Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween Everybody

As if I haven't posted enough Halloween videos, here are some more.

What terrifying creature lurks in this small town?

This would have been in the countdown if they'd released it sooner.

Fabulist posted this gem. I remember some of the girls I grew up with were obsessed with this movie.

Anything can happen on long as the high school video production crew is able to find the appropriate stock footage and come up with a blue screen effect. Also, it has to rhyme.

Nightmare Before Christmas Redux

I love Nightmare Before Christmas. It's one of my favorite animated films ever. It's probably the last great movie Tim Burton made. Today I got to see it again on the big screen in digital 3D. It was amazing, and easily the best 3D movie I've ever seen. This new 3D technology they're using is absolutely stunning.
Before the film they showed Pixar's first short, Knick Knack, which had also been converted to 3D. Then the new Disney Digital 3D logo appeared. It seems that Disney is really getting behind this new technology and I'm very excited about that. All the 3D movies I've seen in theaters before this were a lot more primitive. The only time the 3D was evident was when something would extend from the center of the screen. But now it's reached a point where the visual quality equals that of huge amusement park 3D movies, like Muppets 3D. The visuals in Nightmare didn't just pop out occasionally. Every frame was layered from the foreground to the background. I was blown away by how good it looked, especially considering that none of the film's content had been altered. Nothing was added to Nightmare to give it an extra 3D kick. Still, it looks like it was made to be in 3D. The camera is constantly moving through something or switching to a point of view shot, characters often lean in towards the camera, random objects are flying all over the place. The Oogie Boogie scenes were especially beautiful.
Do yourself a favor and go see this if it's playing near you.

Halloween Video Countdown #1

Silly Symphony - The Skeleton Dance

Monday, October 23, 2006

Podcast Extravaganza!

We interrupt the Halloween Video Countdown for this important announcement.
Or rather, a list of podcasts I've subscribed to.

1. Channel Frederator
This is the first video podcast I got into. It collects animation shorts from all over the place and puts them together in a very adult-swim-inspired little package. Some of the shorts are mediocre. A great many of them are brilliant. I strongly recommend this to anyone with a video ipod.

2. Downloadable Content, the Penny Arcade Podcast
I find this podcast fascinating, not just as a Penny Arcade fan, but as a fan of comics and comedy in general. It's really cool to hear how these guys find their inspiration and fine tune an idea until it becomes the posted strip.

3. Thing A Week - Jonathan Coulton
Found this after discovering Jonathan Coulton. This podcast was his successful attempt to release a new song every week for 52 weeks. It's over now, and unfortunately the iTunes store doesn't archive it all the way to episode one. I subscribed when #19 was the earliest available, and now it's #23. Still, it's a great collection of Coulton originals and inspired covers.

4. Little Gray Books
Two talented Johns (Hodgman and Coulton) present this series to promote the touring Little Gray Books lecture series. The lectures, by various guest lecturers, are highly amusing and occassionally informative.

5. They Might Be Giants Podcast
Two other very talented Johns (Linnel and Flansburg) offer up this podcast for a little band some of you may have heard of. It just so happens to be my favorite band. Updates are sporadic and unpredictable, but the contents are great, ranging from remixes of new songs to rare bootlegs. And it's finally archived so all latecomers can get every episode!

6. NPR: All Songs Considered
A great NPR show that features music from a wide variety of artists. A lot of rare and indie music is featured. I've been introduced to a lot of great artists (Eef Barzelay, for one) by this podcast.

7. PopSci Podcast
The third Coulton-related podcast I listen to. In this one he takes stories from Popular Science magazine and delves a little further into them. The topics are varied and entertaining and Coulton lends his quirky sense of humor to them.

8. Cliptip
This is an amazing video podcast with frequent updates of music videos. MTV might not show them any more but music videos are just as important to the industry now as they ever have been. A wide variety of artists is featured, but the highlights are those videos by bands that I've never heard of. Really good stuff.

9. This American Life
My favorite show on NPR finally, finally has a podcast. If you're not familiar, This American Life takes a different topic every week and explores it from various angles. This show is executed masterfully, and I believe is proof that radio is still an important and viable medium for creative work. Only one episode in the podcast so far, and it's a rerun, but it features one of the funniest stories I've ever heard (which happened to be on the show's "best of" CD). It's about a disastrous production of Peter Pan, and if you've ever been involved with theater it's a must-listen. I can't wait to listen to each new episode at my leisure.

So that's my list. What podcasts are you listening to?

Halloween Video Countdown #8

Gnarls Barkley - Gone Daddy Gone

Halloween Video Countdown #9

Lamb - B'Line

Thursday, October 19, 2006

More Sony Wisdom

Next-Gen has an interview with yet another baffling Sony suit.

Regarding the PS3's online strategy:
"What we don’t do however is have a brand name for the network service, you know, like PlayStation Online or PlayStation Live, and this is because we don’t see a 'PlayStation offline'.
What I’m trying to say is that it doesn't matter if you are enjoying content from a Blu-ray disc or you are enjoying content you just downloaded from the network, at the end of the day it’s all PlayStation 3 so we don’t differentiate between content, and I think that makes a clear point between us and some of our competitors, who like to differentiate how the consumers get the content, that’s the difference in the strategy or the basic philosophy towards the online service."

Brilliant, absolutely brilliant PR bullshit. In the words of my local rapping pals: "Break it down!"

1. "We Don't See A 'Playstation offline.'"
This is Sony trying to sound hip, man. The PS3 is never "offline," dude.
CONSUMER: What about games that don't have online content? Aren't they offline?
SONY: Who let him in here? Seize him!!! I him out...dude.

2. "It doesn't matter if you are enjoying content from a Blu-ray disc or you are enjoying..."
...a wonderful bowel movement.
Seriously, Sony can't say Blu-ray enough. They'll slip it into any conversation even when it doesn't really fit. They are so desperate for this media format to be accepted by the mainstream., because they're practically hinging the entire company's success on it. They're forgetting that they defeated the Betamax with the VHS buy supplying consumers with a much more affordable (albeit shabby) product. With Blu-ray they're trying to get us to buy into a much more expensive (albeit shabby) product.

3. "I think that makes a clear point between us and some of our competitors..."
You know who we mean. *awkward wink*

4. "That’s the difference in the strategy or the basic philosophy towards the online service."
It's finally clear to me now. Sony's master philosophy is that they offer content the same way as everyone else, but they don't have a name for it.
That's on par with the philosophy of any pothead I've ever met at a party.
That's not a philosophy, Sony. This is.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Certain To Become Future "News Of The Weird" Article:

This was in the Sunday paper:

Police: Woman used baby to hit boyfriend

By RAMESH SANTANAM, Associated Press
October 15, 2006

ERIE, Pa. - Pregnant with her fifth child, Chytoria Graham often walked the streets of her working-class neighborhood, happily pushing her 1-year-old in a stroller while the other children walked alongside her.

But now Graham's children have been taken from her by authorities - except for 4-week-old Jarron. He is in a hospital after a horrific event that has stunned police and prosecutors and prompted strangers who read about him to offer to adopt the boy: Authorities say Graham grabbed the infant by his feet and swung him, hitting her boyfriend and fracturing the baby's skull.

"Unfortunately, I have seen child abuse cases up front," said Capt. Frank Kwitowski, a 20-year Erie police officer. "But this is the first time I've seen a child actually picked up and used as a weapon."

Erie County's Office of Children and Youth, like other child welfare agencies in the state, can't comment on whether Graham had a history of abuse. But defense attorney Alison Scarpitti said: "There's nothing in her background (to indicate) she would do anything to harm a child."

Police say Graham told them she had been drinking and "snapped." Her attorneys say Graham, who is unemployed and lives with her boyfriend, 20-year-old Deangelo Troop, could be suffering from postpartum depression, possibly even battered-woman syndrome.

Police were told Thursday that Jarron, who was delivered by caesarean section Sept. 11, was in serious but stable condition in a drug-induced coma at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. The baby emerged from the coma on Friday, according to police.

Graham was jailed in lieu of $75,000 bail, charged with aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of children, simple assault and reckless endangerment.

Graham's other children are in the custody of their maternal grandmother, Gloria Graham.

Sweet Jesus.

Football Siison

The title of this post is probably my biggest stretch yet, and I'm sure if I knew anything substantial about football I could have come up with something better. Perhaps you have some suggestions.

Anyway, I'm posting a video of Madden '07 for the Wii because I recently chatted online with Graham about Nintendo's new system. The impression I got was that most of his information about the system had come from my blog which, while a good place to start, only scratches the surface. And it only covers areas of self interest for me. While I hope the information is at least entertaining or informational, I understand that there are aspects of video gaming that I pretty much ignore. For the purposes of this post I'm referring to sports games. I could usually care less about sports games, with a few exceptions like NBA Street, which is more arcadey and less, um, sportsy.
Here's part of our private conversation which I'm now posting without his permission:

GRAHAM: the ps3 is slated for Nov 11
GRAHAM: 17?... anywho... i am not excited about paying $600 for it but I probably will anyway
SCOTT: there's no way I'm paying that much for a system
SCOTT: Sony's going downhill
SCOTT: there will probably be good games for it
SCOTT: but I've heard a lot of bad stuff
GRAHAM: from everything i read that is what it sounds like but at the same time i want to play games like college football and splinter cell and the Wii isn't offereing that
SCOTT: yes it is
SCOTT: Splinter Cell is one of the launch games for Wii
GRAHAM: The Wii will have EA Sports college football, Call of Duty 3 and Splinter Cell?
SCOTT: Call of Duty and Splinter Cell for certain
SCOTT: I don't know about college sports, but EA is apparently making about 8 games for the system
GRAHAM: I thought EA Sports games were only on PS and Xbox
SCOTT: Madden is a launch game
GRAHAM: interesting....

In the words of Chappelle to Oprah: "Gotcha bitch!"
Seriously though, check out my awesome subtle jabs against the PS3: "Sony is going downhill," and "I've heard a lot of bad stuff." This is the kind of eloquence IM breeds. And by "going downhill" I meant as a company in general, and not that the PS3 was "going down." I'm not so deluded as to think the PS3 won't make tons of money (hell, even if they sell one it's a small fortune. Zing!), and be successful at least on some level. But I don't think that what they are doing is right for the video game industry as a whole, in the long run.
I'm still not able to address whether or not College Football will be on the Wii, but with the care and effort EA has put into Madden I would be surprised if the other big franchises didn't pop up as well. Probably not until the next incarnation, however.

The whole point I'm trying to get to is that in my fervor to enlist Graham into Nintendo's Armii (now, that's the worst one yet) I ended up becoming very interested in Madden '07. Everyone who's already into these types of games has been raving about this one. Everbody says it's amazing, particularly the Superstar mode, which I've heard more about than I ever really wanted to. But the Wii version just seems like it would be hellafun to play.
So here's the video:

The controls appear to be very immersive. Just check out the part where the player raises the Wii-mote before the snap, causing one of the on-screen characters to raise his arms to incite the crowd. It's little details like this that seem to add a lot to the game. When you're the quarterback you pass the ball by flipping the controller forward in a passing motion. As you can see in the video you don't have to swing it overhead like an actual pass, but still the control is intuitive. A similarly logical motion is made for kicking. This article mentions how you can signal a fair catch merely by waving the controller. This game actually sounds fun to play, as opposed to the tedium I tend to find in conventional sports games. I still wouldn't care about all the micromanaging that usually goes on in these types of games, but I'd sure as hell be more inclined to play the game. Especially if a certain friend decides to buy the system after all, and has me over for some multiplayer action (hint, hint).

Of course, the very first sign that sports games would be a blast on the Wii was Nintendo's own Wii Sports. Much more simplistic in design, but a lot of fun to play by all accounts. I'm actually excited to get my hands on it. Fortunately it's a pack-in with the system. If Nintendo can make someone like me excited about sports games then I'd say their overall philosophy for the system is sound. That is, trying to get non-gamers to play the system. While I'm already a gamer, I'm a very specific type of gamer. And the Wii makes me consider expanding my type to include new types of games.

The original video that got me interested in the game has finally been Tubed:

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Extras, Season 2

Found these videos by way of The Hater, which just may be the best blog ever.

Bowie! The Bowie!



"God Please, Don't Let This Man Open This Closet."

Pitchfork has a nice list of 100 Awesome Music Videos for your enjoyment. I haven't tried to watch them all, but the selection is very eclectic. Several of the videos I tried to watch have been removed (probably by legal goons) but there are still a bunch of good ones up.

I like this one a lot:

The first time I saw it was in a Channel Frederator podcast (which I highly recommend for all you video iPoders).

Notice the title says that it's just a collection of "awesome" videos, as oppossed to a VH1 Best Videos Ever list. So some of the videos are on the list because they are awesomely bad. And some of them are I don't know what you classify this as:

[video dead]

I know these videos have been around for ever, but I hadn't seen any of them until I checked out this list. There are layers to R. Kelly's gifts that I never dreamed. Is this self-parody? If so it's on a Kaufman-esque level of comic genius.
Most likely Kelly is just a complete dipshit.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Wii Play

Nintendo has started releasing some great promotional videos that feature real people trying out the Wii (specifically, Wii Sports). I prefer these videos to previous ones because it seems like a better representation of what the Wii is all about, rather than some actor hamming it up and jumping behind couches.

Video the first:

Of, course I'm looking forward to Wii Bowling the most.

Video the second:

I love that old Japanese lady playing golf.

One thing I like about these videos is seeing how people adjust as they get familiar with the controller. The first guy in the second video kind of swings awkwardly the first time, then switches to a more natural golf swing. Interesting.
You could argue that these are just actors doing a much better job than previously, but the videos seem genuine enough to me.
Can't friggin wait!


As of today I've officially spent my first Wii money. Although I haven't pre-ordered the actual system (I had to go to class Friday morning), I've placed some money down on a few games and a few accesories. I'm not at all worried about getting a Wii. There shouldn't be any major shortages come launch time. I can always go to Walmart at midnight as a last resort.

The Games:

1. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Well, duh. No big surprise here. If there are going to be Wii shortages of any kind, it will be this game.

2. Trauma Center: Second Opinion
With everyone going apeshit over the DS version of this I simply couldn't resist. It seems like playing surgeon with a Wii-mote would be a lot of fun.

3. Rayman Raving Rabbids
This game is just going to be wacky and fun, and from what I understand, makes great use of the Wii-mote in a lot of different ways.

I opted out of pre-ordering Red Steel at the last minute because I'm just not convinced the controls are going to be polished enough. Ubisoft is a damn good company but Wii is completely different territory for everyone. I could eventually be proven wrong, of course. I just need to know more about this one before I make up my mind.

So that's three out of my 9 Most Wanted. And that list didn't even include games like Excite Truck, which is a first party title and may be one of the best.

The Accessories:

1 & 2. Extra Wii-mote and Nunchuck.
I figure I'll probably want to play multiplayer at some point. I had four controllers for the Gamecube from day one, but I think I'll stick to two on the Wii for now. I don't think any of the games I pre-ordered have multiplayer anyway. But Wii Sports (included with system) will be multiplayer. Anyway, since you basically have to buy two controllers for each additional player I'm going to hold off for now to save a few bucks.

3. The Classic Controller.

Mmmm. Pretty. This is for use with all the Virtual Console games. It's shown with a cord for some reason. I don't know why they wouldn't make this wireless as well, except to keep costs down. But considering this is a more retro controller you'd think the cost would be down to begin with. Whatever. Want it anyway.

So that's what I've got so far. I'm holding off on a memory card until I know how necessary they'll be. The Wii has some built-in memory, so we'll see how far it goes.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Video Games In The Media, 1988 or Before They Killed People

This is one of the best vintage television videos I've seen on the internet. Kudos to Zhubin for passing it to me. And original kudos to Bobak Farzin for finding it.

It's so nice to see a reporter talk about video games without mentioning a high school killing spree.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

James and the Rainbros - "Children of the Universe"

This is a fun music video with bears. Space bears. And it also has a nice dedication at the end to a great hero (and snack) of all bearkind.

Rejected Wii Games

The acting overall is mediocre, but I like the concept.

Monday, October 09, 2006

An Early Halloween Message

Be the biggest asshole on your block this Halloween!

Warn those poor wayward children that come looking for candy about their special plot in Hell. Don't let them end up like Timmy:

And what awful sin was Timmy commiting when he met his untimely demise? Why, going to a haunted house against his mother's wishes, of course!

What terrifyingly sinful things did they encounter at said haunted house? Why, the Devil, of course!

Of course, he wasn't the real Devil. But that didn't stop Timmy from running straight into oncoming traffic.

If only Timmy's parents had spent less time warning him about fake haunted houses and more time warning him about looking both ways. Well, too late, cause he's in Hell now. Way to go, Mom and Dad.

Still, if you're worried you might check out early in some retarded fashion, there is still a chance to save your soul.

That's right! All you have to do is accept God's "free love gift" (he's practically giving it away!) and you'll be sitting pretty. You too can be just as self-righteous as Mrs. Baxter.

Happy Halloween!

This. Is. Sparta!!!

Um. Yeah!

Click here for better quality.

Aimee Mann At The Bijou

I saw Aimee Mann at the Bijou Wednesday night, as the non-clever title above suggests. The concert was excellent. Aimee's Knoxville performance was the very last performance of her acoustic tour, which was kind of cool. As an end-of-the-tour bonus she handed out gift bags to some lucky audience members. She did a few requests during the show, and whoever's requests were picked got a gift basket. And several of them also got to play bongos during the song they requested. The gift baskets consisted mostly of items from the tour bus that she didn't have room to pack and take home, such as some books she had read and various food items. It was pretty funny overall. Aimee has a really laid-back attitude on stage, which was probably elevated by the fact that this was the last stop.
And of course, the music was fantastic.

But the part of the concert that really excited me was the guy who opened for her. I'd never heard of him before and he ended up blowing me away. His name's David Ford and he falls under the category of musicians that loop all the instrument tracks by themselves on stage so it sounds like a whole band is playing. I don't know what you call it but it seems to be a pretty popular thing to do these days. Anyway, this guy does it better than anyone I've seen yet. Unlike some of the artists that I've seen do this, this guy's music holds up when you strip the novelty away. I've been listening to his album quite a bit since I saw the show and I'm absolutely hooked on some of the songs.

Here's one of his videos. Hopefully your speakers are better than mine because the sound quality ain't too great. It's supposed to be quiet at the beginning, so don't turn your speakers up too loud.

He plays a lot more instruments in this video than he did during the concert, but the thing I liked about his live show was that he did a lot more vocal looping. He had about five or six harmonizing background vocals going in this song when I saw him do it.
If you get a chance to see him live don't hesitate!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Goldeneye Reborn

Someone is using the Half Life 2 engine to recreate Goldeneye64.

Sometimes I wish I had the kind of disposable income to be a PC gamer. Player-created content expands gaming in a lot of big ways.

It's-a Mii!

Someone at Joystiq created a little flash program that simulates the upcoming Mii Channel from the Wii.
It's pretty neat if you're looking forward to the console as much as I am.
Which you're not.

Not the real Mii

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

More Sony Madness

Item 1:

Sony unveiled the official PS3 controller recently.
Instead of the originally previewed boomarang,

this is the controller PS3 owners will receive:


So unlike Nintendo, who jumps at a chance to innovate at every turn, Sony dips its toe in the innovation pool and promptly runs screaming back to familiar territory. They're calling it the "sixaxis" to emphasize its motion-sensitive features. "Six degrees of freedom!" is the mantra that Sony is spouting now. Which, when you compare it to the Wii-mote, might as well read "Only six degrees of freedom."
The Wii controller detects full movement of the controller, so you can manipulate things on the screen simply by pointing at them, like you would with a laser pointer. It also has a built-in accelerometer to detect the speed and motion of the controller's movements. Basically any movement can be transferred into gameplay. It just depends on what the developer wants to do. Read this developer blog for a good idea of what this means.
The PS3 controller only detects the controller's movements and can't distinguish, say, the position of the controller in relation to the television. Sony incorporated this feature shortly after Nintendo unveiled their own controller, and did a pretty shoddy job in the process. Since it was a last minute addition it's unlikely that any PS3 games will even utilize the feature for quite awhile after the system's launch. Also, Sony had to sacrifice the rumble feature. They claimed it screwed up the motion sensor. Maybe if they'd developed this ealier they could have figured out a way to make it work, like Nintendo did.
Sony takes two steps back for every stolen step forward.

Item 2:

Sony just doesn't care.
As its development of Blu-Ray technology suggests, Sony creates its products in a complete market vacuum that shields it from competition and consumer demands. It must be nice to create your own world and live there every day.

Monday, October 02, 2006


So, the Japanese have awesome penguins. How are they for bears?

Example 1 - Commercial for the Noboribetsu bear park in Japan:

Example 2 - Some kind of sadistic television show:

Example 3 - YouTube description reads, "There are 2 bears in a Japan zoo. One of the bear is very like to eat cookie. It always loot another's cookie. Another bear always sad..."

This one is funny until you consider how emotionally traumatized that bear must be.

Final verdict:
Japanese bears not nearly as awesome as Japanese penguins.

I Want One! I Want One! I Want One!

I saw this on tv over the summer:

Best. Pet. Ever.

Asylum Street Spankers - "Magnetic Ribbons"

Ha ha! Yes.

Pink - "Stupid Girls"

This is a very funny video by Pink.