Archive for September, 2008

We had Spaghetti! And Legos!

This weekend, Brittany came over and we cooked up spaghetti for the sheer heck of it. It was delicious. Then we spent the rest of the night going nuts on “Lego Star Wars.” It was a fantastic Friday. The rest of the weekend (and week) was spent staying in and working on the cinematics for my game.

On Wednesday past, I brought in some pumpkin pie for the group outing and was delighted to find out people actually liked it and weren’t passing out from nickel-poisoning or anything. So now I have a dessert I can make for special occasions.

I’m tired. Need more sleep. Shouldn’t be blogging. Should be working.

Wheeeee.


September 29 2008 | Daily Life, Food | No Comments »

Friday Movie Blogging 09-26-08: Bootleg Movie Round-Up

Ah, almost the weekend again. Not much buzz in the movie community lately, so here’s a reviews of all the bootleg movies I watched last week:


The Seeker: The Dark is Rising
Rating: F

This was one of last year’s bombs. I’d seen “Spiderwick Chronicles” earlier this year and really enjoyed it, so I always look forward to the next movie-based-on-an-obscure-fantasy-novel-I-never heard-of. Unfortunately, this one comes across more like “Eragon.” The story follows a teenager who develops special powers (telekenesis, strength, pyrokenesis, time travel) and is enlisted by some immortals to find seven Signs scattered throughout time before a dark horseman called The Rider can find them and conquer the world with darkness. I never read the book, but I imagine they changed a lot just to make it as confusing and formulaic as it ends up becoming. There’s a lot of talk about prophecies, no explanation or creative use for the kid’s powers, and the Rider doesn’t do much to stop the kid other than throws crows at him. Even “Ghost Rider” had better fights. It’s one of those movies where the director just gave up after five minutes.


George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead
Rating: B+

Ah, now this one I liked! “Diary of the Dead” is about a group of film students caught in the middle of a zombie uprising. So much like “Blair Witch” and “Cloverfield” before it, the entire thing is shot from the perspective of a hand-held camera. Except the students know how to HOLD IT STEADY. Another thing that really stood out for me was how it was edited together like a documentary with one of survivors narrating it as they recount the events. Then, to mix things up a bit, they edit in footage from other cameras they find, including security cameras and webcams. And on the whole, it is a very scary and dramatic movie. Typical zombie flick on some level with some great special effects, but it’s still probably the best movie for the style it was shot in. Highly recommended. I’ve give it a higher rating, but I think B+ is what George A. Romero would want.


Wanted
Rating: A-

This one completely caught me by surprise, mostly because I don’t think I saw the trailers that showed me all the best parts. I went in expecting “Shoot ‘Em Up” with bullet-curving and got something that would make even the physics in “The Matrix” explode. The movie follows an office worker who finds out his dad was a famous assassin, and must train with a group known as the Fraternity to build up some awesome superhuman fighting skills and avenge his father’s death. There’s lot of twists and turns, plenty of slow-motion, fast-forward motion, backward motion, Morgan Freeman, and a nice butt shot of Angelina Jolie. The first half of the movie is fantastic before it starts slowing down for a while, then it eventually picks up again. There’s even a great train sequence that I swear was taken out of the “Cowboy Bebop” movie. A tad anti-climatic at the end, but still a nice wrap-up overall. Bring on the sequel.

This week at the movies:

-Eagle Eye (big budget action thriller with Shia Laboeuf)
-The Lucky Ones (road trip movie about American soldiers)
-Miracle at St. Anne (Spike Lee’s drama about Afro-American soldiers in WWII)
-Nights in Rodanthe (Diane Lane… Richard Gere… romantic-drama… yeeeeaaaah. I’m good.)

Otherwise, keeping my movie blog short this week. No videos to share today. maybe next time. Have a great weekend!

September 26 2008 | Movies | 1 Comment »

My PS3 controller is working again!

About 3 months ago, I tossed my PS3 controller on the couch and it bounced off onto the coffee table, hitting itself rather hard. I could no longer turn it on and had to resort to a life of only having one controller.

Then, just 15 minutes ago, I get this crazy hunch and decide to try turning it on. It worked! Like some kind of Christmas miracle! PS3 controllers, when broken, will regenerate themselves over time eventually. To celebrate this discovery, I placed both controllers on my lap, turned on “Lego Star Wars” and tried escaping from the Death Star in 2-player mode. Thank God for infinite lives.

What was I going to blog about again before getting distracted?

Oh, yeah! Heroes!

Last night’s episode was freakin’ amazing. When Heroes first started, it had this whole “Lost” thing going on where they’d show us one weird thing after another and pull twist after twist on us just to keep us tuning in. The first season ended fine, if not a little anti-climatic, but with tons of loose ends not yet tied up. Then came the much anticipated Season 2 which promised to be a lot more mind-blowing. It wasn’t. Instead of answering old questions, it continued adding new ones (much like Lost,) then started moving out into filler episodes involving stolen backpacks and people learning to jump rope. Then the writer’s strike came and they had to pack the last 12 episodes into 1. Nothing was answered. Bad guy got his powers back. Two people died. That’s about it.

Season 3, however, has already renewed my faith in the show. Taking a cue from the horrible Season 2, creator Tim Kring stopped beating around the bush and just got to the point. By the end of the first episode, just about every mystery that’s been bugging us for the last two seasons has been answered. Where everyone’s powers come from, what so-and-so’s secret power is, who killed who, and the age-old question of whether Sylar eats brains hav finally been put to rest. The show can finally move on to new stories without this lousy stigma following it (yes, this matters to me.)

Adding on to the coolness, we already have six new super-villains on top of Sylar, old characters getting power upgrades, and a few new twists as well. The only thing that bugged me was a scene where the mind-reading cop thinks he’s suddenly developed the ability to read a turtle’s mind, only to find out there’s someone behind him. Lame. Reading animals’ minds would have put this show over the top. But, hey, the special effects are getting way better.

Okay. Toning down the geekiness… how are you doing?

September 24 2008 | Daily Life, TV, Video Games | 2 Comments »

Orangina and Techno

Probably one of my busier weekends in retrospect. Saturday morning, I tried my hand at making pumpkin pie for the group. I undercooked the first one and overcooked the second one, but they’re both still edible and sitting in my freezer right now until Wednesday.

Then Brit calls me up and tells me she and T and heading out to a Long Way Down concert. So we end up spending an hour driving around the city based on bad directions and never finding the place. So we went to the U of A Power Plant instead for a friend’s birthday, where I drank an Orangina and jumped around to techno music while throwing balloons around. Then we watched some babes play with hula hoops. And then a squirrel jumped down on me, but it was a flying squirrel, so it deployed it’s flaps at the last second and glided over to another tree.

Sunday was spend helping my little brother move out of his apartment and back home, where the whole family sat around eating pasta and veggies and watched the Mythbusters bust ninja myths. Also, my mom adopted two more cats from the move, but they’re both dicks like Skittles. At least we got to stick them in a box and carry them around Griswald-style during the transfer.

The rest of the week was spent working on the game. In fact, the whole of the last 3-4 weeks was been spent trying to bring “Incinerations” back up to speed after all the time I spent working on TSL (I’ll blog about that one when they finish it.) The good news is that the first 3 chapters are now fully playable, complete with sprites and over an hour’s worth of dialogue and game-play. Complete nightmare in the programming department getting them working, but I think the worst is over.

In the meantime, I figured I’d release a few screenshots from the game to show everyone what I’m working on. Nothing too exciting just yet. These are just gameplay stills. Most of the action is done through the cinematics, and I’m starting on those tonight. If you want hints at the action, you can always watch the trailer (now on YouTube.)

And it’s Monday! Heroes Season 3 starts tonight! Schweet!

September 22 2008 | Daily Life, Video Games | 3 Comments »

Friday Movie Blogging: 09-19-08

Ever wonder whether you’re the only one who hasn’t a seen a new movie? There’s always those few films every year that everyone is talking about, and often ruin for you under the impression that “I thought you had seen it already.” You’d be a long way off from being alone on that.

For the sake of consistency, I’ll be going off the US Box Office draws for this, since they’re the most media friendly, and nobody gives a crap about how many people in Canada watch movies.

The average cost of a movie ticket in the US costs approx. $10-12, averaging out to approx. $11 a person. So if everyone in the US (pop. over 305 million) saw a movie, the box office gross would be closer to $ 3,355,000,000, which is substantially higher than the gross of “Titanic.” Then you need to take theater costs into account. In the first week, the studio may keep up to 80-100% of the income, forcing the theater to raise concession prices if they plan to make any money. It later goes down to a 80/20 split after several weeks, when almost no one’s watching the movie anymore. They like to say it’s an even 50/50 split between the theaters and studios, when it’s probably closer to studios keeping about 75% of the profits. And if that’s the case and everyone in the US saw a movie, it would still bring in about $2,516,250,00 – which is still substantially higher than “Titanic.”

In 2008 dollars, “Titanic” would’ve brought in about $900M, which is 33% of the US population. And taking in mind that a lot of that came from multiple repeat viewings thanks to hormone-crazed teenage girls, I’d say only about a quarter of the population went to see “Titanic.” Then there’s “Dark Knight” which is sitting on $518M, which would imply only 20% of the US population saw the movie, unless you take into account that maybe 5% of that came from multiple viewings from DC fanboys. The biggest box office draws ever have been “Gone with the Wind” and “Star Wars,” bringing in $1.4B and $1.2B respectively in 2008 dollars. Not taking multiple viewings in account, this would still imply that only half the people in the US ever watched these movies when they first came out. Taking box office trends into consideration, it’s probably a safe bet that there’s a good half of the population that never watches movies at all, or just waits for them to come on TV.

In any case, never feel left out when you haven’t seen a popular movie yet. You’re almost always in the majority.

P.S. The most Canada would have to contribute to worldwide box office if we all saw the same movie once would be about $363M.

P.S.2. Fun fact: “The Dark Knight” actually bombed in Japan. It was apparently too dark and pessimistic a movie for them. It continues to get beaten out by a movie about a goldfish.

P.S.3. I’m aware that I’m pulling out all these estimates out my ass, and that the economic studio-theater ratio differs with every movie.

New Movies out this Week:
-Ghost Town (Ricky Gervais comedy about seeing ghosts)
-Lakeview Terrace (Sam Jackson as a cop who harasses people)
-Igor (John Cusack as a hunchback wanting to be a mad scientist.)
-My Best Friend’s Girl (…bleh?)

Nothing that grabs my attention in a “rush out and see it in the theater” kind of way. Browsing through the Cinema Clock website, I think the only movies around here that I still want to see are Death Race, Tropic Thunder, and Pineapple Express.

No exciting trailers or parodies out this week, other than the usual batch of Batman videos. So what the hell – here’s “Better Living” with the B&J Supersquad.

September 19 2008 | Movies | 2 Comments »

A History of Usernames (or Why I shouldn’t get a Tattoo)

Checking my incoming links today, I found I’d been QTF’d for truth on a post I made over at Apropos of Nothing in relation to usernames. Put quite simply “Usernames are like tattoos. They seemed like a good idea ten years ago.” I didn’t think much of when I wrote it, but I guess it does make sense. Back when the internet was new and fresh, we were all scrambling for usernames we wanted to be defined as, only to switch things up later after we’d gotten sick of those names. But no matter how much we changed our names, the stink of the old ones still lingered on and sometimes came back to bite us in the butt.

This has happened to me more than once, so I’ve decided to dig up and write a brief history of all my on-line usernames so I bite my own butt before someone else does.

Keep in mind that the actual list of names is probably much longer, but I can’t be arsed to remember every single username I ever used to log into random non-sequitor sites just to post 1-2 things.


1. Datadog

Back when I was first surfing the internets in high school, I tried logging onto the Sierra website looking for a walkthrough to “Space Quest 4.” The green site with white text asked me for a username, and ten minutes of slow bandwidth later, told me “Chewy” was already taken (this had nothing to do with the wookie; I was chewing gum at the time.) After much thought and deliberation, I eventually came up with “Datadog,” simply for the fact that at the time “I like computers and I like dogs.” This ended up becoming my most commonly-used username and I still use it around my more familiar sites like here and around the Space Quest community. For the longest time, I also used it as an e-mail address.

The Pros: A quicky, easy-to-write username that many people I know are familiar with, and always comes with a sense of nostalgia. I always seem to get some decent feedback from people with it. I think it’s one of those names people feel comfortable around.

The Cons: Back in high school, some punk kids got wind of the name and would yell “DATADOG” at me through the halls. And they wouldn’t even pronounce it right. They’d yell the mind-numbing “DAH-TAH-DOG” and sound retarded instead of “DATE-A-DOG” which rolls off the tongue better. This “Data” name also gave me an unwanted association with computers that I didn’t want after I grew to hate them. Oh, yeah – then some robotics company actually invented a “Datadog.”


2. Macaroni Penguin/MacPenguin

Good God – here’s another one I thought was a good idea at the time. Way back in 2000 or so, I was taking a hiatus from the Subspace Channel and my buddy Diane calls me up and asks me to come back. Then we start joking about how funny it would be if I start posting as a maniacal super-penguin who keeps challenging people to fights (this really is the kind of thing we usually talk about.) So one day I show up on the SC screaming my catch-phrase (“I am the Macaroni Penguin! Choose your weapon and fight me!”) and history was born. I kept the charade up for a couple months before revealing myself and getting back to a normal life. Then, because I thought it was such an original success, I started changing my usernames and e-mail addresses everywhere. I ended up becoming known as Macaroni Penguin on Newgrounds and AMV.org.

The Pros: In retrospect, it was still pretty hilarious answering people’s posts with fight challenges and pretending to be a demented champion of justice for a little while.

The Cons: Where to begin? First off, being called “Macaroni Penguin” loses it’s punch if I’m talking like a normal guy in other forums. The other problem was with so many people asking me what the name meant who didn’t know it was a type of penguin. And because the name was so long and tedious to write every time I logged in somewhere, I eventually shortened it to MacPenguin, and suddenly people started mistaking me for a Mac user. And then there was that embarrassing time an employer asked me what my e-mail address meant during a job interview (never again!) My biggest gripe is that a lot of my best work was submitted to various sites under this name, so I’m now I’m famous under a pseudonym I don’t want to use outside those circles. This was my most problematic user name ever. I think it’s cursed.


3. Raspberrybeard the Pirate

Yes, named after the retarded pirate Terrence invented. Another conversation with Diane sent me back to the Subspace Channel, posting as “Raspberrybeard the Pirate.” Every day, I’d go in and answer everybody’s messages with “YAR-HARR” and “WHOO-HOO!” and “We be lookin’ for treasure!” Everyone figured out it was me almost instantly, but that didn’t stop me from acting like it for the next few months. I don’t think that username ever left the SC.

The Pros: He’s a pirate! With a pink beard! And he disembowels small animals looking for treasure! What’s not to like?

The Cons: Much like Macaroni Penguin, it was a name that had no impact once I started talking like a normal person again. I consider this to be more a Disney mascot personality, where the mask should never come off or it’ll ruin the illusion and traumatize the children.


4. Senor Taco

I eventually fell in with a bad crowd (namely, the good folks at PWOT, Jay Pinkerton, and Cracked.com.) Fearing “Datadog” would be too nerdy a name to use around them, I switched up to something that would fit in better with their delightfully twisted senses of humor and my own. Eventually, all my captions and photoshops to those sites were submitted under this moniker, and I still use it over there to this day.

The Pros: It’s a taco! I love tacos! And tacos are probably Spanish, so Senor makes it sounds more Spanish. It both celebrates my love of Mexican culture and is funny. Namely because I’m not Mexican, and yet people would always greet me with “Hola!” and give me awesome forum names like “El Moderato.” Also, I got to invent that wicked avatar of Ein wearing the sombrero for it, which would probably be my best avatar to date.

The Cons: It sounds unintentionally racist to people who don’t know what racism is. So using it outside those circles would probably land me in deep doo-doo. Then came the copycats on those forums who suddenly started posting as “Choco Taco” and “Mr. Taco.”


5. Datacat

I invented this one as a joke over at the VSB forum. No real pros or cons to it, other than how that one guy’s post where he calls me “Datacat” isn’t going to make sense when I change it back.


6. Scorpio82

After years of usernames with geeky, racist, and retarded implications, I tried to dumb myself down to a reasonable sounding username I could use in forums that wouldn’t draw any negative energy my way. I eventually wound up with “Scorpio82″ – the lamest name I ever thought of, and one which many other people keep trying to use. I tend to use it in my more unfamiliar circles.

The Pros: Because the name sounds somewhat generic, I usually get good unbiased feedback. It’s a very suitable name for any site I don’t want to be a regular on or make any connections with. It also informs everyone that I’m a Scorpio born in 1982, which will really pay off if someone named HotPiscesGirl86 or SexyCancerChick78 is looking for a hot date.

The Cons: Like I said, it’s incredibly generic and blunt, and I get the good feeling it’s one of those under-the-radar names people eventually forget about after reading my posts. It’s definitely not an attention grabber like “Aborty Macgee” or “Captain Satan.” You probably won’t even remember it after reading this blog.


7. Mr. Chris
I’ve been commenting under this name lately. I started out commenting as just “Chris,” but then every other Chris started doing it. So now I’m the Mr. of the bunch and nobody gets confused.

That’s the full list to the best of my knowledge. I think the best thing to come out of this is that I never resorted to some long unpronounceable name full of numbers and special characters (i.e. ~~*&Mwelnykp576932 or some crap like that.) Still, internet life would’ve been much easier if I stuck to one good name from the beginning instead of switching up whenever I felt insecure about any of them. From what I gather, no one even gives a crap about your username anyway, as long as you’re not posting “LOL” every five minutes.

Hmmm…. Aborty Macgee…

September 17 2008 | Geek Talk | 1 Comment »

I went to the movies and didn’t watch a movie

Yep. Just went to a movie theater with a friend and we spent 90-some minutes jumping on that “In the Groove 2″ machine in the arcade.

Good use of a Saturday, I’d imagine. Instead of spending $12.50 on a movie, we each spent $10 getting exercise, becoming awesome at rhythm dancing, and listening to the Bumblebee song over and over again. Then we grabbed some quick sushi on the way out (not at the theater, even though that would be awesome.)

I spent the rest of the weekend (and week) working on “Incinerations.” Still making some awesome headway on it. I can now play through most of the third chapter and solve a bunch of puzzles. I’ve got my night group going on for the next five weeks, so that’s still holding me back a little on getting any major work done.

Did I mention my group yet? For the last thirteen weeks, I’ve been going to a psychotherapy group to help me fix my communication problems with people and get over whatever emotional baggage I have locked away. It’s one of those things where we sit around in a circle and relate to each other’s stories, just like on Fight Club, only with no hugging, and a lot more volleyball. I’m guessing I’m making some massive progress since I’m actually blogging about it now and not giving a crap about what other people may think of me.

That’s right – I’m in therapy. Got a problem with it? I’ll hit you in the neck with a chair.

I actually pity anyone who’s never gone to therapy or thinks little of it based on the pathetic reputation it gets from movies. It’s like karate for the psyche. Get good enough and you can only hope to someday bring your own therapist to tears.

September 15 2008 | Daily Life | 1 Comment »

Friday Movie Blogging: 09-12-08

Hancock Review
My Rating: C

Caught this last weekend at the dollar theater for the heck of it. In spite of hearing all the mixed reviews, my curiosity about the so-called “twist” got the best of me. I like Will Smith, and even his worst movies have entertained me on some level.

What I liked about Hancock was, primarily, the special effects and action sequences. When you see him soar through the city or cause destruction to public property, it all looks very natural and hard-hitting. No hints of wire-work anywhere and plenty of CGI debris. The other thing I liked was how the story was about this anonymous drunken bum with super powers who doesn’t give a crap about anything. I was really hoping they’d just keep running with this premise since it seemed like there was so much room for creativity in the story.

What I didn’t like – this is where things get confusing, and I’ll try to keep it spoiler-free. First off, this movie was advertised as a comedy, when it’s actually a dramatic character study about a man’s quest for self-redemption. There’s many quiet moments where they play music over emotional montages, and there’s little to no laughs in the last half of the movie. This doesn’t technically make it a bad movie, but nevertheless, all the good jokes were in the trailer. Then there’s the second half of the movie and this is where things go completely nuts. Without giving anything away, the movie pulls a twist that causes the story to completely disregard the first half of the movie and focus on a whole new story. It’s like they started “Hancock 2″ halfway through the movie before we even finished watching the first one. The second half still has it’s moments, but it really throws a monkey wrench into everything else.

Overall, I suppose I liked “Hancock.” The CGI destruction was incredible, so I felt I got my money’s worth ($3.50,) but it was still a mess of a production that would’ve worked better as two separate movies.
_____________

This week at the movies:

-Burn After Reading
-Righteous Kill
-Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys
-The Women

I’m on and off with “Burn After Reading” because I’ve liked some Coen Bros movies, while other ones tend to leave a bad taste in my mouth. “Righteous Kill” features Deniro and Pacino, and while it doesn’t look my speed, it’ll probably be a big movie this weekend. Then you’ve got the new Tyler Perry movie; these things always seem to come in at #1 even though they never seem to open anywhere near where I live. And “The Women” looks like a cheap “Sex in the City” knock-off. Not an exciting weekend for movies on my end.

Although looking through CinemaClock.com, the anime fan in me is geeking out that the live-action “Death Note” movie is premiering in Edmonton. I’ve already seen the illegally downloaded fan-dub of it (along with the sequel,) but I thought they were still pretty great movies (back-to-back anyway. The first movie ends on a cliffhanger.) Hollywood’s already secured the rights, so we’ll probably be seeing a remake of it starring someone like Shia Laboeuf soon enough.

And the movie video for the week:

I wasn’t the biggest fan of “Casino Royale” since it looked too much like the Bourne movies, but I think this one reminds me a lot more of classic Bond what with the explosions, military aircraft, super boats, and that sick shot of him falling through the roof. I’d watch it.

Just found a video for “Righteous Kill.” Here’s Al Pacino and Robert Deniro reading off the Top 10 list on Letterman.


DeNiro and Pacino: Letterman Top 10 List
Uploaded by thatsfunny

September 12 2008 | Movies, Videos | 1 Comment »

TechnoBuzz: We’re still alive… for now.

I learned a lot about science last night. I stayed up late with my friend watching the folks in Geneva fire up the old LHC. Figured if anything cool happened, it might be like a moon landing (or JFK assassination) moment I could stick around for. Wasn’t so much the case, since they just turned it on, cheered, and said “okay, now we wait two hours for the proton to go around full circle.” They weren’t even firing the other proton, so there wouldn’t be a collision. And since there’s no cameras inside the tube, we can’t see a collision anyway. The most exciting thing to look at would be two blips on the view screen bumping into each other and I was already really sleepy.

At this point, they’re still fine-tuning and testing the machine, so they probably won’t have a successful proton colliision for another couple of months. At which point, I hope candy pops out.

My friend directed me to this rap video about the Large Hadron Collider I should’ve posted on the last blog. Nerdiest thing ever? Absolutely, but it does a better job of explaining the LHC than I do.

I also learned that HP sauce doesn’t go on pizza.

September 10 2008 | Geek Talk, Videos | 2 Comments »

All Domain Names Are Not Created Equal

Just got this MSN from Pstonie. Well, I got it last night, but left my MSN on at work while I was out. Still, technically, I did receive it this morning. I also received an MSN invite for what could potentially be hours of DDR, but that’s completely unrelated.


September 09 2008 | Humor, Videos | No Comments »

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