-changing touchpad over vibrating triggers every day of the week.

It should be noted that the potential of Xbox SmartGlass could eventually offset Sony’s advantage here.  The touchscreen-based application, which you can download now on all good tablets or smartphones, will only get better, but as it stands it’s only useful for displaying things like stats, and is of little use when playing games unless you’re an octopus, squid, or other creature capable of manipulating two devices and watching a TV at the same time.  Oh, and Microsoft still think it’s cool to NOT have rechargeable batteries in controllers.  Sony’s are, once again, rechargeable straight out of the box.

Kinect and Move

Here’s where things get interesting.  Much to the dismay of core gamers like myself, Xbox have stuck with the whole Kinect thing in a big way.  It’s now essential that Kinect be… well, Kinected in order for Xbox One to function.  This opens the door for a whole universe of shit games with titles like: Family Fun Park 7, Kinect Star Wars 2, Wave Your Arms Like a Dickhead 9 and more dance games than you can awkwardly shake your booty at.  And it’s not just the flood of awful titles that scares me.

It’s the sinister powers of Kinect.  It can measure your heartbeat, see in the dark, read facial expressions, and has a microphone that is on whenever the mains are so you can activate the unit using voice and avoid having to undergo the arduous task of walking to the machine, pressing the button, and sitting back down, you lazy bastard.  I can’t see how any of these things will make games more enjoyable.  Will it encourage me to go outdoors if it detects that I’m fatter than I was a month ago?  Bugger off, Nintendo tried that and it didn’t work.  Will it make my game easier if I look sad?  That’s why they let you choose difficulty settings.  On a more sci-fi  level: call me paranoid, but I have this underlying fear that the more machines know, the closer we get to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1wVR6Qab70.

Playstation 4 will support existing Move controllers.  That’s all we know, and I think avoiding reliance on a failed gimmick, especially one which can now monitor you, your family and your home AT ALL TIMES, is a wise Sony move that Microsoft and Nintendo for that matter, can learn from.  This round goes to Sony.

TV

Xbox One can be used as a set top box.  So if you’ve already got one of those or Foxtel or some other form of TV watching device, well I’m sad to say but you’ll be paying for something you don’t really need, along with vibrating triggers.  More compelling is the ability to show off your gaming prowess by recording clips of your e-feats.  To put together a clip, you use the Upload Studio app or integrate with the live streaming Twitch app.

As far as I know, the Playstation 4 can’t be used as a set top box.  Sharing is simply a matter of pressing the SHARE button on your Dual Shock 4.  You can then select a segment of gameplay from within the last 15 minutes of your session, and upload that clip to the social media site of your choice.

Playstation sneaks home with this one, purely because I don’t want a set top box.

Games

The most important factor.

Big guns like Destiny, Batman: Arkham Origins, Assassins Creed IV, Watch Dogs, Metal Gear Solid V, Call Of Duty Ghosts, Battlefield 4 and any sports game with a 2014 on the end will be available on both consoles.  Assassins Creed IV and Watch Dogs will have content exclusive to PS4, while Call Of Duty Ghosts and Battlefield 4 will offer the same for Xbox One.  Scores level so far.

As for exclusives: in Xbox One’s corner we have a Halo game, Forza 5, Project Spark and Kinect Sports Rivals and Ryse: Son Of Rome.  In Playstation 4’s corner, we have Final Fantasy XV, Kingdom Hearts III, The Order 1866 and a plethora of awesome indie games.  You can just about lock away Kingdom Hearts III and Halo as A-Grade titles.  Final Fantasy XV is likely to be along the same lines, though XIII was a disappointment.  We don’t know enough about the others to make a call.  You know my thoughts on Kinect games already, so you know that I’m writing off Kinect Sports Rivals. As for Forza?  Driving simulators are a taste I am yet to acquire.  If I wanted realistic driving I’d get in my car and drive.  I’d probably drive to IGA, buy a pack of Arnott’s Premier Choc Chip Cookies, and settle down to play something better.  Scores still level.

Sony gets the edge through its commitment to indie games.  This doesn’t just open up the platform to a host of talented, under-recognised developers and potentially incredible gaming experiences.  It shows that Sony knows where core gamers want to go.  Indie gaming has taken off, and based on these early impressions, Sony is tuned into this rich vein of software to a much greater extent than Microsoft.

Online, the big advantage PSN had over Xbox Live, free online gaming, has gone.  Subscriptions are now required for both services.

The much-maligned used game restrictions present on Xbox One will be notably absent from Playstation 4.  Xbox One’s exact policies are still a bit murky.  There’s talk of paid activation codes, developers being the ones to blame, having to log in once a day…  I think it’s safe to say that if you want to be able to play used games without a kerfuffle, Playstation 4 is the way.  Sony wins again.

Online

Playstation 4, sadly, will now require a paid subscription for online gaming, which brings it in line with Xbox Live.  Though PSN will be a little cheaper, the Xbox Live network is more fully featured than PSN.  That’s not to say PSN won’t catch up.  For the moment though, I’m calling this a draw.

Price

Using the discipline of mathematics, let me illustrate perhaps the largest, sharpest, most deeply penetrating nail in the Xbox One’s coffin.  Xbox One: $499 US.  PS4: $399 US.  $499 – $399 = $100.  To summarise, the Playstation 4 is $100 cheaper than the Xbox One.  That is a telling blow.  Say what you want about mark ups in different countries – I can guarantee you there will still be a significant gap whatever country you do your shopping in.

 

A Note On Wii U

By this point some of you might be thinking to yourselves: “hang on, what about Nintendo?”  Yes, technically the Wii U is Nintendo’s entrant in the upcoming console war.  However, it has about as much chance of winning as actual wee, as in urine.  It’s based around a still underused gimmick that can only be used by one person per console.  If it goes the same was the first Wii did, it will reach a point where if a game doesn’t have Zelda, Mario or Smash in the title, it’ll be rubbish.  Gimmicks lead to gimmicky games.

Alternatively, it could go the way of the Gamecube.  Underwhelming sales have have put off developers, as has the divisive new control method.  Wii U may not even have enough games on shelves to even begin to compete.

So I’m calling it.  RIP Wii U, it’s been a mediocre few months.

The Wrap Up

I’m a proud non-discriminatory gamer.  I’m proud to have Xbox 360, Wii, and Playstation 3 sharing my TV at this very moment.  But at this exact same moment, the facts indicate that Playstation 4 is the console to beat.  It’s quite simply better in every possible way, except its online feature set, which is pretty much on par with what Microsoft brings to the table.

Reviewman Request 1 – The West Coast Eagles Home Game Experience

I’ll get this out of the way straight off the bat.  I’m a proud part of the Purple Haze.  In fact, I’m a Dockers member.  But hey, my mate requested that I do this, and the Reviewman does everything in his power to accommodate requests.  In reviewing the Patersons Stadium West Coast Eagles home game experience, I will strive to be as unbiased as I possibly can.

Requester Rat Wallace actually asked that I do a comparison between the home game experiences of the Fremantle Dockers and the West Coast Eagles.  However, given what transpired on Monday 3 June when the Richmond Tigers came to play, it’s impossible for me to find a comparable Dockers game that I remember, as they haven’t been doing a huge amount of losing this season, and certainly not by 41 points on their own turf.  So, just a straight up review it is.

It was a full house at Patersons, and a cold Monday evening indeed.  Mandrew Gorsmelly was the man who kindly gave me the ticket, seated in Block 127, Row A.  In other words, probably the best damn seats in the house.  Right on the wing at ground level, the view was amazing, and there was no risk of obstruction from fired up fans when goals were scored.  And boy were they fired up early!  For most of the first quarter, the football discussion around us was pretty educated, and accompanied by funny banter, larrikinism and encouragement.  However, once the Tigers got on a roll in the second quarter, the mood changed fast.

I can honestly say that I’ve never heard a crowd so hateful towards their own players.  The blue & gold army was absolutely shocking towards the team, showing absolutely no encouragement (except one woman, who yelled “go Eagles!” and some incomprehensible nonsense every 25 seconds for the duration of the match).  Instead there were Bronx cheers at successful plays, and verbally decimation in the event of even the smallest errors.  The umpires would’ve had a nice relaxing evening on the job – they stayed relatively untouched in comparison!  And the Richmond Tigers would have been stoked, they did the job on the field and both sets of fans helped them out behind the white line.  It was especially strange considering the AFL had launched their “Anti Player Abuse” campaign the exact same week… can’t exactly say it worked here in the west.  It was all pretty damn entertaining though and a nice change from the near-relentless success the Dockers have experienced this season.

It would’ve been even better in comfort.  The gentleman in the seat to my left was obese, so when he moved I moved, and not by choice.  Due to the fact that his body was much too wide for his allocated seat space, I had to lean forward when he leaned back, and vice versa.  It was like an Air Asia flight to Bali, without the promise of a tropical Aussie-bogan polluted paradise at the end.  But hey, it’s the footy, he was 65+ years of age and probably can’t exercise anymore, and he was a decent bloke, so no harm done.

What is harmful and possibly in violation of some human rights laws is the price of food and refreshments.  I bought a chocolate bar for $4.50.  This wasn’t one of those one-kilo bars either, or some sort of fine-dining 11th course in a degustation.  This was a garden variety Cadbury Boost Bar.  If you take anything away from this review, it’s that you should remember to eat before or after matches, never during, unless you’ve smuggled your food in beneath a large jacket or novelty hat.

Speaking of novelties, the game was full of them!  The crowd was encouraged to chant “SGIO… go Eagles go” at every break.  My only thought during these weird moments was that you could probably cut the “SGIO” bit out, focus on the team, and cut the margin back to a more respectable three or four goals.  It’s shameless product placement, and just because the sponsor name rhymes with “go” doesn’t mean you have to promote them to the same extent as the team.

At half time, old mate Karl Langdon had a yarn with up and coming ruckman Callum Sinclair, who, when asked what he thought the result would be, said he thought the boys would be able blow them away in the second half.  I’m not sure if he’s a Richmond supporter, but if he is, the man’s a goddamn genius and should be commended on his football brain.  I did like the idea of interviewing players over the PA at half time though.  It’s good to be rewarded for coming to the footy with insights from players, something normally reserved for those watching on the telly.

Then there was a milk carton stacking competition.  It’s always nice to have a milk carton stacking competition, but I didn’t really see the relevance of it.

It definitely wasn’t as relevant as the game itself, which was competitive early, if a little scrappy, with both teams making basic skill errors and going into quarter time a goal apart to the home side’s favour.  Then the Tigers decided to kick 14 more goals, while the Eagles settled for a paltry five, which, if you do the math, simply wasn’t enough in the end.  They were chased down with the ball, failed to hit long and short targets, were inaccurate in front of goal and non-competitive around stoppages, despite the mountain of hitouts accumulated by Naitanui and Cox.  It was all fine by me, but it wasn’t good footy for the punters.

Overall, it was a weird, slightly uncomfortable but overall entertaining night at the football.  Sure, it was cut short at three-quarter time when Mandrew decided he’d beat the queues at the waffle house, but it was a good time nonetheless.  I’ll make sure I don’t arrive hungry next time though

Overall I’d give it 9 out of 10, the two ladder positions the Eagles will most likely occupy come finals time.  Carn the Dockers.

Review 7: MasterChef Season 5 – Episode 1

I used to love MasterChef.  I loved sitting down in front of the idiot box at 7:30pm on a nightly basis, watching people trying to put together restaurant quality meals for three portly men.  I loved the joy on their faces when they succeeded, almost as much as I loved the tears when they failed miserably. It was comforting TV.

But it quickly became boring TV, routine TV, repetitive TV.  Subsequent seasons stuck to the same formula.  You could almost rattle off contestant monologues before they happened (“I really don’t think I can get this done in time!”).  You could call the episodes before they happened: (“I bet they travel in this one!”).  The judges said the same shit every time, and you could predict the infuriatingly timed ad breaks to the nanosecond. Even spin offs like Celebrity, Junior, and The Professionals did little to mix things up , with dropping viewer numbers a clear indicator that my feelings were shared by viewers across the nation.

So Season 5 has arrived, with its battle of the sexes angle.  The advertising campaign was tiresome, but maybe it was actually a disguise.  Maybe Ten were deliberately setting the bar low so I could be blown away by awesomeness.

First impressions weren’t good, but they weren’t crap either.  It was all just a bit… expected.  22 contestants, 11 male, 11 female, split into teams based on gender and given the task of putting together a three-course menu for 14 on a tight budget.  This was MasterChef by the numbers.

After being put to the kitchen knife in the ratings by 7’s My Kitchen Rules, I thought Ten would open with a gun celebrity chef presenting a borderline impossible challenge.  Put together a dish that’s raw.  Make an Asian dish without any kitchen utensils.  Turn this chicken into a foam.  I don’t know, something different, something outrageous, something that’ll turn heads and cause people eagerly anticipating another “just waiting for a mate” moment on Highway Patrol to change channels.

A challenge that limits contestants by budget hasn’t just been done before in every season.  It discourages exotic ingredients and dishes with multiple complex elements, instead forcing contestants to come up with things that are a bit mundane.  Chicken pie?  Lemon tart?  Sure, executed well the simple things are beautiful for the tastebuds.  But this is television; I can’t taste, smell or feel, so I have to find interest elsewhere.  The basics can’t really excite on the small screen, at least not to the extent something revolutionary could.  The challenge is a missed opportunity for a season opener, that’s for sure.

While I understand that getting the contestants’ thoughts on the on-screen action is essential, it’d be nice if they were more insightful.  For the most part contestants are describing word for word, almost frame by frame, what’s taking place, much like an Arnold Schwarzenegger DVD commentary (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjvSGSPAcPs).  “Look at what is happening.  And just in case you, the idiot viewer, can’t understand what is happening, let me describe it to you at length”.  You could easily edit out this filler and halve the show runtime.

Emphasising the superfluous nature of the above is the lack of focus on the actual food; the finished dishes.  Now correct me if I’m wrong, but the contestants’ survival on the show depends entirely on the end product they give to the judges.  So why, when it comes to tasting time, are we shown a handful of shots of the food and some token comments before it’s all over?  This is where time should be spent.  Instead of showing someone whisking sour cream, then showing someone talking about how they were whisking sour cream, commit those five minutes to letting the viewer know how the bloody thing presents, feels and tastes.

Giving more time to finished dishes would also lead to greater input from judges Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston, a trio who I’ve actually come to appreciate more as seasons have passed, but away from MasterChef.  I’ve seen them in interviews, Can of Worms, columns in magazines and the like.  These are three unique, respectable individuals who are definitely experts in the field of food.  They can crack a pretty good gag too; they’re funny guys.  If you give them more time on-screen they’re inevitably going to show this personality, rather than rattle off the same lines they always have.  They’re serviceable though, and nothing they say seems forced; these are obviously blokes who can genuinely tell a brûlée from a brisket, are happy to give credit where it’s due and don’t hold back if something tastes like old bath water.  My sources tell me Calombaris has dropped 20 kilos too, so there’s that.  Speaking of judges, if this is a battle of the sexes season, why do I only see male judges?  Pretty glaring omission if you ask me.

The battle of the sexes angle adds a little bit of friendly banter between the two teams.  It’s actually pretty entertaining, but this is only episode one.  I feel like the boys and girls are going to have to come up with some absolute pearlers if they’re going to keep things fresh over a whole season.

It’s hard to get an early read on how the contestants will be, but the spotlight seemed to be on Jules and Nicky of the girls and boys respectively, who captained their teams in the main challenge.  Jules is a headstrong “take no shit from nobody” kind of gal, which is a breath of fresh air after the crybabies of past seasons.  Nicky is a bit of a weirdo, with a military background, and while he seemed to be quite good at delegating, he was shit at actually doing any cooking, which seems crucial.  But at least he wasn’t a cardboard cutout.

Overall, I think this season of MasterChef has potential.  The battle of the sexes angle could add intrigue and conflict.  Limited glimpses of contestants show promise that there’ll be some real characters among the 22.  The judges are going through the motions but are nonetheless decent, despite the fact that there’s NO FEMALE AUTHORITY IN A BATTLE OF THE SEXES-THEMED SEASON!  There are plenty of ways it could fail and instead become another irritating exercise in repetition.  If the banter’s going to continue, there are going to have to be some absolute ripper calls in there, or it’s all going to get real annoying, real fast.  The challenges need to up the ante too, because episode one’s was simply underwhelming.  And can you show us more food please?  That would help.

I give it a six-course degustation out of ten.

Review 6: Star Trek – Into Darkness

In 2009 JJ Abrams did what I thought was impossible: he made Star Trek cool.

Now some might argue that Star Trek was always cool.  Others would argue that those people who enjoy Star Trek are not cool.  But there were very few people who disliked JJ Abrams’ take on this classic sci-fi icon, whether you were a longtime Trekkie, a Star Wars fan boy, or pretty much anyone else for that matter.  He gave a 21st century coat of paint to a four-decade-old franchise, and made a damn good film while he was at it.  When the inevitable sequel Into Darkness was announced, I wondered whether he could keep his vision in warp flight, or if he would succumb to the gravitational pull of “sequel syndrome” and join the Star Wars prequels in their black hole of mediocrity?

Into Darkness opens with the Enterprise team on an observation mission, tasked with observing the indigenous species of a planet.  Their prime directive, which cannot be violated under any circumstances, is to not be seen.  When a volcano eruption threatens to wipe out the planet, the team decides to detonate a device within the volcano in order to save the species from extinction.  While they succeed, you guessed it, they’re seen, resulting in Captain Kirk’s (Christopher Pine) demotion and Commander Spock’s (Zachary Quinto) reassignment.  But when former Starfleet agent John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) commits a pair of deadly terrorist attacks, the Enterprise team is reformed by Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller, or as I like to call him, Robocop), and given orders to track Harrison to the Klingon homeworld of Kronos, and eliminate him using 72 prototype torpedoes.

Much like film one in this revamped series, Into Darkness isn’t exactly reinventing the energy pattern beam teleportation machine here.  This is straight up adventure sci-fi.  As such, it suffers by resorting to a few plot devices that have been done to death.  “Villain getting kidnapped deliberately” is probably the most blatant.  I won’t spoil anything else for you, and I won’t have to; the film does it by signposting particular plot points much too obviously.  Rather than little cat’s eyes on the road that could lead the audience down a number of roads, they’ve put big bloody flashing neon signs down: “THIS IS WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT!!!”

But it’s still a ripping ride.  It’s like looking at a rollercoaster before you get on, thinking to yourself “wow, that would be an absolute ripsnorter”, then getting on said rollercoaster and realising at the end that yes, it was an absolute ripsnorter.  Special effects are expectedly awesome, with some truly exhilarating action sequences melded in with a few moments of downtime, which for the most part break up the pace pretty effectively.  The soundtrack is an expert blend of new and old.  There’s a couple of fan-pleasing cameos from the Klingons and old mate Leonard Nimoy, who reprises his role as Spock Prime, albeit very briefly.  And the performances are largely excellent. 

Pine nails the womanising, swaggering, reckless yet emotionally volatile Kirk, taking him from the headstrong upstart he was in Star Trek to the flawed, selfless, ball of rage hero he is here.  Quinto clearly relishes his role as the borderline-robotic Spock, but also convinces when his character shows glimpses of humanity.  In fact, for me some of Spock’s moments of tenderness are the most affecting scenes of the film.  Pegg is outstanding as Scotty, showing that he’s more than just comic relief, although he is DEFINITELY comic relief.

There is a distinct lack of female input here.  Uhura (Zoe Saldana) chips in with a few lines about her relationship with Spock.  And Dr. Carol (Alice Eve) is decent, but seems to be more of a device used to further the plot (analyse something here, negotiate there, impart wisdom elsewhere), rather than a fully-fleshed out character unto herself.  And the outrageously gratuitous shot of her toned figure in her undergarments?  Pretty uncreative way to lighten the mood, and it won’t exactly win over many female fans sitting on the star fence.

It’s Mr. Cumberbatch who steals the show.  His delivery is like delicious chocolate for the ears, if the chocolate had extremely sharp shards of glass embedded in it.  His voice is simultaneously menacing and eloquent and he’s got a death stare that would make Medusa turn in fear.  He’s a far more nuanced character than Eric Bana’s incessantly angry Nero from Star Trek.  Cumberbatch’s John Harrison is a supremely pissed-off, hyper intelligent supersoldier harbouring sadness as deep as his hatred for Starfleet, and he’s a breath of fresh air.  Sci-fi filmmakers take note.

On the whole, what we have here is an exquisite sci-fi pie.  It’s presented well and pretty much all the ingredients are quality.  Sure, it’s just an apple pie.  You kind of know where it’s going to go, but you enjoy it nonetheless.  With a little extra time in the oven, maybe another twist to ensure even cooking or some unexpected elements to add a bit of extra spark, this would’ve been a perfect sci-fi pie.  But that just makes me more excited for the third instalment.  And as a Star Wars fan, waiting for Abrams’ continuation in that universe just got all the more unbearable.

Into Darkness is every bit as good as the preceding film, and I give it a four-year mission on the Starship Enterprise to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before… out of five.

Reviewman Countdown 2 – Under-Recognised YouTube Gems

Some people have fame they don’t deserve.  Kim Kardashian comes to mind.  Miley Cyrus practically invented the category.  And Psy is the modern day personification of talentless millionaire.  But then there are other things that go through life WITHOUT gaining the recognition they deserve.  Each video on the following list of YouTube clips has had well under a million views, yet have given me more laughs than some of the all-time classics.  I’m just trying to give credit where it’s due by sharing them with you.

10.       Hayden Crozier Takes What Could Be Mark of the Year

As a proud member of the Purple Haze, there was always going to be for a Fremantle Docker on here.  But this is no cheap plug for my favourite sports team.  Some context: in 2011, many AFL players took marks.  Furthermore, many were outstanding, including those taken by eventual Mark of the Year winner Andrew Krakouer and runner up Andrew Walker.  However, for me none came close to the mark taken by Victorian teenager Hayden Crozier playing for Vic Metro against Western Australia in the under 18 championships.  The outrageous height of the grab is just one aspect of it.  The distance he had to run to get there.  The acceleration to get there in time.  The composure to get straight up and dispose effectively to a teammate, setting up a shot on goal.  The fact that the ball was spinning unpredictably in the air.  Incredible.

9.         Creepy Cricket Fan Brady Bunch Edition

By now most of you will have seen the Creepy Cricket Fan – the strange individual who steps into frame during a shot of the crowd at a cricket match, and stares down the camera.  If you haven’t you’re missing out.  This takes it to a whole new level.  Brady Bunch opening credits knowledge is recommended to get the most out of this.

8.         I’m An Individual – Mark Jacko Jackson

There existed a time when to get a Top 15 single in Australia, all you had to do was be a relatively competent AFL player, yell inexplicable lyrics at a microphone, and do a dance that involves swinging your fists in circles and spinning around with the apparent aim of destroying everything in your path in a rage.  This videoclip is proof that such a time did in fact exist, courtesy of Mark Jackson.  In the chorus, Jackson states “I’m an individual, you can’t fool me”, which is interesting, as I’m unaware of there being any scientifically-established correlation between individuality and the ability to be fooled.  Outrageous.

7.         Stephen Milne Tip Rat Triple M Commentary

This is what AFL broadcasts need more of.  James Brayshaw may appear to be a relatively mild-mannered gentleman.  He’s the president of North Melbourne Football Club – it’s his JOB to be a relatively mild-mannered gentleman.  But put a microphone in front of him, whack him in a commentary box with his mates and turn on the footy, and he mutates into the game’s best caller.  This is a man effectively given the licence to say whatever he pleases on free to air radio, a fact best exemplified by this highlight reel of banter during a game between St Kilda and Adelaide.  On field, this match was highlighted by eight goals from Saints forward Stephen Milne.  Off field though, Brayshaw outshone even that display, with endlessly quotable lines referencing Milne that never get old.  And the “Tip Rat munching on a carcass” sound effects?  Timeless.

6.         The Mighty Boosh/And That’s Why I Can’t Go For That

The Mighty Boosh is renowned for being weird.  And even the Spirit of Jazz: with his flaming top hat, and Old Gregg: a borderline sexually deviant Baileys-loving sea monster, seem as interesting as an empty lunchbox compared to old mate Bob Fossil.  His bizarre mannerisms are summed up in this bite sized clip that doesn’t just feature an awesomely iconic piece of 80s music genius.  It features the single best dance in human history, finished off by a truly astonishing punch line.

5.         Gimme Back My Son Remix

If your child was kidnapped and held to ransom, you wouldn’t laugh about it.  And when I saw Ron Howard’s Mel Gibson-driven film Ransom, I can’t remember laughing too often.  Which is why legendary clip remixer Swede Mason’s mash-up of lines from the film is so good.  It somehow makes serious scenes in a serious movie on a serious topic hilarious and, dare I say it, catchy.  There’s some talent on display here that some DJs would kill for too.

4.         What playing Cricket looks like to Americans

This one could swing either way depending how patient you are (5+ minute length).  But if you like weird stuff, and were brought up on a diet of Monty Python and British absurdity of that ilk, you’ll find this absolutely hilarious.  My sources tell me this is actually a clip from a Dutch variety show, but that’s neither here nor there.  What we have here is a strange combination of cricket, Frisbee, a short distance sprint, chess played on a field with a saloon door and a rugby referee, narrated by commentary that alternates between English and absolute jibberish.  Very curious.

3.         Dillon, You Son of a Bitch

In the future, all people will greet each other in this way.  Simultaneously a celebration of mateship, superhuman strength and the acting talents of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers, it’s a piece of cinematographic genius that we sadly see very rarely these days.  My current favourite Schwarzenegger scene.

2.         Nicolas Cage Teaches the Alphabet

Nicolas Cage must be the most successful crazy people of all time.  If anyone else had tried to act out this scene (was he even acting?) I have no doubt they would have failed.  No one does stark raving mad quite like Mr. Cage, and it all comes together deliciously well in this scene from Vampire’s Kiss.  This version includes helpful visual depictions of all 26 letters of the English alphabet, so in a way this is the only video on this list suitable for kids.

1.         Devil’s Clay by Billy Bunks

I don’t care much for Aussie Hip Hop.  Never have.  Never will.  But I’ve got PLENTY of time for this number from obscure Aussie Hip Hopper Billy Bunks.  This is nothing more and nothing less than the video clip of a song about a man talking about climbing onto a roof, taking a shit, and throwing it at people.  Needless to say, parental guidance is advised, but if you can cop a bit of foul language (there will be C Bombs), your life will be all the better for it.  Where would I be without the line: “Youse did not ask for the fruits of my arse but you copped ‘em”?  Probably somewhere more productive, financially viable and respectable, but I still like that line.

Reviewman Countdown 1 – Best Hangover Feeds

Does Bradley Cooper’s facial expression ring true with you? Then you know how it feels to be truly, appallingly, horrifically hungover. Your second stop, after the toilet, will most likely be the nearest source of nutrients. But next time you’ve had one too many moisties, take the time to consider your choice of food with my handy dandy list.

10. Subway Steak and Cheese Footlong

The self-proclaimed “athlete’s training restaurant” is neither a restaurant, nor would it be used as an official component of any professional athlete’s training regime. But despite this deceit, they can actually pull off a decent sandwich. If you want something satisfying, and the illusion of healthiness which will have some mental payoff after a night of heavy substance abuse, Subway’s your answer. Take my advice – leave that “seven grams of fat or less” crap on the shelf, and load up with the Steak & Cheese Footlong. What salad ingredients you get are irrelevant; the non-negotiables are cheese, steak and Southwest Sauce. Eat fresh indeed.

9. Grand Angus Meal with 10 Nuggets

This truly is McDonalds royalty. No doubt the result of decades of in-depth research and development, the Grand Angus is as elegant a McDonalds burger as you’re likely to find, with a decent heft of beef in the middle, lettuce, red onion, cheese and tomato, along with a signature lashing of “special sauce”. It’s a real flavour sensation, and in my opinion has no peer on the menu. To kill those alcohol aftermath-related food cravings completely, make it a large meal and add 10 nuggets on the side with a sauce of your choosing, and shove a handful of chips into the burger for an impromptu KFC-inspired Tower Burger.

8. Nando’s Tenderloins Meal + 2 Extra Tenderloins

It should go without saying, but what makes Nando’s great is the chicken. I still wonder why I see people in there with their “corn on the cob” or “spicy rice”. When you’re hangers, you go the loins, no ifs, whys or buts about it. It’s a distillation of everything you like about Nando’s: that’s chicken and sauce. Where are the carbs? Let me direct your attention to the imposing lake of chips on your plate. If you’ve ever dined in at Nando’s, you know they pile the chips sky high, and they don’t stop until every little bit of immaculate white china is covered in sauce, chip, chicken or all three. Take my advice and add two extra tenderloins for a total of six – you won’t regret it.

7. Chicken Kebab with Double Meat and The Lot

A staple choice of drunkards across the globe, the humble kebab is still hard to beat when it comes to high-calorie deliciousness; this take on it is just the King of Kebab Kingdom. Packed with salads, twice the meat, cheese, egg, maybe a cheecky bit of tabouli, and sauce, it’s one of the few meals you could struggle to get through in a single sitting regardless of state of mind. Garlic and Satay are my sauces of choice. I recommend Ararats in Crawley or City Kebabs near Amplifier Bar.

6. Elixir BLT

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that do the trick, and the basics are done damn well at Elixir in Chelsea Village Nedlands, whether it’s their coffees, cupcakes or brekkies. However, don’t leave without having consumed a BLT. Generously portioned, it’s seen a few variations over the years, and has at different times featured an astonishing beetroot jam, mustard aioli, egg or avocado. But the essentials are always in there, and it’s never less than excellent. If you can haul your sorry arse out of bed early you’ll avoid a long wait and queues.
5. Peter’s Butcher Pie
Peter’s Butcher is renowned as one of the better butchers in the Western Suburbs of Perth. But the hidden gems here are their pies. With a host of fillings on offer, made using quality chicken, lamb and beef sourced from some of the nation’s best suppliers, each one makes an absolute mockery of anything you’ll find at Jesters. Don’t even talk to me about Mrs Mac’s or Four ‘n’ Twenty either. If it ain’t a Peter’s Butcher Pie, take it back. Don’t forget to request sauce when you order.
4. Guzman Y Gomez Chicken Burrito
The Mexican food fad has caught on like the Black Plague in Perth. Luckily this plague is delicious, and the latest strain is the best yet: Eastern States heavyweights Guzman y Gomez. In my opinion do the best burrito of the major chains. Though you’re not likely to care, they chargrill their chicken to order, which gives it a little extra smokiness that you can’t really get from food that’s been sitting in a bain-marie for hours. The freshness of the salads kicks things along, and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll add that guacamole and hot sauce for a true Mexican experience.
3. Jus Burgers Spanish Snag
For me, this is the best beef burger on Perth’s best burger joint’s menu. Justin Bell takes pride in his fresh, local produce-driven eateries, and it shows in the burger quality. Though it’s probably the least healthy burger on their menu, that’s probably a bonus after a night on the tins, and will only serve to further ease your pain. It’s got Jus’ trademark thick beef patty, cooked to medium perfection, along with a nice helping of quality chorizo for extra meatiness you can really get your teeth into. The roast peppers add a wonderful sweetness for something different to your run of the mill fast food.
2. Sayers Big Breakfast
Sure, you’ll be $22 poorer at the very least. But you’ll get arguably Perth’s best big breakfast in return, with a little bit of everything to fill that empty stomach. Bread, eggs done your way, potato cake, sausage, bacon, mushrooms with pesto and grilled tomato… it’s everything you want, with the option of more too. I like to add extra Italian sausage. Sayers is proof that sometimes, wholesome, quality food is the answer to your deadly headache and regrets…
1. Hungry Jack’s Ultimate Double Whopper
…and sometimes it isn’t. With the dubious honour of being Australia’s most unhealthy fast food item, the Ultimate Double Whopper has been a favourite of mine since its questionable introduction as a permanent menu item many years ago. And while its negative effects on the human body can’t be ignored, neither can the sheer flavour bonanza it somehow packs between two pieces of dodgy bread. Two pieces of beef, two pieces of cheese, a few rashers of bacon and some token vegetables smothered in that trademark blend of mayonnaise and tomato sauce; it’s everything Hungry Jack’s stands for, crammed together for you to subsequently cram into your cramhole.

Review 5 – Daft Punk: Random Access Memories

It was time. Finally time to head off on another sonic adventure of outrageous proportions with my favourite French cyborgs. Of course, I’d been expecting them. Talk of some town called Wee Waa and celebrity collaborations had been much publicised, but I still had no idea what to expect. After all, it’d been so long since our last trip into audio outer space. Would this journey be more like the mediocre at best Human After All? Would it recall the outstanding Discovery? Maybe there’d be hints of the Tron: Legacy soundtrack. Or would it go right back to the gritty roots of Homework?

We set off on our journey with “Give Life Back to Music”. Hitting play instantly teleported me back to the future… or was it forward to the past? It was hard to tell, with a track that’s heavily influenced by the disco hits of the 70s, driven by some Nile Rodgers guitar, but accompanied by those trademark futuristic cyborg vocals. Weird and wonderful stuff, and oh so funky throughout.

And then it’s pared right back. The tempo slows, and we settle down into a melancholy groove with “The Game of Love”. Why are the robots so sad? Not sure, but I still want to dance in this track’s warmth, and its undeniable funkiness.

And then, as the last few notes of the previous track fade away, I find myself listening to a man who sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I’ve never heard a man pronounce “synthesiser” better than here. Over the first two minutes of “Giorgio by Moroder”, this man tells me about how he got started in music. Turns out it’s Italian synth godfather Giorgio, and as he reveals his identity, an electro fusion epic really gets underway. It’s an effortless combo of genres from the past and present that creates something utterly incredible, some kind of science-fiction space jam. In minute five, Giorgio chips in again “once you free your mind about a concept of harmony and of music being correct, you can do whatever you want”. Then as if to prove a point, strings swell up, a drum kit starts driving the track into its last three or so minutes, and it’s an all out musical free for all, with keyboard, drum, bass and even record scratch solos, along with a searing electric guitar riff. When it all comes together for the epic finale in the last minute, your mind will have already been blown. This shouldn’t work, but it’s one of the best songs I’ve heard in years.

By this point I’d come to expect the unexpected from these Parisian weirdos. But the beautiful piano intro of “Within” still managed to surprise. It reverts back to the melancholia of track two, showing us through the lyrics that robots can also have trouble finding their own identity, or something along those lines. To be fair, the lyrics on a Daft Punk album shouldn’t be read into too much, rather they should be considered another instrument. It’s a refreshing change of pace from the relentless third track, and exemplifies Daft Punk’s mastery of pacing. They won’t let you get bored. For a 74 minute album to not to feel overlong, you have to seriously know your shit. And Daft Punk clearly have that je ne sais quoi programmed into their cybernetics.

The opening of “Instant Crush” hints that something is amiss, and it won’t be the last time I feel this way on the album. It sounds a lot like The Strokes… but it’s got this layer of electronica over it that makes it something else entirely. Wait, that IS Julian Casablancas… but he’s been cyborgified. It could be argued that he shouldn’t need auto-tune, but if he wasn’t auto-tuned, it wouldn’t be Daft Punk now would it? It’s a playful track, with a wicked electro rock vibe. One of the catchier songs on here.

More surprises… the relentless bass and kick drum-driven beat of “Lose Yourself to Dance” is seriously awesome stuff. Pharrell Williams lends his abilities in front and behind the mic for this one. It struts into your eardrums, with Nile Rodgers’ guitar leading the way, and stays there for six minutes, starting out as all Pharrell, before Daft Punk layer on the auto-tuned “Come Ons” and “Everybody on the floors” to create a compelling kaleidoscope of addictive sound. I wasn’t surprised when I hit repeat on this one a few times.

“Touch” is a bit like the non-identical twin of “Giorgio by Moroder” – a lengthy (8+ minutes), experimental epic. But where the latter was largely driven by electro sounds, this one is based around psychedelia and the piano-driven hits of yesteryear; think Queen or even Elton John, complete with a sing along-friendly breakdown. Like “Giorgio…” it’s got highs and lows, fasts and slows, and on the whole is a rousing track that succeeds, but by stirring through completely different elements. Genius.

First single “Get Lucky” rings out with that radio-friendly groove, and it’s no wonder why this song may well end up being Daft Punk’s greatest hit to date. It’s the perfect balance of Pharrell Williams-penned NERD-esque pop expertise, the funk of Nile Rodgers’ guitar, and Daft Punk’s future-proof sounds, elevating this track from standard chart-topper to something more. It’s the kind of mainstream that even die-hard chart-topper haters can’t help but love.

“Beyond” starts out with brass and strings fanfare like some kind of Spielberg movie soundtrack. Think of Indiana Jones stumbling across the Lost Ark, or if you like crap films, the Crystal Skull. Then, as has become the norm on this album, it drops out and transforms completely, harking back to the downbeat pace of “Game of Love” and “Within”. It’s got a bit of a James Bond opening credits vibe to it, with stylish lashings of strings and funky guitar.

The percussive weirdness that kicks off “Motherboard” gives way to strings, acoustic guitar and woodwind, finished with a healthy dose of that trademark synth and keys. There are no vocals to speak of, just instruments that speak for themselves. It all generates a beautiful atmosphere, like being underwater but in the cosmos all at once. Very floaty.

Waiter, can you get the Steely Dan out of my Daft Punk? Actually hold up, this somehow works. My dad would enjoy this track; it’s got that chilled classic rock vibe. But again, it’s been healthily seasoned with a dose of futurism, taking it above and beyond genre peers to a level all its own. The appropriately named “Fragments of Time” takes bits from genres past, and space-age sounds of the future, blends them up and gives you an audio smoothie.

“Doin’ it Right” is an uncharacteristically minimalist track. Like The White Stripes, The Black Keys, The XX and James Blake, Daft Punk prove, with a bit of help from Animal Collective’s Panda Bear, that old cliché: less is more. With just vocals, percussion and tastefully restrained keys, they put together one of the catchier songs on the release.

The grand finale, “Contact” is suitably futuristic. It starts out with a cool little faux space station to Houston check-in from an astronaut, describing a satellite. Then as he says “there’s something out there”, you’re taken to the space church. Huge organ/synth chords kick in, which gives way to an electro build up and aggressive drum kit. It’s effectively one big build-up to a noisy ambient finish, and it’s pretty darn exhilarating…

…I suppose you can sum up Daft Punk by their album titles. Homework saw two pretty damn good students of EDM music honing their craft with an accomplished but gritty release. Discovery saw the lads burst onto the scene with a polished disc full of smash hits. Human After All proved that, well, they were human after all: a forgettable re-hash that lacked the freshness of prior releases. The Tron Soundtrack was solid, but couldn’t stand apart from the mediocre piece of cinema that inspired it.

On Random Access Memories, Daft Punk access memories, and by memories I mean bits ‘n’ bobs of genres from generations ago, along with elements borrowed from industry peers and the things they themselves have always done so well. Then they’ve pieced the memories together, creating 13 distinct parts, each with its own wholly unique identity. And it’s all executed pretty much to perfection.

Like the tortoise trying to catch up with the hare, it’s taken its sweet time. But as we all saw in that scenario, perhaps the tortoise will end up taking the lead and winning the race, becoming Daft Punk’s magnum opus. My money’s on the tortoise, because Random Access Memories is downright brilliant, and it gets ten French cyborgs out of ten from this Reviewman.Image