Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Movie of the Year

The best film I've seen all year was also the last one I'll see this year. It's based on a true story, stars an Oscar winner who deserves another, and is about a man who, I'm ashamed to say, knew absolutely nothing about before seeing the film.

That film is Milk. It is one of those movies that everyone should see, but those who truly need to see it will not. It is a movie that I wish would have came out just a little bit sooner. It is a movie that makes me sad, hopeful, angry, and contemplative. I wonder where we might be today if Harvey Milk had been allowed to continue his career, and his activism. I think about the events depicted in the film, and realize that 30 years later, the specific issues may have changed, but the arguments haven't.

I urge you to go see Milk.

2008 NFL Playoffs: Wild Card Weekend

And another NFL regular season comes to a close. Hell of a final weekend, with two playoff spots in each conference up for grabs, and a handful of teams fighting for them. But the matchups are now set, so here goes my predictions for the Wild Card games in the first round.


5 Atlanta Falcons at 4 Arizona Cardinals
The Falcons came out of essentially nowhere with a no name QB and finished with a better record than all but two teams in their conference. Arizona won their first division title in more than 30 years with an all but washed-up QB enjoying a second go-round in the spotlight. However, the Cardinals lost 4 of their last 6 games and beat only one playoff team during the season. The upset goes to the Falcons.

6 Philadelphia Eagles at 3 Minnesota Vikings
The Eagles started the season well, and if only for a couple of plays, could have been 6-0 going into their bye week. They weren't, of course, but they did finish strong, with decisive wins against the Cardinals and Giants, and an absolute demolishing of the Cowboys. The Vikings have ridden "All Day" Adrian Peterson into the playoffs after squeaking out a win against the Giants in the last game of the season. Smart money's probably on the Eagles, but I'm picking the Vikings.

Byes: 1 New York Giants and 2 Carolina Panthers


5 Indianapolis Colts at 4 San Diego Chargers
The Colts are without a doubt the best wild card team in the playoffs, and except for a stunning 10-0 run to start the season by the Titans, would have yet another division title under their belts. The Chargers, on the other hand, are without a doubt the worst division champ in the playoffs. They beat one decent team all season (the Patriots, who, by virtue of the rule that division champs have a guaranteed spot in the playoffs even when they're 8-8, missed out on a postseason berth), and needed to beat the Broncos in the last game to even get in. Plus, Indianapolis is not going to get embarrassed by a team that wears powder blue unis for the second year in a row. Colts win.

6 Baltimore Ravens at 3 Miami Dolphins
The Ravens came out of essentially nowhere with a no name QB and finished with a better record than all but three teams in their conference. Miami finished first in a division that had been dominated by the Patriots for nearly a decade, and was competitive from top to bottom for the first time ever. The Ravens will be tough, but I think Miami comes out with a win.

Byes: 1 Tennessee Titans and 2 Pittsburgh Steelers

Check back next week for results and more predictions.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Haul 2008

Merry Christmas, bitches! Hope you all had a great day, cause I sure did. I ran down the fat loot I gathered last year, so I think I'll do it again this year, in no particular order.

Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir (PC). The second expansion to the second installment of the best fantasy-style CRPG currently in production.

Kung Fu Panda (Blu Ray). Jack Black, Kung Fu, and animation. What's not to like?

The Dark Knight (Blu Ray). My second favorite superhero movie of 2008 (first was Iron Man).

Batman: Gotham Knight (Blu Ray). Batman rocks.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Blu Ray). Indy still kicks ass and takes names, I don't give a shit what anybody says.

Freakazoid! Season 1 (DVD). What do they call poo-gas in Scotland? Crud-vapors.

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney (DS). The fourth in the Ace Attorney series. Yelling "OBJECTION!" at your DS is more fun than it sounds like.

Rock Band 2 (PS3). I know what you're saying. You're saying, "Didn't you get this as soon as it came out?" And the answer is yes, I did. I got it the day before it came out to be exact, but it was just a rental. They wouldn't sell it to me a day early, but they'd let me rent it. Whatever. I now officially own it, so it's all good.

Raiders 60"x80" Fleece Blanket. Great for watching football on the couch.

Raiders knit cap. Great for keeping your brain pan warm when it's cold as fuck outside.

And that about does it for another gift-giving season. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Peace, bitches!

Monday, December 22, 2008

If You Build It, You Will Bleed

So Bill Harris posted today about building computers, and it made me want to talk about my own experience building computers. Specifically, about the blood involved.

You see, I've built every PC I've ever owned myself (with the exception of one, a store-bought Compaq that I shall never speak of again), and in every one I've put a little bit of myself. Literally.

One time I was reaching in to the case to plug in a cable and scratched the shit out of my knuckles on a sharp edge. I don't know if you know this, but knuckles bleed. A lot.

Another time I was screwing in a drive, slipped, and jabbed the screwdriver into my palm. That brought blood, but mostly pain.

Finally, there was the time that I was trying to pry out a drive bay with my fingers, slipped, and sliced my finger open on a protruding metal tab. I still have the crescent shaped scar just below the second knuckle on my left index finger. It matches the one in the same place on my right index finger that was made through a completely different and unrelated accident, but that's a story for another day. Regardless, there was much blood, much pain, and probably some stitches if I had bothered to seek medical attention. Remember, there was a computer that needed to get built.

I haven't built a computer in a few years now, so who knows what's next. But if it's sharp, pointy, jagged, or even blunt, you can bet I'll slice, stab, tear, or crush myself in some way that brings the blood. Oh yes, there will be blood.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Prop 8: The Musical

Starring Jack Black, Neil Patrick Harris, and John C. Reilly (among others), it's Prop 8: The Musical!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Left 4 Dead (PC) Impressions

I got a chance to check out Left 4 Dead tonight, for about an hour. These are very early impressions; I'd have liked to play it a little more before giving them, but the game wouldn't let me.

My computer can handle it, and it runs silky smooth and looks great, but for some reason it's still crash happy. Not sure why, it runs great, and then all of a sudden decides to crash for no apparent reason.

Anyway, it's the very definition of twitch finger action, very cinematic, and incredibly fun. It's old school shooter and new school shooter wrapped together in one tasty package. I can't wait to play more, if I can just get it to stop crashing to the desktop every twenty minutes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

War Never Changes

After nearly 70 hours and almost a month, I've completed the main quest in Fallout 3. I took my time, explored, did a lot of side quests, and really immersed myself in the world, but I didn't do everything and see everywhere, nor did I talk to everyone and complete everything I started. There's easily another 10-25 hours of content I didn't see, not to mention another playthrough being a completely heartless, no good, evil bastard (I played my initial run through as a paragon of virtue). Perhaps the best 80 bucks (I got the collector's edition lunchbox on the PS3) I've ever spent on a game. I'm not prepared to say it's better than Fallout or even Fallout 2, but it is definitely a worthy successor and an incredible addition to the franchise. Bring on Fallout 4!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Musing on Technology

Here's a hypothetical situation: Say you've got a fancy pants HDTV, and a fancy pants Blu Ray player, along with a fancy pants HD satellite TV connection. You want all this stuff to work together with a fancy pants surround sound system, connected by HDMI cables, but you don't want to bother with a separate switcher (one more remote, one more thing to turn on before you can watch TV, movies, or whatever).

Why, then, do almost all the "home theater in a box" surround sound systems that actually have HDMI inputs (why all of them don't have HDMI inputs is beyond me, I mean, anyone getting new tech right now should be in the digital age with their peripherals, and as such, need HDMI inputs) not include audio decoding? What I mean is, if those HDMI inputs are used to connect a Blu Ray player or HD satellite TV connection or game system, the audio is not carried through the surround sound speakers, but simply passed to the TV speakers. In order to get true digital sound, extra cables are required.

Allow me to repeat: in order to get audio from a peripheral to the surround sound speakers, a separate connection is required, in addition to the HDMI connection that is capable of transmitting both audio and video. That is fucking retarded. What's even more retarded is that this is actually touted as a "feature." That's not a feature, assholes, that's a limitation. Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fallout 3 (PS3) Early Impressions

I sat down to start playing Fallout 3 about 6:30, and then noticed when my eyes started hurting that it was 11:30. Yeah, that about covers it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Prop 8

For those of you who don't live in California, Prop 8 amends the California State Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry. Last week, a writer for my local newspaper wrote a column about how Prop 8 is wrong and everyone should vote no on it. Here's a link to that column.

Not surprisingly, it brought out the idiots. Let's see what they have to say!
"It has nothing to do with rights or anything. I has to do with disobeying God's order. It's wrong, it's wrong, it's wrong."
Actually, it has everything to do with rights. And whose God? Your God? Certainly not my God. Repeat after me, legislating religion: it's wrong, it's wrong, it's wrong.
"The California Supreme Court overturned the vote of the people on The Defense of Marriage Act (otherwise known as Prop 22 in California). One old gasbag with a swing vote changed the lives of millions of people, and many feel their vote didn't count."
Let's get one thing straight. The California Supreme Court overturned the vote of the people on a clearly unconstitutional amendment to California law. That's exactly what the courts are supposed to do. If a proposition allowing slave ownership passed "the vote of the people," I and everyone else better damn well expect the courts to overturn it. Also, no one's lives have been changed by allowing same-sex couples to marry. Except for theirs, of course.
"Given God's creation of male and female, I'm sure his plan was for male and female to be productive. Now answer this: how can the same-sex marriage reproduce?"
Ok, asshole, instead of dismissing you immediately as a bible-thumping fundie moron, I'm going to humor you. So God created male and female, alright. What makes you so "sure" his plan was for male and female to reproduce? Are you really so arrogant to believe that you know God's plan? Hell, are you God? I'm pretty sure that qualifies as blasphemy, fuckstick.
"I am not opposed to gays or lesbians based on their character or abilities. I just don't want to explain to a 6-year-old why two men are kissing!"
Your inability to explain healthy relationships to a child is your problem, not anyone else's.
"What makes you think that gay marriage is a rights issue? It is a moral issue. Once we start down that slippery slope, it will affect your kids and your grandkids."
Finally, someone whom I agree with! Of course it's a moral issue! It needs to affect our kids and grandkids, so this sort of bigotry and hatred never...wait, hold on. You're saying it's a bad thing, aren't you? Nevermind, my bad, you're a dumbass.
"To change the meaning of this word, marriage, would only cause confusion and chaos."
Hold the phone. I've always wondered what the definition of marriage actually is. How could I find something like that out? I know! The dictionary! Let's check our good friend Merriam-Webster, they'll know!
Main Entry: mar·riage
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English mariage, from Anglo-French, from marier to marry

1 a (1): the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law (2): the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage b: the mutual relation of married persons c: the institution whereby individuals are joined in a marriage
Would you look at that. It's right there, plain and simple, black and white. The definition is already such that it covers the union of same sex people. Confusion? Chaos? Not here.

So, in conclusion, I'm voting no on Prop 8. It's not about protecting marriage, or children, or family values. It's about what's right. It's about what's just. And it's about saying that we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rock Band 2 (PS3) Impressions

Best. Music Game. Ever.

RB2 is like a 13. Everything great about Rock Band plus more. The new track list is great. Created characters can play any instrument, and be in any band. The world tour is now single or multiplayer, online or off. Finding the song you want is much easier, and the ability to make setlists is fantastic. And there's trophies. Sweet, sweet, trophies.

I don't know if I'll ever get around to doing a full review, so in case I don't, know this: Rock Band 2 is worth every cent of the $60 asking price.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Rock Band 2 (PS3)

Guess who has two thumbs and got a copy of Rock Band 2 early? This guy! *points to himself with both thumbs*

Yeah, yeah, I know anyone who has a 360 could have had and been playing RB2 for about a month now, but seeing as how the PS3 version doesn't officially drop until tomorrow, I think the fact that I snagged a copy today is pretty damn cool. So without further ado, I'm going to commence melting faces.

Burnout Paradise (PS3)

I finished Burnout Paradise today. If you're a regular reader of this blog (god help you) you may remember I talked about Burnout Paradise earlier this year (if you do, you have my thanks, but also my pity) when it first came out. I had rented then, but I decided to buy a few weeks ago when I realized a used copy could be had for 25 bucks, and there had been some free content upgrades made to the game.

Anyway, my short take is: totally worth 25 bucks, extremely enjoyable for the 20 hours or so I played it (on top of the 10 or 12 I had put in back in January). Look for my full review soon over at Kitsune Games.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Christmas in October

Look at what comes out this month:
Command & Conquer Red Alert 3 (360, PC, PS3)
Dead Space (360, PC, PS3)
Fable 2 (360)
Fallout 3 (360, PC, PS3)
Far Cry 2 (360, PC, PS3)
Ghostbusters (360, DS, PC, PS2, PS3, Wii)
Guitar Hero World Tour (360, PS2, PS3, Wii)
Jagged Alliance (DS)
Legendary (360, PC, PS3)
LittleBigPlanet (PS3)
Rock Band 2 (360, PS2, PS3, Wii)
Rock Revolution (360, DS, PS3, Wii)
Saints Row 2 (360, PC, PS3)
Spider-Man Web of Shadows (360, DS, PC, PS2, PS3, PSP, Wii)
Wii Music (Wii)

Um, Mr. Video Game Publishers? I play games all year round, you know. I'm not saying all (or even most) of these games will be purchases, but I think that has a lot to do with the fact that they're all releasing within 3 weeks of each other. Spread those bad boys out, and I'd buy more games. Just a thought.

EDIT: Next month is...better? Worse? More of the same?
Alone in the Dark (PS3)
Chrono Trigger (DS)
Endwar (360, PC, PS3, PSP)
Gears of War 2 (360)
Left 4 Dead (360, PC)
Mirror's Edge (360, PS3)
Need for Speed Undercover (360, DS, PC, PS2, PS3, PSP, Wii)
Neverwinter Nights 2 Storm of Zehir (PC)
Resistance 2 (PS3)
Tomb Raider Underworld (360, DS, PC, PS2, PS3, Wii)


Friday, October 03, 2008

A Question for my Ghetto Neighbors

I understand you like to smoke and stay up late since apparently you don't have to get up early in the morning to go to an actual job, but is it really necessary to play your "phat beats" after 11 pm? Seriously. Knock it the fuck off.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Spore (The Final Word)

If you want to know all about my thoughts on Spore, go check out Kitsune Games.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

One Quick Spore Note

I'm done with Spore, and I'll tell you why once I get around to writing up that other Spore post I've mentioned, but first I wanted to just say this. I remember Will Wright promising that the Space stage would be the ultimate sandbox, where not only could you reshape planets and all that, but you could also revisit the other stages of the game, i.e modifying creatures and civilizations and whatnot. While that's technically true, all the tools required to do those things cost outrageous amounts of money, and like I mentioned before, you can't do them at your own pace. You'll always be getting called back to prevent pirates or enemy raiders from destroying your shit.

So here's my question: why isn't there a special Sandbox mode that's unlocked once you "finish" the Space stage? One where you can freely revisit any of the prior stages and do whatever you want however you want, with no limits other than your imagination? I should be able to get to play around with creature building, tribal wrangling, civilization expansion, and yes, even get to blow up as many planets as I feel like while cruising around the galaxy in my tricked out spaceship with no limits or restrictions.

If Spore's primary tagline is "Not really a game," it's secondary tagline should be, "Untapped potential."

Monday, September 22, 2008

I Hate Sheep

I want to talk a little bit more about Spore eventually, but I might end up doing that in a full fledged review over at Kitsune Games. Dunno, we'll see how it goes.

Anyway, right now, I want to talk about how much I hate sheep. No, not the fluffy mammals, the people who can't think for themselves. Those people who read things on the internet and take it to heart, with no regard to what they actually believe.

Take, for example, television, which is a subject near and dear to my heart. New shows will come out, and they'll be great. Everyone will love them. A couple years will pass (or sometimes just one), and then all of sudden you hear people say, "Oh, that show? The first few seasons were good, but it's terrible now." What happened? The internet happened.

Here's some examples.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is somewhere on my top 5 list of the Best TV Shows in the History of TV Shows Ever. However, I disliked the seventh season, for reasons that are my own. I really, really liked the fifth, and especially the sixth, seasons, though. Seemingly everyone else on the planet hated everything after the fourth season. Why? Because the internet says so.

Heroes. Not in my top 5, but certainly in my top 10. The first season was fantastic. The second season, while cut tragically short by the writer's strike, was equally so. Everyone else? The last episode of the first season was terrible, and the second season was a mess. So says the internet.

Veronica Mars. Perhaps the single best TV show I've ever seen. Three seasons was definitely not enough time to spend with Ms. Mars. I can honestly say I enjoyed each successive season more than the previous one. I'm definitely a minority of one, though, because everyone else says things started to go downhill with season 2, and season 3 was nearly unwatchable. Blame the internet.

What I'm trying to say is that when some idiot on the internet blasts a TV show for a supposed drop in quality (either real or completely imagined), everyone jumps on the bandwagon. This type of behavior probably leads to quality shows getting canceled. Basically, morons bleating about "bad" TV shows gather others to their cause, they all believe the rhetoric, stop watching, the ratings go down, and the shows get the axe. I don't actually have any data to support it, but that's my theory. Fucking sheep.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Spore (PC) Impressions

I've been playing Spore for the past week, and have put in around 10 or 12 hours, enough to reach the final Space stage (the five stages are Cell, Creature, Tribal, Civilization, and Space) and play around in it. My initial thoughts about Spore since I first heard about it (some 3 years ago now, at least) were that it isn't a game in the traditional sense, and those are still my thoughts. There's no ending, no goals besides advancing to the next stage, and no real structure or story.

The most interesting part, the space stage, is fatally flawed. The general idea is to take over the galaxy, either by force or by economic means. You can complete missions for other races, establish trade routes, terraform and colonize new planets, buy out existing colonies, or blast them all to hell. The fatal flaw that I've found in this game that is very clearly marketed at the "casual" gamer, is that you can't do anything at your own pace. Let's say you want to explore the galaxy and do missions, and that's all you want to do. That's fine. Until you meet a warlike race, however, and they declare war on you with no provocation other than the fact that you were in their system. After that, they will relentlessly and tirelessly attack your colonies until there is nothing left of them. Sure, you can put up meager defense turrets, but they'll be blasted all to hell in no time. Sure, your colonies will purchase attack vehicles on their own, but not nearly as many as are needed, or often enough to turn aside a single invasion. Whenever your colonies are attacked, you must immediately drop whatever you're doing and return in your ship to help defend. Even if you're in the system that is being attacked, by the time you get to the planet and defeat the invaders, they will have wrought heavy damage to your colonies. Any buildings or turrets that were destroyed will have to be replaced by hand. You can choose not to replace them, but that simply means the next time you're attacked, the invasion will be able to destroy everything that's left more quickly, not to mention that your colonies will not be at full operating capacity.

What this boils down to is a futile exercise in micromanagement, something no casual gamer would ever find fun or interesting. Even I, as a self-described hardcore gamer have no interest in micromanaging my colonies. I'm off exploring the galaxy, goddammit, my people should rebuild those turrets and buildings automatically, and there should be an option to create a standing army so they'll be ready for the next invasion and won't have to whine that they're being attacked and plead that I come help them. That way, even if I'm in a war that I didn't start and didn't want, I don't have to scurry back and forth across the galaxy just to keep from being wiped off the face of the universe.

At this point, I had a lot more fun reaching the space stage then actually doing things in the space stage. Messing around with my creature and doing all of the tribal and civilization stuff was surprisingly fun, although I'm not sure I would ever want to do it again. The space stage, however, has the potential to be really, really good, and it's not. Kind of a shame, really, because I would have gladly paid $50 just for the Space stage that incorporates all of the interesting ideas it has with none of the bullshit.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Release Date Calendar

Rejoice! A comprehensive release date calendar, in easy to use calendar format complete with color coding!

I've been searching for something like this ever since Gone Gold went down, and the void it left was not sufficiently filled by the continuation of the community or the eventual resurrection of the sister site, Console Gold.

On a related side note, looking up Gone Gold for those links reminded me that it was at that site that I originally started reading Bill Harris' work, which he moved over to Dubious Quality just before Gone Gold closed. It's like six degrees of Kevin Bacon, or some shit.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

This is Why GameStop Sucks

If you've got some free time, please hit this link and watch these videos. They're made by a former GameStop employee who has decided to call out the retailer on all of their bullshit. For some reason, the first video ("01") has been removed, but the other 8 are still there.

Sad But True

Let me first make one thing perfectly clear: I am a die-hard Oakland Raiders football fan. I have been a member of the Raider Nation since I've known what football is. If you prick me, I'll still bleed red, but for metaphorical purposes, it is Silver and Black.

That said, this made me laugh uproariously, which is sad. But very true.

From the Shutdown Corner:

Don't Count On ... ... the Raiders continuing to be so tragic. Actually, you might be able to count on the Raiders continuing to be just that tragic. I don't know. What we witnessed from that morosely-dressed clown troupe on Monday night was almost unspeakable.

Things started well enough for them. They ran the ball. Justin Fargas found some holes, Darren McFadden had some success when he touched the ball. There seemed to be a shred of two of promise.

From there, I'd like to say that the wheels came off, but that wouldn't feel like an accurate description. The wheels didn't just magically come off, the Raiders all got out of the car (all 45 of them were in one Volkswagon; remember, this is a morosely-dressed clown troupe), shot the wheels off the own car, busted out the taillights, smashed the windshield and poured Splenda in the gas tank. Then they all piled back inside and started screaming, "CAR WON'T MOVE, ME SAD NOW!"

I just don't know how you can allow a performance like that to happen. Ninety-six penalty yards, most of them coming on ignorant personal fouls, a pathetic passing game in which Ashley Lelie was the star receiver, Eddie Royal consistently and viciously abusing DeAngelo Hall ... at no point were the Raiders anything but an ugly carpet for the Broncos to walk on.

You don't need talent to have discipline. You don't need a loaded roster to not be an embarrassment. The Chiefs found a way to take the field and not be a laughing stock, and they went out of their way this offseason to strip their roster of talent.

There's just no excuse for a team performing as poorly as the Raiders did on Monday night. I don't care if it's Week One or Week Seventeen.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Force Unleashed Demo Impressions (PS3)

Before I begin, let me preface my comments with a caveat: I am a huge Star Wars fan. I can't count the number of times I've seen the Original Trilogy, and I've even seen the Prequel Trilogy multiple times. I've read the books, I've had the action figures, hell, I even watched the Star Wars Holiday Special. (btw, if you're wondering if it really is that bad, the answer is yes. Yes it is) That said, I am not a George Lucas apologist, I think the Special Editions of the OT are awful, the PT is not as good as it could have been, and most things Star Wars that Lucas is directly involved in now are not the best.

Now, on to The Force Unleashed. In a word, awesome. In two words, fucking awesome. The basic idea is this: here's a lightsaber, here's the force, go have fun. See that window that looks out into space? Use the force to pick up that droid from across the room and hurl it through the window. See that TIE fighter? Use the force to snatch it out of midair and send it hurtling into a group of rebel soldiers. See that AT-ST? Force dash up to it, break it's legs with a Force blast, then cut it in half with your lightsaber. I did all that and more during the 10 minute demo.

I am so getting this game.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Facebreaker Demo Impressions (PS3)

After I checked out these videos, I had to download the demo and try Facebreaker. After five minutes with the demo, I've made a buying decision.

That is to say, I definitely won't be spending a nickel on Facebreaker. I don't know where the comedy in those videos is in the game (probably no where, but it's certainly not in the demo), but without it, the gameplay in no way holds my interest. It's button mashing. It's not even good button mashing, because the computer button mashes, too. I could maybe forgive it if two player games devolved into button mashing, because most mediocre fighters do. But when the only legitimate strategy against the computer is to button mash? Fucking terrible.

I mean, shit, at least Fight Night Round 3 had good controls. The game still sucked, but it controlled well. Ever since the original Fight Night introduced Total Punch Control, there is no excuse for a modern boxing game, even an arcade one like Facebreaker, to not use that control scheme. For that reason alone (nevermind the others), Facebreaker = Fail.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I Hate Spoilers

Contrary to the latest Tensided Tales, I was, and continue to be, excited about the Olympic Games. Something about the very best athletes in the world coming together and competing against each other is extremely cool. Some of the sports are pretty lame (synchronized diving? rhythmic gymnastics? dressage? Come on), but for the most part, it's enjoyable. At least, it is when I can actually watch the contests without foreknowledge of knowing the outcome.

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I absolutely can't stand spoilers. One of the unfortunate things about living on the other side of the world from where the Olympics are being held is that pretty much everything is time-delayed. No problem, though, because I can easily avoid spoilers, right?

Wrong. Yesterday, I decided to check my email, and the "helpful" news update just happened to advise me that the US swimming relay team had won the gold medal in a race that would not be broadcast for four more hours. Great. Just great. It completely took all the excitement out of an event that for everyone that saw it unspoiled was incredibly exciting. Amazing. Spellbinding. Unforgettable. As long as you didn't know who won ahead of time.

Fast forward to today. I decide to avoid the internet like the plague, and watch the Monday Night Football game on ESPN. Yes, it's a sports news channel, but the game is shown live. They wouldn't ruin anything that anyone watching would have no chance of having seen, right? That would just be irresponsible, right?

Wrong. They broke in in the third quarter to "helpfully" announce that Phelps had won another gold during his individual race. That's right, the race would not be broadcast for four more hours.

Seriously, what the hell is wrong with people? If I want to know the news as soon as it happens, sure, I should be able to get it. But I should have to seek it out, it shouldn't be thrust upon me out of nowhere. It certainly shouldn't be handed out like candy when I don't even want it. What the fuck?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Assorted Media Opinions

First, I want to link to this again because everyone needs to see it. Dr. Horrible. This is the one. Stops time. Dr. Horrible. Tell your friends.

Now on to the reviews of recent movies, TV shows, and internet...things.

Hancock, rated PG-13, starring Will Smith, Jason Bateman, and Charlize Theron. I may have said this before, but Will Smith is incredibly entertaining, even in a bad movie. Not to say Hancock is bad, but it's made considerably better by the presence of Mr. Smith. Definitely not your typical superhero flick. Thumbs up.

The Happening, rated R, starring Marky Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, and John Leguizamo. Where to begin with this one? M. Night Shyamalan is an interesting guy. The Sixth Sense was amazing, Unbreakable was a new twist on an old story, and Signs was a mess. I didn't bother seeing The Village or Lady in the Water. So I approached The Happening with more than a little bit of trepidation. Ultimately, The Happening is just a bad movie. Bad plot, bad twist (if you want to call it that), bad acting, badly written characters. That flushing sound you hear? That's M. Night's career going away.

Mamma Mia!, rated PG-13, starring Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Amanda Seyfried, Colin Firth, and Stellan Skarsgard. Let me be up front: I'm not a fan of musicals. I've seen a handful, enjoyed a couple, but for the most part the musical, as a genre, is just beyond me. That said, I didn't hate Mamma Mia. The songs were good (it's ABBA. Hatin' on ABBA is like punching a kitten in the face. Normal people just don't do it), the actors were surprisingly good singers (for the most part, anyway. I'm looking at you, Pierce Brosnan), and the story, while a bit contrived, was decent enough. If you're a fan of musicals and/or chick flicks, you'll definitely enjoy Mamma Mia!

Hellboy II, rated PG-13, starring Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, and Jeffrey Tambor. Hellboy is another superhero comic book movie, but it's completely unlike any other superhero comic book movie. Hellboy's universe is an occult and supernatural one, and it makes for a very different experience. The first Hellboy film isn't required viewing before seeing the sequel, but since they're both excellent flicks, I recommend them.

Eureka, starring Colin Ferguson, Salli Richardson, and Joe Morton. Currently in it's third season (which started tonight), Eureka is technically science fiction, but I'd say it bends genres. It's part comedy, part drama, part mystery. So far, I've only seen the first season, but it's definitely enjoyable. The first two seasons are on DVD, so Netflix em if you've got it.

Generation Kill, starring an ensemble cast. This a new mini-series on HBO about a battalion of Marines (specifically, the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion) during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Since the series is based on a book by an embedded reporter, it's essentially a first-hand look at the operation and the soldiers involved. Only 3 episodes (of 7) have aired so far, but as a fan of war movies and documentaries, I'm enjoying this bit of historical re-telling.

And last, but certainly not least:

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, starring Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, and Felicia Day. Yes, ok, it's a musical. But it's also a comedy, and a drama, and a superhero story with a love triangle and a supervillian who's also the protaganist. It defies convention. It's a must see (it can be streamed for free right here!), even if you're not a fan of musicals. That's about all I can say without spoiling anything. Go. Watch. Enjoy. Sing along.

Monday, July 28, 2008


In case you missed it, it's back! Go watch it for the first time, or the thirtieth time, or anywhere in between. Go now!

Seriously, don't make me beat you.

The Dark Knight...of Bad Math

So, The Dark Knight. I still haven't seen it. Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "You'll go see Mamma Mia! but you won't see Dark Knight? Exactly how much cock do you chug?" Well, the answer is none of your goddamn business. I will say that I fully intend to go see The Dark Knight, preferably when there aren't lines that wrap around the building. I'm thinking a weeknight.

Anyway, that's not what this post is about. I want to talk about something that really gets under my skin, and that's bad math. Specifically, when people talk about numbers with a time dimension in nominal terms. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me back up.

The Dark Knight has made a shit-ton of money in a short period of time. At last count, $313,781,677 domestically in 10 days. I'll grant you, that's a lot of dough. So much so, that there's chatter about it breaking Titanic's record. And that's when I get pissed off.

Here's the thing: Titanic doesn't have a record. $600 million is a lot of money, yeah, but a record it ain't. Even though this shows Titanic at the top, that doesn't mean anything. Why? Look at the number 2 film. Star Wars came out in 1977. Do you think you could buy as much with a dollar in 1997 as you could in 1977? No, you couldn't.

Which brings me to using nominal values to describe something with a time dimension. In this case, looking at box office receipts in terms of today's money becomes useless after only a few years, let alone a few decades.

So let's get the real value by adjusting for inflation. Oh ho, this paints quite a different picture, doesn't it? Titanic tumbles all the way to #6. Still respectable, but not nearly #1, not by a half a billion dollars. That's right, a movie released today would have to do 1.5 billion dollars worth of domestic business in order to break Gone with the Wind's record. Not likely. Possible, but I don't know if any movie ever again would sell that many tickets.

Oh, and The Dark Knight? $300 million in 10 days is impressive, but that doesn't even put it in the Top 100 on the all-time list. Too bad, Bats.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

I was going to link to this earlier, but then I got distracted by something, probably boobs. Mmm, boobs....

No! So you need to check out Dr. Horrible. It's got Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, and Felicia Day, and it's written and directed by Joss Whedon. It's a super-villain love story musical, and it is made of pure awesome. Go see it right now, because it ceases to exist on the internets in it's wild, free form as of Sunday night at midnight.

Go now.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

E3 Postmortem

Another E3 has come and gone, so I thought I'd give a rundown of what happened.

First up, Microsoft...ah, hell with it. This sums the whole thing up pretty nicely.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Another Post About Rock Band 2

Already? Yes, indeed!

According to Gamestop, the game itself hits the Xbox 360 first on September 14, then the bundle for both 360 and PS3, as well as the standalone game for PS3 hits on October 19. Wii and PS2 owners have the longest to wait, as the game and bundles don't hit for those platforms until November 18.

I can wait until October 19.

I think.


I don't know if it's just because I haven't kept on top of the latest PC tech or what, but this is fucking amazing to me. That is a sexy beast, right there.

Now, I've always built my own computers (except for one very early, very bad decision on a Compaq that I still regret), but this is damn tempting. Core 2 Duo E4600 processor, 2GB of DDR2-667 memory, 320GB SATA hard drive, dual layer DVDRW optical drive with Lightscribe, and an NVIDIA GeForce 8400GS video card, all in a 22" flat panel monitor for 1200 bucks. And a wireless mouse and keyboard are included. Jesus, that's everything you need. It's even got wireless LAN. When the guy in the video (which autoplays, btw, that's kind of annoying) says you take it out of the box and plug in one cable, he ain't kidding, and that is all sorts of cool.

I'll say it again: that is a sexy beast, and it is very, very tempting.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Harmonix Is My Master Now

Technically, they have been since the OG Guitar Hero, but now even more so. E3 kicked off today, and they made some official announcements. I'm going to run through them and post my comments interspersed in italics.

- Local and global online modes to connect the entire Rock Band community
Nothing new here.
- World Tour mode, now online, simplifies the best of gameplay from the original Rock Band by fusing Solo Tour and Band World Tour modes and cranks it up a notch with an all new collection of opportunity gigs, challenges, cities, venues and hirable staff
Oh hell yes. In person rocking is still the way to go, but having the option of playing the world tour with people across town or across the world kicks serious ass.
- Tour Challenges that offer rockers a chance to play through mini-campaigns focused on the best songs by instrument, decade, genre, artist, album and more
- Battle of the Bands mode challenges players to go head to head against other bands in constantly refreshed contests created by Harmonix
I'm personally not into the competition aspect of the game, but that sounds very cool.
- Quickplay makes it easier than ever to get in and jam without hassle while allowing for new prefab characters or customized characters that can play on any instrument plus lets you make your own set lists and organize your song lists in a variety of categories (genre, era, etc.)
Nothing new here except for set lists.
- Customizable Set Lists keep the music rolling and your band rocking in Quickplay mode
Yay! Set lists!
- Drum Trainer mode gives players the fundamentals of different beats and fills, translating gameplay into real drumming skills
Wow. I can't wait to see how far they take this, but the mind boggles at the possibilities.
- Character Creator completes your look with all new choices in clothing, accessories, tattoos, hairstyles, instruments and more to keep your unique rock avatar playing the full rock part
Nothing new here.
- Backwards compatibility with all Rock Band downloadable music content released to date
Very, very cool.
- Disc Export Feature gives owners of the original Rock Band the ability to export most of the Rock Band disc tracks and upgrade them into Rock Band 2 gameplay--the first time ever in videogame history!
Fuck yes. The only thing that gives me the slightest pause is the word "most." It would suck most extremely if we could import stuff like "Ballroom Blitz" and "Electric Version" but couldn't bring over "Tom Sawyer" and "Foreplay/Long Time." Then again, who am I kidding? I'm buying RB2 if I can't import any songs from RB1, so this is just a really, really big bonus.
- The Rock Band 2 soundtrack will feature over 100 songs - with over 80 songs on disc plus an additional 20 bonus tracks which will be made available for free download this fall.
Nice. This is even nicer given that the soundtrack has also been officially announced. More on that in a bit.
- Unrivaled Blend of Classic, Developing and Emerging rock acts including Pearl Jam, Metallica, Allman Brothers, Motorhead, Devo, Jane's Addiction, Megadeth, Paramore, Modest Mouse and more.
Yes, yes, yes, ok, ok, yes, yes, and ok.
- Rock Band 2 is the first and only video game to feature the music of AC/DC. It includes their epic rock anthem, "Let There Be Rock”
Moar AcDc plz!!!11one
- After 14 years since Guns N’ Roses last official music release, Axl Rose selects Rock Band 2 to debut official new track, “Shackler’s Revenge” from the highly-anticipated album Chinese Democracy
Moar GnR plz!!!111eleven.
- For the first time ever, music from American music icon, Bob Dylan, is featured in a video game with “Tangled Up In Blue”
Moar Dob Bylan kthxbai!!!!11onehundredeleven
- With ongoing weekly DLC releases including individual tracks, track packs and full albums, the Rock Band music library will feature more than 500 songs by year’s end!
That's a lot of music.
- Fender Stratocaster Controller takes on a new authentic look plus adds a reinforced strum bar, quieter buttons, wireless functionality and a built in calibration tool that automatically sets your AV setup to an ideal setting for maximum rock.
Nothing groundbreaking here, seeing as how the PS3 guitar is already wireless, I've never needed to calibrate it, and the buttons are fine. I suppose the strum bar could use a little work, so ok.
- Drum set goes wireless while also featuring quieter, velocity sensitive drum pads and a metal reinforced pedal.
Yes, yes, and yes. I might end up having to get a new drum set, especially if my pedal cracks in half (it's currently hanging on by a thread).
- Microphone showcases authentic styling and weight.
Uh huh. Ok. Sure.
- Fender Telecaster Controller from Mad Catz features soft buttons with lower action to help you shred faster than ever.
O...K. Lower action? Seriously? You realize it's not an actual guitar, right?
- Fender Bass Controller from Mad Catz, the first bass guitar controller ever, takes the shape of the Fender P-Bass with extended length, tuning pegs and a split strum bar to replicate finger-bass style picking.
Ok, now this is awesome. Given that that's exactly how I play the bass (IRL and in the game), I may very well have to pick that up.
- Full-sized Squire Stratocaster Guitar Controller from Mad Catz multiplies the authentic guitar experience by featuring a controller built into an actual Squire Stratocaster body.
Yeah...no. Seriously, just buy a guitar.
- Cymbal Expansion Pack from Mad Catz is a straightforward but amazing upgrade to the Rock Band 2 drum set featuring add-on cymbals.
Interesting. Not sure that it adds anything (the cymbals would just be different inputs, but would still be mapped to 2 or 3 of the same buttons that the drum pads are mapped to), but ok.
- ION Drum Rocker, a real electronic drum kit that functions as a game controller, brings the Rock Band fantasy to life featuring a simple substitution that takes the drum kit from a controller to a real instrument.
Very, very cool.

And now, the official on-disc tracklist:
1. AC/DC “Let There Be Rock” 1970s
2. AFI “Girl’s Gone Grey” 2000’s
3. Alanis Morissette “You Oughta Know” 1990’s
4. Alice in Chains “Man in the Box” 1990’s
5. Allman Brothers “Ramblin’ Man” 1970’s
6. Avenged Sevenfold “Almost Easy” 2000’s
7. Bad Company “Shooting Star” 1970’s
8. Beastie Boys “So Whatcha Want” 1990’s
9. Beck “E-Pro” 2000’s
10. Bikini Kill “Rebel Girl” 1990’s
11. Billy Idol “White Wedding Pt. I” 1980’s
12. Blondie “One Way or Another” 1970’s
13. Bob Dylan “Tangled Up in Blue” 1970’s
14. Bon Jovi “Livin’ on a Prayer” 1980’s
15. Cheap Trick “Hello There” 1970’s
16. Devo “Uncontrollable Urge” 1980’s
17. Dinosaur Jr. “Feel the Pain” 1990’s
18. Disturbed “Down with the Sickness” 2000’s
19. Dream Theater “Panic Attack” 2000’s
20. Duran Duran “Hungry Like the Wolf” 1980’s
21. Elvis Costello “Pump It Up” 1970’s
22. Fleetwood Mac “Go Your Own Way” 1970’s
23. Foo Fighters “Everlong” 1990’s
24. Guns N’ Roses “Shackler’s Revenge” 2000’s
25. Interpol “PDA” 2000’s
26. Jane’s Addiction “Mountain Song” 1980’s
27. Jethro Tull “Aqualung” 1970’s
28. Jimmy Eat World “The Middle” 2000’s
29. Joan Jett “Bad Reputation” 1980’s
30. Journey “Anyway You Want It” 1970’s
31. Judas Priest “Painkiller” 1990’s
32. Kansas “Carry On Wayward Son” 1970’s
33. L7 “Pretend We’re Dead” 1990’s
34. Lacuna Coil “Our Truth” 2000’s
35. Linkin Park “One Step Closer” 2000’s
36. Lit “My Own Worst Enemy” 1990’s
37. Lush “De-Luxe” 1990’s
38. Mastodon “Colony of Birchmen” 2000’s
39. Megadeth “Peace Sells” 1980’s
40. Metallica “Battery” 1980’s
41. Mighty Mighty Bosstones “Where’d You Go” 1990’s
42. Modest Mouse “Float On” 2000’s
43. Motorhead “Ace of Spades” 1980’s
44. Nirvana “Drain You” 1990’s
45. Norman Greenbaum “Spirit in the Sky” 1960’s
46. Panic at the Disco “Nine in the Afternoon” 2000’s
47. Paramore “That’s What You Get” 2000’s
48. Pearl Jam “Alive” 1990’s
49. Presidents of the USA “Lump” 1990’s
50. Rage Against the Machine “Testify” 1990’s
51. Ratt “Round & Round” 1980’s
52. Red Hot Chili Peppers “Give it Away” 1990’s
53. Rise Against “Give it All” 2000’s
54. Rush “The Trees” 1970’s
55. Silversun Pickups “Lazy Eye” 2000’s
56. Smashing Pumpkins “Today” 1990’s
57. Social Distortion “I Was Wrong” 1990’s
58. Sonic Youth “Teenage Riot” 1980’s
59. Soundgarden “Spoonman” 1990’s
60. Squeeze “Cool for Cats” 1970’s
61. Steely Dan “Bodhitsattva” 1970’s
62. Steve Miller Band “Rock’n Me” 1970’s
63. Survivor “Eye of the Tiger” 1980’s
64. System of a Down “Chop Suey” 2000’s
65. Talking Heads “Psycho Killer” 1970’s
66. Tenacious D “Master Exploder” 2000’s
67. Testament “Souls of Black” 1990’s
68. The Donnas “New Kid in School” 2000’s
69. The Go-Go’s “We Got the Beat” 1980’s
70. The Grateful Dead “Alabama Getaway” 1980’s
71. The Guess Who “American Woman” 1970’s
72. The Muffs “Kids in America” 1990’s
73. The Offspring “Come Out & Play (Keep ‘em Separated)” 1990’s
74. The Replacements “Alex Chilton” 1980’s
75. The Who “Pinball Wizard” 1960’s
76. Abnormality “Visions” 2000’s
77. Anarchy Club “Get Clean” 2000’s
78. Bang Camaro “Night Lies” 2000’s
79. Breaking Wheel “Shoulder to the Plow” 2000’s
80. The Libyans “Neighborhood” 2000’s
81. The Main Drag “A Jagged Gorgeous Winter” 2000’s
82. Speck “Conventional Lover” 2000’s
83. The Sterns “Supreme Girl” 2000’s
84. That Handsome Devil “Rob the Prez-O-Dent” 2000’s
Too...much...awesome...brain...overloading...forcing...to speak...in short...bursts...
Seriously, though, wow. Of the 50 something songs there that I've heard, completely awesome. I'm sure most, if not all, of the other 30 something will grow on me once I hear and play them.

That's it for the official announcements today, and damn, what announcements they are. One more note on the tracklist. Supposedly, Harmonix couldn't get all the tracks they wanted together in time for the Xbox's exclusive launch in September, so that's why they're releasing another 20 tracks to RB2 owners for free download later this year. That's just incredible. At this point, since GH1 was a 10, GH2 was an 11, and Rock Band was a 12, Rock Band 2 is going to be a 13.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Two Handheld Reviews

I recently finished a couple of games on my handheld systems.

First up, Jeanne D'Arc, a turn-based tactical RPG for the PSP. I've been a sucker for these ever since Final Fantasy Tactics on the Playstation, and Jeanne D'Arc doesn't disappoint. It gets bonus points for not forcing me to level grind just so I can advance the storyline (like so many traditional RPGs do, and one of the reasons I don't play them anymore). An enjoyable game with an interesting plot and relatable characters equals a thumbs up from me. Now I can finally pick up and dive into Final Fantasy Tactics for the PSP. I hear it's a faithful update to the original.

The other game I just finished is Hotel Dusk: Room 215, a point-and-click adventure game for the DS. I've been a sucker for these ever since the LucasArts classic adventure games on PC (Monkey Island, Full Throttle, Sam and Max, etc). The only downside is occasionally getting lost and having no idea what to do next because it's unclear how items in your inventory fit into whatever you're trying to do. Other than that, Hotel Dusk was a fairly riveting mystery story that read very much like a hard-boiled detective novel (it even has you hold the DS like a paperback book). Thumbs up. Next up is Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. After all, I've only had it for 8 months...

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Rock Band 2

Rock Band 2 has been officially announced.

In short, DLC from Rock Band 1 is fully compatible with Rock Band 2 and vice versa, there will be new and improved instruments although the old ones will still work just fine, there are new modes and tweaks to existing modes (like Band World Tour, which will most likely jump to online, and possibly a "create-a-song" feature like Guitar Hero World Tour will have, although the PR-speak seems to imply that Rock Band won't be doing that until the third iteration or later), the ability to sing and play an instrument at the same time (with one character, rather than having to play multiplayer with yourself), an all-new on disc tracklist, which is the "strongest playlist [they've] ever assembled," as well as "new ways for you to transition from Expert to real instruments." What that last statement could mean is anyone's guess, but Bill Harris over at Dubious Quality thinks it could mean things like electronic drumkits that are compatible with Rock Band. It's going to be interesting, whatever it means.

Also, the folks at Harmonix are continuing to put out quality tracks as DLC, as well as a wide range of music that is certainly broadening my horizons. Since that was one of their mission statements with Rock Band, I'd say they're succeeding. Recent releases have included songs from Boston, Blondie, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Motley Crue, Judas Priest, The Cars, Fallout Boy, Jimmy Buffett, Disturbed, Maximo Park, Avenged Sevenfold, The Offspring, Pixies, Weezer, and Papa Roach. Currently announced and coming soon are songs by Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rush, and a 12 track "Greatest Hits" pack from The Who.

Speaking of great tracks, some of the songs rumored to be on Rock Band 2's disc include "Chop Suey" by System of a Down, "Give It Away" by Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Everlong" by Foo Fighters, "Ace of Spades" by Motörhead, "Hello There" by Cheap Trick, "Anyway You Want It" by Journey, "Pinball Wizard" by The Who, "Peace Sells" by Megadeth, "Testify" by Rage Against The Machine, "American Woman" by The Guess Who, "White Wedding" by Billy Idol, "Aqua Lung" by Jethro Tull, "Bad Reputation" by Joan Jett, "Drain You" by Nirvana, "Man in the Box" by Alice In Chains, and "Spoonman" by Soundgarden.

Guitar Hero Who?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Weekend Movie Reviews

I've seen a bunch more movies, so here we go with another round of quick shot reviews.

You Don't Mess With the Zohan, rated PG-13, starring Adam Sandler and John Turturro. I'm a fan of Adam Sandler (except when he makes absolute garbage like Click), so I had to see this movie. So funny, so wrong, and so great. This movie recalls the earlier days of Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison, before he took a "serious" turn and did films like 50 First Dates (possibly the only chick flick I enjoy, but it's not exactly an "Adam Sandler joint"), Spanglish (again, not a bad movie, but definitely not a screwball comedy), and the aforementioned, terrible Click. If you like Adam Sandler doing crazy shit, you can't miss with the Zohan.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, rated PG-13, starring Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, and John Hurt. What can I say? It's fucking Indy. Is it as good as any of the films in the original trilogy? Hard to say. Is it still Indy? Very much so. Anyone who was disappointed by this film was either expecting too much, had their memories of the original trilogy tinted by rose-colored glasses, or both. It's fucking Indy, what more do you want?

Get Smart, rated PG-13, starring Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Dwayne Johnson, Alan Arkin, and Terence Stamp. I'll be the first to admit that I've never seen the TV show from the 60's. So I don't have criticism like, "Maxwell Smart would never do that!" I took this movie for what it is: a summer spy action-comedy. It delivered on that front, so I enjoyed it.

The Incredible Hulk, rated PG-13, starring Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, and William Hurt. As one of the few people who actually dug the first Hulk flick, I was lukewarm towards the idea of a reboot. The trailers didn't really do it for me, but I'm still a fan of Hulk and Edward Norton, so I gave it a shot. In short, I liked it. Edward Norton is a great Bruce Banner. I really liked how they foreshadowed the Leader for the inevitable sequel, and just like with Iron Man, the seeds of the Avengers are planted at the end of the film. It is a very good time to be a comic book fan.

Zodiac, rated R, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey Jr. I Netflixed this one. My only real complaint about this movie is it's length. Granted, it covers some 22 years, but it does tend to drag in parts that could have been edited not only to keep suspense, but to shorten the overall running time of 2.5 hours. Overall, not a bad movie.

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, rated R, starring Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer. I was raving about this film to one of my coworkers about how she had to see it, and I got the urge to rewatch it. It's definitely one of those films that you can watch a second time and end up getting even more out of it. Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer are great. The movie is very dark and yet absolutely hilarious, it's fantastic.

That's all for now. Tune in next week (or maybe in two weeks or a month, whatever) for more quickie film reviews.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Ready for a shocking fact? 26 of the 50 United States of America have constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriages. For the mathematically challenged, that's over half of the states in the union. Would you like a list? Here's a list:
North Dakota
South Carolina
South Dakota

Hawaii has an amendment stating that the legislature "has the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples." Voters from the state of Arizona were presented with an amendment banning same-sex marriage and voted it down by a slim margin. The existing amendments were all passed by a solid majority, some by an overwhelming majority (Mississippi, Alabama, Tennesse). The state of California will vote on a constitutional ban of same-sex marriage in 2008, and other states such as Florida, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania may as well.

What I can't wrap my head around is this: how and why is it legal for a state (26 of them, no less) to tell two people that they cannot be married for no other reason than because they are the same sex? Forget about all the rhetoric and politics and other bullshit, what we've got here is a civil rights issue. What we've got here is a group of people being denied a right that another group of people has. Period, full stop.

When the election rolls around in November, I might go out and vote for no other reason than to put my mark on a piece of paper, stating that, "No, I refuse to deny a basic civil right to other human beings."

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Metal Gear Solid 4 Impressions (PS3)

After about an 8 minute install (during which Snake smoked like 4 cigarettes), I started playing the game. Or rather, I started watching cutscenes.

Here's the thing about the initial cutscenes, though: they don't make any fucking sense. Which is the norm for Metal Gear Solid cutscenes. *rimshot* Seriously, though, there was some sort of documentary footage with some deep sea divers and voiceover talking about octopuses, while a news ticker jumped around the screen. Then it switched to a couple of people (not sure if they were male or female, it was hard to tell) doing slow motion wire fu while shit blew up around them.

I was literally staring at my television slackjawed, not out of awe, but out of sheer confusion. Eventually, the game started, and it was Iraq, with Snake in the back of a truck headed to a combat zone. Once I was able to play, I settled in pretty nicely. Although there is a man and his monkey that also has me scratching my head.

I dunno, this is the game that got a number of 10's, but unlike GTA4, I'm just not seeing it. Not yet, anyway.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Thursday Night Movie Roundup

I haven't done one of these in quite a while, and since I've seen a number of flicks since the last time I did, another one is certainly due. Let's get started.

Cloverfield, rated PG-13, starring a bunch of actors no one has ever heard of. I caught Cloverfield in the theatre, and I had a good time. Not much else to say other than that.

Dan in Real Life, rated PG-13, starring Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, and Dane Cook. Yes, it's a romantic comedy, and yes, all romantic comedies are the same: boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy drives girl away, boy and girl reconcile and end up together. But I'm a huge Steve Carell fan, so it wasn't a bad way to waste 90 minutes.

Alvin and the Chipmunks, rated PG, starring Jason Lee, David Cross, and the voice of Justin Long. You couldn't have paid me to see this movie if Jason Lee wasn't in it. However, since Jason Lee is one of my man-crushes, I suffered through it. Dear god it was terrible.

Bullitt, rated PG, starring Steve McQueen and Robert Vaughn. This was the second time I've seen this movie, and the first time on Blu Ray. It was one (of 5) I chose for free when I bought my PS3. It's surprising how great a 40 year old film can look and sound on Blu Ray, but the movie itself isn't very good. It's memorable pretty much solely for a 14 minute car chase through the streets of San Francisco with a Dodge Charger and a Ford Mustang.

Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, rated R, starring John Cho, Kal Penn, and Neil Patrick Harris. A funny, if entirely forgettable comedy.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall, rated R, starring Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, and Mila Kunis. Anyone who knows me knows I can't get enough Kristen Bell (I still pine for Veronica Mars). Me seeing this flick was a foregone conclusion, and it was pretty damn good even when Kristen wasn't on screen.

Iron Man, rated PG-13, starring Robert Downey Jr, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Terrence Howard. This is by far my favorite comic book movie since Spider-Man 2. Robert Downey Jr is perfect as Tony Stark. I can't wait for the sequel, and I really hope Rhodey gets to become War Machine. Just bad ass all around.

I'm going to catch You Don't Mess With the Zohan this weekend, Kung Fu Panda next Wednesday, and Indy (finally) next weekend. Then there's The Incredible Hulk, Get Smart, WALL-E, Hancock, Hellboy 2, Dark Knight, Pineapple Express, The Clone Wars...Jesus Christ, this summer is fucking packed with great flicks. Until next time!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

GTA IV Postmortem (PS3)

Wow, that only took a month. After about 53 hours of play and 83% completion, I've finished the storyline of GTA IV.

Bottom line: if you have an Xbox 360 or a PS3, you need to own this game. Hell, it might be worth purchasing one of the systems just for this game (and Rock Band).

Easily the best GTA game, and probably the best game I've played this year. Great story, great voice acting, looks great, plays great, ton of stuff to do, just fantastic all around. And the endings, holy shit, the endings. Neither is what you'd call "good" and I can't really decide which one I like better. If any other game had only two endings, one would be "good" and the other would be "bad." In GTA IV, no matter how it ends, things get fucked up and Niko will never be the same. Again, fantastic is the word that comes to mind.

Next up: Metal Gear Solid 4. Rumors of 90 minute cutscenes have me wary, however.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Earthbound? No way!

Today I make a very rare blog post from work. Usually I don't post at work just because, but today there's some news that demanded I make a post as soon as possible.

Earthbound has been rated by the ESRB, and that usually means only one thing: It will soon release on the Wii Virtual Console.

I've avoided the Wii Virtual Console so far, mainly because there wasn't much worth paying 5 or 10 bucks for, and because I didn't have any Wavebirds (which is the only way to play VC games properly, as I understand it). But now that I have a couple of Wavebirds, the lure of Earthbound is far too strong, and I must have it when it comes out. I remember borrowing the game from a friend and playing it pretty much every day until I finished it. I can't wait to do it again.

I also hear there are some things like Punch Out! and Super Metroid on the VC. I'm thinking I might have plenty of games to keep me busy after GTA IV lets go of me...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

GTA IV Initial Impressions (PS3)

My first thought after putting GTA IV in my PS3: Man, I hope this install doesn't take too long.

As it turns out, it took around 10 minutes, just long enough for me to wolf down my burger that I had gotten on my way home from work after picking up the game at GameCrazy (I no longer patronize EBGameStopWare Etc.). After reading some bad stuff on the net about freezing issues, I hoped that the intro cinematic wouldn't break. Luckily, it didn't, and Niko Bellic was in Liberty City soon enough, driving his cousin to his "mansion."

Without going into too much detail (I'd rather save that for a full review), the game is amazing. It looks fantastic, it plays pretty much like you'd expect it to, and the voice acting and sound effects are top notch.

In about 7 hours of play, I haven't done much of the storyline. I've done enough to meet some people, get a list of contacts in my cell phone (which is pretty much the hub for everything: missions, jobs, meet-ups, dates, etc), and see most of the sights on the starting two islands. The storyline is interesting, don't get me wrong, but I'm having just as much fun taking in the city. I haven't stolen many cars (except when I really needed to), because it's just as easy to grab a cab. That's right, you can hail a cab from any street corner (Liberty City is modeled after New York, after all), hop in the back, and be driven wherever you'd like to go.

That's assuming you'd rather go somewhere in an automobile instead of on foot. For the first time in any GTA game, I'm finding myself avoiding cars as much as possible. There is so much detail in the city that driving past it at 90 mph seems wasteful. Pedestrians all look different and they speak a multitude of languages. You can buy hot dogs from street vendors. You can get special missions from random people on the street. You can go out to eat, play darts, shoot pool, roll a few frames at the bowling alley, catch a cabaret show, patronize the local strip club, or get plastered at the bar down the street, and you can do any of these activities alone, with friends, or with a date. Niko is currently dating a lovely woman named Michelle. I suspect Michelle might be in some sort of witness protection, as all the things in her apartment are brand new, and she always changes the subject when her past is brought up.

Let me turn to what the media focuses on: the violence and criminal activity. Yes, you can steal cars, but I really don't feel the need to, as I already mentioned with the cabs and the walking around the city seeing the sights. Yes, you can solicit prostitutes, receive service, and then waste them to get a "refund." I don't know that anyone would make a habit of that, however, as the GTA games have always handed out money like candy, and if you're that hard up for digital porn, you would get much better results surfing the net. Yes, you can shoot anyone and everyone. But I've only shot bad people so far. Once, I pulled out a shotgun as I was standing on the curb, whipped around, and blew some poor bastard away. I don't why I did it, it's just something that I've done in past GTA games for kicks. The deafening boom of the shotgun was like a slap in the face, and as I watched the man fly backwards and smack sickeningly into the wall before crumpling to the ground, I was shocked. Shocked at the brutality of it, and shocked at myself for engaging in such wanton violence. I went to the pause menu and loaded my game since I had just saved 30 seconds prior, and I haven't shot anyone "just 'cause" since.

This has already gotten way too long, so I'll end it here. To summarize, after 7 hours of play, GTA IV is everything I thought it would be and much, much more.

Monday, April 28, 2008

GTA IV Tomorrow

GTA IV hits tomorrow. Actually, it hits at midnight tonight, but since I have to work in the morning, I can't get it until after 5 tomorrow. I say can't, not because I'm somehow unable to get it tonight, it's just that I know if I do, I'll stay up until like 4 in the morning playing it, and then not want to go to work, and that's just all bad. I have no self control when it comes to GTA.

So, the work day tomorrow is officially going to be the longest 8 and a half hours of my life. Wish me luck. I'll try and get impressions up tomorrow night (if I can tear myself away from playing after oh, about 6 hours straight, I'm guessing) but probably not until Wednesday or later. GTA IV, bitches!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I don't talk about work, except when I do. Shit, I think I've used that line before. Oh well, fuck it, I'm too tired right now to care.

So I'm a Health Plan Service Specialist. When I first got the job, it meant I helped out the reps who had questions about whatever. That was awesome, because I didn't have to talk to the public (except for rare occasions), and I got to put my knowledge to good use (explaining things to the general public is not a good use of knowledge. It's wasted on them). But then, that changed, and I didn't get to take those calls anymore. Those calls went to the seasoned reps, and I got escalated calls.

You know what escalated calls are? It's the kind of call that starts with "I want to talk to your supervisor." The kind of calls that really shouldn't exist, because they only occur when a rep isn't doing their job properly or a customer is being unreasonable. Either way, they suck, because I was right back talking to the public again. And this time, every single call was a nightmare.

I contemplated quitting. I thought about stepping down and being a rep again. I thought about doing anything but having to take those damn calls ever again. Recently, I switched to a different specialty escalated queue, and it's better, but it still has the potential to be nightmarish.

However, now there's going to be some changes. Now, escalated calls are only going to take up half my day. The other half will be spent working with reps again, to help them get better. It will be spent working with managers to get things done. It will be spent actually doing management duties for the first time ever, even though I became "management" over a year ago. Plus, we're going to be negotiating for more money, which is always good.

Is it going to be perfect? No. Of course not. But I have the sneaking suspicion that I'm going to like my job again. I'm excited.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Weekend's Over

My weekend is, anyway. I've had the last four days off work, which was fan-fucking-tastic. I got to sleep in, play a shitload of video games (specifically, I finished off GTA: Vice City Stories on the PS2, and got absolutely hooked on Locoroco and Patapon for the PSP), hang out with my friends, and watch TV (Weeds is a great show. I Netflixed the first season on Blu-Ray, and after watching it bumped the second season to the top of my queue).

It was also my birthday on Saturday, and I got some great wishes from my friends, so I'd like to thank you all again for those. In celebration, we're going to go see Forgetting Sarah Marshall next weekend (mmm, Kristen Bell), so that should be awesome.

Finally, the Playstation Store should be updated by this time tomorrow. It would be a perfect opportunity to unveil the public beta for Home, I think. Because dammit, I want to see Sony's SecondLife/virtual MySpace. I'm not sure exactly why, but it intrigues me.

Saturday, April 05, 2008


I got my refund for my printer, which wasn't really a surprise since I was dealing with Newegg and they kick ass. I also got my refund for those fucked up controllers, which was a bit of a surprise. I think it was my threat of filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau for false advertising that got them to break.

I ended up getting two Wavebirds off eBay for about a hundred bucks combined. That's more than I wanted to pay, but they're Wavebirds and they're great, so it's all good. The DVD binders arrived in perfect condition, so no problems there. And the new printer/scanner/copier I chose is fantastic. It's a Canon (the other one was a Lexmark), which I should have gone with in the first place because Canon makes rock-solid printers.

I finished Kane and Lynch, by actually completing the story line. Turns out all that was required to complete the "stealth" mission was to pop the sentry in the head with a silenced pistol so he couldn't run and fire a warning flare, and then proceed to open fire on full auto on the rest of the guys. Apparently only the sentry was smart enough to work the flare gun. :rolleyes: Other than that, though, the game was entertaining. Not worth playing through again (except the last mission to get the second of two endings, which was actually pretty good), but a solid game.

Finally, Still Alive will be downloadable for Rock Band once Sony finishes updating their store. For free. FTW.

Monday, March 31, 2008


Some things.

I watched No Country For Old Men on Saturday. Good flick. Great performances and lots of things to think about.

I'm alternating between playing Smash Bros Brawl, Rock Band, and Jeanne D'Arc. All great games. I picked Kane and Lynch back up, too, since it's been sitting for like a month, but I think I might be done with it. There's a "stealth" mission that's pissing me off, so we'll see how many times I replay it before I want to snap the disc in half. I'm betting it's 3.

At the urging of a coworker, I slapped a layout on my MySpace page. I like it, but I had to spend way too much time trying to get it to look the way I wanted it to look. MySpace's built in editor is useless shit. It tries to be user-friendly, but it isn't. If they had just allowed me to look at and edit the code, I could have done it in no time. Instead, I had to find someone else's code and modify it to my tastes. I still think MySpace sucks, but what are you gonna do?

Finally, March is already over. That doesn't seem possible. Where have the last 3 months gone?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Rest In Peace, My Friend

I lost another of my best friends today. He was tough, and protective, and fiercely loyal. He didn't back down from anything, and he fought to the end. He'd often bring back spoils from his conquests, even if it was only just the feet or a beak. As I sit here thinking of him, tears running down my cheeks, I can almost hear him meow at me, asking if he could jump on my lap for a good scratching under the chin.

I hear you, buddy. I love you, and I miss you.

Goodbye, Cosmo. You were a hell of a cat.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Sent those shitty controllers back today. Only cost me 8 bucks to ship em, too, huzzah!

Emailed the folks at the online video game retailer (http://www.wherehouse.com, I urge you to check them out for your music, movie, and gaming needs), and they basically said, "It's cool, we'll give you your dollars back, yo." So that problem's been solved.

Then we come to the printer. Guess what? It didn't fucking work.

That's not entirely true, it worked for like 5 minutes, and then stopped working. So I sent that shit back today, too. Only 13 bucks shipped, fuckin a.

So after all that trouble with online purchases, what do I do? I order some DVD binders online, because I have far too many DVDs and not nearly enough space for them all. I expect to receive a box filled with smoking ash that is the remnants of the DVD binders, due to a horrible fire in the warehouse in which they were stored. That would be wonderful.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

If It Wasn't For Bad Luck

I tell ya, I wouldn't have no luck at all!

I do a lot of shopping on the internet. I'd say about 90% of things I buy that can be purchased online, I do. And 99% of the time, those transactions are flawless.

This last week has been the 1%. First, do me a favor. It'll take 30 seconds. Google "dolabpl". See the first hit? It's a Nintendo WaveBird Wireless Controller Platinum. Check out the next hit. Same thing. Next hit? It's a Nintendo WaveBird Control Inalámbrico Platino, but that's just the same thing en espanol.

The fourth hit is the problem. It lists the correct part number (which is DOLABPL, or DOL A BPL to be exact, that's the manufacturer's part number for the Wavebird) but the picture is that of a cheap knockoff. Doesn't matter, because that happens all the time on the internet, the merchandise is often "not exactly as pictured" but the part number ensures you get exactly what you want, right?

Yes, that's right, and that's the way it is and always should be. Except, apparently, that "Etronicspal" seems to think that they don't have to play by the same rules everyone else does. You see, they marked a shitty knockoff (it's not even a third party, it's like a fifth party. There's literally no brand) with the same part number as a Wavebird, thereby misrepresenting the product for sale. Not only that, but they think that they can get away with only providing "store credit" for the return of their misrepresented product. Sorry, assholes, doesn't work that way.

I'll let you know how it all turns out, but here's what I expect to happen: I return their bullshit controller, and I get the charge reversed on my credit card (minus shipping and handling, of course, they won't refund that, even though I never would have had the product shipped if they hadn't misrepresented it, but whatever).

Second, I ordered some used games from a different retailer. They guaranteed all their used games to come with the original cases and manuals. Cool. Just one problem. I opened one of the shrink-wrapped boxes, removed the "Used" sticker slapped across the top, and opened the case to find: no disc inside. There was a manual, but no disc. Sweet! So now I have to try and convince them that their lovingly shrink-wrapped and stickered case was stickered and shrink-wrapped without the disc inside, and not removed after I opened it and claimed it was missing. *sigh*

Other than that, this week's been great. I've got a new printer/copier/flatbed scanner arriving tomorrow. Receiving it in multiple pieces would be the vomit-flavored icing on the cake made of shit.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


Played a bit more Kane and Lynch, and it continues to be kickass. It's like a video game version of Heat, which is an awesome flick.

Borrowed No More Heroes for Wii from a friend. It's unlike anything I've ever played. It's got a slight GTA feel to it, in that you drive around the city doing missions, but that's about where the similarity stops. It's incredibly violent (cartoonishly so, really, if cartoons had gallons and gallons of spurting blood. It's like Quentin Tarantino made a video game), extremely funny and irreverent, at times frustrating, but ultimately a whole lot of fun. If killing massive amounts of people with a laser sword is wrong, I don't want to be right. Favorite line so far: "It's open mic night in hell, old man. Sing all you like down there."

Finally, I picked up a PSP: the Daxter pack, to be specific. So I now have a silver PSP Slim, Daxter, The Family Guy Freakin' Sweet Collection on UMD, and a 1 gig memory stick. It's pretty sweet. Daxter is highly entertaining. I'm looking forward to adding some other must have titles to my collection (like Final Fantasy Tactics, which, unlike the DS version, is an updated version of the original PSOne game, which was the best turn-based strategy game ever).

Saturday, March 01, 2008

This is why I'm not a sysadmin

Because I fucking hate networks. Remember how my router decided to stop functioning, so I got a new modem/router all-in-one from AT&T? Well, it sucks balls. I mean, having the all-in-one is a great idea, if it fucking worked. Wired connections work great. Wireless ones, however, don't work so great. In fact, they don't work at all. Well, that's not true. They work if there's no encryption on the network. Fantastic! My wireless network is akin to the ladies down on Wilson Way: all comers welcome! Fuckin A.

In other news, I rented Kane and Lynch for PS3 today. I've put in about 2 hours, and so far, I can't complain. I'm guessing there's some sort of gamekilling bug at some point down the road, because from what I've seen, I have no idea why it warranted only a 64 (of 100) from reviewers over at metacritic, and an abysmal 2.5 (of 10) from users.

Finally, I can't believe it's March 1 already. Smash Bros Brawl hits in 8 days. That means our weekly Rock Band parties will become weekly Smash Bros ass-kicking festivals. On the one hand, sad panda. But on the other hand, joy!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Day

Yes, Leap Day, the one day that only happens once every four years. It all started back in 46 BC, the aptly named Year of Confusion, after which Rome adopted the Gregorian calendar that we all know and love. Hope you enjoyed the extra day, there'll be another one in 2012!

I used the opportunity to watch some Quantum Leap, which I've said before is an awesome show.

You may or may not have seen Sarah Silverman's "I'm Fucking Matt Damon" skit, and Jimmy Kimmel's follow-up "I'm Fucking Ben Affleck" skit. Here's a parody called "I'm Fucking Seth Rogen." As if I had to say it, it's totally not safe for work, but completely hilarious.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Been A While

Since I've updated the blog. Had some shit going on, what with some family stuff, and catching the monkey flu that's been going around (still trying to shake that), and various other things that prevented the updating of the blog. Time for some news updates, rapid fire.

I recently rediscovered my Myspace page, and added a bunch of folks to my gallery o' friends. If you're one of those friends and is hitting up this site, add it to your bookmarks. I update this blog much, much more frequently than Myspace.

Rock Band kicks ass. I cannot say this enough.

Quantum Leap is an interesting show. Damn Netflix for not having every episode on Watch Now.

While I think Stardust was a bit overhyped, it was an enjoyable flick.

Hot Rod is at times completely hilarious, other times completely insipid, and always completely random.

Do not go see Jumper, whatever you do. I would demand a refund if I thought they'd give it to me.

My router stopped functioning last night. It just up and went, "I don't like that no more, I do this now!" and stopped working. Balls. Luckily, AT&T offers a router/modem all in one! Woot!

I got a book at work called "Leading Out Loud." It's awesome because now I have the cure if I ever get insomnia.

Finally, Maxim is a terrible magazine. They gave me a three year subscription for 10 bucks, and I still feel ripped off.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Bowl Ads = Win

My favorite ad from the Super Bowl right here.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

2007 NFL Playoffs: Super Bowl Result

Giants 17, Patriots 14
I don't want to hear any excuses. I don't want to hear anything about Tom Brady's ankle giving him trouble, or any missed calls by the refs, or whatever bullshit the Patriots and their fans are going to come up with. I don't want to hear it, because I've been hearing about nothing but how the Patriots went undefeated all season, and were going to finish it with a Super Bowl win, and how Tom Brady would be considered the best quarterback of all time. I don't want to hear any of that shit. You know what I want to hear? I want to hear that Eli Manning and the New York Giants played a hell of a game on both sides of the ball and won the Super Bowl, because that's exactly what they did.

Oh yeah, one more thing. Hey, New England: Fuck you.

2007 Playoff Prediction Record: 5-6

Just for shits and giggles, I'll make my Super Bowl XLIII prediction right now: Colts 28, Giants 17