Wow, this is cool. I’ve had to wait awhile to tell anyone about this, but now that I can I’m still pretty overwhelmed by it.

“The Escapist” ( is best known these days as the website home of video-game critic Yahtzee Croshaw’s hugely popular “Zero Punctuation” weekly series. But it’s ALSO a full-blown webzine of it’s own with lots of other content. As of this week, that content now includes a weekly gaming/geek-culture news series called “The Escapist Show.” You should be watching, it’s awesome.

Anyway, “The Escapist Show” features along with it’s regular content and contributors short humor segments provided by independent web guys, and next week (episode #2, tentatively planned to air on November 4th) the contributor will be… ME! I’ll be doing a movie review – can’t tell ya which movie yet. Cool, no?

I encourage everyone to check this out. Not just for me – the series looks really good and off to a great start. And if you like seeing my stuff on there, send some feedback over to Escapist telling them so, and maybe I’ll get asked to come back for more. Look for it next week!

I’m back

The computer is basically back to life, yay. Need new printer and to fix something stupid I did trying to re-install Windows, but otherwise not bad. Updates should become frequent once more.

Seen Saw

BTW, this damn thing might actually get fixed soon. Yay, fixed.

I’m pretty sure I was done taking the “Saw” movies seriously after #4. It’s not a bad franchise, just desperately played-out. #5 is basically 4 all over again: Lots of dull policework, increasingly uncreative traps, too much backstory on Jigsaw. Can this be over, now?


Hey, look! It’s working for another five minutes or so tonight!

I’m going to say that “W” is worth seeing, though it’s really not spectacular or incendiary enough to be any kind of classic. It’s basically a re-enactment of “big moments” we all remember hearing about, with acors playing the now-infamous big player parts – think SNL meets downtime at an Oscars telecast.

You’ve heard by now that the supposed “surprise” is how affectionate the film is toward George W. Bush as a character – displaying an obvious fondness for his black-sheep-made-good origin story and treating his self-willed triumph over alcoholism and Christian re-birth in sincere, non-mocking terms – presenting him as a decent if none-too-bright man who dug way, way, WAY over his head in an attempt to please his father. It’s all true, but what seems to be missing is how “fair” Oliver Stone’s film plays it with nearly ALL of the main-characters. As it unspools, not only Dubya but also Paul Wolfowitz, Karl Rove (!), George Tenet and especially Collin Powell are the largely-sympathetic “good guys” of the piece while Rumsfeld, Condoleeza Rice and (of course) Dick Cheney are the villians. Rove’s defferential presentation is what stood out the most for me – it’s easy to villianize him as a character, but here he comes off as a brilliant yet unfairly-overlooked political nerd for whom a symbiotic relationship with the charismatic but details-challenged Bush was his overdue ticket to the big time.

It’s also pretty intriguing how the film ends up in ADORATION of Bush the Elder despite the broader theme of Dubya immolating himself in plea for fatherly approval, setting him up as a Truman-esque missed-opportunity historical figure: The Republican president who shunned the Religious Right and knew the wisdom of not trying to occupy Iraq the first time. Fascinating stuff, overall.

Popmatters Interview

VERY QUICKLY before this peice of shit computer crashes AGAIN:

A little under 2 months ago there was apparently so little news going on that I was interviewed about the “Game OverThinker” video series by LB Jeffries of PopMatters. The interview – the first time I’ve ever been interviewed by a national (international, really) publication Internet or otherwise – is now up at their site. Link here:

No time for any more cleverness on my part except to say… wow, this is pretty cool.

In honor of "Bioshock" belatedly coming to PS3…

This is going to get me cyber-lynched, but it’s a necessary preface: Whatever you think of her philosophical ideas, as a novelist Ayn Rand was kinda scattershot. She had her strong suits – story structure, scope, management of characters, Dickensian bad guy names (Ellsworth Tooey?) and an undeniable skill for stories of slowly-revealed systemic collapse. But, on the other hand, she quite simply seldom – if ever – cared to grasp not only how actual people behave or speak… but how characters in hyper-real books/movies behave or speak. It’s one thing to have your characters exist primarily as avatars for philosophical ideals, it’s another to have them act like walking speakerphones. Her characters don’t speak, they ORATE in every situation regardless of context.

Which is why it was probably NOT the best idea to have her write the screenplay for the (appropriately wacky) 1949 adaptation of “The Fountainhead” and DEFINATELY not the best idea to agree to let her have absolute final-say on dialogue (though, given then theme of the work what the hell else would you expect?) And it’s also why the only part of the film where the dialogue and mandated-delivery really WORKS is in the climactic “summation” scene wherein Gary Cooper’s Howard Roark defends himself in court for the charge of destroying a building he’d been comissioned to designed after discovering that the agreement that his edgy, ultra-modern design not be altered without his consent has been violated (the book/character are basically a lionizing of Frank Lloyd Wright, if you’ve not read it.)

It still doesn’t FULLY fit – this clearly isn’t Cooper’s natural diction and it’s obvious he (and the rest of the cast, really) are working heavily from memorization. Still, it’s quite a moment overall and, while I can’t really get behind Objectivism in total THIS one speech is one I find to be a pretty fine presentation of ideas I’m generally pretty down with. Taken as a statement of personal integrity in general and the rights of artists/creative people in particular, I’d even call it somewhat inspiring. In any case, it’s been on my mind, it says things I’d like to say better than I can say them, and it IS kinda the only part of the movie anyone needs to see. So, if you’ve never seen this, give it a watch (it’s only about five minutes):

P.S. The YouTube link is the best-quality clip I could find, if you click it and the guy who put it up has other stuff on his setlist that you don’t like I’m not endorsing it and I’m not responsible for it.

It lives

So… the computer which has been DEAD since about Friday is “back,” so to speak… and thus so is what passes for my online “presence.” Yay.

For what it’s worth? “Max Payne?” Don’t bother. Y’know what the problem with 90% of video game movies is? It’s not that they’re based on games… it’s that they’re based on the WRONG games.

There are PLENTY of games with original or at least uniquely-realized worlds and stories – Mario, Zelda, Bioshock, Dragon Quest, Prince of Persia, Fallout, Sonic, No More Heroes etc. all come to mind. Make a faithful adaptation of any of those and you’ll probably get a good one. Trouble is, there are plenty of OTHER games that are basically just unofficial knock-offs of stuff that already existed – popular movies, for example – with the in-game benefit of interactivity. It’s not exactly a new thing, either: Rastan, after all, was just Conan but you could PLAY it.

So one shouldn’t REALLY be surprised when, for example, you make a Resident Evil movie and you get a Romero-ripoff… thats what Resident Evil IS. Likewise, since “Max Payne” was basically just a (very good) playable composite of every hard-bitten cop cliche from Mike Hammer to Dirty Harry to Martin Riggs, there’s really no point in making a movie out of it and expecting anything OTHER than a generic cop thriller.


I know it’s impolite to ask this, but… Adobe? Guys? Is it possible for Flash 9 to NOT crash Explorer? Just asking.

Sorry for lack of updates this week. Reason: Computer went nutty, had to fix. Still working on that.

"He is a decent man…"

I’m not big on faith or belief. That’s not to say I’m an atheist or even particularly anti-spiritual, I just prefer thought and knowledge 9 times out of 10 when I have the choice. Specifically, I’m not big on investing “faith” in things that exist in the physical world – you don’t NEED to “believe” in real things because they’re right there – you can see them, touch them, KNOW them and render a concrete personal verdict.

Which is sort of a long preface to explaining why there tends to be, in almost every major world event, a single key moment that stands out and reminds me why I tend to invest so little faith in, for example, my fellow man. Last week, that moment finally came for this year’s U.S. Presidential Election:

Watch the whole thing.

Seen above: John McCain. War hero. American patriot. Distinguished United States Senator. A man more qualified in character and “on paper” to hold the office of President than any Republican or Democrat nominee who’s run in my lifetime. A man who, by my accounting, was cheated out of the nomination by his own party in 2000 – a year in which I believe (yes, I said it) he would have won, would’ve been one of the great Presidents of history and would’ve left the country in a HELL of a better state than the man who won instead.

A man who – when confronted in the above clip by audience members at his one of his own speeches throwing lies, mischaracterizations, conspiracy theories and veiled racial/cultural epiteths at his opponent Barack Obama – responds by telling them that they are WRONG. That his opponent is not their enemy, that he is not a villian, that Obama is a good man and that, while he wants to win himself, they do not need to be AFRAID of an Obama victory.

Mark where you were when you saw this, because it’ll be one of the only times you’ll EVER see it: A candidate for President of the United States telling his supporters to, essentially, grow the fuck up. That they should vote for him because they think he’s the better candidate or because they agree more strongly with his positions, not because of some trumped-up “battle between good and evil” pandering fear-mongering bullshit. He spoke to them like one adult to another, telling them they were behaving badly and expecting them to do better. You know, the things we used to expect LEADERS to do.

The audience’s response? They booed him.

Every election we throw our hands up in exasperation over “mudslinging” and “negative campaigning.” We put on our best Hamlet and wail about “why do they act like this!? WHY!!??” And we’re completely full of shit about it. We know EXACTLY “why,” and we’re just trying to deflect the blame. Politicians campaign like spoiled, angry, entitled children because we MAKE THEM. We reward them when they do (i.e. George W. Bush gets to be the Republican nominee and later President after spreading a lie about McCain having an illegitimate black child in 2000) and when they do the right thing (see above) we PUNISH them. Because at the end of the day, sleazy and simplistic campaigns about character-assassinations and make-believe “good vs. evil” stagings WORK. Because enough people in this country are sufficiently ignorant, small-minded and intellectually WEAK for this to be the only way to stir them to political action.

We get the campaign we deserve.

Oh, BTW… MSNBC? Yeah. I’m the last guy to prattle on with the myth of the “liberal media boogeyman.” HOWEVER, putting “McCain forced to defend Obama…” in the news blurb there? That’s bad form. I know it makes for better copy and, let’s face it, boogeyman bullshit or not we know he’s not ‘your’ candidate, but that’s poor sport plain and simple. Anyone watching the clip can see “forced” is a leading and contextually incorrect term to use here, not in the least because it’s needlessly dismissive of a sincere action that you NEVER see presidential candidates take. Uncool.


QUARANTINE: No, I haven’t seen “[REC]” yet, but this U.S. remake (same basic story: “last known video footage” of a news crew, firefighters and residents trapped in a building as an outbreak of weaponized super-rabies is turning everyone into feral cannibalistic crazies) has the stuff. I should preface this by mentioning that I absolutely DETEST “found-footage” movies on basic prinicipal – I regard it as the single most one-note, laziness-encouraging subgenres in all of modern filmmaking. There ARE standouts like Blair Witch and Cloverfield, but the VAST majority of the genre is absolute trash. But “Quarantine,” in a single solitary scene (trust me, you’ll know it when you see it, and if the scene occurs in “[REC]” the praise should apply retroactively) justifies the ENTIRE fucking genre. Seriously. As far as I’m concerned, every single “found footage” movie made thus far from “Cannibal Holocaust” to “Last Broadcast” all the way up to now has been building up to this ONE moment. Bravo.

BODY OF LIES: Poor Leonardo DiCaprio. Just when he was starting to hit the point where he no longer appeared too young to be playing men his own actual age along comes Ridley Scott to drop ANOTHER impossible physical acting job on him: An American spy who can convincingly disguise himself as an Arab terrorist in Iraq. Granted, he’s only asked to do this in one scene, but it strikes a serious false-note in an otherwise pretty damn good War on Terror spy movie. It’s basically a cops vs. feds vs. crooks deal set in the Middle East – DiCaprio is the field agent who immerses himself in the culture and street-level reality of enemy territory to take the fight to Al Qaeda, butting heads with Russell Crowe as the older CIA lifer who’d rather do things via smart-bombs, GPS satellites and his cell phone. Mark Strong gets another big “hey, who THIS now?” supporting part as the Jordanian Intelligence officer who’s help they seek in setting up an anti-terror sting operation. Nothing Earth-shaking, but decent.

THE EXPRESS: True story of Ernie Davis, first black player to recieve the Heisman Trophy. The movie you’re imagining as you read that sentence is the movie you get here, not a single surprise or stylistic shakeup. But it’s a well-worn formula for a reason, and it more or less delivers. Dennis Quaid gets all the big lines as the tough-but-fair coach with a heart of gold. Extra points, at least, for concentrating almost exclusively on the football scenes and their direct external components and not weighing us down with extraneous backstory.