Why Eminem’s “Berzerk” Should Not Be Ignored

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I first heard “Berzerk” by Eminem while walking past my school cafeteria. The song didn’t stick within those 10 seconds, so I unfairly declared the track a dud. Like anything that’s new, it was easy to brush it off and simply say it wasn’t as good as his old stuff. That’s a lazy way to look at things.

When I actually listened to the song multiple times, I could tell it’s not that it isn’t “as good”, it’s just different.

Mathers and producer Rick Rubin (who co-stars in the video) show us a perfect example of how to collaborate when working with endless talent and resources. 80’s classic rock hit “The Stroke” by Billy Squier is sampled beautifully in Berzerk. In “Rap God”, the second single from MMLP2, Shady declares he found a “hella way to fuse” his music with other genres like pop and rock. This proves true in Berzerk, a song that sounds utilizes its high-budget in the right way.

I think the reason I really appreciate the song can be boiled down to one singular thought. It’s fun.

Mathers has released many upbeat songs but they had accompanying lyrics that focused on insults, or pop culture references. Songs like “We Made You” and “Ass Like That” were fun songs, but it’s obvious that Eminem put more emphasis on the idea of both songs. “We Made You” was released just to save face and bring down other entertainers. “Ass Like That” was done for shock value, comedic purposes, and was downright silly. These songs were good at the time but lyrics are now outdated and irrelevant.

Eminem also has a tendency to declare things with his songs. With “Not Afraid” he declared he had exercised his demons and was, in many ways, a changed man. With “Rap God” he attempts to declare that he is the best rapper in the industry, and tries to prove so by rapping at a rate of nearly 6 words per second.

Berzerk’s sole purpose is to get people amped up, let loose and try to defeat nostalgia by keeping things fresh.

Now, for those people clamouring that Eminem should go back to his old ways have to remember… Those were not admirable times for Mathers. Many of his hit songs, especially on “The Eminem Show” came from a really dark place, rooted by crippling memories and massive regrets. It just so happens, that his misfortune, in turn, had positive effects on his listeners. Those beautifully honest and heartbreaking songs helped many people who were going through tough times. In a lot of cases though, it just gave 4 minutes of entertainment to one’s ear drums.

I for one, am happy for Mathers, who has seemingly regained confidence, and is staying young at heart. He is adapting to the times, and has not bought into the idea that an artist should be confined to one style. Times are always changing, and it’s important that big names like Eminem keep things fresh.

He does a tremendous job of exhibiting a more modern style, while at the same time, maintaining his roots. He tries to help resurrect his home city of Detroit by sporting Pistons gear for a fair chunk of the video, as well as including multiple shots of the metropolis. The relevance of the city is quickly diminishing amongst North Americans. Subtlety, Eminem is trying to redirect some of his worldwide attention onto Detroit which is in the middle of a financial crisis.

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Fellow Detroit native Kid Rock helping Detroit stay relevant.

This song, like every other top 40 hit, will lose its lustre as each day goes on. The industry moves at an incredible rate, and songs can be heard on many different outlets, therefore shortening their life span. Thanks to the track’s simple lyrics, colourful video, and variety of sounds; there’s hope for Berzerk in the long run. In five years I can see myself watching the video again and thinking “I forgot how catchy this was!”

It’s Time For NBA Live To Die

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EA Sports, hate to break it to you; but if it’s “in the game”, that game is NBA 2k, not your pathetic attempt at a basketball simulation.

Harsh? Maybe. But have you seen the gameplay footage?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEq99ylek0k

In 2011, EA Sports attempted to drastically improve their franchise by making a switch to analog-driven controls and changing the title to “NBA Elite”. While EA Sports was trying to develop a “game-changer”, 2k Sports was working on the game that would become the fastest selling instalment in their franchise’s history. Oh yeah, they already had analog-driven controls for shooting since 2006. This means they had time to work on a little treat called the “Jordan Challenge”; which offered you the chance to re-live some of MJ’s landmark moments. Such as “The Flu Game”.

Flu Game: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIzrYcgfOH4

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Incredible.

What was NBA Elite offering gamers in their demo?

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If you want to play against Magic Johnson, Karl Malone, and win titles with the Chicago Bulls of the 90’s then 2k was the game for you.

If you wanted to see Andrew Bynum pose as Jesus Christ himself in the middle of the court for an entire quarter… Look no further than NBA Elite 11. Or the demo at least, since the game’s release was outright canceled; and understandably so.

It was clear to everyone, including EA, that 2k had claimed permanent supremacy to the basketball video game genre. It really was the most fitting time for NBA Live to die, and walk away proud of the work they did building basketball simulations throughout the 2000s. It wasn’t as if EA was losing to 2k Sports on all fronts… That same year, NHL 2k released it’s final instalment of the franchise; realizing and accepting that EA’s NHL series was much further along.

It seemed both sides had found their strong suits, and cut out the weak links. Madden struggled, but: Fifa, NHL, and Fight Night were all considered great games. MLB 2k has stayed alive since they are the only baseball game offered for the Xbox, and Top Spin was a respectable tennis sim.

Now, three years later, the next generation of gaming consoles have arrived. The Xbox One and PS4 offer much more detailed graphics and are up to ten times for powerful than their predecessor.

For some godforsaken reason, EA Sports decided this would be a good time to resurrect the NBA Live franchise.

Hey, EA:

- 2k already had 3 championship caliber seasons while you sat on the bench. You are three years behind.

- You were behind even when you were still selling games. Analog controls as a selling point in 2011? Embarrassing.

- And you think it’s a good idea to try to start from scratch, with new consoles you are completely unfamiliar with?

Even if Live does build off this year’s version and create a a great video game in five years; it will still be lightyears behind 2k at that time. Too much ground has been lost, and that ground was crumbling even when they were standing on it.

NBA Live 14 plays similar to NBA 2k6, or maybe even as bad as some of their PS2 releases. Players move unnaturally and movements are very sudden and look “off”. The ball clanks off the rim in weird and unexpected ways… The player models have almost no texture, and look as though they’re made from clay. Not to mention, they all either look emotionless, or mad at the world (maybe for being in the game)… The half-time show is impressive with full ESPN integration and clips of each coached mic’d up during a timeout. But, the show runs too long (up to four minutes), and the highlights put in slow-mo are just laughable. The “realness” of the presentation is thwarted the second you view one highlight.

Meanwhile, NBA 2k14 on next-gen consoles has garnered nothing but top-notch reviews. Prior to release, NBA players were tweeting 2k Sports, asking to see a screenshot of themselves in the game. The graphics are that good.

 

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James Harden in NBA Live 2k14 for the PlayStation 4.

The game also offers a cinematic MyPlayer mode, full of dramatic TV-movie-esque scenes for your character. You can choose how you want to approach each scenario during these interactive scenes. Everything from meetings with the coaches and general manager, to scuffles with opposing players before games. You can even see your player sitting and waiting for his pick during the draft.

 

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At least EA can admit that their game isn’t where they wanted it to be. Producer Sean O’Brien had this to say:

“I’m not going to lie; it’s been a rough week. As you can imagine, this isn’t exactly the NBA Live comeback story we were hoping for this year. We hear loud and clear that some of you are disappointed in various aspects of NBA Live 14, and I’m sorry if the game doesn’t live up to your expectations.”

What comeback story was EA realistically hoping for?

“After taking three years off since releasing the worst basketball sim of all-time, NBA Live is flawless! The end to NBA 2k is right around the corner.”

Yeah, as if.

It’s time for Live to die… Again. Does it count as reincarnation if a terrible video game dies and returns again as a terrible video game?

Either way, I’d believe in reincarnation before I believe that EA Sports is capable of making a half-decent basketball game anymore.

 

Johnny Flippin’ Oduya

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He looks like Lenny Kravitz, but instead of covering one-hit wonders, he’s covering the blue line for the best team in the NHL. Johnny Oduya came to this team at last year’s trade deadline and many were skeptical, like myself. The general consesus was the team needed to get bigger and tougher. But, you can’t hit the other team when the puck is always on your stick.

“Johnny O” decided to wear the number 27 on the back of the best sweater in hockey, making Jeremy Morin irritated and Jeremy Roenick well, who knows, it’s JR. Either way the current #27 on the Blackhawks has made quite the impact.

Chicago has 2 more wins than his number 27 since he joined last year (29).

You’d have to add the team’s losses and overtime losses in that span together and multiply them by three in order to equal 27.

29-2-7. The Chicago Blackhawks regulation record with Oduya.

Johnny Oduya’s one-year anniversary with the team was on the 27th (look at that) of February. Yet, they have as many regulation losses as I have… eyes, since that time.

A shaky playoff series with the Phoenix Coyotes is what worried people when Stan Bowman decided to re-sign Oduya for three more years. They weren’t sure which player was going to show up for the following season. Then, nobody showed up for the following season, at least not in hockey equipment. But, the lockout (hey, remember that?) finally ended and Oduya took very little time to “show up”.

He’s not the only thing showing “up”. His plus/minus rating is +10 and tied for the best on the Blackhawks squad (with three others).

And, oh yeah, he makes saves too:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rue4ElwLnhc

If you’re playing NHL 13, just trade Oduya. This bum doesn’t even have a goal for us this year.

If you’re a fan of real hockey and the streak our team is on, you don’t care that he doesn’t provide much on the scoresheet for the second highest scoring team in the Western Conference.

The Blackhawks have played 22 games and 9 teams in the conference have played less (21 or 20). Yet, they still boast the lowest goals against total with 41. The second closest team being San Jose with 44. They’ve played 20 games.

This impressive number may be influenced largely by the improved play of Niklas Hjalmarsson. The Swedish defenseman hadn’t looked himself since the departure of Brian Campbell. Being paired with Nick Leddy for parts of last year didn’t seem to work out quite well. Now, paired with Oduya for the majority of this season, Hjalmarsson is impressing people again. It’s almost like by acquiring Oduya, we were also acquiring an improved #3 defenseman in Hjalmarsson. There are even nights these two lead the team in ice-time. Go double-check, but Keith and Seabrook are both healthy and playing. This contribution will pay off for himself, the team, the goalies, and the health and fatigue of our star blueliners.

This guy has brought as much spark to the team as his name has cheesy puns to sports writers. Oduya not think so? Well that’s just 2 (regulation losses in 38 games) bad for you.

The Guru’s NFL Playoff Predictions

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My Atlanta Falcons have a bye week this week, which means I will have a clear mind from now until I find out who will be visiting the Georgia Dome on January 13th at 1:00PM EST. I will capitalize on my sane and unbiased mind and make my playoff predictions. Now, if you are expecting a bunch of stats, numbers, and formulated predictions, you may be disappointed. My picks often come within the first few seconds from when I hear who’s playing who. I have had tremendous success in making bets off these snap (punt intended) judgments so far this year, so I’ll give you just that.

AFC Wildcard Round:

Cincinnati Bengals, 24
Houston Texans, 20

I’ll start off by contradicting myself… Here’s a stat: The Bengals have not allowed more than 20 points in their last 8 games. Houston has not scored more than 17 points in their last 4.

Indianapolis Colts, 17
Baltimore Ravens, 21

Baltimore’s defense has been hot and cold all year, but luckily for them, rookie QBs in the postseason often share that same trait. Andrew Luck is a great quarterback but if Baltimore’s defense can play anywhere near their potential, and the offense gives the ball to Ray Rice, I see no reason why they can’t handle the Colts. A remarkable season for Indy and Chuck Pagano nonetheless, and I would love to be proven wrong here.

NFC Wildcard Round:

Minnesota Vikings, 17
Green Bay Packers, 31

It was a glorious way for Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings to end the year, by beating the Packers 37-34. Adrian Peterson is the league MVP, but if this week Green Bay can contain him and put more responsibility on Christian Ponder, they’ll show why they are the NFC North Champions. Lambeau Field is always a factor.

Seattle Seahawks, 20
Washington Redskins, 23 OT

Not only the hardest game of the week to pick, but the most interesting. Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III get to settle this the proper way. You think you’re better than the other? Beat him. On even field, I’m not yet sure who the better QB is, but RGIII will have a silent crowd at the line of scrimmage, and Russell Wilson and his Seahawks will be more limited in their play calling. Expect a lot of running, and a lot of speed. This one comes down to the wire.

AFC Divisional Round:

Cincinnati Bengals, 13
Denver Broncos, 27

Andy Dalton and AJ Green have done wonders for the Bengals franchise, and they continue to progress. The Broncos, and even 36 year-old Peyton Manning just happen to be doing the same but at a higher level.

Baltimore Ravens, 10
New England Patriots, 30

When I look at the AFC, I see two powerhouse teams and four hopeful outsiders. I think this round plays out just the way it should. By being the last step in forming another Brady vs. Manning match-up. Ravens have not been able to put it all together as of late and the Patriots will be salivating at any sign of weakness.

NFC Divisional Round:

Washington Redskins, 20
Atlanta Falcons, 27

My Falcons put together an effective passing game, and Matt Ryan finally brings it in a playoff game by taking advantage of Washington’s spotty pass defense. The Skins will be successful in the run game, but the Falcons’ secondary and home crowd help limit the Redskins’ options. The last thing Atlanta will want to do is counter the Skins’ run game by revolving their game plan around Michael Turner.

Green Bay Packers, 24
San Francisco 49ers, 16

Aaron Rodgers gets to face another sophomore quarterback in Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick and the wounded 49ers don’t have the firepower to keep up with Green Bay in this one. The young quarterback finishes with an impressive year regardless, but the thought of “what if” will come up plenty. “What if Jim Harbaugh stuck with Alex Smith.”

AFC Championship Game:

New England Patriots, 30
Denver Broncos, 34

Another Brady/Manning classic. Both defenses are very good, but these two will be dying to one-up each other all game. I can’t think of a clearer #1 and #2 seed. This is meant to happen, and I will be surprised if it doesn’t. I would not be surprised either, if the Pats come out on top on this one. Unfortunately, there are no ties in the playoffs.

NFC Championship Game:

Green Bay Packers 28
Atlanta Falcons 23

Atlanta has done an amazing job stopping top-level quarterbacks in the dome. 58.5, 37.6, and 38.9 are the ratings of Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Eli Manning’s games in Atlanta this year. A big part of the low ratings were the combined 10 interceptions thrown by the three quarterbacks. As much as I’d love to see this trend continue, and it possibly could, I see the law of averages coming into Aaron Rodgers favour here. Atlanta’s lack of a run game, O-line, and pass rush prevent them from meeting the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl for the second time.

Super Bowl XLVII:

Denver Broncos, 21
Green Bay Packers, 31

On August 4th, I wrote and posted my NFL predictions on sports forums. This was my Super Bowl prediction, and I haven’t seen anything so far this season that tells me that I should change it now. 5 months later and my opinion on this matter has not changed.

Both teams come in incredibly hot and the media splits 50/50 on their predictions. The Broncos will be riding a 13 game winning streak heading to the Superdome in New Orleans. Last season, the Green Bay Packers traveled to Kansas City to play the 5-8 Chiefs in Week 15. Green Bay came in with a 13-0 record, and hopes of finishing with a perfect season. Instead, the Packers left Arrowhead at 13-1 after losing to the Chiefs 19-13. A little poetic justice is served here by the Cheeseheads, as Aaron Rodgers gets second ring, and Peyton Manning is handed his second Super Bowl loss.

Super Bowl MVP: Aaron Rodgers

Celebration

My Sisters

Didn’t know what I wanted my first piece to be about on this blog. Heck, I don’t even know exactly what I want the entire blog to be about. Since I made a “What I Love” category and the header of my site is a picture of my sisters and I, it’s only fitting that I start off my blog by writing about them. I’ll start with the one I saw last:

Rixa

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There is a great chance that my “Rants” section of this site will be really busy after hanging out with my oldest sister. This does not mean my sister irritates me, it means we share a common hatred for most things we see in the world. This also means that when we get together, our brains just flood out onto the table of the diner that we are most likely at. It’s amazing that we can both spew such fast and mumbled rambles at each other, yet process everything each other are saying and hold up a conversation.

Rixa and I like to push the boundaries of society by seeing how much we can get away with in public without anyone saying anything. We used to play “abusive mom” in public, where Rixa would play the role of my mom who was abusive. It was a simple game but I think it’s the main reason we became so close. In Spain (along with my other sister to be named later) we waved maracas yelling “You’re never going to see me again!” at everyone we saw. Not long ago, I ran out of the car when I saw her coming off the GO Train and yelled her name running across the parking lot as if she had returned from Afghanistan. She could’ve been embarrassed and told me to stop acting ridiculous. Instead she yelled my name back, went along with it, and we shared the most intense hug in the middle of the parking lot.

My sister has been a: rocker, painter, poet, comedian, rapper, photographer, cook, philosopher, diva, amongst other things. But the one thing she will always be is there for an hour long 3am phone call about nothing if I can’t sleep. Without my sister, I’d go crazy. With my sister, I’m still going crazy but at least I have someone to share it with.

Rachelle

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This post is about sisters, but I rarely call Rachelle my sister, instead I refer to her as “bro”. Don’t ask me how it started, but most of our conversations start with “Yo, bro” and end with “Yeah, bro!”. Rachelle and I have been inseparable since I was around 4 years old. Rachelle is the middle child, so yes, she was around for my first 4 years of life. Except, within those first few years of life, she once bit me on the face until I cried since my Mom told her I was “so cute you could just bite him”. Rachelle went as far as to lock me out of our own house, when I hadn’t even learned to walk yet. I’m sure though, that she’s glad that I found my way back inside or else she wouldn’t have had those 14 years of inseparability and counting.

I’ll kill two birds with one stone here:

- Hello, my name is Andy Bugelli, welcome to my blog. As I child I won multiple football awards including an MVP trophy at age 10.

- My sister used to scare the shit out of me playing one-on-one football at our local park.

Rachelle is the toughest girl I know. She would throw me into the dirt like a rag doll the second I caught a ball from our dad. I’ve played against 150 pound young men from Scarborough and never felt as scared as I did facing my older sister. The activities didn’t end there though. Once we walked back home and I cleaned up the blood and tears from my face, we would spend even more time together.

We used to:

- Make radio shows (she hated my weather segment)
– Set up a library for our parents to come and purchase some books that they’ve already purchased.
– Create songs about Timon and Pumbaa.
– Make music videos for Eminem and the Beastie Boys (our masterpiece).

To this day, I love it when I’m with my sister, because we still act like total children together. I get excited thinking about having her for my whole life, knowing that I can’t condense 14 years of memories into one story without having a table of contents. Rachelle did all the duties of an older brother growing up, and maybe that’s why I now call her “bro”. And one day, I’ll be calling Roddy White “bro” when Rachelle finally decides to marry him.

Rachelle will most likely be a re-occurring character in my “Stories” section.

I don’t know who I’d be without these two girls.

On second thought, I know exactly who I’d be…

A Schizophrenic crybaby who can’t talk to girls. Although, my sisters will tell you that last part is still true.

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