Archive for April, 2009


Thursday, April 30th, 2009

The fourth film in the Terminator franchise, Salvation, has your usual collection of tie-in merchandise: novelizations, comics, toys, even a roller coaster. There will also be a video game, which (fingers crossed) yours truly will be reviewing.

And then there’s the twitter game. (The rules are here.)

The Dark Knight: 1960s Version!

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Or, the Dynamic Duo, 2008

Morning laugh

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

I found this in my bookmarks. It was shown at a conference I attended in Boston in late 2007 as an example of how international signage can be funny:

One-legged woman petting a duck that pooped

Doesn’t look good for Toni

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

I’ve said before how I always love it when the comic strip Luann gets back to focusing on her older brother, Brad. Frequently, these are the most dramatic story arcs…and it looks like we may be in for a doozy. I really hope Toni doesn’t die.

Need to catch up?

It’s a Wonderful Life lost ending

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Presented by William Shatner

Saturday Night Live – “Its a Wonderful Life” Lost Ending from Season 12

ever read Adam Warren’s Empowered?

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Here is a free sample.

Indie Game Review: Alternate Path

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Alternate Path, by David Yates.Alternate Path asks what a “game” is by playing with the conventions and grammar of video games in general and of the framework created by Shigeru Miyamoto in particular. It is an experiment in form, and I strongly advise that you play it before reading any further; this review seeks to discuss the game in detail and in depth, spoiling every secret and investigating every nook and cranny. A full, complete, and mature understanding of the game cannot be conveyed if I spend the next few pages talking around it and hinting at things that will only be clear in hindsight. So please, dear reader, go and play the game already.

Movie Review: Clint Eastwood’s “Gran Torino”

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

Ah, the dollar show– bastion of the poverty-stricken cinephile. Yesterday, for two crumpled dollars, my wife and I got to see Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino on the big screen, and boy, am I glad I did.

It’s not that it’s a “big” movie, per se, the way Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers was a big movie. While this film has it share of violent set-pieces, it’s extremely low-key, subtle, closely-observed. Which is really the perfect choice for Eastwood the Director to make; it’s the same choice that Eastwood the Actor has made with all his best performances. There’s a reason that he’s a man that can hold our attention simply by squinting.

Eastwood’s best performances are always tough-edged and shorn of easy sentiment. His best films are the same way: clear-eyed about life as we know it today, acknowledging the joys without forgetting the disappointments. In Gran Torino, it becomes apparent fairly early on that Eastwood’s Walt Kowalski doesn’t much care for his two sons and the grandchildren they’ve given him– the granddaughter with the pierced belly button and skimpy skintight clothes is a particular irksome cause for consternation.

In a lesser movie (say, any one of the prepackaged “indies” that come out every year, complete with an all-star cast and some bullpuckey about how it’s the little movie that could), Walt and his granddaughter would bond and learn to accept one another. But Eastwood knows that some fences never get mended, and that real people often never let go of their disappointments and their grudges. Even as Kowalski starts to accept the Hmong family next door, and to bond with Thao, the conflicted and vulnerable son of that family, he never drops his prejudices, never stops spewing racist invective.

The film’s violence is a strange thing. The threat of it is there at the beginning; Kowalski effects two different rescues simply by holding a gun and talking like Clint Eastwood, without a single shot being fired. The bulk of the film is devoted to the relationship between Kowalski and Thao, as the former attempts to “man-up” the latter. For a while, you forget the violence that haunted the film’s early moments. In fact, you’re glad it’s gone– you just want to see these people live their lives in peace.

And that’s when the violence comes back, as unwelcome in their world as it is in ours. It’s movie violence that feels like real violence, that really hurts us, that makes us afraid. How it all wraps up, I leave for you to discover.

Though the film isn’t really about plot anyway. It is about looking: looking at life, looking at other people, looking at Clint Eastwood. It’s that rare film that is perfectly attuned to its leading man’s performance, where the style of the film, its cutting, pacing, and shot composition, all flows out of the way he stands, the way he squints, the way he growls, functioning as an extension of his body, of his self.

It’s the most satisfying picture Eastwood has made in years.

Further Thoughts on Geek Cred

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Hutch’s recent post on the difference between The Big Bang Theory and Lost struck a chord with me, so much so that I felt compelled to contribute the following couple of gaming-related examples. More-so than comics, movies, and other various geek-related entertainments, filmmakers and television producers seem to have an over-riding urge to fudge facts when it comes to presenting video games in their motion pictures and television shows.

Why Big Bang Theory Is Way Better Than Lost

Friday, April 24th, 2009

NOTE: Lost Season 5 spoilers, for those of you watching the boxed sets only.

You all remember how much I love The Big Bang Theory. If you’re a geek, this isn’t optional. You must watch this show. It’s the tale of four socially awkward physicists whose love of comic books, role-playing adventures, video games and geek trivia constantly gets in the way of their relationships with women, especially the cute blonde wannabe actress who moves in across the hall.

Leonard – The least awkward and the most driven to try to fit in to society, Leonard is short and moderately attractive.

Sheldon – A tall and skinny Texan from a Christian household, Sheldon is less of a geek and more of an alien visitor to our world. Baffled by human interaction and protocols, Sheldon is fussy and exacting.

Rajesh (Raj) – The Indian immigrant Raj is unable to speak to women unless he’s drunk (based on a real person that the producers knew with the same hang-up).

Wolowitz – Living with his mother and dressed in the most gawd-awful form-fitting clothes, the Jewish Wolowitz nevertheless sees himself as a ladies man.

Big Bang TheoryThe Big Bang Theory is obviously written by people who are immersed in the culture they are parodying. For example, “Wednesday is Comic Book Day”… which, of course, it is and any nerd worth his salt knows that, but if these writers tried to fake it and had, for instance, the guys going out to get new comics on a Friday they’d look like a bunch of posers.

On April 13, the episode “The Hofstadter Isotope” showed a trip to the comic shop, with a lengthy argument about the Batman R.I.P. storyline which referenced the Zero Hour removal of Batman finding Joe Chill as well as many more recent developments. You can’t fake this stuff.

Now, contrast that with the Lost episode “Some Like It Hoth”.

Hugo “Hurley” Reyes has been a fan fave because he’s always bringing up some fanboy reference to Scooby Doo or Star Wars. When the Oceanic flight goes down, he’s reading a Spanish language version of “Green Lantern/Flash: Faster Friends”, and on the more recent Ajira Airways flight he was reading the Spanish language version of “Y: The Last Man” (written by Lost’s own Brian K. Vaughan).

Recently, the castmembers were time-tossed back to 1974, where they spend three years working for the Dharma initiative. They don’t let anyone know they are time travelers. I remember thinking that if I was one of them and I was challenged to prove that I’m from the future, I would retell Star Wars shot-for-shot with music and sound effects and flawlessly-replicated dialogue, then tell the person to go back to the mainland and wait for Star Wars to debut.

In “Some Like It Hoth”, Hurley boasts that he’s seen Empire Strikes Back hundreds of times, which is why he’s writing the script down from memory along with a few tweaks so that he can give it to George Lucas.

Cool, right? However, the script he’s writing doesn’t quite jibe with the actual movie (ref: Chewie’s taking down the probe droid as soon as it lands). A guy who has seen it so much would be more accurate.

Later, he compares the strained relationship of Miles and his father with the relationship of Luke and Darth Vader.

“That’s was Luke’s attitude too. Darth Vader was his father and Luke didn’t want to put the light sabers down and talk it out. But at what cost? It got his hand cut off. Two Death Stars destroyed. Boba Fett got eaten by the Sarlaac. And we got Ewoks. Ewoks, dude. And let’s face it, Ewoks suck.”

What the poodoo is he talking about?

How can a guy who has supposedly memorized Empire Strikes Back not know that Luke Skywalker had already had his hand chopped off and lost his light saber when Darth Vader reveals his parentage? When Luke next meets his father, he has surrendered his light saber and attempts to reach his father through dialogue, hoping that there is still good in him. He is only goaded to fight later when Darth is unwilling to meet his son halfway.

To any Star Wars fan worth his salt, Hurley’s dialogue is merely hackwork attempting to get Star Wars fans to chuckle that Ewoks do suck. The writer of the episode tried to fake it and it shows.

Note to Hollywood: you cannot fake nerd devotion.

How to post YouTube videos in a WordPress blog

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Update: Some say that only Admins can post…which makes no sense at all.  I’m checking into that.

I was going to make this a private page just for my fellow Monitor Duty authors, but then I realized that there may be many non-MonitorDuty users who could be having the same problem and this might come in handy.

Everyone else can just skip this post. No geek goodness will be discussed herein.

I can’t believe Birds of Prey was canceled. I loved that book. Oh! Oh, right. How to do a YouTube video in a WordPress site.

My guess is that most of you are trying to do it via “QuickPress”, the little area on the Dashboard home page. 

Don’t use QuickPress.

Don’t ever use it, really, since it doesn’t offer categories and tags, and I want everyone who posts to categorize their post and, if possible, tag it as well.  Otherwise, I just have to clean up the posts later.

What you want to do is go to the “Posts” section and choose “Add New”.  (Your view may not match mine, as I have Admin level authority and I’ve applied a style to my view, but you should be able to find it.) step-1-always-use-add-new-under-posts When you are ready to paste in your YouTube video code, click the right tab that says “HTML”. step-2-switch-to-html-using-tab-on-right Then, paste in Embed code for the YouTube video.  You can then either switch back to “Visual” for further editing/writing, or hit “Publish”. step-3-paste-in-the-youtube-code Voila!

Oh, you can also use the “Embed Video” icon and just paste in the URL for the video.  I’m going to test that out:

Secret Wars Reenactment Society

Doesn’t look like that worked.  What ARE they smoking over at the WordPress documentation site?

Daft Punk – Technologic

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Hutch! make embedded media work!

Took me an hour to post a ten minute dealy and it will not work.

embedding youtube is supposed to be elementary!

(if the video doesn’t show, Hutch must fix it)

Talk about nightmare fuel!!!

Movie Review: Oliver Stone’s “W.”

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

I just saw Oliver Stone’s biopic of President George W. Bush, “W.”

I am a Democrat and proudly liberal. I did not vote for Bush, did not like Bush, did not agree with his worldview, his policies both foreign and domestic, or his actions. I furthermore do not think he was a particularly good President.

All that being said: the man deserved so much better than this film.

Another Indie Game Review: Albero and the Great Blue Emblem

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Albero and the Great Blue Emblem, by Chris Royer.
After a bit of scouring, I found a download link for the puzzle platformer “Albero and the Great Blue Emblem” which I mentioned in yesterday’s review of “The Power”. Here are some thoughts on Chris Royer’s classic “Albero”, with some considerable spoilers.

this is hilarious…

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

I wish I saw it years ago.

Video Game Review: The Power

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

The Power, by Alexis Andujar. Play online or download from YoYo Games

The Power crash-lands the player on a weird and uncharted planet, and tasks him with recovering his survival gear, navigating hostile terrain, and defeating bosses– all of whom speak of a mysterious power, always prefaced with a certain definite article. It’s all fairly standard platforming stuff, but it’s done very well– with style, grace, and balance. While it doesn’t add anything to the genre or provide any new twists on old chestnuts, they are, in the end, still very tasty chestnuts.

Like most Metroidvania platformers, the game is somewhat non-linear, in a linear way.

Dr. Who meets Dr No

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

I tried posting this before, but it didn’t go through (which explains why my last two posts were gibberish) [–and now they’re deleted – Michael]

Anyway, here’s what I tried to post(using ’embed’) from Youtube:

If it doesn’t work, here’s the link:


[Aww, I got your back, homes! — Michael]

Hey, It’s My Film on DVD

Monday, April 20th, 2009

One of the last things I posted before my long sabbatical from Monitor Duty was a trailer for a film my wife and I have made. In the interim, we’ve made another feature and we’ve begun writing yet another still.

For reasons explained in this interview, we’re self-distributing our films on DVD via and CreateSpace, with V.O.D. looming in the near future, starting with that afore-trailered film, The Man Who Loved.


Frank Springer has died

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Frank Springer died Thursday April 9 2009.

I do not know whether he was a good man. There was a (too) brief article in Newsday.

Frank Springer, a longtime Long Islander who was a prolific comics artist for such strips as “Terry and the Pirates” and “Rex Morgan, M.D.,” died Thursday at his home in Damariscotta, Maine, of prostate cancer. He was 79.

Frank Springer stands out to because he was/is a definitive artist/penciller in the original run of the American Transformers comic book series for Marvel Comics. That is where he stands out to me.

Appropriately I learned of the man’s passing from this node.


In other news of a technical nature…

Monday, April 20th, 2009

I finally figured out why few of the Monitor Duty authors were posting.  They’ve almost all been locked out ever since I installed Sabre in order to fight the spam registrations.  I fixed that tonight.  Any and all registered users have now been okayed to author posts or comment.

My apologies to any and all who have been hitting this “Invalid registration status” block, and a hearty “welcome back” to all of the MD authors who were locked out.