April 29, 2006

Book Review: BadAss Horror

BadAss Horror, an anthology edited by Michael Stone and Christopher J. Hall is a lexicon of extreme and subtle horror rolled into one book. Some stories work while others struggle to find themsleves. As a whole, the book is a worthy effort to bring in fresh faces to a somewhat stale genre.

The first of these stories is "Pool Sharks" by Gerard Brennan, which is the story of a drinker who ends up playing pool in a fight for his life. If you've watched The Twilight Zone, then you may have come across this plot before. Even if familiar, the violence of the story (especially at the end) makes that episode look tame.

"The Stray" by Garry Kilworth concerns itself with a human born with cat-like behaviors who keeps company with a house of prostitutes. People have done cat stories to death, especially in horror - what turns this one into a gem is its humorous ending, which in itself uses the word "cat" to hilarious effect.

"Hardboiled Stiff" by Michael Hemmingson is the only real turkey in the bunch. A detective is killed while on the job and comes back to life to find out who killed him and why. It gets into a bunch of sexual stuff, which seemed an unnecessary weight on a story that was better without it.

"All The Pretty Girls" by Ronald Damien Malfi isn't really a turkey, but it isn't really good either. It has to do with an indian guy and women being raped. He also has sex with dead people. It makes for a good midnight read when you're drunk, but not when you are sober. The confusing narrative of the piece makes it hard to follow sometimes, and the end sort of makes you wonder what the rest of it was for.

Things begin to pick up with "Moving Pictures" by Gord Rollo. Ronnie is a "rent collector" and a ruthless one at that. In an attempt to gain new business with a Chinese Tattoo parlor, he decides to take something other than money with him: a picture of a scorpion on his arm. The title of the story should be enough to give away what transpires, but it's written in such a matter that you don't get it at first. Rollo does a good job with wrapping a tight rope of suspense around the plot.

"The Essences" by Davin Ireland is a rather complex tale in a good way. The story centers on an insurance investigator who on a job witnesses a man die under unnatural circumstances. With only a piece of paper to guide him, he finds an address on it which leads to a secret laboratory.
Inside, a dozen human emotions are kept in several jars and protected by an overseer. The "essences" of the human race are made up of waves: when one emotion grows in the human race, that particular emotion grows in the lab. There's an overarching theme, but it took me a few readings to get it.

"Bloodbath at Landsdale Towers" by Michael Boatman is an NC-17 version of Shaft. A drug dealer who abuses well-to-do folks who need his products ends up paying for his crimes by way of two mysterious vigilantes. In a case of saving the best for last, it seemed like it belonged in the middle somewhere. I don't even know if this was horror, more like pulp detective fiction (unless you count the ending).

As I said earlier, it's a worthy effort. I do recommend that you keep an open mind as everyone's idea of horror is different. Despite some reservations, I will keep a lookout for BadAss Horror 2 and see what these guys come up with.

Posted by Matthew at 12:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 26, 2006

Opinion: Lil'Kim Should Give Up Hip-Hop And Move On

Rappers hold a very high place in the African-American community, so much so they believe any crimes they are accused of are because they are black and famous. In the case of Kimberly "Lil'Kim" Jones, she defended people who did commit a crime by lying on the stand. Even after the verdict was passed, the question on everyone's mind was one word: Why?

I'm sure Ms. Jones knows about surveillance technology, most businesses utilize to catch people in the act. A New York radio station had it when a fight between her entourage and the entourage of another rap broke out. The whole thing was caught on tape. On the stand, she and an assistant both claimed two members of Kim's entourage were not even there when the shooting took place. Ding! Out comes the tape and in goes Lil'Kim and her assistant to prison.

Now no one wants to go to jail, that's a fact. The trouble is if you are caught in the act and the evidence is there, you are going to go regardless. That was the puzzling part of watching a scene from Lil'Kim: Countdown To Lockdown, in which a few bystanders held "Stop Snitching" signs. It wouldn't have mattered if ten people denied or confirmed members of her entourage were present at the shooting; the tape would have said otherwise. But let's turn our attention away from Lil'Kim's lying to another problem, the "Stop Snitching" phenomenon.

If a child is molested in a church by a man of the cloth, does that mean the child keeps quiet to keep the peace? If a mother looses a child to a bullet not intended for him/her, does the friend of the child stay silent? What if Busta Rhymes lost his own children to a bullet? You would certainly see him speak with rage and point the finger directly to the face of his child's killer. But even Busta himself stands by the code of the streets, despite the fact his bodyguard died defending him a while back.

Fuck the "Stop Snitching" bullshit; it is the right of everyone in this country to turn people in (evidence willing) regardless of the streets. The people of New York (where Lil'Kim is from) should wake up to a simple fact: they don't own any block and they are not the law. Stop promoting the ghetto culture and start promoting common sense. If that makes me a white sell-out, so be it. But I shouldn't be angry; the street culture will continue to seduce the black community or any community that doesn't know anything else. As for Lil'Kim, this is my suggestion: dump your music career and do something else. The world of hip-hop has turned too violent and too controlled by corporations shelling out the same crap every year.

Even thou her film career consists of minor roles or b-films, Miss Jones might want to take a shot at some behind the scenes positions. She could produce and develop screenplays or even be a director. She could also be a writer with her many tales of street life and make money without partaking in the crap street life brings. The best part is she doesn't have to resort in battling anyone or dissing someone to gain attention. Even better, she could make an autobiographical movie based on her fights with Foxy Brown; then both could use that as a huge career boost, maybe even make it a comedy.

Speaking of Mrs. Brown, Lil'Kim needs to make peace with her rival. Foxy had almost certainly lost her hearing and also faces a jail sentence if convicted (she apparently had a fight at a hair salon over a bill). The two of them could be best buddies and may even once again be able to grace magazine covers the way they did when they started in the early 90's. I'll be surprised if Lil'Kim even goes that far when she's released later this year.

Posted by Matthew at 02:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 24, 2006

TV Review: BBC's Doctor Who - "Tooth and Claw"

British Television barely makes the rounds in the United States, so it may come to no surprise you don't know what Doctor Who is. The short of it is that it's Britain's version of Star Trek. It's just as big and as important to the genre of science fiction. Unlike Trek however, the format allows for season-to-season experimentation.

The series tells the story of a man known as The Doctor, who is a lord of time and space. While he carries the title proudly, he engages in the vastness of the universe rather than act as a mere spectator. To do so, he steals a time machine which the Timelords (as they are called) use to travel around. The uniqueness of this particular machine is that it can change into anything on the outside. For the sake of keeping a budget on the show even in new series, the machine is disguised as a police box (a phone booth in which you can call the police) on the outside. When The Doctor heads inside the police box, the inside is massively bigger. In the series early days, this allowed them a chance to combine live and in-studio filming to prevent having the building of a massive set. But the key to the series success is largely due to the character of the Doctor.

The Doctor himself is rather a lexicon of humanity, portraying every facet of human emotion through each of his lives throughout the series. He could be cold, warm, erratic, violent, deceitful and funny; sometimes all at once, and sometimes individually in each life. Because the character is this lexicon of personalities, choosing the actor can be a challenge in itself.

Russell T. Davies took on this challenge by hiring Christopher Eccelston, a man known for his dark and intense performances. Unfortunately, Eccelston is well known as an actor who bounces from part to part and doesn't usually stick around. This suited Davies fine as the purpose was to jumpstart the program back into the limelight. As soon as the ratings got good enough and the interest returned, he quickly signed a deal for three more years and David Tennant, a man known for his light approach to his characters, was hired. How this would take place would be new to novice viewers of the series, and familiar to past generations.

When The Doctor is near death, at his own will, he can change his entire appearance. This move was put into place as a way to quickly get an actor out and another one in without too much interruption of the story. A perfect example of this is Jon Pertwee, whose Doctor died in "Planet of the Spiders" in 1974. A few moments before the end credits he regenerated into the next Doctor, Tom Baker. Without really getting into the whole "What's going on? Who am I?" bit that would plague the series later on, the new Doctor stepped in another adventure named "Robot" which followed after the events of "Planet of the Spiders".

After Eccelston's departure last year in Series 1's "The Parting Of The Ways," he regenerated into Tennant. It would be a few months before we would get a full-on adventure of his Doctor (The Children In Need Special was a mere few minutes) in "The Christmas Invasion". That adventure proved to be flat at best and proved that Davies was uncertain about how to write Tennant's Doctor. Now with two episodes behind his belt, it's clear that work needs to be done.

David Tennant still hasn't found his place as the Doctor. He's too unstable and erratic, and he lacks the chemistry needed make an average episode better. That however is just one of the many gripes I have so far with "Tooth and Claw," which serves as the second episode of the new season.

"New Earth" suffered from Russell's apparent lack of concentration, which continues in this episode as well. He starts out great with the pre-credits sequence showing a house that is under siege by mysterious "redmen." They want Queen Victoria, who happens to make a visit to this house on her way somewhere so that they can kill her. The reason: they want the throne. It's a simple enough plot, but that's not enough for Russell.

The Doctor and Rose (his companion) have their little chat sequence in the opening minutes as they did in "New Earth". While the opening was forced in that episode, in "Tooth and Claw" it barely makes sense. The audio channels seemed warbled and unclear, not to mention once again Davies turns his Who into a private music box. If you are going to make character development work, fit it into the plot. Mark Gatiss did a good job of this with "The Unquiet Dead" even though many didn't like its throwback to '70s Who. At least in that episode, the gas zombies looked real.

"Tooth and Claw" has perfect locations and uses them well, except for when the Werewolf comes into them. The work looks sloppy, and feels like a one-nighter thrown together before a film school final. Before it changed into the wolf, the human host for it was a far more compelling character to explore. Of course the way he was written there was just as bad as The Doctor and Rose in the beginning of the episode, inaudible and non-sensical. Things clean themselves up once the Werewolf is released and the pace is stepped up a bit.

The spatting between the Queen and Rose is Russell's way of incorporating his politics into the episode; fine, but that would have been better suited for "New Earth." The fighting here draws the episode to a stop and is seemingly awkward at best. If I had control of the editing booth, I would have cut most of their scenes out. But nevermind any of that, let's talk about Russell's need to force Torchwood on us this early.

When he first announced the spin-off, I felt that it was too soon. Doctor Who did well last year, but not well enough for me to feel confident in a spin-off. Captain Jack is supposed to lead that one, but he's so boring. If I'm gonna have his face and acting while watching Torchwood, then they might as well hire David Duchvony instead. Now, how about those "redmen"?

It's very clear that Doctor Who needs new villains and not carbon-copies of Power Rangers episodes. Instead of wolves or Daleks or Cybermen, they should try to incorporate some less humanoid villains. They pulled that off in the "Stones of Blood" episode and even did it with "Planet of Evil." I'm sure the CGI would look impressive if they did a villain like that. The need for two-legged villains makes the show seem more of the same that we always see in science fiction. But before they fix any of that other stuff, they need to hone in on who David Tennant is as the Doctor.

I'm starting to get irritated with his motor-mouthing of the dialogue. Tom Baker was able to pull that off and be clear; Tennant however is struggling to say word one. He should get some balls and tell Russell to get a KISS approach to it. The barebones nature of the show allows for a play with the format now and then, and it's not always necessary to make the Doctor an overeager teenager. But then, there's Rose Tyler.

I don't get Russell's take on her. In his episodes, she comes off as a brat with a thumb stuck up her butt half the time. In other episodes, she seems to be interesting and full of intelligence and wit. Again, I refer to "The Unquiet Dead," which was perhaps the greatest showcase of Billie Piper's capability to not make her character appear as a dumb blonde. If Russell intends to write her as an annoying sidekick, then either kill her off or put her in a locked dungeon for the next few episodes of her contract until he can find his niche for her.

I love Doctor Who, but I'm getting extremely fed-up with the insecurity of the screenwriting by Russell Davies. If you ever wanted to know what an unfocused screenplay looked like, any one of Russell Davies' Who episodes will do.


Doctor Who is a simple adventure series. If you keep it that way, you'll keep this viewer happy. You go all over the place, you'll lose me in the time vortex of channel surfing.

Posted by Matthew at 12:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 16, 2006

TV Review: BBC's Doctor Who - "New Earth"

With a bigger budget and a much younger actor, can Doctor Who still tell great stories? To base it on "New Earth", the first episode of Series 2, the answer would be no. Can David Tennant make the Doctor his own? The answer is a simple yes, which makes it a nice watcher for the curious.

Rose and the Doctor land on New Earth, which is a more futuristic version of the old one. In New New York, a hospital large in scope heals thousands and thousands of patients of all different races. The Doctor of course wants to know the secret that no one is willing to tell him. Rose meanwhile encounters Cassandra O'Brian, whom we last saw in Series 1's "End Of The World". Tired of her existence as a mere sheet of skin, she transports herself into the mind of Rose. Meanwhile, the Doctor encounters a dying Face Of Boe, also from Series 1's "End Of The World". He apparently has a secret, but can only tell someone who is a wanderer with no home ala the Doctor.

Before long Cassandra begins to utilize her feminine ways as Rose to get the Doctor to reveal the hospital's secret. In a separate part of the hospital, human patients are grown in order to be experiments to help cure diseases for all races. Knowing this, she releases the infected humans test subjects who wander the hospital in search of someone to help them. Unfortunately on contact, they transfer their diseases onto the people that touch them.

Eventually, the Doctor figures out the cure. In the elevators of the hospital, there are showers which cleanse the body before heading into the wards. Taking all of the experimental drugs in the IV's, he dumps them into the sprinkler system of an elevator and draws the sick humans in. Once it turns on, the cure rids them of their diseases, and in turn they transfer the cure to others by the mere touch of a hand.

After the staff of the hospital are arrested and taken away, the Doctor finally meets the Face of Boe for his secret. That secret however, as he tells the Doctor, will have to wait until another time, to which he disappears. Meanwhile, Cassandra transfers herself out of Rose and into her assistant, who as it turns out is dying. Leaving New Earth, the Doctor returns Cassandra to Old Earth where she confronts her former self. In dying in the real Cassandra's arms, she learns the art of human compassion.

David Tennant's first outings (Children In Need and The Christmas Invasion) were plagued by the obsession with post-regeneration. When The Doctor changes, his body gets used to it's new form. This can cause erradic behavior and personalites conflicts with his previous selves. This is cute for one episode, but not two. "New Earth" manages to avoid that. If only one can say that about the writing.

My biggest beef is with Russell T. Davies. Yes he brought the program back, but he still writes like he's unsure of his ability. His dialogue is a little thick and hard to understand. His comedy seems to be forced, especially with the Cassandra sub-plot and the "New New Earth" jokes. Speaking of the sub-plot, that was a story within itself. As the human-like zombies were attempting to invade the hospital, it seemed the script needed to stop and get that joke out whenever it felt it had space to. Concentrate Russell, please.

The nano-technology bit with "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances" was good for Series 1. Here, it feels like a retread of that same thing. The showcase of aliens also makes it's return here in this episode since Series 1's "End Of The World". I wouldn't have minded the latter as "New Earth" had an oppertunity to develop itself with The Face Of Boe character. The former however looked more closer to a George A. Romero film than Doctor Who.

If you are going to do an episode to introduce the series, the zombie-like plot of "New Earth" would be better suited to a seperate episode. The Face Of Boe would have been better used in an episode in the middle of the season, much like the surprise return of the Daleks in Series 1's "Dalek". Despite this rather flat entry in Series 2, Doctor Who allows for writers to take the show to beyond the likes of Russell Davies. With this I have hope that they will treat this season better than they treated the last, especially with the upcoming Cybermen two-parter on the horizon

Posted by Matthew at 06:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 14, 2006

Opinion: The Idiot's Guide To Instant Messaging


If you want to be part of the instant messaging universe, you have to get one thing straight: Treat the technology the same way you would treat regular conversation. Because I have the technology and use it a lot, I can say I've made some of the most common mistakes. Some of what I discuss is a matter of common sense ó you must use it to stay in the game and preferably out from behind prison bars.

No One Knows Everything

Assume the person on the other end doesn't know his or her IM client like you do. This means that if he or she is still listed as available and there is no response to your IMs, then you need to step back and let him or her find you. The more you try to draw a person's attention to you, the more it distracts him or her from whatever that person was doing. Then when he or she does respond, it's in a furious rage. If he or she tells you that they aren't familiar with the software, then show him or her how to make an away message. The person will appreciate the help, but more than likely won't think of you the same again.

Wait

If you don't have that many friends in your life, treasure them. This means that when they come online, let them settle into their chair and grab a Coke. If you pop up on Instant Messenger as soon as they sit down, they'll assume you were waiting for them to come on all day. The desire for human communication needs to be governed by the requirement that you have a little space between moments of togetherness.

Stick To A Single Conversation

I'm a random person and my mind goes to a lot of different places. If you cannot find someone like you, assume that he or she might not want to talk about everything you like. If he or she wants to change the subject, change it. A switch in the conversation doesn't mean a lack of interest, but there's only so much you can talk about in one subject. Message boards are better for that kind of thing as opposed to instant messaging programs.

So How Did You Get My Handle?

This is directed more toward those who use the dating services such as Match.com. When a person asks you how you found her handle, assume she doesn't know how online services like Match.com work. When a person creates a profile on Match.com, their IM handle is attached, no matter which client they use. It's better to email them first because that's what most people who place personal ads will respond to.

English Majors Use the Internet

The Internet is open to everyone; this includes people who are of the academic world. Professors and students like-minded in their beliefs will be annoyed if you type things in broken sentences. Things like typing "Hello" and then hitting return to type "How are you?" pisses them off. Simply type "Hello, how are you?" in the same sentence. This shows that you have a concern for how your words are portrayed. Although this is absolutely silly and proves nothing of your character, it's a safeguard against appearing to be twelve.

Friends First

Whatever you do, do not engage another to get a date with them. Get to know them first before making that trip. It's a lot easier for a person to know you only care about them physically when their picture turns you into a raving lunatic (and please believe we've all meet someone like that). If you do see photos before talking to the person, take a deep breath and a few cold showers. Any mere mention of the words "you're attractive" after the first time you say them will indicate that you are mentally undressing her. Try to find some things you have in common with the other person. That can be difficult, but it saves you time and money if you know the person you are talking to is like-minded.

If You Get Blocked

Consider yourself lucky if she blocked you. That means she didn't and wouldn't want to spend time with you. It hurts to be rejected and it hurts even more when you push it and sign in with another screen name to find out if she blocked you. Whatever you said, whatever you didn't say, it's done.

If Another Person Uses the Handle

If a friend on your list lets someone else use their computer and their handle, wait until tomorrow. Remember, he or she has friends who can easily paint a picture about you that is closer to a John Walsh segment of America's Most Wanted if you constantly check back throughout the day. The best thing to do is to get a schedule of her day and the best time for you to reach her online. Even better is to simply let her reach you. If you are worth it, then she will make the effort.

If Your Friend Lives With His or Her Parents DO NOT LEAVE INSTANT MESSAGES!

Depending on your status with the person, the wisest thing to do is to never leave an offline message if that person lives at home. Chances are that their relatives or parents will be nosy and attempt to find out about his or her Internet conversations. Being that you may not have even met for the first time, it will be even worse if suddenly he or she never signs back on again. Keep those conversations, lewd or regular, to yourself at all times.

A Name Is Just A Name

Some people have freaky names for handles, but that's it. Do not ask them if they are what their name is, nor do you ask them how they came up with it. Doing this is a sure enough way to prove you are out for that one thing and will be a reason for them to block you.

Uninstall the Chat Programs For a Break

Friends don't call every day, and neither should friends IM their friends to death. If you are an addict and like to chat, uninstall the program for a while and take a walk. Engage in the scenery and give yourself a chance to be alone. This way, your friends get a chance to miss you and appreciate your time rather than feel it's a weight on their shoulders.

Be Yourself

Above all that has been said, there are some people who are going to think you are what you are not. Just accept that and move on. Not everyone who is wonderful is a person you'd sit next to on the couch. Not everyone who is weird is unworthy of your time. Let no one break your branches.

These things are rules that are tried and true, but like people, aren't perfect. You should really do these things with friends you know offline to get a gist of how to use an IM program. In the end, you'll be able to chat with anyone without feeling lost or sending the wrong message about yourself. Lastly, this is the Internet; anything and everything can happen. Make of it what you will as you would do with your 'real' life, with time and patience.

Posted by Matthew at 03:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 12, 2006

TV Review: Thief

24's main strength is a center to its rather impossible plot lines. F/X's Thief, which has finished airing two of the six episodes of its initial season, seems to have two centers. At one, you have a professional robber who leads a team on highly sophisticated jobs. At the other is a crooked cop who is asked to take on this team and redeem himself as a police officer. These seem like two good plots, but can they work in Thief and still make sense?

The main lead of the team is Nick Atwater (Andre Braugher), who leads a life of crime while having to deal with being a parent to his teenage stepdaughter, Tammi (Mae Whitman), whose rebellious nature either gets her on the outs with Nick or places her under the care of the police. His team doesn't know much about her or his private life, but that's about to change.

First, his wife ends up dying as a result of injuries from a car accident in the first episode. Then, a job goes bad when a crew member fouls up an important part invovling a huge cash heist. The Chinese Goverment now wants the money back, and will get it with the help of a lone gunman and a corrupt cop (Michael Rooker) looking for redemption.

I won't spoil what happens for people who haven't seen the show. If you've seen 24 or FX's other crime series, The Shield, most likely you will know the format of Thief. The familiarity of both those series can be a draw for this show, but it may also be a sign of laziness on the part of the writers.

The problem with a format in which everyone and everything can change in a second is that it is overkilled. While betrayal and death are a main part of these shows, I think Thief would benefit from a higher standard by focusing on the jobs they go on, rather than the internal conflict stuff. It's good to have an old-fashioned show that's got some sort of stability once in a while, but this one doesn't appear it will work out in that regard.

Michael Rooker's place in the story would be better suited to a show all its own. Mixed in with Thief's main plot, it appears to be too removed. It would be better, but possibly even more hokey, if it was a child services worker or someone who is more connected to the main plot rather than a corrupt cop whose connection is not as direct.

The benefit and draw is Braugher, but it's also nice to see Malik Yoba from New York Undercover return to series television. Although it's a minor role as one of Nick's team, he does carry a presence. But performances can't save plots, and this is no different.

Setting up too many brick walls will make the usual viewer of 24 and The Shield feel overwhelmed and burned out on the crisis-after-crisis bonanza the former shows give. But then again, I don't think you can tell a good story without yanking the carpet all the time.

Posted by Matthew at 11:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

GameCube Review: Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time

Imagine Aladdin with a bit more action and a lot less song. Imagine a world in which all the colors are bright and the music swells with heart of the Middle East. If you have, then you probably are talking about Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time. A restart to the old NES series, this new take will invite new players and fascinate the old.

Your quest is pretty simple:

You play the Prince, whose father recently took over a kingdom. As do all mighty kings after a takeover, most of the other kingdomís treasures and slaves are seized. One treasure not found amongst them is the Dagger Of Time, which is the first part of your journey. After you retrieve the Dagger, you, in front of your father and his Vizier (the mystical wizard type), place the Dagger Of Time into an hourglass. From it comes the Sands Of Time, which change everyone into ďsand zombies.Ē The Vizier, who leads you to unleash the evil, now wants the Dagger Of Time for his own purposes. You escape, but know that you must get your revenge for your fatherís death.

Helping you in your journey is a young woman named Farah, who is part of the other kingdom your father took over. Her alliance to the Prince is a mystery in itself, but sheís helpful in the game by squeezing through cracks and shooting the ďsand zombiesĒ with the endless amount of arrows from her crossbow. Sounds like a simple enough job to do, just kill enemies and protect the girl. Wrong!

The skills of your main character are not just for defeating enemies, you also can jump and do flips and speed walk around walls. Most of the puzzles later on will require you to master fighting techniques as well as flip and jump combinations. You also have to swing ropes and poles to get to certain areas with pin-point accuracy. You miss, and it's your death.

With a simple pressing of the button, you can turn back seconds before you died to do things differently. Do not waste this power, refills or "sand clouds" are obtained in only two ways: You can grab a sand cloud along your journey, or you can grab sand from the enemies you kill with the dagger.

For a game as cool as this, it suffers from early Resident Evil camerawork. Like the former game, this latter game sometimes gets the camera action of the character stuck in one position far from where your eye can see the Prince. This is especially a pain in the ass when you try to jump from ledge to ledge or attempt to crawl around a part of the building with no way to see where your going.

The animation of the game is rather buggy as well. As you jump from wall to wall for example, you have to hit the A button at the exact point you smack on the wall. If you hit it twice or not soon enough, the animation will assume you didnít press the button and make you slip. This frustrated me so bad that a couple of times since playing this game, I actually took it back and received credit to get another game.

Some of the fighting in this game is also hard; the sand zombies have the ability to jump in and out of existence before your eyes. This means that you always have to keep the camera at a distance to watch your back for surprise attacks. During major attacks from enemies, you also have little chance to repair yourself as water fountains can also be good places to be attacked. Because you have the ability to flip and jump, itís very easy to get lazy forget that enemies can block your attacks and wound you.

It seems that games always have to add the tension by adding a 10% helpful, 80% hindrance to the game in the name of a woman. As you begin to take Farah on your journeys, you will have to remember to protect her as you are fighting. Not to worry though, large parts of the game have nothing to do with her expect you having to play ďmeet me on the other side.Ē

Some of the voice acting audio is suspect; in certain places you can hear the microphone give a hissing sound during the script recording. Itís also clear that volume adjustment is needed as it gets too quiet to hear whatever relevant information is needed. That being said, the actors and actresses who record the dialogue do a commendable job trying to bring seriousness to the fable.

Once youíve gotten passed the buggy animation aspect, youíll actually get through this game in a breeze. That might piss off the actual hardcore gamer, but itís great for those creaking back into the game. For those 20-somethings who were discouraged long ago from gaming, this is the one that should bring them back.

Posted by Matthew at 08:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 07, 2006

Opinion: Watch What You Say On The Internet

My internet experience has always been one of throwing caution to the wind. I was always outspoken with no cares as to whether it would come back to haunt me. For the last few years, it has.

Twice Iíve been nearly sued or killed for opinions that Iíve given, and sometimes I wasnít nearly as angry in the wordage I used. But itís really not just me, itís an epidemic of knee-jerk reactionary thinking that isnít exclusive to the internet. Rather in this case, technology has allowed it be more anonymous.

Employment also is becoming another factor in being careful. Companies are starting to track the internet history of potential employers. It may not be the many, but the few you donít expect to check, do.

Pretend you are a glamour model.

You make a deal with a photographer to shoot a set of photos risquť in nature, these photos ultimately stay in the hands of the photographer you signed the release with. Letís say now you actually go get a job at a rather conservative company, the photographer unknown to you is now parading those photos to various web sites which get indexed via the search engines. Now when the interviewer types your name, the photo in question comes up.

Did you get the job? Youíll never know if you donít get picked, but that will always be in your mind.

The unwritten laws of the land and the internet are that an individual can wreck havoc on you if you give them a reason to. Just play nice, or play hardball with some good lawyers handy in case you do get a person pissed. Another thing is, life is really too short to bitch and complain about someone else when you ultimately have no say so on anotherís actions.

My thing is that I take care of dad as he is ill, my internet time is meant to get away from that world of everyday stress that my mother and I go through. Sometimes I canít help it but speak on certain issues, but I take the risk in ruining my life and getting run to the ground. You can call it cowardice, but nobody likes someone who is broke and unemployed regardless of the situation.

The internet is the fastest way down that slope. But who knows, this is my opinion and that perception will change when I feel Iím capable of using my words better without my life being in danger.

Posted by Matthew at 07:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 05, 2006

Movie Review: High School Musical

The Disney Channel used to be a place where you could watch positive programming, without feeling your IQ slip. As I grew up, the shows seemed all over the place and way too eager to make themselves wholesome. High School Musical is Disney on Detox, a TV movie able to preach its positive values and not be completely irritating by songís end. The story is classic high school movie material.

At a New Yearís Eve Party, Troy Bolton (Zac Efron) and Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Anne Hudgens) find themselves singing together during a karaoke event. Connections are made, sparks fly, and the possibility of love throws lumps into their throats. Later on, Gabriella becomes an academic genius, while Troy becomes a basketball captain.

When Gabriellaís mother transfers her to East High School, it turns out that Troy is their basketball captain. As she attempts to spend more time with Troy, Gabriella also attempts to separate herself from the nerd stigma placed upon her. But their love for singing will burn inside of them as they both wind up in detention preparing the school play, lead by the schoolís strict theater director, Ms. Darbus (Alyson Reed).

During the audition process, Troy and Gabriella both sneak in to hear the contenders. The competition isnít really much, and it appears that the leads will go to Sharpay and Ryan Evans (Ashley Tisdale and Lucas Grabeel) who are the resident snooty popular kids of East High. Eagerness brings Troy and Gabriella back into the spotlight as they sing for the play, and win the callback next to Sharpay and Ryan.

Knowing their stock in the school theater will suddenly head south, the pair scheme to break them up and out of the play. Making matters worse, Troyís jock friends and Gabriellaís nerd clique are just as eager to break them up for fear of rocking the boat. Chaos ensues, and they eventually break up the team of Troy and Gabriella.

By movieís end, the pair both achieve their respective duties as basketball captain and academic genius while attending to their passion of music for the school play. This re-unification brings together the basketball and academic teams into realizing they arenít really that different from one another. And so ends Disneyís High School Musical.

With no Lindsay Lohan or Hilary Duff in sight, High School Musical benefits from the fresh faces and personalities of its two leads. Zac Efronís performance of Troy is a more toned-down version of David Cassidyís Keith Partridge (from The Partridge Family); While Vanessa Anne Hudgensís Gabriella hails back to the days of Irene Caraís Coco Hernandez (from Fame). The supporting characters of this movie also flesh out the picture from being limited to its already overused plotline.

Posted by Matthew at 10:49 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 03, 2006

Opinion: A Short, Short Guide To Men

Men are the confused of America, with women coming in a close second. The reason: Men are asked to be strong, silent, and always able to take charge of everything. Anything different is not allowed. And that is part of the problem.

We engage women in the aggressive manner because it is seen as interest. The woman who sees this interest is normally supposed to respond back with affection. When a woman doesnít, we feel that somehow thereís something wrong with us. The truth is, as much as woman fear not being selected as the prey, we are afraid of not being respected as her potential hunter.

We reserve our thoughts on topics because we feel conversation is a time waster, and is better left friends to discuss. Women however speak their minds when possible on everything, which we see as an annoyance. That fear of a conversation between a man and his mate, is the fear that conversation gives a woman ďideasĒ. But what men and women donít understand, is that a man as merely the pet of a woman, not the other way around. She has more on the ball than you see, and it doesnít take long for thoughts to come out.

We build our bodies up to look like the mythologies of old time. Of course a woman in the eyes of men is supposed to respond to such strength because itís a sign of protection against evil. And yet, the more we push our women to the back, the more they wish to be up front. When more of the things men are supposed to do go to the women, we feel that strength is just useless. When that strength becomes useless, we feel we are being pushed to the back, like a woman is usually supposed to feel.

Being a man is more about being honest with yourself than any one stereotype. Itís okay to fall back on those standards of old, and let the woman do some of the work. Itís good to let yourself speak more than ďgive me a beerĒ and ďpass the bootyĒ to your spouse. Itís right to treat a woman like her equal. Invest some time in her, because she doesnít actually need you. Everyone is expendable in a relationship.

Posted by Matthew at 02:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack