Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like German

Ever since coming to work for a language learning company, I've stewed about what language to learn. So many choices. So do I brush up on the Spanish I took in college? Take another stab at French? Go for Latin because it's just freaking cool and you can go far with just a few Latin phrases? Tempus fugit...

I was actually decided on Italian, for two reasons. First, I would love to visit Pompeii some day. Secondly, I would have an excuse to spend time with Marcello:

I probably have a screw loose, but he cracks me up NO END.

However, now this whole board game documentary thing has come up, and documenting designer German board games pretty much means an eventual trek to the big German conventions, and maybe even the board game factories there. So there it is, now I have a legitimate motivation to try to learn German, and must with heavy heart bid Marcello farewell for now. If only he could teach German with that suave silver tongue of his. /swoon

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Some Flicks

As I jam out here listening to Skratch 'N Sniff, dancing in my kitchen (and I am comfortable telling you that I am dancing in my kitchen, for you cannot see me), there are three recent Netflix rentals on my mind. Two are good. One...not so good.

Shoot 'Em Up
I really liked this movie, great blend of comedy and action, and just plain fun to watch. Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti ROCKED THE HOUSE.

Tropic Thunder
Damn good comedy, they push the limits of the humor, and for the most part walk that fine line between stupid and funny. Just like Zoolander. I love Zoolander, it's one of the very few movies I own. If you liked Zoolander, you'll probably dig Tropic Thunder. And my best friend, Kanadani, who was not a fan of Zoolander, still loved Tropic Thunder. There are some very Zoolander moves, and cameos from that film by notables like the evil DJ (he even did a breakdance fighting move!) and...Lance Bass.

Robert Downey, Jr.'s performance would put Eddie Murphy to shame. I was absolutely shocked to find myself liking a Tom Cruise performance for the first time in probably 10 years, not to mention Tobey Maguire and Matthew McConaughey, actors I normally don't like. My other close personal friend, Clovis, says that the commentary is fantastic. We didn't catch that on our Netflix rental, but no worries, because the next day we went out and bought this movie. It's a keeper.

Oh, and the fake trailers...awesome.

You know, this one started out so strong, I think that's why I was annoyed by its betrayal and descent into crapdom. James McAvoy SO wished he was Edward Norton, when he wasn't wishing he was Neo. And while I love Morgan Freeman, he's played "the man upstairs" one time too many.

The loom angle really shook my confidence, but at that point, the film still manages some clever stuff, so we stuck with it. But by the end, we realized that we'd been had. If you have seen this movie, wth is up with the ending? I was unwilling to watch it a second time and get my facts straight, but it WAS him at his desk, and needlessly shooting out some perfectly fine car windows from a few miles away, right? And in answer to the final question in the film, "Lately? Well, we've just wasted a couple hours watching YOU, for one thing..."

Just kidding. OK, serious this time...

Friday, December 19, 2008

How about a nice game of chess?

Yet again, video game skills are finding real-world application.

Wii-Controlled Robots Made for Combat

Using the controller from the popular Nintendo Wii gaming system (the "Wiimote") scientists from the Idaho National Laboratory, working with engineers from the U.S. Army, Foster-Miller, and iRobot, are developing novel ways to control military robots.
So many thoughts just ran through my head, not the least of which is, can I train my Wii-ComBot to fetch me a cup of coffee?

The Wiimote-controlled robot works fine in test conditions, but a battlefield is a rougher place. Before any new robot control device is used in combat it must be significantly "ruggidized," said Slater.
Sweet. Once that happens, I would like to buy one of THOSE Wiimotes!

This is really a very interesting development for the video game space. I mean, what is this going to do to the Wii supply?! Or...is this where they've been going all along? /eyesnarrow

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

BSG Webisodes Online

Get your BSG fix with this 10-part webisode series in preparation for Season 4!


And during the holidays, it's always nice to see everyone come together:

Awwwwww. (Thanks for sending it along, Andy!)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Invent Destiny

null - Watch more free videos

AWESOME. Vincent Dooly IS The Mother of Invention. (or go here for the Youtube Channel!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Fistful of Geekumentaries

OK, I haven't had time to watch the following documentaries yet - I just started digging into the BBS one - but they are all available to watch online, so I figured I should at least let you know about them!

BBS: The Documentary
Jason Scott's the director currently at work on the Get Lamp text adventures documentary. Before that, however, he created a documentary about the history of BBS.
BBS: The Documentary is an 8 episode series about all aspects of the history of the dial-up Bulletin Board System, or BBS. 3 years in the making and the result of over 200 interviews, this collection puts in one convenient package a sense of the variety and wide-reaching effects of the BBS phenomenon. All in all, over seven and a half hours of material is included across the three region-free DVDs.
You can watch it on Google Video, or get the physical version here.

JK Rowling: A Year in the Life
In conjunction with the release of the new Tales of Beedle the Bard book, a multi-part online documentary following JK Rowling around for a year has been released.
Journalist James Runcie was granted an incredible documentary opportunity in 2006 -- to film Harry Potter author JK Rowling for the entire year as she worked on the final book of the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Parts 1 and 2
Parts 3 - 5
(UPDATE: 12/24 - oh BOO, these are now the subject of a rights debate. Maybe take a peek here.)

Classic Game Room
Classic Game Room: The Rise and Fall of the Internet's Greatest Video Game Review Show.
In 1999, the first online video game show was inaugurated with a single camera, a $50 per episode budget and a pair of hosts who weren't above swilling beer and slinging joysticks to inject some fun. This film documents the short-lived show's rise and fall, and includes Mark Bussler's and David Crosson's reviews of classic games such as Frogger, Duck Hunt, SeaMan, Yars' Revenge, Alien, Joust and more.
Heard about this one from a recent issue of GameRoom magazine. It's on Netflix, and you can watch it online for free if you're a subscriber.

I'll do individual reviews of these once I've seen them, but in the meantime, feel free to check them out and share your thoughts! I've also got the Showtime version of Chasing Ghosts to check out. When it rains, it pours!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Pre-order Dr. Horrible DVD!

The time has arrived at last! Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog has just become available for pre-order on amazon.com. It includes the highly anticipated "Commentary! The Musical" and at a cost of a mere TEN BUCKS, how can you NOT get this? Comes out December 19, makes the perfect Christmas gift!

Visit drhorrible.com for details.

World's Oldest Marijuana Stash

Oldest Marijuana Stash Found
Dec. 3, 2008 -- Nearly two pounds of still-green plant material found in a 2,700-year-old grave in the Gobi Desert has just been identified as the world's oldest marijuana stash, according to a paper in the latest issue of the Journal of Experimental Botany....

Discovery channel doesn't often get the chance to run a title like this, so I had to give it a nod.

Monday, December 1, 2008


I loved The King of Kong. When I first saw it, I practically cheered at the ending. That was back in February. Since then, as a result of seeing that film, I have
  • started blogging
  • found out that the largest classic arcade in the world is in my own backyard
  • gotten to know a lot of genuinely cool people from both the classic arcade gaming and documentary crowds
  • gotten back into classic arcade gaming myself
  • finally realized my dream of having a home arcade machine of my own!
  • discovered the world of geekumentaries (I knew about a few, like Spellbound and Word Wars, but that's the tip of the iceberg)
  • actually considered doing my own documentary
That's no small set of accomplishments for a mere film.

It's obvious from the start that The King of Kong tells a biased story. The more I looked into it, though, the more I realized that the facts had not just been skewed, they were omitted and twisted where it made for a stronger story. If you want to find out how deep the rabbit hole goes, take Jason Scott's red pill, but the movie won't be the same for you afterwards. At first, I brushed it off by saying, "I just approach it as a semi-fictional story and enjoy the ride." I'm finding it harder and harder to do that now, the more I learn.

I did in fact tie it for #1 in my Top 10 Geekumentaries list (next to TILT, which is beginning to look like the clear winner). Two things are now troubling me about this.
  1. Some people featured in the film feel slandered and inaccurately portrayed. A couple weekends back, I met many of them and got to spend some time getting to know them, and they all seemed like really nice people. People I'd be honored to consider friends. The inaccuracies bother them to varying degrees, but how can I endorse a movie that brings any degree of undeserved grief to people I've grown to respect? Even if it is through the very fact that I SAW this movie that we are friends?

  2. My geekumentary obsession has got me to thinking about making my own documentary. I was reading a book Friday night about making documentaries, and the author was adamant that one honor two simple "kindergarten-style" rules: Tell the truth, and don't hurt people. It seems that The King of Kong broke both those rules.
Only if it hadn't, if it hadn't grabbed my attention and won my heart with it's great yet inaccurate story, I wouldn't be reading that book, or writing this entry, and life wouldn't be nearly as interesting as it is right now.