If you have any complaints which you'd like to make, I'd be more than happy to send you the appropriate forms.
I'm going to start GMing my first "Call of Cthulhu" campaign this fall, and I've reflected on it a bit. Being a "Call of Cthulhu" game master (or, as the game calls it, a "Keeper of Arcane Lore") can be a difficult proposition. Unlike other RPGs, CoC is set in the real world, which means you can't just invent locations and people wholesale. If the investigators are going to Peru in 1923, you damn well better research what Peru was like in the 1920s. This sort of campaign preparation might seem like a lot of work, but it can also be a lot of fun.
The White Stripes (AKA Jack White and this Girl Who Drums in the Background) recently released another album, Icky Thump. While I haven't picked up that one yet, I have to say, I like quite a number of the Stripes' songs, though I'm not really a true fan. I do remember when I first picked up "Elephant" - my Mom didn't like the music, but she couldn't help but sing along to "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself."
Director John Badham must have had a thing for intelligent machines, since after directing the oft-parodied "WarGames," he went on to film Johnny Five, one of the robotic mascots of the 1980s, in "Short Circuit." The plot is pretty simple - Number Five, a military robot, accidentally gains sentience, and all sorts of kinda-hilarious pandemonium follows. Eventually, he befriends a woman played by Ally Sheedy, and even his creator, Steve Gutenberg (basically playing himself).
I saw this video at Xavier's place. It has apparently been making its way around many other blogs, so I might as well join in on the fun:
My introduction to the entire Panel de Pon series of puzzle video games was memorable: one of the guys in my dorm was a Tetris Attack fanatic. The idea of the game was simple enough - flip around blocks, matching three or more of a single color to make them disappear (chain reactions caused by falling blocks earn huge bonus points and are great for attacking enemies in multiplayer).
It's been almost a decade since I've watched pro wrestling. That's probably for the best, since I think the whole thing jumped the shark when they were forced to change "WWF" to "WWE." Whereas the storylines used to be funny or even dramatic, and the scripted gymnastics were high-flying, now we have "Divas" who probably shouldn't be in the ring in the first place, as well as tragedy all around as the consequences of a pro wrestling career start emerging.
I remember seeing the trailer for "Primer" somewhere, and the strength of the premise ultimately led me to rent the movie this past weekend.
"Trauma Center: Under the Knife" must have been a tough sell for localization. "Hey, Bob, here's a Japanese surgery action game! Let's bring it to the U.S. market!" Nevertheless, the DS game sold fairly well, so it was no surprise that one of the Nintendo Wii launch titles was a remake of "Trauma Center."
You take the role of Derek Stiles, a rookie surgeon who has a knack for healing patients. In the virtual OR, you'll cut, suture, and inject your way to victory. The Wii Remote does an excellent job here of approximating the surgery experience. The pinching motion you do on the Wii controller feels a lot like real forceps, and the shaking hands and sweaty palms you get while playing the game actually increase the difficulty of the operations.
Eventually, you'll be called upon to perform seemingly impossible surgeries - excising tumors, handling transplanted organs, and battling viruses. The storyline that accompanies all this is pretty good, with suitable anime pathos drenching most of the proceedings. It's almost like "Operation" meets "24" (Hell, you even defuse a bomb in this game).
The production values are improved from the DS game, but nothing here's gonna blow you away. One big disappointment is that the game lacks 16:9 support (one of the main reasons the score isn't higher). And, for all the game's strengths, you're essentially pointing and clicking most of the time. All in all, though, this game provides hours of surgery fun. :-)
I'm not really a Soundgarden fan; nothing wrong with their music but I just never listened to them when I was young. The song "Black Hole Sun" is probably their greatest hit, so I am familiar with it. Most people who grew up in the 90s will recognize the surreal music video that went with the song.
I was listening to Fresh Air today and there was an interesting interview with Jeff Goodell, author of "Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America's Energy Future." It's a fairly thorough (if perhaps one-sided) overview of the coal industry in the United States, past and present. Goodell is pretty knowledgable, though the interview is punctuated by some fairly inane questions from Terry Gross (Goodell: "There's been talk about bringing in coal miners from China or South America, but it always creates a firestorm of controversy"/Gross: "Why's that?").
Movies concerning telepaths or mind-controllers, like "Village of the Damned" and "Scanners," seem to contain particular staple scenes. There's always a telepath commanding a person to commit suicide, there's always a long extended shot of a psychic struggle (invariably involving lots of grunting), and there are usually explosions (because everyone knows the best way to kill a telepath is by blowing him or her up).
I suppose this is a follow-up/complement to my previous post. I still think paper targets are the best for training, and that they provide the best feedback about where the bullets are actually going.
Today's Internet storm for video gamers was provoked by the recent announcements that "Manhunt 2" will be essentially banned in the UK and will probably be rated "Adults Only" in the U.S. (The "AO" rating is basically a kiss of death, as Wally World and other big box retailers generally don't sell AO-rated games). The controversy stems from the violent in-game executions that the main character of the game performs.
The Duke lacrosse team prosecutor has been disbarred for ethics violations. This is a punishment the prosecutor actually supported in a good old-fashioned bout of mea culpa. Now the families of the lacrosse team members are pushing for criminal charges.
One thing the Youtube generation sometimes misses out on is the addition of narrative. With a voiceover presiding over the events of video captured in real life, sometimes the effect of the video is enhanced. Many times a narrator has unintentional side-effects to the subject he narrates, making it seem funnier, more absurd, or more compelling than it actually is. One of those narrators is Sheriff John Bunnell, of "World's Wildest Police Videos."
While attending last year's Halloween Horror Nights, I noticed that they had a "People Under The Stairs"-themed haunted house. The actual haunted house was okay - though I don't like houses that plunge you into perpetual darkness since it makes it hard to see the craftsmanship and detail of the house itself. The most compelling part of the attraction, though, was the fact that the most evocative clips from the movie were played nonstop while we waited in line.
"The People Under the Stairs" is one part "Home Alone," one part "Goonies," and two parts "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," splashed with a dab of early '90s Spike Lee social consciousness. It's almost like horror master Wes Craven took a bet on the weirdest movie he could make, and then made it. The events of the film offer a good illustration of escalating weirdness.
There are some problems. In the latter parts of the film, you feel less like you're watching a gory live-action fairy tale and more like you're seeing a "Home Alone" sequel. The story never feels cohesive, so it's difficult even after a recent viewing to describe the actual "plot" of the movie. Basically, you can sum up the premise as "kid gets stuck in scary house with deranged individuals inside."
Thankfully, the child actors do a decent job in the movie, especially "Fool," the protagonist. It's sometimes rare in a horror/thriller to have a truly sympathetic main character - who hasn't found Hannibal more compelling than Clarice, or Freddy cooler than the people he kills? Here, though, Fool's coming-of-age journey and endless heroism are never boring for the audience.
A segment posted from my favorite video gaming podcast/community, cheapassgamer.com. There's nothing better than being able to waste time on the Web with videos like this. "I'm having a cucumber day!"
If you're not from the southeast part of the U.S., you probably have never shopped at a Publix supermarket. Refreshingly, grocery store chains tend to be regional. I can count the times I've shopped at Food Lion or Piggly Wiggly on one hand, for example. Publix started in Lakeland, Florida, more than 75 years ago, and it's still going strong. My family's been shopping there for over 25 years.
Ever see the end of a movie, only to watch the movie in its entirety many years later? "The Faculty," directed by Robert Rodriguez and written by Kevin Williamson, is one of those movies that I just caught the tail end of on TV. Starring perennial girly-man Elijah Wood, the movie ends with a typical big dumb CGI sequence (complete with a one-liner delivered by Frodo himself). Thankfully, the rest of the movie is a passable take on the sci-fi/horror alien takeover theme.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then there's a lot of flattery here. To be fair, the script is certainly self-aware; much like "Scream," Williamson's other major foray into horror, the characters are aware of the "rules" and figure that into the plan. "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and "The Puppet Masters" are both mentioned and described in the movie, so in truth "The Faculty" is more like a pastiche or homage than a blatant cash-in.
Still, the lifts from the aforementioned movies, as well as a beat-for-beat remake of the famous blood test scene from "The Thing," start to feel a little, well, cheap. I can only take so much meta-sci-fi before I start going for the door. To make matters worse, most of the high-school scenes ring a bit false. I can understand playing around with the typical high-school stereotypes, but at times the characters sound like they're acting out a deleted scene from "Dawson's Creek."
Experienced character actors like Robert Patrick and Bebe Neuwirth anchor the movie, thankfully. The young stars, including Josh "My voice is a cheerless monotone" Hartnett, are uneven, but form a competent ensemble. If you have a choice, either the 1958 or 1978 versions of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" is better than this movie, but it's a decent flick to pass the time.