The Underground – Issue #10
Everything you need to know about in this weekly series: Photorealistic gaming, a UK TV series, a fast food blast from the past, a must-play real-time strategy game, all the Super Bowl ads, a wonderful sci-fi short, and how to kill procrastination and get things done.
At Social Underground we go beyond the mainstream stuff and see what’s underneath the surface. What should we get into, listen to, read, eat or watch? If there is something in our culture that needs attention, dammit, we will bring it to your attention. With The Underground, we mean to do exactly that: Show you the underground things that you need to know about: Books, music, television, movies, comedians, art, and whatever else we can find to get you into something you never knew about.
Don’t you remember the time you heard that first song from your favorite band? You made the decision to jump head first into that first album and then delve deeper into them. Now, you don’t remember a time where you haven’t listened to that band. If you play guitar, you don’t remember the time where you didn’t know how to play. We want to bring you new stuff that you didn’t know you need in your life to the point where you can’t remember not knowing about it. That’s The Underground.
1. The Unreal 4 engine could be a game changer for gaming. A demo of how photorealistic video gaming can be was recently put online and it’s blowing people’s minds. Whenever you play a video game or watch a movie, you can almost always tell when something is fake or not. It feels like it’s getting better and getting worse at the same time.
If you watched the recent Jurassic World trailer, you’ll see the obvious amounts of CGI dinosaurs and locations. When you go and watch the original film, it some how looks better than current technology. It’s the same with gaming. Sure, you can play Nintendo and see all the pixels and then play a brand new game for Xbox One, but even with the graphics, it’s still obviously fake. This video using the Unreal 4 engine, however, makes the case for tricking my mind into questioning if it’s real or not. Another step out of the uncanny valley.
What is the Unreal 4 engine? It’s basically software framework that gaming developers design video games around. When a new engine is developed, developers can utilize the new technology to create games that look better and work better than the previous engine. But, I haven’t seen anyone utilize the new engine quite like this before.
2. Utopia is a television show that you need in your eyeballs. I came across Utopia a few months ago when I simply couldn’t find anything to watch. The Wire was coming back in HD on HBO and I figured I’d watch that, but I just couldn’t do it all over again. I found Utopia and read the description which made it sound really different from most shows:
The story follows a small group of people who find themselves in possession of the manuscript sequel of a cult graphic novel called The Utopia Experiments, which is rumored to have predicted the worst disasters of the last century. This leads them to be targeted by an organization known as “The Network,” which they must avoid to survive. Using the manuscript, they must uncover the meaning hidden in its pages before the disasters depicted become reality.
The more you watch, the more you get sucked into the rabbit hole of great storytelling, great acting, amazing cinematography, and new types of paranoia you didn’t know you could have. Oh, also, the music! The soundtrack is really trippy. If I could describe it to you in a simple way, I would tell you that this is what you would hear if a music store donated instruments to an insane asylum and someone hit record.
Check out the opening scene from the first episode below, and then get hooked.
3. Take a blast to the past with a recipe to a forgotten Taco Bell menu item. I remember a story of my Father telling me about how my Aunt and Uncle worked at Taco Bell. Besides the obvious stories of how they hooked my Dad up when he went there, he mentioned something about Taco Bell having a burger. With Taco Bell telling customers to “Think outside of the bun,” this seemed odd. But, then again, McDonald’s had pizza, so it’s not out of the realm of possibilities.
I looked around the internet, found a recipe, and tried my hand at making this the other night. I wasn’t disappointed.
1 pound lean ground beef, uncooked
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp mild chili powder
1 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp dried minced onion flakes
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp onion powder
dash garlic powder
1/2 cup cold water
6 hamburger buns (steamed slightly to soften and warm them)
6 to 12 packets (or 1/3 to 2/3 cup) of Taco Bell Mild Border Sauce
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Combine in a mixing bowl raw ground beef, flour, chili powder, salt, minced onion flakes, paprika, onion powder and garlic powder. Mix thoroughly like you would mix a meatloaf.
In a skillet on the stove top, add 1/2 cup of cold water and the seasoned ground meat mixture. Mix well. Cook over medium heat, mash and stir ground meat as it cooks, breaking it up. Cook until meat is no longer pink and slightly browned. The meat mixture should be loose, without any large pieces. Drain off any grease or liquid.
Steam the burger buns slightly to warm and soften them.
Build a “Bell Burger” like this:
Spread a tablespoon of Mild Border Sauce on the bottom bun.
Place several tablespoons of the meat mixture on the bottom bun like making a sloppy joe.
Add 1 or 2 packets (or 2 Tbsp) of Taco Bell Mild Border Sauce evenly over the meat on bun.
Sprinkle 1 or 2 Tbsp of shredded mild cheddar cheese over meat mixture on bun. Add the top bun.
Repeat 5 more times. Serve warm.
Taco Bell Mild Border Sauce
1/2 cup cold water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 oz tomato paste (half of a 6 oz can)
1 1/2 Tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Dissolve cornstarch in cold water. Add to saucepan.
Add rest of ingredients and stir well. Over medium heat
bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook 5-minutes.
Turn off heat, cover pan and allow sauce to cool.
Store in the fridge.
Makes about 1 cup.
If you screw it up a little bit, that’s okay. You can just take all the stuff and put it in a taco shell and eat it. Just about anything can be turned into a taco. Such a wondrous culinary achievement.
4. Looking for a new game for your tablet or phone? Eufloria is the game you need to play. Sure, you can get first-person shooters or games where you match 3 colors to get points, but Eufloria is different. It has a charming yet original plot that makes the game really fun to play.
The game begins in the far off future in space. The player controls a force of seedlings, and take more asteroids for the growers, mythical beings which spawned the seedlings. The mothertree hopes that by taking enough colonies for the growers, they can make them return. Early in the game, the player encounter an enemy, the greys, which has brutally attacked one of their colonies. Soon the mothertree learns that the greys have been driven mad by a disease, which forces them to attack. They also learn that another empire is attacking their empire and so the player is sent beyond the borders of the empire to find out why the greys are attacking, and deal with them. The player continues, gaining new technologies and rescuing allies along the way, to find that their enemies produced the greys, despite the danger that the greys would destroy them too. Eventually, the home asteroid of the greys was found. After conquering them, the mothertree analysed their remains, and found that all the enemy seedlings had the same DNA as the Euflorian’s seedlings.
Eufloria is a real-time strategy game that differentiates itself from other games in the genre. It doesn’t have to rely on the typical alien bad guy or having to use a mech suit to kill said alien.
The music is a huge reason of why this game very appealing. In the past, whenever I played a real-time strategy game like Starcraft and my base gets overwhelmed, I would get angry/stressed. The soothing music in Eufloria takes the edge off if I’m not doing so well.
5. Watch all the Super Bowl ads right now so you can focus on the game this Sunday. A few years ago, I gave up on going to Super Bowl parties. Why?
Non-fans. Think about the last Super Bowl party you attended? How many people there had no idea who was even playing? Probably about half of them. This is basically a breakdown of game banter:
- The Game is on.
- People are talking loudly over the game.
- Someone mentions squares.
- More talking.
- Commercial break.
- Silence for the ads.
- Laughter at the ads.
- Game returns.
- Discussion of the ads (cost, someone mentioning how much it costs per ad, etc.).
That goes on for hours. Then there’s the waiting for the bathroom, looking for your beer among all the beer, leaving your car at the party, getting a ride home, and so on. It’s so much easier to just stay home and watch the game. In doing so you’ll probably want to get past all the ads so you can use commercials for what they’re intended: Getting food/beer/drink/bathroom. Thankfully, the people over at Superbowl Commercials has accumulated all the ads in one place. You can watch all the ads before they air and give yourself more time to do things this Sunday.
This one is my favorite so far. Sure, it’s for a beer that tastes like the smell of pennies, but LOOK AT THAT DOG!
After watching that video, you can see the reason to get these ads out of the way if you decide to go to a party. No one wants a room full of adults tearing up to that puppy.
6. Time Trap is a little film with a lot of ambition. As with the fantasy genre, the sci-fi genre can get a little stale. Time Trap, directed by Michael Shanks, adds some new life with interesting, if not impossible concepts.
After losing control of his engines, bumbling spaceman Fripp finds himself at the mercy of his malfunctioning spaceship. A thrilling descent through an asteroid belt ensues, after which he finds himself marooned on a post-apocalyptic Earth. Without a working spacecraft, the interstellar time-traveler must dip into the dead planet’s history in order to find a way home.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way, but it feels like a live-action Pixar short. The humor, the music and the writing all feel similar yet dramatically different. In 8 minutes, the short manages to stir up a lot of questions in a short amount of time. If only Hollywood would invest in new movie concepts instead of making garbage.
7. A few tricks to overcoming procrastination and how to get shit done. If humanity didn’t procrastinate, I’d be sitting in a spaceship on the way to another solar system. However, that isn’t the case. We humans procrastinate all the time.
In college, when a course plan states that a big 20 page report is due 5 months from now, guess when I would start my work on the report? Day before it’s due. I finished a 40 page business plan the night before it was due and got an A on it. Sure, the A was fine, but why the hell did it take me to the night before to do it? Why didn’t I just do it earlier and save myself the stressful hassle of typing like a man man? Because procrastination.
Hank Green of the How To Adult YouTube channel will try and educate you on how you can get rid of those bad habits and start getting to work on projects and other things that need to be done.
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Jeff Sorensen is an author, writer and occasional comedian living in Detroit, Michigan. You can look for more of his work on The Huffington Post, UPROXX, BGR and by just looking up his name.