Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Holidays Yo!

Well, I'm in Nueva Jork for the x-mas eve thing with the fambly, and I'm using my friend Mary's computer to post this since my Aunt's place where I'm staying has (shudder, shudder) dial up. I just wanted to wish everyone a happy holiday, whichever holiday that may be, and if you're not a holiday kind of person enjoy the day off, you deserved it.
I'll be back home the 25th and hopefully get out to see Sweeney Todd. and I'll let you all know what I think.

See you all soon

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

There Is A Place In Time.....

I thought I was done posting today, but I just found out USA networks The 4400 will not be returning for a fifth season. This is the show that out-heroed Heroes. It built on it's characters in a realistic way without having to be a star vehicle for anyone. Shows like Heroes and Lost could have learned a lot from a show like 4400 which juggled multiple disparate story lines while never letting you feel cheated, or like your favorites weren't getting proper screen time. Where Heroes is a straight forward comic, The 4400 felt more like a novel. Last season was slower than most, but not as slow or tired as X-Files was at the end, and I still feel it had Heroes beat. Hopefully The 4400 will return in some form to tie up some of the story line cliffhangers they spent all season building up to.

Pull Em Up

Frikkin' Awesome!!!

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I Found Them!

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I was going to write something about Jamie Lynn Spears being pregnant, but let's face it the Ho Ho's and Cheetos don't fall far from the white trash tree.

The big news is of course the new extended trailer for Lost season 4!
Lost is coming back on January 31st and if you're a savant and figured it out, that is a Thursday. Lost now moves into the coveted Grey's Anatomy slot. There's no word on what the lead in may be, but I don't see Private Practice as a good fit. My guess is it will be something new.
I have a love/hate relationship with Lost. I'm committed to the show, and want to see how it all turns out, but no other show can frustrate me like this one does. Maybe it's their intention that nothing ever gets delivered with a bright red bow around it in a neat little package. Maybe it's a big experiment for them. If Seinfeld could be the comedy show about nothing, we can be the thriller that goes nowhere. Either way, they've got me hooked and even the disappointments are really just bittersweet.
If this trailer, and the reflected city in the water is any indication, Lost is coming back with a vengeance. I for one know where I'll be 1/31 between 9 and 10 pm so don't call cause I'm not picking up.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Cool Geeks I Know #1

Noah Scalin
This really has nothing to do with anything except the opportunity
to post a picture of my good friend Noah Scalin creator of the awesome Skull A Day blog and his evil twin Kevin Christiana AKA the straight guy on Project Runway.

In all seriousness, Noah is the creative force behind not only the Skull A Day blog, (check it out, I'll wait) but also ALR Design his socially conscious graphic design firm.
I only like him cause he worked at Troma and is in a party scene in Tromeo and Juliet.
So why is Kevin the evil twin? Easy, he's a bit younger than Noah, (evil twins are never older) and he's part of a competition where he gets to touch models. If Noah were part of a competition where he got to touch models, he'd at least invite me along to hold the camera.......nuff said.
That's why Noah is this months Cool Geeks I Know.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Have A Merry Ludachristmas

So, the last new 30 Rock of this year aired last night and sure enough it was a Christmas, or as they called it, Ludachristmas episode. On the average I truly dislike holiday episodes of any TV show. They are always schmaltzy, and always have some underlying message that causes the back of my throat to seize up to stem the flow of gingerbread flavored holiday chunks.
With the message being every family is as screwed up as your own, punctuated by the Lohans names on the alcohol alert board at the end. This episode still pulled characters out of their natural roles and injected guest stars that just don't share the chemistry of the regular cast, and believe me, I am no Andy Richter or Buck Henry hater.
I did think this episode relied too much on sight gags, the coughing stripper, the poor kids gift of wood, the who farted set and Liz's football game (feminism!). The show, as always shines brightest in the dialog. My favorite line last night.

Liz's dad: It's not a Lemon party without old Dick.

For those of you who don't spend your days looking up deviations on the internet....not that I do, one description of lemon party is geriatric gay porn.
Roll that one around on your tongue and let me know how it tastes later.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

I've just learned that John Singleton, the man who brought us Boyz N The Hood and Four Brothers has been named to direct the upcoming A-Team film.

This kinda blew the wind from my sails as I was just about to write about bringing the A-Team back. We’ve seen a lot of 70’s and 80’s re-imaginings from the stellar (no pun intended) Battlestar Galactica to the somewhat lackluster Bionic Woman (which needs another reboot). We’ve seen films based on The Dukes of Hazzard, Miami Vice and Charlies Angels, and Knight Rider is coming back to TV and Hasselhoff is still Michael Knight. Fortunately that series will focus on his son and an all new Kitt, but my hopes are not high. While all these series, or films face inherent problems from the original source material, The A-Team has a certain timelessness that will translate well to any time. Certain things will have to change. Mental illness is no longer funny so Howling Mad Murdock needs an upgrade, and in all fairness there needs to be a woman on the team. I had only thought of revamping for TV and hadn’t even thought of bringing it to the theaters so here I go.

First off, if you’re unfamiliar with the A-Team the premise was four soldiers break out of maximum security prison where they were held for a crime they didn’t commit. They go underground and hire out as mercenaries. Lot’s of bullets flew, there was a shit load of collateral damage, and no one really got hurt. Singleton wants to make a darker grittier A-Team and that’ll be his first mistake. The A-Team should be light hearted, but not a comedy and action packed with comic book violence. Anyone can make a mercenary film with limbs flying and consequences of violence, but it wouldn’t be the A-Team.

Here is my TV pick for The A-Team

John “Hannibal” Smith/James Caan: Originally portrayed by George Peppard, this cigar smoking, cocky team leader who loved it when a plan came together had a knack for picking fights with the main bad guy, usually while smiling. In today’s politically correct landscape the cigar would have to go, but he can be a reformed smoker chewing nicotine gum. He’s been the hardest for me to cast but I think I would go with Jimmy Caan since he’s an accomplished actor who’s not afraid to do TV.

Bosco “B.A.” Baracus/Erik King: How do you step into Mr.Ts shoes? You can’t. The man is an icon. Erik King may not be able to match the image, (please no mohawk) but you can’t get much more “Bad Attitude” than this guy can portray. If you haven’t caught his portrayal of Sergeant Doakes on the Showtime series Dexter then shame on you. Too bad he couldn’t say “I pity the fool”.

“Howlin’ Mad” Murdock/Seth Green: Dwight Schultz dominated every scene he was in as Mad Dog Murdock, and his break outs from the mental hospital were a mainstay of the show. Since making light of mental illness probably wouldn’t fly today. My Howlin Mad (that’s his Gamertag) Murdock was recruited as an award winning game designer to program flight and driving simulators for the military. He can operate any vehicle, though he’s incredibly reckless, treating everything as if it was a game.

Templeton “Face” Peck/Katee Sackhoff: Dirk Benedicts Face was the conman of the group which worked well when there were women to play, but he got beaten up…a lot. Katee Sackhoff has already played one Dirk Benedict character bringing Starbuck to life as a woman, and she seems to be the go to girl for revival shows. Her Face would probably be a bit tougher than the original, and what evil dictator could refuse her? If only I was an evil dictator so I could try.

Since we couldn’t have The A-Team without Mr.T, I would cast him in a recurring role as the teams Vietnam vet weapons smith and mechanic. Someone’s got to buff the dents out of the van after it barrel rolls over traffic.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Fanboy, oh boy, oh boy

I just found this shot from an upcoming movie called Fanboys.
There's nothing I can, or need to say.

I'll be be Beethoven

Let's face it, there's not a heck of a lot to get excited about coming up on the small screen. The writers strike, which is a whole other topic, has prematurely ended or delayed what may be one of the most exciting TV seasons for geeks like me in a long time.
There are a few bright spots. We have a full season of The Shield coming up, that's something, but it's not enough. Where's my sci-fi?
I'm not the kind of guy who will hang a ripped out ad from a magazine on my bulletin board, but damn if this ad doesn't make me wish I was.
In what has to be one of the best printed ad campaigns FOX (yeah, I'm getting shudders) is bringing us Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Starting in January. The series stars Lena Headey who you might remember as Queen Gorgo in 300 and Summer Glau who is fast becoming the top sci-fi babe having already starred in Firefly, Serenity and The 4400. Thomas Dekker who played Zach, Claires boy pal on Heroes first season also stars, but let's face it, it's all about the chicks and the butt kicking and the shower scenes (I hope).
I'm thinking this show's gonna be a wet dream for injury fetishists since one of the fun things about Terminators is how much of a beat down they can take. The ads already hint at it. Anyone notice the electronics sticking out in the front look a hell of a lot like a Dreamcast controller? Hopefully Fox won't screw this up, and with a track record of canceled shows like Firefly, Family Guy, Arrested Development, Futurama, Tru Calling, Fastlane and Wondefalls, why should we think they will? I will admit they held onto Bones much longer than I thought they would. Even Joss Whedon is giving them another chance with Dollhouse. With little new episodic television coming our way, I'm hopeful The Sarah Connor Chronicles will be a bright spot in the coming season.

Too much to say

I've got a lot I want to get to this week and if I can drag myself away from the video games and comics and tv shows long enough to write about the video games and comics and tv shows (Oh what a catch 22) then all would be right with the world.
Some of the stuff on my mind, the writers strike, how they botched the Bionic Woman, Knocked Up wasn't all that, Jennifer Love Hewitts butt, I am Beowulf in 3d, best printed ad campaign, will Rock Band make me a better (beater) drummer? The list goes on and on.
Hope you enjoy

Friday, December 7, 2007

It Must Be Friday.......

And that brings me to my favorite new 30 Rock quote of the week. There were so many great lines. Tracy screaming Banter, Jennas assistant asking Bitch are you in? The great anonymous I killed my wife at the closing. 5 Million? That's NBA sexual assault money! I won't even start on sharking which does have a wiki entry:

None of that beat Liz (Tina Fey Geek Goddess) walking in on Jack and his girlfriend in his office.
Jack: Lemon, you're here early.
Liz: Since I gave up caffeine I've been going to bed at 5:30.

It was something along those lines and speaking as a guy who normally gets home from work and has a cup of joe to keep going I can definitely relate.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Cool For Cats

He's cool and geeky, just the way we like em.....

Zombie Apocalypse...Are You Ready?

I usually buy my calendars about 1 week into the New Year when they're 50% off. Guess they had me figured out this year by offering a calendar I couldn't wait for. I bought the desk version and I can't wait to see how the year turns out.
I just hope the dead don't start walking till 2009 when I'll be fully prepared.
Remember, it's not if you survive, it's how long you survive.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Mmmm orange soda.......

All hail Tina Fey Geek Goddess, Geeky Goodness
Best 30 Rock line last night:

They come from a place where orange soda is an acceptable substitute for breast milk.
(Tracy Morgan/Jordan about the ghetto baseball league he's coaching)

What'd they do, poll my family?
I'm still rolling

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hey Ubisoft Pay Attention!!

Mixing it up with Assassins Creed

First let me say that I enjoyed this game. If I break it down on a 1-5 scale
Graphics: 4
Story: 4
Control: 5
Sound: 3.5

So it looks good on paper, but the experienced gamer may have a bit to quibble about. First off Assassins Creed definitely suffers from a serious case of same crap different day. Altair the main character may as well be reporting to a cubicle to crunch numbers. There is a very precise order to everything he needs to do to perform an assassination.

Get to town.
Report to the guild.
Scout the town through viewpoints.
Collect info through pick pocketing, eavesdropping, intimidating and using informers who only have two kinds of tasks, assassination or flag collecting.
Report back to the guild for permission to kill.
Carry out your assassination.
There are also citizens who are being harassed that you can save to create helpful vigilante squads to delay pursuers or groups of scholars to hide among.

While this may sound like a lot to do it’s not. Ubisoft could have had a stellar game here instead of an above average game. Knowing there will be a second installment, and the amount of potential this new franchise has, I am hoping they fix some problems in the next part. Here is a breakdown on the city missions and what I would like to see done to improve them.

Get to town – You have to visit each of the three main cities 3 times each. Each time you enter a city you blend in with a group of slow moving scholars to get past the guards. I’m not giving anything away here, it’s pretty obvious. It would have been much more interesting if you had to find a different way into the city each time as city security plugs the hole you exploited last time.

Report to the guild – this is important to the story and not too much of a bother, but you shouldn’t need to return after collecting info on your assassination then again after you were done. It slowed the flow of the game down for me. Altair already has permission from the head of the guild, why should he need middle managements approval? A carrier pigeon occasionally summoning him back for side quests/jobs would have been good.

Scout the town for viewpoints – this is fun, and jumping from your perch into the hay gave me a lurch in my stomach each time. The drawback is after climbing your first viewpoint all other viewpoints show up on your map. Make us hunt for them; we’re up for the challenge.

Getting info: This is where Ubisoft dropped the ball. While the mechanics of getting info were tedious, using the info correctly during your assassination instead of charging in really benefited the gameplay. It would be great to access the info you’ve collected during assassinations without going through 3 menu screens.
Here’s a breakdown on info gathering.

Pick pocket – why does each mark walk slowly and alone through the city? You can usually pick a pocket within seconds after the setup scene. Mix it up a little. Vary the speed your marks move in. Give some of them an entourage. Imagine starting a disturbance by causing a street fight or tossing a beggar into the marks protectors and slipping in while they’re distracted, or getting the entourage to chase you so you have to lose them and double back before they do.

Eavesdropping – sitting on a bench, using your ears..really? In a game with this many vertical surfaces the eavesdropping missions could have required you to hang on walls over people’s heads or just under them while hoping a guard, archer or snitch doesn’t see you, blowing the surveillance. If you’re busted, the eavesdropping opportunity should move to another location on the map.

Intimidation – guards won’t stop you if you start a fist fight. There really isn’t a need to do this stealthily. Give the intended some followers you need to take out as a group or one by one, non lethal and without attracting the guards. Then you can lay the smack down on the target. A little leg breaking would not be frowned upon either.

Informers – the informer assassination jobs were fun and difficult as they were timed and usually took place around beggars, drunks and madmen who could botch it for you. No problems here. I didn’t even have a problem with the pointless flag collecting except there are already flags all over the place to collect and it’s easy to go after the wrong one. Send me to get some artifact or save a particular person in a heavily guarded area with a time limit instead.

Save the citizen – this was also a lot of fun, but it also showed the lack of enemy AI. You kill a dozen guards and no one notices you standing there since the location reregisters. If some of the citizens were actually being dragged away and you had to keep up with them it would have been more of a challenge. Since saving the citizens aren’t necessary for the story they shouldn’t show up on my map. Make me find them. This would cause you to be more aware of the city around you instead of free running the rooftops from task to task.

Since I used the info collected, I had a great time with the assassinations. I even got panicked when something went wrong with all my careful planning. The dialogue between Altair and his dying targets is a fair enough trade off to move the plot forward. Again, I don’t see the reason behind revisiting the guild when he should be getting out of dodge with the guards in high alert.

Here are a few other points that bugged me.
He’s a kick ass assassin. He can’t doggy paddle two feet when he lands in the water next to the boat he was aiming for? The only people who die when they hit the water are quadriplegics. Why this still happens in games amazes me. Of course wet robes could slow him down making it harder for him to jump, run or move with stealth.

The subplot could have waited till mid game. I don’t want to give anything away, but they shot the wad a bit prematurely. It will be interesting to see how it all works out in later installments.

There were a few graphical glitches and my game froze 3 times, I’ve read worse on message boards, but the game does have a great autosave feature so if you’re collecting flags and carrying out side missions you shouldn't lose too much. Considering the quality of the graphics and the fluidity of control, I’m surprised it ran at all.

There is a character with the voice and likeness of Kristen Bell, (formerly Veronica Mars, currently Elle on heroes) but her character model needs a lift. I’m talking to you Jade Raymond, get the girl a bra. She’s hanging in grandma territory. A boob job didn’t hurt Lara Croft, and it won’t hurt here.

Just as an aside, if Jade Raymond and Kristen Bell want a catfight in the next game, I won’t complain.

Ubisoft Producer Jade Raymond

All in all I enjoyed my time with Assassins Creed and would recommend it. If they fix some of the problems I’ve listed above, or just add more variety to the missions the second installment will kick butt and take names. You are going to want to play that game and you’re going to need to play this one to have a handle on the story. At the least give it a weekend rental.