Thursday, December 31, 2009
I don't usually waste time wishing it, but since this is the end of what has been a momentous decade at the dawn of the new millennium, people . . .
...HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!
This year had started out great, got a little bumpy near the middle, and then settled out to mediocrity near the end -- but it was a good year nonetheless.
By contrast, the decade started out very bumpy, got damn near turned over toward the middle, but has ended on a much higher note for me personally than I could have ever imagined. Closing it out, I'm: healthier, a lot more prosperous, and hopefully just a tad bit wiser than when I came in to the "oughts," and would just like to wish everyone happiness and good cheer as we face 2010 and beyond!
UP THE UNIVERSE!!!!
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Earlier in the year I wrote this highly indignant blog entry in response to a just-released trailer of Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes film. In it, I pretty much railed against what I'd perceived as a great departure from the source material I'd grown up reading.
Well, I'm here to eat some crow and admit that I was dead wrong! Ritchie's latest flick is in fact a perfectly serviceable homage to both the literary canon of Holmesian lore, as well as the more successful television, film, and stage productions of the past. I'm going to have to look it up, but after watching this film I'm starting to wonder if perhaps the ex- Mr. Madonna might not in fact be an honorable Sherlockian. Such is the loving care with which he treats the characters and milieu of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's greatest creation.
True, there are perhaps a little too many modern affectations thrown in to qualify this as an authentic period piece (for one, Watson constantly refers to himself as a "doctor" rather than a physician), but one learns to quickly roll with these few lapses and simply enjoy the film for what it is. Which is, to wit, a darn rollickin' good detective caper filled with surprises, plot twists, and wonderfully intellectual reveals that satisfies both the educated and non-indoctrinated Holmes fan alike!
I specifically want to praise Robert Downey, Jr. for a surprisingly adept rendering of the Holmes character. I was extremely skeptical before tonight, but now I'm a believer! He was almost spot-on, surpassing all but the late great Jeremy Brett as the most pitch-perfect Holmes I've seen. Only a few quibbles here and there knock him down a notch or two, primarily his short stature and permanently grizzled cheeks and chin. But, big deal. The attitude, quick-witted dialogue, and constant needling of Watson all live up to the Holmes I know and love.
I won't go into much detail regarding the rest of the cast, except to say that they were serviceable. Mark Strong as the villain Lord Blackwood was woefully one-dimensional but served a certain end, while Rachel McAdams was cute and lively, but sometimes a little *too* modern in portrayal compared to the character taken from one of Sir Doyle's classic Holmes' tales. Jude Law as Watson is the only really memorable performance besides Downey's, playing Watson exactly as he was always meant to be: A well-balanced foil to Holmes's relentless and acerbic repartee. Kudos to Law for bringing just the right amount of charm and humor to a role many before him have tragically played too stiff and proper. Sure, he could've been a bit shorter, older, and walking with a limp -- but that's nitpicking.
As someone well-versed in the literature, I was also delighted by all the inside nods and references the director peppers throughout the film--Watson's impending marriage; a certain female somebody from Holmes's past; and even the deft set-up of his nefarious nemesis, Prof. Moriarty--which helps solidify this movie as one of the better treatments of the famous super sleuth ever seen on the big screen.
Yeah, I am not being superfluous here, believe it or not. If it wasn't for how much I adore Ritchie's earlier works--particularly Snatch--I would dare venture the verdict that this is his finest film yet.
Aw hell, I *will* say it! This is Guy's masterpiece!
My only fear is that, given the way things comes to an end setting up for an obvious sequel or two, that Mr. Ritchie may not in fact come back to continue what he has started. Oh please let this not be so. As good as this outing was, I can only imagine the awesomeness of what would ensue if we got to see the world's greatest detective battle against the most brilliant criminal mastermind of the Victorian age. That's a showdown I would pay big bucks to see directed, but only in Guy Ritchie's more than capable hands.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
For those who don't know, my brother and his girlfriend flew in for Christmas and we all piled into the car and drove 164 miles north up to my Aunt's house in the middle of the woods near the Massachusetts border. The route was a scenic one, and when we started to climb up into the mountains, it got very wintry wonderland around us. The trees were all silver with frost! Although, thankfully, it didn't reach the surface of the roads. Testing my glide handling on four spinning wheels is not a skill I wanted to acquire at this particular time, thank you.
Still, I don't drive much so this was a big one for me. The trip usually takes nearly 3 hours, but I did it in under 2 and a half. Seems I have a bit of a lead foot. I tried to slow down--I really did--but honestly, the highway was damn near deserted almost the entire ride up. All that empty road just *begging* for speed, I could not resist. The speed limit was a constant 55 mph due to all the curves, including some hairpin and S-turns. But--except for the really severe bends--it was a struggle to keep the speedometer below 72. Sometimes I was taking turns at 80 mph! I mean, SHEESH!
I definitely need to curb this bad habit. It's not something I want to continue doing when I drive in the future. I'm just begging for something to go wrong.
Anyway, I rented a cool 2008 Pontiac G6 as you can see in the pic. What a great vehicle! The handling was superb, and I have to commend the folks over at Avis for maintaining the car as well as they did. Especially the brakes! This car stopped on a dime like nobody's business.
Driving on the way back down, in the dark, it started to rain and rain HARD. I foolishly stayed in the fast lane and continued pushing near 80 even while other drivers were slowing down and taking it easy. We all made it back in one piece at least, and I can honestly say that I learned a lot about driving in the two days I've had the rental. I noticed today when returning the car that my road handling had greatly improved.
Thanks twisty thruway from hell! I knew you was good for something.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
I'm sitting here with a big smile on my face.
See, the Karate Kid is one of my most favorite of 80s movies -- right up there with The Last Dragon and Coming to America. These movies are so indelibly connected to 80s nostalgia in my mind. Karate Kid in particular holds a special place in my movie-loving heart. It instantly transports me back to being 8 years old. I've seen this movie so many times I can recite it word for word.
See also, the Internet is full of jaded ass-hats. They heard that a remake was in the works, and that the core concept was being altered. Instead of Karate, the focus this time would be Kung-fu. And instead of an old Japanese man teaching a young American kid a martial art from his home country, this time it was an old Chinese man played by Jackie Chan. And--worst of all, according to these same ass-hats--the Ralph Macchio character, Daniel, was now Andre or "Dre" and being portrayed by Will Smith's son, Jaden.
Loud was the collective nerdgassing heard around the interwebs at this news. Loud, I tell you! Everyone and their crippled autistic uncles swore that this movie had no choice but to SUCK and suck it hard.
But now I've seen the trailer, and so shall you. And you will see why it is that I have a big grin on my face, and why it is that I think the cherished memories of my 80s youth have not been unduly molested. Click on the embedded Yahoo player below and judge for yourself:
Now I ask you, does this movie not look like THE SHIT? Because, to me, it kicks all 31 assorted flavors of ASS! This is so cool! I can't wait to watch this. I think the tone is just about perfect and, being that I love all things China, the setting is way cooler that the California "valley" of the original.
Go Jaden! I knew you could do it! Following in the esteemed footsteps of your daddy. You're going to take over the Hollywood game, I just *know* it.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
I made a batch of two-dozen, lusciously thick chocolate brownies today using Ghirardelli squares cut up into pieces. Oooh, the way they melted in the center of the brownie mixture -- simply DIVINE! Biting into one after the pan cooled down was like pure heaven. I almost collapsed under the onslaught of so much baked yumminess.
Phew! These things are deadly.
Funny, last year we got our first snow at roughly the same time: Tuesday, Dec. 16 to be precise. I blogged about the event (with pics) here. Of course, that snow was nothing compared to this one. We barely got an inch then. Contrast that with last night, and I wonder if this portends a much more turbulent winter this season.
Oh, I do hope so! Nothing I love more than seeing the city grind to a halt under a huge avalanche of snow. I hope we get lots and lots more in the coming months. *fingers crossed*
Friday, December 18, 2009
What am I referring to? Why, my last day at the office before my annual two-week vacay. The next time I'll be back, the calendar will say 2010!!!
I almost never do anything during these two weeks off at the end of the year. Maybe I'll clean the house, maybe I'll play video games (like Uncharted 2 this year, or Prince of Persia last year), maybe I'll write.
All or none of the above.
It doesn't matter, I can do whatever I want. That's the whole point! What I won't be doing, is stressing over the holidays. I could really care less at this point. I've decided not to get gifts for ANYBODY this year. Except, of course, my darling wife. She deserves it. And besides, I'm not a complete Scrooge!
Oh, and the kiddies will be getting gifts. Because no kid should ever go without something shiny and wrapped in flimsy paper under the tree at this time of the year. It's just INHUMANE! There should be a law against it.
But because the kiddies in question are on Lisa's side of the family, she'll be dealing with all their gifts. Less worry for me. Here's how the conversation went the other day with our 2 yr old nephew, Chandler:
LISA: "Chandler, what do you want for Christmas?"
NEPHEW (big smile): "Presents!"
LISA: "What kind of presents?"
NEPHEW: "Christmas presents!!!"
lololol . . . That boy cracks me up, no doubt about it. But at least he's clear on what he wants. If only the rest of us could approach life so.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Still, the man is a fine actor, so I can't really knock the relationship too hard. And judging by this teaser trailer for the upcoming Robin Hood historical hitting theaters next Summer, it's a pairing that obviously WORKS so well!
Wow, color me impressed. I still have a soft spot for the Kevin Costner-starring Prince of Thieves released back in the early 90s, but this is looking to be the most definitive Robin Hood portrayal yet! Woo-hoo! I really can't get enough of the tale . . . no matter how many times they re-imagine it.
So yet again I'm faced with the painful dilemma to triple-dip or not. See, I already own both the theatrical set and the extended edition set on standard DVD. Which, if you'd watched either set, you would know that calling them "standard" would be a gross misunderstanding. But considering these are my favorite fantasy movies of all time--and favorite trilogy behind the original Star Wars--I find myself sorely tempted to own the most definitive version out there.
True, these are only the theatrical copies we're talking about. If I were to shell out the money for a triple-dip, it would be for the extended edition on Blu-ray. Which, rumor has it, is going to see release on the format at a later date.
So as usual this means decisions, decisions by yours truly. Oh the agony!
And, hey, looks like Hitler predicted this would happen all along! If you don't have any clue what I'm referring to, hearken back to this blog post I wrote a few weeks ago concerning the "downfall" of HD-DVD and re-watch the video clip at the end. That's right: Adolf knew this would be a big deal, too!
As far as top 10 picks go for the year, most of these are spot-on for me. I just saw Up! for the first time on Blu-ray, and I have to say that that was one brilliantly amazing little animated film. Wow! It really is a must see. You hear that? I'm telling *YOU* that you must see this movie. As in right now. Yes, RIGHT NOW! Get up out of your chair, head to your nearest video store, and get this DVD as soon as humanly possible. You'll thank me later for it.
As for the rest of the list, I could nitpick the placement of most of those films (Star Trek is not my # 1, for instance), but I'll leave that alone. However, I would like to point out that someone on the Mania staff is smoking the good shit if they honestly think Drag Me To Hell or Paranormal Activity belongs on that list. Okay, okay . . . it's a well known fact that I'm not a big fan of horror films. Especially not the recent trends in that genre over the past few years (Thanks a lot, SAW). So I admit I'm a little biased here.
What do I think should have been on the list instead?
Well, for one: Watchmen. The exclusion of this is a travesty like no other. Especially for a genre site like Mania. What were they thinking?
Secondly: Moon. Okay, I know it's a little-known independent title, but Moon was the second-best sci-fi movie of the year, only behind District 9. Sam Rockwell should get an Oscar nod for his performance, and Duncan Jones should as well for writing and/or directing. It still boggles my mind that here at the end of the year the film has not seen a wider release. What are they waiting for? Anyway, the DVD comes out next month, so I guess I'll have to settle for having it in my home library. It should be on this list instead of Paranormal Activity, who's celebrity comes in the fact that it raked in millions despite only costing thousands to produce.
Moon is the far better movie.
What do you think?
NOTE: Click on the movie titles if you want to familiarize yourself with each film through watching the trailers.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
You're not really showed a lot, although a lot *can* and should be read between the lines. For one, it seems old Jokes is still alive. Which isn't really that hard to believe, given who we're talking about here. But it also seems he and his goons have taken over Gotham. Or, at least, a very beat-down quadrant of the city. Whatever the case may be, it's clear the developers at Rocksteady cobbled this together from the already existing and still smoking game engine from the previous game. It has only been 4 months since it released, after all. So I'm sure most if not all of this footage will NOT appear in the actual sequel.
Still, I'd be lying if I said I'm not sufficiently intrigued. Batman: Arkham Asylum was one of my top gaming highlights of 2009. I love that game to death! I'm hoping this teaser means we'll only have to wait until next Summer for a sequel.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
On her way out the door to work, Lisa stopped in the elevator, held up her hand, and wiggled her ring finger.
"You done good!"
LOL! It cracks me up that even to this day, over 4 years since we've been married, she still gushes over the rings I picked out. Especially her engagement ring, which she never stops admiring. I have to admit, it is a lovely ring. I put a lot of time and research into picking just the right one. A ring I just knew she'd love. Unlike some women, Lisa didn't want to pick it out herself. She wanted to be surprised. And she trusted that I knew her well enough, which I did. She never saw it coming, the day I proposed. And she thinks it's the most perfect diamond ring in the WORLD!
We're not a materialistic couple in the slightest. Our lives don't revolve around money, or the ostentatious flashing of trinkets that money can buy. But in this one thing my wife is not abashed. She's amazed that it sparkles just as brightly and clearly as the day I slipped it on her finger while riding a horse and buggy through Central Park. And although at the time I couldn't afford the biggest diamond, I did really push to make sure I had the highest clarity rating and color grade you could get. Makes a big difference, it does.
Someday, maybe, I'll get her a bigger carat size. But I don't know. This one has sentimental value, and I doubt she'd ever want to part with it.
So, yes. I guess I done good. Done real good!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
As always, click on the movie player below to watch this week's webisode of Mania.com's Movie Maven:
LOL! I'm loving the Xmas 'jammies Tara's wearing on Dec. 25th. Simply ADORABLE!
Monday, December 7, 2009
So, I was searching in vain for a movie out of my home library for Lisa and I to watch last night, when it dawned on me that she'd not yet seen the pilot movie for the upcoming SyFy channel series, Caprica. This is a movie I'd watched on DVD at the beginning of the summer with my best friend, Tarrell, but didn't really think too highly of.
For those of you who don't know, Caprica is a prequel spin-off of the hit sci-fi show, Battlestar Galactica. It basically explores the events that lead up to the Cylon uprising, and is surprisingly nuanced with its multi-level exploration of religious and philosophical issues.
Watching the pilot again last night--and on my gorgeous new 37" HDTV, no less--I was surprised by how much better this second viewing turned out to be. Thinking back on it, I see now that my initial disdain had more to do with how sleep-deprived I had been at the time, and why it's better to watch serious, talkative drama-type shows when you're at least slightly more than half awake. Because apparently a whole lot of nuanced dialogue was lost on me the first time around.
I mean, this was an EXCELLENT 90 minute warm-up to what I'm now sure will be a kick-ass new series for the atrociously re-branded "SyFy" network. It won't be as good as its predecessor, for sure. But then: what is? No, seriously.
If you're at all enamored by the Ronald Moore-created Battlestar Galactica series, you owe it to yourself to check out Caprica this January. But before you do, PLEASE watch the pilot episode on DVD. Esai Morales and Eric Stolz are amazing in it, as is the entire supporting cast with the exception of the daughter. Ick! If they use her character again (which might not be the case), I sincerely wish they would hire a new actress. Honestly, she's a big sore spot in an otherwise amazing production.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
All I can say is: Aww shucks, guys. Thanks!
Now of course, some of this is made even more funny if you've watched the previous webisodes in the series. So, to that effect, click on this link to view the very first segment and work your way up via the YouTube sidebar on the right side of the page.
As I've mentioned before, there's a definite improvement curve at notice here. But they're all good!
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
In January of 2008, just weeks before the industry's annual showcase, CES, Warner Brothers announced they were now putting their support behind Blu-ray, abandoning what many HD-DVD adopters had arrogantly assumed was a surefire feather in their cap.
But the numbers did not lie. Due to Sony having the foresight to equip all their PlayStation 3 consoles with built-in Blu-ray players right out the box--and since the home console was just beginning to hit its stride in sales--Warner and many other previous diehard HD-DVD supporters could no longer ignore the truth. Blu-ray was gaining, and all the top analysts were predicting an eventual lead over HD-DVD in the year to come. Warner, in actuality, only precipitated what had already been apparent on the books for months.
But many HD-DVD owners were too stubborn to admit defeat. So, when the Warner announcement came, it was to profound shock to Microsoft supporters and Xbox 360 owners alike, both of whom had aligned all their hopes behind an HD-DVD dominated market not so much for personal stake (unlike the PS3, the 360 had foolishly not come equipped with an HD-DVD player), but because they wanted to see Sony and its much hyped Blu-ray format fail.
Warner's capitulation changed all that. Blockbuster soon followed suit, announcing an abrupt reversal to a statement it had made just a month prior putting its support behind HD-DVD only. Now Blockbuster was singing a different tune, stating that while it would still stock current HD-DVD titles, its future high-def video rental offerings would involve Blu-ray releases solely.
Rather than the war taking another year and change to end, this back-to-back blow effectively crowned Blu-ray king within just a few short months into 2008. Today, HD-DVD is but a mere memory soaked beneath the bitter tears of fanboys who still refuse to believe their dreams of a Sony and Blu-ray humiliation have not come to fruition.
To commemorate this blessed changing of fortunes, I have reposted a parody video below which was first released when the news of Warner's defection was still fresh in the ears of Blu-ray naysayers. The video takes a pivotal scene from the excellent German film, Der Untergang, and replaces the original English subtitles with scripted text devoted to the downfall of HD-DVD -- to hilarious effect! It takes a scene which is orginally depicting Hitler's reception of the news that his top generals have either been defeated or defected beneath the approaching advance of Russian troops, and turns it on its head. LOL! The thought of Hitler calling in his top advisers to discuss something as mundane as the high-definition movie market just tickles me to no end.
But, honestly, nothing can top the actual words some genius scripted to go along with the real movie dialogue (spoken in German). The reaction and the expressions on the actors' faces just matchup so perfectly with the parodied subject matter. You have to check it out for yourself and keep in mind the atmosphere that was prevailing in late 2007/early 2008:
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Of the 3 films, the Disney one was perhaps the most satisfying. I say perhaps because the jury's still out on Ninja Assassin. I have to watch that again to fully piece together the plotline that somehow eluded me. Maybe there isn't one. Or maybe I was lost in all the CGI gore. Who knows?
Anyway, here are my quick impressions. Click on the titles of each movie to watch the trailers.
Sho Kosugi as the villain, the head of the Ozunu ninja clan. Haven't seen this guy since the excellent B-movie Blind Fury back in 1989. Lead actor (and Korean pop singer) Rain does an understated but awesome job as the main character, Raizo, a young man on the run from the clan which once sheltered him. The gorgeous Naomie Harris as the Interpol agent who aids Raizo was excellent, as usual. Having her in the film is a big plus. The film is a taught, fast-paced action-thriller with seriously cool choreographed battles, although the CGI blood and guts can be overwhelming for some. Definitely not for the squeamish.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Viggo Mortensen and (very briefly) Charlize Theron, at its heart the movie is about a man protecting his son as the pair undertake a perilous journey across the nightmarish remnants of a destroyed America (by what, exactly, the movie is never specific). The story is bleak and unforgiving, surprising in its visceral intensity and poignant depiction of human struggle to survive despite the hopelessness of a world gone insane. Mortensen and the boy who portrays his character's son--young Australian actor, Kodi Smit-McPhee--do a phenomenal job wrestling with the source material's weighty moral issues. And the cinematography is simply gorgeous to boot! In the end, I thought this film pulled all the right strings, and personally enjoyed the simple yet effective plot progression. If you like your end-of-the-world flicks thoughtful and understated, this is the movie for you! I can definitely see this being an Oscar contender for next year. And, yes, the ending is sad . . . but not at all a surprise given the nature of the film. Kudos to the director, John Hillcoat!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG
Anika Noni Rose as the titular "princess", Tiana. Likewise Bruno Campos voicing the role of the frog prince, Naveen. Together these two are simply GOLD! Keith David, John Goodman, Terrence Howard, and Oprah Winfrey round out the other notables in what is truly a modern fairytale done with class and charm and all the right trappings of classic Disney. The setting of New Orleans circa the roaring 20s serves as a rather inspired setting, soaked in golds and heliotropes and awash in the unmistakable spitfire melodies of Jazz. But the real draw of this movie is the animation -- as well it should be! I was simply in love with the vibrant colors and lovingly rendered 2D drawings, a much welcomed departure from all the 3D CGI glut that has choked the children's animation scene as of late. I cannot sing this film's praises high enough. A definite treat for the whole family, in every way possible!
Rating: 5 out of 5
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Ms. Perry is definitely getting better at this. If this is your first time watching her segment, which is presented via the folks over at Mania.com, maybe the charm might be lost on you. But I think she's AWESOME! If you remember, I posted another one of these videos here earlier this month.
I'm watching Ninja Assassin for sure. I can't wait for that! I will also catch The Road. I've been waiting AGES for this movie, it seems. The teaser came out almost 2 years ago!
I'm not so sure I want to see Fantastic Mr. Fox. I don't know, the director Wes Anderson is hit or miss with me. I mean, I generally like his movies. Really, I do! But sometimes it feels like I'm not quite getting the punchline. The Royal Tenenbaums, I'm looking straight at YOU!
And besides, I have way too many OTHER movies to catch this Thanksgiving break. So much so that I don't even know where to begin. Let's see:
The Blind Side
The Princess and the Frog
Michael Jackson's This Is It!
A Christmas Carol
And that's just this week alone! WTF? Admittedly, I can do without the last two on this list. After all, I pretty much reamed 2012 out here on this very blog. But I figure even a spectacularly dumb-science movie such as this has its merits, ala popcorn fun. Still don't truly expect me to be wasting my time on this one. It's more like a backup plan in case the other movies are sold out or not conveniently scheduled.
And New Moon -- eh? On the one hand I want to hate this movie so much because of all the teeny-bopper girlie nonsense. But, you know what? If I just ignore all that and watch it on its own merits, maybe I'll like it. It's hard for me to stay away from vampire movies, no matter how atrociously written the dialogue and the original books are. To this day, though, I still say that Anne Rice conquered this territory, and that the likes of Stephenie Meyer and Charlaine Harris are just borrowing from the groundwork she laid down over three decades ago.
Anyway, both movies are a moot point. Realistically I only see myself catching 3 of the movies off this list: 1) The Blind Side; 2) The Road; and 3) Ninja Assassin. However, conceivably The Blind Side can be switched out for Precious and I wouldn't mind.
Oh and btw, if you want to see a trailer for The Blind Side, click on my entry from last month.
What do you think? Any of these films strike your fancy?
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Poor guy. I *almost* feel sorry for him. Tough breaks, dude. Maybe next time you won't be so easily bamboozled. Unfortunately, once Darth gets wind of this, he most likely won't have the benefit of a next time.
Such is life. Hope the hazard pay's GOOD at least.
Ah, Penny Arcade: thou art teh funny!
This just goes to show you how crazy insane and spectacular GoW II is. Particularly that first level in Rhodes, where Kratos has to battle the Colossus statue come to life. Check it for yourself.
Monday, November 23, 2009
"Despite the late appearance of higher mathematics, there is growing evidence that numbers are not really a recent invention—not even remotely. [University of Rochester neuroscientist, Jessica] Cantlon and others are showing that our species seems to have an innate skill for math, a skill that may have been shared by our ancestors going back least 30 million years.
One sign that this skill truly is innate: Children enter the world with a head for numbers. Veronique Izard, a cognitive psychologist at Harvard University, demonstrated this in a recent study of newborns. She and her colleagues played cooing sounds to babies, with varying numbers of sounds in each trial. The babies were then shown a set of shapes on a computer screen, and the scientists measured how long the babies gazed at it. (The length of time a baby spends looking at an object reflects its interest.) Newborns consistently looked longer at the screen when the number of shapes matched the number of sounds they had just heard. For example, a baby who heard “tuuu, tuuu, tuuu, tuuu” would look the longest at four shapes, less at eight, and still less at twelve. Izard’s study suggests that newborns already have a basic understanding of numbers. Moreover, their concept of numbers is abstract; they can transfer it across the senses from sounds to pictures."
I said it before and I'll say it again: the human mind is a truly magnificent construction. Except, according to this article, we're not the only animals with this trait built into our brains. Say what?
If you want to read the article in full, click on this link.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Anyway, Charlie fascinates me to no end. His books are simply mind-bogglingly FANTASTIC! Particularly the way he presents his futuristic technologies and trends. This guy is the very definition of the term "futurist."
But during the panel he mentioned something that just blew my mind:
"It’s not a great cognitive leap from aeroplanes capable of carrying loads to bombers. It’s a hell of a leap from [the] idea of getting a cheap camera chip and adding it to a mobile phone and coming up with a phenomenon of “Happy Slapping”. I don’t know if everyone knows what Happy Slapping is, it isn’t Slapping, and it isn’t Happy, but its where kids basically find some random stranger [and] beat them up while one of their friends videos it with their camera and then upload it to YouTube. As social phenomenon go, that’s not one you can predict from the input technology."
WTF? Are you serious? I looked this bullshit "happy slapping" up on YouTube, and turns out he was right!
Let me tell you, I *WISH* some little Brit punk would try this on me! You can bet your ass THAT'S going to be a video they won't be putting up on YouTube. I would absolutely murder anyone who tried some crap like this. God, I hate these hood wannabes -- let them come to my little slice of the Bronx and see how far they get with that sham.
Unfortunately, it looks like this kind of retarded activity isn't restricted to the U.K. Seems it's happening all across Europe. Which means, of course, that it's only a matter of time before it comes to the U.S. And yes, I know it's already happening here. . . just not as wide-spread yet.
Anyway, if you clicked on the YouTube link a little further up, check out an example of Happy Slapping gone wrong -- i.e., not exactly the outcome the perpetrators were expecting. This one here shows two Russian lowlifes waiting for a couple to pass by to spring their trap. Except, the boyfriend happens to be a real brawler and fights back . . . to devastating effect for the two idiots. Oopsie!
I swear, dumb people. Why must they waste up space breathing?
Well, I've been playing the first game again over the last few days, this time in unbelievable high-def quality. Well, okay, I'm being a little over-enthused here. The HD stuff is nice, but the game still looks and plays like last gen. Which is okay, no one said it wouldn't. However, compared to the actual PS2 copy, which I do own, there is definitely a noticeable improvement. It sucks that the cutscenes are not in high-def, though. But what can you do? The cutscenes were always ahead of their time back in 2005 anyway, so they don't look THAT bad. And it's more important that the gameplay itself is at 720p HD anyway. The 2x anti-aliasing helps make the standard 480p cutscenes look smoother at least, which is something.
Anyway, playing my favorite game of the PS2-era again just got me thinking of all the fond memories I had back in the spring of 2005. As I mentioned before, things were just starting to look up for me when this game came along. I had a new lease on life, and I was in fact getting married later that year. And all these crazy emotions going on during this time period just came flooding back while revisiting the game this week. Wow!
See why gaming shouldn't be dismissed so flippantly by parents and other non-gamers? It really can have an important place in someone's life. I'm living proof!
Anyway, in honor of my reawakened passion for all things God of War related (I've been listening to the soundtracks continuously now), I'm embedding the two most popular 30-second tv spots that used to air during the first game's release. I don't know if you can tell just from looking at these how much AWESOME was conveyed about the game, but at the time these were HUGE. The fact that these commercials would play so many times, in addition to positive word-of-mouth, definitely had to contribute to the record-breaking sales which followed:
"TELL THE GOD OF WAR I AM HIS NO LONGER!"
It's friggin great how they used the in-game recordings--both the dialogue AND the musical score--to accentuate the footage. Can you see why I love the soundtrack so much?
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Click below to see the awesomeness for yourself (courtesy of those wacky folks over at The Onion):
Not a big deal, but if anyone reads an entry of mine that they wish to share (either on their own blog or, more commonly, on a social networking site like Facebook or Twitter) -- now you can simply mouse over this same icon at the bottom of each post and, VOILA!
I'll be looking to change the general appearance and/or layout of this site sometime in the near future, too. The severity of the change depends entirely on my mood at the time of implementation. Chances are, I might not feel much like messing with things, in which case the update will be minimally cosmetic at best.
We shall see.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
2012 Makes Ridiculous Bank Worldwide.
Bleh! Now I'm sick to my stomach. Why, people, WHY? Why do you reward such shite? Oh well, that's okay. I spent my weekend watching Stargate and Watchmen on Blu-ray instead.
So, yeah, I automatically win. (nyah, nyah!)
Saturday, November 14, 2009
I don't have quite as much to say about the subject, because it's dawned on me that I actually have very few "rules" when it comes to that which attracts me. I don't have a laundry list of specific attributes the way a lot of my female friends do, it seems. But, that being said, even I must admit that I have a few archetypes I tend to base my decisions on:
In matters physical, I'm not very picky. Tall, short, black, white . . . makes no difference. I'm not particularly all that attractive to muscular women, or women that use even moderate amounts of makeup. I prefer plain, down-to-earth looks. The closer she comes to looking like a model, the less interested I am.
I am more attracted to skinny women than overweight ones, however, only because it's personally important to me for all people--men and women alike--to follow simple health guidelines. It's one of the few biases I have.
Some people prefer one specific "race" or color of skin--the closer to their own, the better. Not me. I find such criteria petty and base. As long as she's healthy and down-to-earth, that's all that matters to me. It probably has to do with the fact that I belong to no one group of people. Neither of my parents' people accept me for who I am, so I belong to no specific pride-set. And because of this, I'm open to all people. Strange how that works, huh?
As for non-physical traits? I've already alluded to some of them, but here goes anyway:
I prefer women who don't obsess over their looks, i.e.: they have more important things to do with their time than spend 2 hours in front of the mirror applying makeup and trying to look "just right."
Quiet, shy, or reserved types over loud, confrontational or bigoted ones. Having an opinion and not being afraid to express it does not count as the latter set, and is something I highly value in a companion, in fact. Hot-heads and women who lose their cool are definite turn-offs.
Tomboys over prissy, Barbie doll debutantes. If you grew up playing house with your dollies and dreaming of being a homemaker . . . eh, no!
Women who can be the equal of a man, and not subservient to one. And, no, quiet or reserved types are not automatically subservient. There is a difference.
And, lastly: intelligence! And I don't mean intelligent in a superior, stuffy, or academic sort of way. Just someone who is not afraid to confront their own shortcomings, accept them, and then find a way to overcome them. This is true intelligence to me. Also, the ability to appreciate subtle humor is a must. This is my personal litmus test of intelligence, in fact. A good sense of humor is the key to seeing through life's bullshit. If you don't have one, you're doomed to suffer fools eternally. And nobody wants that.
P.S. -- If you go around spouting to all who can hear about how "smart" you are. Um, no. Chances are you're the opposite. True intelligence is knowing you don't have to prove it.
So there you go, a little insight into what I find attractive in others. I don't have that one set, specific visual in mind. Not that one image in my head that all women have to measure up to. I'm very relaxed in my criteria.
Of course, that all being said, it's no surprise that my wife measures up to ALL of these traits. All the positive ones, I mean. :) And while I wouldn't look for her exact twin if we were ever to go our separate ways . . . I'd be hard-pressed to do any better!
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I hate doing it, but I just had to double dip this time. I mean, come on! Just look at it. How could I resist? To make it a more justifiable purchase, I decided to splurge on the Blu-ray version this time. In that sense it will be like watching the movie new, this time on my HD-TV.
This four-disc box set includes both the original Theatrical Release (in standard format) as well as the Director's Cut (blu-ray), with what seems to be an additional 40 minutes tacked on to the latter. The reason? This time, in addition to a few minor extensions, we're finally getting the graphic novel within a graphic novel--Tales of the Black Freighter--which will be woven into the story line the way it was always intended.
The metacomic "Tales of the Black Freighter" was released as a standalone DVD a few months back, gorgeously drawn and narrated by Gerard Butler. But I've never seen the product, so it's going to be nice to have it included within the actual movie for the sake of purists like myself.
The other 3 discs include the aforementioned bonus features, a copy of the "motion" comic--which is basically a moving version of still frames taken from the original graphic novel and set to a narrator and basic sound effects/music--and the now ubiquitous digital copy of the film. You'll also be able to connect to Facebook through BD-Live, though I don't see much use for that particular function. Maybe I'll change my mind.
*Note:* The standard DVD version of this same box set includes 5 discs instead of 4, only because they could not fit the entirety of the motion comic on 1 DVD-ROM disc the way they can with the more spacious BD-ROM disc. Yeah, it's that HUGE. Run time for the motion comic is a whopping 5 and a half hours (325 mins) long! Holy Christ, folks! Again, like "Tales of the Black Freighter," the motion comic has been previously released on DVD. It's just nice for me to have it in one place with this box set since I never did get around to purchasing the standalone version.
If you're a huge fan of Watchmen (the movie or the comics, or both) you owe it to yourself to have this in your collection. Especially if, unlike me, you were more patient and refrained from purchasing the Director's Cut a few months back. If I had known that an even bigger release was destined to hit shelves so soon, I would have waited, too. Oopsie on my part!
Well I'm glad to see that most intelligent people seem to be agreeing with me, as review after review has been lambasting this terrible dreck left and right. Even Tara Perry--aka, the Movie Maven--has expressed her disgust on what is sure to be a box office success amongst the dead-heads, waste-of-space teen male demographics this film is really aimed at. Check out the latest webisode of "The Movie Maven" below, in which Tara gushes over the DVD release of this year's Star Trek hit, before giving her not-so-candid opinion of Roland Emmerich's latest stinker. Her reaction says it all:
LOL! That's right, Tara! Don't even dignify this piece of crap with a mention. I wish there was some way I could organize a boycott of this movie, but kids need their mindless entertainment, they do.
I've actually known about this for some time. And while I can definitely see the success of the film 300 playing a bigger role in the decision to greenlight this, I can't say I'm too disappointed by the prospect. Which is a shocker. I usually HATE remakes. But if done right, Clash can benefit from a more modern retrofit, I think.
Anyway, here's a teaser for the movie, which will hit theaters next March. I'm not a big fan of the music choice for the trailer. Sucks pretty bad, but hopefully it won't be an indication of the film itself:
I hope this spurs a kickass DVD release of the original, though. I've been dying to purchase it for my home collection, but am disappointed by the barebones version out in stores. It's time they release a better disc of the original classic, and now's as good a time as any.
Monday, November 9, 2009
I know: no DUH, right?
I find myself asking: why couldn't you be this studious and dedicated back in college? I mean, don't get me wrong, I paid my fair dues putting in the countless hours of necessary research, photocopying, hilighting, and indexing and all that jazz. But always with a begrudging sense of injustice at the unfairness of the universe. Real "whoa is me!" despair, I'm talking. For me, research was always a painful chore I endured to turn in a grade-A paper. Or, at least, a solid B or B+ (never got anything below a B-).
But this, this is something different. This is research on a writing project I choose to inflict on myself, covering a subject I'm genuinely interested in. It's all about me wanting to tell the best story I possibly can, in a setting as well-informed as can be managed without sacrificing all the hallmarks of engaging fiction that one must keep in mind.
So, I'm reading various different sources about the real historical Vlad the Impaler and the political climate around Europe during his time . . . and it's become a natural thing for me to catalogue and index all the fun, helpful facts I'm coming across.
Imagine that? I'll make me a serious researcher yet!
It's all about the proper motivation. What is droll and life-draining during formal education becomes engaging and thought-provoking when undertaken under one's own impetus, time, and direction. There's a lesson here somewhere, and I'm just too lazy to think it all the way through.
I guess I'm saying that school is all well and good for obtaining a piece of paper that legitimizes your place as a working cog in the society machine, but that actual self-enlightenment is the true reward.
Knowledge sought freely, rather than forced upon the receiver, evolves into wisdom everlasting.
Sorry, I know I just went all Hallmark-y on you readers. It won't happen [much] again. Promise.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
This year's candidate to the media shit storm is the soon to be released Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, a sequel to 2007's monumental hit. The game is a first-person military action shooter taking place in the modern day arena, whereby American marines and British special forces team up along with the Russian militia to eliminate a shared terrorist threat against the world. The game employs ultra-realistic visuals, tactics, and actual military ordinance to provide gamers a detailed experience of fighting in an elite anti-terrorist unit. To me, it feels more like the tv show "24" in terms of the plotting and all the attendant twists and turns that go along with the story.
The real controversy, however, surrounds one particular mission where the playable character infiltrates one of the terrorist's cells and masquerades undercover in order to get closer to the leader. The mission where he gains the leader's trust centers on an airport in Moscow, during which the player is asked to participate in a pretty horrific and brutal widescale slaughter of innocents and security personnel alike. The scene is so graphic and realistic that many are condemning the entire game as being insensitive towards families of victims of terrorists acts like 9/11 and the Madrid and London train bombings.
I, of course, say it's just a game. And it's not like the mission takes place in a train station or onboard an American airplane headed for a city skyscraper. The game is about stopping terrorists, not glorifying them. And, I'm sorry, but terrorists do bad things. It's right there in the name: "terrorist."
Anyway, to read more about the issue, check out this CTV article here. And, if you somehow want to see the mission in question yourself, I was able to find a video clip of it online. I'm only linking to it due to the controversial nature of the footage. And I must first warn you that it contains very raw and graphics scenes of innocent people being gunned down. Normally I wouldn't link to this, but I think it's important to see what the controversy is about first-hand and judge for yourself. So, if you're up to it, click on this link. The footage starts at the beginning of the mission, which is a debriefing. Eventually, however, the gameplay takes over as the player and the terrorist cell he's infiltrated arrive on the scene via an airport security elevator.
Personally, since I am an adult gamer, and seeing as how this game is already rated M for "mature," I don't see the problem. I prefer games with a mature, gritty outlook on life because let's face it: the world is a gruesome place. M-rated games are meant to be sold only to those who are 17 or older. Official chain stores like Gamestop and EBgames *always* check ID in this country nowadays. But of course there are still ways of getting around it. My point is, parents should be the ones in control of what their kids play. The game makers' only responsibility is to label the packaging accordingly and trust to the ESRB ratings board to do its job and assign it the proper age-restricted grade. After that, the onus falls on parents to make sure their under 17 kids don't go anywhere near the game.
That being said: I got the game as soon as I could! What, you thought I wouldn't? Yes, the game doesn't officially come out until next Tuesday, Nov. 10. But I have my sources, LOL! I've been sitting on the title for the past two days now, only playing the first two missions, but from what I can tell this is going to be an epic fun experience. I'll update my sidebar eventually so you can track my progress.
The funny thing is, when you first start up the game, you're greeted with the following two messages, which I took directly off the tv screen with my iPhone camera:
Well nothing, really. Except when they're costumes being worn by three of the most adorable, precious niece and nephews on the whole planet!
I know I'm late on the Halloween pics, but I finally got these forwarded to me by my sister in-law via her camera phone:
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
I loved how he explained learning to write a book by dissecting and mapping out Vernor Vinge's seminal novel, A Fire Upon the Deep, chapter by chapter. That's something I've been meaning to do with some of my favorite books. Hmmm.
Even more interesting is the discussion over non-Caucasians being represented in today's SF -- or lack thereof:
"Q11: Do you think that the fact that Crystal Rain features an overwhelming array of characters of color, including the main character, affected how quickly the book was picked up?
TB: Hard to say. On one hand, it got a lot of rejections, but they didn’t specify why. One house said it was confusing because I was white-looking, but the people in the book were all minorities, and they weren’t sure how to sell that. I know it’s affected some sales, some have emailed me hate mail based on the idea that Caribbean peoples would rule the stars. But on the other hand, I’m still plugging away selling books and gaining readers, so it’s not a show-stopper. Some people are just never going to be your audience."
Read the interview for more.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
The play goes down in the history books as the first time any player has ever stolen 2 bases on 1 pitch during the World Series.
What were the Phillies thinking? It hurts even more that, because of this one gaffe, the Yanks ended up taking advantage of the pitcher, Lidge, and going on to take the lead for good that night.
Well, it hurts for Phillies fans, I should say. (haha!)
As a Yankee fan, I'm in the envious catch-22 position of wanting my team to close out this series as fast as possible (tonight), but at the same time desiring that they close it out at home (Wednesday night). Honestly, either one will do at this point. If they do it on the road, we'll have a great parade down the Canyon of Heroes in which to celebrate! Since I work right smack dab in the middle of said Canyon, this will be quite an enjoyable experience for me this year if they pull it off.
LET'S GO YANKEES!!!
Saturday, October 31, 2009
The new trailer is hard to come by, but I was able to find one up at Youtube.com for the time being (who knows how long that will stay up). Click on the video player below to watch:
Now I know a lot of people hear buzz over a movie and immediately turn into "buzz kill" just out of spite, so I'm not going to say anything about expectations or what-not. I'll just say that, from watching this trailer for like the 5th time now, and trying to analyze as much as I could from it . . . yeah, I think it might just rock my world! :)
From what I can see so far, it appears to have a pretty rockin story to go along with all the visuals. And that's what I care about the most.
I hope Cameron can spin lead into box office gold once more.
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