Thursday, May 25, 2006

Non-E3 activities

Outside of E3, Milen and I did pretty much the entire tour of the L.A. area. Los Angeles itself is wholly unremarkable. It's run-down looking, and very concrete. Lots of greys. Oh, and it's deserted. It's as if nobody lives/works there. We took a nice walk from downtown up to Dodger Stadium. The walk was actually not very nice. It was a trek through some half-sketchy neighbourhood. Plenty of dilapidated houses. In fact, some parts were downright frightening. Forty minutes later, there we were. Beautiful Chavez Ravine. Some desperate guy in his car needed to unload tickets, so we got second row, $40 tickets for $10 apiece. Pretty sweet deal. The game itself seemed like a blowout, with the Dodgers up 9-0 at one point, but Houston made it interesting, with a final score of 9-6. The walk back was more frightening, as it was dark and sketchier than before. We walked a good hour, maybe, forty minutes of it without seeing a single person. The city is deserted. I assume it's because nobody is crazy enough to walk around L.A. except us, who don't know any better. So maybe it is safe because everyone thinks it's dangerous.

The previous night, upon arriving in L.A., we picked up our rental car and drove down to beautiful Burbank with our e-ticket in hand to catch the Tonight Show. Jay Leno was his usual unfunny self. Key guests were Lindsay Lohan and Black Eyed Peas. Kevin Eubanks is lame.

Storytelling-wise, the rest of the places we visited probably are not really interesting to other people. We checked out all the major places. Hollywood Boulevard (with the Walk of Fame, the Kodak Theatre, Mann's Chinese Theatre and plenty of unremarkable things. Hollywood is kinda dingy).

Of course, we went to Beverly Hills, a bit of Bel Air and Rodeo Drive, with tons of fancy stores. Everyone in these fancy neighbourhoods job, by the way. You just see fleets of people jogging. It's surreal. We toured Santa Monica.

The 3rd Street Market there is really neat. It's illuminated at night and blocked off from car traffic, so you can go shopping at the nice boutiques in peace. Santa Monica Pier is also very picturesque. We went all along the beach communities, too, on the PCH. Through Venice Beach, passed by Manhattan Beach, stopped off at Long Beach. Ate at Bubba Gump Shrimp there. Finally, we drove into the O.C., checking out Newport Beach. There were paragliders there! Then we proceeded up through Anaheim, curled west back into L.A. and drive through Mulholland Drive, which is sick. It's a tiny, long, winding dark road through the hills, past estates of very wealthy movie people. Every now and then, there are rest points where you can see the entirety of Los Angeles off one side of the hills and Burbank and the Valley off the other side. It is at this point that you realize just how breathtakingly immense the Los Angeles area actually is. It is unfathomably huge.

Oh, and the best for last. I made good on my promise to shake my fist at Paramount. Good times.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Some gaming musings

I think the biggest story at E3 was probably Nintendo. Judging by the massive lines every day to get into their dome to play Wii, they captured everyone's attention.

I didn't have a chance to play the Wii, due to these lines (that didn't stop noted line but-er inner, Steven Spielberg) but the impressions I heard were mostly positive. The system is allegedly tiny (the height of a dvd case and 3 cases thick) and the remote control-style wand works well in most applications and not in others. Graphically, my eyewitnesses tell me it's a bit above Gamecube level. It's also a full-fledged Gamecube and with their download service, you can get all old Nintendo games from previous systems as well as select Genesis and Turbografx titles. That is really interesting. So Nintendo is banking on not pushing forward power-wise but rather going for innovation. The Xbox 360 and the PS3 run exponential circles around the Wii graphically but the Wii's novelty value definitely has something going for it. To wit: the PS3 section right across from Nintendo was quickly empty after people saw Sony's unimpressive display.

The PS3 underwhelmed me. I am not speaking as an anti-Sony basher. It's just that the games they had on display (granted, they were unfinished) were not impressive. The games were nothing I would want to play. Sure, they had cinematics of some neat looking stuff in development, but nothing that is on the horizon.

And the controller is pretty bad, too. I didn't like the boomerang style design they had originally proposed, but at least it was different. The new design is the same as the PS2 controller, except a bit larger, and they changed the L2 and R2 button to be like the shoulder buttons on the Gamecube, with degrees of depression. They also added a "PS" button in the middle, which I assume is similar to the "X" button on the 360's controller.

They removed all rumbling capabilities and added a motion sensor, like the Wii has. In short, they ditched any original design elements they had and combined items from Xbox 360's and Wii's controllers to make an unfocused, uncomfortable device. I happen to think a controller is very integral to the enjoyment of a system, seeing as how it's the only interface between player and game. You gotta make it as good as possible, and I think Sony has struck out in this respect.

In keeping with Sony, the actual system's shell is huge. However, it's still not big enough to house the insides of the machine.
The PS3s we played were all development kits because Sony hasn't yet figured out how to fit the machinery inside the box. Anyway, that's it for now. I'll write next about some stuff we did outside of E3 next.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Yeah yeah, no stories for you

Yes, it's true I came back from E3 and L.A. and I could go on at length about it but a new news item has popped up and is exponentially more important than my trip. I am talking, of course, about this.

Apparently, this story has bounced about as a sort of legend but the video finally turned up. It's Jack, I mean Kiefer Sutherland drunkedly tackling a Christmas tree while partying with the band he manages. Brilliant. Apparently, Jack Bauer not only takes down terrorists but offending Christmas trees, too.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Trans-time zone travelling: a personal first

All right, mother-bitches, I'm off to E3 in sunny Los Angeles, in the beautiful state of California.

I'll be back Sunday night, on the 14th. See y'all later!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Movie talkers must die

Cell phones cause many problems, such as driving accidents. But perhaps the most heinous cell phone act that can be done takes place in a movie theatre. Case in point, last night.

Sitting in the cinema, trying to enjoy Mission: Impossible 3 (not bad, entertaining enough), this bozo in the row ahead gets a phone call. Now, normally people's phones should be OFF! But nay, this guy had it on. Fine, maybe he forgot it on. But then he proceeds to answer it and start having a conversation. His talking took me right out of the movie and I missed some crucial plot points. Finally, getting upset and being spurred on by Chris, I flicked my empty box of Popeye candy sticks in his direction, to no avail. Eventually he stopped.

Later, his woman then gets a call on her phone. She answers it only the have the guy take it and hang up. Then the girl went psycho. "what the $%^& is your problem? You're really $%^&ing crazy," etc. Loud, too. This prompted a Vin Diesel sound-alike in another row to yell, "Shut the $%^& up!" But she kept up her tirade. Vin repeated, "You didn't hear me? I said shut the $%^& up." The girl calmed down and we all thought we could watch the rest of the movie in peace. But alas, it was not meant to be. She busted out her phone and was reviewing messages or something then started bitching out her man again. He took his coat, stood up and left. He returned a while later and when the movie ended, those two hotfooted it out of there like nobody's business. Who can blame them? I don't want Vin Diesel kicking my ass.

All this to say, how much gall does one have to possess to actually answer a phone during a movie? People like this should be lathered in grape jelly and deposited near fire ant hills.

This was entry number 1,406 in an ongoing series of Why People Generally Suck.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Tom Cruise has no right to exist anymore

Tom Cruise has been getting increasingly weird to the point that he is officially a menace to society. His Scientology nonsense aside (he thinks he's an authority on psychiatry? He wants to eat placenta??), this latest tidbit angered me to no end:

LONDON (KP International) Tom Cruise has announced that Grammy-winner Kanye West and Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx are to be his daughter Suri's uncles.

While attending the London premiere of 'Mission: Impossible III' Cruise told the UK's Mirror, "Jamie Foxx is going to be uncle. I asked him today and he's accepted. He's an amazing guy."

And that's not all, Suri could possibly have two uncles. "When I get back to the States I'm gonna ask Kanye West," confessed Cruise.

Wtf does that mean? He gets to name uncles? Last time I checked, an uncle is a parent's brother. Even informal uncles, close friends that kids sometimes call uncle, happens organically. You can't just say, "you. You are to be an uncle to my child."

Tom Cruise has finally, 100% revoked his license to be.