Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Huge Yard Sale BLOWOUT!

We're having a yard sale this week. Check out our Craigslist ad.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Oh, Hello Blog

I see that I've been neglecting you. I'm sorry. See, I just got back from a long trip to South Dakota. My brother's soccer team, Westside, made it to semi-regionals! Unfortunately, they lost just two games from making it to nationals. Oh well. Here's to next year!

I drove through a large windmill farm, which was very impressive, but not quite as majestic as I had hoped. In fact, there's something ominous and looming about the giant technology, but clean energy is clean energy and I certainly don't want to discourage that.

I saw the movie Year One starring Jack Black and Michael Cera and directed by Egon Spangler...err, Harold Ramis. It has some very funny moments, but some of the jokes were such duds that it was hard for the movie to recover. I liked it best when the movie allowed the inherent absurdity of certain Bible stories to play out.

Finally, I'm struggling not to return Ghostbusters for the Wii to pick up the new FPS The Conduit. Ghostbusters was highly disappointing for reasons I may go into later. I did replay it recently and ghost wrangling is kind of fun, but the absence of a dedicated multiplayer component really hurts the game's replayability. And weren't we promised a competitive multiplayer mode, Redfly? What the heck happened?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The REAL Ghostbusters

I've been watching the old Ghostbusters cartoons and they are really good. It makes some sense considering the show was Emmy nominated, but I guess I just expected it not to hold up like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and other childhood favorites. I'm getting an anime vibe with a western twist from the series, if that makes any kind of sense.

Ryan asked what big storylines are left to tackle after the first film. This fan favorite episode about Ragnarok, the final destiny of gods, is an interesting start. And Ryan, I think you may even like it more because a romance is central to the plot.

I miss this kind of storytelling in a children's cartoon.

Monday, June 15, 2009

I Should Be a Game Developer

I was looking through my documents and I uncovered this post I made on a message board almost 2 years ago, on November 15, 2007, around the time the Ghostbuster video game was announced.
In my dreams, the Wii version is divided into 4 play styles:

1) Drive Ecto to place of haunting.

--Nunhuck control stick, wiimote fires proton beam on top of car.

2) Getting Hot/Cold game with PK meter.

--Walk with nunchuck control stick, wave wiimote around to pick up pk readings until you are led closer and closer to the spook.

3) Gunning and Trapping.

--Flip the wiimote behind your back and right-side up again to switch from pk meter to proton gun. (This action mimics how the proton gun is unholstered and would be totally simple to implement and immersive!)

--Fire with B trigger to either obliterate non-essential ghosts with small damage meters (total protonic reversal!) or to ensnare ghosts which must be trapped.

--Once weakened and ensnared, team member(s) add their proton beams to hold ghost. You cut your beam and

[QUOTE]Nunchuck = motions used to throw the trap, Z = uses the trap, [/QUOTE]

4) Boss Battles

--These would have to play somewhat differently. For instance, you're not going to trap the Stay Puft marshmallow man. I imagine Stay Puft has a damage meter and time limit; you must strike his head with the proton beam to burn damage and deflect or straddle to avoid the flaming marshmallow globs he throws at you.

**Also, I think a hub world in the Ghostbuster's headquarters would be cool. After you catch a ghost, you can walk to the basement and empty traps into the containment unit ala Metroid Prime 3 controls for inserting and removing power tanks.

These ideas are free to use DEVS! I think I'd be as happy as a little girl if these controls/game play elements were implemented. (can you tell I'm something of Ghostbusters fan? :D )
Some of this, like driving Ecto-1 and the trapping mechanics, didn't come true. But the bulk of my design, which I've put in bold, has been implemented! Again, I'm not saying these ideas were stolen (especially since I freely offered them up). I'm just saying that...someone should give me a job in a creative business!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

BANAPPLE -- Godless Comfort

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Trailer for Darwin Biopic: Creation

Why aren't they calling it the infinitely more clever "Origins" again? I'm excited for this film, but I have to admit, a wave of nausea hits me every time I think about it. This is the exact movie idea I was practice-pitching in LA only 3 years ago.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Summer Game Saturation

There are a lot of great games releasing this month for the Nintendo Wii. If I wasn't jobless, I'd happily pick them all up. Unfortunately, I really can't justify a spending spree without an income. Read on and help me decide on what game I should purchase.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 (release date: 6/09/09)

One of the first games to make use of Nintendo's motion plus add-on, the latest iteration of the Tiger Woods franchise sounds as if it is the definitive golf simulator. I'm eager to try out the new control mechanics, Frisbee golf, and an all new, fully fledged online mode.

Grand Slam Tennis (release date: 6/09/09)

EA sports is hitting the Wii hard this month, releasing their second motion plus enhanced title Grand Slam Tennis. Ever since Wii Sports, I've been waiting for a solid, dedicated tennis game and if reviews and word-of-mouth are to be believed, Grand Slam Tennis delivers in spades.

Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings (release date: 6/09/09)

While not originally on my radar, recent previews and videos have piqued my interest. The controls look fun and intuitive and the game looks like it does an admirable job of capturing Indy's charm. And I wanna try crackin' that whip!

Ghostbusters (release date: 6/16/09)

Now here's a game that promises to fulfill a long held childhood dream of picking up a proton pack and bustin' ghosts. At the discount price of $39.99 and as the only version of the game with immersive motion controls and a full co-op mode, the urge to purchase may be too much to resist.

The Conduit (release date: 6/23/09)

Developer High Voltage has answered the call of eager Wii owners clamoring for a hardcore FPS. The Conduit features impressive graphics, unprecedented customization, and a complete online experience. Could this be the game that dethrones the fun but admittedly gimped Call of Duty: World at War?


Honestly, I've narrowed my decision down to The Conduit, Ghostbusters Wii and Tiger Woods. And to be even more honest, I'm pretty much settled on Ghostbusters. The only thing holding me back is my desire to support High Voltage and an original, hardcore intellectual property. I'm also eager to get my hands on a motion plus add-on so I can try out what so many seem to be hailing as the best. golf. game. ever.

I wish I had more money!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dancing Plagues and Mass Hysteria

I have never heard of this bizarre and eerie occurrence before. At first glance, "The Dancing Plague" seems to share a resemblance with the trance-like convulsions made popular by certain religious sects. But accounts suggest such episodes of mass hysteria might be able to become widespread and even more malignant.
"In July of 1518, a woman referred to as Frau Troffea stepped into a narrow street in Strasbourg, France and began a fervent dancing vigil that lasted between four and six days. By the end of the week, 34 others had joined her and, within a month, the crowd of dancing, hopping and leaping individuals had swelled to 400.

Authorities prescribed "more dancing" to cure the tormented movers but, by summer's end, dozens in the Alsatian city had died of heart attacks, strokes and sheer exhaustion due to nonstop dancing."

It's as funny as it is frightening. But it gets worse.
At least seven other outbreaks of the dancing epidemic occurred in medieval Europe, mostly in the areas surrounding Strasbourg. In more recent history, a major outbreak occurred in Madagascar in the 1840's, according to medical reports that described "people dancing wildly, in a state of trance, convinced that they were possessed by spirits."

Perhaps the most unusual documented case of mass psychogenic illness was the Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic of 1962. A paper published the following year in the Central African Journal of Medicine described what happened.

Triggered by a joke among students at a Tanzania boarding school, young girls began to laugh uncontrollably. At first there were spurts of laughter, which extended to hours and then days.

The victims, virtually all female, suffered pain, fainting, respiratory problems, rashes and crying attacks, all related to the hysterical laughter. Proving the old adage that laughter can be contagious, the epidemic spread to the parents of the students as well as to other schools and surrounding villages.

Eighteen months passed before the laughter epidemic ended.

Since at least 300 B.C., plagues of koro -- an irrational male fear that one's genitals have been stolen or are fatally shrinking into the body -- have swept through various parts of the world, particularly throughout Africa and Asia. Most recently, a 1967 outbreak, documented in the Singapore Medical Journal, caused over 1,000 men to use pegs and clamps in hopes of protecting themselves from the gripping fear.

Luckily, it seems researchers are finally arriving at a reasonable explanatory model for these strange outbreaks of mental illness.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Introducing . . . BANAPPLE!

I've been experimenting with Adobe Illustrator. It's kind of a bitch. Not at all intuitive. But the finished product looks decent.

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Friday, June 5, 2009

Nintendo E3 Conference Gets Inappropriate

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fix for My Blindness Not Far Off?

This technique, which involves lining a contact lens with a patient's own cultured stem cells, probably won't work for my condition, but it sounds like a step in the right direction.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

New Derren Brown Interview

There are a couple interesting revelations in the new Times interview with famed mentalist Derren Brown (including the fact that he's gay!). But for obvious reasons, I found the following particularly intriguing:
He began to see his religious belief as self-delusion. “I used to go out and proselytise for Christianity; I’d go out with my set of arguments and lay them down, bam bam bam. And then when I was a hypnotist I began to see circular belief at work and began to think: ‘Well, that’s what I must be doing with my faith.’ I’m now annoyingly rational, rather annoyingly pedantic sometimes.”

I've long been fascinated by the fact that many famous magicians are also confirmed atheists, agnostics and rationalists. As experts in how to fool people, and how we fool ourselves, I think illusionists can bring a unique and valuable perspective to any analysis of religion.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Missing the Point

Along the lines of a friend's recent post, I've found that some of the songs I enjoyed as a kid lose much of their magic as I get older. I'm not simply talking about being over-played. I'm talking about songs that sound great, but the lyrics or performance or subject matter are so inane, they just ruin the experience.

For instance, I grew up on Conway Twitty's country-western rendition of the famous Irish ballad, "Danny Boy." There are a few varying interpretations of the song, but most would settle on either the story of a parent sending his son off to war or perhaps a dying father speaking to his only son. It's a somber, melancholic song to be sure and it is often played at funerals for this reason. Once I was old enough to appreciate the lyrics, however, I noticed a strange incongruity between the subject matter and the tone of Conway Twitty's version.

Be sure to listen past the 30 second mark for the full effect.