For those who aren't playing: you can WATCH TELEVISION in the game.
Holed up in my apartment with my big tv, I can make my videogame character hole himself up in his virtual apartment and watch his television. They actually created programming for different channels in this world.
You can also have him surf the fake-internet in the game. They created a fake internet.
In the game, I have a girlfriend. Her name is Michelle and she likes me for me.
The level of detail in this game is just staggering. I've barely scratched the surface. Haven't even gotten to play online because the multiplayer functionality has been fucked, no doubt overloaded by the sheer numbers of people.
There were lines to buy it midnight Monday. I waited till Tuesday morning, wanting to avoid the lines... but there was STILL a line to buy it!
I literally didn't do anything except play this game on Tuesday.
Wednesday. I can't touch the game today. I need to set some boundaries, at least for right now. I don't want the game to ruin my life. (What there is of it.)
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Saturday night, I went to see this thing called "Video Games Live" with David and Jenny, who bought me a ticket months ago as a birthday gift.
On paper, it sounded like an easy barrel of laughs. A spectrum of video game music played by a full orchestra and chorus. Heard there might be some live onstage videogaming, scored on the fly. They had a retro-hipster logo mascot that I approved of:
Everything seemed on the up-and-up.
And the festivities started well enough. While people were still settling into their seats, they played this pitch-perfect little viral, of Ms. Pac-Man being chased by Inky, Pinky and Blinky around the streets of Manhattan (guess they couldn't afford an orange "Clyde" costume):
Yes, it's a video that's been around, but it set the right tone.
When the lights went out and the conductor stepped onstage to begin, everything still seemed promising. They began with footage of PONG which the orchestra did the blippy sound-effects for...
What's worse, this opening montage lasted only a few minutes before they STOPPED PLAYING and our host, Tommy Tallarico, stepped onstage.
Tommy Tallarico, if you didn't know, is an old-school videogame music composer. One of the first to get recognized for what he managed to do with such threadbare sound technology. Man's got a respectable 16-bit legacy.
And he quickly and efficiently killed the entire show.
Assuming that the audience might be intimidated by the formality of a big fancy orchestra, he encouraged everyone to hoop and holler and be as vocal as possible throughout.
FIRST OFF: That audience needed NO encouragement. A motley mix of very young and old, mostly "non-theater-going-types", the Beacon Theater resembled that scene from Gremlins, where all those little Attention-Deficit-Disordered monsters are packed into a theater watching "Snow White", only fleetingly able to pay attention when a hummable tune starts playing.
The anti-intellectual vibe throughout the room bordered on hostile. The audience could NOT shut the fuck up. People shouting out while the music was playing, while Tommy was talking—at ANY point they felt they could be heard. I've seen quieter audiences on Showtime at the Apollo.
As host, Tommy put into play the god-awful structure for the evening. Not a seamless flow of music but these montage tributes for specific videogames, regularly interrupted by Tallarico to ensure that all momentum was sufficiently killed before the evening progressed.
Worse yet, they steered clear of reinventing many old-school games, focusing on newer videogames. Of course, NEWER games already have full orchestral scores, which made much of the evening feel like watching videos on GameTrailers.com—welcome to DULLSVILLE.
Worst montage sequence? The one that didn't include any videogame footage. Yes, Tommy came out and introduced a special montage using music from Steven Spielberg's Medal of Honor videogame series... featuring World War II news reel footage. Yessir, nothing complements odes to Super Mario Brothers and Metroid better than Holocaust imagery.
How many idiots pooled their idiocy to conclude that this would be a good idea?
The show picked up when they brought this kid out:
Handily, Martin Leung stole the show from the full orchestra, which is just unconscionable.
But of course the fucking audience had to ruin EVEN THIS because the dumb dummy motherfuckers liked it so much... they felt compelled to CLAP ALONG to his playing!
Would've been one thing if he were playing a little folk ditty on a banjo, but the kid was constantly shifting the timing as he reinterpreted the music, so the audience's retarded 4/4-time CLAPPING kept fucking up what he was trying to create. Not to mention it was harder to hear him beneath the stupid wall of claps. (Have I mentioned that the audience was full of stupid people?)
I don't remember the last time I saw a live show so thoroughly poorly-conceived. There were some nice moments, but all were overshadowed by suckage. Tommy Tallarico, clearly a frustrated rocker, kept trying to rally cry the legitimacy of videogames as an art-form. I have got NO problems with that message. I'll be the first to defend videogames as an amazing form of art. But a show like this does more to support the argument that gamers are trapped in a marginalized ghetto and they don't get out much.
A stripped-down rock band that just plays covers of old videogame music, here reworking the Super Mario Bros theme. No fireworks. No video montages or slideshows or special lighting. These guys put on a show so superior to the bloated ill-conceived mess of "Video Games Live". Neither pretentious and nor violently anti-intellectual.
Woody Allen's great. I admire how prolific he is. He's made some movies that I think are just thoroughly brilliant (Annie Hall, Match Point). But even his missteps can be really interesting.
His 1996 musical "Everyone Says I Love You" is one of those fascinating blunders. Watching it again, after many years, I can see that it contains just about everything you could love and hate in a Woody Allen movie.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Woody manages to get the strangest casts, so it's worth breaking down this cast list:
Alan Alda and Goldie Hawn are married to each other.
Their children: Lukas Haas Natalie Portman Gaby Hoffman Drew Barrymore
Ed Norton is engaged to Drew Barrymore.
Woody Allen plays Goldie Hawn's ex-husband. They're on really good terms.
Natasha Lyonne is Woody and Goldie's daughter, and she narrates.
Julia Roberts plays a married woman who inexplicably has an affair with Woody Allen.
Oh, who is she married to...? Robert Knepper from Prison Break & Carnivàle.
Drew Barrymore briefly falls for an ex-con played by Tim Roth, which gives us an opportunity to have a jail-break scene featuring none other than...
(Strange as it is seeing Tony Sirico in a light rom-com musical directed by Woody Allen, this was his THIRD movie with Woody Allen. BULLETS OVER BROADWAY and MIGHTY APHRODITE came first. After this, he was in DECONSTRUCTING HARRY and CELEBRITY. He must be real easy to work with.)
And if all those names weren't enough for you, we even get a cameo from Billy Crudup. He plays a guy that Natasha Lyonne briefly falls for at an airport. And he actually gets to sing a song.
Okay, now that we've dropped all the names, let's deal with the singing...
Allen took a number of pre-existing songs and re-purposed them into this original story. I like that he made all the actors sing their own songs, even if they couldn't sing very well. There's something more HONEST in that than just having them lip-sync to someone else's prettier voice.
That said, the weaker voices aren't *exploited* particularly well. If a person with a weak voice is choosing to express him/herself through SINGING, there should be a dramatic resonance to their weaker voices. But it doesn't come off that way. Just comes across as weak singing here.
Surprisingly, the person with the weakest singing voice turns out to be Woody Allen himself! You'd think if he had the audacity to write, direct and cast himself in a musical, he'd be able to sing his one song okay. His singing scene plays like that one person at karaoke who finally, begrudgingly—after one-too-many cocktails—agrees to sing a song... and then softly murmurs throughout the whole thing so you can barely hear him.
But there are some fun musical numbers, such as this one featuring kids on Halloween:
(Check out the "chinky" kids at 25 seconds in...)
Most of the songs are frothy and pointless. Much like one of those old time musicals they don't make anymore. There's a lot of great technical work and lovely bits of choreography, like the most memorable scene where Goldie Hawn (who has the best voice) flies through air in an elegant one-shot dance sequence with Woody.
And Woody is a very intelligent writer. He explores some interesting themes of "love" and "infatuation" and "projection" here. Creating some depth without being too heavy about it. BUT...
(it's a big "but")
... I've got to say, it is REALLY hard to care about his characters and the unapologetically fancy, repellently insulated, Upper East Side world in which they live and die.
It didn't bother me so much before, but now, over a decade since I've graduated from college, having worked in the real world and struggled with making ends meet... I look at the characters in "Everyone Says I Love You" and I just want to bash their stupid faces in.
I realize that it's a musical and exists in a sort of "musical fantasy world", but this is a problem with many of Allen's films. They reflect Allen's own insulated world. "Everyone" takes place in the modern day, but it looks like a period piece. The characters don't look or act as if they've been touched by the modern day. They don't have to worry about money. They're rich enough to navel-gaze through life.
Later on, I'm meeting with a manager who's interested in me. I'm not necessarily looking for a manager in addition to my agents... but I'm so fucking lonely I'm willing to meet ANYBODY who's interested in me.
All right, sorry I had to drag Micks into this one. Just snapped this pic of this nice big statue of him and had to squeeze it into the week's entries.
The real star of today's entry is, naturally, The Sexual Orientation Game... dot-com—
What? You've never heard of it? Well, if you'd been at the 2008 New York Comic-Con and stepped within spitting distance of this lonely booth, THIS GUY would've been only too eager to try to explain it to you in the least appealing manner imaginable.
"The Sexual Orientation Game"? REALLY? At the NYCC? And they thought they could compete with Marvel? With nothing but some red curtains and some typeface? Emphasizing that this has NOTHING to do with "pornography"—when the word "sex" is about the only element the entire thing has going for it??? (Do I have enough incredulous question marks to drive my point home here?)
Really, "The Sexual Orientation Game" people? Did you REALLY think this would be a successful launch of your awful, awful product?
I'm sorry, but The Sexual Orientation Game might have to take home the EPIC FAIL award.
Speaking of stuff I don't get...
We saw these Goth Lolitas wandering about the floor.
Now, I'm all for frilly devotchkas prancing about. Especially when about 74% of the people there were geeky geek-o-pods with bad skin.
But the Goth Lolas seemed slightly out of place. Not instantly recognizable from some classic I.P. like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings.
The girls seemed to stick together. Like a little school of fish. Safety in numbers. Couldn't tell whether they were fans dressing up or part of this official Gothic & Lolita booth.
But even though they were dressed up as obscure anime characters we weren't familiar with... we loved them. Because they were girls. At a comic book convention.
Oh, and Connor Cruise—Tom Cruise & Nicole Kidman's adopted kid—is going to play a young Will Smith in a movie. How's THAT for Scientolo-Synergy! KSW, Cruises! Fair Game! Fair is FAIR!!! It's rough and tumble and it's wild and woolly and it's a BLAST!!! It really is a blast. Because, dammit, there's nothing better than going out there and fighting the fight and then suddenly—(PCHRRRR!)... thing's are better. Get those spectators... you're either IN the playing field or OUT of the arena... HA HA HA HA, that's really, that's how I feel about it...!
When hugging My Beating Heart, the physical heartbeat may remind you of hugging a purring pet or loved one. Hold the Heart a moment and you'll begin to sense your own heartbeat slowly syncing with My Beating Heart's carefully designed rhythm.
Oh yeah, mama. I've finally found what's going to get me through my darkest days.
While my friends are raising their children, I shall have My Beating Heart to share my hopes and dreams with.
On my deathbed, I shall have My Beating Heart to console me... and I shall have no regrets.
The plush companion-pillow for the loneliest goddamn people on the planet.
The past weekend, I dropped by the big New York Comic-Con @ the Javits Center. I've only been to a handful of comic book conventions, always tagging along with people far more knowledgeable of the scene. I'm always the tourist at those things.
Since I dropped a few clams to go there, I'm going to subject you to some of my findings for the remainder of the week. Along with the scattering of low-grade cell phone pics I half-heartedly snapped.
First disclaimer: we really just wandered around the main floor for a few hours. Some big presentations were made that we didn't witness.
And if any of you are looking for actual coverage of the conventions, there are other places with far better spreads of imagery to whet your whistle.
Passengers seem to know instinctively how to arrange themselves in an elevator. Two strangers will gravitate to the back corners, a third will stand by the door, at an isosceles remove, until a fourth comes in, at which point passengers three and four will spread toward the front corners, making room, in the center, for a fifth, and so on, like the dots on a die. With each additional passenger, the bodies shift, slotting into the open spaces. The goal, of course, is to maintain (but not too conspicuously) maximum distance and to counteract unwanted intimacies—a code familiar (to half the population) from the urinal bank and (to them and all the rest) from the subway. One should face front. Look up, down, or, if you must, straight ahead. Mirrors compound the unease. Generally, no one should speak a word to anyone else in an elevator. Most people make allowances for the continuation of generic small talk already under way, or, in residential buildings, for neighborly amenities. The orthodox enforcers of silence—the elevator Quakers—must suffer the moderates or the serial abusers, as they cram in exchanges about the night, the game, the weekend, or the meal.
Pretty good, uh?
YES, the New Yorker has some really good writing... but those articles are WAY too motherfucking long!
There. I said it. Satisfied? YOU MADE ME SAY IT. Call me a philistine if you must. I just... I get a little impatient, a'right? I guess people had less distractions in the 1920s!
SUE ME. G'ahead, fucking sue me.
For those still unwilling to invest time in reading through the article about the guy who got trapped in an elevator for 41 hours, the ending:
White never went back to work at the magazine. Caught up in media attention (which he shunned but thrilled to), prodded by friends, and perhaps provoked by overly solicitous overtures from McGraw-Hill, White fell under the sway of renown and grievance, and then that of the legal establishment. He got a lawyer, and came to believe that returning to work might signal a degree of mental fitness detrimental to litigation. Instead, he spent eight weeks in Anguilla. Eventually, Business Week had to let him go. The lawsuit he filed, for twenty-five million dollars, against the building’s management and the elevator-maintenance company, took four years. They settled for an amount that White is not allowed to disclose, but he will not contest that it was a low number, hardly six figures. He never learned why the elevator stopped; there was talk of a power dip, but nothing definite. Meanwhile, White no longer had his job, which he’d held for fifteen years, and lost all contact with his former colleagues. He lost his apartment, spent all his money, and searched, mostly in vain, for paying work. He is currently unemployed.
Looking back on the experience now, with a peculiarly melancholic kind of bewilderment, he recognizes that he walked onto an elevator one night, with his life in one kind of shape, and emerged from it with his life in another. Still, he now sees that it wasn’t so much the elevator that changed him as his reaction to it. He has come to terms with the trauma of the experience but not with his decision to pursue a lawsuit instead of returning to work. If anything, it prolonged the entrapment. He won’t blame the elevator.
So, there's a bummer to start off your Monday mourning. You are very fucking welcome. Every last one of you.
Ossie: "It occurred to us, from observation and reasoning, that extramarital sex was not what really destroyed marriages, but rather the lies and deception that invariably accompanied it -- that was the culprit. So we decided to give ourselves permission to sleep with other partners if we wished -- as long as what we did was honest as well as private, and that neither of us exposed the family to scandal or disease. We had to be discreet and, if the word can be apt, honorable in our behavior, both to ourselves, to whomever else might be involved, and most of all, to the family. And for the most part, we were."
I only learned this because Ruby Dee and Alicia Keys did an episode of ICONOCLASTS and I ended up doing a search on Ms. Dee (who was a fox back in the day) and I found that revelation.
Hot? Sure. But at the risk of sounding a bit conservative here, I kinda don't get that sort of setup.
So, Ossie goes off and bangs ten women and has to go home and reveal that to Ruby? Or let's say Ruby goes off and starts sleeping with another guy exclusively and deeper feelings begin to develop. It just seems that jealousy has got to be inevitable. And jealousy can be corrosive.
Hard to argue with 56 years of marriage, though. Clearly, it worked for them. And they worked together a lot, so it probably kept them on their toes.
'Course, I thought that Michael C. Hall was married and/or gay. (At least, he seems to be playing a gay man on both SIX FEET UNDER and DEXTER—no matter how many women he sleeps with as Dexter.) But I guess he divorced his wife Amy Spanger a few years ago. Maybe he tried to pitch her an Ossie & Ruby scenario and she didn't go for it...
As for Hall & Carpenter (sounds like an 80s pop duo), their characters on DEXTER aren't even *blood* siblings. Same deal as The Brady Bunch, and there are ALL those stories about how those fucking kids were hooking up with each other left and right offscreen.
Damocles was an excessively flattering courtier in the court of Dionysius II of Syracuse—a fourth century BC tyrant of Syracuse. He exclaimed that, as a great man of power and authority, Dionysius was truly fortunate.
Dionysius offered to switch places with him for a day, so he could taste first-hand that fortune.
In the evening a banquet was held, where Damocles very much enjoyed being waited upon like a king.
Only at the end of the meal did he look up and notice a sharpened sword hanging by a single piece of horsehair directly above his head:
Immediately, he lost all taste for the fine foods and asked leave of the tyrant, saying he no longer wanted to be so fortunate.
Things are looking grim at my old company. Some crazy ass shit, innit? I think I speak for all my readers when I ask, "What are those white folks doing up in there??"
Everybody get your taxes done? Guv'ment gott' git paid, n'ahm sayin?
P.S.: Dear Internet, please give us access to this.
"I sat with nervous sweats, jumping at every sight, and then proceeded to have a difficult time walking down a dark hallway for at least a week subsequent my screening." What movie are we talking about now...?
"Not much for the ladies today, is there?" huffed the Gay Horse. "At least you're having a productive week, right? What I mean to say is, how are your scripts coming along...?"
[INSERT SUBJECT] Shuffled 5: 1. "So Cruel", U2 2. "New Model No. 15", Marilyn Manson 3. "Before You Cry", Camera Obscura 4. "Friend of a Friend", Foo Fighters 5. "Anemone", Brian Jonestown Massacre
[INSERT RELATED SUBJECT] BONUS "Hot Child in the City", Nick Gilder
Little Girl: According to the dictionary, it means to cut a girl open in order to see the insides.
Little Boy: What are you trying to do? Make me sick before we go to bed?
Little Girl: Well, you ASKED what "rape" is.
Henry Joseph Darger was a quiet, reclusive janitor in Chicago. After his death in 1973, at the age of 81, his landlords went about the task of cleaning out his small apartment...
There, they found a 15,000+ page epic (single-spaced, typewritten) entitled:
"The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion"
A description of the narrative:
The story recounts the wars between nations on an enormous and unnamed planet, of which Earth is a moon. The confict is provoked by the Glandelinians, who practice child enslavement. After hundreds of ferocious battles, the good Christian nation of Abbiennia forces the 'haughty' Glandelinians to give up their barbarous ways. The heroines of Darger's history are the seven Vivian sisters, Abbiennian princesses. They are aided in their struggles by a panoply of heroes, who are sometimes the author's alter-egos. The battles are full of vivid incident: charging armies, ominous captures, alarms and explosions, the appearances of demons and dragons.
He'd further fleshed out his story with detailed illustrations and paintings that he pieced together using collage and tracings. He used a variety of techniques to create his imagery, taping butcher paper together, painting art on both sides of the paper.
In addition to his magnum opus, he'd left another 15,000 pages in journals.
Jessica Yu created a fascinating documentary on the man and his work called "In the Realms of the Unreal", available on NetFlix's "instant view" service. Half the documentary looks like it was rendered using After Effects as his paintings are brought to life. Dakota Fanning provides some eerie narration.
The documentary's a few years old. Thanks to the SON OF THE MOURNING for giving me the heads up. There's a larger story in there that I'm curious about. Man spends a lifetime crafting a 15,000+ page illustrated war-fantasy, I'm surprised that no one's tried to publish it in any manner.
This is it. A first for everything, I guess, but this is the first official time I'm claiming unemployment in my life.
New York State makes it super-easy now—you can file for it online. Get it direct-deposited into your checking account.
All well and good. It's just the longer-term uncertainty that's corrosive.
There's this great documentary series on the National Geographic Channel called "Locked Up Abroad" that features the stories of people in dire financial straits who agree to smuggle something across borders (drugs, money, something illegal) for the promise of a big payoff... and, of course, end up getting "locked up abroad". Well made show, that. Like a real life "Midnight Express" story every week. And it's fucking terrifying because I can completely understand where those people are coming from.
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I appreciate the cumbersome nature of obtaining music rights for use in filmmaking—best to avoid using copyrighted music in general... but it's fucking YouTube!
In this situation, I don't have to do anything, but YouTube has gotten really uncool about shit like this. I guess they're working it so that eventually it'll be the exclusive domain of nut-shots and bullshit video confessionals.
This'll probably get pulled eventually, but enjoy it while it lasts:
Put aside some of the questionable research behind the dangers of "passive smoking". (There are so many factors—concentration of smoke in the air, length of exposure, outside environmental factors—it's hard to isolate the specific threat of "the smell of smoke".) The woman is smoking in her own fucking apartment. She bought a bunch of air purifiers and sealed off the vents in her condo to help seal her habit off from the fucking Selbins.
They claim they can smell it in the hallway.
Are they planning on raising their son in the hallway outside her apartment?
What about all the car exhaust in the city they live in? Maybe they should sue the city, too? To protect their precious fucking Charlie.
And you KNOW that Charlie Selbin is going to grow up to be one of those horrible fucking douchebags, lousy with a sense of entitlement.
Aren't there enough assholes in this godforsaken city?