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Thursday, August 21, 2008 1:55 am by Dan.
I promise, we’re almost done with the whole manga face thing. And I’m totally going to bed after I write this. But I couldn’t resist posting—now that Jason [has completed the sequence](http://doombot.com/2008/08/18/face-your-destiny/)—this Now-and-Then picture.
And, seven years later, Kai still looks the most like his cartoon if you ask me. Crazy. Some day, if the four of us are ever in the same physical location again, we shall have to take a picture so we can actually see if either of these actually looks like us. And then we will burn all the evidence.
Monday, August 18, 2008 9:38 pm by Jason.
Face Your Destiny.
It is hard to get precise matches for some features in the manga face generator everybody on Twitter seems so excited about. Hair is troublesome, and the female presets seem glitchy, with items missing. Nevertheless, my girlfriend seems confident that this image accurately represents the vastness of my nose (and the little lines around it).
Sunday, August 17, 2008 5:05 pm by Jason.
Jason’s Test for Worthwhile Movies.
Any number of factors might come into play in terms of how we judge a movie: pacing, choreography, acting, narrative resolution, etc. But there’s one simple test I’ve been using privately to judge movies by for quite some time now, and I thought it might be time to share it with you. If your media consumption habits are anything like mine, then time you’re watching a movie, try asking yourself this:
Would I rather be playing this movie as a video game?
If so, then it’s something of a failure of a movie, in my mind, as some other medium better capitalizes on the kind of experience it offers. Let me offer a couple of examples of movies which passed and failed this test.
Friday, August 15, 2008 2:14 pm by Dan.
I think we need to play this on principle.
No, I haven’t played “War on Terror” the board game. But now that it’s been confiscated by the British police I kind of feel an *obligation* to play it—like reading a banned book. The game’s site appears to be down, but [the Google cache is still accessible](http://220.127.116.11/search?q=cache:_QJe1KvHNEAJ:www.waronterrortheboardgame.com/+war+on+terror+boardgame&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us&client=safari) and here’s [BoardGameGeek’s take on it](http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/24396).
Here’s what [the Cambridge News Online had to say](http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/cn_news_home/DisplayArticle.asp?ID=338658) about the confiscation incident:
> Each player starts as an empire filled with good intentions and a determination to liberate the world from terrorists and from each other.
> Then the reality of world politics kicks and terrorist states emerge.
> In their cardboard version of realpolitik George Bush’s “Axis of Evil” is reduced to a spinner in the middle of the board, which determines which player is designated a terrorist state.
> That person then has to wear a balaclava (included in the box set) with the word “Evil” stitched on to it.
> Kent police said they had confiscated the game because the balaclava “could be used to conceal someone’s identity or could be used in the course of a criminal act”.
I don’t know, that’s a little bit like confiscating Monopoly for counterfeiting. What’s the the next target, those dangerous *skiers*? Here’s a picture of the dastardly clothing article in question. It’s pretty clearly *evil*, right?
Frankly, I’ve heard [a lot of stupid things](http://doombot.com/2008/08/12/george-lucas-has-lost-it/), but this one takes the stupid cake. Admittedly, the game was swept up in a raid against climate protesters near a British power station, and I’m guessing the authorities didn’t think too closely about what they were doing.
But I totally want that balaclava now. I mean, it’s kind of like the head garb equivalent of an [ironic t-shirt](http://www.threadless.com). Plus, it gets cool up here in the liberal northeast come winter.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008 1:33 pm by Tony.
I feel like Amazon is usually ok about recommending me things I should buy based on past purchases. Sure most of them are not items I’m particularly interested in, but at least I can understand why they are pointing me in a given direction. Most of the times they are pretty mechanical; you bought a graphic novel by Alan Morre can we interest you in every other graphic novel by Alan Moore. Today I received an email (not just a recommendation while surfing the site, but an email) telling me this:
Dear Amazon.com Customer,
We’ve noticed that customers who have purchased or rated Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow or other games in the Nintendo DS > Adventure category have also purchased Bratz Ponyz 2. For this reason, you might like to know that Bratz Ponyz 2 will be released on September 9, 2008. You can pre-order yours by following the link below.
The idea that a game with two superfluous Zs in the title exists, and event merits a sequel, is already a lot to take in, but the idea that their system has decided this game is a good fit for me is almost to much to take. In their defense this is based on past customer behavior and it is likely that there is a connection between vampires and ponies that I am simply to naive to be aware of.
The official description of the game is too ridiculous not to post here:
Join the Bratz Ponyz for a whole new Ponyz adventure where players compete in the prestigious Ponyz Town pageant, “Passion for Fashion”. Players explore, collect accessories, buy jewelry and compete in a series of mini games (trials) as they make their way around the different islands. Between each mini game, players can freely explore the many island in the pony archipelago meeting and interacting with the inhabitants of the pony world – going on treasure hunts and finding many new fashion items for your pony! Fashion, pageantry and horses! What more could you wish for?
The answer of course is vampires. I can always wish for more vampires.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008 10:53 pm by Dan.
George Lucas Has Lost It.
I think he’s suffering from some rare degenerative brain disease. Either that, or he’s just started watching reels while drunk.
Here’s [*Clone Wars* director Dave Filoni](http://moviesblog.mtv.com/2008/08/12/is-zero-the-hutt-the-first-gay-alien-in-star-wars-history/) on Lucas’s input into the *creative process* for the film:
> “Zero, Jabba’s uncle, originally spoke in Hutt-ese, like Jabba and then he had a different sluggish voice just like Jabba, and then George one day was watching it and said ‘I want him to sound like Truman Capote.’ He actually said that and we were like ‘Wow!’”
Things like this make me want to slam my head into a wall. Repeatedly. And then just keep going until I eventually find George Lucas and destroy him with my head of *steel*. I’ve been meaning to link to [this article](http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/film/article4386319.ece) about Lucas and Spielberg and the process of *Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.* Here’s the relevant portion, straight from Lucas’s own mouth:
> “…Indiana Jones only becomes complicated when you have another two people saying ‘I want it this way’ and ‘I want it that way’, whereas, when I first did Jones, I just said, ‘We’ll do it this way’ — and that was much easier. But now I have to accommodate everybody, because they are all big, successful guys, too, so it’s a little hard on a practical level.
> “If I can come up with another idea that they like, we’ll do another. Really, with the last one, Steven wasn’t that enthusiastic. I was trying to persuade him. But now Steve is more amenable to doing another one. Yet we still have the issues about the direction we’d like to take. I’m in the future; Steven’s in the past. He’s trying to drag it back to the way they were, I’m trying to push it to a whole different place. So, still we have a sort of tension. This recent one came out of that. It’s kind of a hybrid of our own two ideas, so we’ll see where we are able to take the next one.”
Gah. *Gahhhhhhhh*. Yes, Spielberg may be in the past, but let me remind you that *the movie takes place in the fucking past*. So maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Just stop, George. Stop trying to push the envelope with CGI *gophers*. We’re not impressed any more. Just…just…let Steven and Harrison do their thing—they’re *professionals*. The problem comes when you *get your way*. A Capote-sounding *Hutt*? Are you *high*?
I had hoped that there was still good in him, but I think I’ve finally come around to the [Tim Bisley point of view](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZvqY11RN6w) (relevant portion starts at 5:13 or so).
Monday, August 11, 2008 8:22 pm by Dan.
Short Movie Review: The Prestige.
A magic trick of a movie, directed by Christopher Nolan, [batmaniac](http://doombot.com/2008/06/26/christopher-nolan-batmaniac/) and scripted along with his brother and frequent collaborator Jonathan. Able turns by Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman as rival 19th century magicians, but the most captivating performance, to my mind, is that of real life inventor Nikola Tesla, here played by real life rock star David Bowie. I read Christopher Priest’s novel, on which the movie is based, before the movie’s release in 2006 and while the movie differs in some plot points, it is all in all a *tighter* and certainly more cinematic story that the brothers Nolan present. As per their usual tactics, they revel in layering the narrative here (one character reading the diary of another character reading the first character’s diary), but the end result has the same polish and spectacle as either of his *Batman* outings. It strikes me as a *louder*, more boisterous version of [the other 19th century magician movie](http://doombot.com/2008/06/30/short-movie-review-the-illusionist/), but I still enjoyed it, even though, having read the book, I knew what the plot twists were. To me, that’s the mark of both a good magic trick *and* a good film: in both cases, you still anticipate the reveal even if you know what the end result will be.
Monday, August 11, 2008 3:21 pm by Jason.
Short Game Review: Braid.
I’m pleased to see that the newest game to spark the whole “games as art” discussion again is Jonathan Blow’s Braid , a game about a man with the power to manipulate time searching for a princess. I’ll let other fawning reviewers (or Doombot compatriots) explain in greater detail why it deserves its 10/10 and A+ scores. Suffice to say, the puzzles are challenging but doable, the art and the music are beautiful, and the gameplay and the story complement one another in thoughtful ways. Also, it’s very approachable, taking no prior experience with gaming for granted.
I have two great hopes following this game: first, that it encourages indie game designers to collaborate with good visual artists and musicians rather than relying on “programmer art”; and second, that Jonathan Blow has another good game in him somewhere. The game kind of feels like the realization of his usual manifestos about the state of gaming today, adding to growing number of games that similarly raise questions about the point of the heroic quest (e.g., Shadow of the Colussus , Bioshock ). Now that that’s presumably out of his system, I’ll be curious to see what else he produces.
Friday, August 08, 2008 10:35 am by Dan.
How To: Be Culturally Elite.
I enjoyed [this *New York Times* essay by David Brooks](http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/08/opinion/08brooks.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin) about showing off your cultural superiority via one-upmanship. Most importantly:
> “…in order to cement your status in the cultural elite, you want to be already sick of everything no one else has even heard of.”
Somehow I can never quite manage this, but I vow to work harder in the future. In unrelated news: I am so sick of that little kid next door—her paintings are derivative and her singing is *uninspired*. Lame.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008 9:13 am by Jason.
Short Game Review: Scrabbleâ„¢ on Facebook.
By now you’ve probably heard that Hasbro has gotten Facebook to shut down Scrabulousâ€”perhaps, a little bird told me, after the creators of the latter turned down an offer somewhere in the tens of millions of dollars. Well, whatever. I am all about intellectual freedom and whatnot, but I find it hard to sympathize with such blatant idiocy and thievery among the Scrabulous guys for turning down a deal in favor of just getting sued.
Unfortunately, this means that we, the play-by-post Scrabble players of the web, get saddled with crap in the meantime. Those of us not really willing to keep track of Facebook games and Scrabulous.com simultaneously and separately are now left with Wordscraper (an ugly version of Scrabulous that requires you to make your own board) or Hasbro’s official Scrabble game developed by EA, now in beta (which just about everybody seems to agree sucks). The official Scrabble game has annoying animations, a board that is unnecessarily colorful to the point of being hard to read, glitches when typing words in with the keyboard, only one word list (omitting the one that uses British spellings), and other stupid input and interface errors. Granted, it’s called a “beta” for a reason, but we had just gotten used to Scrabulous working out its own bugs! Well, here’s some free advice, Hasbro: Take to heart the scathing input on your own Facebook forum, and rip off Scrabulous’s interface just a bit moreâ€”you know, just the part where it’s simple and loads quickly. Show that you learned something from this besides just that there’s money to be had on Facebook.
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