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It's not entirely up to spec, but...

Just a reminder that the party has pretty much relocated to I've gotten a few e-mails about how the comics on Gamespy haven't been updating, and that's true. It's because my login and password quit working a while back and I haven't been able to fix it. I can't even upload a pithy graphic for this post (at GSpy, anyway), which makes me feel like I'm posting without pants on, in a way.

Forget I typed that last part.

But everything's up over at the new, so re-direct your browsers, update your bookmarks, and enjoy the new favicons and everything. :)
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The "if it wasn't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all" post...

As of this posting, I'm still feeling woozy and so are my various sites, kind of. The comics are updating, but my main blog at the new locale isn't behaving properly, and tech support won't be able to look at it 'till morning. Still, I'm not spontaneously combusting or phasing through the Earth's crust, so there's that. Check Nodwick dot com tomorrow, and in the meantime, here's what I was trying to put up for the midnight update:

Having a "productive cough" is one of those supposedly positive things that I'd rather not have most of the time. My kid's almost over his fight with this plague, though he apparently doesn't understand what "you did this to me" means, since it makes him laugh. Or he does understand and he's just evil.

Speaking of evil, Michael Eisner's film company is making another movie adaptation of The Garbage Pail Kids. For those who don't recall the horror the first time around, here's a little sample to either refresh your memory or help you understand the thousand-yard stare you might observe in those who saw the whole thing. It was the 80's, so of course there was an animated cartoon that even I have a hard time recalling. Maybe it's a defense mechanism.

I'm guessing the pitch for the film didn't sound anything like:

"Let's spend millions on a movie that's a parody of a toy line which peaked in popularity over twenty years ago. The target demographic is 80's nostalgia fanatics, people who collected sticker-cards* that often came with petrified bubble gum, and gross-out joke fans who think the Scary Movie franchise is too highbrow."

Much like Marmaduke, I'm a little baffled as to who's clamoring for this thing, aside from whoever owns the Garbage Pail Kids rights. I'd be more thrilled about animator PES getting work in Hollywood if this wasn't going to be his next big project. Perhaps the sequel can somehow tie in with the Child's Play horror franchise and the Cabbage Patch dolls that were found to be capable of eating not only pretend food, but parts of their owners as well.

* Full disclosure: I own a nearly complete set of "Zero Heroes" sticker cards, but I do NOT demand a movie about them.

I'm going to grab another cup of tea and try to figure out if my various technical difficulties are also being caused by viral infection. More posts (hopefully) on the new site tomorrow (including this one), along with stuff like:

• I'm not sure if I'm hallucinating this or not, so I hope when you you click this, you also see Peter Dinklage as the movie version of Wolverine. The fun continues with someone finally figuring out where the Empire truly went wrong: They should have skipped Jango Fett and cloned Tony Stark.

• Just in case you're having your in box filled with tales about the theft of Tide detergent, Snopes is not yet sure if it's true or not. There's at least one report of someone being arrested for stealing $25,000 worth of Tide, though with glasses like that, you'd kind of expect something to be amiss.

• What is true is that a 3D printer at the University of Vienna has set a speed record for the printing of objects. Granted, there are few uses for race cars about 200 micrometers long, but that's for the engineering department to work out.

• Have some poetic story-time, courtesy of the Daleks.

• By now, many have seen the trick of running uncooked spaghetti through hot dogs in order to have "threaded" hot dogs after boiling them. With the right kind of pasta, you can now serve Shoggoth dogs to your guests.

• I think my next game purchase might include the concept of being pursued by polite and gentlemanly robots in a faux-British countryside in Sir, You Are Being Hunted. Sounds like jolly good fun, eh wot?

• This seems a fine button-mashing send-up of all of those side-scrolling fight games from the 80's: Nuclear Justice has you trying to stop prisoners from escaping by beating them up. Get money for beating-upping upgrades.
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More games, more thrones...

There's a new Game of Thrones trailer for your viewing pleasure, and even knowing what's going to happen, I can't wait to see the full show. I'm wondering if this, along with Lord of the Rings, is a sign that serious, dark, low-magic fantasy is what's going to dominate for the time being? The lighter side of fantasy media seems to be the BBC show, Merlin and the odd adaptation of Terry Pratchett novels. I'm hoping that someday we might get a Myth Adventures miniseries out of a studio somewhere, though I think it'll have to be after swords and sorcery have become even more mainstream.

It just shows that you can't always predict the future when it comes to movies. John Carter was set to have a disappointing weekend, as many feared that while it was pretty enjoyable, the public wasn't connecting with it in a way that usually precedes a nice, fat take at the box office. It pulled in $101 million worldwide, and did better than predicted. While still not a blockbuster, I'm sure it'll make back its costs at least, especially once it hits the home video market. Sadly, it'll probably mean fewer sci-fi films of its type in the future, as even successful ones (like Inception) don't seem to get the studios into the idea of trying something other than a sequel or a reboot.

Moving from sci-fi to sci-fi, Here's some concept art from an upcoming Mass Effect animated cartoon in the same vein as the one that was done for Dragon Age. I still haven't gone for Mass Effect 3, seeing as I waste far too much time as it is, it's still full-priced, and I can't get it via my preferred download service (yet). I may have to break down and watch it on YouTube, once the furor has died off enough that EA isn't out killing every walkthrough clip. Much like other science fiction franchises I get into that reach the trilogy stage, my only request is that it mostly makes sense and doesn't contradict too much from the previous installments. Of course, if they all managed that, what would be left to nitpick when out with the fellow members of the Council Of Nerds? :)

Yay, it's spring break for my wife, which means she can help watch the kiddo and I can get more done, like rectifying a mailing gap that has many out there missing books. I'll be schlepping more than a few pounds of them to the post office tomorrow, provided they haven't closed any more since last week. I don't know how it is across the country, but we've had quite a bit of consolidation going on, with the nearest location to me cutting its hours and the next-closest moving into what used to be a kind of depot that only the mail trucks used. I know the post office gets harped on a lot for being slow, but most of the time I'm stuck in line it's because someone has come unprepared, didn't fill out the forms, took several minutes insisting the US Post Office and FedEx/UPS were the same outfit, or (in one really egregious case) wanted to make sure the stamps they got matched the color scheme for their wedding invitations (I'm not kidding). So tomorrow will no doubt be filled with adventure that may give me a little time to stand around and solve crossword puzzles on my phone.

For those who don't know what crosswords are, it's like "Words with Friends" except you have to guess the right words and there are a lot fewer friends. While I go off and play with stamps, here's some other things that are at least as fun, if not more:

- I'm glad to see that Canada is going to take the hit for this one, though I was sure it was from an American establishment when I first read it.
- No, your eyes aren't deceiving you, it's the trailer for Stone Quarry Simulator, a game that I might buy once there's a mod where you have to help film a low-budget sci-fi series in the quarry.
- Rock Paper Shotgun has a list of recommended mods for Skyrim that might make your time in Tamriel a little easier.
- This may be far too cute for some, but Duck Life 4 is a game where you train up a duck to be a champion duck racer (and there are hats!).
- Geeky fingernail decorations have become a thing lately, though while this one is cool and all, I'd hate to suddenly have to pick up change or rub an itchy eyelid with 'em.
- From the "here's why you'll need a new computer" files, Crytek has put out a video of its next graphics engine doin' its thing. I find that if I play video games in the winter, it cuts down on my heating bills for some reason.
- I don't remember much about being 14 years old, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't buying a house.
- From the new site, here's something so fun I had to post it twice: The Willy Wonka "You Lose" remix. I can see this being used to illustrate points at meetings, actually.
- People Who Became Memes are, well... people who... uh...
- I love these kinds of puzzle games: Slicee has you slicing up various shapes (in as few cuts as possible) in a bid to make the parts side/fall off of the screen.
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We will recycle images until the server morale improves.

Either the servers here are having a personal moment, or someone flipped the "disable Aaron's password" switch at Gamespy because I can't upload anything to this version of the site at the moment. I've altered the links to the comics above to go to the new website, so if you were looking for Thursday's FFN and were disappointed, it's right over here. If after reading it you're still disappointed, just consider it a lesson on the general unfairness of life (grin). I'm taking this as a sign to finish up a lot of the transition before anything else goes off-line unexpectedly, so if this site goes kaput, just freshen up the URL and you'll go to where the action is.

I'm also posting all kinds of other weird and amusing stuff over there that hasn't always been seen here, so go and see what you think. I'm also working on more Interrupt Request, so a new episode should be up soon. I've also written a theme song for another video idea I had that I'll try out in the future. I will be singing this theme song, by the way. Without autotune. Of course it'll sound awful. I'm actually trying to make it sound that way, because it's comedy... I hope.

I've also discovered that sometimes more expensive equipment doesn't always yield better results. I've been using a DRK brand microphone with pop shield hooked into a Behringer preamp to record the audio for IRQ. It needs a lot of filtration, tweaking, and noise reduction before I start to sound halfway decent. After listening to a similar game-mocking production and reading what audio gizmos they were favoring, I found that sometimes the cheap stuff works better (at least in this case). I dug up an old Griffin lapel mic that had been sitting in a box in my "technology debris closet," plugged it in (sans preamp), and tried it out. It beat the other, larger mic (which needs a 9-volt battery, by the way) for voice quality and low background noise hands-down. I'm sure someone can tell me where I might be losing sound quality by going with the small plastic mic, but the trade-off seems to be more than worth it.

Can I now call my java habit a workout? A study suggests that drinking a lot of coffee can burn fat just like exercise. The only problem is the caffeine required is nearly lethal. On the positive side, if you do slip away in a fit of the jitters, any excess weight you might have won't be a problem anymore.

A quick Minecraft note about something I encountered, but doubt I can reproduce again without a lot of luck and effort. I don't play it too much because I stink at it because of time constraints, but I did try out the new release. During my usual mucking about, I built a short mine-track with powered rails. Now, either Java or Minecraft or both suffered some kind of memory leak, ate all my RAM, and slowed to a crawl while I was mid-transit from one end of my rail line to the other. I had to kill the process to restore computational functionality, and I restarted the game to see if it was salvageable. I arrived standing in the track bed up to my waist. Jumping restored me to having my feet on the ground, and I figured that since I was no longer in a cart, it had somehow been glitched out of existence. When I turned to go back the way I'd came, I saw that I had somehow warped the space-time continuum and actualized a number of mine carts (about eight of them) during the RAMpocalypse, which were spaced along the track behind me. If anyone can get that to happen again with a chest-cart full of diamonds, let the rest of us know how. :)

Back to drawin' and pixel-pushin' for me. Before I leave you to the links, here's something I had drilled into me way back when I got to write a Spider-Man story for "Spider-Man Unlimited" before my curse killed the comic before Marvel canceled the title. They were adamant that I spell the hero's name as "Spider-Man," not "Spiderman." This is a hard rule for the comic character, and a cartoon has been drawn to help people remember. When I asked if his web shooters were still mechanical or if they'd gone organic, that was left up to me. Weird.

And now, these:

- Just a reminder that in real life, treasure hunters aren't fire-eyed spellcasters or brooding champions of forgotten gods. Instead, they usually min-max whatever stats involve luck and electronics (proficiency: metal detector) and can get similar results without all the initiative rolls.
- Makeup, plastic surgery, and now the latest all-gender product seems to be Mantyhose, or male pantyhose. I think the problem with this is that it'll encourage people to become supervillains, or at least the sidekicks of the ones who laugh a lot.
- But if more dudes do turn to crime, DC Nation's Baby Superman will stop them.
- The president of Syria had his e-mail hacked, and has reportedly complained to his friend, President Skroob for suggesting a code Skroob uses on his luggage.
- Hanger 2, Endless Level Pack has you controlling the Spider-Man like hanger-guy as he tries to swing through new levels without losing all of his body parts.
- If ever they get t-shirts whose fronts are digital displays that can take feeds from websites, I'm totally wearing an ever-cycling insult from Martin Luther.
- Bioshock Infinite is going to have "heavy hitter" bosses to fight, including robot George Washington.
- And speaking of Bioshock, the devs are saying that player choices will affect how the game ends. I hope it's better than the first game which gave you "good ending," "bad ending," and "bad ending but read in a sympathetic tone of voice."
- From the "sounds like a neat place for a horror movie" files comes the Venetian Island of the Dead.
- Even though the concepts they discuss do show a lot of imagination, I'm kind of glad the Fallout franchise didn't involve time travel, magic, and derailing human evolution.
- Stop-motion genius PES serves up some "Fresh Guacamole" made from unexpected ingredients. And kudos to Showtime for encouraging animated shorts.
- The theft of Nic Cage's copy of "Action Comics #1" is going to serve as the basis for a comedy film. I'm glad they didn't add it to the National Treasure franchise...
- Never leave your cubicle unguarded, for your coworkers are a vicious and cowardly lot.
- "Losties" and orchestral music fans might like to hear 12 minutes of music and readings from Lost played live.
- Mindless destruction from an alien doom-machine is what you get in Alien Invader. Guide your walker-tank around various side-scrolling levels, showing the puny humans that they and their works are no match for your superior pew-pew technology.
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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 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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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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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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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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Statues distributed on schedule. Remain calm.

This is me, not caring about the Oscars much. I didn't see many films this year that would even come close to a major award, really. Even as a kid (when the Oscars was watched because there was no internet or YouTube to see trailers and "best bits" with robots & lasers in), I realized that my kind of movie was probably doomed to win awards for technical stuff, costume design, or maybe catering. It doesn't help that the academy is hardly a diverse group, making the awards not as meaningful as they could be. In my ideal world, the awards would be given by the Rifftrax guys (and their fans), but I figure that perhaps they should just let the accountants assign the awards, since that seems to be how they're picking what movies to make in the first place these days (this has been your moment of dark cynicism... or has it?). In a kind of related tale, Adam Sandler racked up a record 11 "Razzie" Award nominations, mostly for Jack and Jill. Speaking of which, that film has resulted in the internet forwarding something whose source viewers might find objectionable on comedic grounds. :)

I'm wondering what the total marketing budget for EA's promotion of Mass Effect 3 is, as there's yet another trailer, this one featuring what appear to be real actors with CGI scenes/insertions. Not much new is learned, except I didn't realize the glowy-wrist thing that's now a weapon has a kind of heat-seeking photon torpedo mode. I dunno if they're still planning on a Mass Effect movie or not, as they seem to have done nearly everything one can do in a sci-fi space opera (their TV Tropes list is incredibly long as it is). I suppose we could see Reaper-Slayers show up, which are even larger than the Reapers, who regularly feed on them every fifty billion years, and they're mad that we wiped out their brunch...

It's been a while since I looked at Fringe, as it was difficult to offer an opinion on how it was progressing without some more tangible developments. There were some creepy-interesting adventures, but little in the way of movement until recently when in the latest episode, we finally find out what The Observers are. They're basically Time Lords who talk like Vorlons. I had thought that given their name and the lip service to quantum physics the show occasionally gives that they were like the observer whose recording of data/events made it actualize. They'd be sort of the unseen ear that would hear every tree falling in the forest with no one else around. It turns out that the interference of an Observer is causing the big ball of timey-wimey to sort of come unraveled in spots, and like B-5's Captain Sheridan did with Kosh, a hero gets to be in the Observer's mind as he dies, receiving cryptic advice. It gives us a kind of endgame, I suppose, and it dovetails with the dramatic part of the show, so... I guess they've got the series finale planned out, if this is the last season after all.

The Williams clan needs to de-crap its house, desperately. And we're not the kind of household that buys ever gadget or a ton of furniture on a whim; we just have a bad habit of not being able to toss much out or donate it when the time arises. Not to mention that one of us is a pre-school teacher that has tubs full of rotating classroom materials and the other is, well, me. We finally decided to remove a big desk that wasn't seeing much use, and the difference in the office is incredible. I almost want to start a bonfire in the back yard and toss a ton of my garage sale debris, old computer parts, unwearable clothing, and papers I always thought someone with a suit and a badge might want to see someday on it and toast some s'mores. It made me wonder if houses are going to become less cluttered in the future as we all get rid of/stop buying actual books and other physical media in favor of digital alternatives. I still love my gaming and comic books which will stay put 'till their staples rust, but I'm wondering if my own kid will hit the "I want that non-physical thing for my birthday" earlier than I did at around age 12. And that's me calling C-64 games on floppy disks "non-physical."

I guess I'll take to my Matrix pod just to save on clutter, but only if it's made by Craftmatic. Hmmm... I may have just crossed into Wall-E territory, there. While I go sort out which dystopian future I'm aiming for, here are some other non-physical things to look at:

- Maybe this will help put the "un" back in "unlimited data plans?" A guy sued and won for AT&T throttling his phone's data plan.
- I was sad when Freakazoid left the airwaves. If they want to give it a literal reboot, they could give this a try...
- Wyoming is looking ahead towards doomsday while in the UK, it's solar flares and EMPs.
- Maybe you just feel like you work with the living dead, but Zombies, Inc. is the business sim you've been waiting for... if your mission statement includes devouring the living and feasting on their brains.
- As if the last movie wasn't a big enough insult to the memory of Indiana Jones, a new reality show wants to dig up back yards looking for buried treasure. I hope they at least call the gas company before they start... maybe...
- The trailer for season two of Game of Thrones is quite thrilling, though I still wonder if we're in for a Dragonball situation vis-a-vis the series and the actual books. I don't want sword fights to take up three episodes while Mr. R.R. Martin finishes page 534 of a book that won't be done for another decade.
- Keeping with Game of Thrones, here's a mashup of two previously linked-to covers of the theme.
- Steve Kordek, who revolutionized pinball by putting a pair of flippers at the bottom of the playfield, passed away last week.
- Sports with no helmets often result in rather humorous hair/face configurations for photographers. Olympic diving is no exception.
- When you're going to finally go for that big score, be sure that you've planned through how to get the loot back to your hideout.
- Aside from "how not to burn water," here's a list of common cooking mistakes and what you your kitchen has been doing wrong.
- Birdhouse? Nein. Nirdhaus!
- It's been too long since something involving The Lord of the Rings has been seen here, so have a mashup-song-remix-thing using footage from the movies.
- We all knew it. Mary Poppins is a time lord. I bet her bag was actually her TARDIS.
- The first of two games with familiar mechanics, Icy Fishes has you setting up chain reactions to free fish from their icy confinement so that you, an octopus, can nosh.
- The other is a kind of platform-based launch-upgrade game, Last Robot 2. Try to make it to space while gathering coins for new parts that help keep you from falling back to the planet below.
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Ten is a milestone of some kind, right?

Interrupt Request turns 10:

Y'know, this whole YouTube thing just might not be a passing fad after all. And yes, I'm trying to get Josh to make a second appearance, but his performance-art muse strikes at odd times. Hopefully he'll record something with me on Friday or over the weekend. I just hope he doesn't learn any new words in the process; that'd land me in hot water.

Some cross-posting with the new site in the form of this bit about a study on problem solving, booze, and sleep loss. I'm wondering if those studies will appear on RadioLab sometime in the future, since they seem to delight in telling me how susceptible my brain is to trickery (both self-inflicted and from outside stimuli).

And speaking of punishing your brain, here's the trailer for Borderlands 2. The game looks like it's really going for the "big, dumb fun with loads of explosions" market, and there's nothing wrong with that. I came away from the first game feeling less than thrilled because of the single-player campaign (I'm told the multiplayer is the real reason for owning the game) having a typical "shoot at the right spot to kill the boss" ending along with what I thought were lackluster production values (too many NPCs repeating the same dialog, the use of masks seemingly just to avoid animating mouths, etc.). Still, the vehicle combat was fun, and I found I could eventually tune out the Claptrap robot dialog. It is refreshing to see a game that pretty much knows what it's here for and isn't going to be ashamed of it. :)

I finished reading Stephen King's 11-22-63 recently, and it's one of the better time-travel yarns I've read in some time. It's time travel setup is pretty unique: You can travel back to a specific date in 1958, you can stay as long as you like, you can bring things back with you, and whatever you change in the past stays changed when you return. No matter how long you stay in the past, in the present, you're only gone for two minutes. If you go back through the warp to 1958, you arrive at the same moment as before, but you've reset everything; if you want your changes to stick, you have to make them again. Of course, the past doesn't want to be changed, so things might start getting hairy. This is sci-fi Stephen King, and he's also in his element, which is to say, the past he grew up in. He's not done well with technology, in my opinion, especially when it comes to computers. Here, that isn't a problem, and I think he even gets in a few jabs at the way the world has changed since the heyday of The Rolling Stones (whose music the protagonist likes, which I think all of King's heroes do). Without giving away any spoilers, the plot surrounds a mission to significantly alter the past, a cross-time romance, and how far you'd be willing to go for what you felt was important. It's one of his better novels of late, and while it starts in Maine, it doesn't remain there. In other Stephen King news, a clip of him reading the first chapter of Mister Sleep, his sequel to The Shining, has surfaced for your viewing/listening pleasure.

I have to go figure out how to lure Josh near the microphone for the next episode of IRQ, probably by using fruit snacks. It's good training for when he's eventually placed in his Matrix-pod, so I call that good parenting (grin). Then his brain can get a constant feed of stuff like this:

- Enjoy two minutes of Pixar's Brave.
- Long story short: Bridge goes boom in spectacular fashion.
- Based on their patent history, here's a look at what you might expect "Google Glasses" to do.
- I don't know what Neil Patrick Harris is doing in this photo, but I approve of it.
- Neon Race 2 is a retro-ish wireframe-looking game where you drive your vehicle into red ones for points, dodge blue ones just because, and gather money.
- For that teacher in your life who needs to feel better about how poorly her students are doing, here's something to make test grading a little less tragic.
- As if we didn't know, throttling unlimited bandwidth is pointless.
- Video game physics fun with the latest in the GTA IV "Carmageddon" series, where the friction on vehicles is set to zero.
- This so needs to become a meme with legs (language warning in text form): The Scumbag D&D Player.
- There are cosplay outfits and then there are ones that you wish you wore to your job every day.
- I ran across a Tumblr that's devoted February to the greatest fictional bands.
- You know how some phrases can start to sound weirder and weirder the more you hear them repeated? Such is the case with this supercut of people from James Bond films saying "double-oh." I almost think a version set to the classic song "Summertime" needs to happen.
- J.K. Rowling wants to write for adults next.
- Our video-heavy linkdump is brought to you by the trailer for Wrath of the Titans. At least the action figure line should look good sitting on your computer desk.
- This might occupy you for a while. Killbot is a game where you, a killbot, has to escape the lab by using disguises and object levitation.