Friday, August 31, 2007

Fuck the State Fair

You guys were right. I'm sorry I ever said a nice thing about the Minneapolis State Fair.

Alexis is assisting in the surgery theater there today, so we had all kinds of special passes and whatnot to get backstage so she could park and prep for the surgery. We got in with little problem, but trying to find where we were supposed to park wasn't so easy. And, I guess, we inadvertently drove past the "Tiger" lot where we were supposed to be. When we turned around we were confronted by a pair of security douche bags. One jerk, a Russ Tamblyn-looking loser with a sack full of rotten teeth between his lips, immediately gave us trouble. He took our security pass and made us turn around, essentially kicking us out of the fairgrounds without even the tiniest effort to help us. The flabby uniformed cop stood there backing him up. I don't know how much Mr. Meth mouth is making, but even if he's volunteering he's making too much.

I don't usually get mad about this kind of thing, but when you fuck with my wife (who was already pretty nervous about working in a surgery theater in front of dozens of gawkers) the gloves come off. I hope that asshole working by Tiger parking gets kicked in the skull by a horse.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Trek Reboot

Moriarty from Ain't It Cool news is tossing around some nifty rumors regarding JJ Abrams' take on the Star Trek franchise. More questions now than answers. Will Pike be the Enterprise's captain? Will Nimoy be involved. In his post Moriarty seems to imply some time travel hi-jinks. Imagine Romulans finding themselves transported back in time, where one well placed phaser could alter the Star Trek universe for ever. Think they'd try to kill Kirk? Think future Spock could save him?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I am the kind to say I told you so.

I told you so back here. I also understand that what I am about to say may be like saying, "getting kicked in the nuts is a real bummer." FFT again. The JP version doesn't have any voice overs. The NA version does and it actually does take away from the art. They are cool but not in a way that makes the game better. Anyway, check it out and make the call for yourself. If you so desire.

Still on pre-order. Still going to actually take a day off work for this one.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

What Could Have Been

Microsoft had a script, a director and even Peter Jackson on board to help produce a live action film based on Halo. The one thing they didn't have was a movie studio willing to do all the heavy lifting and actually release the movie.

It's my believe that these live-action shorts surfacing lately are proof-of-concept pieces from when they were hard-selling the picture. Neill Blomkamp may be unproven in feature-length, but his bad-ass shorts, Alive in Joburg, Tempbot and Yellow are a taste of what the Halo picture could be like.

Who knows? According to IMDB the picture is still in production. Maybe they're in a holding pattern until the studio suits get an eyeful of the zillions Halo 3 will rake in next month.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

More Spore

The latest from the game convention in Leipzig. Dig them German subtitles.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Greetings, Program.

If this clip, Tron Vs. Depche Mode, doesn't inspire you to ask yourself, "why haven't I seen this awesome movie?" then there's very little chance you can be helped. To add insult to injury, the movie's original soundtrack was written by America's greatest transsexual composer.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Gen Con: Mission Accomplished

I now have my first Gen Con under my belt.

Games played:
  • A D&D Dungeon Delve (where I made the faux pas of asking whether you need to roll to determine if magic missile hits)
  • Caylus
  • Scavenger Hunt (too dicey for Tim, I'm thinking)
  • Dragons of Kir (Tim earns the medal for early adopting this one)
  • Power Grid (where I was brow-beaten by the push tournament admin)
  • A Game of Thrones Draft (beaten twice, but I met the super-nice creator of this AGOT website)
  • Eye of Judgment
  • Age of Empires III
  • For Sale
  • A bunch other shit I can't remember
Things I wish I'd done:
  • Larped with my friend Sean
  • Bought a Utilikilt to embarrass my wife
  • Remembered to invite Sam to dinner (sorry)
  • Ate even more Chick-Fil-A
  • Played in the Catan tourney
  • Taken more pictures of friends (see above)
There's always next year. Check out the rest of my pictures (mostly video game stuff) at Flickr.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

How Sweet It Is

Yeah. It's back. Free and online. I got $23,780 on episode 3.

(note: you don't actually win any money).

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

News media factchecking

Okay, I was always under the impression that news media would do a little bit of fact checking on their stories. Sure, they may say 'Man claims Teen Celeb crashed into his parked car' where in the very title they are stating that it is just a claim, not solid evidence. Still, I expect news media, even Internet news media, to do a little bit of background checking. If the guy who makes that claim doesn't even own a car, or the Teen Celeb is doing a concert 3 states away, or what have you.

YahooNews has since taken down the direct link to the story, but you can still find bits and pieces of it.

"An elderly Iraqi woman shows two bullets which she says hit her house following an early coalition forces raid in the predominantly Shiite Baghdad suburb of Sadr City. At least 175 people were slaughtered on Tuesday and more than 200 wounded when four suicide truck bombs targeted people from an ancient religious sect in northern Iraq, officials said.(AFP/Wissam al-Okaili) "

Look, we all know that often times people both here and over there lie to news media to strengthen their case or whatever. Sometimes they are really fooling themselves (It is much easier to live with yourself as a mine owner if you can hold onto the believe the collapse was caused by an earthquake, not your decisions) Still, news media should stay away from blatant liars. Like this woman. What she is holding is the entire cartridge, the bullet still seated on top of the gunpowder, all held within the brass casing. Obviously, she did not dig those out of her wall. Someone told her 'here go take these and lie to the media about what happened!' And the media was more than happy to oblige and run the story without even thinking or looking twice, even with all their technical experts and 'ex-military advisers' and all the rest

Louis CK Investigates the Catholic Church

I've been meaning to work up a post about great stand-up comics. I recall, one evening, Mike saying that he didn't particularly like stand-up comedy and he's right to feel that way. But the few working today that are great are so brilliant that it's a crime to thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Check out this clip of Louis CK -- it's not stand up, but it's a good representation of the kind of material he explores and the angle he's coming from.

The video is NSFW. But then again, so was Tim's creepy PSP video, so I think I'm in the clear.

OK, I finally figured out how to post videos directly to the blog.

The Definition of Irony

Weeping. Weeping.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Joybubbles RIP

Joe Engressia, the granddaddy of phone phreaking (and in many ways one of the first modern hackers) died today. If you haven't already the seminal 1971 Esquire article "Secrets of the Little Blue Box" that told his story, you really should.

via Boing Boing

Friday, August 10, 2007

Treadmill of the Gods

Put on a decent head-mounted display and WoW your way into shape. I'm ready to dedicate a room in my house to this setup. Somebody make it happen.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

"Sakaguchi’s curb stomps be words."

I'm getting the feeling that regular links to Tim Rogers' Action Button reviews are going to be a regular thing. His Blue Dragon review is a sprawling essay that waxes on reading RPG manuals over a Saturday morning bowl of cereal and compares Sakaguchi's game design to that of Gears of War.

Pro tip: Ignore the guy's scores. His "bottom line" says much, much more about the game he's reviewing.

I am so bad

Maybe this this video from GameTrailers will get Waters to get his PSP back:

It is just barely SFW. But prolly not safe for home.

Be Kind Rewind

Michel Gondry's latest movie may be the first Hollywood picture to really tackle the ideas of copyright, intellectual property and fair use. Now that I've bored the pants off of you here's the fun part; Mos Def and Jack Black play video store employees who shoot their own low-budget versions of hit flicks (like Ghostbusters, Robocop and Driving Miss Daisy) when all of their tapes are accidentally erased.

Here's the trailer.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Mama Don't Like

Perhaps the greatest, most swinging time for American animation was the period when cats like Tex Avery and Bob Clampett found inspiration from the Harlem music scene. Here's a contemporary example by a cartoonist from Ecuador - one that channels Avery and Ren & Stimpy's John K. while illustrating a tune by the Inkspots.

Head over to Cartoon Brew and the original post to see the racism-in-'40s-cartoons debate rage on. It's an old, old argument that tends to center on this controversial, some say seminal, short.

No way

Check out this avatar:

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

AMM: After Meow Mix

Ladies and gents, we've just passed through to the other side. Just as the birth of Christ forever changed the world, so too will we view the sea change that occurred when the Meow Mix jingle was first sampled for a hip-hop track. Personally, I look back on the Before Meow Mix (BWW) era prior to the release of "'Cause the Beat's Hot" by the BoardBangers as a dark, uncivilized age.

Office Tactics

I find it strangely comforting that the audience for turn-based strategy games in Japan and America are nearly identical. The commercial above was made for the Tokyo version of Tim, a salaryman daydreaming of Jeanee D'Arc in his white-collar office.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Surviving The Storm

It struck me during the course of this weekend that few game creators could pull together a crowd as large and enthusiastic as the attendees of BlizzCon (let alone charge them $100 bucks a pop). My list of folks who were doing just this came down to three: Blizzard (thanks to the massive number of World of WarCraft subscribers), iD (on the enduring strength of prior Quake games) and Square-Enix (where I'd add the caveat that the states is a hair away from being able to support the massive get-togethers that are held in Japan.

I haven't been to too many large LAN parties, but if I were to describe BlizzCon I'd call it a LAN party with some of ComicCon's DNA spliced in. Two huge banks of gaming PCs were on the convention center floor -- one for StarCraft II and another for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. The lines were initially long, but by the end of the show they tapered off to nothing. If you paid for a ticket there was little keeping you from playing both games. I spent the last hour or so of the convention (while everyone else was at the Video Games Live concert) wandering around the demo zone. Though the landscape, buildings and and foliage seemed in place it was easy to tell that this was unfinished content. The organic-feeling distribution of animals, enemies and random monsters just wasn't there. Some quests, especially one where you drop bombs onto pirate ships from a zeppelin, felt half-baked. For me this just underlined how strong Blizzard are at polishing their content. What we played at BlizzCon was a work in progress that helped me better undertand just how nuanced a job they do of populating their worlds.

Here's the part where I embarass the shit out of myself. I played StarCraft II once and got my ass handed to me by the computer. It's been quite a while since I played a Blizzard RTS and I sucked pretty badly then. So while I can say that StarCraft II looks great and conjures serious nostalgia when the units repeat their old dialogue, I really can't speak to how good the game is. That would be like a tetotaller pontificating on the taste of Glenlivet. It's just wrong.

What I can say is that competitive StarCraft and WarCraft III are genuinely awesome to watch. The pros are insanely skilled and the top-down view makes matches easy to grok. I'd imagine that even non-gamers could easily grasp what's happening with only a little attention. I didnt' watch much World of WarCraft PVP, but it seems a slightly harder sell. The 2v2, 3v3 and 5v5 arena matches were well attended, but the standing-room crowds and the cheers you'd hear when a WarCraft III hero was taken down were a revelation to me. I know understand the appeal of eSports.

If there's a take-away impression it's that Blizzard is really committed to making their players feel like they have input. Every panel seemed designed to inform subscibers that every in-game issue was important to the devs and that tons of changes were in the pipeline. To further underline this, every talk was ended with a Q&A where players got to grill the guys on stage. These bits were hilarious. Often, real questions and dialog took place. But frequently the sessions felt like a support group -- with downtrodden gamers spilling their hearts on the mic about all the trials and tribulations of their class, then begging the powers-that-be for some kind of help. I absolutely loved this parade of sometimes angry, frequently awkard humanity. I told my friends that each of these geeks were like snowflakes, each unique in his nerdiness -- but still beautiful examples of unfettered enthusiasm and passion. I laugh at these guys and gals not because I think I'm better than them, but because they're my people. Every Napoleon Dynamite-esque gesture or ultra-intense gripe jives with something I've felt or thought at one time in my life.

The thing I always take away from conventions like this is a sense of belonging. ComicCon, BlizzCon, AVN, SXSW or what-have-you are the meeting of a subculture, where people can go to find folks who speak the same language as them. Walking around the Hilton it was easy to overhear people passionately arguing intricacies of their character spec or recounting guild drama. The presence of civilians at the hotel (conventions for Couples for Christ and a class of 1987 high school reunion) further illustrated the contrast. The mixed crowds in the elevators couldn't have been more different. And it was hilarious to see the tourists warily eyeing gangly dorks in black t-shirts or cute Korean girls cosplaying as warlocks.

And in the '60s squares thought long hair was weird.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Quasi collectable too!

With shipping these guys will cost about $10 a piece. They come eight to a case. Who's with me?!

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