Thursday, October 30, 2008

Speed monkey

Has something ever just struck you funny? I laughed so hard at this chimpanzee hauling ass on a scooter while the trainer and cameraman chase him that I almost cried and my stomach cramped up. I know it's a little incongruous for my gaming blog, but what the heck. Everything's better with monkeys.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


I heard a lot about how bad "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" was, so I put off going to see it in the theater and waited for it to hit DVD.

Last night, my family and my brother's family all watched the DVD together. And to all you who said the movie was bad, I shoot my metaphorical pistol at you as if you are a scimitar-twirling thug. We all thoroughly enjoyed it.

Here's a spoiler alert, because I'm about to list some things I liked about the movie:

- I loved the old guy kicking ass. I'm enough of an old guy now myself that it thrills me to see an old guy open up a can of Whoop Ass Stout. It's like that new Motley Crue song says; if he's going down, he's going down swinging.

- I like the passing of the hat to his son. In a very satisfying way, those scenes bridge the old movies to whatever new ones they want to do with Shia LaBeouf, who performed superbly in the role. Indiana has his old barnstormer-style leather jacket, the second-skin of the wild adventurers of his generation, and Mutt in turn has his own generation's leather jacket. That is way cool. (So why didn't the 12-inch action figure of Mutt include that jacket?!)

- I like Mutt's sword-fighting, coached by his mom. It gives him his own oddball combat skill like Indiana's whip.

- I very much like that Roswell-style aliens were the subject of the big mystery of this film. What bigger mystery is there nowadays which would set the world on its ear if it were true? My brother, jRy6, said he'd heard people complain about the space alien story angle was too hard to believe. My little brother then keenly observed that in the previous movies, angels burst from a golden box that was a radio to God and melted the faces off Nazis, and a 1,000-year-old knight was guarding the Holy Grail, but those circumstances apparently were seen as perfectly feasible compared to space aliens. ... Riiiiight. We might refer you to Bill Maher on that one.

BIG SPOILER ALERT: - I loved the angle that the aliens were archeologists, and knowledge was the treasure they were after. Perfect! What a logic-affirming notion! It reminded me of the Predator being a big game hunter in space, which we all thought was very clever. The idea of interstellar archaeologists actually makes even more sense than trophy hunters, and we had no trouble at all with the idea of space-faring hunters using spears.

- I liked that Indiana married Marion in the end. Just as I was thinking how sad it was that they had wasted so much of their lives apart, Ox (John Hurt) echoes my own thought and remarks on it. It was a lovely bittersweet moment.

- My only minor quibbles with the film would be that the plot was a bit more disjointed than in previous movies, and the aliens would have been a little easier to believe if they had not been interdimensional, but so what. It's an Indiana Jones movie, so I went with it. It wasn't a pretentious bore like "Contact," that's for sure.

Now I wish I'd seen it in the theater.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Rock and Roll fantasy

Fortiscule and I have been playing Rock Band 2 some more, and I've figured out how to get pictures of our characters from the game. You have to log into EA's Rock Band web site, promise them your firstborn and the blood of an endangered wetlands animal or something -- there was a lot of fine print lawyerese -- and then you can link your game to your profile and the site.

I must say, this is pretty cool. You can also generate 6-inch action figures (which are really statues) based on any of your characters. The catch: it costs $60 to make the figure, but that might not be too much for a special Christmas gift or birthday present. Above you see me, in my white puffy shirt and blue parachute pants, and Fortiscule cavorting on the beach like rock stars do. At left, I point to an adoring fan in the audience so my roadies can bring her backstage for a special autograph session.

At right you see your smoking hot vocalist, Maria.

We're trying to compete in a big competition in Shanghai, and the game forces us to play Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive." The problem is, I can't play the song. Fortiscule plays the guitar on "hard," and I've worked up to playing the bass on "medium." Except for this particular song starts right up with some crazy left hand fretwork that leaves me in a quivery, cursing knot. We might never finish the game at this rate. But, hey, we look cool. Maybe I'll get an action figure of myself.

Here's my official review of Rock Band 2.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

First-person shooter training

Here I am at the range getting in some FPS training with my Lee-Enfield No. 1 Mk III .303 rifle. Fortiscule and I have been playing some Brothers In Arms: Hell's Highway this week, so it's got us in a World War II frame of mind. My Lee-Enfield actually dates back to World War I, but British soldiers used them in World War II as well. We might cue up the DVD box set of "Band of Brothers" later tonight.

Brothers In Arms: Hell's Highway is of particular interest to me because it depicts a unit that a friend of mine served in. Capt. Wallace Swanson commanded Co. A of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment (the "Five-Oh-Deuce," as you hear the unit referred to in Hell's Highway and "Band of Brothers") from D-Day, though Operation Market Garden in Holland (the subject of "A Bridge Too Far" and Brothers In Arms: Hell's Highway), and on through the siege of Bastogne in The Battle of the Bulge. Wallace, whose wife Jeanne called him "Jake," passed away a few years ago and I had the honor of being one of his pallbearers. I admired him very much as one of my personal heroes. He looked like a movie hero, but he was the real thing, as you can see in this wartime portrait at right.

We're looking forward to mobilizing the entire Sythbane Squadron to play Call of Duty 5 when it comes out, because it's supposed to support four-players in co-op.