... and you're not drunk, you likely do a fair amount of Googling. Thusly, good news from the venerable USA Today:
Time spent Googling the latest campaign news or searching for choice eBay buys may help stimulate and improve the minds of middle-aged and older Americans, UCLA scientists suggest.
Research reported in next month's American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry is the first to assess how performing Internet searches influences brain activity in older Americans, says study author Gary Small, professor at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA.
The research included 24 healthy volunteers ages 55 to 76. Half had Internet-searching experience, and the others had none. All were asked to perform Web searches and book-reading tasks while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans, which recorded the brain-circuitry changes they were experiencing.
All of the volunteers showed significant brain activity during the reading task, which stimulated brain regions that control language, reading, memory and visual abilities.
But during Internet searches, major differences flared up between the two groups, Small says. Only those who had previous Web-search experience registered extensive activity in decision-making and complex-reasoning portions of the brain.
"Our most striking finding was that Internet searching appears to engage a greater extent of neural circuitry that is not activated during reading, but only in those people with prior Internet experience," Small says. He is also co-author of iBrain (HarperCollins, 2008), which was released on Tuesday and explores how older Americans can keep up with younger generations in an increasingly technological world.
Small says that over time, he'd expect the inexperienced Internet searchers to benefit as well.
A more in-depth analysis from Newsweek, after the jump:
According to the preview above, the forthcoming BoneTown will be a landmark in bridging the worlds of pornography and video games. It also offers amazingly hideous stereotypes of women, men, African-Americans, Jews, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, Indians, and, uh, Ron Jeremy (who at least participated willingly.)
Two days ago, when I said in a post about a group of comic book artists for Obama that a lot of comics fans are conservative, someone commented:
Nerds are conservative? That's silly.
Comics are apolitical? Also silly.
Well, yesterday, comics fansite Newsarama posted a story about Comics Industry for Obama, including an interview with CIfO founder Eric Powell, the creator of The Goon, which is a very funny comic book. Many of the comments on the story—I'm pretty sure a majority of them—prove my point:
Wow, more media and artists bringing their political agenda into their work (where it usually doesn't belong). I'm shocked. Whether you like Obama or not, the media is so clearly biased on his behalf, it isn't even funny. Actually, it is the opposite of funnyl. I guess this bothers me a lot less than having actual journalists who are supposed to present the facts or both sides of an issue being in the tank for one candidate, but it is essentially more of the same.
Well, I guess I won't be reading the Goon or the Savage Dragon anymore. Adios.
Democrat, Republican, they're just different sides of the same coin. Wake up people.
I want to know something,Mccain and Obama have never clearly stated their plan to help ease the economy. Both fuddle their words and give no concrete answers.
Ask Obama what he plans to do to heal the economy. This is his reply "time for a change" "it is not about me,but what you can do for everybody" Catch phrases are cute,but they are not an answer to a serious problem
Eric Powell is a pig who'd better watch his back when this is all over.
But this one is my favorite:
Yes, the dark gods of Cthulhu demand you vote for Ralph Nader.
posted by Paul Constant on September 30 at 4:00 PM
I think this is unprecedented. Comic books are usually a fairly apolitical field because lots of comics fans tend to be conservative, but now there's a social network called Comics Industry for Obama. Members include Mike Allred, who created a comic called Madman and also a comic book adaptation of The Book of Mormon, and Mike Mignola, who created Hellboy. The site is for fans and comic pros alike, and its tagline is "Let's make sure the good guy wins." Awww. Also, they have a nice logo. But this doesn't mean you have to suddenly start thinking Hellboy II was a good movie.
posted by Paul Constant on September 16 at 5:00 PM
Oh, man is this nerdy and, simultaneously, awesome. Matt Shepherd has taken a bunch of pictures of John McCain and thrown a bunch of captions from Frank Miller's 1986 Batman comic bookThe Dark Knight Returns on top. The juxtaposition is hilarious, if you ever read comics as a kid. Here's a "panel."
If you don't get it, you should immediately forget about it: you'll never understand.
Your All-Slog 2008 Fantasy Football Thunderdome League of Champions™ Weekly Wrapup
posted by Jonah Spangenthal-Lee on September 11 at 11:12 AM
The first week of the 2008 football season is officially over, which means it's time for the first All-Slog 2008 Fantasy Football Thunderdome League of Champions™ wrapup!
It's been an ugly, injury-filled season so far, and plenty of matchups were turned upside down when star players like Tom Brady or, well, Tom Brady went down with season-ending injuries. And it's only going to get worse, especially for the Thunderdome teams that drafted from the once-reliable Seahawks receiving corps.
Here are the scores:
The Green Giants barely squeaked out a win, beating Bwee&Gwee's Dingbats 88-86.
The Tight Ends squeezed out a 72-54 win over Hasselbeck's Hairline.
The Ahmadinejad Show shot down Hochuli's Guns with a 97-70 win.
The Slogaholics subjugated the Rightwing Feminists, 76-69
My Thunderbolts were still able to overpower the New Orleans Taints 76-67, despite the fact that I started an inactive Deuce McAlister and a totally useless Laveranues Coles.
and El Swinger's Evergreen Stoners absolutely stomped Wisepunk's Spikers, with a final score of 110 to 52.
The final standings (ranked by points scored):
1. Evergreen Stoners
2. The Ahmadinejad Show
3. Green Giants
4. Hass's Thunderbolts
6. The Tight Ends
7. Bwee&Gwee's Dingbats
8. Hochuli's Guns
9. Rightwing Feminists
10. New Orleans Taints
11. Hasselbecks Hairline
12. Wise's Spikers
As for other football news, the Seahawks just signed a few free agent receivers to make up for the holes in our roster. The 'Hawks also cut punter Ryan Plackemeier and, in the biggest bonehead move so far this season, released this guy:
...who was immediately snatched up by the Colts. Ugh.
Next week, the Hawks play a divisional game against the 49ers. Predictions, gripes, etc in the comments.
USA Today says that a woman has been arrested for attempting to abduct a man she met on Second Life. Though they were apparently passionately involved as avatars in the pointless online video game, after they met once in real life the man dumped the woman. She was spotted outside the man's home last Thursday "with a stun gun, handcuffs and duct tape," and she tried to flee when the man called police.
In other, unrelated nerd, Virgin Comics appears to have shut down. Virgin Comics was a comic book company created by egomaniac Richard Branson. I think that maybe one American, total, has read a Virgin Comic. The entire line looked painfully generic and was relying on celebrities to make people interested. Here's PW's description of Virgin:
The company produced a series of periodical comics based on Gotham Entertainment’s Shakti line of comics. The venture also included the Director’s Cut line, featuring comics series created by such Hollywood figures as Ed Burns (Dock Walloper), Guy Ritchie (Gamekeeper) and John Woo (Seven Brothers), which the company expected to morph into blockbuster films. The company’s Voices line of comics emphasized projects created by actors and musicians including Nicholas Cage (Voodoo Child); porn star Jenna Jamison (Shadow Hunter) and British musician Dave Stewart (Zombie Broadway).
Remember, kids: Don't name your comic book company "Virgin"—some fanboys get kind of agitated around that word—and if you want to kidnap a Second Life mate, be sure that you kidnap them in Second Life. The law's a lot hazier regarding online kidnappery.
First, The Beat reports that some idiot publisher is reprinting every single Stan's Soapbox column that was published between 1967 and 1980. If you don't know what Stan's Soapbox is, it's a monthly column by Stan Lee extolling the greatness of Marvel Comics. They were written in an exasperatingly breathless and alliterative style, like this sample below, taken from Matt Shepherd's blog:
So basically, for $14.95, fanboys will be able to purchase a book of advertisements for books that were published forty years ago. This is kind of genius, even moreso since the cover is so atrocious.
Second, the Watchmen movie might not come out on time next year, because Warner Brothers maybe didn't have the right to make a Watchmen movie at all:
Earlier this year, Twentieth Century Fox filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. seeking to stop Watchmen’s release (scheduled for March 6, 2009), claiming that it, not Warner Bros., held the distribution rights to any motion picture made from the material. Today, a judge declined Warner Bros.’ request to dismiss the lawsuit, setting the stage for a possibly ugly legal tussle.
For comics nerds, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
I just got a press release from Image Comics announcing that Erik Larsen's superhero character Savage Dragon is endorsing Barack Obama in the September 2008 issue of his comic book.
"Four years ago the Dragon was a reluctant presidential candidate," SAVAGE DRAGON creator Erik Larsen said. "Fans have asked if he'll be running again, but given the importance of the upcoming election it seemed appropriate that he would back Barack Obama, the candidate whose politics most reflect his own. Savage Dragon will be giving Barack Obama his full support."
Apparently, back in the 2004 election, Savage Dragon punched out George W. Bush in his comic book.
This is undoubtedly the first of many fictional characters to choose a side in the 2008 election; The Stranger has calls out to Marmaduke and Balki Bartokomous to see which candidate they prefer.
San Diego Comic-Con: Full of Misogynists?
posted by Paul Constant on August 15 at 3:00 PM
Anybody ever tell you you look like She-Ra? Haw! Haw! Hey, come on back to my castle. I'm a real Beast-Man in the sack!
Kevin Church's blog has news of what he considers to be pervasive sexism in the comic book convention-going community:
Overheard at San Diego Comic-Con while I was having lunch on the balcony of the Convention Center on Sunday July 27: a bunch of guys looking at the digital photos on the camera of another, while he narrated: “These were the Ghostbusters girls. That one, I grabbed her ass, ’cause I wanted to see what her reaction was.” This was only one example of several instance of harassment, stalking or assault that I saw at San Diego this time.
1. One of my friends was working at a con booth selling books. She was stalked by a man who came to her booth several times, pestering her to get together for a date that night. One of her co-workers chased him off the final time.
2. On Friday, just before the show closed, this same woman was closing up her tables when a group of four men came to her booth, started taking photographs of her, telling her she was the “prettiest girl at the con.” They they entered the booth, started hugging and kissing her and taking photographs of themselves doing so. She was confused and scared, but they left quickly after doing that.
I'm not exactly shocked at this news, but I think it's an important conversation to have, especially since this year's news coverage of SDCC seems to be all about how it's the pop-culture event of the year. The fanboys might have to stop acting like douches when the whole world's paying attention.
In regards to my post from earlier today, where I link to a video of real life superheroes, Slog Tipper Jonah directs my attention to this mildly amusing but highly satisfying Saturday Night Live internet video:
And in other nerd news, Harry Knowles of Ain't It Cool News had a highly negative review of this Friday's animated Star Wars movie up on his blog, but he took it down after being pressured by Lucasfilm. Luckily, Valleywag saved the review and is running it. Although I wish they hadn't excised Knowles' cusswords, the film still sounds like a dog:
Then they introduced Baby Jabba aka Rotta the Huttlet aka Stinky. At the point of this character’s introduction – it officially became, the worst character in the history of STAR WARS. If you hate George Lucas cutsiepoo bull**** – oooooooh boy. You’re gonna have a field day of venting and hatred directed at this unbelievably ****ing awful little ****.
Oh – but wait… Little Stinky the Hutt isn’t the worst character in the history of STAR WARS… because Stinky got introduced earlier in the film. As much as I hated lil Stinky… I was weathering Stinky. I seriously was. But later there was a character of such immense **** – offensively bad. The character was so bad, so incredibly awful – that it was a slap to the face. It woke me out of my ****-accepting stupor and made me angry. SUDDENLY my “inner fanboy rage” was awoken.
Thanks to Jonah for sharing the video with me, and thanks to Valleywag for bravely sharing the Stinky the Hutt love.
This Doesn't Fit into Our Calendar Anywhere...
posted by Annie Wagner on August 1 at 12:16 PM
... but I feel like everyone should know about it.
Via the Northwest Film Forum mail list:
We are pleased to announce that the 6th annual Cephalopod Appreciation Society meeting will be held on the afternoon of Sunday, August 10th at our favorite location—the Northwest Film Forum (1515 12th Ave - off Pine St. on Capitol Hill - Seattle, WA).
We'll kick everything off at 12:30 pm with some cephalopod-inspired music, art, poetry, impassioned speeches & Other, and end with a cephalopod film (TBA).
Sunday, Aug. 10th
12:30 - 2:30 pm
@ Northwest Film Forum
1515 12th Ave / Seattle, WA
$5 suggested donation Free stickers!
More info: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here's what you can do:
* First - save the date & come celebrate!
* Second - spread the word to your friends and favorite cephalopods. (Reminder: Cephalopods include the octopus, squid, chambered nautilus, and cuttlefish. All molluscs are welcome, but we'll only be celebrating cephalopods on this day.)
* Last but not least -- if you have (or will have) a CEPHALOPOD-INSPIRED SOMETHING to present or perform at the meeting, please let me know so I can schedule you in! We're open to all media (music, dance, lecture, fashion, multi-media, art, poetry, puppets, interactive, super-8, slide-show, Other), and although it's a fairly lo-fi affair we'll do our best to accommodate your technological needs.
And if you know of someone who might be interested, please pass this on.
Hope to see you there!
This seems like the right time to mention that if plain old Moleskine notebooks have become too dull for you, you can purchase all kinds of etched modifications from Modofly. Those by Dan Hillier tend to involve human-cephalopod hybrids:
...but I have to link to this Onion piece because I think it's the funniest thing I've read on The Onion in a really long time:
EARTH—Former vice president Al Gore—who for the past three decades has unsuccessfully attempted to warn humanity of the coming destruction of our planet, only to be mocked and derided by the very people he has tried to save—launched his infant son into space Monday in the faint hope that his only child would reach the safety of another world.
It goes on from there, and the quote about how he's known as Gore-Al in his home language is a little nerdgasm in itself.
After I wrote this post on the hoverboards from Back to the Future II, I received an e-mail from Mickey, who is apparently behind a website intended to make Nike to produce the sneakers depicted in Back to the Future II...
...by 2015. Nike has responded with a limited-edition version of the shoes:
But they don't tie themselves, which is kind of the whole point. Full story here.
As expected, the summer has slowed to a near-crawl for games. But that doesn't mean I'm going to go outdoors bullshit the games fans at Slog with hyped-up previews of games coming this fall, not even with Golob's nerd fatwa up in the air. Well... except for this crazy-looking demo video of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, I guess:
There's no telling whether this game will play as well as it looks. Mortal Kombat, for years, has been the sloppy, fun-to-watch stepchild of Japanese fighting games--amusing and bloody, but awkward and tiring after roughly 14 minutes. (Gaming's Jerry Springer.) But you can't say enough about the way Superman beats that dude down--the looks and sounds of it sure are satisfying. Jonah and I will run this game into the ground come November.
Speaking of redundant fighting games, Soul Calibur 4 launches this week for PS3 and Xbox 360. Attempts to flag down a review copy haven't gone well, but I'm not too sad about that. This series was already perfect on the Dreamcast in 1999; the original still looks and plays smoothly, and it was the first big fighting game to make the whole attack/reversal shtick really accessible. But sequels never added to the formula, simply throwing more stupid characters into the Tekken-with-swords mix (and the new one makes a big deal about featuring Darth Vader on one console, Yoda on the other, so methinks Namco is sticking to the trend).
Not sure why the fighting genre is so scared to try anything new. Strangely, Ultimate Fighting Championship had the right idea back in 2000, marrying the then-nascent hetero love-fest with the feeling of a true fight--awkward, careful, and hinging almost entirely on breaks in momentum. Much like a bar fight, that game was all clumsy grappling, duos tangled up for seconds at a time to push, pummel, and find a rare break in defense. And that was before game controllers generally employed two thumbsticks. When's a game going to use the dual-stick setup as a pair of fists (or legs) and make a game that feels as realistic as it looks? It's 2008; if I can't have my hover-skateboard, at least give me my bizarrely authentic bar-fighting sim, complete with broken bottle clip-on for my Wii remote. (Full disclosure: the first UFC video game since the '00 version will be out this Christmas season, but sadly, it appears to have eschewed the chess-like give-and-take of its original version; dumbed down for the league's rising TV audiences.)
Better "coming soon" news--the Xbox Live Arcade is going bonkers for the next 30 days, unleashing cheap delights like Geometry Wars R.E. 2, Bionic Commando Rearmed, and Castle Crashers every Wednesday until the end of August. Roughly $10 a pop, though not all game prices have been announced yet. No lifechangers in this batch of games--they're shameless throwbacks to '80s arcade classics--but these three are easily the most action-packed multiplayer onslaughts of Live's Arcade catalog in recent memory. In particular, the four-player Castle Crashers (from the dudes who made Alien Hominid years ago) will repaint your fondest Golden Axe memories in bloody technicolor. I'll probably hop on tomorrow to gush about Geometry Wars 2.
If I can be pulled away from my DS, anyway. Good stuff on the portable system this week... in Japan. Now there's a KORG-licensed synthesizer program (see above), which not only saves up to six compositions but allows multiple DSes to link up and perform together in sync. The results range from impressive to... Jesus, already? The sound of this thing is a bit too compressed for my tastes, but it sure beats DJ'ing with an iPod.
Since I'm clueless about KORG synths, I've spent more time with Rhythm Tengoku Gold this week. I've previously written about Rhythm Tengoku, Nintendo's marriage of Wario Ware and Parappa the Rapper, and its DS sequel adds touch control to the series' cheeky J-pop mini-games. This recent demo clip shows the basics--either flick or press/release on the screen to match the percussion of a particular challenge. Fortunately, Nintendo is bringing this one stateside, supposedly by the end of 2008, though the Japanese version isn't hard to figure out if you're as impatient as me. (The Korg DS-10 is also set for American release, though its Japanese version is already completely in English.)
Obligatory Penny Arcade news update: the Penny Arcade Expo's pre-registration discount period ends Thursday. If you have any interest in attending the Expo this August 29-31, buy a ticket now and save five bucks. How else are you and I going to play Calling All Cars in a Washington State Convention Center meeting room?
And in Wii news... nothing. If you were dumb enough to pay higher than retail cost for a Wii, don't be dumb enough to look at the system's Christmas release schedule. The "innovative" system's catalog looks like a 3rd grader's Scholastic book sales pamphlet--all cheap cash-ins and sequels to Carnival Games. The future of gaming is throwing more tennis balls at towers of milk bottles? Holy moly. I'd rather go outdoors.
Dear Science Issues Fatwa, Claims Dominance over Nerd Category
posted by Jonathan Golob on July 29 at 11:28 AM
Dear Science Issues Fatwa, Claims Dominance over Nerd Category
by Frank Hardy
SEATTLE (AP) - Dear Science, otherwise known as Jonathan Golob, issued a Fatwa today, claiming divine providence over the "Nerd" category of SLOG.
"For far too long, lesser clods have claimed rights to the divine and most holy Nerd category, polluting our hallowed space with all manner of tripe," declared Science in an address to adoring crowds. "Our holy battle begins now! Let my rivals attempt to out-nerd me."
So begins my opening salvo:
All metric paper sizes have a width to length ratio of 1 to √2.
Why is this nifty? Well, lets start cutting the paper in half, always along the long side.
If we start with a sheet that is √2 on the long size and 1 on the short, each half will be 1 by √2/2.
Hmmm. Algebra time!
1 : √2/2.
If we multiply both sides of the ratio by √2.
1 * √2 : √2/2*√2
We get the ratio √2 : 1 again!
With metric paper, the ratio of length to width stays the same every time you cut the paper in half! So, each size up is just the combination of the two sizes below.
Way nicer than Letter and Legal. If you cut a sheet of letter paper (ratio of 1:1.3) in half, each half will be 1 : 1.5. Total suck!
Adhere to ISO 216 or perish.
Jonah, Sam and Paul, the Fatwa has been issued. Algebra, metrics, ISO standards and paper--beat this, and you'll probably capture the glorious title of nerdiest slogger.
In a move that comics news site Newsarama has announced is "unprecidented" (sic), comics writer Robert Kirkman (the writer of The Walking Dead and Invincible) has been made a new partner at Image Comics.
In 1992, seven top-selling artists who had primarily been working for Marvel Comics decided to form their own company, Image. They had grown frustrated with having little editorial control and limited financial benefit from working on corporate-owned characters.
Kirkman's addition is big news for comics because it's the first time that a writer, and not an artist, is in charge of finding and developing new talent at the creator-owned company. It's particularly appealing because while Kirkman does have a fanboy's love for superhero comics, he has an appreciation for other genres (horror, spy), and he's also got much better taste than the people who are currently running Image. More and better creator-owned comics are what the industry needs, because both Marvel and DC have become incredibly uninteresting Intellectual Property Farms.
I'm also mentioning this on Slog because it's both weird and notable that it was mentioned in the Times book section. I think it got the attention because this weekend is San Diego Comic Con, the biggest comic book event of the year, but this is the first time I can recall the Times treating a change at a comic publisher the same way it would a personnel change at a, you know, grown-up book publisher.
New Perry Bible Fellowship strip is up today--nice surprise, considering the comic's updates have changed from weekly to whenever (that's why it's been "nowhere" in The Stranger for months).
Creator Nicholas Gurewitch and I share a mutual friend, who says the guy is currently working on a "couple of book projects" and a TV pilot. I do not trust this friend, but I like rumors, so feel free to verify with him at the Dark Horse booth at Comic-Con this Saturday if you go.
This week's Entertainment Weekly provided the first look at the new J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie poster:
SF Signal doesn't like it because it has Uhura on it and not McCoy. Of course, SF Signal is run by a bunch of nerds. As for myself, I'm hoping that the come-here-and-I'll-either-kick-your-ass-or-fuck-you look on Chris Pine's Kirk, in the lower right hand corner, is an early sign that there'll be a whole lot of sex with aliens and fistfights in the new movie, because Kirk is always the best, and frequently the only, reason to watch Star Trek.
Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, which I wrote about here, is up in its entirety for free viewing today and tomorrow, and then after that, you'll have to pay to watch it, either on DVD or as a download.
It's actually surprisingly touching for a half-hour-long musical internet serial about a super-villain, and some of the jokes are hilarious.
Last March, WRFF spokeswoman Tracy Nietupski says her group, at the request of the fire department, removed "20 or 30" trees—along with dead fall—to clear emergency access roads along a 50 acre plot of land in Belfair,Wa. Nietupski also says some trees were removed to create space for a parking lot.
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) found out that WRFF had uprooted trees without a permit, and put a freeze on their event license until the case could be reviewed. "It was a bit of a misunderstanding," Nietupski says. "We had not at that point applied for a permit to remove the trees. We didn’t know we needed one."
This would've been WRFF's eleventh year, and Nietupski says nearly 80,000 people were expected to attend the three-weekend event, and Nietupski estimates the fair's merchants and performers, will lose close to $250,000 because of the cancellation.
While WRFF could appeal the DNR's decision to withhold their event permit, the process would take three to six months and the fair was scheduled to begin the first weekend of August.
I think that a Watchmen movie is a terrible idea. It's a wonderful comic book that was planned to be just that: a wonderful comic book. For it to become a movie, it would take a director who could somehow make it as dependent on the medium of film as the original was on the medium of comic books. And I just don't have that kind of trust in Zack Snyder.
That said, Dr. Manhattan looks fucking awesome, and I will be there on opening weekend. Even if it was as bad as it could possibly be, it wouldn't ruin the comic book for me.
Editor and Publisher brings news that Samuel Beckett had a correspondence with Nancy creater Ernie Bushmiller wherein he suggested some Nancy comic strip ideas. Apparently, Beckett was a big Nancy fan and he thought that his existentialism would be perfect for the comic strip. Bushmiller did not agree.
"One letter includes the following: Your gag and strip ideas for Nancy are much appreciated, and I have to say interesting, too. Many readers send me ideas for the strip, but I don't think I've ever seen any quite like yours....
"I don’t know how well they're going to work. I think the problem you're having, Sam, is the same problem any literary man might have. You're not setting up the gags visually and you're rushing to the snapper. It seems to me you've got the zingers right there at the beginning, in panel No. 1, and although I have to admit you got Nancy and Sluggo in some crackerjack predicaments, I don't see how they got there.
"For instance, putting Nancy and Sluggo in the garbage cans is a good gag, but in my opinion, you can't have them in there for all three panels. How did they get there? Same thing when you had them buried in the sand. I like to do beach gags, but I don't think that having Nancy buried up to her waist in the first two panels and then up to her neck in the third one is adequately explained, and I've been at this game for a while now. Also, why would Sluggo be facing in the opposite direction when he's talking to her?"
I wish that a couple of Beckett Nancy cartoons actually did come out. A lot of Bushmiller's gag ideas (like the one above) are so stupid that they're almost smart, or at least they're profoundly weird. A Beckett Nancy wouldn't have been that much of a stretch.
UPDATE: I am the stupid credulous fucking hack of the day for takingEditor and Publisher at their word. But I still appreciate any opportunity I might have to put a Nancy cartoon on Slog.
In Case It's Something That You Might Like...
posted by Paul Constant on July 15 at 4:00 PM
...and in case you haven't heard it, like, all over the internet today, the first thirteen-minute chapter of Joss Whedon's weeklong musical superhero comedy experiment, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, has gone live today.
It stars Neil Patrick Harris, who really should change his name to Neil Doogie Harris, as an evil super-criminal who's trying to get up the courage to talk to a girl. Nathan Fillion (who I have a semi-enormous man-crush on, though not enough of one to make me want to watch him on Desperate Housewives) stars as a superhero. Turns out, Fillion's singing voice leaves something to be desired, although it has a certain rough charm. Harris is enjoyable and witty and he has a lovely voice, even if the songs leave something to be desired.
Not much happens in this first bit, really, although it's pleasant enough and, importantly, free. The next two segments will go live on July 17th and July 19th, and then the whole thing will disappear on July 20th, whereupon you will be charged for the privilege of watching Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. I'm not convinced that it's going to be worth any amount of money, but it's certainly fun to watch at work.
Nintendo didn't trot out any tired, rehash games at their Electronic Entertainment Expo press conference today. That should be good news -- enough of the old Mario/Zelda/Donkey Kong guard. Let's try something new with the Wii already. But then this happened:
Thanks to screwattack.com for the video, titled on their site "The Worst Moment in Nintendo History." And sure enough, Wii Music's public debut landed this morning with a poopy squish. Wii Music is described as a music game designed for people who don't like challenge. Sounds like a decent idea in theory, compared to the sometimes-intimidating play of Guitar Hero. But from the look of this game, people are tapping a single button and moving their arms to the rhythm to play dinky-sounding MIDI tracks. If you're under five, this could somehow be awesome. Then again, if you're under five, you like The Wiggles and climbing into boxes.
Seriously, look at those dorks swaying in the video! And Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto's on the right, too, hopping around and reinforcing all stereotypes about Asians and their rhythm. Damned shame.
The little bit of good news: There's another Wii Sports game coming next year, this time with a "summer resort" theme. It'll be powered with that WiiMotion dongle announced yesterday, meaning the game will recognize many more realistic gestures--wasn't that the point of the Wii in the first place?--but Nintendo was mum on most of the game's content (though it will have sword fights, so if this Christmas' Star Wars light saber game sucks, there's still hope for nerds). Grand Theft Auto will come out on the DS "this winter" (read: probably March 2009) with a "Chinatown Wars" theme. And Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party is a rare high point for the Wii, mixing the Wii Fit balance board with a bunch of silly mini-games.
Otherwise, there's a ton of crappy family games coming, just like last Christmas. The "new" Animal Crossing game (think The Sims gone cute) doesn't look any more interesting than the DS version from a few years ago. Unless Nintendo's hiding a whopper of an announcement, they're putting all their chips on Wii Music until the end of this year. Considering that the music game genre is already flooded with fare for both adults and kids, Nintendo better hope their brand name is enough to sell this mess of a title.
Sony coasted through their conference with few big surprises (but nothing as bad as Nintendo, either). This fall's Resistance 2 looks like a fine first-person shooter, and it'll probably sell well, but that doesn't make it seem like a worthwhile break from decades of the same kind of shooting game. And other than Little Big Planet, which has been showcased for nearly two years now, I wasn't thrilled by any of their showcased stuff--even their media center announcements paled compared to the Xbox/Netflix deal from yesterday. A lot of the titles announced won't be out for at least a year, so it's hard to get stoked for those (though Infamous looks like an even crazier version of the Xbox 360's Crackdown, and that kind of open-world game always catches my eye). Price drop coming in a few months, though. Those are always fun.
Microsoft has tried for decades to take over the living room, starting with the turd known as WebTV. Result? Four thousand grandmas are still using the thing to forward Christian redemption chain e-mails. Nice work, MS. They've done better as video game makers, at least in the States, but their secondary goal of hawking movies and TV shows--a huge part of the Xbox 360--has been somewhat muted. TV episodes at $2 a pop? No thanks, and movie rentals, while comparably priced with PPV, are difficult to navigate with the 360's clumsy interface.
If Microsoft wants to outdo the Wii, it shouldn't try with weird games with add-ons (like You're In The Movies [requires a camera] and Lips [requires a microphone], both announced today at their Electronic Entertainment Expo press conference). The novelty of gizmo-games like Wii Sports and Guitar Hero must wane at some point, so it's good to see Microsoft try a parallel route--make the Xbox a dominant digital media center before anybody else gets there. Say hello to the first great blows in that direction: Starting this fall, NetFlix users will stream movies off their Xboxes, done with a new interface that will make navigating long lists of TV shows and movies much simpler. Seems fair to expect a neutered NetFlix film selection on the game console--much like the selection you can currently stream to a laptop--but it's a huge step in the right direction, and it's Xbox-exclusive. Sony can tout Blu-ray high-def movies on its systems, but if digital distribution is the future, Microsoft has just taken the lead.
Other announcements: Xbox 360 is gonna get the next Final Fantasy game, an announcement nobody predicted--and I could care less. Look at the title of the game: Final Fantasy 13. Thirteen? What else can the game do that it hasn't done 12 times before? I know, people in Japan go ape for anything with an "FF" attached, and Microsoft could use a sales boost there (Sony's had the lock on that series for years), but Final Fantasy games represent everything I get tired of as a grown-ass gamer: long grinds of quests, dialogue that is "good enough," melodrama, birds that are ridden as horses, etc etc. Every time fanboys go on about how games are maturing and becoming art, I point at this series' human characters with cat-ears and make a fart noise.
Speaking of gizmo-games, Nintendo's announced a Wii add-on for motion control. Say what? This Wii MotionPlus add-on will apparently improve the motion sensing--or, I should say, make the Wii Remote actually work for anything other than Wii Bowling. You ever play a game other than Wii Sports and been asked to "turn a key" or something? The key will never turn. Nintendo will announce tomorrow what new games this gizmo will support. I'm crossing my fingers for Punch-Out Wii, but it'll probably just be Brain Training Wii with support for scratching your forehead.
Oh, and let's earn that "Nerd" tag:
(PS: Xbox players might've heard that a demo for the long-awaited Too Human is now online. I played two minutes of it and turned it off. Talk about an ugly, hard-to-control, harder-to-see game. Should've held off on releasing that demo, MS.)