Archive for April, 2007

27
Apr
07

GFW Radio Podcast (on 1up.com)

Haven’t made any real gaming posts in awhile, but I’m still on the scene. Thanks for the e-mail support. More stuff coming soon.

There are a few podcasts that are now part of my weekly routine. Among them are just about everything on This Week in Tech and a few technology and gaming related podcasts. But the GFW (Games For Windows) Radio podcast on the 1up.com Network is one of the shows that I must listen to each week. If you’re not a hardcore gamer, you won’t pick up the references. I don’t even buy PC games anymore and I still have to check out these guys. It’s gotten to the point where I listen when I’m home, because when I’m walking down the street or on the bus, people look at me like an idiot while I put my head down with muffled laughter.

The show has a great all-around cast, but the stars are Jeff Greene (Editor in Chief of Games For Windows Magazine) and Shawn Elliott. Also rounding up the crew are Sean Molloy, Darren Gladstone and Ryan Scott. So, what’s the appeal? Well, first off, it’s a good gaming podcast for anyone who’s moderately interested in the interesting discussion around the decline of PC gaming. They’re completely unbiased in their comments towards PC gaming and have quite a few interesting theories around how things have gotten to this point. Their discussions aren’t exclusive to PC games, and this makes the discussion more thought-provoking as they can effectively contrast the differences between how game publishers are treating each platform.

What’s most appealing to me is the fact that it’s basically a group of five nerdy guys who are making fun of other nerdier guys. In order to joke about how geeky the really hardcore World of Warcraft crew is, you have to know a bit about them. And, of course, that leads to self-incrimination. But these guys don’t seem to care. And the whole ride is quite entertaining.

The above is a snippet from the first part of the show (and the reason why I can’t listen to this thing while among the non-gaming public). Hilarious stuff. (Well, to me anyway.)

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21
Apr
07

Children of Men: Review

Usually I remain ‘in the know’ when it comes to daring or non-conventional films. But somehow Children of Men is one that escaped my view. I remember seeing the trailer — at least I think I did. I don’t the trailer hinting that the film would be quite this grim.

This — as is the case with most reviews I do — is a spoiler free review. As a matter of fact, for a film like this to be “enjoyed” (and I use the term ‘enjoy’ very liberally) it’s probably best not to know a lot about it. Just hop in and kinda “take it in.” Just be prepared for a very grim look into the future.

To give the most general overview of the plot possible, Children of Men can be described as a post-modern look into a grim future with one very big “what if” scenario, which is hinted at by the title. It stars one of my favorite blokes, Clive Owen, turning in another solid performance. It also stars Julianne Miller and Michael Caine. Hmmm…. Probably not much else could be said about the film without spoiling it. The closest thing I could say about the setting that would give you a hint about whether or not you’d enjoy something like this is, “think of a cross between Fight Club and Twelve Monkey’s post-modern setting, but painted with a brush that is slightly more realistic and plausible.”

Perhaps had it not been for the recent events that took place on the campus of Virginia Tech, this would have been somewhat easier to watch. But certainly not by much. Considering the world that we live in today — in the middle of an bloody war with no end in sight, humans without homes, students gunned down for being in the wrong place at the wrong time — perhaps there aren’t any modern-day circumstances that would make this film an “enjoyable experience”. (At least not for me.) Although there are a few glimmers of faith and hope in the film, like 28 Days Later, you leave the experience with your head hung down. Way down.

One thing I will say about watching films like Children of Men, Elephant and others like it is that I find myself wanting to take a week off from the monotony of life and just spend time running through grass or driving along the countryside……or perhaps walking through the forest. And even if you don’t get to do those things, you realize that as bad as things may seem, they can always be a whole lot worse. Kinda like that feeling you have when you’re dreaming that someone’s trying to get you and you wake up and realize that everything’s o.k. You feel like you just hit the lottery. (Or am I the only one?) Anyway, I digress….

All of this having been said, I have a deep sense of appreciation for the film. For one, it is unlike anything I’ve seen in quite some time. It manages to be suspenseful, technically sound and provides a thought-provoking backdrop of social commentary. This film is far from ordinary, and for that alone I’ll recommend it. Also, watching this film in Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound is an incredible experience. There are parts of the film where danger is ever present and on every side, and if you have a 5.1 or better speaker system, you will certainly feel this. There’s a scene towards the end of the film that is a true showpiece and demonstrates to those who may doubt the notion that sound can immerse you in the theatrical experience that it truly does matter. Visually the film maintains a very drab color palette, so perhaps it’s not quite the visual showpiece. However, hats off to the production designers, as the detail in the film to create a setting that is a believable post-modern London is truly amazing. Continue reading ‘Children of Men: Review’

01
Apr
07

Pet Peeve #1 – Leave the Manager Alone During the Game

manager-interview.jpg

I’m gettin old. Period. And those gray hairs entitle me to complain as much as Grandpa Simpson and whenever I want. So I’m gonna post a few of my pet peeves as stuff comes to me. This isn’t a big one, but it inspired me enough to get off the couch and complain.

I know with advances in broadcast technology that we’re always looking for ways to increase the television viewer’s experience. I enjoy the increased camera angles and the close-up high def looks that reveal whether the ref called the play correctly or not. But there becomes a point when you’re just crossing the line.

It’s hard enough trying to manage a game for nine innings. Why do we have to shove a mic in front of the manager’s face during the game? What can he possibly say that would increase our enjoyment of the game? Have you ever listened to those interviews? They’re about as interesting as talking to the guy behind you in the hot dog line. Only in baseball would you see something like this. They’re not gonna stick a mic in front of Mike Holmgren during the 3rd quarter of a close game. Or Phil Jackson. (Maybe I shouldn’t speak so confidently — this could very well be on the brainstorming list of some bright TV executive.

It’s bad enough to be a manager on the losing end of a 15-3 game and to have to sit at a press table and answer dumb questions about why you didn’t give the hit sign during that 3-1 pitch in the 5th inning. Do we really need to bug these guys during the game?

(Larry Bowa’s smiling above. But trust me. The managers hate this practice a lot more than I do.)