Monday, July 25, 2005

Cuddles the seeing-eye pony! (Thank you, JC, for this wonderful revelation.)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Nerdily, He Spoke

So, I've been having a blast with the "new" computer. I got this back in the spring, but only set it up a few weeks ago because I didn't have a desk or enough space in my apartment until then. It was a barebones machine, with only the OS (Microsoft XP) loaded on it. This means no Office. I could have gone the bootleg route, but have instead tried the alternatives. So I'm surfing with Firefox, which I'm liking, and email is being done through Eudora. For productivity, I downloaded I have not done too much with OOo, but I like it so far. I have also, here and there, started working on my portfolio, as I mentioned previously. It's fun just getting re-acquainted with the software (3DS Max, FYI), and I will be providing samples for criticism/mockery within the next few months. There are a few books being ordered in order to help with the process. Also, I am starting to futz around with Flash and the thoughts of doing an internet cartoon (perhaps bringing to life the Damian Vegas character designed by ML) have bubbled to the surface. Of course, the more immediate goal is just to get a firm grasp on the entire Macromedia Studio, skills that are bound to help me get a job doing something I find a bit more suitable to my personality/interests. In the end, I just hope that this all pays off like I believe it will.

Taking on Take Two

Well, it appears that Take Two knew all along about the "hidden" sexual scenes in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. For those of you unaware of the situation, some mods began circulating some weeks back that revealed "explicit" sex scenes between the game's central character, CJ, and one of his girlfriends. When this news initially broke, Take Two said that the content was inserted into the game by hackers and is not in the original code. Today, they have backtracked, saying that the content was there, but unused. Consequently, the game has been given the consumer kiss-of-death: the "AO" (Adults Only) rating. Their failure to own up to this initially, while possibly having little impact in terms of consumer interest, is a small setback for an industry that continues to suffer under the mainstream notion that video games are child's play. Or, at least, the realm of adults with the emotional development of a child.

Take Two is correct in that the content is not part of the normal gameplay, and that only a third party modification can unlock it. So, concerned parents should be able to rest easy, unless their child has the technical capacity to find and install the mod. Of course, if it is indeed a child playing--and, in my opinion, they should not be, no matter how harmless you think games are, or how "mature" you assume your child is--responsible parents might want to consider monitoring their child while the game is on.

Where Take Two is wrong, beyond their attempt at covering their asses, is thinking this should have been part of the gameplay, period. The dating element that was added to this iteration of the GTA series works like this: you meet women (a total of six or seven, I believe) along the way and are given an option to date them. With the exception of one of the women, dating them is not a factor as far as moving the storyline along. The only "benefit" of the dating side-game is that you get bonus outfits unlocked (if you fill up the relationship status bar to 100%) and you get other bonuses, such as being able to keep all of your weapons after you die or are busted by the cops. Anyway, if you choose to start a relationship with a woman, you take them out on dates (involving either driving around, dancing, or going to dinner). After the date is over, you drop them off at home. If she had fun, you'll make plans to see each other again. If not, you'll get the blow off, though future dating is still an option. Eventually, if you string together enough fun "dates", you get invited in for "coffee". The camera then cuts to the outside of the girl's house, leaving the gamer nothing but the sounds of gettin' it on. The "hot coffee" mod actually takes you inside the bedroom.

As you can see, the completely optional dating element is lame and mostly worthless. I'm guessing it was added to appeal to sad Otakon rejects (okay, that was unnecessary, but fun to type!) and gamers who like a bit more Sims-style gameplay. Therefore, I see no reason to consider adding an explicit "visual" element to it. And I don't buy for a minute that they did not have enough time to go back and clean out this code. If they were serious about putting it into the game, they would have found out early on in the process what kind of rating they would have been hit with because of it. And that content, my friends, is a guaranteed "AO". Thus, what I think happened is that the scenes were "hidden" with the hopes of being found to generate press like this, or some Horny Net Geek (HNG) programmer decided to sneak it in for a laugh. Either way, Take Two looks bad for letting it happen and trying to cover it up. And the game industry gets (more) significant negative publicity, since this involves one of its most popular titles. While I am generally a fan of Take Two, I think they really dropped the ball on this one. Maybe they felt they didn't get enough media attention after they released Manhunt. (Of course, since graphic violence is far more acceptable in our society than graphic sex, Manhunt was never bound to be as controversial as anybody expected it to be. But that's another rant entirely.)

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Pulp Fiction in 30 Seconds.

And re-enacted by bunnies.


Hang the DJ

So, last night I attended my first dance thing at The Black Cat. (My following the kidney thieves upstairs that one time does not count.) I went to Right Round with ES and friends, as we were celebrating E's entry into XXX-dom. (In non-inside joke speak, that means she turned 30.) It was a good time. I actually danced more than I drank, if you can b'lee dat. The music was hit or miss, but the evening ended with "Rock Lobster", so it can't be that bad. (Actually, that was supposed to be the last song, but then the DJ played another Violent Femmes song, so it wasn't the very end.) Fortunately, there was more danceworthy music than that played, with selections from Dee-lite, Blur, Pulp, the Go-Go's and others. Still, it's tough to go from something that is, you know, rhythmic, to something a bit more herky-jerky and new wave. But the big plus was that ES had a good time. The night was her's, after all.

Beyond that, very little to report. Have been working through The Other Hollywood when I have time and am almost finished with it. After that, I have three heavy metal books in the queue. I will probably write about those over at Musica Generica.

Must continue to re-aquaint myself with animating and get this portfolio built. Also, anybody have good book recommendations for Photoshop 7? Something aimed at the novice without it being too overly simplified is what I'm looking for. Suggestions (on the book) are appreciated.

Friday, July 15, 2005

As a huge fan, and because I haven't seen it mentioned elsewhere (I know I'm probably late, though): The Boondocks are coming to Adult Swim in the fall! What will be weird is hearing voices other than the ones I already use for the characters. For instance, I know Riley won't be as funny. But, good with the bad. Plus, it will have Uncle Ruckus! That will make it worthwhile alone.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Fucking, Austria!

Yeah, I got nothing. You can go about your business. Move along.

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

Fuck Irving Berlin

That is a quote from JG, said on the 4th of July. It was said in response to Mrs. O's criticism leveled at the people who couldn't remember the words to "God Bless America." But now I'm getting ahead of myself.

First, last week was ass, not to put too fine a point on it. Normal end of the month nonsense was made excruciating because of new additions to staff who are not quite up to speed yet. I anticipated this, though not to the extent of pain at which it actualized. Fortunately, that anticipation allowed me to put in for a couple of days off to be tacked onto this long weekend. It is helping.

Friday night, I made the trip down to Alexandria to hang out with Mr. O and JG. We hit one our usual spots, Bugsy's, and settled in for an evening of boozing and storytelling, the latter mostly done by Mr. O, recounting his recent trip to Las Vegas. It sounded like a blast and I look forward to going there myself some day.

Saturday was spent in the company of my mother and youngest sister out in Maryland (pronounced "Murrriland"). We did a lot of shopping and walking about in Annapolis, before going back to my mom's spot to watch a movie and relax. The movie, for those interested (and lord knows, why wouldn't you be?), the movie was Coach Carter. Or, as I like to call it, Lean On The Titans. I was just waiting for Sam-Jack to bust out a "if you're going to kill yourself, do it expeditiously!" That movie was a baseball bat away from outright theft.

Sunday was not much of anything. I spent much of that day transferring files from my old laptop to my "new" PC. I also got some new software installed on it, so everything is square as far as my starting to work on my portfolio. This, people, is a good thing.

Monday was the 4th. I woke up late (nice), did a little bit of nothing (also nice), got some food from the ghetto chinese place near me. Then I called JG and made arrangements to get down to his spot for the Independence Day celebration. You know, I love this town, I really do. But tourists are fucking it up. They'd be a lot more tolerable if they just observed one or two rules of etiquette. But that is never the case. Fortunately, I've already done the downtown 4th celebration a few times, so I have no further inclination to endure it in person. I did, however, endure it over the airwaves, getting a much better look at Barry Bostwick's mullet. Nice try, Barry, but bigger hair won't disguise the fact that you're starting to pack it on. Making the suffering even worse was a group that had the audacity to call itself The Beach Boys despite the fact that all of the talented ones are dead or insane. Mike Love needs to give it up. His voice was flat and just too worn down to return to its former glory. So, we wound up playing cards while merely listening to the performances, which was much better. We did make it a point to watch "The Singing Egg" Ronan Tynan. After the performance, The O's left, while I stayed behind a bit so I wouldn't have to endure the clogged arteries of the Metro system. We wound up watching a show on airline disasters that he had recorded on the DVR. After that, I made my way home without incident. We timed it very well.

Today has been free of activity with two exceptions: this morning, I got up "early" and went down to the Hirshhorn Museum to take in the Visual Music exhibit with Jamy, and after, I went to a bookstore and picked up The Other Hollywood: The Uncensored Oral History Of The Porn Film Industry. I haven't cracked it just yet, but it seems like it could be a decent read.

Back to the Visual Music exhibit, I really enjoyed it, particularly the works of the Whitney Brothers. I did have a problem isolating the works from their popular context, and I'm thinking a lot of people might have that same problem. For instance, something like John Whitney's Permutations is probably more recognizable as a screen saver on your computer, or a visualization on your media player. The light shows suffer from the same problem, as they immediately conjure similar associations, as well as the more popular psychedelic connection that we make with the images. These associations are distracting, but does not render the exhibit a failure. I would recommend it.

(As stated in the comments, this post was originally published in less than complete form. Now it is complete. It doesn't make much of a difference, but my lizard brain feels better having done it.)