Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Crystal Dull

Okay, I've never been a huge fanboy of the series, but I enjoyed the previous Indiana Jones movies. I have no problem summoning the level of suspension of disbelief required to enjoy watching a guy swing around on a whip, evading Nazis, and even recovering supernatural artifacts that occasionally melt the faces off the aforementioned Nazis.

Unfortunately, the stunts and chase scenes in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" are so completely unbelievable and obviously CGI-based that it completely takes the viewer out of the movie. The dialogue -- never a strong point of Indy films anyway -- is laughably bad at times, especially early on in the movie. Even Harrison Ford's natural charisma can't save most of the awful one-liners he's spouting.

The story itself has potential, but you can see most of the "twists" coming from miles away, and there are several scenes where it seems obvious that the producers added plot points to complement the stunt sequences, rather than the other way around. Need another escape scene? Let's just have Indy get captured for the fifth time. Fight scene? Let's have these weird half-human natives jump out of the walls with absolutely no explanation given for their existence (and nobody in the film has the presence of mind to be particularly surprised about the attack).

Honestly, if I'd been in the theater alone rather than with a bunch of friends, I would have walked out about twenty minutes in. Even the ending made me roll my eyes, but I won't spoil it for the rest of you who haven't learned the "don't give any more money to George Lucas" lesson yet (damn it, I knew better!).

It's a rare movie that actually makes me feel embarrassed to be sitting in the theater watching it, but that's the one stunt "Crystal Skull" executes flawlessly.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A thousand points of white

Over the weekend, we got together with some friends and played several sessions of 1,000 Blank White Cards.

If you've never played before, it's a pretty simple concept. Each player makes up some cards with a subject, a point value, and (optionally) extra rules. These get shuffled in with the rest of the blank cards. You go around the table, playing cards on yourself and/or others. As you get new blank cards in your hand, you can make up new cards (and, thus, rules) on the fly.

A few of my personal favorite creations from the most recent game:

Don't Lick That! - Ahboo destroys one in-play food item of your choice each turn.

Fudgement Day - Each player destroys one in-play card. +100 points (mmmmm fudge). Destroys all other Day cards in play.

Oh No! Squirrels! - Cancel any card that is played on you and play it on someone else instead. Can be played at any time.

George Lucas - ("I want my eight bucks back!") No movie references can be played while George Lucas is in play.

Test Your Might - All players throw a card from their hand. The player owning the one that lands furthest from the table gets this card. +200 points (Note that I abused the hell out of this one by crumpling one of my cards into a ball and chucking it across the room).

At this point, I don't even remember who won, but that's just an incidental detail with this sort of game.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I got a trunk fulla amps

I'm still listening to TheSixtyOne daily, and I'm enjoying the hell out of it.

If you want to check out some of the great music that I've discovered there (and liked enough to add to my subscription list), just click on the big "Play" button below. You don't even need a T61 account to listen.

There are Xbox-like achievements for radio listeners, so while you're discovering new music, you're also giving me points! Eventually I'll integrate the controls right into my blog navigation, but for now you can clicky the link above.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Cast your pod to the wind

My friend Alex and I have published the first two episodes of our technology podcast, NO CARRIER.

It's a non-specific technology-themed podcast that we're going to try to do on a semi-regular basis (hopefully weekly, once we get into the swing of it). We've kept the podcast kind of dry so far, but we're hoping to get into more accessible and entertaining topics in the weeks to come. There may be a few rough spots, since we're still learning what the hell we're doing with all of this, but I think the first two podcasts turned out pretty well.

You can check out both episodes over at the NO CARRIER page.

Note that I didn't talk very much on the second episode -- because of the nasty storms in Alabama over the weekend, I actually couldn't hear much of what Alex or our guest were saying. Oh well, it still turned out okay. I'll be hosting the next episode, so expect either brilliance or a train wreck. Or a brilliant train wreck.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

At least there weren't any pirates or ninjas

You might remember my experiment with using team mascots as the sole criteria for picking winners in the NCAA basketball tournament.

Well, my cunningly conceived system failed miserably. I finished dead last, behind someone who seemingly flipped a coin to determine the game outcomes.

A bulldog beating up a jaguar? Not bloody likely. You know, if nature worked this way, we'd all still be protozoa floating around in the primordial ooze.

Hypothesis disproven; back to the drawing board.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Fresh from the Tel Aviv club scene

Here's a crazy-awesome band I found over at TheSixtyOne:


They're an Israeli group, but all of their songs are in English. The singer's voice is amazing -- it goes from cute and poppy to powerful and angry in the same song. The music is incredibly well-arranged and very complicated. It reminds me a bit of later Oingo Boingo: lots of layering, horns, tempo changes, etc.

I just ordered their album from CDBaby, and I figure a lot of my friends might enjoy them too. "Hey" is probably my favorite, but they're all good. Please go check them out (there are four songs available to stream from the link above) and give them a bump if you dig their stuff.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Mankind's greatest accomplishment

At rare points throughout the history of human civilization, a new concept has been introduced that is so groundbreaking and innovative that it has changed the world as we know it.

The wheel.
The printing press.

The Emergency Party Button.

Oh, yes. Watch the video and be awed.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Things I've learned from Grand Theft Auto IV

1. Stepping one foot across a police roadblock is a much more heinous crime than stealing cars, running over old ladies, or blowing up a cop car full of officers with a rocket launcher.

2. Television in Liberty City is a lot better than real television. There are two complete TV networks in the game, which both have hours of content. So far I've watched a poker tournament, an Adult Swim-esque cartoon, and a talk show with a 'roided-out host (featuring the voices of Opie & Anthony staffers).

3. Rastafari dialect is incredibly hard to understand, even with subtitles on. Fortunately, my character is as clueless about it as I am, so at least we're on the same level of comprehension.

4. Don't ever, EVER listen to SomethingAwful goons in a multiplayer game. While playing Cops and Robbers online, I was on the criminal team. We got to the escape helicopter, and I climbed into the pilot seat. As I took us up to about a thousand feet, I mentioned that I didn't really know how to fly a chopper. One of my teammates said "Just hit Y". I hit Y. My character climbed out of the helicopter and fell a thousand feet to his death. We all laughed our asses off -- lesson learned.