Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Inner Geek

The other day, for one reason or another, I thought a ton about all the geeky/nerdy things I do/done and why it seems like I don't do them as much anymore. This, in turn, made me immediately begin to devise of ways I need to "bring back the geek" in my life. Here are a few things I thought about and miss about my geeky side:

1. Video Games

Ever since I was a lad I've enjoyed playing video games. Sports games, first-person shooters, action RPGs, and even the educational ones (Oregon Trail anyone?). Believe it or not I have spent over four and a half months playing World of Warcraft! No, not playing the game OVER four and a half months time, but ACTUALLY playing for over four and half months of the game alone! (probably more than that, but I can't really remember what my last game timer said) Anywho, the point is I like games.

Maureen seems to think that I will eventually grow out of them, but I disagree. People forget that video games are still in their infancy as a medium. They only began in the 70s and gained mass appeal starting in the 80s. So we are only now beginning to see that first generation of video gamers who were kids in the 80s become adults and the jury is out whether or not they will continue playing them in their old age. I for one think we will. A good game for me is like a good book. I enjoy the story line, characters, plot developement, PLUS I get to kill orcs, dragons, and zombies while I do it.

I need a suggestion for a good game out there that could take up 60 to 120 hours of time to beat. Something like a Final Fantasy game. Perhaps I should just replay FF7 for the umpteenth time.

2. CCGs

CCGs, for those who don't know, are "Collectable Card Games". I have played quite a few in the past and although they are expensive hobbies they can be quite fun.

In middle school, my friend Jeff and I used to play Star Wars CCG and spend the night at his house playing a rediculously long version of the game (that we made up) that could take hours, if not days, to play. It involved over 200 cards, Jeff's parents banquet dining table, and a hefty helping of the force. We probably only finished a few games the whole time we collected those things, but the extra knowledge we learned about Star Wars from them was priceless.

I also, at some point, got into YuGiOh with my brothers, and my then roommate Amar. YuGiOh is a card game based on an anime series by the same name that is about the card game which is based on the ..... woah, I reached an infinite loop. So basically from what I remember there are some simple set rules to the game that they explain in the show and each of the cards helps you or hinders your oppenent in some way. The game dynamics were fairly simple, but the level of complexity once all the cards were added in was so high that it made the games, which were short, really fun and challenging. I got out when it got too expensive or when I started drinking, one or the other. Either way I couldn't do both.

Might be fun to dig up some cards.

3. Anime

Always been a fan and I've kept up with some series for a while, but after this summer I just let them slip away. It would be nice if I could get Maureen interested in one or two series that I used to like, but I know that they are primarily aimed at boys/Japanese people. I say people because I knew quite a few Japanese girls who enjoyed them as much as any boy.

Rurouni Kenshin was always my favorite and might be something that I could get her to watch. It's the story of Kenshin, a wandering swordsman in Meji era Japan who has a mysterious past and a vow to never kill again. He is quickly recognized as the legendary "hitokiri battousai", which is loosely translated as "manslayer", a ruthless killer who was infamous during the Meji/Tokugawa civil wars. Throughout the series he is confronted with his past and must fight to protect his friends all while battling his inner demons and keeping his vow intact.

..sounds good right!?!

I watched Ponyo the other day and it made me miss this bit of my own past. Of course, Miyazaki is a genius that can only be rivaled today by Pixar, and that's just barely.

As I'm getting married soon, I had to ask myself if these were things that I will give up once I enter married life? Probably the CCGs won't make a reappearance (unless my nieces, nephews, or own kids get into them), but the rest I think is with me for the long haul.

I know for a fact that Maureen doesn't like video games, but she just wasn't raised on them and I don't think they are a bad thing. It's a new medium and just as film, radio, and television had their complaints, they are all an intergal part of what makes our culture now. Games are here to stay. I hope some anime of greater quality reaches the US when my kids are old enough, cause the stuff I'm seeing right now doesn't cut it.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

New Post

How do you begin again? It seems strange to write (or blog) after such a long absence, yet it is oddly familiar.

Today I read, or at least I was read to, a new post by my fubro (future brother) Stephen Oliver. He too hasn't written in a while, albeit a much shorter while than I, but his article got me thinking about many things. I'll try and link to it here (did it work?) but as a short recap for this post let me say this about the speaks volumes.

In a nutshell Stephen was writing about nothing. Absolutely nothing. Of course there were a few snippets of information concerning things like how he spends his time in Guatemala, but overall the point of the piece seemed to be asking the question (and then answering it sort of) what should I write about and why should I write about it? People seem to ask him a lot to keep his blog updated more, but he fails to do so because he has no inspiration and nothing that he would consider interesting to write about. It dawned on me that the last part could apply to a greater portion of writing in general.

And so for the last hour or two I've been looking at news columns online: The New York Times, Boston Globe, Dallas Morning News and others to get a sense of what people were writing and why. Most news articles made sense because there is a significant portion of the population that cares about the happenings of the White House, Wall Street, and the group that decides who gets nominated for a Grammy. Then I moved on to television news sites like CNN, Fox, and MSNBC. They too had their place along with the paper groups, even though I could do with a bit less of their writer's personality, and it still seemed relevant. Then I got here and didn't know what to think. Websites like "Blogger" and "Wordpress" are free for anyone to publish their inane drivel on to and no one can stop them. No one really has to read them either. What is the point of writing about things if you have no expertise or knowledge of the subject?

"Obama is the greatest President ever."

I would probably get a ton of pats on the back and good comments from the people I know up in Oregon with a statement like that. The question is does it matter to anyone that I think that and if so why?

"The government is an entity who's purpose is to protect and serve it's people not trample on their rights and liberties through coercion and legalized aggression. The Obama administration is no better than Stalin's of Russia."

That statement would get a ton of hateful comments from those same people (and probably some really awesome comments from my friends in Texas including my brother Andy), but again do I have any credibility saying that?

When someone writes something on one of these sites it instantly loses all credibility if only because it hasn't gone through a filter of some major corporation news source. That's fine because most of the people on these sites are not experts in the fields that they are talking about because those people would be writing for reputable sources. Thinking about this I took another look at true news articles and websites.

With the exception of (ironically) Fox news, they all seemed cold and dishonest. Every article has been run through a machine that makes each piece factual and without personality (except Fox that pretty much made their voice clear). So then I went back to Blogger.

There is something to be said for the writings of the masses, it's honest. Listening to an NPR discussion about WikiLeaks a professor from UCLA said this about internet news and the movement from elite journalist teams to a mass gathering and sharing of information, "News has moved now from a 'lecture' as it was in the beginning to a 'dialogue' that can be interpreted by the community at large instantaneously".

Now this is a far stretch for a connection to the beginning of my post, but I'll just say that each writing is important even if there isn't much information or interesting events to be had.

....oh, and I also found five dollars.

Monday, April 5, 2010


So the iPad is out now and everyone is excited. The question is why?

This is the best attempt at honestly reviewing the iPad.

Every single point they had about why the iPad was better than an iPhone (oddly enough, the iPad's biggest competitor it seems) had to do with size. They say "Well, the iPad has more memory!"

Duh! It's can fit more in there!

"Oh, well uh, the resolution is WAAAY higher than an iPhone!"

Bigger size = more pixels = higher resolution. What else you got?

"It's sooooo much easier to type on the much larg... I mean nicer keyboard."

Wait, were you about to say 'larger' keyboard?

"Um, there are iBooks?"

Ok, I'll take that. It's a pretty looking Kindle w/out the massive library. So lemme ask you a question, can I make a call on it?


Hmm, so I'm buying an electronic book. No thanks, I'll just stick with my phone.

"Wait! But you can use AT&T's network w/out a contract! Please! Please!! 3G service wherever you need it!!"

Let's not talk maps. I think you guys have your hands full with that already.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

In A Rut

Well friends, I still need a job. It's been a year since I've had real work, which sounds weird, but I need one desperately now. I'm not quite going for broke here, but it's getting to that point. So I decided that I should look back on this past year and see what kind of decisions I made and if I would've maybe done something else, something more.

After I was laid off, I went two routes. First I started looking jobs that were part-time, full-time, any-time that could pay me something. Then I looked for some creative work to do for free and bought myself a camera and a decent editing suite to practice on. That was one of the best choices I've made. After meeting with my now good friend Jaime, I became a cameraman for Pirate Satellite TV and worked on tons of shoots. Again, really good choice. I got so much experience out of it and eventually became an Executive Producer organizing and running the operation. Hard times only got harder and it seemed our dream for getting the show picked up by some advertisers wouldn't happen. Although I will help out in any way that I can, I needed to find something to work on, something that I could make some money and gain some experience at the same time.

Enter the "Lewis and Clark Were Here" project. In October, my now fiance and I decided to embark on this journey that would take us across the country and provide a compelling (and marketable) adventure for people all across the US. For 6 months we planned out every detail and when it came time for the funding and sponsors it looks like we could maybe make it, but there many of our loved ones that were worried and had reasonable arguments that we shouldn't go on with our project. Sadly, we had to make the decision to cancel (or possibly postpone) our great walk across the country and now we are left with the question of "where do we go from here?"

That is the question for many Americans today, "where do we go from here?" Many people state that your 'job' does not define you as a person, and while that may be true it does give someone a purpose. Not having a defined 'purpose' in life can be devastating to a person's psyche as I'm learning over the year that I have been more or less unemployed. I do not consider myself to have been unemployed for a year, just lacking in monetary compensation. But when you don't have a solid schedule everyday and are putting together projects that yield you experience but no revenue, it becomes harder and harder to wake up, wash your face, and go out into the world.

I'm sorry if this post seems depressing, but I'm grasping at straws. Everyone everywhere is saying, "everything is going to be alright" and "you'll get a job eventually", but what if it doesn't. There are people out there who don't have jobs and haven't for quite some time. There are situations that don't get better. Believe me, I am more of an optimist than most people you will have met but there is a breaking point. My dad tells me almost every time I talk to him that "man, I really admire your spirit. I couldn't do that." Maybe that's because he has a job, and always had one.

Forgive me for venting.

I have taken more drastic steps now and will continue to take greater steps to get a job. My message to all those who are unemployed out there and looking for work:

Do what you can to stay sane without hurting yourself. Talk it out with as many people as you can and try your best to stay focused on your goals. And above all else don't give up. If you keep going, if you keep trying, your persistence will pay off.

I have to be close now, because I've been trying a while. So hurry up and get here job cause dammit I'm ready to work!!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Future is NOW!

It's been too long my friends, but as many of you know I've been busy. What with the wedding to plan for and our walking trek to St. Louis coming up, my thoughts were elsewhere. That and nothing really peaked my interest that wasn't related to either Lewis and Clark or wedding stuff, but no more!! Here is the coolest thing I've seen in months.

You can take a minute to watch that movie if you'd like (I would suggest it), and I'll wait.

.....WASN'T THAT FREAKING BADASS!?!! I should say that my old roommate Mike and I had that idea a decade ago which we, in turn, got from playing the original Metal Gear Solid. The game, for those of you who haven't played it, was lightyears ahead of anything else in either film or gaming, showing a level of interactivity that I believe has yet to be matched. For example, in one particular boss fight during the game (Psycho Mantis) the enemy is psychic and can read your thoughts. He proves this by reading the memory card in your Playstation, and if you've played any games by Konami (the developers) then he will tell you something like, "I see you like Castlevania!" Creepy and way cool. Then he shows his telekenetic powers by using the 'shock' function on the controller that vibrates by telling you to put the control on the ground and he will make it move. He sends a message to the controller to start vibrating which makes it move....way, way, way to cool. Finally since he can read your thoughts he knows where you will shoot and you are unable to damage him ...unless you switch your controller from controller port 1 to port 2! This degree of innovation in gaming is beyond anything that I've seen even today and more game/film companies should take a page out of Kojima's book.

This film apparently did. I applaude them for breaking boundaries and making film more immersive, but I did have a problem with this approach. In a horror film the point is to get scared. It gives people a rush, like a roller coaster or bungie jumping, of adrenaline that some people enjoy. In order for a horror movie to do that they need to create a level of suspense that heightens the viewers level of paranoia to get the holy grail that is the "scream". With the phone call, you break down what in theater is called the "fourth wall" and the illusion of the film is gone. In an attempt to further immerse people into the story and suspense they are actually breaking it down in a lot of ways. Now I could be wrong about this and it may make it even more suspenseful, but I have to say that if I had the phone and was talking to this chick on the screen I would try and get her to do the dumbest things just for kicks and laugh about it while I was doing it.

One thing is for sure, this is a really awesome idea and it will make boatloads of cash! How many times would you go see a movie that could be different every time? How many times would you go see it to try and be the person she called? The answer, a lot....a whole lot.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fly the Fatter Skies!!

So anyone who is active in the Twitter community (not me) or knows about and/or is a fan of Kevin Smith (me) has heard about this fiasco that recently went down between he (KS) and Southwest Airlines.

Here's the rundown in case you missed it.

1. Smith was on his way back from MacWorld and flying out of the Oakland airport and decided to go home a bit early, and so was put on standby.

2. He purchased two seats, which he contests, because he prefers to left alone and comfortable.

3. The flight that opened up for him had only one seat which he said he would take and a ticket was given for said flight.

4. He sat in his seat, a middle seat toward the front of the plane between two ladies, and then two minutes later was asked to leave because the captain of the plane believed him to be a "safty risk".

5. After much arguing and beating around the bush about why he was asked to deplane, Smith went on a tirade on Twitter that put Southwest Airlines in hot water.

Ok, now we're all caught up.

Here is my take on this (if you care). First let me start by saying I'm a big fan of Kevin Smith, he makes funny movies and I listen to SModcast every week. So I am a bit biased. I believe that ultimately Southwest Airlines was in the wrong here and for many reasons.

First and foremost ... he fit in the damn seat! Armrests were down!

Second, what is the exact nature of this "safety risk"? Is it that fat people have greater trouble moving around and therefore in an emergency situation will put others at risk with their slow movements? Is it that their physical weight is so great that it throws off the physics of the plane and there is a chance the pilot may not be able to operate the plane properly? Does it just waste gas to have a bunch of fatties on the plane instead of starving babies? "Safety risk" is just a euphamism for wasting the airline's money basically. Unless it's actually the first reason with the moving thing. Actually, I did hear that if a plane is overweight then there is more of a risk of sliding off a runway, so there is that, but you don't see or hear about airlines pulling off Aussie rugby players (muscle > fat, and people think it's not discrimination). The main point here is you need to have properly defined parameters for this kind of thing when you want to make it policy. Otherwise you get a situation like this and you get screwed. Even IF Southwest Airlines was "in the right" in this situation, they couldn't defend themselves. Any way you look at it, it's discrimination. If you don't have it properly defined then it's an arbitrary call.

Now, I just listened to the hour long SModcast that Kevin just put up about this whole adventure and it actually changed my tune a bit. Like I said before I'm a Kevin Smith fan, I like his work and what he does otherwise. Having said that, I think he went a bit too far and I'd just like to say, Kevin, you're kinda acting like a bitch. By that I mean for a while there you were speaking from passion and rage in a way that didn't make sense. You said at one point that you were entertaining the possibility that "they did it because someone didn't like your movies". Now I know, you said it one time at the beginning (of SMod) and it was definitely a joke then, but later on it sounded as if you really believed it for a second. Come on man, get real. I know there are haters out there and the higher up you are the more extreme they get, but seriously? I'm just going to pass that off as, you were really really pissed and you let it get to you. You weren't thinking clearly. Toward the end you calmed down and things got back to normal.

Do I think SWAir was in the wrong? Yes, definitely. Did Kevin Smith go to far? Maybe, but I can discount the truly ridiculous things he said like "they did this because of my movies". I know you're really mad, but UFOs aren't coming to abduct you. I think this is a good thing because if it works like it should then SWAir will provide better training to their employees or actually make a legit policy that makes sense.

Here is what I would like to see. If weight is an issue then weigh everyone and everything. If you take an average adult human weight + 1 average weight check in bag + 1 average weight carry on and X by the number of people on the plane and then subtract that from whatever the number is for unsafe weight on a given plane, then you will know how much wiggle room you got per passenger. That could be your cutoff point. Then if someone complains you just show them an equation! It's math and physics, you can't argue with that! Also, KS had just some carry on stuff, but what if someone weighing 200lbs checked two 50lbs bags? "Safety risk"?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My Bologna Has a First Name...It's O-S-C-A-R!!

So the Oscar nominees came out and....who really gives a shit. Not to be rude, but the Oscars have been a sham for a long time now and with a few exceptions, haven't really given credit where credit is due. There are a lot of things that I could point out about previous Oscar contests that start a discussion or two, but let's focus on this year's nods shall we?

The only thing I really want to talk about is the Best Picture category. In previous years, the Best Picture allowed for five nominations, which is fine. This year, in an attempt to get people to care about the Oscars, the Academy has increased the number from five to ten! What do this mean to all of you? It means that there are five extra movies in that category that have absolutely no chance of winning, but are put there so you at home can say, "hey, I saw that movie"!

Many a year the winner of Best Picture has been something that a large portion of movie-goers hadn't "the English Patient". The year of my birth (1982) the winner was "Gandhi" and after that it was "Terms of Endearment". Not to knock on those films, but they weren't that entertaining. But these are the typical winners, big time dramas that deal with serious and real issues, and almost always real people.

This year the nominees are: "Avatar", "The Blind Side", "District 9", "An Education", "The Hurt Locker", "Inglourious Basterds", "Precious", "A Serious Man", "Up", and "Up in the Air".

First of all congratulations to "Up" for being only the 2nd animated movie in Oscar history to be nominated for Best Picture. Problem is they created a whole category so that they wouldn't have to do this, and therefor "Up" is throw-away nomination #1.

Now let's go to the meat of the non-nominations, which are "Avatar", "District 9", and "Inglourious Basterds". These films were fun and broke a lot of rules in film in a cool and interesting way. "Avatar" of course is the behemoth born of behemoth mother James Cameron that made 3D legitimate for years to come, but the story, acting, and pretty much everything else weren't any different from a normal summer blockbuster. "District 9" to me is the closest to an actual nominee out of these three with it's unique documentary film making style and incredibly lifelike and well acting aliens like we've never seen before. On top of that, it deals with real world issues that mirror those in parts of South Africa. Still, I think we're a bit of a ways off before a sci-fi movie gets the Best Picture. And then there is "Inglourious Basterds". Gratz to QT for the nomination both for the film and himself, although I doubt he was looking for it. This is a perfect example of a film wanting to be fun. I loved it, except that the "Tarantino-Table" conversations went on waaaaaaay too long. This has a snow cone's chance in hell of winning, but if Christopher Waltz doesn't win for Best Supporting Actor I'm going to f-ing knife someone!

Well, that's a lot of stuff right there, but the real reason I'm writing about this can be summed up in this question: "why isn't 'Star Trek' nominated....FOR ANYTHING!!" Seriously guys, of all the movies I've seen this past year "Star Trek" was the best! No question. It was well acted, great editing, direction, sound, writing, story, I mean ....WTF!?! If you're gonna put something like "Avatar", "District 9", or "Up" in there (and "Up" is by no means the best Pixar has done) you gotta have "Star Trek"!! Way better movie in my opinion than any of those (well, maybe not "District 9", it was really well done)! It's been a long time since I've seen a movie that performs so well on every level in the way that "Star Trek" did.

And by the way Academy, do you really think we don't know who will win Best Animated Feature when "Up" is nominated for Best Picture? Come on.