Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Don'cha love it when marketers try to predict the future?





NPR asked the question, "Is the dystopian future going to unseat vampires in young adult fiction?" That seems, to me anyway, too narrow a scope. It's not only comparing pretty distinct story categories, it's also asking what the future holds which, especially in entertainment, is a crap shoot where you often can't find one of the dice, at best. As a young reader, I devoured Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and just about anything involving robots, spaceships, or both. Later, I went nuts for horror, then humor (mostly sci-fi humor, but Douglas Adams was a genius), and so forth. There may be groups that read based on trends, but I'd hope that people read what they like. What people like can be bleak futures as well as vampires, though if the vampires they're referring to are the ones I'm thinking of, I think it's pretty safe to say that disco-ball undead would make me long for a future with more radiation.

A list entitled Adventure Games We Want Back crossed my virtual desk, and while I agree with a lot of the games listed, I think they missed a few:

- The old SSI D&D games. I'm talkin' Pool of Radiance type stuff, where you rolled up six characters, gave them stupid names, and played with them like pixelated minis when combat started up. I'm not sure which rule set I'd want to see, but I did enjoy that you could bounce lightning bolt spells off of walls.
- Text adventures, but with a parser that's practically sentient. We can render faces to near-perfection, so why not take whatever is running the voice-helpers on smartphones and let them run a text adventure that's as long as a Robert Jordan novel? Using natural language (maybe even with some kind of constantly updating typo/slang detector) could make it a much smoother experience and effects of your actions could alter future events on the fly, since re-editing text is a lot easier than recording a voice actor's lines for every possible action your average 3D avatar might take.
- Bureau 13. This was, I believe, based off of an existing role-playing game of the same name, and I think I played it on an old Amiga 500. It was modern enough to possess 3D-rendered cutscenes and nice isometric animated characters, but the game itself seemed pretty broken to me, and I soon gave up. I still liked the premise (a secret agency that employs vampires, mad scientists, etc. as field agents), and I'd like to see them take another crack at it. I hope they keep the bureau's warning to not be conspicuous or let people know you're at all unnatural, which means the female agent in a silver bikini who pilots an egg-shaped robotic exosuit blends right in no matter where she goes.
- Neuromancer. Sure, we've got Deus Ex, but in a way, I'd like to see a cyberpunk game more in the vein of the Fallout series. Much like how the Fallout games used the 1950's and 60's vision of the future, cyberpunk was never so outrageously bizarre-looking and fantastical than when it was being written from the 80's. A revived Neromancer should look like someone grafted cyberware onto the Solid Gold Dancers and brought them back to techno-organic life.
- All of the adventure games that made no freakin' sense at the time. This is just so maybe someone out there could re-do these things to the point where I could have a chance to understand what they were about. Mostly, this is SwordQuest on the Atari 2600, and the Marvel Comics Questprobe series of games, which were pretty obtuse.

I will say I kind of disagree about reviving Leisure Suit Larry. I love point-n-click, but later installments (and attempted comebacks) haven't done the franchise many favors. I think it's partially because Larry's really a product of his time, and he kind of got less entertaining the better his graphics became.

I'm putting out a somewhat shorter linkdump this time around and inviting everyone to check out the blog over at the new Nodwick.com. I'm putting up stuff every day with some thoughts on this and that from yours truly. And the comics are there as well, so you don't have to worry about missing anything (unless I mis-key a date). Now I've got to get back to doing sequential art of some kind. Speaking of which, I'm concerned that Archie is getting into Funky Winkerbean-like depression material, as a character will develop breast cancer. I'm trying to imagine if the usual critics will be more upset over a storyline they deem too tragic for young readers or the fact that it'll involve the word "breast." Collectors might want to note that the "gay marriage" issue is going for $50.

Anyway, here's a few items to make your visit worthwhile:


- Here's a page with a clip from the upcoming Ultimate Spider-Man animated show. Thing the first: Spider-Man's voice is way too high pitched. Thing the second: S.H.I.E.L.D. has been buying guns from cartoon G.I. Joe army surplus. Thing the third: So... when is this Spider-Man going to get killed, like in the comic book?
- From the "if you hated mapping in video games before..." files comes news that video games can render whole planets for your questing pleasure.
- Minecraft is turning Japanese, it's turning Japanese I really think so.
- Use your geometry skills (as well as a love of filthy lucre) in Greedy Pirates. Throw, catch, deflect, or otherwise direct treasure so it lands in the chest. Yarrr, I say.
- I think this needs to be a "thing" at conventions this year.
- Time for a French lesson, class! Repeat after me: Je ne pense pas que la méthode de déplacement de la remontée mécanique est terriblement sûre ou pratique. Tres bien, tout le monde!
- And here's the final lesson of the unit, as taught by a guest instructor. Congratulations! You're now fluent enough to be a tourist!
- While the XFL was a disappointment for not at least having uniforms designed by Gwar, it appears that we might be approaching Blood Bowl territory anyway.
- It didn't make it to the stars, but it was close enough. A Lego and space shuttle fan uses a weather balloon (with a camera attached) into near-orbit.
- Anyone who thought Spider-Man 3's version of Venom would be great in a spin-off series of films, negotiations with the actors are underway.
- Working Stiffs is a good way to get over the Wednesday hump. You can feel grateful that no matter how much you dislike your job, at least it's not being overrun by the living dead.
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Monday, March 5th, 2012

I failed, but I may have the best outcome...





Viewers of some food-oriented cable channel might have seen a segment on a place called "KC Smoke Burgers." Their website is here, and the Food TV segment can be seen here. The subject of that video clip concerned a sandwich they serve called "The Challenge Burger." If you can eat all of it, your next meal is free or you can take a t-shirt as your trophy. This past Sunday, I went there with some friends to try it out. The photo to the left is what it looked like when it was served to me. Here's what it looked like when I felt something poking the inside of my stomach with what I'm assuming was a disapproving finger. My companions, as seen through my tears, were valiantly eating their burgers with various strategies:

- "Yank the Band-Aid Off in One Go." This works on the idea that the longer you take to down it, the more like a Bosch painting the inside of your mouth is going to be. This was employed by the guy who looks a lot like FFN's Nelson, and while he finished first, he walked around a lot. He also said blowing his nose afterwards was a mistake.
- "Milkshake Fire Brigade." Another finisher's method was to eat with a chocolate shake nearby with a few of its twin siblings standing by. It didn't deaden the pain much, but it seemed to help keep his biology from rebelling, perhaps via some kind of reward system.
- "Failure is not an Option." This is a test of will, and was successful for our third finisher. In spite of the heat, the trembling jaw muscles, and the way the lights seemed to dim with each bite, our hero made it across the finish line just by not giving into the complaints from his nervous system.

I got halfway through and employed the "I Don't Want to Buy a Case of Charmin" strategy, and decided that when my food feels like it wants to go out through the front of my torso rather than up or down, it might be time to give up on the free t-shirt. Even though the restaurant is just a few blocks away from a hospital, I thought there was a chance that the burger would be hot enough to cause my cell phone to lose signal at a critical moment, so I embraced my failure. I was told later that this might have been a wiser strategy, as the human body can't process all of the capsaicin (the stuff that makes hot stuff hot), and there are only two quite sensitive exit routes for the excess. A metaphor of unburned gasoline exploding in a car muffler was used as a teaching aid for this concept.

Anyway, if you love spicy stuff around the 7 million scoville range, this is the burger for you. It loses anything resembling flavor other than "licking Ghost Rider's habanero-covered head" about three bites in, but hey, free t-shirt if you make it!

As if we don't have enough ways to drain our wallets, Steam has just unveiled its mobile app for buying games. You can chat with friends and do forum stuff, too, but that seems similar to advertising a movie theater as a place to enjoy the smell of buttered popcorn. But what if you're a console-oriented gamer who'd like to enjoy the Steam experience without having to use a PC to play? Valve seems to be working on that part of the market as well. I'm not sure that blog post is accurate about "keeping PC gaming alive," though. True, it's a major contributor to the platform, and this article from the latter part of last year seems to bear out that PC gamers are alive and well. Still, I just prefer the interface possibilities via a computer (which I can use with a game controller, if I so choose) over the various consoles I've owned, but that's just me. I'm actually more concerned about computer operating systems being turned oversized smartphone OS's, which seems an odd fit for a desktop device. I should also note that I detest fingerprints on my screens, so I may be a bit biased in not wanting oily digits involved with opening Photoshop or something. :)

Hmmm... I may have understated that warning from my stomach earlier, as I seem to have some kind of high seas adventure going on in my digestive system. I hope that there's something pink in our medicine cabinet, or I might have to rely on the hypothesis that any pink substance is appropriate for this situation. I'll start with unraveling some of my wife's socks and work my way up from there. In case I don't recover, let these be my parting thoughts:

- I don't know if I'll even have time to try it out, but the upcoming online game, Hawken makes me think a Mechwarrior movie would be pretty awesome.
- Somehow I don't think we're going to see fictional drug dealers no longer using their ill-gotten gains to open bars or night clubs just because a real-life one wanted to open a comic shop.
- With all of the exoplanets we're discovering, a way of using spectral analysis might show us which ones have plant life. Let me know when they can tell me if it's just stuff like corn and trees vs. the ones that can walk around and eat your brains.
- Steven Moffat hints at (spoilers ahoy) what's coming when Sherlock returns. Though other than how the last season ended, he doesn't say a whole lot that's specific.
- Even though it's not meant to be a send-up of Mr. Holmes, the trailer for more Dirk Gently program(me)s makes me think they'd be great to watch back-to-back.
- Boom Balloon is a fun little game where you have to cut the strings to balloons, making sure that somewhere along their ascent they get popped. It's harder than it sounds...
- The hacker's dream with the semi-cute name, the Pwnie is a disguised power plug that does some pretty scary stuff for not a lot of cash.
- A pair of Game of Thrones trailers for you: First, the second season two trailer from HBO. Then there's the Disney version of the previous trailer.
- Based on averages, if you actually read all of the privacy policies you encountered in one year, it would take you 76 work days to finish. [ ]Click here if you have read and agree with this and wish to continue. :)
- And now, animation. Even if you didn't play the "Best games of 2012," you can enjoy a lot of them in Lego stop-motion format. Then we've got The Story of Animation, a cartoon showing how animated cartoons are created (and how much they can cost).
- Taking the place of the words/phrases that everyone assumed started tape recorders rolling if said over the phone is this list of words that the DHS is searching for on social media sites.
- If you think your fantasy novel is bad, check out what Tolkien thought of his own work.
- Evil Asteroids 2 is a particle-flow game where you direct planetary... um... output, I guess, at the titular evil asteroids so they explode.
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Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Will Endercats be next? That would be kind of creepy-cool...





Minecraft continues its evolution unabated, and it's got to be doing something right since Notch just gave his yearly dividend, $3 million, to his employees. Presumably, it wasn't in diamonds. Anyway, the game just updated to version 1.2, and thus a trailer showing off some of the features was born. One of the new features allows for the creation of cat fountains in "creative" mode.

The Hunger Games movie is still looking pretty good. I'll be interested to see how the world and the revolutionary atmosphere are presented. It could be tempting for the studio to "take the edges off" so it's not as harsh or potentially controversial. A new clip was released where Katniss shows off her arrow-ing skills. For those who haven't read the book, the scene is pretty significant. She's being evaluated by the gamemakers, the ones responsible for designing the arena where the titular games will take place. Her deciding to capture their attention earns her an 11 out of 12 rating when all is said and done. Also, you get to see a Future Beard(TM) in the clip. It's also possible his face has been engineered to grow stubble that way, I suppose.

Speaking of clips, the eleventh Interrupt Request is up and running. The new drivers recommended by Nvidia don't seem to have helped things much, but then again, it's the loose nut behind the wheel that seems to be causing most of the problems. I'm feeling a bit like someone who's gone back in time along their own personal history and is trying to re-live everything the way it was, which in this case results in me thinking I'm a lot more powerful than I actually am. I also didn't die nearly so much before, but I also played a bit like my character was a tourist with a pot of coffee in him; every map marker was an invitation to explore and get XP/loot, whether or not someone had told me to go there.

And in other video game weirdness, here's the box art for Assassin's Creed 3. While fun (when you get past the DRM), this game is one where often the mechanics kind of got in the way of the story for me. It just seemed kind of silly at times, like how The Three Musketeers now inhabit a "historical" world that's full of steampunk weaponry and gadgetry that spills from every lace cuff, bodice, or cloak. Unless they have the new guy climbing trees, he's probably going to be in colonial New England, though a trip across the Atlantic wouldn't be out of the question. Still, I'm sure comparisons to National Treasure are going to be made, since secret rooms, secret societies, and over-engineered tombs/crypts/vaults are a staple, probably even in the New World.

Let's close with something completely out of the blue. Or rather, completely out of my mother-in-law's closet. When my wife was a wee tot, her father was clearing some trees that had chosen poor locations to grow, and with one stroke of a chainsaw, history was made. This tree must have had some kind of precognition about the future when it (and another tree, actually) had a vision of a popular Steven Speilberg production and decided to become a living tribute to his work. The saw was used to preserve a section of this fortune-telling tree, giving us what I call E.T(ree), the Extra Terres-tree-fall. If the resemblance isn't immediately obvious, it's probably because his guest role was ill-fated and doomed to obscurity. I fully expect one of those Howard Hughes-type collectors who hunt down other objects that wanted a career in show biz to arrive at my door with a suitcase full of cash any minute now.

I'm going to go wait on the porch for Mr. Moneybags, so why not amuse yourselves with:

- Does it say something about America that the first version of the $1 bill kind of looks like one of those Val-Pak coupons you get in the mail?
- Why doesn't the FDA warn us that slamming a pink package of artificial sweetener followed by a gulp of coffee will result in stop-motion 80's nostalgia?
- NASA's Kepler data suggests Earth-like exoplanets may be fairly abundant. Now if only they could find a spare jumpgate, derelict spaceship with a hyperdrive, or the instructions for some kind of FTL tech written on the side of a decent-sized planet, we'll be in business.
- Or we could use the apparently theoretical Alcubierre warp drive, which has the added advantage of wiping out whatever is in front of you when you arrive.
- From the "that was kind of unexpected" department comes news that a movie based on the Valiant comic, Bloodshot is in the works. I would've bet on X-O Manowar, m'self.
- What I thought was just a riff on those old VHS-cassette boardgames turns out to be a promo for a comedian that's also a YouTube choose-your-own-adventure called "The Dark Room."
- If you're feeling too chipper or want to research what strategies might help you in the wasteland of humanity's fall, here's an exhaustive list of post-apoc books.
- You only get a limited number of swings, but Building Demolisher provides some good, clean, destructive fun.
- I'm sure it was an ingenious innovation in 1266, but I'd hate to have been the patient that received a surgical procedure that included the use of a crossbow.
- Indy probably wasn't thrilled with the whole Crystal Skull debacle, but when was denied tenure, he probably thought hard about sticking his head in the Ark of the Covenant. Hopefully someone would find a way to cheer him up.
- The Lifetime channel has decided it wants a 10-episode docuseries about Bristol Palin. When did "docuseries" become a word, and was anyone punished for creating it?
- While we're dishing out the negative reinforcement, can we deliver some to whoever it was at NBC who killed the Inspector Spacetime web series?
- I like a little chocolate now and again, but this cake would probably make me never want to taste it ever again... for about a week. Maybe two.
- Okay, they were and still are cute... and they still have a thing for bananas. It's a teaser for the sequel to Despicable Me.
- I'm posting this because I've always wanted to use the joke that follows the link. Ahem... Now you can be just as dashing as Captian Sulu with his new cologne, "Excelsior." Set phasers to stunning! Thank you for your indulgence.
- A Tim Burton-esque puzzle platformer is to be had in the game Nelly. Guide Nelly through a not-so-nice mystical world she discovers after chasing a butterfly into a spooky forest.
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Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

RPG, DMV, OMG...





With the upcoming Mass Effect 3 release, I've been reliving the second game without having to actually play it by watching/listening to it via (warning: occasional swearing) Spoiler Warning. The players, like me, didn't care for the Cerberus-centrism of the game nor a lot of the apparent retconning of how the Reapers worked, but they, like me, enjoyed a lot of the recruitment and side quests. I think the same can be said for the most recent Fallout games and the last two Elder Scrolls games (though Skyrim's main quest was one of the better written ones). Looking at Skyrim especially, it almost seems to have several "main" quests, aside from the fact that the one involving dragons is supposed to save the world. The quests for the Thieves Guild, the College at Winterhold, the Dark Brotherhood, and the Companions are among those that are pretty involved by themselves, giving you some measure of status within each organization (or at least, better swag). What I'm thinking is, would a game like [INSERT MAJOR RPG FRANCHISE HERE] be more enjoyable if you had several long quest threads that you could take or leave without one that you were forced to deal with as much? Part of the time you wonder how you can get away with ignoring some pressing issue that needs to be resolved over in area X because you're having too much fun laying waste to the bad guys in area Y. I'm probably almost asking for a massive cinematic RPG where what's usually the downloadable content is the content and the "main quest" is an optional download that I'd probably never buy. :)

There's no feeling like realizing you've been driving with expired plates/tags for a year (oh, they were due in February of 2011? Whoops...). Having the care of a kid means even less driving than usual for me, and I've been parking my car in our driveway after what I suspect was a street sweeper clipped the front quarter panel on the ol' Civic. Not being parked on the street, it wasn't subject to a drive-by ticketing, and I hadn't apparently garnered enough attention to warrant being pulled over since my tags became worthless. While getting my plates renewed (at a City Hall where personal property taxes are payable by cash or check only, yet you can use debit/credit on the actual plates. I hear it's because the tax collection is privately run and the plates part is public. Funny world, huh?), I was told that police cars have/are getting a new feature: 360 degree plate-scanning cameras, which can be used to see if you've paid up on your vehicular fees (though it appears to mostly be used in stolen vehicle cases, finding out who was at a crime scene, etc.). If it's not called pay-dar yet, I call dibs on coining the term. Anyway, the law enforcement angle isn't what makes me groan as much as the possibility that this tech will probably be mounted on billboards and be used to pipe ads into your vehicle and/or cell phone. The day when a future-car's AutoDrive(TM) computer is overloaded thanks to popup ads for roadside "attractions" (we have a remarkable number of windowless buildings with neon signs along I-70 in Missouri) flooding into the vehicle's HUD probably isn't too far into the future. I suppose if you've gotta exit the world somehow, it beats having the last thing you see be an ad for printer toner.

And speaking of future cars, India will start seeing ones that run on compressed air. I've heard of these in the past, and they sound like a cool idea for congested cities, though what would happen if one of these met an SUV or a city bus remains to be seen (beyond a possible sudden gust of wind). On the plus side, if it has enough capacity, you could run a pneumatic drill off of the "fuel tank" to remove/replace the lug nuts on flat tire, I expect. Were I certain these would make it stateside, I'd move to trademark the parody product name (minor language warning) Perri-Air for a line of (literal) gas pumps that offer some claim of being a premium product over that pedestrian "atomospheric" gas the plebes fill their cars with. Of course, some convenience stores are already installing pumps dispensing other stuff, so your choices when you pull in are probably going to expand.

From that, we can segue into another story about stuff you might have available in your neighborhood. Before we do, I need to preface that I'm not condoning or encouraging drug use of any kind; this is more a commentary on how convenience in obtaining relief from nasal congestion has (at least facetiously) shifted from the legal to the illicit. Confused yet? One might one posit that, in some neighborhoods, one could more easily obtain illegal amphetamines than over-the-counter pseudoephedrine products (nasal decongestants that actually work, darnit). For the cold meds that actually work, I have to find a pharmacist, show I.D., sign my name, and hope that I don't need more of the stuff than whatever the monthly allotment is. With that in mind, some chemically-inclined people have presented a paper (and really, don't try this at home; it's more of a social commentary thing) about how to synthesize pseudoephedrine from, well, meth. If nothing else, it could lead the way to some kind of recycling program between pharmaceutical companies and law enforcement, right?

Onward to my deadline-looming projects. I hope to have news of a card game being rolled out by (I think) Gencon, for which I created some artsy stuff as well as more t-shirts, the third FFN volume (which should be here soon), and some preview pages from the next ps238 book (the first stand-alone trade). That's at least a weekend or two's efforts, provided I have proper caffeination beforehand (that is, just below the lethal dose). While doing "research" for my various tasks, I found the following peer-reviewed items:

- I'm trying to decide: Is this a superpower or an homage to the cartoon version of "Sweet Lou" Dunbar from The Harlem Globetrotters?
- Here's a kind of possible prop-treasure hunt for Star Wars aficionados: Did a prototype for the Stormtrooper helmet appear in The Blues Brothers? And if so, who has the original the mall versions were made from?
- We've seen the cigarette holder one before, but doesn't Bill Murray make a pretty incredible-looking FDR?
- Here's some creepy-fun point-n-click with The Old Tree. You're a green... something that has to solve puzzles to... well, just give it a try.
- And from a contest to create a game around the theme of "alone," here's The Love Letter. You've been given a note inscribed with a heart, but you have to read it where none of your classmates can see, before the second period bell rings (in 5 minutes).
- Ohhhhhhh, who's getting a movie in 2014? Some-Car-Toon-Show!
- Johnny "Tonto" Depp is back in buckskins as The Lone Ranger begins production. Most of that link is technical and credit information, and there's no mention of werewolves, so... I dunno. Claim jumpers are still a possibility, I guess.
- As is often the case with cloned mammoths, flying cars, and artificial sweeteners that taste good, someone is taking a crack at getting a space elevator to work. They still need some kind of system to keep some obnoxious kid from making it stop on every floor.
- In other science stuff, a fabric that converts body heat into electricity is being worked out. D-Class subjects used for testing the invention have thus far experienced instantaneous formation of ice crystals in all bodily fluids followed by electrocution. Ice zombies remain a possibility.
- And in SCIENCE! stuff, here's how to build your own life-sized Aperture Science turret. I'm assuming they'll post the plans for the slug-throwing mechanism later?
- If you have $1.4 million and nothing to do with it, you could buy a town in Montana, for certain definitions of "town."
- There might be something brewing involving the classic RPG Baldur's Gate. Because you didn't need the rest of your life anyway, right?
- Previously, some concept art for a canceled Steampunk Batman game, Gotham by Gaslight was unearthed. Now, this site has some recovered video of the game engine and its awesome cape-rendering abilities.
- I'm probably late to the party on this one, but I didn't realize that this song inspired the theme to Futurama.
- Shouldn't Davros or The Emperor Dalek be center stage in The Last Supper of the Daleks, or is it whoever hasn't been exterminated that gets to be in the picture?
- Indi Cannon isn't a misspelled title for an article about Dr. Jones and his continuity. Instead, you're firing a fedora-wearing archaeologist as far as you can... into adventure! Gather coins with as few "Indi" shots as possible.
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Monday, January 30th, 2012

IRQ will return as soon as I'm not tending to work and/or children...





Anyone who was awaiting another Interrupt Request should seek help will have to wait 'till later on Monday or Tuesday, depending on how the day shakes out. For a stand-alone substituted (with a heads up on NSFW language), Spoiler Warning has posted its second-anniversary episode. I can only aspire to such greatness. Back to my lame excuses, I had some family-time and what have you to keep me off the streets (and the computer), so I was unable to record and edit like I'd hoped. That said, I'm amazed at how similar Skyrim is to Fallout, and when comparing the two I start to think that what Phil & Dixie said so long ago about game settings wasn't pretty much on the money. I'm not saying there aren't differences in overall play, but there are quite a few thematic and mechanical ones:

- In my opinion, both series are post-apocalyptic. One is more obvious, having taken place after a nuclear war, but those ruins in Skyrim weren't always ruins. It seems that fantasy of all stripes requires ruins to be present, otherwise the heroes would have to get real jobs or take part in huge wars to get access to cool weapons and other random loot. Not to mention that the ruins in Skyrim were built by a more advanced civilization, since it'd take one with lots of spare (or bored) engineering capacity to make huge stone doors that sink into the floor and work thousands of years after they were built.
- Lights that last forever. In Fallout, lights are atomic powered. In Skyrim, I suppose they could be magic torches and sconces. Either way, most of your typical dungeon o' doom is brightly lit.
- Junk everywhere and immortal food. Keeping with the post-apoc thing, you could spend years in either game just collecting cooking utensils, tableware, and empty bottles left behind by long-gone people. Also, the vegetable you just gleaned from some farmer's field is just as apparently fresh as the one that you pulled from a container inside an underground complex sealed up centuries ago.
- Stupid, stupid NPCs. Nobody seems to get that as a wizard/gunner, running ahead of me is pretty much a bad idea for everyone involved.

I'm also noticing that both game series do tend to dislike my playing style which is driven more by finding places on my radar rather than by being told by someone to start a quest chain that leads me to a given area. If there are no locks on the door (or ones that I can't pick), I'll probably stick my nose in and mess up whatever the place was built to do for a given storyline. I can't help it if breaking & entering is more interesting than what a guy on a throne has to tell me about possible opportunities in state-sponsored robbery and killing, right?

Given that someday I'll have to help my kid "learn stuff," I thought I'd post a video I ran across that may help anyone out there trying to memorize the U.S. Presidents (because history is important, yo). It's a fairly easy to remember melody which, while kind of long, does contain a few facts about the Oval Office occupants. The real reason I'm putting this out there is to allow a few other songs that might come in less handy, but are funnier:

- Of course one was sung the Animaniacs.
- If you just need one President, They Might Be Giants do a ditty about James K. Polk (the audio is apparently an out-of-print B-side, not the album version).
- And back to cartoons for a more recent (if unhelpful) song by Lola Bunny, who seems to have a history book from a much more interesting timeline. Also, Charles Nelson Reilly would probably have given the best State of the Union addresses ever.

I think we can see why "serious" songs about Presidents kind of died out decades ago; the masses need names and dates to pass their history quizzes, and writing "I Like Ike" usually gets you nothing, grade-wise.

Let me preface this next thing by saying I don't have an iPhone, nor do I have any stake in "Bad Robot" productions other than I like their shows/movies in general. Anyway, an iPhone owning friend of mine got this nifty Action Movie FX app, which lets you turn your camera videos into the latest clip from a Michael Bay production. A quick sample can be seen here, though my friend sent me one he took from the passenger seat of his car where he filmed the driver, then looked ahead at the road where it appeared that another vehicle crashed in a fiery explosion right in front of his bumper. The potential for practical jokes centered around the idea of "and this is the last thing we found on his phone" abound. It looked pretty good, and if nothing else, you can become your own Roger Corman and sell your output to SyFy, so it's technically an investment.

Though I've said I probably won't be in on the Mass Effect 3 release, I'm passing along a trailer for Mass Effect 3: Team Special Fortress Forces. Okay, so I'm snarking a bit there, but it looks like you have class/race abilities that are pretty common (tank, sniper, stealth, soldier, etc.) though I can't tell if it's a team-based RPG or campaign scenario or if you can also have some others playing similarly-matched bad guys. I dunno what the crossover market is between those who like single-player RPGs/shooters and those who go in for team-based ones, but maybe it's hoped that the usual bad NPC A.I. will drive people to see if humans are any less prone to jump in front of you while you're firing a weapon at full auto. :)

- I'm sure a great many superhero collectibles have been experimental ideas floated by various marketing departments that were okayed on a Friday night right before it was time to hit the bars, but the X-Men Mutant Play Shave Set is one of such amazing absurdity that I think I'd love to have on my shelf. Plus, if I ever needed to shave my mutant, I'd be ready.
- So I'm thinking that we could solve a lot of our energy problems by making something that generates power via things cats get into fights with. The epic score really makes the video for me.
- To show we're not all heathens, here's some artistic-type stuff that's pretty interesting in concept. A Japanese art student printed images of the skeletons of eight endangered species on translucent paper and then folded them into appropriately shaped origami animals.
- It's been some time since I posted a Maru the Cat video, but I thought this one was sufficiently amusing. I wasn't sure what a Kamakura House was, and I get the impression it's a dome-like enclosure made of snow.
- Splitman is a game where you have the power to survive division into copies of yourself. Thankfully, the villain in this sprite-like platformer has put spinning saw blades all over the place.
- The reasoning is that if you thought you were contributing to the death of a fish, you might use less water to wash your hands. While this might also discourage hand-washing in general, a beverage machine next to this contraption would probably do a lot of good business as well.
- I don't drink much, but I'd try something called an Alien Brain Hemorrhage at least once.
- Before the internet was created to show Batman doing awesome stuff like fighting sharks with lightsabers, there were some really great Bat-trading cards in 1966.
- Mostly because I'm a sucker for all things Mitchell & Webb, here's their comedy sketch "Attic Junk." I'd watch a M&W cartoon show, if anyone at the BBC, Cartoon Network, or Adult Swim is reading...
- This may be interesting for the future: Some companies are trying out forgoing resumes and opting for other evaluation methods, like asking for your web presence. I'm either a major hiring target or completely unemployable, I think.
- Possible good news on the Green Arrow TV series front. A character list shows a "Dinah Lance," which is the alter-ego of the super-heroine Black Canary. Just a love interest or gateway to that Justice League some have dreamed of?
- Here's a "whoa, deep" concept: Use a camera and computer to play music based on the rings of a tree as you spin a disc cut from the trunk.
- Some of these have been here before, but it's not every day I run across a collection of Daleks you can eat.
- It's neither Christmas or Halloween, but I had to share This is Aperture, a mashup of Portal with The Nightmare Before Christmas.
- I think it's been three years since the last installment, but The Several Journeys of Reemus, part 4 was worth the wait for a funny fantasy point-n-click adventure game.
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Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Episode two, not that I'm committing to a schedule or anything yet...





So having uploaded episode one of Interrupt Request, I didn't learn my lesson and uploaded episode two:



It'd be nice if it generated a little interest and maybe even revenue, but it's now even harder to get noticed on the ol' Tube of You, as One Hour Per Second illustrates. One hour of video is uploaded to YT every second. That's mind-boggling as well as a sign that parents might want to consider "YouTube Archivist/Researcher" as a career path for their kids someday. As for myself, I really want to get these things down under 30 minutes, preferably around 20. I think I may resort to more creative editing, attempting that whole "brevity is the source of wit" thing I keep hearing about.

Anyway, capital-F Fantasy is pretty much mainstream, at least in the public awareness. It took the Lord of the Rings to really show Hollywood that swords-n-sorcery could sell more than one or two movies before becoming direct-to-DVD fodder, and with special effects being incorporated into just about every movie on a titanic scale no matter what the subject, animating dragons and magic spells is less of a budget-buster than it used to be. We the Geek have had beloved fantasy films that we still like, from Conan to Dragonslayer to Excalibur, but now we're probably going to not only see more fantasy films made, but more of the usual roadblocks to awesomeness that have plagued other genres, like sci-fi:

- It's the same as X, so we can't greenlight it. I think studio execs need to be dropped in the middle of DragonCon unannounced, the crowd hushed and asked to pay attention, and the people in businesswear are made to say things like "We won't be making an ElfQuest movie because it's pretty much like The Hobbit, right?" If they make it out alive, they get to re-think their decision.
- It's got the same things in it as X, which made tons of cash, so it'll be good. This is the Uwe Boll school of thought for movies in general, and he's not alone in subscribing to it. Not to mention that while we've got decades of fantasy novels and comics to plumb for films, a lot of it is awful, if not just a bad fit for two-hour movies.
- Cheap sets and costumes are one thing, cheap actors are worse. Putting aside all the stuff we get wrong about medieval times (which I can't even begin to list, as most of the stuff I think I know probably is wrong), it takes a lot of effort from the director and actors to sell a world where magic works and doesn't come off like the film was shot at a local renfest.

But at least it's a new (old) genre that's getting tackled, and maybe the studios or propmasters can recycle more of the sets and fiberglass swords, passing the money on to some really great writers. Okay, that is fantasy, but I'd like to think it's possible. :)

On a similar note over in TV territory, ABC (parent company Disney, which is relevant here) is ordering up a Beauty and the Beast pilot. Keeping with other medieval-ish fare on the tube, this show will take place in an era like the animated film of the same name, and will join the CW reboot of the Linda Hamilton/Ron Perlman TV series. We may need a cage match between Beauties, Beasts, and Sherlocks before too long.

You may have heard about Russell T. Davies' next project, a kid show called Aliens vs. Wizards, but something about the description kept poking at a part of my brain: The name of the bad guys. They're called "Necross," which sounded familiar. It turns out that Necross was an insane wizard in Cerebus the Aardvark from waaaaay back in issue #13, and by sheer coincidence, there appears to be a project afoot at an animated Cerebus and you can see the animator's Necross test footage if you have a mind to.

Sorry for the radio silence lately; the new site is still getting "into the grove" for me, as I've been trying to redo all of the habits and Photoshop macros that I've developed for 10 years and redirect/remodel them for a new era. I'm still compiling changes and testing them out before committing, so be on the lookout for some more re-doings. I'm also still sticking with Project Wonderful on the new site, for the time being. I want to see how their ads perform when everything is where it should be, as they aren't always for everyone. They do have an interesting side benefit in that they're a kind of alert system for if the site itself goes down. Some routine maintenance required the new servers to be given a time-out, and PW sent me notices that something was wrong followed by an all-clear when the box was rebooted. I'm kind of surprised they didn't charge for the service. :)

Now that I've given them a bad idea, here's a few more concepts that are probably less than savory:

- If you think Gamma World is too mainstream, you can go pick up its more obscure (to the newer crops of gamer-types, anyway) ancestor, Metamorphosis Alpha as a print-on-demand book.
- Not Always Right is a collection of anecdotes about customers who weren't exactly on top form the day they entered the store...
- Though cartoony, this point-n-click puzzle game has a bit of a gory beginning, so Compressing the Heart may not be for the impressionable. Anyway, you can inhabit other living things to overcome obstacles by removing your soul for a while... like you do.
- Aardman Entertainment changes a joke in its upcoming movie, The Pirates! An Adventure With Scientists, as they reconsidered the idea of poking fun at lepers.
- For all the hooplah over digital piracy, the people running the sites connected with piracy must be raking it in, right? Well, not when compared to other websites with similar traffic. It's not peanuts, but it's no Facebook, either.
- And speaking of the Pirate Bay, they're starting a new category: Physibles, which specializes in files for your 3D printer.
- You weren't going to get anything done, anyway, so here's your Java-based Gameboy Color emulator with a drop-down menu of games.
- Yet another graphic-design oriented time waster, but this time it's about Color Matching instead of fonts. When the countdown timer graphic starts, move your selector around the loop of offered colors and click when you think you've got a perfect match.
- One of the more interesting things you can draw in comics/cartoons is an explosion. A photographer has made a series of 17 fiery outbursts that could serve as good reference.
- It's pricey, but at least it's weird food that isn't deep-fried: A Vancouver restaurant is offering a Dragon Dog, which is a hotdog infused with Cognac, topped with lobster and Kobe beef. I am disappointed that they don't seem to be using buns made in a secluded monastery's bakery, but you can't have everything even if you order one with everything.
- In my continuing effort to bring you the finest in weird bookshelves, here's an industrial pipe design. I think it'd be improved by some kind of bookend-plate thing that fit over the pipes, especially if you have larger soft-cover books.
- I don't know where this health care facility is located, but they probably won't be short on organ donors, unless they're all the victims of phasers set on "kill."
- Not satisfied with destroying your local coffee shop, Starbucks has eyes on your favorite liquor store, too. I'm trying to imagine what the paper goblets will look like.
- In Europe, the Dukes don't jump rivers and the General is a BMW. :)
- Because it's Oscar time, here are the nominations. Once again, Keyboard Cat is overlooked for a lifetime achievement award.
- Finally, Snow Tale gives you pixelated penguins in a Mario-esque jumping platformer with snowballs involved. Some zoo really needs to show penguins what they've been missing and teach them how to have snowball fights.
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Monday, January 23rd, 2012

There is no need to adjust your set...







It's been a an eternity a week or two in the making, but here's episode one of Interrupt Request. Complaints about the writing can be addressed to the fact that there isn't any. The only gags that weren't ad-libbed in this were ad-libbed in a previous take and I just happened to remember them.

The first episode (isn't that ambitious of me to say?) took longer than I'd planned because I was overreaching a bit. Apparently, I didn't have to try knocking myself out using an Adobe product to compile the whole mess. After some frustration with Premiere's learning curve, I thought I'd just assemble the intro bit in Windows MovieMaker to be attached to the beginning of each episode (that word again...). It turns out that I was able to get pretty much everything I needed out of MovieMaker without all that messing around with keyframes, multiple audio tracks, etc. About the only thing I can't do in MM is crossfade audio, but I think it might be a luxury function for now. I also discovered that transition effects that are normally cheesy (though not as bad as the "star wipe") helped my "UHF TV" motif immensely; making a frame drop out of the picture while it's identical twin drops in looks a lot like one's vertical hold is on the blink, no?

Anyway, I hope it pleases, and I still plan on doing more, hopefully once a week or more. The biggest bottleneck at the moment seems to be YouTube, as it took over four hours to upload this thing. I'm also still tweaking the sound quality on my voice track. I've managed to kill nearly all noise in my office save for mouse clicks (it's a new mouse; it hasn't broken in yet), but I still get a bit of a background hiss. The filters on my audio recording software can only do so much before I start sounding like I'm a low-bitrate MP3 of a Vogon. I never did work out how to make myself sound like Barry White, but I'll keep working on that.

If you're doing your own videos or anything that requires sound effects and you don't have a ton of cash to drop on a library of noises, you might find what you need at Freesound.org. Of special note if you're trying to make money from your project (or you don't like legalese), you can look for sounds under Creative Commons 0 license, which are items released into the public domain, free of charge or attribution. Neato, I say.

Now I'm off to go figure out what the next script for Epic Campain will be. I wonder if I can convince the editors that we should include some references to the coming 5th Edition of D&D, and that maybe I should "research" my jokes with the relevant documents? I probably don't have the right skills for that and would stand a better chance using a black outfit, a grappling hook, and a round-trip ticket to Renton. Maybe I can get the Full Frontal Nerdity guys to go in my place. It's been a while since they've been arrested, right?

While I try to come up with some gags that might come close to a work of genius, here's some things to help you cope with the inevitable case of the Mondays:

- For once, it's not Star Wars getting all the Lego love, as some brick-meister has built the U.S.S. Reliant in Lego form, complete with lighting effects.
- 'Trek also now sports its own flavor of Settlers of Catan.
- The Megaupload aftermath continues with the temporary deletion of CBS.com and other large websites.
- Kids today have too many things I was denied. For example, a Dark Horse Comics approved B.P.R.D. Training Camp. They probably get pyrokinesis powers, too...
- If you want to see the ultimate giant spider for your next LARP, click here. That page has a link to the creator's site as well.
- Let it Glow 2 is a puzzle game about getting electrical zappage to light bulbs by manipulating the environment (mostly in the form of boxes).
- Wizards of the Coast will reprint the classic 1st edition trio of rulebooks in a limited edition this April.
- It might have escaped your notice that Ringo Starr will be releasing a new album in a few days. It escaped my notice that he also released one in 2010, but I just can't keep up with the noise that kids are listening to these days.
- A bluegrass guitarist gets a friendly visit from a feathered friend who decides to sit in on the rest of the song (link goes to just before the bird shows up).
- I don't understand what a Russian casino did to the Pink Panther, but he (and a female version) star in a completely insane commercial for said gambling establishment.
- In case the 2012 Presidential Candidates aren't thrilling you, here's 11 you may not have heard about, including a Jedi candidate.
- Because it promotes my favorite action figure ever, RobertCop, here's 23 knockoff products that will probably make you feel better about the purchases you make.
- Adding to the list of "things you probably don't want happening near you" is an odd phenomenon that turned one seafront into an ocean of foam.
- Remember, only you can prevent the worst from happening to a very special class of animals. From the comedy choral group, "Power Salad."
- Start your week with a bang (yeah, yeah) and play Crash the Robot, Explosive Edition. Place bombs strategically to bring each evil robot (we read their blogs and they were up to no good) to a kaboom-y end.
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Friday, January 20th, 2012

Still trying to get Skyrim wrong, in the right way...





I'm still working on that Skyrim playthrough for YouTube, having finally done a third starting episode that wasn't too long and doesn't make me cringe inwardly when I hear it. Now I just have to mix everything together and figure out a few things that Adobe Premiere can/can't do. I'll be playing it vanilla, though some of the mods are bordering on the unbelievable. Quite often with these games, the first mods are dancing, adult entertainment, some kind of Warhammer armor, and lightsabers. I've yet to meet any of the really amazing bugs others reported (aside from my own when I forget to hit "record" or what have you), apart from people being half-in walls or vanishing suddenly, leaving their disembodied voices behind. I suppose I'll just have to rely on my own game playing "style" for comedy, which shouldn't be too much of a problem, given what I've had happen in just the first half-hour alone...

This Supreme Court decision is supposedly only for copyrights to be brought into compliance with international treaty, but from what I can tell, it allows Congress to re-copyright works in the public domain. I know I harp on how "we gamers" think about things, but one of the greatest highlighters of the law of unintended consequences out there when it comes to statues has got to be the rules lawyer. There's probably a lot of entertainment industry cash behind this (or there will be), and it's not hard for the gamer-brain to see the obvious exploit: If Congress will honor the copyright claims in other countries and apply them here, whichever country offers eternal copyright will soon have just about everything registered there (for a fee, of course). Not that our country isn't already inching towards some kind of "life of the artist plus eternity for whoever buys their estate" model, but it just seems like such a blatant disregard for the value of public domain works. I'm wondering if any group out there has eyes for locking up Lovecraft's works, causing a major Triple-Hastur event in the gaming industry alone...

In somewhat related news, the file-downloading site Megaupload got taken down by the Justice Department (so why do they need SOPA, again?). While we've seen this behavior before, I'm going to keep an eye out for how Anonymous' revenge will shake out. It's odd to say it's "just" a bunch of denial of service attacks, since that's really only a short-term thing. I'm wondering if this skirmish will escalate and on which side?

In addition to collating all of the suggestions/bug reports on the new site (and fixing them over the weekend), I'm doing some last-minute reworks to the scripts on that Diablo comic project. I believe some interview questions to me have gone up in various places around the 'net, or they soon will. I'd love to be able to say what impact the comic has on the game, but I've got no clue, so I'll find out along with everyone else. For those planning on playing Diablo III, it looks like there are some pretty significant changes to the game that have just been announced. I'd just like someone to invent a mechanical index finger that clicks the mouse a hundred times a second if I hit the relevant hotkey. :)

I'm still waiting for my PC-based Matrix pod for all this gaming stuff, by the way. Until I get one, I keep having to distract myself from the fact I'm without it via things like:

- Destined to become the nerdy version of "Jingle Cats," here's The Bark Side.
- As with all Top 10 lists, feel free to have personal items that you'd rank higher, but this is still a nice collection of great character introductions in film scripts.
- Fox News (or some branch thereof) has gone after DC Comics' reboot for being too smutty. That's arguable, but the article also points out that Fox still holds several Marvel movie properties. :)
- Fans of Zelda-esque top-down RPGs should find something to like about the Scarlet Stranger. Use your trusty sword and shield (as well as crafting skills) to rescue the obligatory princess.
- Statistic fetishists, here's something that should thrill: The internet in 2011, by the numbers.
- The recent reworking of its logo left a lot of readers scratching their heads, but when "enhanced" with the properties it's attached to, the DC Comics logo looks pretty decent.
- The title says it all: Impudent Cat.
- More video game modification: Here's news and an embedded trailer for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Lost Alpha, a mod that puts a bunch of alpha-build material that was cut back into the game. Then there's Half-Life Dreamcast, a port of the canceled Dreamcast version of Half-Life as a mod, containing lots of material that didn't show up in the PC version.
- My next big dream project is somehow getting Lovecraft-inspired carpets in our house without my wife noticing.
- So it turns out a movie adaptation of the Bone comic is coming and it has a director.
- Since I inflicted LMAFO on everyone with the Skyrim dance video above, here's their song "Party Rock" literally interpreted with MS Paint.
- The SOPA-compliant poster of a character that shall not be named is pretty cool-looking, actually.
- In addition, it would appear that the blackout of popular internet sites and associated awareness of the anti-piracy bills had the desired effect on many congresscritters.
- I harp on Fringe for product placement, but this show has it beat, I think.
- Want to take photos that are two stories high? Get a 35 foot long camera.
- When stuffed animals are no longer adoptable, rest assured that their skins are being recycled as art.
- Here's an early Caturday game, Cats Cannon. Fire your felines "Angry Birds" style against the... possibly evil dogs? I dunno. I just like launching things.
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Friday, January 6th, 2012

We have music and a logo! The rest should be easy, right?





I think the software package, "Band in a Box" (at least the version I got a hold of) is a good piece of royalty-free music generating software surrounded by a bunch of overly-complicated controls and do-dads to keep musical novices (like myself) from realizing we don't need all those Juilliard graduates. Okay, so I'm being facetious, spouting the equivalent of saying all you really need Photoshop for is brightness and contrast controls. It's amazing how, after a lot of tinkering, all I had to do to get what I needed was to enter some random chords, hit the "Melody" button (sometimes the "Solo" button, too) and then, if I liked what I heard, mess around with instruments. The version I'm using is pretty ancient by internet standards (released in 2009), but eBay had it for (relatively) cheap, and it still works on current systems. It generated a catchy (and suitably cheesy-sounding) theme song for that upcoming "Let's Play" project that I think will serve. We'll see how well my first "studio session" goes when I get everything else finalized.

That remake of Evil Dead is continuing apace, and they've cast one of the five kids who isn't Ash. They've already pretty much guaranteed a spot for her character on this TV Trope page. Much like the JJ Abrams' reboot of Star Trek, this makes me wonder what will come next in this re-franchisement? I loves me some Army of Darkness, but that's mostly 'cause of Bruce Campbell's chiseled-chin charisma and comic timing. Would a sequel to this Evil Dead take us to the same wacky-horror-time-travel place for a sequel? I've probably said before, but I've gained a further appreciation for Army of Darkness after hearing Patricia Tallman speak at a convention. She played the deadite witch that Ash shoots, causing her to back-flip into a pit as well as one of the skeletons in the march on the castle (where she almost pitched into the moat because she couldn't see and hadn't heard the director yell "cut"). Like most people in makeup and latex for Raimi's earlier films, she suffered for her art. :)

I haven't played Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, but I heard two items about it I thought I'd pass on. The first one is that the game is now the Guiness World Record Holder for largest voice-over project with over 200,000 lines of dialogue. The second is a bug that I almost wish was a feature. It seems that using the dance emotes in combat interrupts targeting attempts by enemy mobs. In a way, they've crossed Star Wars with the old Moonwalker arcade game.

Speaking of Star Wars, a French burger chain called "Quick" is offering black-bunned "Dark Side" burgers as part of a promotion for the 3D release of The Phantom Menace. For starters, that makes the bun look like it might have been baked back when the original Episode I release happened. And secondly, the "Light Side" bun is just... yellow to golden brown. The Darth Burger is okay looking like a bun-shaped mold colony but the Jedi with Cheese is just... normal? I guess you could imagine that it's blond, like Luke's hair, but that's getting into an even weirder area, so I'll just stop now.

The much-loathed Akira live-action American film adaptation has stalled again (perhaps for good), closing its offices as Warner Bros. looks at the budget again. At last report, the budget was in the $60-$70 million dollar range (keeping in mind that Adam Sandler's alleged money laundering project, Jack & Jill had a budget of $87 million). I think at this point, the only way they could reasonably make everyone happy is to just let people buy a ticket to the movie that can then be traded for a DVD of the original anime.

There's a meme that seems to be gaining traction, though it may be a sign of near-future nostalgia. It's basically all about the old-fashioned indestructible Nokia, with more examples like this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, and this one. I've spoken to more and more people who hate smartphones with a passion and either want less-featured devices or are proudly showing off their older phones that they've brought back from the grave. This probably spells doom for all those dial-phone-to-cell conversion kits as tech from less than a decade ago becomes the new antique chic, but at least it's keeping 'em out of landfills, right?

So while I start trying out new ways to make my computer crash and my hard drives scream for mercy, here's news that Dynamite Comics just just got the rights to publish Pathfinder tales in sequential art form. I don't suppose they've hired writers for that stuff yet, have they? I know someone I could recommend who's not only written other fantasy comics, he promises to leave out or include henchmen as they require... :)

I'll just hang out and see if my skill check worked or if I need to buy the guy running the adventure a pizza. Everyone else gets to go on to the following:

- Just in case your world wasn't strange enough, scientists have discovered a crab with a hairy chest, so they called it "The Hoff," naturally.
- There are swears in this video, as well as one inserted image of an artificial male item that isn't generally seen in polite society. And frankly, there could (and probably should) have been a lot more than that in this summary of the Transformers trilogy.
- A prop artist made a Half Life 2 gravity gun, and it sold at a charity auction for $21,000. His site has pics and a walkthrough of how he built it.
- How about a cute shooter for a change? Gunball 2 is an arena-style level-up-grade gunfest where your ultimate goal is to defeat the Emperor Gunball on the final level.
- Let's sneak yet another 2011 list in since it's still January: The best and worst comic book medicine of 2011.
- And one more of 2011's weirdest Christmas trees.
- I'm posting this mostly because I'm morally obligated to as a fan of all things Who, so here's a photoshop blog called David Tennant in Places He Shouldn't Be.
- And now, a medley of 15 famous TV theme songs in 2 minutes. Let's see if the home audience can name them all!
- The next installment of JJ Abrams' Star Trek timeline reboot will include Mickey from Doctor Who and the current BBC incarnation of Sherlock Holmes.
- Much as how fans of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. video game franchise were recently informed that a sequel game might rise from its parent company's ashes, those hoping the Firefly MMO would become a reality still have reason to hope.
- For anyone who's just suffered a pang of Whedon withdrawal, here's an hour-long podcast/interview from December with some old and new stories from the maker of the 'verse.
- If you'd like to know the identity of a heavily-rumored favorite to be a Doctor Who companion next season, read this.
- Recently, a clip purporting to be of a "quantum superconductor" racetrack with mag-lev cars you could control went viral. Sadly, it was just to shill an upcoming video game. On the up side, someone already made a similar racetrack several years before, and it's real.
- Just in case anyone out there was eagerly awaiting the next ultra-violent video game set in Catharsis, Arizona, Postal III is apparently a failure at even being a guilty pleasure.
- So this woman in Russia decided to make her way into a missile factory and snap some amazingly cool pictures.
- A New York dog owner is trying to get compensation for her purebred pooch's bad knees by suing to prove that dogs have souls, and are therefore to be treated as people.
- Of course, dead people, with or without souls, can cause legal issues. Those Steve Jobs action figures that were about to go on sale might be halted by Apple's lawyers, though I'm not sure they can win over making a doll of a deceased public figure. They can probably stop the current production based on the toy Apple products the doll comes with, though.
- At the very least, it's been proven that one could drink 42 liters of Diet Coke in a week and not die right away.
- Okay, so Skullhunter Players Pack is another shooting-upgrade game, this one is done from the side with a ballista at undead, so that's totally different than the one above.
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Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

The website is coming along, but it's like getting your Minecraft house just right...





I've been busy with the new site. "Sure," some say, "we've heard that before." 'Tis true, and I've got the bleary eyes to prove it. I honestly didn't realize what a huge cavern of unsorted files this site has become over the years. When I was done sorting out all of the ps238 pages posted to date, I was somewhat astonished to see over 800 pages of comics. Full Frontal Nerdity is closing in on 700 strips. I've got 300 comics sorted for Nodwick, and I haven't even gotten to the pages from the published comic book yet. I'm thinking this will attract a lot of new readers, as they can select specific stories, or (in the case of Nodwick) "adventure spoofs" to see only the full-page 'toons that appeared in Dragon. That comic is also a bit of a special case, as it encompassed web-only comics, old Dragonmirth cartoons, other single-panel comics, the Q4rce strip I did for City of Heroes, and a bunch of other stuff. Reading it by date will still render a "whatever I could post that week" parade of seemingly random breaks in an otherwise semi-organized narrative, so the category tags will really come in handy. And I've even corrected an embarrassing pile of mistakes, lost or duplicated files, and other things that I thought I'd actually done something about in the past (often making a second error). I'm not sure if I'll be able to use the "tags" section on all of the comics, but I'll see if I can't note some highlights as I assemble the thing. I'll want to check with my oft-abused and much-appreciated web guy, but I'm hoping there'll be something resembling a "live" site for everyone to look at possibly by the end of this week, if not the next. The real fun will be getting all the DNS entries to work properly, but that's Internet Showbiz...

And related to showbiz, a study appears to say that men don't generally go for funny women. I can see being reticent to date a stand-up comic of any gender, since you're likely to become material, but I'd figure it depends on the kind of funny one prefers. As with a great many other subjects, Q.I. chimed in on this one, giving both genders lots of pokes in the eye. By the way, if you're not familiar with the woman in pink and black, that's Sandy Toksvig, who hosts the BBC Radio 4 show, The News Quiz, which is quite funny, indeed. However, she's probably not interested in any of the strapping young men in the audience as (1) she's taken and (2) that's not really her thing, but she'd probably appreciate any promises of devotion.

In other entertainment stuff, there's the results for the domestic (U.S.) film grosses for 2011. That's the top 100 on one page, but here's a game you can play at home or with friends: how far down the list until you stop running out of movies you've either seen or ever even heard of? Granted, a great many near the bottom are foreign language or so independent that they probably don't have any logos with laurels around them to put on a trailer. Still, some of the titles do spark the imagination, and it could be a preview for what to expect on late-night cable TV or the SyFy channel. Speaking of the latter, they aired the pilot for Three Inches a few days ago, which lost out to Alphas for being picked up as a series. It wasn't bad, but had a goofier take on superheroes. Their limited abilities (like the title character's power to telekinetically move objects three inches) made for interesting uses of power, and it had Spike from Buffy in it. I'd post a link, but SyFy doesn't seem to have put it on their site, so all I have is a teaser.

It just wouldn't be a post without some gaming stuff, so in no particular order:

- Bethesda and Interplay have settled their lawsuit over Fallout, or so it's being reported. Details to come later in the month after the Geiger counter readings say its safe.
- If you've got a bunch of Sega Genesis or SNES cartridges lying around (or know where they can be had for cheap) and you don't like PC emulators, there's a gizmo you might want.
- Except for my upcoming Skyrim video project where him interrupting will be played for laughs, I picked up two games over the holidays that my 2-year-old can actually watch (and maybe even try out). One is Universe Sandbox, which puts you in charge of some truly galactic physics, and the other is Polynomial, a space shooter game (where you can disable the shooting, if desired) where the visuals are based on fractals generated by whatever music track you run through it, even "Sing a Song" from Sesame Street...
- And lest I leave out the tabletop side of things, RPG.net took a a look back at 2011 and how the game industry fared and what trends waxed or waned.

I'd normally close with something pithy, maybe about having to wrestle down the Christmas tree or something I forgot to mention about New Years', but I've just had my mind blown after seeing Steven Tyler, Alice Cooper, and Weird Al peform Come Together. And the fact that Paramount is going to make its loose adaptation of World War Z into a trilogy. If you've survived all that, here's a few more things that might finally tip you over the edge:

- How can they make a Steve Jobs action figure this realistic without anything that senses WiFi, says something, or reacts to an iPhone app?
- One of the trends that came and went on YouTube was the "literal video" phenomenon, where classic music videos had re-recorded vocal tracks to reflect what was seen. One song given this treatment was Total Eclipse of the Heart. Taking the idea one step further and giving it a sci-fi twist, someone used clips from Doctor Who for the literal imagery.
- Before the robot apocalypse, the machines shall build strange monuments to demonstrate their superiority.
- I love word-based games, and this one is quite a challenge. The Word Alone challenges you to construct words using the letters provided, then move the words in order to shove all of the letters except for A-L-O-N-E off of the board.
- I'm not sure if I've posted this before, but if I have, it's had a lot added to it: Final Image is a collection of (like it says on the tin) final images from movies.
- Custom Monopoly sets continue to sprout about the internet, and this time it's a great-looking Mass Effect version.
- Joss Whedon shows, BSG, and a video game or two are re-imagined as 1960's record albums for children.
- Predicted to be the hot gift for 2012: The Hamster-powered submersible.
- Scientists are seeing if scorpions might be even more creepy, as they might be crawling eyes with stingers, pretty much.
- Nethack is a classic dungeon-crawl computer game. For an even smaller adventure, try out Tinyhack.
- Much how The Walking Dead reminded people what happens when you fire a gun in an enclosed space (a tank), here's a movie clip that may make one more aware of one's surroundings when firing something considerably larger.
- If you like achievements, you'll love Goime 500. Gotta earn 'em all!
- It's a sure sign you're aging when someone who used to be da shizzle is appearing on a daytime game show. And Drew Carey is still creepy-looking as a thin guy.
- FireFlyFans.net has a story about locating the filming model of the Serenity spaceship. Click through on the QMX link at the end for a huge gallery of photos.
- Top 100? How about the top 600 people of all time (so far)?
- As an (attempted) salvager of fallen wood, this amazing bike gives me hope.
- Lastly, Volt Connect 2 is a puzzle game where your goal is to connect various electron-loving creatures with streams of current.
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