November 20, 2003

Games 'N' Me

Al (of Nova Notes) recently posted the question on Journals-L:

What's your favorite game? Video, professional sports, whatever?

My answer (with more commentary added):
Tricky question because my typical answer is: whatever I'm playing at the time. Hehe. I play so many games!

So, my two current computer games are URU (which just came out on Tuesday and I'm about halfway through already, nerd that I am) and Star Wars Galaxies (which I've been playing since early July).

URU is the next chapter in the MYST series. It is fantastic so far. The graphics are stunning. The puzzles are interesting, although a bit frustrating at times. There is an URULive component, which would allow users to play in a MMORPG environment, but I haven't received access for it yet (they are introducing groups slowly). Since it is unnecessary to enter URULive in order to enjoy the single-person game, I can understand their slow user roll-out. There's a part of me that is very impatient and want access to the live component NOW NOW NOW, but I would wait until I can get a stable version of the game. I do not want to be disappointed with a buggy online component.

Star Wars Galaxies is the MMORPG (my first hardcore one!) that puts users into the Star Wars Universe. Woohoo! I currently live in the Valcyn Galaxy on Tatooine relatively close to Jabba's palace. I play a ranger (a great hunter-type) and I'm in a really cool guild, The Older Gamers. They play all sorts of games (I am considering Battlefield 1942 because of them) with the minimum age requirement is 25... which is sort of sad and strange if that is the requirement to be "an older gamer". They come from all around the globe, mostly the US and Australia. I've made a lot of new friends and it's a lot of fun! We have hunts together where we get credits and resources (hide, bone, meat, other exotic items from the more dangeous types), playing on TeamSpeak to coordinate ourselves most effectively. If anyone joins SWG, look me up on Valcyn and I will be more than happy to start you up with whatever you need.

In terms of "classic" computer games that I find fun, I like: NetHack,Zork-like/MYST-like games, Startopia (an underplayed, fantastic game), real-time strategy games like Age of Empires (but not Warcraft because I think the building styles are too non-distinctive... plus I like playing in that historic-style), and Sim-style games like SimCity and SimGolf.

Always interested in what Startopia's creators Mucky Foot Productions is up to, I hopped over to their site to discover that they've gone out of business! How depressing! I wrote the creators and email to gush about how much I love their game and will want to know what they are doing in the future. In memory of their company, they posted their quote list and it's hilarious. They are the type of people I want to surround me. Funny, silly, gamer-types. Bonus, Mucky Foot people are funny, silly British gamer-types! Alas, I wish them well.

In terms of board games, I'm a huge fan of Settlers of Catan, which is probably THE best boardgame ever developed. There's a large amount of replay value and it's always interesting. The original game is the best, although the expansion of Seafarers of Catan isn't bad. I also love Puerto Rico, a game that is pretty amazing with the two-player variant. It's a non-direct-competitive game where you try to build up your colony. In terms of two-player games, I also love Lost Cities, a card/board game where you hope to get the best expedition return for your investments. I haven't found enough players (5) to make History of the World genuinely satisfying, so I haven't played it in a long time. At that number, it approaches 4 hours! But, it's a great game and less intimidating to newbies than Axis & Allies. History of the World is a land conquering game, but it helps prevent people who are losing to continue losing as you progress through the ages. I like Apples to Apples, but the group composition is really important.

I've never been too much of a card game fan. Traditional card games, I like gin. I've only collected three types of cards seriously: Star Wars (only the first collection, and I do have a rare Luke Skywalker!), Illuminati: New World Order (because I liked the pictures on the cards) and some other game that I no longer remember the name but they had extra-long cards and images of angels.

I also love roleplaying, typically in the In Nomine, Over the Edge, Unknown Armies, and Call of Cthulhu universes (yeah, I like my games DARK and genuinely SCARY). I like Paranoia, but that's more silly than scary. I also like LARPing, specifically Interactive Literature-style LARPs (as opposed to NERO or Vampire LARPs). I'm hoping that next year, I will have a "gaming weekend" once a month and probably will run a LARP two or three times next year. We'll see.

Yeah, games. I love them. I can't say too much about physical sports, because I've never been into them (watching or playing). It's not something that I'm really aware of.

Aside: in other gaming news, there is a report out staying that James Ernest (the man behind Cheapass Games and a funny, brilliant guy that I have a bit of a crush on) is teaming up with Fleer Trading Cards to create a card game based on "American Idols". Sigh. I'm sad about that. I equate Cheapass and Ernest with these cute, indie games. Fun, well-made, and don't smack of commercialism. This does and it makes me sad.

November 12, 2003

Do you wanna be in pictures?

I love literature and music and theater and visual art, but the one artform that I love above all others is film. I love learning about the motion picture arts, although I lack the talent to become part of the industry (except, perhaps, building websites for upcoming movies). I even like keeping up with what projects are coming down the pipeline for artists that I admire.

Here are today's interesting tidbits:
This information is a little old, but I'll reiterate it here for posterity. The first Troy poster is out, featuring the golden god that is Brad Pitt. Now, I've seen Brad Pitt shirtless in many movies, Fight Club being clearest in my mind. Brad Pitt can best be compared physically to Edward Norton, who also goes shirtless in that film. Brad Pitt is marginally beefier than Edward Norton. Marginally. He's muscular but thin and wiry. Brad Pitt in the Troy poster looks beefier than the candids of Eric Bana (Hulk) from the same movie. That seems really wrong. This poster makes him look huge. Look at his neck! It's closer to Arnold (you know who) than Edward. His bicep is massive!

It makes me wonder what the other posters for Troy will look like.

Ariel Schrag, a name known within comic book circles for her autobiographical comics about life as a teenager, is going to adapt her material into a feature by Christine Vachon's Killer Films company. Woo! I encountered Ariel Schrag's comics by chance earlier this year when I picked up an issue of her work, Likewise at Midtown Comics. They are so true in their portrayal of high school emotions and relationships and it will be wonderful to see it on the big screen.

For all those Hellboy fans, check out the new poster. I can't wait for the other character posters. Also, David Hyde Pierce will voice the character of Abe Sapien. DROOL. Go BPRD!

Who will be Cho Chang?
11/20/2003 update:
The above link no longer works, so here is the information for posterity:
One of the most coveted young female roles up for grabs recently has been that of "Harry Potter" love interest Cho Chang in the fourth film production "Goblet of Fire" which shoots next year in England.

Thousands of hopefuls from around the world have been dying to play the part of the Hufflepuff Quidditch Keeper and the production office has been innundated with requests and tapes. Now it seems decisions have been made and apparently its down to three according to The Daily Telegraph.

In one corner 19-year-old New Zealand actress Michelle Ang, best known for her roles in Aussie soap "Neighbours" and the "Xena" series finale is one of them. The young lady quit her job on the soap recently and auditioned soon after.

She faces stiff competition though from Korean pop sensation Kwan Boa and British-born Californian model Jennifer Nguyen. Whoever wins the part will have the tough gig of landing a smacker on Daniel Radcliffe's lips.

Expect an official announcement sometime in the near future.

Some stills from Something's Gotta Give with Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson and... Keanu Reeves? I find the picture of Keanu with Diane strangely hot. Hmm.

The Polar Express teaser trailer is out.

I'll probably add more commentary later.

November 11, 2003


When it was released on CD, I thought Stephen King's Blood and Smoke was pretty good. Only one story is bad, one is fairly good and the third is fantastic.

I previously encountered "Lunchtime at the Gotham Cafe", one of those horror stories that makes little sense both in print and in my ear. (Why did all the craziness start? I don't get it. I accept the idea of a normal, frequent experience shattered by the sudden bloom of violence, but there is no reason for the violence to occur other than "guy goes crazy". It's a lame reason, so I don't get it.)

"In the Death Room" is much better. A tortured man asks for a last cigarette before he is executed. Many interesting things ensue.

The best, though, is "1408", the story of a ghost hunter who investigates a haunted hotel room. The description that King presents to his reader is extremely descriptive. The story is intriguing and I predicted that someone will make it into a film after my first listen-through. My prediction has come true:

From Variety: Dimension Films has optioned Stephen King's short story "1408," teaming for the first time with one of the modern godfathers of horror -- a staple genre for the Miramax sister unit. Matt Greenberg (Halloween H20: 20 Years Later) is attached to pen the feature adaptation, and Lorenzo di Bonaventura is to produce.

The story would need padding in order to get it to feature-length. My mind's eye film is an arty short with lots of dialogue and Kubrickesque photography.

In Search Of

I need help finding a particular type of food. NO it isn't gross. Hehe.

I'm looking for Del Monte Chili Ketchup. My cousin and I love this stuff. When a relative vacations in the Philippines, she always gets the relative to come back with a crate of it for her. I want to be able to order the stuff online and get it delivered to my doorstep. I wrote an email to the people with listed on the site, but I'm not confident I'll get a good answer. I know this stuff would be a hit in the US, why isn't it here?

November 06, 2003

People get ready for the train to Jordan...

About a month or so ago, the conversation of blind musicians came up and I was turned on to The Blind Boys of Alabama. Thanks to itunes, I selected my favorites from the two partial albums they had in stock, Higher Ground and Spirit of the Century.
    I purchased:
  • "People Get Ready" - People get ready there's a train a'comin'./ You don't need no baggage, just get on board./All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin'./You don't need no ticket, you just thank the Lord. The lyrics are beautiful. This is music that really moves the spirit.
  • "Many Rivers to Cross" - Many rivers to cross/I can't seem to find my way over. Wandering, but I am lost/as I travel along the white cliffs of Dover. - I love sad songs.
  • "Amazing Grace" - Listening to this version brings to mind a field with a line of workers tilling the soil by hand. Dust kicks into the air as they toil and sing passionately. This version has so much soul.
I'm probably getting an album or two for Mike for Christmas. I sense he will enjoy the music.

Acne-killer. Qu'est-ce que c'est?

Skin problems are not really an issue for me. I've had fairly good skin with very few breakouts. I do have blackheads on my nose, which irritate me when I notice them, which isn't often because I'm not one to linger at a mirror. Dan at has done a great job in providing acne information and a regimen to get rid of acne. I need to try it out to see if it will get rid of my blackheads.

November 05, 2003

November & December Movies 2003

I visit the Internet Movie DataBase at least once a day. Sometimes, I visit it twice: once in the morning for the midnight-updated Celebrity News bites and once in the afternoon for the afternoon-updated Studio Briefing information. On one recent visit, I noticed the feature for "upcoming movie release dates". Fantastic! Now, I know what I want to see for the next two months and when.
    On my plate:
  • Matrix Revolutions (November 5th, 2003) - I will probably see this on Thursday. Special effects need to be seen on the big screen.
  • Love Actually (November 14, 2003) - Els may drag me out to see this
  • Tupac Resurrection (November 14th, 2003) - Rental. Looks like a fascinating documentary.
  • Looney Toons: Back in Action (November 14th, 2003) - Brendan Fraser is yummy. Rental.
  • Shattered Glass (November 14th, 2003) - Hayden Christensen is yummy. Rental but can be talked to the theater.
  • Gothika (November 21st, 2003) - Rental, maybe. I said that about The Mothman Prophecies and I still haven't seen that. The vibe from the two films seems the same.
  • 21 Grams (November 21st, 2003) - Rental.
  • The Missing (November 26th, 2003) - Cate Blanchett. Yum! Tommy Lee Jones! Yum! Ron Howard doing a thriller... hmmm. Rrental. Maybe in theater.
  • In America (November 26th, 2003) - I've been seeing trailers for this film for atleast a year and a half. It looks very good. Rental.
  • Timeline (November 26th, 2003) - I really like the director, Richard Donner, and I know that he can do films that I find interesting. The cast is kind of unexciting, though. Rental.
  • The Last Samurai (December 5th, 2003) - I think I can tell the plot just from the trailer, which is bad. The female love interest looks like Penelope Cruz, just Asian, which I think is bad. The other visuals look decent. I'll probably see it in the theater.
  • Big Fish (December 10th, 2003) - Two names: Tim Burton. Ewan McGregor. I am so there. The cast seems phenomenal and the trailer make it a definite theater film. Is there any other way to see a Tim Burton film?
  • Girl With a Pearl Earring (December 12th, 2003) - This film looks beautiful. Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth movie told through the vaseline lens of a Vermeer painting. Lovely. Rental, maybe theater.
  • Something's Gotta Give (December 12th, 2003) - A good looking cast with an adequate director. Rental.
  • Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (December 17th, 2003) - This date is burned into my brain. I'm probably going to watch it on the 19th with Mike. I will remember to bring tissues so I can adequately cry my eyes out, which I know I will.
  • Mona Lisa Smile (December 19th, 2003) - Great cast and I'm sure Els will drag me out to see it, so a theater film.
  • Calendar Girls (December 19th, 2003) - Helen Mirren. Naked. Oh yeah, baby. Rental, maybe theater.
  • The Company (December 25th, 2003) - I have a lot of faith in Robert Altman to make a great film. Rental.
  • Cold Mountain (December 25th, 2003) - Rental. Great cast and interesting material, but I'm not particularly interested in civil war romantic dramas.
  • Peter Pan (December 25th, 2003) - I like the trailer, so I expect this to be pretty good. This type of film dictates a theater viewing, but with so many other things to see, I will probably rent it. I will probably regret missing it on the screen.
  • Japanese Story (December 31st, 2003) - I've only read a description of this movie, but it sounds intriguing. Australian film with Toni Collette. Rental.
There are a number of high-profile movies that are coming out in the next month and a half that I didn't list. Cat in the Hat is probably the most notable. I have no desire to see this movie, but will go if dragged to it. I haven't seen How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I love Dr. Seuss and it seems awkward to take such great material and make it into two films where the comedian frontsman is over-emphasized. I also have no real desire to see Stuck on You. Oh, Matt Damon! It's okay, you redeem yourself by returning to two roles that you did very well: Ocean's Twelve and The Bourne Supremacy. Bad Santa has Tim Allen, a man I have rarely found funny. The Haunted Mansion: the camp of Scooby Doo and Pirates of the Caribbean evident in their respective trailers is lacking in The Haunted Mansion trailer. It will probably be bad. Yes, I am not above judging a film by its trailer.